Economics

Obama in the Waiting Room: It's gonna be a little while longer…

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I watched a good chunk of Obama's press conference last night about health care. I will be truly amazed if this moves the Senate vote along any quicker or moves votes in his direction.

As Peter Suderman noted last night, the evening was essentially one long diversionary tactic, filled with some pat anecdotes and vague-ish scare stats. One strange moment that I think sums up his (and many people's, including those on the conservative side of things) view of patients, came when he talked about how better information sharing done with gee-whiz computers would prevent a person getting the same test done three times. I immediately thought: First off, it's often medically smart to do more than one test. Who among us hasn't had a false positive response? But more important, where was the patient in that pat scenario about inefficiency? If patients are seen (as they are all too often by medical providers and pols alike) as dumb sheep who should do as they told, of course care is going to ultimately suck. A similar thread ran through his comment about getting diabetics to nutritionists earlier so they don't have to get their feet amputated. Wise counsel, and one that ignores the patient, who in that sort of situation absolutely needs to be in charge of his or her own body. I've know more than a few diabetics, especially adult-onset cases, where they had all the info and treatment in the world. The outcome was almost solely dependent on how seriously they acted on what they knew to be true. It wasn't about a lack of information. If Obama can't conceive of patients who are vocally engaged in their own health care, I definitely don't want part of any plan he cooks up.

More to the point: If last night was an attempt to convince the American people that government could vastly and quickly restructure a ginormous part of our economy all while saving money and improving care, then the patient is dying on the table. There's no way this kind of chatter shakes off the problems identified in the recent CBO report on the Democratic plan: $500 billion added to the deficit and still leaving 20 million Americans uninsured.

SF Chron on the talk.

A USA Today poll from a couple days back had 55 percent on independents negatory on Obama's handling of health care; 50 percent overall dinna like it. Given that sort of response and the righteous foot-dragging by various senators and figure on this thing being pushed into the fall. Maybe by then Obama or somebody else will have generated a plan that actually does engage the awful lack of competition and clarity and vision in the health care system.

In the meantime, if you're uninsured, you've got options, as outlined in this Reason.tv video (embed code, downloadable versions, and more here):

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  1. But we’ve got to do something now! Weren’t you paying attention?

    (From the press conference last night)

    So let me be clear: if we do not control these costs, we will not be able to control our deficit. If we do not reform health care, your premiums and out-of-pocket costs will continue to skyrocket. If we do not act, 14,000 Americans will continue to lose their health insurance every single day. These are the consequences of inaction. These are the stakes of the debate we’re having right now.

  2. Apparently the mayors of Hoboken, Seacaucus, and Jersey City, NJ have all been arrested today, so that should be entertaining.

  3. Or in NJ terms, a fairly uneventful day.

  4. Federal prosecutors said about 30 people have been arrested, including Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano III, Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell and Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt. Federal prosecutors said several rabbis in New York and New Jersey were also arrested.

    Link

  5. “14,000 Americans will continue to lose their health insurance every single day.”

    Seems to me there should be some really good business angle here. Thinking …

  6. ‘If Obama can’t conceive of patients who are vocally engaged in their own health care, I definitely don’t want part of any plan he cooks up.”

    Of course he can’t. Obama has spent his entire life among academics and politicians who view the world just like that. Further, to the extent he ever was in the real world it was as a community organizer in totally disfunctional communities. He thinks everyone is just like the most fucked up, dumb, illiterate crack whore he was trying to organize in Chicago. He has absolutely no understanding of what most of America is like or how the world actually works.

  7. “14,000 Americans will continue to lose their health insurance every single day.”

    Of course none of those people ever get their health insurance back. None of them are people who are leaving one job and going to another and getting different health insurance. Further, maybe if BO would stop taxing and spending the economy to death fewer people would lose their jobs and health insurance.

  8. I watched a good chunk of Obama’s press conference last night about health care.

    Before I struggled free of the “Clockwork Orange” style restraints.

    And I haven’t been able to enjoy Beethoven ever since.

  9. I’m still trying to figure out how the hell the current healthcare system is contributing a damn thing to the government’s deficit. I mean, my healthcare costs are a private expense, not a public one. That’s like saying my buying a new car is contributing to the deficit. Unless they’re arguing that the costs are impacting how much is paid out through Medicaid and Medicare, which is bullshit.

    Can anyone enlighten me on WTF they’re trying to say?

  10. Good point John.

    I wonder how those numbers look compared to the new filings for unemployment.

