Nearly an A-?

We noted yesterday that Obama awarded himself a “solid B+” for his performance to date. His approval rating is at minus 19, and falling, this week. He was plus 8 as recently as August, at which time the public considered his performance wasn’t worth even a C: How the Public Graded Obama

Handling of the Economy = C-
Handling of Health Care = D
Handling of Foreign Affairs = C

As for the grade the public gave President Obama himself? C-.

He’s down 27 points since that publicly awarded C-.

The man thinks he’s improved to B+ since then? Do we have to add delusional to narcissistic? Note: Should you object to the term “delusional,” remember he told Oprah he deserves an A- if Pelosi & Reid succeed in crippling the American health care system – where he scored a D just 4 months ago.

I don’t think that “grade” means what he thinks it means.

Clunker

Congressman Mike Rogers wants me to know he is opposed to the Pelosi health care bill. More power to him. I applaud his opposition to it. Here’s what the Congressman sent me today:

I write to update you on recent developments in the health care reform debate in Washington, D.C. I appreciate the opportunity to contact you.

As you may know, House Democrat leaders recently introduced another massive health reform bill. This legislation (H.R. 3962) clocks in at 2,000 pages, $1.2 trillion in new spending, and over $400 billion in cuts to Medicare services for seniors. The bill also includes over $700 billion in new tax increases, clearly violating President Obama’s pledge to not raise taxes on middle-class families. I wanted to share with you a list of the tax increases found in H.R. 3962:

Small business surtax (Sec. 551, p. 336)- $460.5 billion
Employer mandate tax (Secs. 511-512, p. 308)- $135 billion
Individual mandate tax (Sec. 501, p. 296)- $33 billion
Medical device tax (Sec. 552, p. 339)- $20 billion
Annual cap on tax-free FSAs (Sec. 532, p. 325)- $13.3 billion
New taxes on HSAs (Sec. 531, p. 324 and Sec. 533, p. 326)- $6.3 billion
Tax on health insurance policies (Sec. 1802, p. 1162)- $2 billion
Other tax hikes on U.S. job creators (Secs. 553-562)- $56.4 billion
Other “revenue raising” provisions- $3 billion

TOTAL TAX INCREASES $729.5 BILLION

To read more about the Democrat health legislation, please visit my website at mikerogers.house.gov and click on “Health Reform Update.”

Rest assured, I will continue to oppose plans to raise taxes and put the federal government in charge of America’s health care. Instead, I will continue to work on bipartisan solutions that will enact real health reform – lowering costs, expanding access and improving care for all American families.

Again, I appreciate the opportunity to contact you. You can also follow my efforts on YouTube (RepMikeRogers) and Facebook (Mike J. Rogers). Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call on me.

Sincerely,

Mike Rogers
Member of Congress

Well and good. However, opposition to the health care fiasco is pretty easy. Opposition to the cash-for-clunkers program, on the other hand, was impossible for Congressman Rogers. He wrote me earlier extolling the virtues of that program. So, here is my response to today’s email:

Dear Congressman Rogers,

Thank you for your steadfast opposition to the Democrat plan to nationalize the health care industry, raising health care costs and taxes, and reducing the quality and availibility of health care. The principles of small government and a commitment to liberty are clear in your position on this.

I wish I could have written “your principled position.” I could not, however, because of an earlier email wherein you took credit for the cash-for-clunkers program. What difference is there in principle between health care takeover dollars the money dumped into cash-for-clunkers?

Your eager support for cash-for-clunkers has two unfortunate consequences. 1) It makes you seem like a Jack Murtha, but lacking the gravitas to obtain really district-focused pork and, 2) it makes your opposition to spending and taxation on health care seem shallow, partisan and cynical.

Principles, Congressman, principles. There is no difference between cash-for-clunkers and health care spending except for the number of dollars.

Michigan Democrats propose health care tax surcharge

You can’t imagine this stuff, much less make it up.

