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Healthcare.gov Debacle: What Have We Learned?

October 30, 2013 Leave a comment

Sorry, I’ve been away. It took the debacle of the healthcare.gov website to bring back to my keyboard. Let’s see, what did we start with?

  • Two major political parties whose highest priority is destroying one another
  • A President who wanted to “go big” to create a “Legacy”
  • A myriad of special interest groups who gain advantage in shifting the escalating costs to one another

Okay, what did we get?

  • A government-run healthcare insurance “exchange” site that doesn’t function very well. (This is causing the healthy, but impatient, people, who they need to sign up, to just walk away.)
  • A government-run healthcare insurance “exchange” site that is a hacker’s wet dream. (With all the hacking going on in the world, an insecure government website is the last thing we need.)

Already, I’m hearing of many people tell me that their insurance rates are going up. Many people are losing their insurance because it is not “up to government standards.” What happened to the President’s promise to allow people to “keep their insurance, if they like it?”

The Government can be very effective at times, but it is never efficient. With the infinite purse of deficit spending, it has never had the motivation or practice at being efficient. Even the computer code at healthcare.gov is wasteful.

Please don’t think I’m letting the Republicans off the hook. They claimed they were blocked out when the Affordable Care Act was designed. And, that it true. However, with the dogged determination of the Republican’s to destroy the Democrats, why would Obama, Pelosi and Reid let them in the door? How can cooperation occur in this environment?

To be sure, there are some good ideas in Obamacare. Those ideas should have been put forth as individual bills. They would have been smaller and easier to get through Congress. But a series of smaller bills doesn’t give a President a “Legacy.” It just is more efficient, more less dramatic, (What ever happened to “No Drama” Obama?)

To look at the bigger picture, let’s take a step back.

The election of Barack Obama was a reaction to the extremism and hubris of the Bush-era Republicans. (Remember, the Republican claim of a “permanent majority?” Oops.)

In turn, the super-charging of the Tea Party was a reaction to Obama’s massive stimulus package, which was a prime example of über-pork. (Remember what I said about government being effective but not efficient.)

This is an overly dramatic and nonproductive cycle. Why put forth legislation that you know the other side will undo once they have the chance?

What have we reaped from all this?

  • A Government Shut-Down
  • Nearly defaulting on our behemoth National Debt
  • A government website that is a disaster, and insecure

What has the Government done about all this? What they always do: blame each other, fix nothing, and kick the can down the road again.

The two-party system is failing us. I hate to repeat myself, but why are we reelecting these people?

Time for a Centrist Third Party.

Where Did the Statesmen Go?

July 26, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve just finished watching the President Obama and Speaker Boehner give their prime-time addresses. They both make me sick. They’re two grown men playing Chicken, but it’s the country that will crash. Where did the statesmen go? How the hell did get stuck with these two bozos?

I’ve been warning people about the national debt for well over a decade. And I was glad to see some seriousness being focused on the problem. However, the Republican plan only kicks the can down the road far enough so they can use it as a weapon in the next election cycle.

Both Boehner and Obama want “the people” to send a message to other side. I have a message: “Shut Up, and Do What Is Right for the American People, Not Your Party!”

They both talk about “putting aside partisanship”. Yet, neither of these miserable excuses for leaders could ever put partisanship aside, even if their lives depended on it. Never has confidence in our government been lower. Seeing these two piss-ants posture, moan and lie to our faces has done nothing to change that opinion. Do they really believe we can’t see through their false sincerity?

Where is the adult supervision?

I repeat, “Where is the adult supervision?”

Hope in Virginia (For All of Us)

August 15, 2010 Leave a comment

While those in Washington suffer dismal public approval ratings, there is hope sprouting next door in Virginia. Jeff Vanke, an Independent candidate dedicated to fiscal responsibility has thrown his hat into the ring, specifically Virginia’s 6th District. Why should citizens of New Jersey (or any other state) care about a House race in Virginia?

Quite simply, the two-party, majority-minority dynamic has created a $14 Trillion National Debt. That is over $46,000 owed by every American man, woman and child, and this number increases every day. Each party, while in the majority, pushes through expenditures on behalf its partisan special interests. Pork-barrel spending on both sides of the aisle runs rampant.

The importance of breaking the major parties’ stranglehold on our government cannot be overstated. We are headed for a fiscal train wreck. The Democrats and Republicans created this problem and show no honest sign of correcting it. Only Independents such as Jeff Vanke provide any chance of avoiding a financial disaster far greater than we are currently facing.

To be sure, this is no easy feat. There has not been an Independent in the U.S. House of Representatives since the 1920s, thanks to the gerrymandering by the two major parties. The Democrats and Republicans have conspired to keep Independents out. Partisan pundits on the Right and Left, such as Rush Limbaugh and Rachael Maddow are quick to attack moderates, because moderates pose a greater threat to them than their polar opposites.

Jeff Vanke has been endorsed by the Modern Whig party and the American Centrist Party. He’s a well balanced candidate, reasonable on a broad range of issues. Vanke’s campaign is focusing on results, not ideology. He has a good chance of winning as he’s polling well with only the incumbent running. I would strongly encourage you to support Jeff Vanke. Our country needs an Independent voice in Congress.

Learn more at www.JeffVanke.com and www.modernwhig.com

The Great Math Allergy

November 1, 2009 Leave a comment

Auto sales analysts at Edmunds.com recently released the revelation that the Cash for Clunkers program, which offered consumers $4,500 for trading in less fuel-efficient vehicles for new more fuel-efficient vehicles, actually cost the government $24,000 per stimulated transaction.

A total of $3 billion was allotted for those rebates. Of the 690,000 new vehicles were sold under the Cash for Clunkers program last summer, only 125,000 of those were vehicles that would not have been sold anyway. Thus, $24,000 is the real cost per stimulated transaction, not $4,500.

