About Me

My photo
Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired in Florida for over two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Repealing Obamacare, The ACA Viewed from North of the Border, Whigs and a Fable,

Two Compromises - Repealing Obamacare in 2016
Avoiding the Third Seduction of Barack Obama

There’s a lot wrong with Obamacare.  The Affordable Care Act is flawed in many aspects.  

It may force some businesses to provide health coverage to employees to whom they previously did not offer it.  It penalizes businesses which do not do so, as well as uninsured individuals who choose not to become insured.  It may cause businesses to use more part-timers who don’t get benefits rather that full-timers and reduce new hiring significantly.  Some businesses may even shut down rather than spend the money needed to comply.  Many young people, and low income families (despite Federal subsidies) may still not participate preferring to go to Emergency Rooms for health care, deciding to use their resources for other necessities such as food and housing rather than health insurance premiums, however modest they may be.  But that’s what the Affordable Health Care faces as it goes into effect.  If enough young and healthy folks do not sign up for it, it will be in financial trouble.  

But these issues should be addressed by the House and Senate in the normal course of their operation, and should NOT be used by a small minority of troglodyte legislators in the House of Representatives as justification for holding up the passage of the country's budget or debt limit.  

These folks are still embittered by the fact that Obamacare, with all of its flaws, is the law of the land, passed by both Houses of Congress, affirmed by the Supreme Court and validated by the 2012 Presidential election in which the LOSING candidate in both popular and electoral vote counts had pledged to repeal it.  Clearly, Americans said "No" to Romney.   In simple terms, they are "sore losers."

The reason for the problems in the Affordable Care Act is that it actually is Republican-style legislation.  The Democrats historically had been for a single payor plan, like Medicare.  Ultimately, they acquiesced to designing a plan using the private health insurance industry as the Republicans concept provided for, a plan such as the one Mitt Romney instituted in Massachusetts.  They were not even able to include a provision giving those unable to afford private insurance the public option of utilizing the government as their insurer, as in Medicare.

All of the problems of Obamacare stem from its Republican roots, which are the cause of its deficiencies.  Incorporating these deficiencies in the Affordable Care Act is the price the Democrats paid to get the law passed in the first place. The President and the Democrats in Congress would have preferred a single payor plan without insurance company involvement, but they accepted half a loaf, the Affordable Care Act, rather than nothing at all.  This was compromise Number One, the first seduction of Barack Obama.

Compromise Number Two was the 2012 decision to raise the Debt Limit subject to a Select Committee deciding on spending cuts by year end, with the threat of unbelievably drastic cuts which no one really wanted if they failed to do so.  Well, we got those drastic and unwanted spending cuts, known as “The Sequester” as we tumbled over what we called the Fiscal Cliff
  That was Compromise Number Two made by the Democrats, the second seduction of Barack ObamaThe Republicans right wing, led by the clown they worship, Grover Norquist, laughed with glee over the cuts, even steeper than those they had wanted earlier in 2012.

The Democrats have compromised enough.  Barack Obama is not the easy mark the G.O.P. thinks he is and will not be seduced into compromising a third time. Enough is enough. This time, they will hold fast.  In 2016, when the Republican majority in the House hopefully will have disappeared, it will be time to repeal Republican-style Obamacare and replace it with a real “single payor” system of health care for everyone, as exists in most civilized countries in the Western world.

Jack Lippman

What Canadians Think of our Affordable Care Act

(Reproduced from the Washington Past one day last week, here are some of the views of our Canadian neighbors about Obamacare, as reported by columnist Matt Miller).   See if you can get any of your Republican friends to read it, perhaps when their eyes aren't glued to Fox News.

Canadians don't understand Ted Cruz's health-care battle
The Washington Post, September 25, 2013

Matt Miller 

When you're being forced to endure another rabid Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) soliloquy on Obamacare's threat to human freedom, it's easy to forget how absurd our health-care debate seems to the rest of the civilized world. That's why it's bracing to check in with red-blooded, high testosterone capitalists north of the border in Canada—business leaders who love Canada's single-payer system (a regime far to the "left" of Obamacare) and see it as perfectly consistent with free market capitalism.