On the eve of a government shutdown, Michigan Democrats are proposing a 4% tax on health care – not on Doctors, not on insurance companies – on your cost of health care. Oh, and those people Barack Obama is complaining about who are a burden on the system because they don’t buy health insurance even though they could? And those people who truly can’t afford health care but receive it anyway? Add their 4% to your taxes, too. And have a plan for finding a new Doctor when yours moves out of state.

GOP blasts Democrats’ proposed health care tax surcharge
Tax on doctors will make medical treatment more expensive, push deficit on backs of patients, health care

House Republicans today blasted a proposal by Democrat lawmakers to tax health care in order to help balance the state budget.

House Bill 5386, which is currently in the tax policy committee, levies a 4 percent tax on physicians’ gross receipts. Democrat House Speaker Andy Dillon was quoted in a recent news article saying the state would be crazy not to do it.

“It is astounding to me that right now when we are in the middle of a national discussion about lowering the high cost of health care, Michigan Democrats are actually pushing for a new tax on doctors that will make medical treatment more expensive,” said House Republican Leader Kevin Elsenheimer, of Kewadin. “Doctors are going to have to pass these costs onto their patients, making the cost of health care go up.”

If approved, the tax would raise health care costs in Michigan by nearly half a billion dollars annually.

“House Republicans proposed a plan to balance the budget without raising taxes months ago – and our plan didn’t reduce Medicaid reimbursements by any more than what the governor recommended,” said state Rep. Matt Lori, of Constantine. “There is absolutely no way we are going to support the Democrat plan to tax health care just because lawmakers waited until the last minute and now are under the gun to finish the budget by Oct. 1.”

Elsenheimer also said he was concerned the plan could negatively affect Michigan’s growing health care industry:

“Two years ago lawmakers rammed the poorly thought out business tax surcharge through the Legislature at the 11th hour, and we’ve only seen unemployment go up since. Now we’re about to repeat that mistake by adding a new tax surcharge on health care. It makes me wonder, who’s next? Who’s left to tax?”

Elsenheimer also noted that the Speaker has recently indicated that House Democrats will vote Tuesday on raising taxes.

#####

____________________________
Phyllis Browne
Communications Manager
Michigan House of Representatives
(517) 373-1690 office
(269) 806-4936 cell

The question that comes to my mind is what’s the real objective? What do they want in exchange for dropping this? Some other tax that won’t get them thrown out of office, I’m sure.

Let them pass it. Write down their names.

The View from Dromore

Recently, I was visited by an old friend from Dromore, Ontario, Canada. During his visit I had occasion to see my doctor because of an infection on my left ankle that was not responding to home treatment. Because it resulted from a quite minor scrape, I expected it to heal in a few days. A month later it was getting worse, so I called my Doc around 11AM Wednesday and was given an appointment at 10AM Thursday. I had a followup a week later, and he was quite pleased with the progress of the treatment (antibiotics and hydrogen peroxide soaks).

Following is the impression this made on my visitor:

Duane,

During my recent visit to Michigan, I was totally shocked by your ability to get a doctor’s appointment on short notice. If the American health care system is “broken”, I didn’t see it. It may be expensive, but it would appear to work the way most people would want it to work. It doesn’t matter what your problem was (not immediately life-threatening – apparently easily resolvable with antibiotics), what struck me was the speed with which you got a doctor’s appointment. I think you said you called on Wednesday and had an appointment on Thursday – unheard of in Canada in my experience. You also lost very little time from work. The appointment was at 10:00 and you were probably back at your desk by 10:30. It would appear that when you make an appointment for 10:00, the doctor actually sees you at 10:00. Interesting concept.

It made me reflect upon what would have happened to me in a similar situation under the Canadian government-run single-payer system.

First off, I have a “family” doctor and have had for over 30 years. That immediately puts me in a rather unique position. Neither he, nor any of the other doctors in my area are accepting new patients unless a current patient dies or moves away – the wait-list is years long. My doctor, who used to have his own office, is now part of a government-mandated Local Healthcare Integrated Network (LHIN) – i.e. a clinic, composed of local docs and supported by a number of nurses and nurse practitioners (a relatively new breed – registered nurses who have taken additional training and are allowed to do certain things normally done only by doctors) as well as a common administrative staff.

