October 9th, 2013

Raising the debt ceiling: Obama’s refusal to negotiate

So which will it be: catastrophe or no? And if it’s catastrophe, how soon will that happen?

I will say at the outset: I don’t know the answer to either question. And what’s more, I don’t think anyone knows. That doesn’t stop everyone from offering an opinion, of course. I think that people on the left are ramping up the fear, and people on the right are trying to minimize it, both for obvious tactical purposes of their own. But failure to raise the debt ceiling is uncharted territory, and the best opinions are just guesses—although if it fails to be raised by the October 17 deadline, I guess we’ll find out whose prognostications were right and whose wrong.

Even that will not be completely clear, though, because predictions can function as a self-fulfilling prophecy, and fear is contagious.

One thing that is clear to me is that Paul Ryan is correct when he writes in the WSJ:

The president says he “will not negotiate” on the debt ceiling. He claims that such negotiations would be unprecedented. But many presidents have negotiated on the debt ceiling—including him.

Obama would like the public to think he can’t negotiate and that to do so would be unheard of. But in this, as in so many other things, he’s lying. What is actually going on here is that, in the past, presidents who have had to deal with divided government (as Obama is; the House is in Republican hands) have always known that in such a situation they must negotiate. Whichever party they have been affiliated with, and whether you think they were good presidents or bad ones, they have kept faith with the basic gentleman’s/woman’s agreement on which our government has always run, and that is that if the other side was duly elected to be in control of another branch of government, that group has some legitimate power and must be negotiated with.

Obama is different. He had the brilliant idea that, although Republicans are in control of the House right now, they have no power unless they agree with him, and it is okay for him to defy them because it will have no repercussions on either him or his party (which is largely aligned with him). Therefore he can Just Say No to whatever Republican demands might be, and blame them for the failure to come to any sort of agreement. And the reason he is able to get away with this is a simple one: he knows the media will not call him on it, but will instead support him and amplify his message.

It’s a toxic combination, and that’s what’s “unprecedented”—at least in this country.

[NOTE: I have a question: if the debt ceiling must always be raised every time it is asked for, what’s the point of having Congress vote on it at all? The argument that it must be raised by a vote seems strange on that level alone, if it is absolutely necessary to have automatic approval or the country’s economy collapses.]

[ADDENDUM: I just noticed that Eric Cantor has a piece in the WaPo today on the topic of how bipartisan negotiations are necessary in a divided government.]

75 Responses to “Raising the debt ceiling: Obama’s refusal to negotiate”

  1. Tom Says:

    I firmly believe that should either do away with the debt ceiling, or stick to it. If they raise it every time they approach it, and every one knows that’s what will happen, then it just becomes bad political theater.

  2. Matt_SE Says:

    The only way the US could default is if Obama ordered Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to not pay the interest on the debt…an explicit violation of the 14th Amendment, and an impeachable offense.
    Obama would love to get his way of course, but this is bluster. He needs the debt ceiling raised if he’s going to forward his agenda, and he doesn’t have the power to do that unilaterally. Whatever his thinking, reality will intrude and he will be forced to negotiate.
    Since everything with him is about positioning for political power, he will try to save face in the process (a la Syria) and seem to have won some sort of victory.
    As I’ve said before, I expect him to use the Keystone XL as the bargaining chip. I don’t think he ever really cared about the pipeline, so he won’t feel he’s giving up something real…but he’ll play it up as if he’s being magnanimous by conceding it to the Republicans.

  3. Conrad Says:

    “He had the brilliant idea that, although Republicans are in control of the House right now, they have no power unless they agree with him . . . ”

    This is the key point in understanding the liberal position on this. They do not seem to grasp the idea that the House has the right and the power under the Constitution to say “no” to funding Obamacare. In the minds of liberals, if Obama and the Senate want to proceed with Obamacare, it is incumbent on the House to go along. The House cannot, in their view of things, say “We’ll fund everything except Obamacare”; but this is exactly the kind of control and discretion the “power of the purse strings” implies. To view the House’s refusal to fund Obamacare as some kind of wanton, criminal act requires one to treat the House as a virtual null entity in the constitutional scheme.

