Let’s take a walk through today’s newspaper and see what there is to see.
First I see an article about the US deficit dilemma. We see that the deficit this fiscal year is about $1.4 trillion dollars or 9.9% of GDP, bigger than any year since 1945. Of course the current administration blames the previous administration, things like cutting taxes, the wars and the Medicare drug benefit (a benefit by the way that is being significantly improved in one of the pending health care “reform” bills before Congress). Check out the current status of the US debt for yourself.
Moving on we find an article about the earmarks Congress has placed in the budget under the guise of stimulus and anything else it can think of. What’s a million here or a million there? New Jersey Congressman for example, have added $1.5 million for new air conditioning for the Newark Museum, their logic being that it will be a model for energy efficiency and that it will continue to make the museum’s collection available to the American public. Have you been to the Newark museum lately (or ever heard of it)? I live within five miles of the museum and have for over 65 years and have never been there. Rationalization is easy…and expensive…for you.
Then we find that CAlpers the California pension fund is under scrutiny for the high investment fees paid to one of its own board members. This is but one example of the questionable management of pension funds at the state level. Keep in mind that under health care reform the states will operate large segments of the program and continue to regulate health insurance companies.
Next up is a report that President Obama is pushing for a $250 payment to all those receiving Social Security because the legal formula will not provide an increase (because there is no inflation). But hey, its economic stimulus and if they get the $250 they won’t be able to get another $250 if they install a new water heater through another stimulus plan next year. No plans yet where the $13 billion is coming from. It would be far easier for us seniors to just ask our grandchildren for the $250. OMG is this a bribe to us seniors so we don’t rise up when we lose our Medicare Part C option?
Last up on our journey is an opinion piece on health care reform pointing out (correctly) that the math and budget maneuvering to make it “affordable” is (as I have said repeatedly) smoke and mirrors. Judge for yourself. The cost is figured on a ten year basis, tax hikes and benefit cuts (mostly lower payments to providers under Medicare) go into effect in 2010, but the additional spending is not effective for another three to five years. The CBO also assumes that employers who shift workers to the new insurance exchanges will replace that cost by raising the workers pay and thus generating additional income taxes. Then we have the assumption that the tax on so called Cadillac health insurance plans will raise additional money and grow in the future, an assumption that requires insurance companies and employers to continue to offer such plans and pay a 40% excise tax. Don’t forget to send in your voluntary additional income tax payment next April. Finally we have the cuts in Medicare payments, cuts that Congress in the past has blocked but now we have the assumption they will go into effect and stay in effect for the next ten years. At the same time there is already talk of legislation to prevent them from going into effect in 2010 because of the growing number of doctors who will not take Medicare patients.
I remember something called the new math and as I recall I was never good at it. I’m still one of those 2+2 = 4 guys. Somehow we elect people who are expert in Congressional math which calls for 2+2 to equal -1. If this wasn’t so serious for future generations if not our country, it would be funny, but it is not funny, not funny at all and we all participated in electing these boobs and more often than not reelecting them too.