March 23rd, 2010

The numbers games: House and Senate in 2010, and beyond

[NOTE: This post won't be offering arguments concerning the question of whether entitlements can ever be undone. I am saving that discussion for another piece. But my short answer is that I think they can, under certain circumstances, and that HCR most likely fits those circumstances. So for the purposes of this post, let's just stipulate that repeal of an entitlement is theoretically possible, and concentrate on the practical issues.]

The HCR bill is very unpopular right now. People are angry. Most benefits do not kick in for years but payment does, and the bill and its fearsome prospects are likely to hurt the economy and stall any recovery that might otherwise occur. Thus, if the bill remains very unpopular or even increases in unpopularity, and especially if this administration and Congress do other things that further anger the majority of Americas, the election of 2010 could represent a chance for the resurgence of the Republican Party, newly energized by actual conservatism and backed by the will of the people.

There are many wild cards here, however. There’s been much talk, for instance, about the prospect of the Democrats passing amnesty prior to the 2010 election, and therefore gaining all those new voters. I have been thinking for quite some time that they would make that attempt, and I have little doubt that they will try.

It used to be said that amnesty was too unpopular for even the Democrats to touch. But we have learned that the unpopularity of a bill no longer represents any bar to them. They have become unmoored from any need to answer to the people until 2010, and they believe they will game the system to insure their victory in 2010 and beyond.

However, amnesty could be opposed even in this Congress if (and again, that’s a big “if” with Lindsey Graham in the Senate) they can get forty-one votes in the Senate against it. At this point, there is at least a chance that all of the Republicans (and perhaps even Joe Lieberman?) might hang tough on that because they now they finally see the seriousness of the situation and the threat to them and all they stand for.

You might say well, what about reconciliation or the nuclear option for the Democrats to use in passing amnesty even if forty-one Republicans are against it? The nuclear option (changing the rules so that sixty votes are not needed for cloture) is only possible at the start of a Congressional session (look for it to happen, by the way, if the Republicans don’t gain control of the next Senate—and perhaps even if they do). So it could not be used until the Congress that begins after the 2010 election. As far as reconciliation goes—every bill can’t be passed through that route. It was available for HCR only because the Senate had already approved a version of the bill prior to Scott Brown’s victory—the House had to pass that version before reconciliation was allowed.

Naturally, since the Democrats are now officially a rogue party, they might start throwing away even those basic rules that remain in Congress. Then all bets are off—including the response of the military and the American people. But I don’t think that will happen; I think the Democrats will continue to maintain most of the basic forms of parliamentary government, and just tweak and twist them when they need to here and there.

I’ve read a bit about amnesty as currently proposed (don’t have the link right now; I may add one later if I find it), and my impression is that, even if a bill were to be passed by this Congress, the process of actually giving the illegals amnesty and getting them citizenship will take far longer to implement than could be accomplished before the 2010 election. So I am not at all sure it would affect that election, although it could most definitely affect subsequent ones. That makes 2010 a watershed year for the Republicans; they must win that election battle.

I’m not going into a discussion here of how the amnesty bill under consideration will be proposing to operate. If I did, this post would become a larger tome than it already is shaping up to be. But at some future date I plan to take that topic up, too. But I will say that if amnesty remains as unpopular as it appears to be—even more unpopular than the HCR bill—some Democrats who were willing to fall on their swords for HCR because they figured the people would grow to love it may not be quite so willing to do the same for amnesty.

Even if the Democrats pass amnesty, however, it is my prediction that it would cause an electoral backlash so huge that it would make the HCR angst look positively benign. That means that the Democrats would gain many eventual voters through passing amnesty, but they stand to lose even more.

But let’s get back to HCR and the possibilities of thwarting it through the actions of the next Congress. Assuming amnesty (passed or unpassed) isn’t a factor yet in the election of 2010, there is every possibility of Republicans gaining control of the House next session. It would be more difficult to gain control of the Senate, because there are only 18 Democratic seats up for grabs there. So in order to get a simple majority in the Senate, the Republicans would have to have a net gain of 10 seats (one less if Joe Lieberman were to join them). They cannot mathematically gain enough to get a filibuster-proof majority, but a simple majority is theoretically possible (if not easy).

Of course, even if the Republicans took control of both houses in 2010 Obama could veto any legislation they might pass. But he cannot write budget bills. So the way to begin to attack HCR would be through the budget, although this is a very complex process as well (and as I’ve said many times, I am no parliamentary expert, so I may be making some errors here—but this is a discussion of the way budget appropriations bills work, if anyone cares to wade through it).

It appears that the 2010 Congress could defund current legislation through budget appropriations bills without repealing it (it could be repealed in 2012 if the Congress and the presidency change hands and there are more than 60 Republicans in the Senate). Defunding could actually be done without a 60-vote filibuster-proof majority in the Senate (that is what reconciliation was actually originally about—budget bills), just a simple majority in both houses. The president might veto it, but he cannot put in provisions for funding that aren’t there, and if he keeps vetoing the budget bill he would threaten to shut down his own government. Would he want to play that game of chicken? And would the Republicans be up to it?