  11. I wonder how many people were deceived last night by that deceptive silver tongued devil.

  12. “Soundbite of the evening: Obama’s comment that People are going to have to give up procedures that don’t make them better.”

    Says who? Who decides what makes you better and what doesn’t? Some fat illiterate lazy bitch at the government health office who will decide if she likes you and if you are worth the time and effort?

  13. Same test three times? But wouldn’t your greedy, profit-grubbing insurance carrier spot that immediately and deny at least two of the tests? If the patient is paying for two of them out of his own pocket, then who the hell is Obama to say that one can’t be overly concerned about one’s own health?

  14. That is a good point creech. On the one hand BO and his supporters will tell you that insurance companies are greedy and evil and will deny you care at every opportity and you are better off with an enlightened bureaucrat running things. On the other hand, they say how the healthcare system is bloated and expensive and has all of these wastful and useless treatments in it. Which is it? It can’t be both.

  15. What, you’re telling me I have to buy my own health insurance? With my money?

    Fuck you capitalist pigs, that’s money’s for my booze.

  16. I am so tired of hearing Obama is this great speaker and sharp on his feet. Hillary kicked his ass in all of the Dem primary debates. She also won most of the primaries where there were actual votes. The idea that Obama can convince anyone of anything through reasoned debate is just bullshit.

  17. “Having a public plan out there that also shows that maybe if you take some of the profit motive out, maybe if you are reducing some of the administrative costs, that you can get an even better deal, that’s going to incentivize the private sector to do even better.”

    That is a word for word quote from BO last night. I invite anyone to try and make any sense out of it. If Sarah Palin ever said something that stupid and incoherent, Tina Fay wouldn’t have to write a joke for an entire season of SNL.

  18. SAdly, what he would LIKE to see happen and what WILL happen are two different things. There is simply too much money at stake in the private sector.

    RT
    http://www.anon-tools.tk

  19. I’m a bad judge of this, but I think the Big O has lost his mojo. It was a bad decision to do this as a press conference. All the positive energy drains out of him when he’s answering questions, and the answer he gave on the tax question is a deal-killer (basically, he said that they were going to tax the middle class to pay for this).

    Second, his vaunted messaging machine has completely failed him here. The way for the Dems to pass this is the way they’ve passed most of their cancerous/parasitic welfare programs: by passing the costs now, and promising to pass the cost controls later. Instead, he continues to threaten middle America with a complete re-engineering of a health care system that most of them like.

  20. Wow, the anonymity bot really swung and missed with that last comment.

  21. I am happy to see the brakes applied to this runaway train. However, if we eventually get a healthcare bill, I expect a bloated, ineffective, expensive piece of clusterfuckery a la Stimulus III and Cap & Trade. Anyone expect something different?

    If they were serious, they’d break this into smaller, more targeted bills that could actually be debated on their own merits.

  22. RC,

    I think it is arrogance on BO’s part. Like Clint Eastwood says, “a good man knows his limitations”. Obama is great giving a prepared speech to a crowd. He is awful thinking on his feet and answering questions. He looks terrible even though the media is throwing him softballs. But, I doubt anyone at the Whitehouse is honest enough with him to tell him that press conferences and open forums are not a good idea.

  23. Obama’s strategy seems to be this: Identify and scapegoat a villain (insurance companies); attack them relentlessly through public and private means; drive down their stock price; make them insolvent; do a Fanny Mae/Freddie Mac-style takeover “in the public interest,” thereby achieving a back-door nationalization. When the government “owns” the insurance companies (Obama would tell us that we own them), he has won. A stretch? Who a year ago could have predicted that we’d own AIG?

  24. I think the Big O has lost his mojo.

    Unfortunately, I think he believes his own myth.

    Clinton never did that. He talked a lot about “change” but any change there was was modest and incremental. The most radical change was welfare reform which was a creature of the Republican Congress, which he signed and took credit for. But for the most part it was platitudes about seventeen year olds smoking and how elementary school kids needed uniforms.

    Hell, to the extent that FDR “succeeded” it was with calming platitudes and direct relief payments, which were modest by today’s standards even if they were scandalous at the time.

    I don’t think Clinton or FDR ever fell for believing in their own personality cults. I believe Obama has.

  25. Whatever are we going to do about this horrible national epidemic of doctors unnecessarily removing kids’ tonsils in order to make a few extra bucks?

  26. Obama’s strategy seems to be this: Identify and scapegoat a villain (insurance companies); attack them relentlessly through public and private means; drive down their stock price; make them insolvent; do a Fanny Mae/Freddie Mac-style takeover “in the public interest,” thereby achieving a back-door nationalization.

