Archive for October 30th, 2009

Pelosi Health Care Bill Blows a Kiss to Trial Lawyersby Capitol Confidential

From Big Government

The health care bill recently unveiled by Speaker Nancy Pelosi is over 1,900 pages for a reason. It is much easier to dispense goodies to favored interest groups if they are surrounded by a lot of legislative legalese. For example, check out this juicy morsel to the trial lawyers (page 1431-1433 of the bill):

Section 2531, entitled “Medical Liability Alternatives,” establishes an incentive program for states to adopt and implement alternatives to medical liability litigation. [But]…… a state is not eligible for the incentive payments if that state puts a law on the books that limits attorneys’ fees or imposes caps on damages.

So, you can’t try to seek alternatives to lawsuits if you’ve actually done something to implement alternatives to lawsuits. Brilliant! The trial lawyers must be very happy today!

While there is debate over the details, it is clear that medical malpractice lawsuits have some impact on driving health care costs higher. There are likely a number of procedures that are done simply as a defense against future possible litigation. Recall this from the Washington Post:

“Lawmakers could save as much as $54 billion over the next decade by imposing an array of new limits on medical malpractice lawsuits, congressional budget analysts said today — a substantial sum that could help cover the cost of President Obama’s overhaul of the nation’s health system. New research shows that legal reforms would not only lower malpractice insurance premiums for medical providers, but would also spur providers to save money by ordering fewer tests and procedures aimed primarily at defending their decisions in court, Douglas Elmendorf, director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, wrote in a letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).”

Stay tuned. There certainly many more terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad provisions in this massive bill.

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Social Security Reform

By Harris Sherline 

Assumptions are not facts.  They’re guesses.  Sometimes right on, sometimes way off or somewhere between.  But, when it comes to Social Security, regardless of the accuracy of the assumptions used in the various forecasts, the reality is that the system is going broke.  The question is not “if” but “when.”

Start with the fact that the Social Security administration does not have any funds in trust or investment accounts, such as stocks, bonds, savings accounts.  The entire system is actually a giant Ponzi-type pay-as-you-go scheme that takes the payroll taxes of those who are still working and distributes it to retirees. Individuals who hustle similar dishonest “investments” are sent directly to jail without passing “Go,” but it’s OK for Congress.

 “Any surplus is not saved or invested for pensioners.  Those funds are borrowed by the federal government to pay current operating expenses and replaced with government bonds…..the federal government lends itself the excess in return for an interest-paying bond, an IOU that it issues to itself……The funds are not invested for the benefit of present or future retirees.”  (Source: Retiring With Dignity: Social Security vs. Private Markets, William G. Shipman, The CATO Project, August 14, 1995).

What a brilliant idea, having the government borrow money from itself and issue IOUs to itself, promising to pay it back later.  But wait, doesn’t the money all come from the same pocket, the taxpayers, right?   If you’re confused by this, don’t fret, you’re not alone.  The entire setup is nothing more than a giant shell game:  now you see the money, now you don’t, which shell is it under? 

Our Social Security program has worked to this point because money has been coming in faster than it has been going out.  But that’s about to end.  Charles Krauthammer, writing in the Washington Post (2005), noted that in 2018 the “pay-as-you-go system starts paying out more (in Social Security benefits) than goes in (in payroll taxes)…But because the population is aging, in 13 years [now 9 years] the system begins to go into the red.”  At that point, Social Security will only be able to pay 73% of “promised benefits” to retirees.

If you’re not yet convinced that Social Security is going broke, here are some stats worth considering (Source: Retiring With Dignity: Social Security vs. Private Markets, William G. Shipman, The CATO Project, August 14, 1995):


  • In 1935, when the Social Security Act was adopted, life expectancy at birth was 64 years; in 1995 it was 75.8; today it’s over 78.
  • The birth rate was 3.56 in 1950, 2.0 in 1995 and is currently something less than 2.0.
  • There were 16 workers for every Social Security recipient in 1950; 3.3 in 1995, and the ratio has been projected at less than 2.0 in 2030.
  • In 1937, the maximum Social Security Tax was $60 on $3,000 of income.  Today, it’s $6,621 on $106,800 of income, over a 10,000% increase. (NOTE: Remember, the employer matches the employee’s contribution)


These numbers clearly demonstrate why Social Security is going under: people are living (read collecting benefits) longer, and there are fewer workers paying into the system to support each retiree.  In about 20 years, less than two workers are expected to be paying into the system to support each beneficiary, compared to 16 in 1950.

It doesn’t take a math major or a Ph.d to recognize that the program can’t be sustained without making some drastic changes.

Furthermore, Social Security was not really intended to be a retirement program.  The politicians who devised the program in 1935, including FDR, knew perfectly well at the time that most Americans wouldn’t live long enough to collect any benefits.

The United States is not alone in being confronted with the dilemma of a failing national pension system.  It’s a universal problem, affecting all the European nations and Russia, among others.

One solution might be to drastically reduce benefits for all social security beneficiaries.  How much no one knows, but it could easily be a third or more.

