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Political News and Commentary from the Right

The Left Turns Off Obama

by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann at Townhall.com

While the smoke rises from the Capitol building where the health care debate proceeds, Obama is losing his political base on the left.

His decision to send 34,000 more troops to Afghanistan, an odd move for a peace candidate, his failure to close Guantanamo, our continued military presence in Iraq, and his failure to act on liberal priorities like gays in the military and immigration reform are all sapping his support from those who voted for him.

And, even in the health care debate, the under-30 voters are learning that they are targeted — just like the elderly — for special punishment in Obama’s health care bill. When they realize that they must spend $15,000 on average per family for health insurance or face a fine of 2.5 percent of their income or go to prison, the bill loses its appeal. And, when they find out how shallow the subsidies are (only after they spend 8 percent of their paychecks if their household income is $45,000 a year and 12 percent if it is $65,000), they begin to turn off both the bill and the president for whom they were once so enthusiastic.

Then there is the loss of popularity that has nothing to do with ideology. It all begins with unemployment. While voters still believe by 50-42 (Rasmussen) that George W. Bush is more at fault than Obama for the economy, Bush is not on the ballot. The high jobless rate nurtures a belief that Obama doesn’t really know what he is doing. This discontent need not take the form of ideological opposition to the stimulus package or the deficit spending. It can merely be a sense that things aren’t going right.

And then come the adjectives. Voters are increasingly complaining that Obama is weak, vacillates, does not keep his promises, spends too much time on other priorities than jobs and seems egotistical.

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December 2, 2009 Posted by | Obama | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Obamacare To Hike State Taxes

by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann at Townhall.com

While Obama has been at great pains to make a show of avoiding taxes on the middle class to pay for his health care changes, his proposed increase in Medicaid eligibility will have a huge impact on the 39 states whose income cutoffs for the program are below those required in the new federal legislation.

All states except for Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin (plus the District of Colombia) will have to raise their eligibility for Medicaid under the Senate health care bill. And they will have to pay for part of the cost. Under the House bill, with a higher Medicaid eligibility standard, Massachusetts and Vermont would also have to pay more.

The magnitude of the new Medicaid spending required by Obamacare is such as to transform the nature of state finances. A large part of the reason that some states, particularly in the South, have been able to avoid higher taxes is because they have chosen to keep down the Medicaid eligibility level.

The hardest hit states would be Texas ($2.8 billion in extra state spending), Pennsylvania ($1.5 billion), California ($1.4 billion) and Florida ($909 million). Who knows if Florida could avoid imposing an income tax if it has to meet so high an unfunded mandate?

In many of the states represented by swing senators in the health care debate, the required increases in state spending are likely to be quite high. In Arkansas, where swing Sens. Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln live, the increased state spending required under the Obamacare bill would come to $402 million (not counting the federal share), about a 10 percent increase in state spending. In Louisiana, where Marie Landrieu has sold her vote in return for more Medicaid funding, the increase would come to $432 million (a 5 percent hike in state spending), more than wiping out the extra funds she got in return for her vote. In Indiana, where moderate Evan Bayh is senator, spending would go up by $586 million, a hike of 4 percent. In Ben Nelson’s Nebraska, the additional state spending required under the bill would be $81 million, a 2 percent increase. The Obamacare bill would cost North Dakota, home of Sens. Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan, $14 million, and in South Dakota, represented by moderate Democrat Tim Johnson, Medicaid spending would have to rise by $33 million.

The Medicaid expansion provisions of the Senate bill are complex. In the first year of the program (2013), states must enroll anyone who earns less than 133 percent of the poverty level in their programs. For a family of four, the national average poverty level in 2009 is $22,000 a year. So any family that size that makes less than $29,000 would be eligible for Medicaid. Many states, particularly in the South, actually have Medicaid cutoffs that are below the poverty level. Arkansas, for example, cuts off its Medicaid eligibility at only 17 percent of the poverty level, and in Louisiana, it goes up to only 26 percent. For these states, the spending increase required by the new bill is huge.

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November 30, 2009 Posted by | Health Care, Taxes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama’s Health Care Plan Not Out of the Woods Yet

by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann at Townhall.com

Joseph Stubbs, President of the American College of Physicians — the second largest doctors’ group in the country — confirms that “the supply of doctors just won’t be there” for the 30 million new patients Barack Obama wants to cover. Noting that the doctor shortage is “already a catastrophic crisis,” Stubbs said that underserved areas in the U.S. currently need almost 17,000 new primary care physicians even before Obama’s proposals are enacted.

In the meantime, according to Bloomberg News, a 2009 survey by Merritt Hawkins and Associates, a recruiting and research firm in Irving, Texas, found that “the average waiting time to see a family-medicine doctor in Boston … is 63 days, the most among the 15 cities” surveyed. By comparison, in Miami, it was only seven days.

The study noted that Boston’s longer wait was “driven in part by the health-care reform initiative” passed in 2006 in Massachusetts upon which the Obama program is modeled. Bloomberg reported that “as many as half of doctors in the state have closed their practices to new patients, forcing many of the newly insured to turn to emergency rooms for care.”

Alan Goroll, a professor at Harvard Medical School said that “the primary lesson of health-care reform in Massachusetts is that you can’t increase the number of insured unless you have a strong primary-care base in place to receive them. Without that foundation … Massachusetts has ended up with higher costs and people going to emergency rooms when they can’t find a doctor.”

And, a study by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, part of the federal government’s Health and Human Services Department, found that expanding insurance coverage to an estimated 32 million people who now lack it would create a demand for medical services that “could be difficult to meet initially … and could lead to price-increases, cost-shifting, and-or changes in providers’ willingness to treat patients with low-reimbursement health coverage.”

