The Lie of Fiscal Responsibility

Democrats used deceptive accounting to pass their health care bill.

After Democrats secured the votes necessary to overhaul the American health care system, there was much talk of history—making it, watching it, being a part of it, answering its call. But Washington’s true attitude toward history is that of a conqueror: It’s not something to learn from; it’s something to triumph over. In that respect, the health reformers deserve congratulations. Thanks to their dogged efforts, history has been thoroughly trounced.

Since the New Deal, American entitlements have consistently grown faster than projected in size, scope, and cost. Like unwanted house guests, they cost money you don’t have, and they can’t be kicked out. Reform and repeal efforts are about as successful as kindergarten experiments with do-it-yourself haircuts. The health care law’s very structure is a testament to this fact. Much of it is funded with changes designed to eliminate waste in Medicare and Medicaid —changes that could have been used to reform those programs, both of which are unsustainable. The only way these changes were politically viable, though, was if they were used to fund a new benefit.

Yet to hear the bill’s supporters explain it, ObamaCare constitutes a triumph of fiscal responsibility, lowering the deficit, extending the solvency of Medicare, and reining in the growth of health care costs. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), a staunch pro-lifer who assured the bill’s passage by deciding to vote yes at the last minute despite misgivings about abortion funding, declared that the legislation would provide “health security and financial security” to Americans. “This is a good bill for the American people,” he told MSNBC. “We’re not adding to the deficit. Indeed, the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] says the bill will actually reduce the deficit over time.”

This argument was crucial to the bill’s success. In the preceding week, it became increasingly clear that several votes were contingent on the bill’s receiving certain scores from the CBO. And when the scores—a $940 billion price tag for the first 10 years, $138 billion worth of deficit reduction in the first decade, and $1.2 trillion worth of reduction in the following 10 years—came through, many wavering Democrats hopped on board.

But health care votes bought with promises of fiscal responsibility might as well have been bought with suitcases full of Monopoly money. A little more than 24 hours after releasing the bill’s preliminary score—the one that made headlines and attracted crucial votes—the CBO released another report, this one produced at the request of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Ryan asked about the “doc fix,” which would prevent doctors’ Medicare payments from being cut. The doc fix is now expected to be enacted separately, at a cost of more than $200 billion over 10 years. But if enacted along with the health care bill, the CBO estimated, the net effect would have been to enlarge the deficit by $59 billion during the first decade.

Defenders of the health care bill now argue that the doc fix is an unrelated issue. But Democrats didn’t always think so: An early draft of the House health care bill, which was deemed too expensive, included the doc fix. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reportedly used the provision to ensure support from the American Medical Association. Are we supposed to believe that it’s good enough to bargain with but not good enough to figure into the budget?

Maybe the problem is something more elementary: Democrats just don’t know how to count. Talking points released by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in March claimed the bill both “IS FULLY PAID FOR” and “EXTENDS THE SOLVENCY OF MEDICARE.” Contrary to such claims, the CBO’s letter to Ryan said Medicare cuts cannot be used both to pay for insurance subsidies and to improve the program’s fiscal outlook. One or the other, perhaps, but not both.

Nor is that the only double count. The CBO score for the Senate bill includes $72 billion in revenues generated by the CLASS Act, a federally backed disability insurance program. But that $72 billion is premium revenue that will eventually be needed to pay benefits. The score counts the revenue anyway, despite the fact that, according to the CBO, the government’s disability insurance obligations will probably add to the deficit in the long term.

Eventually, the deficit damage starts to add up. According to the CBO, if you scrap a few of the bill’s more fanciful assumptions—cuts to Medicare payments, a slowing of the growth of insurance subsidies, implementation of the tax on “Cadillac” insurance plans (which union lobbyists already have managed to delay by five years)—the deficit will grow “in a broad range around one-quarter percent of GDP,” or about $600 billion, in the second decade. Fiscally responsible!

Why does all this matter? It’s not just the cherry-picked numbers and the rhetorical deception; it’s the country’s fiscal future. Thanks to a spiraling deficit, the economy is chugging merrily toward a broken bridge over a rocky canyon—a fact that almost no one from either party is willing to do anything about. America, according to the CBO, is on an “unsustainable” fiscal path, and Moody’s recently warned that the nation’s solid-gold credit rating may be at risk. So it doesn’t matter how many times blinkered legislators repeat to themselves, “I think I can, I think I can.” Nothing short of significant cutbacks to entitlement spending is going to transform the U.S. budget into the little engine that could. Instead, politicians are paying for new entitlements by shifting money from unsustainable programs—money that should have been used to help get America’s fiscal house in order. 

Democrats made history all right. But only by sacrificing the future. 

Peter Suderman (peter.suderman@reason.com) is an associate editor at reason.

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  • ||

    Caption Contest!

    "Hey, is that your knee, or am I fondling a porcelain doorknob?"

  • ||

    "And then the whore says...don't worry, the room's already paid for! HA HA HA HA!"

  • Paul||

    So, what I take away from this is that healthcare is expensive.