Even if the Republicans were only to gain control of the House and not the Senate in 2010 (the more realistic possibility, I think), the two houses still must merge their budget bills into one because of the bicameral system. So there may still be possibilities even in that case for a Republican House to moderate a Democrat Senate.

As I said, I’m no expert, but that’s my understanding of things, at least from the quick cram course I’ve given myself online. I don’t know how the defunding would actually work in its details (or whether it would work), and after a quick search I haven’t found anything very specific on it, although I’ve seen it mentioned here and there during the last few months that HCR has been kicking around.

Of course, there are also the challenges to HCR pending in the court system. But I happen to think those will not go in our favor. There are also enough states incensed at this bill and threatened by its demands to their own already-strapped budgets that there is even a possibility of a Constitutional amendment to undo it if enough states feel this way—that’s a whole other topic for another time. I think it’s a longshot, but I mention it because it is a theoretical possibility—and depending on how much more this president and this Congress defy the will of the people and the will of the states, it might become a stronger possibility in the future. And of course, if the country edges even closer to bankruptcy—-all bets are off. Chaos theory and Cloward-Piven, anyone?

As with most civilizations, our biggest threats have come from within, and most be fought. Make no mistake about it, the Democrat leaders are most serious about their power grabs, and their respect for the rules of American political life has almost dissipated. They have been handed the gavel of power, and they are unafraid to wield it heavily—and, they hope, permanently.

[ADDENDUM: Here's a post about defunding from Volokh, a law blog. Seems to be more or less in agreement with what I've written here, but is mercifully less wordy.]

55 Responses to “The numbers games: House and Senate in 2010, and beyond”

  1. gs Says:

    “And, as I said before, budget bills are not subject to a presidential veto.”

    I don’t know the Constitution as well as I should, but that’s not my understanding.

    Then there’s this from 1995: “As Long Promised, President Vetoes the GOP Budget”. (Note the scrupulously objective, nonpartisan tone!)

    nnc, did you by chance mean ‘not subject to filibuster (under certain conditions)’?

  2. neo-neocon Says:

    gs: follow the link I provided that describes the Senate rules about passing budget bills. That’s where I got the information about vetoing budget bills. As I said, I am no expert on this matter (far from it). I could be misinterpreting it, and I don’t know whether the authority is the constitution or not, but it says:

    The budget resolution is a “concurrent” congressional resolution, not an ordinary bill, and therefore does not go to the President for his signature or veto. It also requires only a majority vote to pass, and its consideration is one of the few actions that cannot be filibustered in the Senate.

    Perhaps there’s some glitch that I don’t understand, but it seems to me that this could be defunded in a way that is not subject to a presidential veto or a Senate filibuster. That’s why defunding seems an easier route than repeal, at least at first, until repeal might be possible.

  3. gs Says:

    That’s a very useful link which, thanks, I have duly bookmarked, but it seems to me that it describes how Congress constrains itself to develop the budget. Afaik a budget bill must be signed or vetoed by the President to have the force of law.

    However, the idea of defunding Obamacare has also crossed my mind. In which case there could be a confrontation like the one in 1995, which IMO the GOP managed to lose in the public forum even though they were absolutely correct on the merits. (Clinton vetoed the budget and accused the GOP of shutting down the government. And got away with it. Good grief!)

    SCOTUS might well get involved in a defunding controversy: cf state supreme courts that decide that schools are not being funded in a manner to their liking.

  4. neo-neocon Says:

    gs: You may be correct (as I said, the link was very complex and I don’t understand all the fine points—I have attempted to correct the post to reflect the new information). But if so, it still seems that Obama cannot put funding in there that Congress doesn’t want. They design the bill. If he wants any sort of budget, if he keeps vetoing it and they hang tough, it will be a question of who blinks first. If he wants to shut down his own government, so be it?

    He cannot force them to put in those funds, at least I don’t think so. He cannot write the budget bill for them.

    Anyone who’s an expert on this stuff, please chime in.

  5. neo-neocon Says:

    gs: oh, and what happened in 1995 did not have the same sort of public backing this proposed defunding of HCR would have, IMHO.

  6. SteveH Says:

    We’ll see states and municipalities get more antsy as budget woes increase. More people will be jumping off this Obama ship.

    I think our chances will only go up every day this year of getting this repealed before it can go into effect.

  7. gs Says:

    Maybe we’ve figured out why so much of the bill is requirements on the private sector instead of an outright government takeover.

    OT, FWIW: I just came across this WSJ editorial (“Republicans and Obamacare”).

  8. Old Rebel Says:

    We, as a nation, have already prostrated ourselves before a government we acknowledge as all-powerful and omnipotent.

    We renounce the right proclaimed by the Declaration of Independence to abolish a tyrannical government.

    We submit to the nullification of our rights against warrantless searches. We convince ourselves it’s somehow patriotic to allow the government to legislate away our rights of habeas corpus and trial by jury.

    Then we get upset when that same government commands us to buy health insurance?

    Both parties fool us into surrendering more of our basic rights. The government becomes more powerful, and we become weaker, no matter which party holds power.