    If Obama were a responsible leader instead of a petulant fool, he would man up and try to hold the House’s feet to the fire on de-funding Obamacare, not on de-funding the government generally, which the House has not done. But that would require mounting a defense of the indefensible: We all know that Obamacare is nothing but trouble for most Americans — only those who wanted to but literally could not get insurance before have any business supporting it. For everyone else it means crappier yet more expensive insurance, inefficiency, longer waiting times, less control, invasions of privacy, and higher taxes. But Obama and his admirers don’t care about any of that either; they just want to take a huge step “forward” toward a future in which everything is under control of the government and pesky annoyances like democracy are no longer a factor.

  4. Lizzy Says:

    What’s unprecedented is that the Senate has not passed a budget in 5 years.

    Heck, why fiddle with the debt ceiling when there’s no attempt to even manage, let alone trim, government spending. But we all know why there’s been no budget.

  5. artfldgr Says:

    the big event that unfreezes the current level
    moves to a new level
    then freezes it…

    doesnt have to be a reichstag..

  6. Bell Says:

    if the debt ceiling must always be raised every time it is asked for, what’s the point of having Congress vote on it at all?

    It is a political tool for partisan bickering. Both sides like it because at times they can blame the other side for not raising it and at other times they can blame the other side for raising it. The point of the debt ceiling is that most Americans are low information voters, so don’t really know what’s going on. Politicians take advantage of this ignorance and claim the other side is playing politics or doing something unprecedented, which to anyone paying even the slightest attention knows is a lie.

    Basically, it’s because the average American, or a significant minority of Americans, is an idiot.

  7. Nan231 Says:

    What do we expect from a President that was educated in the American school system? We won the White House so we are in charge.

  8. Kurtis Says:

    I agree that they should do away with the debt ceiling. In the absence of any serious discussion on debt reduction, spending controls or fiscal responsibility, the ceiling serves as a symbol, like the debt clock, and is, in reality, meaningless.

    That makes this current fight beyond surreal. They fight over who will control the illusion of restrained spending. They would have us takes sides and fight to win a battle which doesn’t exist.
    Like all politics, another fool’s game.

  9. Beth Donovan Says:

    Nan231- Obama was not educated in the American School System. He attended school in Indonesia in his early years, then he attended an exclusive, very expensive private school in Hawaii. He never once attended a public school

  10. DougV Says:

    To echo a liberal argument: “Obamacare is the law of the land! Accept it and move on!” Now, replace “Obamacare” with “The debt ceiling”.

  11. DNW Says:

    Yes, let’s raise the debt ceiling for those who would use it to power a system that just drapes more shackles on us, because if we don’t and the system stops operating then we …

    Well there must be some reason to keep it going. Someone somewhere will have their dialysis turned off if we don’t keep peddling to keep the power on.

    Our reward for all this self-sacrifices is to continue to be slaves to those who are slaves to their own dysfunction.

    Let the system fall.

  12. Obama’s Refusal To Negotiate | Transterrestrial Musings Says:

    […] That’s what’s unprecedented. […]

  13. Robert Hanson Says:

    It drives me crazy that 90% of media reporting is utter nonsense. Failure to raise the debt ceiling will absolutely not lead to default on current debts. There are plenty of tax revenues coming in to pay off all past debt, at least over the next few years. The only reason to raise the debt ceiling is to incur more new debt. It has nothing at all to do with paying off debts already incurred. And yet every article I read mentions the danger to the economy of going into default on our current debts.

    Imagine if you had a substantial credit card debt, which you have been paying off regularly each month. Now you call your bank, and tell them that if they don’t raise your credit limit, you will not be able to pay off what you already owe. They would think you were an idiot. Yet this is the very “default on our debts” argument that Obama is pushing, and the media presents if as if it were rational.