Another alternative is to increase the retirement age, which will slow the rate of outgo, although that will ultimately not be enough of a fix.  Raising the age of eligibility (to 67) is already being phased in.

A third possibility is to raise taxes, dramatically.  Hardly an attractive option. Or, the government could borrow the money to cover the shortfall, which currently adds up to something in excess of $17.1 trillion, an astonishing unfunded liability. 

Of course, the problem could be fixed by reducing other government spending.  However, since the discretionary portion of the federal budget is relatively small, it would mean significant cuts in other expenditures, such as defense, education, highways, energy, welfare, or the host of so-called “entitlement” programs. 

Not very likely.

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So-Called ‘Death Panel’ Measure Survives in House Health Bill

From AP

WASHINGTON — It’s alive.

The Medicare end-of-life planning provision that 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin said was tantamount to “death panels” for seniors is staying in the latest Democratic health care bill unveiled Thursday.

The provision allows Medicare to pay for voluntary counseling to help beneficiaries deal with the complex and painful decisions families face when a loved one is approaching death.

For years, federal laws and policies have encouraged Americans to think ahead about end-of-life decisions, and make their wishes known in advance through living wills and similar legal documents. But when House Democrats proposed this summer to pay doctors for end-of-life counseling, it touched off a wave of suspicion and anger. Prominent Republicans singled it out as a glaring example of government overreach.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, at the time a lead negotiator on health care legislation, told constituents at a town hall meeting they had good reason to question the proposal.

“I don’t have any problem with things like living wills, but they ought to be done within the family,” he said. “We should not have a government program that determines you’re going to pull the plug on grandma.”

Thursday, the sponsor of the provision said the barrage of criticism may have actually helped.

“There is nothing more basic than giving someone the option of speaking with their doctor about how they want to be treated in the case of an emergency,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore. “I think the outrageous and vindictive attacks may have backfired to help raise awareness about this problem, which is why it’s been kept in the bill.”

The legislation would allow Medicare to pay for a counseling session with a doctor or clinical professional once every five years. The bill calls for such sessions to be “completely” voluntary, and prohibits the encouragement or promotion of suicide or assisted suicide.

The counseling provision is supported by doctors’ groups and AARP, the seniors’ lobby. It was not included in health care bills passed by two Senate committees.

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Secular Jews, such as Larry David, who inhabit the Hollywood hills, live timidly in abject fear of retaliating Muslims, and, yet are bold and brazen when it comes to degrading Christianity and humiliating Christians.

David understands that Christian bigotry is the only acceptable form of bigotry allowed in America, so he can exercise his hateful prejudice without fear of serious repercussions. In fact, he’ll more than likely be esteemed, back patted, applauded, and acclaimed for his “courageous” efforts among the foppish twits and tarts in the “artistic” community.

The epitaph for our country has been written:  They revered Mohammad, they mocked Christ, and they perished.

I am sickened; I am saddened.

I.M. Kane  


Would Larry David Urinate on the Koran?

By Jamie Glazov

In a recent Curb Your Enthusiasm episode, Larry David accidentally urinates on a picture of Jesus while he is a guest in someone else’s home. This, in turn, leads to a misunderstanding in which the homeowners think they have a miraculously weeping Jesus.

Some Christians are understandably upset.

Just some thoughts on what this episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm has revealed:

  • Are producers of this show, or Larry David, or anyone else connected to it fearing for their lives right now?
  • Are there Christian groups calling for the death of anyone in connection to this episode?
  • In comparison, let us say, to the Muhammad cartoons riots and death threats, what does this say about Islam and Christianity?
  • Which faith is a Religion of Peace and which one is not?
  • Would the producers of this show have just as easily allowed a scene in which Larry David urinates on a Koran?

He couldn’t urinate on a picture of Muhammad because we all know that making a representation of Muhammad gets you an immediate death sentence. So we have to settle for the Holy Book. But how much does anyone want to bet that this would never be allowed?


  1. Why in our culture is urinating on Jesus easily permitted but urinating on the Koran is simply unthinkable?
  2. What does this signify?
  3. And why is it that the people who right now are rolling their eyes and saying that Christians should get a life because this is freedom of expression, the same ones who would be up in arms if Larry David had done the same thing to the Koran?

They are the ones who blamed the artists of the Muhammad cartoons for provoking and upsetting Muslims. They are the ones who argue that, when it comes to the sensibilities of Muslims, free speech has limits.

If Curb Your Enthusiasm had an episode in which Larry David urinated on a Koran, they would be on the front lines saying that this is Islamophobia and that we must be sensitive to the feelings of Muslims, etc. It would be deemed as hate speech. There would be lawsuits and the show would be cancelled and David’s career would be over.

HBO has come to the defense of the episode, saying that it is all about parody. Everyone needs to lighten up. So, if Larry David urinated on the Koran, would HBO tell everyone they need to lighten up because it is parody? What does it say that we know for a fact that the latter would simply never happen?

What meaning and lesson do we draw from this?

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