  • ||

    Not at all. Government healthcare is expensive, just like everything else government meddles with. Ever notice that the steep rise in the costs of medical care coincides eerily with the increasing government involvement (Medicare, Medicaid, insurance regulation) in the business since 1965?

    No? I didn't think so. Very few people do, which is why the best line in Suderman's column is the fact that Washington's true attitude (at least under Ein Volk Ein Fuhrer Democrats) is that history is a thing to be conquered, not learned from.

  • ||

    ""Ever notice that the steep rise in the costs of medical care coincides eerily with the increasing government involvement (Medicare, Medicaid, insurance regulation) in the business since 1965?""

    Don't kid yourself. Health care gets more expensive as it uses more technology. Yeah, back in the day when they only used an AS400 for billing it was cheaper.

  • ||

    Think about how cheap health care was when leeches were the prescribed treatment.

  • Joshua||

    eh... leeches still ARE the prescribed treatment. depending on the condition.

  • ||

    Gee, weren't AS400's around $75k? I can get more computing power on a $500 laptop today.

  • ||

    "To hear the bill’s supporters explain it, ObamaCare constitutes a triumph of fiscal responsibility, lowering the deficit, extending the solvency of Medicare, and reining in the growth of health care costs."

    It's the equivalent of the Bush Administration's yellow-cake and mobile weapons labs--the Obama Administration just sees this likewise as a bunch of noble lies.

    The faces change, but the people in power always seem to see it the same--it doesn't matter what the truth is, it just matters what people believe...

    And if you're just talking about achieving policy objectives and winning elections, I guess that's true. If you're talking about trying to thrive despite the burden of incompetent leadership, well that's another story.

    I question the strategy of combating these lies by focusing on them too much. Yeah, it's a lie and a fraud that Obama's perpetrating on the American people, but even when people know that, they don't hold it against him if they think his intentions are good.

    ...which makes engaging people on the president's terms a losing battle--even if you're debunking his lies. I think a winning strategy might be to try to attack him on his intentions more. 'cause ultimately, it isn't a question of whether Obama's intention are good--it's whether they're better than mine.

  • Some Guy||

    It's the equivalent of the Bush Administration's yellow-cake and mobile weapons labs--the Obama Administration just sees this likewise as a bunch of noble lies.

    Not quite the same. It would be more like Bush holding up a picture of yellowcake uranium that he drew in crayon and saying that it has been verified by the CIA to be a genuine photograph.

    I think a winning strategy might be to try to attack him on his intentions more. 'cause ultimately, it isn't a question of whether Obama's intention are good--it's whether they're better than mine.

    It's not about intentions, it's about results. People think that the current system sucks (and they're absolutely right, but for the wrong reasons) and they think that something called health care reform will make it not suck. The problem lies in the fact that calling something "reform" doesn't make it true. All we did was take the current system and put all its own problems on steroids.

  • ||

    "Not quite the same. It would be more like Bush holding up a picture of yellowcake uranium that he drew in crayon and saying that it has been verified by the CIA to be a genuine photograph."

    Maybe I should have said "mobile WMD labs"? Regardless, it's the same thing--Bush told us noble lies because he thought we'd be better off if we believed them.

    Obama's doing the same thing on this issue. He's telling blatant falsehoods backed up by the government authority thinking the whole time he's doing it for our own good.

    It's the exact same thing.

    "It's not about intentions, it's about results."

    Who they believe before the results come in is often a function of who they think has the best intentions. That's why politicians kiss babies. That's why they make sure to be photographed with their kids.

    I don't trust Obama to do what's in my best interest. I trust myself to do what's in my best interests. Obama wants to take my choices away from me for the good of all of society. I'm not willing to give up my right to choose what I want for myself--not even if it really were in the best interests of society.

    I've very rarely seen any politicians that I thought were legitimately concerned with my best interests--but I haven't let myself down yet. Why would people trust a politician over themselves?

    That's a winning argument.

  • ||

    Up to a point, it is. But the problem is that what people want government to do is coerce other people. They rarely think of it as coercing themselves.

    Take the healthcare reform bill. People imagine -- and are strongly encouraged to believe by politicians -- that the bill will constrain and impoverish other people for the benefit of you, yes you, Democratic voter. It's evil insurance CEOs who are going to be taking home $50,000 less per year, not your noble yeoman's salary that will suffer, and evil hedge funds run by Scrooge McDuck who are going to be sniffling over a collapsing stock price, not you receiving your quarterly 401k report. Other people are going to have their (foolish, unnecessary) care restricted, so that your necessary and important care can be cheaper. And so on.

    Why people are willing to believe these kinds of irrational things is unclear. It seems to be just a systematic weakness in human psychology. We all think we're better than average drivers, and that we alone can possess the key to happiness, success, or world peace that has eluded trillions of others.

    This is how con men thrive. You're special. You alone can understand this complex stuff, unlike other dumfuks, ha ha. You're the last, hidden, heir to the Romanov fortune. Millions can be yours. Just send your bank account number vote, to this e-mail address in Nigeria Washington. Much politics is simply three-card monte writ large, a massive swindle designed to siphon off power and wealth from the marks (us) for the benefit of the con men.