  9. neo-neocon Says:

    gs: also, if the bill does gain in unpopularity, and the Republicans do very well in 2010, it’s possible that there might be some stray Democrats in Congress who might be interested in saving their own hides and joining with the Republicans to challenge HCR and Obama.

    I wouldn’t bet on it, however. Not a penny.

  10. Sam Says:

    This is actually pretty simple, the budget bills are merely Congress setting up a framework for the actual appropriations bills, which do the actual work of allocating money to various parts of the government. People often confuse or ignore the differences between the two.

    A lot of horsetrading occurs during appropriations to try to meet the targets of the budget.

  11. Scottie Says:

    There is another aspect you may not have considered in your calculations neo, and that is the drag effect Obama and national level democrats are going to have on local elections.

    As a democrat once said – all politics is local.

    That being the case, and the proven fact that this HCR is extremely unpopular at the moment, even if there were not an overwhelming turnaround this year that hands control of both houses of Congress over to republicans there is still the effect Obama/Pelosi/Reid are going to have on state level races, and the effects of those state level races can take years to unfold.

    Yes, the democrats are at the pinnacle right now, but after November they could find they are just the very tip of a government that is otherwise dominated down to the lowest levels by republicans.

    That’s a counterbalance that will eventually make itself felt even to Pelosi!

  12. Mitsu Says:

    It’s really amazing how much panic and vitriol this bill seems to have generated among some folks. Come on, let’s get real here. This bill is virtually identical to bills Nixon proposed and later Republicans proposed in the 90′s. There’s no public option, all insurance remains private, doctors and hospitals are still in private hands. It’s the most conservative health care plan with the least government regulation of any in the industrialized world, yet you guys are acting like it’s the opening salvo in a push to turn the United States into the former Soviet Union.

    As I noted in the other topic: France has a government-sponsored health plan that pays 70% of the cost of care, with private supplemental insurance covering the remaining 30%. And they have complete choice in doctors and very low wait times. In our own country, because of limitations imposed by HMOs, etc., which themselves ration care already, our wait times are already comparable to those in many other countries that have universal care — or worse in some cases:

    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_28/b4042072.htm

    The sky is not falling with this bill. The bill preserves market dynamics. The reason people hate the bill is they don’t know what it actually does. Ask people whether they support all the individual provisions of the bill, and they’re all overwhelmingly popular.

    The basic math is simple: either you go single payer, or you keep private insurance but add incentives so people don’t simply wait until they get sick to buy insurance (which would be a disaster). Since we decided to go with a proposal that preserves private market competition in insurance, we went with the latter. Without that you have to keep the onerous preexisting conditions clauses which are nearly universally unpopular, for good reason.

    This is a straightforward, conservative, moderate piece of legislation.

  13. Tom Says:

    Money, Mitsu, money. 10 years of taxes to fund 6 years of “benefits”, and after that all will be well? An unconstitutional Federal mandate to have HC insurance. Cutting Medicare $500 billion over 10 years even as the Boomers age into Medicare. Medicare, including co-pays, covers 90 % of the costs of caring for the beneficiaries. Medicaid, which today covers 47 million people, pays for 70% of the costs of care. That’s right: 47 MILLION PEOPLE.
    Hospitals and caregivers (doncha love that Leftist appelation?) cannot run infinite deficits, unlike our beloved Federal gov’t, so those monetary shortfalls must be made up by charging those insured by the evil insurors more than 100% of the costs of their care.
    And the unfunded liabilities, based on demographics (a pretty exact science), of MCare exceed trillions of dollars. Not one or two trillion, tens of trillions.
    So don’t give me any of your snarky crap about good old Dick Nixon, conservative, and moderation. Deal with today’s facts. If you want to see the American future, visit Zimbabwe. And learn about Ponzi schemes, sucker.

  14. gs Says:

    Mitsu, I’m not going to digress about the warped genius of Richard Nixon, but I don’t consider him a conservative.

    My first reaction to your post was that the government will run the insurance companies into the ground and then supplant them.

    AMBUH is an index of health insurance stocks. It’s up more than 85% in the last year.

    Another lovely theory slain by an ugly fact. :-(

    Still, AMBUH bears watching as Obamacare continues. Even more, so do the indices that monitor activity in biotech innovation.

    Afterthought. A biotech metric (the XBI ETF) is up over 30%, underperforming the insurance stocks. So I see no reason to reconsider my opposition to Obamacare.

  15. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    Mitsu, you are aware that the French system you mentioned is rapidly going broke — aren’t you?

  16. James Says:

    Neo,

    Back during Clinton’s time. The Republicans and Clinton did deadlock on spending money on certain priorities. Clinton would veto the appropriations bills sent to him, and in one instance the government shut down.

    There was no internet (of news variety) at the time, and the press spun the story as the mean Republicans shutting down the national parks and museums. The Republicans eventually lost the public relations war and Clinton got the appropriations he asked for – or at least most of them.

    Thanks to the internet and the deficit, Obama would have a harder time running that game this time if it comes to that. But it would be the game that is played. Obama would shut down the government if he didn’t the funding he wanted for various purposes. Then the public would decide through polling.