    We don’t need to raise the debt ceiling at all, and we shouldn’t. All we need to do is to cut our bloated yearly spending by 10%, and live within our means. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the Republicans, much less Obama, to seriously suggest this though.

  14. Cord Says:

    The debt ceiling is farcical when the Senate doesn’t even put a budget together for the largest economy in the world. And that really is the issue; we have leaders who are so vain and political that they think they know better than the people, the founding fathers and even the laws that have guided us for the last 237 years. “We are a nation of laws, not of men.” no longer has meaning.

    With 330 million people in the United States…why do we continue to elect the same 535 or so jack asses? Term limits. Now.

  15. artfldgr Says:


    so you think obama should have started with 32 trillion and worked up to 100 trillion in the first term?

    good going!

  16. rocinante3d Says:

    I think Cord nails it precisely. We continue to elect the same 535 jackasses. There are term limits in place, you can vote the jackasses out but people don’t seem to be concerned or feel they have input.

    Which leads me to only one alternative. I will vote with my feet and leave the USA. I say this with a great deal of sorrow.

    My parents came to America with very high hopes and they achieved most of their hopes and dreams. They wanted me to go even farther.

    Rather reluctantly I don’t think I can given the constraints of government. And so I will go back to my homeland and improve my lot in life.

    Already I have a made list of things I will miss terribly: Yuengling beer, the Appalachian Trail, the Inland Waterway and free food at Costco.

  17. Steve White Says:

    Robert Hanson says that we just need to cut our bloated budget by 10% and live within our means as a solution to the debt ceiling issue.

    No, it’s worse than that.

    Right now the government brings in about $14 billion a day in tax revenue, and spends about $16.7 billion a day. About $1.1 billion a day of that is interest.

    So it works like this: Of the 14 billion in revenue, we subtract 1.1 billion for the interest which we all agree we have to pay first. That leaves 12.9 billion a day for 15.6 billion in remaining spending. The shortfall therefore is actually about 17.3% — that’s the percentage cut we’d have to make in the budget to “live within our means”.

    I’m not being pedantic (really!). Where do you cut the 17.3%? Let’s say that cutting social security won’t be done as it’s political suicide even to suggest it (likely true). Social security in 2012 was about $770 billion, or 2 billion a day. If you insist on covering that in full now you have 10.9 billion a day in revenue to cover 13.6 billion in remaining spending. See where this goes? You have to make deeper and deeper cuts in what remains — now it’s 20.1% of all remaining spending.

    Who’s going to be successful in cutting 20% of the budget?

  18. Steve Rosenbach Says:

    Excellent post and cogent comments.

    May I ask a question, though?

    I understand that the Senate finally passed a budget earlier in March, after the House had passed their budget bill.

    Why didn’t Speaker Boehner appoint conferees to try to reconcile the two bills? I wasn’t paying attention at the time, and now the Dems bring this up all the time. I’m usually pretty good at searching this kind of thing, but I’ve failed to find anything about it so far.

    Thanks for any enlightenment!

  19. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Commenter Robert Hanson is factually correct, Steve White is factually and politically correct. Claiming that it would force default on the debt is a scare tactic. Refusing to raise the debt ceiling would force Obama to make spending cuts and that is when the caca hits the fan because someone’s ‘necessity’ gets cut.

    If no one caves, Obama will cut the military, border patrol and anything that will upset people, counting on the MSM to intensely promote the view that it’s the Republican’s fault, all in order to regain the House in 2014.

    Obama has no fear of repercussions from his failure to fulfill his Constitutional obligations, no matter what he does, the dems won’t even vote to censure, much less impeach.

    IMO, Obama wants confrontation because he’s decided that without crisis, blamed on Republicans, regaining the House is problematic. Congressional ‘stasis’ means an increasingly lame duck Presidency and Obama’s narcissistic ego demands that he ‘finish on a roll’.

  20. Dan Hossley Says:

    I think the Republicans should not raise the debt ceiling and leave it to Obama to then prioritize spending. It would be so painful, they would come to agreement within hours.