  • ||

    Seems like cons can't address any argument unless they set up a straw-man first to attack. I don't know anyone who thinks like what you describe as the "Democratic voter". What I think is - I want people to be able to get treated when they're sick. We can argue about where the money comes from, but that is secondary.

    I went to a benefit last month for a local family with 2 small boys where the guy had testicular cancer. While he was in treatment his health insurance got cut off (his small company went under). We probably raised a few thousand bucks, the family was very appreciative, we all felt good about doing it. But I know that this is a drop in the bucket when it comes to 100's of thousands of dollars in med bills. My view is that this guy should get treated, not be saddled with a mountain of debt, not lose their home. I could really give a shit whether you don't like being coerced to pay taxes for it. All taxes are coerced, we use the money for what we as a nation deem important. This is important to me. Maybe something else is important to you that I don't like. It's here. It will be expanded. It's not going away. Deal with it.

  • Some Guy||

    Seems like cons can't address any argument unless they set up a straw-man first to attack. I don't know anyone who thinks like what you describe as the "Democratic voter".

    I know plenty. Many of them vote a straight Republican ticket.

    What I think is - I want people to be able to get treated when they're sick. We can argue about where the money comes from, but that is secondary.

    The problem is it doesn't come in secondary to you, it doesn't come in at all. And why exactly you think significantly more people will be treated when they're sick under the new system is still a mystery to me.

    My view is that this guy should get treated, not be saddled with a mountain of debt, not lose their home. I could really give a shit whether you don't like being coerced to pay taxes for it.

    I don't see much in the health care bill that would lead me to believe that guy would get treated unless he had a good sized nest egg to draw on.

    All taxes are coerced, we use the money for what we as a nation deem important. This is important to me.

    I could feel much better about it if I thought it would actually improve the health care of more people than it hurt.

  • Wegie||

    "We can argue about where the money comes from, but that is secondary."
    Of course we know the money will come from people who work and are successful.

  • ||

    Ken you are out of your tree. The Bush Administration absolutely believed that Saddam had WMDs. I was in Kuwait and Iraq beginning in March of 2003 and I can tell you the military was not in on the joke. All of the planning for the initial invasion was on the assumption that Saddam would use Chems. Indeed, everyone who went over the burm in March was in chemical gear. It is just absurd to think that it was some noble lie dreamed up by the Whitehouse. Really, that is not much better than trutherism. Can you say they were wrong or that they let the intelligence convince themselves of what they already wanted to believe? Sure. But the idea that it was some sinister noble lie is just troll bait.

    And the same goes for Obama. I don't think Obama was lying. I think he honestly believed this shit would work.

  • ||

    ""The Bush Administration absolutely believed that Saddam had WMDs.""'

    I agree with everything else in your post. But I have now way of knowing what the admin really believed. They were very dishonest about their approach, so there's no way you could really know either.

    WMD was not the first reason Bush wanted to invade Iraq, it was just the one that stuck to the wall. They outright said they wanted regime change because Saddam was co-operating properly. but when the UN balked, the WMD excuse started popping up.

    I can't say if the Bush admin did believe since so many sources include those sent to Iraq to search for WMD disagreed with the claim.

    I wouldn't say lying because I hold a strict definition of the word, but I do believe they were dishonest, which is about as bad.

  • ||

    Having said that, I think the example is apt in that both are, or had, using/used deception to bend the opinion of the American public. But there's nothing new about that. The citzenry had been played as fools for as long as politics have existed.

  • Some Guy||

    I'm pretty sure that *Bush* believed it. But it's not like he was actually running things.

  • ||

    If you're telling me that the Bush Administration believed Iraq had WMD--and was willing to invade Iraq to prove it--I think you may be on to something...

    But the point isn't whether Iraq had WMD or whether the Bush Administration really believed Iraq had WMD; the point is that the Bush Administration was perfectly willing to tell some whoppers--about yellow-cake and mobile weapons labs--in order to get the American people to support what they were trying to do.

    It very well may be that the Obama Administration really believes that ObamaCare will cut the deficit--regardless--it's pretty obvious that the Obama Administration was willing to tell some whoppers in order to get ObamaCare passed, and in the run up to November, their lips are still moving...

    ...and you know what it means when a politician's lips are moving, right?

    The point is that anybody who was throwing stones at the Bush Administration for its lies should--absolutely yes--be throwing stones at Obama's glass house too. 'cause he's doin' the exact same thing Bush did.

  • ||

    Yeah exactly the same except the result will be sick people getting treated rather than thousands of people getting killed and maimed. Other than that though, it's just the same.

  • ||

    Thank you for conceding the point.

    ...and everyone should take note--what we're being fed by the Obama Administration on healthcare is only different from the bill of goods we were sold by the Bush Administration in that the Obama Administration thinks the ends will justify the means.

    Wait! That isn't a difference! That isn't different at all.

  • cynical||

    That's only true if they don't fuck up the health care sector, and it definitely doesn't count the people who will not be getting treated because the treatment doesn't exist because they fucked up the medical research sector.