    James

  17. James Says:

    Neo,

    One meme floating around – and in your post – is that the health care bill will hurt the recovery. Its not clear that is true. Nothing really bad happens in the health care legislation until January. By then, the election will be over.

    Also, the recovery and employment are two different things. Its very possible (because of invention and innovation), GDP numbers will rise substantially, but employment will not recover much. The most substantial economic effect of this legislation is to make it a bad idea to hire anyone. Businesses will be trying to add innovation (to get rid of people) as fast as they can.

    Not that unemployed people will be happy about this (and thus vote democratic), but headline GDP numbers could still be substantial.

    See the perils of economic forecasting from an ideological perspective here:

    Brian Wesbury

    James

  18. neo-neocon Says:

    James: that shut-down threat in 1995 under Gringrich and Clinton was discussed here briefly in “gs’s” comment at 3:57 and my response at 4:15. The difference now is that if things continue in the direction they are going now, the public would be against Obama and for the Republicans’ stonewalling, because they be following the reason behind it. Nowhere near as many people understood 1995. At least, that’s my recollection. In this case, the Republicans would be harnessing the very real outrage of the people.

    I was speaking of the economy in general when I said I thought this bill would hurt—for instance, most definitely, the effect on businesses and hiring. Hiring is a huge issue right now, one Obama has repeatedly promised to address first and instead chose to focus on HCR. Plus, I believe health insurance premiums may be skyrocketing—and although Obama and the Democrats may believe that people will blame it on the mean old insurance companies, I happen to think a lot of people will blame it on the insurance companies making profits in anticipation of being put out of business. I’m not so sure people don’t expect Obamacare to solve things right away, and that they won’t be very angry when that doesn’t happen and things get even worse.

    And then there’s cap and trade, which Obama and Congress may be tempted to ram through as well. Not a good thing for the economy at all.

  19. Mitsu Says:

    One can rationally debate the pros and cons of this particular bill, whether it is fiscally sound, and so on; my primary argument is that it is not radical. Every other major industrial nation has some sort of system of universal care, and they are all involve far more government intervention and control than the bill that just passed our Congress. Although most of my friends on the left think this is a bad thing, I’m not so sure — I think this system may well end up working better than many.

    As for France’s system going broke: they also spend about 1/2 what we do on health care. If they spent even 75% what we did, they could give every doctor a big raise and have money to spare. But again, the main reason I bring up the French case (or the Swiss system which is even more based on the private sector) is that they don’t have long wait times and they preserve doctor choice. In fact, their doctor choice is better than ours, because we have this Balkanized system of HMOs and so on, and they have a universal system where citizens can choose whatever doctor they want.

    But coming back to money: we are already spending VASTLY more than every other industrialized nation, about twice as much, per capita, on average, and we still have 45 million Americans uninsured. Some may say that our health care is the “best in the world” — though the statistics belie that — but surely there is a fiscal case to be made that spending one-sixth of our GDP on health care is not the most efficient way to allocate resources. Is it not possible that we can learn ANYTHING from all the other democracies about how to do health care? Every one of us is already paying for this through the nose — via our employers. When I was running a tech startup I was involved in choosing the health plan and the premiums were ridiculous — and the next year they shot up even more. It’s an unsustainable system.

  20. Tom Says:

    Mitsu reminds me of Will Rogers: “I only know what I read in the papers, and I only read what I wrote myself.”

  21. Mitsu Says:

    Everything I’ve written, above, regarding costs of our system and systems in other countries is easily verified fact. If you think I’ve made an error, feel free to tell me which specific thing you have a problem with, and I’ll gladly post references which back up my figures.

  22. Gray Says:

    It’s really amazing how much panic and vitriol this bill seems to have generated among some folks. Come on, let’s get real here.

    OK. Let’s get real.

    My family (wife, I, two kids) have a top-end Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan through my employer.

    Under this new plan, will our care

    a) get better and cost less
    b) stay about the same.
    c) get shittier and cost more
    d) get shitter and cost more

    Let’s get real: What do you think this plan will do for/to my family and why?

  23. mikemcdaniel Says:

    One of the virtually unlimited dangers of this monstrosity is the more than 150 bureaucracies it establishes, apparently including thousands of IRS agents to rummage around in everyone’s body cavities. All of these government parasites will be fully unionized, and once hired, will be perpetual income drains, even if the entire edifice for which they were initially hired is dismantled.

    The cost of salary, benefits and retirement for these new federal employees will surely require substantial new taxes for that purpose alone, further contributing to our sooner rather than later national economic collapse. Remember, governmental employees do not produce wealth or contribute to the economy but are fully taxpayer supported, and the more of them, the fewer taxpayers to support them in the style to which they have become accustomed.

  24. neo-neocon Says:

    mikemcdaniel: and of course, the cost of that IRS bureaucracy could not be added into the cost of the bill.