    I’m honestly not sure that his goal is back-door nationalization. Maybe I’m being overly simplistic, but here’s how I see his strategy: try to do as many things and enact as many government programs as humanly possible. Then pray that the economy rebounds by 2012, at which point you can point to said actions and programs as the reason the economy rebounded. Then get reelected.

  27. Isaac,

    Clinton was the master of the feel good meaningless gesture. He would go out and give a speech about school uniforms and look like a real good back to basics guy. The fact that the federal government can’t really do much in the way of school uniforms never seemed to matter.

  28. Whatever are we going to do about this horrible national epidemic of doctors unnecessarily removing kids’ tonsils in order to make a few extra bucks?

    I’m pretty amazed that comment isn’t getting more play.

  29. I’m honestly not sure that his goal is back-door nationalization

    It’s not his first choice, but when the bill goes down in flames, it will be a sinister alternative. Last night he directly targeted the insurance companies with his wrath, similar to how JFK got angry with the steel companies in his day. The parallels are striking.

  30. “And my measure of whether things work or not are listening to the American people, but also listening to health-care experts who have shown that in some communities health care is cheaper and delivers a better result.”

    That is really the crux of it. The “experts” are going to tell you what care you are going to get and what is a better result.

  31. I’m honestly not sure that his goal is back-door nationalization. Maybe I’m being overly simplistic, but here’s how I see his strategy: try to do as many things and enact as many government programs as humanly possible. Then pray that the economy rebounds by 2012, at which point you can point to said actions and programs as the reason the economy rebounded. Then get reelected.

    I think both things are true. What Obama doesn’t realize, though, is that he is betting on the business cycle for his re-election, but is undermining the business cycle with his policies.

  32. I’ve been watching the news headlines today and I think Obama might have mad a serious mistake with his comments on Gates. His racial commentary has completely marginalized anything he had to say about healthcare. It’s almost like Gates was the only thing he talked about.

  33. I’m pretty amazed that comment isn’t getting more play.

    A close relative of mine is a pediatrician, and not surprisingly, he was pretty ticked off when he heard this paranoid little rant.

  34. Five major steel producers raised their prices in line with the $6-a-ton increase announced Tuesday by the United States Steel Corporation, the industry’s pace setter.

    An angry and disappointed President Kennedy accused the steel companies of “irresponsible defiance” of the public interest and “ruthless disregard” of their duty to the nation. In a bitter statement opening his news conference, he said that at a time of grave crises abroad, when Reservists were being asked to leave their families and service men to risk their lives, he found it hard “to accept a situation in which a tiny handful of steel executives” could show such utter contempt for the interest of 185,000,000 Americans.”

    The President’s condemnation of the steel price increase was followed by mounting protests from Democratic members of Congress and announcements of inquiries by at least five Government agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice and Treasury Departments.

    Source

    Replace “steel producers” with “insurance companies” for an entertaining experience.

  35. “I think both things are true. What Obama doesn’t realize, though, is that he is betting on the business cycle for his re-election, but is undermining the business cycle with his policies.”

    That was clearly the strategy with the stimulus. They thought the economy would turn around on its own this summer. So, they paid off every Dem interest group and let the Congress loot the treasury for $700 billion. They knew it wasn’t a real stimulus package. But, they also knew their supporters were too dumb or dishonest to care. All they had to do was pass the stimulus, watch the economy turn around on its own and take credit for it. It was a win win right? Unfortuneately for them, they were wrong about how bad the economy was. So there is no recovery to take credit for and everyone is wondering where the hell the $700 billion went.

  36. I just thought it was great that Obama gave a shout out to the Matrix with his red pill/blue pill reference. Because the best presidents are the ones that are enamored with overrated sci-fi from a ten years ago.

  37. A close relative of mine is a pediatrician, and not surprisingly, he was pretty ticked off when he heard this paranoid little rant.

    Shit yeah, I would be. And the President, being a lawyer and all, shouldn’t be throwing stones about bill-padding.

  38. Mr. Obama attacked the one thing that makes insurance companies possible: their profit motive. Here we witnessed the disgusting spectacle of the President of The United States condemning private companies for making money. Obama is exposing himself in ways that might begin to make his disciples nervous.

  39. ed, to his disciples I think attacking profit making companies is a feature, not a bug. Unions only care about their members maintaining a steady paycheck and benefits which he’s done everything he can to continue for them, and the leftists that love him do because of this position.