  • Some Guy||

    If it were somehow measurable, I would bet that the number of people that die due to inadequate health care due to Obama's lies exceeds the number of American combat deaths due to Bush's lies in a comparable amount of time.

    Though the indirect deaths due to increased terrorism and the epic waste of money it was, plus all the innocent local civilians killed make it not even close.

  • Ring||

    >I don't think Obama was lying. I think he honestly believed this shit would work.

    Except that he was sitting on a report from the health and human services department which said that the Healthcare bill would cost a lot more, so no, Obama hid the real truth in order to get it passed.

    http://spectator.org/archives/2010/04/26/what-lies-beneath

    " Everyone went into lockdown, and people here were too scared to go public with the report."

  • ||

    Spending money is fun!
    It like spending for defense against terrorism - trillions spent, not really any safer, and we CAN'T be any safer because we can't possibly prevent someone from blowing themselves up or leaving a car with bombs in it somewhere.

    I redict 10 years from now, not only will health care spending be through the roof, but that health outcomes will actually have declined. People will want more pills for their problems, and less exercise and eating right.

  • ||

    Should we be doing cost effectiveness analysis on saving peoples' lives? If so, then maybe we don't need Homeland Security or a military even. We could save a lot of money there. Why don't we each defend ourselves? Do we really need socialist programs just because some people can't shoot straight? Or maybe if people would just learn to stay away from likely terrorist targets, such as cities, we wouldn't all have to shoulder the burden for their carelessness. If it benefits our economy to not be invaded by a foreign army - won't the free market system take care of it? Oh but that's just crazy talk, right? Now you have an idea what we look like to the rest of the world when we bicker over costs when deciding whether to ensure all of our citizens have decent healthcare.

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    And countries that have socialized medicine don't debate how much they will spend on health care? That is idiotic. We can't 100% of our GNP on health care. The question is how do we determine the right amount to spend, by the market or by bureaucratic decision. And people have been trying to run economies by central control for about 100 years now and not one of them has ever worked as well as the market.

    Pete your post is just stupid.

  • Barack Obama||

    We can't [spend] 100% of our GNP on health care.

    Let me be clear.

    John, you are correct. We can not spend 100% of our GNP on health care, indeed, on any particular cause, however worthy. We simply do not have the resources to do this, especially during this time of hard-fought economic recovery. I know it, and your Leaders in Congress know it. This is why today I am signing an Executive Order restricting the total amount spent by the Federal Government this year to be no more than 130% of our GDP. Of course, as a result of next year's recovery, anticipated to be even larger than this year's, this figure will grow to at least 140%.

  • ||

    John - way to miss the point pin-head. It's not a question of debating how much we're going to spend, it's a question of prioritizing what we spend our money on. I WISH the debate could have been about how to get everyone covered by the most cost-effective means. Your suggestion that we run entire economy by central control just points out the ideological blinders you and most of the right wear - as if the debate was between pure capitalism and pure socialism. I've got news for you - no one has ever run a pure capitalist system either. We are and always have been a mixed economy some things are done by the government and some things are done by the private sector. Healthcare insurance is a clear case of where the private sector just does not work (we've been running the experiment for a couple hundred years). If the right would have waged an even halfway reasonable debate we could have ended up with a better plan, now we will have to continue to revisit it for years to come, accompanied by the same tired fear mongering and lies. At some point we will have true universal healthcare coverage - we may have to wait until the southwest is blue, but that won't be too long. I just hope the spell of mass stupidity all the Fox watchers have fallen under has passed by then and we can have reasonable debate on the issues.

  • ||

    "If the right would have waged an even halfway reasonable debate we could have ended up with a better plan, now we will have to continue to revisit it for years to come, accompanied by the same tired fear mongering and lies."

    So you are saying the Democrats were too stupid to come up with a decent plan on their own?

    You can dream about universal coverage all you want. But you cannot improve the health care of Americans unless you improve efficiency or the supply of health care. There is no way around it. But since you are a liberal and have no idea how economies work or how wealth is created, you spend your time fighting over how the existing pie will be divided rather than how to increase the supply of what is needed.

    I really do fear for for the future of the country. We have millions of people out there just like you who have no idea how the economy works or even a common sense idea of how to create wealth. God have mercy on us.

  • ||

    John, John...I have no idea where you get these ideas. Once again you choose to miss my point (whether by willfulness or ignorance I don't know).

    This goes back to my original point - folks like you never saw a defense spending increase you didn't love, but try to spend money on something that helps peoples' lives directly and you become PhD economists all of a sudden. If all had agreed that the healthcare problem needed to be solved and the debate had been about the best way to do it, that would have been fine. The fact is, economic arguments were used to support NOT addressing the problem - and many of the arguments put forth were much bigger stretches of the numbers than what this article complains about. When the massaged numbers from the right didn't get political traction, they started right in with the lies and scare tactics.

    I'm not an economist, but I have some understanding of economies. I think the big difference between right and left is that I also understand that everything can not be fully described in economic terms. Economics is just a means to describe behaviors within a given context - change the context and the economy changes too, there is some elasticity to it. The underlying wealth is still the same, we just proceed differently based on rules and conditions.