  25. Mitsu Says:

    One of the primary features of the bill is that it requires insurers, including Blue Cross, to adhere to a medical loss ratio of at least 85% in large markets and 80% in the small/individual markets. That means they have to spend 80%-85% of your premiums on health care, directly, and this goes into effect nearly immediately (2011). Currently, the average ratio is 74%. This means that your premiums should go down, or at the very least they will go up less quickly than they would have otherwise:

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/03/will_private_insurers_raise_ra.html

    This actually offsets the impact of what Neo mentioned above, the idea that the insurers might jack up rates prior to 2014 when the exchanges go into effect. The loss ratio regulations go into effect in 2011.

    Another factor which should exert a downward pressure on premiums is the fact that, once the bill goes fully into effect, a lot more people will be insured, which means the overall risk pool will be larger. There are also a wide variety of cost control experiments in the bill (I won’t list them all out here) which should, if they work, have the effect of lowering costs. The CBO estimates premiums will go down for large group insurance by about 3 percent relative to what they would have been without the bill, but then again the CBO isn’t taking into account the potential effect of any of these cost control experiments.

  26. Gray Says:

    This means that your premiums should go down, or at the very least they will go up less quickly than they would have otherwise:

    This actually offsets the impact of what Neo mentioned above, the idea that the insurers might jack up rates prior to 2014 when the exchanges go into effect. The loss ratio regulations go into effect in 2011.

    So my costs are going to go up at least in the short term, with shittier care, longer waiting lists and a promised savings in the future as waiting lists get longer and care gets shittier.

    What if I cannot afford your predicted short term rate-increase and I lose coverage all together before the pie-in-the-sky kicks in?

    At least you are honest.

    Why do you think my family deserves to pay more for less care? Why do you want to punish my family?

  27. Mitsu Says:

    No, you misunderstood what I was saying: they won’t be able to jack up rates in the way Neo suggests, even if they wanted to, because of the medical loss ratio regulations which go into effect immediately — unless somehow the actual cost of care also skyrocketed. After the law goes fully into effect your premiums ought to be lower than they would have been otherwise (that is, the premiums your employer is paying). If you’re working for a small business with less than 25 employees and with an average salary less than $50K/year, there will be subsidies available to cover 35-50 percent of the cost of health care.

  28. Gray Says:

    they won’t be able to jack up rates in the way Neo suggests, even if they wanted to, because of the medical loss ratio regulations which go into effect immediately — unless somehow the actual cost of care also skyrocketed. After the law goes fully into effect your premiums ought to be lower than they would have been otherwise (that is, the premiums your employer is paying).

    I fully expect the cost of care to skyrocket. Or, they can always lay off doctors and up waiting times to stay in the medical loss ratio.

    If you’re working for a small business with less than 25 employees and with an average salary less than $50K/year, there will be subsidies available to cover 35-50 percent of the cost of health care.

    I make just a little too much to qualify for those subsidies, but not enough to afford a cost increase. I work for a big company.

    How do I know “what my premiums would have been otherwise”? All I’ll see is my premiums going up and waiting longer and longer for a doctor.

    I hope you are starting to see, by your own reasoning, how this plan is actually going to hurt my family.

    Why do you want my family to wait longer to see a doctor than they do right now?

  29. Mitsu Says:

    Why would the cost of care skyrocket?

  30. Mitsu Says:

    (That is to say, why would it skyrocket more than it already is: because it already is skyrocketing in our current system. Remember that part of your premiums goes towards paying health providers for providing free ER care to the uninsured. The fewer uninsured there are, the less you have to pay to cover the ones getting free care.)

  31. Mitsu Says:

    BTW, Tom, in more specific response to your post: your numbers on Medicare and Medicaid would be even worse without this law — Medicaid payments are increased by it, and the Medicare entitlement is slightly reduced. So in what way does this law make things worse, even if your figures are correct?

  32. Richard Cook Says:

    Democracies usually vote for their own destruction.

  33. Scottie Says:

    Regarding Mitsu’s assertions that costs would go down because everyone would be in the system, this is exactly what they did in Massachusetts – and costs rose higher than surrounding regions.

    That’s a real world federalism experiment in action – and Obama and his friends either came to the absolutely wrong conclusion, or are remaining willfully ignorant.

  34. Tom Says:

    See today’s story on the 14 states’ lawsuit against HCR on bloomberg.com (can’t make the link work). Turns out I was wrong: there are 60 million on Medicaid, not 47.
    I ask Mitsu to stop playing policy wonk and citing minutiae, as if those prove anything. Let’s stick to the big picture.

  35. ALP Says:

    “There’s been much talk, for instance, about the prospect of the Democrats passing amnesty prior to the 2010 election, and therefore gaining all those new voters. I have been thinking for quite some time that they would make that attempt, and I have little doubt that they will try.”

    I have ten years as a business immigration paralegal under my belt – thus lots of experience with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Knowing what I do about the citizenship process – I can say quite confidently that even if amnesty is achieved, there is no way that translates into millions of votes any time soon. The path to citizenship is exactly that…a path. And that path is strewn with applications, background checks, fees, processing times, priority dates…just to get permanent residence. THEN…you have to be a permanent resident for some years before you can apply for citizenship – and THEN you can vote.