Take David Beatty, a 70-year-old Toronto native who ran food processing giant Weston Foods and a holding company called the Gardiner Group during a career that has included service on more than 30 corporate boards and a recent appointment to the Order of Canada, one of the nation's highest honors. By temperament and demeanor, Beatty is the kind of tough-minded, suffer-no-fools wealth creator who conservatives typically cheer.

Yet over breakfast in Toronto not long ago, Beatty told me how baffled he and Canadian business colleagues are when they listen to the U.S. health-care debate. He cherishes Canada's single-payer system for its quality and cost-effectiveness (Canada boasts much lower costs per person than the United States). And don't get him started on the system's administrative simplicity—you just show your card at the point of service, and that's it. Though he's a well-to-do man who can pay for whatever care he wants, Beatty told me he's relied on the system just as ordinary Canadians do, including for a recent knee replacement operation. The one time he went outside the system was to pay extra for a physical therapist closer to his home than the one to which he'd been assigned.

It's just "common sense" in Beatty's view that government takes the lead in assuring basic health security for its citizens. He's amazed at the contortions of the debate in the United States, and wonders why big U.S. companies "want to be in the business of providing health care anyway" ("that's a government function," he says simply). Beatty also marvels at the way the U.S. regime's dysfunction comes to dominate everyday conversation. He shakes his head recalling how much time and passion American friends devoted one evening to comparing notes on their various supplemental Medicare plans. Talk about your sparkling dinner conversation.

Roger Martin, another Toronto native and avowed capitalist, spent years as a senior partner at the consulting firm Monitor before becoming dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, where he recently completed a 15-year stint. He advises U.S. corporate icons like Proctor & Gamble and Steelcase. He lived in the United States for years and has experienced both systems first hand.

Martin told me that Canada's lower spending, better outcomes and universal coverage make it superior by definition. Plus, it's "incredibly hassle-free." In the United States every time he took his kids in for an earache his wife spent hours fighting with the health plan or filling out reams of paperwork. In Canada, he says, "the entire administrative cost is pulling your card out of your pocket, giving it to them and putting it back."

There's more. Canadian divisions of multinational firms love Canada's system because when they bid on projects they have no health costs to load in. Also, there's no crazy "job lock" as with the employer-based system in the United States—where people with (say) a sick child cling to their job for fear of being pronounced uninsurable. His peers, he says, view the U.S. debate as "ideological and not based on economics."

"The whole single payer thing just makes sense," Martin adds. "You don't spend time trying to shift costs." It's hardly perfect: a few folks go to the United States to jump the line on certain elective procedures, and Canada, like others, free rides on American's investment in pharmaceutical innovation (funded by higher U.S. drug prices). But, he adds, "I literally have a hard time thinking of what would be better than a single-payer system."

The moral of the story?
Don't let the rants of cynical demagogues like Cruz confuse you—it is entirely possible to be a freedom loving capitalist and also believe in a strong government role in health care. Remember, Obamacare features a much smaller such role than does Canada's approach—or England's, where Margaret Thatcher would have been chased from office for proposing anything as radically conservative as the Affordable Care Act.

One well-known billionaire told me a few years back that the right answer for the United States was single payer for basic coverage, with the ability for folks to buy additional private supplements atop that. But he won't say this in public; the gang at the club just wouldn't understand.
Maybe when U.S. business leaders muster the common sense of their Canadian counterparts, they'll deliver the message the Ted Cruzes of the world need to hear: sit down and shut up.
Matt Miller 