    Many of the free-marketers of the right imagine themselves succeeding in a Darwinian jungle where they carve wealth out of nothing with their bare hands. This makes me laugh. I suggest finding a country (there are still a few in Africa) with very small government, low (or no) taxes, and no regulation. Set up your pure capitalist system over there as a trial. When it works brilliantly, come on back and we'll apply it here. My guess is that the few of you who survive would be back in a few months begging for some good old American socialist government. You just have no idea how much your government does for you.

  • ||

    Pete you are just a buffoon. You don't understand economics. And just because we have to face the realities of life (that nothing is for free and the only way to have more of something is to make more of it) doesn't mean that we cannot help people. But ultimately the way to help people is to become richer and have more of things not redistribute and steal what we have.

  • ||

    John - take the blinders off good buddy. You're arguing against points given to you by your buddy Rush and not anything I am saying.

  • ||

    Because everyone who disagrees with you gets all their ideas from Rush Limbaugh. Seriously, that is pathetic.

  • ||

    John - way to miss the point pin-head.

    Name calling is surrender.

  • ||

    Ken - Yeah and everyone here has been so nice - what was I thinking?

  • ||

    Pete|5.17.10 @ 6:16PM|#
    "what? was I thinking?"
    Nope

  • T||

    Should we be doing cost effectiveness analysis on saving peoples' lives?

    Yes, making the rest of your nonsense kind of a moot point. Everything is subject to a cost benefit analysis because we don't have unlimited resources.

  • ||

    Doing away with DOD and DHS would be a good start. Who do you think could muster the troops to invade the US? How long could they occupy us when there are enough weapons in the US to arm everyone?

  • ||

    "Should we be doing cost effectiveness analysis on saving peoples' lives?"

    That is exactly what countries with socialized medicine systems do when setting their budgets. Duh.

  • ||

    Here's the difference - they do analysis to determine the best way to accomplish the task. We do the analysis to justify NOT performing the task. Get it?

  • cynical||

    What's that? They do the analysis because it provides work for bureaucrats, which are both cheaper and better organized than doctors?

  • ||

    "Now you have an idea what we look like to the rest of the world when we bicker over costs when deciding whether to ensure all of our citizens have decent healthcare."

    Your initial assumption has it exactly backwards.

    Ensuring decent care for everyone doesn't mean throwing cost considerations out the window--throwing cost considerations out the window necessarily ensures that most people will receive substandard care.

    And comparing ObamaCare to the sacrifices we should all be required to make to fund a volunteer army seems a little disingenuous.

    If you're gonna compare apples to apples, you'd compare ObamaCare to conscription--you can't choose not to pay AND you can't get out of the service.

    With a volunteer Army, I can choose not to participate--how could you NOT see the difference?

  • ||

    I mean, seriously, the reason they don't make participation voluntary is because no one would opt in--ObamaCare doesn't even work on paper if it isn't mandatory. That's what the whole thing's built on.

    "Disingenuous"--I think that was the right word.

    If you knows anything about ObamaCare at all, and you're comparing it to the military, then the only apt comparison is universal conscription.

    And that's a great point--thanks for bringing it up! If you're someone who's against universal conscription but in favor of ObamaCare? Then that's one seriously nuanced argument you got there!

  • ||

    Ken - Once again, my suggestion is not that we throw cost concerns out the window. There's a lot of work to be done on how we deliver healthcare and how we compensate those who provide it.

    Your analogy to conscription vs volunteer armies is a big miss - soldiers would be analogous to doctors in that scenario. Taxpayers would still be taxpayers - there is no choice in whether we participate in paying for the military or healthcare in either case.

  • ||

    "Your analogy to conscription vs volunteer armies is a big miss..."

    I'm not the one who made the analogy.

    You did.

    The fact is that just like in conscription people cannot choose whether to participate--the whole system is predicated on making participation mandatory.

    And if you can't see the difference between paying for a volunteer army and being forced to participate in a government run health scheme, then there's no point in discussing this or any other topic with you.

    But anyone else you talk to that happens to think conscription is wrong because it's coercive? Probably isn't gonna think much of that argument...

    Actually, now that I think of it? You should go all over the internet and tell everybody that they should support ObamaCare because it's just like being drafted into the Army--and everyone should be forced to participate!

  • ||

    The point is, dear Ken, that taxes are coercive. Whether they are paying for healthcare or defense. It makes no difference in that context whether the army is formed via conscription or volunteer. What part of that don't you understand?

  • ||

    "What part of that don't you understand?"

    How you can you compare paying for something with being forced to participate?

    Forced participation and taxation aren't the same thing. They're alike, but they're not the same thing.

    Go ask someone who was drafted into Vietnam if there's any difference between being forced to pay for the military and being conscripted into the military...

    No, that would be too silly a question to ask--but I'm supposed to pretend there's no difference between being taxed to pay for someone else's healthcare and being forced to participate in a healthcare system?

    I'll admit I don't like being forced to pay for other people's healthcare, and I also think ObamaCare is fiscally irresponsible.