    But the independents who voted for him are turning quickly. The GOP’s problem, however is that they have no one to capitalize on these mistakes, no solid leader. Sanford really screwed up when he went for the strange.

  40. ” Obama is exposing himself in ways that might begin to make his disciples nervous.”

    Is it any wonder that he sides with Chavez and Castro on the Honduran issued.

  41. “But the independents who voted for him are turning quickly. The GOP’s problem, however is that they have no one to capitalize on these mistakes, no solid leader.”

    Bobby Jindl (sp?) is maturing nicely…

  42. Replace “steel producers” with “insurance companies” for an entertaining experience.

    That’s not entertaining at all!

  43. “a good man knows his limitations”

    A man’s gotta know his limitations. John’s is accuracy on unimportant things.

  44. Did you hear him say that doctors perform more expensive surgeries just for the money. They’ll take out you tonsils instead of just treat your allergies! Thank Obama! Barack will save us all!

    Hey shithead, how about treating the people who actually administer health care with a little respect?! I bet that would help. Instead he attempts to demean the very people who perform the work. Is this Atlas Shrugged or what? Does he know that book was not a script?

  45. Bobby Jindl (sp?) is maturing nicely…

    Yeah, but he’ll always look like a ventriloquist’s dummy. If anyone is too funny-looking to become president, it’s Jindal.

  46. Good catch Warty. It has been a long time since I have seen that movie. But you get the point.

  47. “If anyone is too funny-looking to become president, it’s Jindal.”

    Obama looks like Steve Urkel and that didn’t seem to slow him down.

  48. The AMA must have loved the tonsil comment. Obama’s meanness will be his downfall.

  49. Ya know, if I was dying of cancer, the wish that I would send to the Make-a-Wish Foundation would be to spend the day in a bar with Nick’s jacket. Maybe they could take pictures of me next to Nick’s jacket at the bar to be buried with me. And, if I were to dream the impossible dream, it would be to go to the grave with a picture of me IN Nick’s jacket.

  50. Don’t worry, John, it’s part of your charm.

  51. James,

    Clinton for all his flaws always came accross as the kind of guy you would like to have a beer with or go chase women with. Even Obama’s most derranged supporters don’t seem to have much personal connection or affection for him as a person. They love the idea and the myth of Obama. The actual man seems like a prick on every level.

  52. how about treating the people who actually administer health care with a little respect?

    Actually, we need to treat them with less reverence, and more suspicion. And make them offer a money-back guarantee; that would be the single best way to reduce health care costs.

    NO CURE, NO FEE.
    Suck it, Doc.

  53. Instead he attempts to demean the very people who perform the work. Is this Atlas Shrugged or what? Does he know that book was not a script?

    He’s focusing mostly on the insurance companies, not the doctors. And it’s a safe target. Most Americans still respect doctors. If and when Obama (or any other lefty demagogue) succeeds with public opinion in vilifying the medical profession, it will be the beginning of the end.

  54. There are more than 1,000 outfits selling health insurance. Sure, several dominate, but is there any non-governmentally imposed barrier to entry if “we” wanted to start a new one with all the ideal policies Obama proposes?

    How far would the new insurer get with much lower premiums than prevail today, taking on all comers once they became seriously ill, signing them upregardless of existing conditions, telling doctors and hospitals it would only pay 50% of reasonable and customary charges, customizing policies while hewing to state mandated coverages, eliminating most administrative costs while still policing fraud, letting policy holders demand whatever experimental treatment they want with no lifetime maximums , etc/ etc.
    If this fairy tale could come true, then you bet someone would be out there right now making it come true.

  55. Troy, that was beautiful.

  56. The actual man seems like a prick on every level.

    What’s really fun is that a lot of people seem to be realizing that very suddenly.

  57. Unrelated, but sex columnist Dan Savage is advocating a Jonas/Hanson gay six-way.

    http://www.citypages.com/advice/view/SavageLove

  58. “He’s focusing mostly on the insurance companies, not the doctors. And it’s a safe target”

    Really? How many people are employed by insurance companies. I’m gessing lots.

  59. What’s really fun is that a lot of people seem to be realizing that very suddenly.

    Oh yeah? Well, Sarah Palin is stupid!
    And Rush Limbaugh is fat!

  60. Unrelated, but sex columnist Dan Savage is advocating a Jonas/Hanson gay six-way.

    Imagine the acrobatic difficulties involved when six bottoms attempt to have an orgy.