    The math is convincing. We spend ~$3.7T with revenues of $2.7T, leaving a trillion dollar deficit. Interest on the debt is about $250B. Take that out of the equation (as required by the constitution). That means that the government would have to cut spending by roughly 1/3rd!

    Believe me, the last thing the governing class wants is to make hard decisions. They’d fold like a cheap suit.

  21. West Says:


    When was 6the last time your refrigerator defrosted itself? You don;t know, do you? That’s because it happens automatically.

    The only way to make people, both inside and outside of Congress aware of our current fiscal situation is to make it into a speed bump, such as we have today.

    Nothing wrong with making it a hurdle, and giving people a chance to make an issue out of it.

  22. carl in atlanta Says:

    Neo wrote:

    “And the reason he is able to get away with this is a simple one: he knows the media will not call him on it, but will instead support him and amplify his message.”

    Yes. It always come back to that, doesn’t it? His own, personal Greek Chorus.

  23. cubanbob Says:

    Steve reconcile what? A budget that had a baseline that included the one trillion stimulus package? That budget the Senate produced was done with the full knowledge the House would never even consider it and the senate democrats like it that way since they won’t have to actually vote for a massive tax hike and spending hike which could be career enders for them come next election. Suppose the Republican House passed a budget that included repealing the tax deductibility of state and local income taxes would the Democratic Senate even consider that and attempt a reconciliation? Or how about eliminating the tax exemption of general obligation muni bonds?

    In the meantime this is going to end badly for Obama since he will pay the debt service and look the fool for attempting to scare the public. And if he is really brain dead arrogant and doesn’t then he will find himself impeached by the House. Will the Senate convict? Not a chance but live on TV and the web there will be a trial and the Democrats are going to make themselves like rank criminal hacks in trying to defend the indefensible. In business your best loss is your first loss and Obama and Reid would be wise enough to take their loss now. This time the Republicans have the better hand and they know it.

  24. OlderandWheezier Says:

    Barack Obama – the “Veruca Salt” President

  25. sharpie Says:

    The tea party defund strategy yielded a result not unexpected: Obama’s pride is causing his own destruction.

    The only reason “defund or shutdown” was not popular was due to a basic ignorance of our constitutional process. If the bulk of the people understood it is appropriate for Congress to deny funding and that default will not happen, then every person opposed to Commiecare would support “defund or shutdown.”

    Now, thanks to Obama, and as outlined by cubanbob, events will clarify the above truths. Since Obama’s agenda can only survive in darkness, causing a shutdown will demonstrate that the debt service gets paid, life goes on, and thanks to Obama, his pride and petulance are revealed.

  26. Kurtis Says:

    I’m fail to understand this affection for the debt ceiling or any claim to it’s effectiveness. A speed bump – hardly.
    I’m old enough to remember the debt under 2 trillion dollars, and that figure was shocking even then.
    Now it’s over 16 trillion dollars. Our debt is larger than our GDP. Lump in unfunded liabilities and you easily get over 100 trillion in obligations.

    Now, tell me again – what good is the debt ceiling, and please give me examples on how it has kept both democrats and republicans from amassing a crushing debt?

  27. aubrey la ventana Says:

    @Nan231: “a President that was educated in the American school system?”

    Beg pardon?

    If you mean just his post-secondary education, then OK I get it, but you ought to emphasize that to get the effect you seek. That might still be on topic.

  28. rickl Says:

    Beth Donovan Says:
    October 9th, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Nan231- Obama was not educated in the American School System. He attended school in Indonesia in his early years, then he attended an exclusive, very expensive private school in Hawaii. He never once attended a public school

    It’s the voters who were educated in the American school system who think “the President runs the country”.

  29. Mr. Frank Says:

    At least the debt ceiling forces a brief discussion and coverage of the ever increasing spending and borrowing that is going on. In many cases in the past it has resulted in small spending cuts.