    But I also oppose ObamaCare because of its coercive nature--it's coercive at its core, and I oppose it on that basis.

    Just because that isn't the reason you're in favor of ObamaCare doesn't people who oppose it don't or can't oppose it for that reason. I oppose conscription for the same reason too--it's coercive.

    If you can't get enough volunteers to do what you want to do with the military, then maybe you shouldn't be trying to do what you're trying to do. And if Obama can't get people to voluntarily join in his healthcare scheme, then maybe he should abandon that idea.

    The people he needs to join in order to make it work would never join voluntarily--and he can't make it work without coercion. I'd oppose it on that basis alone. I cannot support forcing people into a healthcare system against their will.

  • CJ||

    Should we be doing cost effectiveness analysis on saving peoples' lives?

    You can't save a maximum number of lives if you don't.

    If so, then maybe we don't need Homeland Security or a military even.

    I'd get rid of at least the former and possibly the latter if I could, at least to the extent that either is paid for by taxes.

  • Hard Up Progressive||

    Nance looks hawt in that picture with Obama(PBUH). I'd hit it, repeatedly. I'd drink her bath water and suck her toes. I'd even eat the pussy!

  • ||

    Thanks for the visual.

  • A is Awesome||

    Isn't this a repeat aricle?

  • Sam Grove||

    Democrats used deceptive accounting to pass their health care bill.

    No way!

    Really?

  • ||

    "Democrats used deceptive accounting to pass their health care bill."

    Really? Do ya think?

    Come on, both parties lie and we all know it. But we keep voting the liars back in. Why is that?

  • Typical Voter||

    Why is that?

    Why not?

  • Brian R||

    Kang, Evil Alien Monster from The Simpson's, figured this one out.

    "It's a two party system. You have to vote for one of us!" - Kang

  • Paul||

    What I love about defenders of Obama Care is the constant refrain that Healthcare is a unique segment that acts differently from other market actors... you know, like housing. Remember when housing was a unique market actor which never went down?

  • Joe Klein's napkin||

    You people are all guilty of sedition.

  • ||

    May I suggest higher chairs next time in this discussion forum? I've never seen a point go over so many peoples' heads at once.

  • ||

    It is called projection there Pete. It is not that no one understands you. It is exactly the opposite. They understand your points all too well and realize how dumb they are. Go back to the liberal threads where that kind of stuff passes for thought.

  • T||

    Y'see, here's how the whole "discussion" concept works. When you can't explain yourself coherently, people miss the point of what you're trying to say.

    Here's an easy point you seem to have missed. Health care coverage is not health care. Why is cost-shifting so bleeding important to you people?

  • ||

    Sorry T - let me get my crayons and write real big for you.

    I could ask you the same question. The common resources of this country have been continuously converted into private resources (of both domestic and foreign companies). The gap between the top and bottom economic classes is bigger than any time since the Great Depression. Who authorized that income redistribution? It's all built into the rules of the game. To claim that the rules haven't been manipulated to benefit the wealthiest at the expense of the middle class and the poor would be a damn lie.

    No I didn't miss the point that health care coverage is not health care. Once again - I'll get out my crayons. Health care is used as a shorthand term in this context - I think we have been debating it long enough that we all realize we are talking about healthcare coverage. Maybe not.

  • ||

    Pete,

    What the hell are common resources? I say the wealth in this country ought to belong to those who generate it. Further, so what if there is an income gap? The poorest person in this country today, has a longer life expectancy that the middle class did in the 1950s. I don't care if Bill Gates has 7 or 70 billion if I am better off to. The disparity doesn't mean anything as long as everyone is objectively better off, which by any measure they are over the last 50 years.

    Further, if you are so concerned about income redistribution, then I guess you object to progressive taxation and transfer payments because that is the only forced redistribution I see going on.

  • ||

    John,

    110 years ago 90% of Americans were self-employed. For most rural people, money was just a supplement to what you could grow, hunt, or make yourself. Most of them didn't welcome the changes the Industrial Revolution brought to them - it was forced on them. Today the situation is reversed - 90% rely on someone else for their livelihood. Money has become central to almost everyone's lives. The changes were not just technological inventions, they were legal and economic assertions of power by wealthy people and corporations that forced Americans into positions neither liked nor were adept at. The change was sold to us as "progress" - things that would save us time and make our lives easier. Who got all that time that was saved? I didn't get any - did you? Meanwhile we get more crowded, the air and water are fouled, the forests disappear, the game along with them, family farms continue to disappear at an alarming rate. Yes, we have gained some almost magical cures and advancements in technology, but at what cost? I'll ask you - what are the common resources? Is a few extra years confined to your home or in a nursing home popping a dozen pills a day worth the trade?

  • Flyover Country||

    "Most of them didn't welcome the changes the Industrial Revolution brought to them - it was forced on them."

    Pete, you are full of shit. Were farmers forced to leave the countryside to take jobs in factories?

  • ||

    Yeah, as a matter of fact many of them were. After the bank auctioned off their farm equipment and took their land they had to make a living. Common story.