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November 18, 2009 Posted by | Health Care | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Much Obamacare Costs the Average Family

by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann at Townhall.com

Whether or not you now have health insurance, Obama’s health care bill will cost you dearly.

If you don’t have insurance, you will be required to buy it. The legislation specifies how much you will have to pay for the coverage before any subsidy kicks in. All during the campaign, Obama kept speaking about affordable coverage. Now it appears that his definition of “affordable” might be a bit elastic.

If your household income is $66,000 a year, slightly above the national average, Obama’s health care bill will require you to spend 12 percent of your income — about $8,000 a year or almost $700 a month — to buy health insurance before you get any federal subsidy.

Even those making less will have to reach deep into their meager resources to satisfy Obama’s statutory requirement. Families scraping by on only $44,0000 a year will have to pay 7 percent of their income (about $3,000) on insurance. Even those making just $33,000 will have to ante up 4.5 percent of their income (about $1,500) for health insurance. The required payments reach so far down the scale that those who are living at the federal poverty level of $22,000 will have to shell out 2 percent of their totally inadequate incomes ($440) for insurance.

That Obama is charging premiums to those living at or on the border of poverty is absolutely incredible! And this from a candidate who pledged that he would not tax the middle class!

If you have insurance, you will get hit by his proposed 40 percent tax on insurance premiums.

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October 20, 2009 Posted by | Health Care | , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Obamacare Means $1,700 More in Premiums forTypical Family

by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann at Townhall.com

Will a young, healthy, childless individual or couple buy health insurance costing 7.5 percent of their income as required by Obama’s health legislation? Not until they get sick. Then, they can always buy the insurance — and the Obama bill requires the insurance companies to give it to them. And, if the premiums come to more than 7.5 percent of their income because they are now sick, no problem. Obama will subsidize it.

Instead, young, healthy, childless people will likely opt to pay the $1,000 fine (a.k.a., slap on the wrist) mandated in the bill. After all, even if they make as little as $50,000 a year, the fine is a lot cheaper than 7.5 percent of their income (or $3,500 a year)!

So … these young households will not contribute to the coffers of any health insurance company until they are sick and need the coverage. By then, their costs will come to vastly more than their premiums.

Who will subsidize the difference? We will.

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October 14, 2009 Posted by | Health Care | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obamacare: Cut the Elderly and Give to AARP

by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann at Townhall.com

Among the $500 billion in Medicare cuts that will provide the bulk of the financing for Obama’s health care plan is a $160 billion to $180 billion cut in the Medicare Advantage program, which offers a range of benefits not available to beneficiaries under basic Medicare.

Medicare Advantage should be Obama’s favorite program. It combines all the elements he likes — premiums are subsidized for low-income elderly, and the companies negotiate low-priced, managed care that emphasizes prevention, treatment of chronic conditions and coordination among doctors. As a result, its costs on the one hand and its premiums on the other are both much lower than with conventional insurance.

Ten million primarily low-income elderly have voluntarily enrolled in Medicare Advantage and realize savings of about $1,000 annually in enhanced benefits over and above what Medicare itself provides. These extra benefits include reductions in out-of-pocket costs and comprehensive drug coverage, vision, dental and hearing benefits, wellness programs (like gym memberships), and disease management and care coordination programs.

Medicare Advantage, which gained momentum during the Bush-43 years, essentially implements all the economies and efficiencies that Obama preaches nonstop. Doctors speak to one another, duplication is avoided, care is managed, and there is an emphasis on prevention.

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October 3, 2009 Posted by | Health Care | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Surrendering U.S. Sovereignty at G-20 Summit

by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann at Townhall.com

While all eyes were on the rantings of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the United Nations, the United States — under President Obama — was surrendering its economic sovereignty at the G-20 summit.

The result of this conclave, which France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy hailed as “revolutionary,” was that all the nations agreed to coordinate their economic policies and programs and to submit them to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for comment and approval. While the G-20 nations and the IMF are, for now, only going to use “moral suasion” on those nations found not to be in compliance, talk of sanctions looms on the horizon.

While the specific policies to which the U.S. committed itself (reducing the deficit and strengthening regulatory oversight of financial institutions) are laudable in themselves, the process and the precedent are frightening.

We are to subject our most basic national economic policies to the review of a group of nations that includes autocratic Russia, China and Saudi Arabia. Even though our gross domestic product is three times bigger than the second-largest economy (Japan) and equal to that of 13 of the G-20 nations combined, we are to sit politely by with our one vote and submit to the global consensus. Europe has five votes (Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the EU), while we have but one.

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September 30, 2009 Posted by | Foreign Policy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rhetoric V. Reality: Health Care by Orwell

by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann at Townhall.com

President Obama’s rhetoric Wednesday night summoned the memory of “1984,” George Orwell’s novel of a nightmarish future — where the slogan of the rulers is “War is peace; freedom is slavery; ignorance is strength.”

The president assures us that he will cut health-care spending … by adding $1 trillion to health-care spending.

He says that “health-care decisions will not be made by government” … while he sets up a new Federal Health Board to tell doctors what treatments they can offer and to whom and under what circumstances.

Obama told the media, “I will free doctors to make good health care decisions” … by telling the physicians what to do.

When the president says he guarantees the “same coverage” to people who like their current health-insurance policies, he means that their current HMOs, insurers and doctors will be the ones to implement the protocols and instructions the government hands down to them — not that we’ll have our current freedom of decision-making.

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July 27, 2009 Posted by | Health Care | , , , , , | Leave a comment