  36. neo-neocon Says:

    ALP: that’s what I was referring to in the above post when I wrote:

    I’ve read a bit about amnesty as currently proposed (don’t have the link right now; I may add one later if I find it), and my impression is that, even if a bill were to be passed by this Congress, the process of actually giving the illegals amnesty and getting them citizenship will take far longer to implement than could be accomplished before the 2010 election. So I am not at all sure it would affect that election, although it could most definitely affect subsequent ones.

    Of course, since this is a rogue president and a rogue Congress, they could pass a bill that expedited the citizenship process and made it almost instantaneous. I wouldn’t put it past them.

  37. Mitsu Says:

    >Let’s stick to the big picture

    I’m not sure what you’re referring to, Tom: your arguments seem to be against the viability of Medicaid and Medicare, not specifically this HCR bill.

    >rogue president

    I’m surprised at you, Neo, for using such incendiary language. It doesn’t seem characteristic of you, though I admit I haven’t been reading your blog for a while and haven’t caught the evolution of your views. Suffice it to say I see no evidence of this, whatsoever; though I also have no idea what you really mean by “rogue”. Using reconciliation to pass this bill, is that what you are referring to?

    Regarding Massachusetts — there are a number of differences between the Massachusetts law and the HCR law that just passed. Romney’s plan focused on expanding coverage and not cost controls — by design. They also mandate a minimum coverage plan which is more generous than the typical minimum plans that were offered prior to Romney’s health care plan went into effect. The Federal plan also includes more in the way of subsidies for small business than the Massachusetts plan, and it also provides significant new funding for Medicaid to the states.

    Admittedly it is difficult to predict in advance the precise effect of any plan, but the CBO and most independent analysts I have seen have predicted the cost control measures in the new Federal plan will lead to modestly reduced premiums for equivalent coverage for those who have employer-based insurance today.

  38. Mitsu Says:

    And just to briefly address your speculations about amnesty — it just seem peculiar to me that you’d engage in such implausible flights of fancy. You do seem to have a very odd picture of what either Obama is inclined to do or what is politically feasible at this point. First of all, the whole notion that Democrats would suddenly attempt to grant “amnesty” to millions of illegal immigrants in an attempt to pad the voter rolls before this November is quite farfetched. There’s no way any sort of immigration reform bill would be passed in time to have such an effect, and even if it were, it would hardly be politically possible.

  39. Gray Says:

    (That is to say, why would it skyrocket more than it already is: because it already is skyrocketing in our current system. Remember that part of your premiums goes towards paying health providers for providing free ER care to the uninsured.

    So I should be happy about the bill ‘cuz my costs were going to go up and my family was going to get shitter care anyhow?

    The big selling point of the bill is that if the Senate perfectly crafted this plan directing a free market and all of Obama’s promises are true, maybe things will be slightly less shitty. I can see why that is a hard sell.

    To me it looks like I am going to pay out the ass while I wait forever for some routine procedure while being abused by surly goverment workers. Imagine getting an IV put in by a Post Office worker, and paying more for the discomfort. That’s what Obamacare looks like to me.

    Now that they are in charge, I’m going to call my congressman every time I can’t get a doctor’s appointment.

  40. Artfldgr Says:

    No, you misunderstood what I was saying: they won’t be able to jack up rates in the way Neo suggests, even if they wanted to, because of the medical loss ratio regulations which go into effect immediately — unless somehow the actual cost of care also skyrocketed.

    Mitsu is COMPLETELY IGNORANT as to how the insurance industry creates RATES and RULES and so forth.

    not one of his ideas shows that he knows how they do this.

    so mitsu… how does an insurance company decide what to charge you?

  41. Artfldgr Says:

    First of all, the whole notion that Democrats would suddenly attempt to grant “amnesty” to millions of illegal immigrants in an attempt to pad the voter rolls before this November is quite farfetched. There’s no way any sort of immigration reform bill would be passed in time to have such an effect, and even if it were, it would hardly be politically possible.

    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    In a visit to Mexico, Pres. Barack Obama said he expects Amnesty legislation to be drafted in Congress this fall with debate beginning after the first of the year.

    I guess that like hitler and stalin ribbentrop pact in wwii, they didn’t send a memo as to what they were actually doing, so their followers supporting them looked like idiots when the truth came out and they were all over the place.

    “There are going to be demagogues out there who try to suggest that any form of pathway for legalization for those who are already in the United States is unacceptable.” Obama

    {quick… someone send a note to obama, he is messing up Mitsu’s talking points and he wants obama to stop it}

    Senators Charles Shumer D-NY and Lindsey Graham R-SC were tapped to write it and obama this week is checking on that status.

    Quickly responding to Schumer-Graham, the American Civil Liberties Union criticized the blueprint’s endorsement of a “new and expensive” electronic employment verification system. According to the ACLU, the senators’ proposal for biometric worker identification is a “thinly-disguised” attempt to implement a national ID.