  • ||

    Pete|5.17.10 @ 6:20PM|#
    "Yeah, as a matter of fact many of them were. After the bank auctioned off their farm equipment and took their land they had to make a living. Common story."

    No. It's a common fantasy to those who read history in comic books.
    You're an ignoramus.

  • ||

    I prefer to buy my meat at a grocery store owned by someone who had the vision of the necessity of such convienence. Sure beats me spending a few hours a day hunting my next meal. Isn't that progress?

  • Flyover Country||

    Progress is doing what Pete and his band of "progressives" thinks you should be doing.

  • ||

    Vic - not to get too off-topic, but try to get your brain around this - the average hunter-gatherer spends an average of 3 hours per day seeing to his basic needs - food, clothing, shelter. I don't know about you, but I work a lot longer than that.

  • CJ||

    110 years ago 90% of Americans were self-employed. For most rural people, money was just a supplement to what you could grow, hunt, or make yourself.

    [...] Today the situation is reversed - 90% rely on someone else for their livelihood. Money has become central to almost everyone's lives.

    [... C]hange was sold to us as "progress" - things that would save us time and make our lives easier. Who got all that time that was saved? I didn't get any - did you? Meanwhile we get more crowded, the air and water are fouled, the forests disappear, the game along with them, family farms continue to disappear at an alarming rate.

    I'm trying to follow this and having trouble. You're operating on two major premises:

    1) Life as we know it consists of doing a great deal of unwelcome things and being in a great deal of unwelcome situations, both of which people were forced into and can do nothing about, and these require an amount of money beyond what people can produce for themselves.

    2) It would be better if people were still capable of creating their own livelihoods.

    I completely agree with this.

    And yet you've seemingly been arguing in favor of government health care, which entirely defies the idea of self-reliance and makes money even more central to people's lives by demanding still more of it from those who otherwise wouldn't buy health insurance.

    How can these views be reconciled?

  • ||

    "Most of them didn't welcome the changes the Industrial Revolution brought to them - it was forced on them. "

    Huh?? WTF? That's like saying the discovery of the means of portable fire was forced on the aborigines.

  • ||

    Yeah, what common resources?

  • T||

    Pete, try to stay on one topic at a time. It makes your nonsense marginally more coherent.

    Yes, the debate has largely been about insurance. This is one reason why the debate has failed to yield anything useful in the way of policies. People like you are a major stumbling block with your yammering about coverage. The idea is not insure people. The idea is to get people health care. The fact that you, and others like you, get hung up on coverage means you don't get the bigger, more important aspect of making sure people get health care.

    With that, I'm done arguing with the deranged troll. John has more patience for it, so debate him.

  • ||

    No troll here. Just someone willing to wade into a flock of morons like you and try to reason with them. Guess it's a waste of my time - teaching pigs to sing and all that...

  • Slowburnaz||

    Elitist prick much?

  • ||

    Just for the record, my first post here was in response to the article, not in reply to anyone else's post and referenced none of the other posters. Right away there were several posts not only misrepresenting what I said but having something personal or snide to say about me. When I gave it back in kind, even more piled on. This seems to be how differing views are treated among conservatives these days. It's fine by me, even welcome because this is why the conservative movement is shrinking down to a hard-core group of zealots with no room for dissent.

  • ||

    Pete if you want to revert back to the "glory days" move far away from everyone and reap the benefits of the common resourses around you.

    Roast mutton for some, pizza delivery for others.

  • Brian R||

    Man, I hope Pete comes back every day. I love watching the one guy in the room who doesn't have any logical arguments, and doesn't seem to want any, scream that everyone else is a moron. Awesome.

    Pete, before you compare anything to the military go and read up on the concept of non-rivalrous, non-excludable goods. Even better, read the Wikipedia page on Public Goods: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_goods

    Then quit trying to pretend that everything you want, in this case health care (or coverage) is a public good. Because it's not.

    Then try to come up with an actual argument for why the government should provide it. One that does not assume that anyone richer than you is automatically evil and should therefore be eat, errr... taxed.

    Then, have a nice day. Thank you, come again!

  • ||

    How about the obvious argument? Every industrialized country in the world but us has some kind of government supported healthcare. Most of them very happy with it. Even Canada, which wing-nuts love to hold up as an example of the evils of government-run healthcare, has almost 80% approval rating over a US style healthcare system. Are you telling me that we can't look around at what they are doing, take the best practices and adapt them to a successful system here? You must hang out with a lot of wing-nuts to have such a low opinion of American intelligence.

    You have a nice day too! Try not to fall down while walking!

  • Brian R||

    I think your Mom had to correct response to that one - see below. It may be "the obvious argument" but there is no logic in it - so you're still the guy with no logical arguments.

    While I have no doubt that America has the intelligence to make it work, that doesn't mean we should. Sometimes it takes more intelligence to realize something should not be done at all. Not that the Republican Party displayed any of that intelligence - they hit on the right course of action for the wrong reasons.

    I also like how you ended with either an insult or a lame threat. I'll assume it was an insult. I'm always laugh when I see that sort of thing. It lets me know I'm talking to someone who lacks any actual reasons for their opinions, and must fall back on invective to mask that lack.