Nice job, Mr. Miller


The Demise of the Whigs

The “Whig Party” elected Presidents in 1840 (William Henry Harrison) and in 1848 (Zachary Taylor), both of whom died in office to be succeeded by their Vice Presidents, John Tyler and Millard Fillmore, respectively.
The Whigs consisted of several disparate groups: (a) those who were against a strong central government,  (b) Southerners who were not only against a strong central government but also opposed such national projects as building roads because they would be of greater benefit to the industrial North, (c) opponents of the expansion of slavery, (d) big city opponents of immigration and of course, (e) those who despised Andrew Jackson, considering him to have been a tyrant who left after him a Democratic Party which followed, to a great extent, his populist policies.  (In England, the “Whigs” were the opposition to the “Tories” who supported the Monarchy more strongly.  Our “Whigs” took that name, implying that Jackson acted as if were a monarch.)
Andrew Jackson  and   Barack Obama, both vilified by their opponents.
Meanwhile, the Democrats (there was no Republican Party as we know it in those days) advocated a strong central government, projects which benefited the industrial North, tolerated slavery through compromises to keep the agrarian South satisfied, welcomed immigrants who automatically voted for them in the big cities of the North, and finally, boasted that they were the party of Andrew Jackson, whom they considered our first “people’s President.”

Eventually, its tightrope-walking support of slavery crippled the Democratic Party, which, except for Grover Cleveland's two terms, only recovered well into the twentieth century.  The Republican Party lost the Presidential Election, its first, in 1856, but four years later, elected Abraham Lincoln to the White House.

By this time the “big tent” of naysayers which comprised the Whig Party had collapsed because of its failure to offer constructive solutions to the nation’s problems, which the newly formed Republican Party did.  Its anti-slavery voters became Republicans, those who opposed a strong central government became  Democrats (who then took on a States rights identity) and its anti-immigrant element disappeared into extreme right wing groups. Because negativity as a policy always loses, the Whig Party disappeared in the 1850s.
  Two G.O.P. Pallbearers
Or did they?  Today we have a party opposing a strong central government, with great strength in the South, which opposes immigration and which despises the populist President in the White House and which lets that hatred govern their policies.  Are they the Whigs reincarnated, and will the diverse elements in the Grand Old Party pull it apart and drive it into oblivion as was the case with the Whigs?  Two postings ago, I questioned whether or not John Boehner and Ted Cruz might be the Republican Party's pallbearers.  I still do.

Jack Lippman


A Fable

This one of Aesop’s fables has appeared in literature and storytelling all over the world down through history.  

                                     The Farmer and the Snake
One winter, a Farmer found a snake stiff and frozen with cold. He had compassion on it, and taking it up, placed it in his bosom. The snake was quickly revived by the warmth, and resuming its natural instincts, bit its benefactor, inflicting on him a mortal wound. "Oh," cried the Farmer with his last breath, "I am rightly served for pitying a scoundrel."   The greatest kindness will not bind the ungrateful.
There are a couple of ways this can be viewed in the context of America in the 21st century.  It could taken to mean that government programs to assist the homeless, hungry and unemployed will rebound to the detriment, financial or otherwise, of the country.  It also can be taken as a message to the Republican Party, pointing out the danger of it taking its “tea party” wing to its bosom.  Take your choice.

Most readers of this blog are alerted by Email every time a new posting appears.  If you wish to be added to that Email list, just let me know by clicking on Riart1@aol.com and sending me an Email.  BY CLICKING ON THAT ADDRESS, (shown above in red) YOU CAN ALSO SEND ME YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO BE PUBLISHED IN THIS BLOG AS WELL AS YOUR COMMENTS.   I am just a click of your mouse away.

Also, be aware that www.Jackspotpourri.com is now available on your mobile devices in a modified, easy-to-read, format.

                                                    * * *   * * *   * * *

To view older postings on this blog, just click on the appropriate date in the “Blog Archive” off to the right, or scroll down until you see the “Older Posts” notation at the very bottom of this posting.  The “Search” box can also be used to find older postings.

To send this posting to a friend, or enemy for that matter, whom you think might be interested in it, just click on the envelope with the arrow on the "Comments" line directly below.   You can also let me know their Email address as well so that they may be alerted to future postings.

Jack Lippman