    “It is unacceptable to force every American worker to be fingerprinted in order to work,” said the ACLU’s Christopher Calabrese.

    do note that with the current thing in mexico, they can create a fast amnesty for those here who say it would be too dangerous for them to return home.

    that is, they were illegal here so long their country is now destabilized and they are refugees.

    you know.. the ID tags created by Marcus Wolf (yes THAT marcus wolf) and a soviet…

  42. Mitsu Says:

    My point regarding amnesty is that there’s no way it will be passed in time to have any detectable effect on voting this fall. There’s just not enough time to process all those applications, etc. I have my doubts, in any event, that this bill has a chance of passing the Senate, though perhaps some form of immigration reform might pass.

    >how does an insurance company decide what to charge you?

    I’m not sure what you’re alluding to, Artfldgr. Are you aware of some arcane aspect of actuarial practice which you think I’m missing, somehow?

  43. vanderleun Says:

    “Ooozing smarm from every pore, he oiled his way across the floor.”

  44. Mitsu Says:

    Hi Gerard

  45. Sergey Says:

    It is futile to contemplate the best strategy playing with shulers. The only viable strategy is not to play with them at all, and when detecting a shuler, beat him with chandeliers and throw them out of the room.

  46. Mitsu Says:

    What the heck is a “shuler”?

  47. Sergey Says:

    Shuler is a con-artist in playing card games, according dictionary I used. It is a Russian word, or, may be, Yiddish, but still in English vocabulary. A spieler, cardsharper, crooked gambler.

  48. Mitsu Says:

    Well, at least Neo has granted that I am a fool, not a troll. I’m glad she can see that!

  49. ALP Says:

    neo-neocon @ March 24th, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    I spoke too soon – my apologies! I get so excited when I can comment on something I am well versed in, and and tend to jump the gun.

    Regarding the possibility of changing the process to make it smoother – even if THAT happened, it would be a major clusterfuck within the USCIS system – and that would slow it down, IMHO. You see, the process of getting a green card (permanent residence) via filing an I-485 application is basically a background check – that’s how it was explained to me in my early days by an experienced immigration lawyer. The problem is, the FBI does the background check, and reports the results back to USCIS (unless its changed since I left the profession – I was laid off last year). A clean background check is only good for a limited period of time (if memory serves, its 6 months but my sieve-like mind may have lost the exact span of time) – if your application has not been adjudicated within the prescribed period, you have to go through another round of background check and so on. Further, it is well known that the FBI and USCIS don’t coordinate between themselves very well. I have personally managed adjustment of status cases (application for permanent residence) that got held up in this “background check loop” for months. AND, I want to point out, this is in regards to employer-sponsored green cards…which included very mainstream, professional types with degrees. I can only imagine the mess that will ensue once you have millions of marginal, ” I’ve been living under the radar” folks in the process. You’d be surprised how many Mexican nationals have the same name! I worked with a guy from Mexico that got his H-1B visa held up for months by the State Dept. because someone with the SAME name as his had an arrest record in the US – took forever to clear that up. AND, getting arrested doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get your green card – you get a chance to prove you did what you were supposed to in response: paid the fine, did the time, ect. However, THIS entails numerous townships, counties, cities, ect. willing to cooperate with both you and USCIS to provide this information.

    “CLUSTERFUCK” is the concept that pops into my head when I contemplate how this amnesty will actually play out. I simply don’t see how even Obama could speed this up.

  50. Artfldgr Says:

    sergey,
    that makes me laugh in that my friend who is romanian, has the last name schuler… :)

    [except that i think the origin of the name is jewish, not russian like the word, and leans more towards shuyler]

  51. Artfldgr Says:

    Mitsu: Everything I’ve written, above, regarding costs of our system and systems in other countries is easily verified fact. If you think I’ve made an error, feel free to tell me which specific thing you have a problem with, and I’ll gladly post references which back up my figures.

    So you always say as you blindly trust those you read..

    But EVERY time I have caught you, you do not engage me or debate me, you go bzzzz, click, whir, reboot…

    Its much like dealing with Frosty the Snowman after a thaw and freeze..
    Every time he comes to, he yells “happy birthday”…

    Your basically making a FOOLS gambit that the people your talking to are uneducated, lazy, and worship the elite… we are better educated, we check our facts, your facts and the idiots you quote, and we think the elite are self aggrandized mediocre performance clowns who in the absence of collusion, lying and cheating, would not have what they have.

    That means they have to spend 80%-85% of your premiums on health care, directly, and this goes into effect nearly immediately (2011). Currently, the average ratio is 74%. This means that your premiums should go down, or at the very least they will go up less quickly than they would have otherwise

    Guess he didn’t read the person from the insurance industry who pointed out its 65/35

    And making it 85/15 basically says we are xfering 40% of your current operating costs (with only 3% profit out of that), to the other side of the equation.

    So Mitsu… your company is running and out of 10 million in policies, it runs the whole shebank for 3,500,000 out of that 10 million. How many salaries does that break out to?
    Well that’s 77 people at 45k each… but wait… your back end costs and such drop that number to 35 people. but wait… that doesn’t include advertising, liability insurance, building maintenance, rent, taxes, garbage disposal, auditing costs, and more…

    This is why the office tends to only have 4 people… two sales people, a secretary, and the boss.