  • ||

    Brian - just returning what is being dished here. I know you wing-nuts like to sling the mud, so just want you to feel comfortable.

    No logic in pointing out multiple instances where something works and suggesting maybe we do likewise? Oh - I forgot, real-world examples not allowed in right wing imagination land. Let me ask the invisible man in the sky or Adam and Eve on their dinosaurs what we should do.

  • Brian R||

    Pete, you're pretty much the only guy slinging mud here. You're also the only one talking about religion. When are you going to stop stabbing those poor straw men and respond to the people who are actually here?

    Actually I think it's quite instructive to look at all the working examples. They're all running budget deficits to finance their entitlements. They haven't all gone off the financial cliff just yet - but that doesn't mean they aren't careening in that direction. Note that the deficit spending also explains the 80% approval ratings - everybody loves buying things on credit because it feels like getting it for free until the bill comes due.

    Anyway, happy trails. Hopefully one day you'll read that article about public goods.

  • ||

    "Most of them very happy with it. Even Canada, which wing-nuts love to hold up as an example of the evils of government-run healthcare, has almost 80% approval rating over a US style healthcare system. "

    Nothing raises my hackles more than the usual liberal tripe about the Canucks wonderful healthcare system. I live in a border state and can attest to the fact Detroit area hospitals have found the mother lode treating hapless Canucks that can't get timely care at home. If Canada wern't nestled under America's armpit and actually had to devote a sensible percentage of GDP to protecting it's own borders you'd find their social welfare system much different. Make a point about a country that actually floats a navy and flies more than 20 planes, please.

  • Pete's Mom||

    If all the cool countries jumped off a cliff, would you do it too, Pete?

  • ||

    No, but I might give you just the tiniest push...

  • ||

    Just want to say that you guys have been great. Thanks for being good sports.

    I'll leave you with this thought - due to shifting demographics, by 2016 Texas will be a Blue state! Consider what this means to you and your future as you ride the short bus to the Creation Museum.

    Have a Happy Day!

  • ||

    Pete, I just want to say you're a infantile ignoramus and an asshole.
    Have a horrible day!

  • ||

    Pete|5.17.10 @ 5:43PM|#
    "Vic - not to get too off-topic, but try to get your brain around this - the average hunter-gatherer spends an average of 3 hours per day seeing to his basic needs - food, clothing, shelter. I don't know about you, but I work a lot longer than that."

    Pete, *really* try to get what passes for your brain around this:
    Anyone who has read history from other than your comic book collection knows full well that your claim is total bullshit.
    Ever go rabbit hunting? With a gun? You don't have a clue.
    Yes, on that day when game was available, they spent only X hours killing it. You, in your ignorance, ignore the time it took to learn to and make the weapons to kill the prey, to butcher it and/or protect the remains that couldn't be carried off from other predators. And you ignore the loss of life from those other predators.
    Further, in your ignorance, you ignore the days when no time was spent, since there was no game, and all those neolithic 'happy faces' went hungry.
    Finally, in your ignorance, you ignore that the life expectancy was, oh, 20 years or so.
    For ignorant luddites such as yourself, I propose you return to neolithic life and lick lichen off those rocks and let us know how fun it is.
    Oh, and don't bother trying to drag me into your juvenile fantasy; I'm dry inside, with fire in the fire place, a nice cut of meat on the stove and a drink in hand. And a dry pot to piss in.
    Go fuck yourself.

  • Wegie||

    Gee, thanks for the tip.

  • ||

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    The FBI has a limited role in ensuring fair and free elections in the United States. Election crimes become federal cases when:
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  • ||

    TO ALL THE COMMUNIST IN THE IG,FBI,CIA,AND U.S. Senators,, President Obama Tells Mexican President We are Not Defined by Our Borders INPEACH OBAMA THE COMMUNIST ,GOD OPEN YOUR EYES.///For us there are only two possiblities: either we remain american or we come under the thumb of the communist OBAMA. This latter must not occur; TO THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT .THE COMMANDER

  • ||

    President Obama Tells Mexican President "We are Not Defined by Our Borders"INPEACH OBAMA In democratic societies like the United States, the voting process is a means by which citizens hold their government accountable, conflicts are channeled into resolutions, and power transfers peacefully. Our system of representative government works only when honest ballots are not diluted by fraudulent ballots. When elections become corrupted, democracy becomes threatened.
    The FBI has a limited role in ensuring fair and free elections in the United States. Election crimes become federal cases when:
    The ballot includes one or more federal candidates;
    The crime involves an election official abusing his duties;
    The crime pertains to fraudulent voter registration;
    Voters are not U.S. citizens.
    First Name: kenyan born at the white house
    Last Name: TRUTH
    Address: AMERICA
    Address: INPEACH OBAMA
    City: USA
    State: usa THE END OF AMERICA
    NPR archive describes Obama as 'Kenyan-born'
    Michelle say Barack born in Kenya
    Obama's grandmother say he was born in Kenya
    Subject: OBAMA SAID approval ratings are still very high in the country of my birth.
    Message: INPEACH OBAMA TO THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT
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