  61. People should have realized what kind of jerk he is when he flipped off Hillary.

  62. “Imagine the acrobatic difficulties involved when six bottoms attempt to have an orgy.”

    You are legend, sir.

  63. “Imagine the acrobatic difficulties involved when six bottoms attempt to have an orgy.”

    You are legend, sir.

    Only because he has firsthand knowledge of those difficulties.

  64. This bill is an Amendment IV disaster.

    Pg 22 of the HC Bill MANDATES the Govt will audit books of ALL EMPLOYERS that self insure!! WTF!!

    Pg 58HC Bill – Govt will have real-time access 2 individs finances & a National ID Healthcard will b issued!

    Pg 59 HC Bill lines 21-24 Govt will have direct access 2 ur banks accts 4 elect. funds transfer!

    Pg 304 L 17-19 BIG ONE HERE: Expedited Data Collection – Chapter 35 of Title 44 of USC SHALL NOT APPLY. Folks this gives the govt the right to access ur data any way the see fit.

    Pg 735 lines 16-25 For law enforce. purposes the Secretary-HHS will give Atty General access to ALL data.

    PG 1003 9-11 National Med Dev Reg ”(iii) other postmarket device surveillance activities” U WILL b tracked.

  65. Want to have an immediate, positive effect on the quality of health care? If a doctor tells you he wants to perform a complicated, dangerous operation on you, just tell him you’re taking out a special life insurance policy, and the proceeds will be going to a hit man.
    If you don’t make it, some guy will show up at his house in the dead of night, turn his elbows inside out, and cut off his thumbs with a pair of tin snips.

  66. It’s about time someone had the courage to stand up to the tonsil-industrial complex.

  67. Imagine the acrobatic difficulties involved when six bottoms attempt to have an orgy.

    Two Isosceles Locks would do it.

  68. The more press conferences and “town halls” the better. At some point he will Bidenize himself so blatently that nobody will be able to paper it over. However, that may be when the fun *really* begins.

  69. creech, in the insurance business that would be called adverse selection. You don’t want all the sick people at once. You need a risk assessed combination across as many medical demographics as possible from healthy to on death’s door. The government is the only lone “company” that can offer what Obama is selling because they can force the rest of us to pay for it.

    The solution is to reform a lot of the little pieces of insurance and medical professions in unison via the free market. Get the government to stop restricting how insurance carriers can offer services and get medical providers to expand their operations. It’s not that hard, but the opposition to universal care is not making any such suggestions. The insurance carriers could be offering them, but they are all rent-seeking instead. They are all kissing ass EXPECTING their operations to be controlled.

  70. Two Isosceles Locks would do it.

    You really think those teen heart-throb assdanglers know higher georgymetry? They might be able to pull off a ball-guzzling ouroboros or a round-robin jerk-n-weep, but that’s about it.

  71. How far would the new insurer get with much lower premiums than prevail today, taking on all comers once they became seriously ill, signing them upregardless of existing conditions, telling doctors and hospitals it would only pay 50% of reasonable and customary charges, customizing policies while hewing to state mandated coverages, eliminating most administrative costs while still policing fraud, letting policy holders demand whatever experimental treatment they want with no lifetime maximums , etc/ etc.

    I’m guessing that business model would get you to the nearest bankruptcy court, but no further.

  72. Universal Health Care – The government knows best how you should treat your body.

    War on Drugs – The government knows best how you should treat your body.

    Your move, conservatives…

  73. georgymetry – euclid’s wet dreams?

  74. “I’m guessing that business model would get you to the nearest bankruptcy court, but no further.”

    Not if you are the government and can print your own money. Then, it is your competitors who will be headed to the nearest bankruptcy court.

  75. Why haven’t you joined up with Winterboob and left for Alpha Centauri?

    It is your destiny.

  76. “Two Isosceles Locks would do it.”

    Wouldn’t those be Equalateral Locks?

  77. You really think those teen heart-throb assdanglers know higher georgymetry? They might be able to pull off a ball-guzzling ouroboros or a round-robin jerk-n-weep, but that’s about it.

    I’m going outside for a smoke, and I’m going to try to get that image out of my head by thinking of something slightly less gross. Thai tranny squat shitting, Thai tranny squat shitting.

  78. You really think those teen heart-throb assdanglers know higher georgymetry? They might be able to pull off a ball-guzzling ouroboros or a round-robin jerk-n-weep, but that’s about it.

    Sugarfree, all I can say is, “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy.”

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