    Ok… now today you wake up Mitsu… and your 3,500,000 is now 1,500,000

    But not one of your costs has changed… remember you only paid 3% profit before
    (yes, that’s all the profit a mature industry makes… the total is large because the market is large, but the profit is MARGINAL)

    So where are you going to get the 2,000,000 to pay your bills?

    Cmon Mitsu… mrs or mr Mitsu and the kids have needs. They are depending on your company. but so are the other 5 people working under you and their children. one of them takes care of their parents, so grandmom and grandpop also get tosuffer.

    I guess its easier to just drop their insurance in total,and pay the fine for not having it.

    Then you get the 2,000,000 from the spread between the insurance you used to provide, and the penalty you pay. That is till the others do that and your company cant sell insurance any more.

    This is MITSU optimal regulations

    Admittedly it is difficult to predict in advance the precise effect of any plan, but the CBO and most independent analysts I have seen have predicted the cost control measures in the new Federal plan will lead to modestly reduced premiums for equivalent coverage for those who have employer-based insurance today.

    For Mitsu, the GOD, the impossible is mearly difficult.

    Did you read the paper for which hayek got the nobel prize for?

    Of course not…

    Why?

    Because its time for mitsus brain to short and to change the subject.

    Bzzzzz….click…whir… ping… reboot!!!

    And we are off on amnesty…

    And just to briefly address your speculations about amnesty — it just seem peculiar to me that you’d engage in such implausible flights of fancy.

    The man who thinks that its only difficult to predict the precise outcome of a plan, thinks that the liberals stated plan is our flight of fancy.

    Bzzzzz….click…whir… ping… reboot!!!

    First of all, the whole notion that Democrats would suddenly attempt to grant “amnesty” to millions of illegal immigrants in an attempt to pad the voter rolls before this November is quite farfetched.

    Well then you better start talking to them as the articles appeared in the paper today. ny times, ny post, daily news… others are now talking amnesty.

    Its funny that when we repeat what liberals say, you see it as a flight of fancy
    But in a week, once you realize that its your side originating it
    You will be back sayig it’s a great idea.

    As if we are all patients of Olivar Sachs (strange man, got to meet him. he is at a different hospital… at the time he was working with another famous dr… this was before the movie, and such…he was very surprised that I had read his work on mapping color into 3d space in the mind… ), and each time you leave the room we forget the conversation or what you just said.

    That is, the lying part of you is so primitive, it can’t comprehend and adapt to a world in which technology gives us perfect recall, and eliminates deniability.

    It’s a reflex… a primitive reflex in which the rules of the game are hard coded, and so you act as if you said things and didn’t write them. that our memories are imperfect and if you press, you can get us to doubt ourselves, and so forth.

    It’s the symptom of a person who lies more to get ahead than actually works hard.

    Like a racing horse you get stuck in the corners of your own pen.

    racing horses are from the plains, there are no fences or corners on the plains. They are missing the cognitive ability to navigate out of corners. So if you don’t round the corners in their holding areas (forgot the term), they will eventually follow a fence into a corner, and will stand there till you go over and take them out of it.

    I’m not sure what you’re alluding to, Artfldgr. Are you aware of some arcane aspect of actuarial practice which you think I’m missing, somehow?
    CAUGHT you again.!!!!
    You are now saying that they use actuarial data…
    but before you said they were colluding
    and I AM aware of things as I worked for ISO for 8 years writing actuarial software and print on demand Xerox stuff on mainframe.

    If they are setting it by actuarial data, then they are not colluding are they?
    If they are colluding, and setting prices higher than they should, then they are not using actuarial.

    Meanwhile, they are completely under the control of the states and fed who set what they can or cant do, when they can do it, and how much they can change.

    the ONLY variable they have had to adjust for this is operating costs….

    MEANWHILE… once again…
    your burdening me, and not responding in kind to what I have asked you.

    stop being so nasty.

  52. Artfldgr Says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Who_Mistook_His_Wife_for_a_Hat
    The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

  53. Artfldgr Says:

    i wish i could ask alp questions..

    my wife and i are filing… we have made it all the way up to readjustment… now they want more information to determine that our marraige is valid. we are putting together more. a lawyer wants to charge a pretty hefty fee, but we got through the hardest stuf ourselves.

    now we are worried that we will go round and round and round… meanwhile life in limbo…

    wish i knew someone like alp… :)

  54. ALP Says:

    Artfldgr:

    There is no “readjustment” – are you referring to the process of “removing conditions” two years after the green card was granted, or the adjustment itself? If it is about removing conditions, you should have no problem if you’ve been living as man and wife and can prove it!

  55. Artfldgr Says:

    hey ALP!!!

    sorry i didnt know youi answered…

    we have gotten through the whole process.
    we have paid again to have conditions removed.

    we are inseperable… :) always together, all our free time.

    we are just worried as they didnt like the evidence we gave at first. this week we send out a new pile of letters and such.

    though they said that even if that dosnt work, we get an interview.

    sigh.

    (do they still come and search the home? or look in closets and such? the amount of rumor and nonsense among immigrants is legendary and so i choose not to pay attention to most of it as i have found most of it to be wrong)

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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