So, let us assume that I had a relatively minor problem similar to yours. What would my options be under the Canadian system?

There are four: 1) Ignore the problem, cross your fingers and hope it goes away on its own – an option I have taken in many cases; 2) Ask for an appointment with “my” doctor – and be prepared to wait a couple of months (not that dissimilar to option 1); 3) Ask for an appointment with any doctor at the clinic and be prepared to wait for a couple of weeks; and 4) Go to the emergency at the local hospital and bring a copy of Tolstoy’s War and Peace with you as you are likely to be able to get most of the way through it while you sit in the crowded waiting room for several hours.

At the emergency, there is a one-in-six (we have six local docs) chance that I will actually see my own doctor because they are mandated to supply emergency room service on a rotating basis (I am in a rural area – this may not be true in an urban area).

In defense of the system, the common administrative staff and records at the clinic means that any doctor has complete access to my medical history. How much time they may have to review that information before seeing me is open to question. Nonetheless, it seems mildly efficient.

Also in defense of the system, if I was exhibiting symptoms of a truly serious nature (arriving at the emergency carrying a severed limb, bleeding from the ears, chest pains, etc.), I would move to the express line and would probably be seen fairly quickly.

The vagaries of our Canadian system means that I normally take option 1 (ignore the problem) or option 4 (go to the emergency). Options 2 and 3 are not really viable options.

Having said all that, no matter what my situation may be, I only need to present a health card, not a credit card. It’s “free” in the sense that I’ve already paid for it through my taxes. I will never be bankrupted or even majorly affected in financial terms by my health situation.

Again, I was impressed by your ability to get quick medical attention from your own doctor. If Americans want to experience my situation, go ahead, but I’m not sure you’ll be all that happy with the resulting process.

Rationing of services and extended wait-times are the real prices you will pay for a government-run system. Cheaper? – probably (although I question the government’s (either yours or mine) ability to run anything either efficiently or effectively). Better? – you decide.

As to the expense, it was paid for by insurance and, having given my insurance particulars many years ago, I did not need to present any card. This does not mean that I like the idea of employer-based health care, or that I had not been paying (tax exempt) premiums. Still, the visit was simple and easy, including scheduling the followup appointment.

Finally, it turns out that options 1 through 3, above, would have been pretty bad choices. The Doc explained that if the infection spread to my Achilles tendon I would have been in for significant difficulty and the insurance company in for significantly greater expense.

Would you buy a used plan from this man?

President Obama is considering making a speech prior to September 15th, the most recent deadline he set for the Senate to agree on a bipartisan health care “reform” bill. According to top presidential adviser David Axelrod, the speech would be “more prescriptive” about Obama’s redefinition of health care. I’m sure it will mention his good friend, Senator Kennedy. It shouldn’t, but it will.

What the President should do is resolve the profound differences in his own positions by clearly stating whether he favors a single payer universal care system now, or in the future. He could categorically reject any special interests, including his own deal with big Pharma. He could ask why tort reform has not been on the agenda. He could admit he was overwrought by his own rhetoric of fierce urgency: That demanding such fundamental change in so short a time with so little scrutiny was… yes, delusional. He could apologize for his mistakes. He’s done it often enough on behalf of the whole country, so why not?

The President’s original, urgent deadline for remaking 1/6th of the economy via a 1,000 page bill he outsourced to Nancy Pelosi and that nobody had time to read, much less consider, was “before the August recess.” He felt no need to be prescriptive, or even forthcoming, then. So, NOW he’s going to explain what should have been in the bill he didn’t understand himself, but wanted forced through in July?

Why are we supposed to care now what Obama thinks about health care? He would have been overjoyed if the entire health care system had been remade in the image of Nancy Pelosi’s ideals in July. He would have been quite satisfied if no one had ever read the legislation. In fact, he would have preferred it. So we’re supposed to believe he cares what’s in a future bill? He was willing to hang us out to dry 2 months ago, what’s changed except he’s had some blowback?