Our government spent $3 billion to stimulate $562,500,000 in new economic activity. That’s less than 19 cents on the dollar. These are same people who want to reduce the cost of healthcare? If Cash for Clunkers is an example how the Federal Government manage programs, a public healthcare option will be very inefficient and destructive to our national economy and health.

Are Congress and the President really that bad with math? Or, are they simply allergic to it because it gets in the way special interest driven agendas? One only needs to look at the exploding multi-trillion dollar National Debt to get how allergic our politicians are to mathematical realities.

What can we expect when the decisions are being made by the senators and congressional representatives whose campaigns are financed by the pharmaceutical industry, Trial Lawyers Association, insurance industry, labor unions, and Wall Street? This legalized bribery is the underlying problem.

While some members of both parties have spoken up against fiscal irresponsibility, they are quickly shouted down by their own party’s power structures. As institutions, both the Republican and Democratic parties have failed us with dysfunctional fiscal methodologies which may become be our national downfall.

As citizens, we must loudly demand that our government represent us, not simply moneyed special interest groups. We must demand an end to campaign donations by special interest PACs. Unfortunately, the only people likely to support such a country-saving move are independents and centrists.

Literally, a Sign of the Times

August 9, 2009 3 comments

Several weeks ago, I drove into the Adirondack Mountains for a yearly camping trip. As usual, I drove the isolated Route 2 just off the New York State Northway. It is a well maintained road which takes approximately half an hour to drive its entire length. If you see five cars during the journey, it’s probably rush hour.

Stimulus Sign

Imagine my surprise when a sign sprang up that work on this road was being paid for by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the $787 billion stimulus bill passed by Congress in February 2009. My immediate question was, “What work?” The road was already in good repair. There was no evidence of any work being done on Route 2, except for signs erected at either end of the road. The government paid for the sign.

The knowledge that roads offer high visibility is nothing new. Years ago, I drove another road, Route 70 from Kansas City to Kansas State University in Manhattan. There was a fair amount of repaving that day on Route 70. My traveling companion, a Kansas native commented that locals called it the Bob Dole Freeway. He claimed it was repaved every two years, whether it was needed or not, thanks to pork-barrel spending bills pushed by the powerful Republican senator.

It is all about politicians getting credit, rather than doing what is best for the country. Why are bills being passed without people reading them? So they can get credit. Adding amendments at 3 AM, containing more spending as political payoffs does not improve our country; it weakens it. Obama wants credit for passing big bills. Whether these bills are well crafted seems to not be so important to him or the Congress. And there seems to be little real concern of the mounting National Debt.

I’m sure some work will be done on Route 2 someday, whether it needs it or not. The real payoff was the sign, “stimulating” publicity to help politicians in the next election.

It is time for serious men and women to provide adult supervision in Washington. We must rid ourselves of these self-interested, self-righteous, and corrupt charlatans on both sides. The only way I can think of is to vote for Centrist or moderate independent candidates in 2010. At least, send a message to Washington that you want more than false signs.

Second Stimulus: Another Example of the Slingshot Effect?

July 10, 2009 1 comment

There’s a lot of talk in Washington about creating yet another stimulus package. Back in February, President Obama signed a behemoth $787 billion stimulus package. Since then, more than two million jobs have been lost and unemployment has hit its highest rate in a quarter century, 9.5 percent. Without the stimulus, would it have been higher? Nobody really knows for sure, despite what the Republican and Democratic pundits are yelling.

But we do know this: the February stimulus bill produced more pork-barrel spending than any previous bill. It was an abomination, born of political shysterism. The Democrats cried the stimulus couldn’t wait. So much so, they passed a bill so quickly that no member of Congress could possibly have read the entire document. But as White Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said, “You don’t want to waste a crisis.” The bill included a plethora of pork, from $650,000 for blueberry research to funds for a pistol museum to grants to ACORN, and so much more. And now, they want to do it again.

In the past, I’ve spoken of the Slingshot Effect, where one action can create the opposite of the intended result. Here is another example. To truly stimulate the economy, people need confidence, confidence that the economy can recover and stabilize on its own. Another stimulus bill tells everyone that the government, with access to top economists and the best data, has no confidence in the economy. Then why should consumers (the true engine of our economy) have confidence either? Or, is it just time for another round campaign-contributor payoffs?

According to the OMB’s own figures, the 2009 deficit is $1.8 TRILLION! That brings the National Debt to over $12 trillion. Many people, including some congressional Democrats, are seriously concerned about our exploding debt. They should be.

On the White House website, the budget section bears the slogan, “New Era of Responsibility.” Talk about political doublespeak!

PAYGO Is NOT Enough

June 9, 2009 1 comment

Today, President Obama announced he is calling for restoration of PAYGO or the pay-as-you-go rule which compels new spending or tax changes to not add to the federal deficit. As someone who has consistently warned against deficit spending and the monstrous growth of the National Debt, I applaud this intent. As the National Debt approaches $12 trillion, even the most fiscally irresponsible government officials are starting to pay attention. The financial burden being passed onto the next generations is unconscionable.

However, instituting PAYGO is insufficient because it will intensify the lobbying efforts of special interests, in order to gain access to a tighter budgetary pie. This means more campaign contributions to buy congressional votes by those who want special consideration.

True campaign reform must go hand-in-hand with the PAYGO rule. Otherwise, well-intended legislation could make things far worse. How can federal funds be spent wisely with the ferocious influx of money to persuade congress to do otherwise?

Congress must act to eliminate the undue influence of moneyed special interest groups. This must be the battle cry of all centrists. It is one issue we can call our own because both major parties have failed to do it.