    The average voter does not know much about the debt or the deficit. Perhaps, the debt ceiling discussion educates a few people. When debt hits the wall (think Greece and Spain) discussions get very intense, even violent. That’s where liberal policies lead.

  30. Richard Says:

    It’s all a scam. Fooling the voters into thinking that adults are in charge of the country. It will be the purchasers of our debt that will decide what our debt is worth and we might be in for a nasty surprise regardless of how this turns out. Don’t worry about default. The money is there to prevent that and they know it. The national goody wagon is over. We are not broke but our politicians had better start tuning into Dave Ramsey and start cutting up the credit cards.

  31. T Says:

    Neo-neocon et. al,

    The complaints about having a debt ceiling at all stem from a one-dimensional view of it. I have written on this site before, that it serves no real fiscal purpose if it is raised every time it is reached. But having no fiscal purpose (the purpose for which it was intended, BTW) does not mean it has no purpose at all.

    The debt ceiling functions to regularly bring to the public eye the chronic overspending of congress and congresses past. It maybe bad political theater, but would we rather have a congress with no debt ceiling, spending willy-nilly without any public visibility? Sure we get tired of the haggling, but at some point because of the haggling people might begin to ask: “Didn’t they just do this not to long ago? Why do they need to do this again and what the Hell are they doing with my money over there?”

    Without that recurrent bad political theater, those questions will never be asked. Yet, there is a balance to be struck between always haggling over the debt ceiling (in which case we become oblivious and insensitive to it) and never haggling over the debt ceiling (in which case we become unaware that chronic overspending even exists).

  32. Mr. Frank Says:

    There’s an old joke that feeding bears is not dangerous. It’s when you run out of food that it gets dangerous. We have enough money to cover interest on bonds and rollovers, but huge programs and many constituents take big hits very quickly. Military pay, veterans’ benefits, Social Security, food stamps, disability payments, student loans, Medicare, Medicaid, school lunches and so forth would take big hits in weeks. What politician can do that?

  33. kaba Says:

    Obama is rather agnostic concerning what happens to the debt ceiling laws I suspect. As we’ve seen in the past he will do whatever he wants in any case and that pesky Constitution, those irritating laws, and tradition be damned. The MSM will provide cover and the opposition lacks the will, the skill, and the courage to do anything other than protest feebly.

    But it does provide a rather handy weapon to use on the political opposition. And he will never pass on an opportunity to demagogue an issue or bash an opponent.

  34. Don Carlos Says:

    It seems kinda obvious to me that no-one can accurately or precisely foresee or predict the future.

    We can however appreciate obvious trends and extrapolate those trends into the future, despite lack of timelines. That strikes me as the essence of this blog.
    Here, we know, almost all of us, that Baraq and the Dems are cockroaches, who will proliferate endlessly without the right insecticide. We also know these roaches can survive radiation doses lethal to mankind.

  35. MarkJ Says:

    “But it does provide a rather handy weapon to use on the political opposition. And he will never pass on an opportunity to demagogue an issue or bash an opponent.”

    In that case, with a 37% approval rating, Obama had better find another “shtick” to use as a “stick” ’cause the one he’s usin’ now ain’t workin’ no more.

  36. M J R Says:

    Cavuto: Mr. President, we at Fox News are not the problem

    (just under three minutes)


  37. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Refusing to raise the debt ceiling is basically taking away ‘the kids credit card’ and making them live on their ‘allowance’.

    Obama will be forced to make spending cuts in Federal programs. His ideology has him tone deaf to the choices he’s making even now.

    The debt payments are mandated and its political suicide not to make social security payments. So as Steve pointed out, about 20% has to be cut elsewhere. No matter where Obama prioritizes and cuts, the reaction will be outrage and, since he would be making the choices… he won’t be able to escape responsibility.

    The absolutely delicious irony that Obama would be the one forced to make the spending cuts and can’t escape responsibility is too sweet for words.

    Right now the administration is denying death benefits to fallen soldiers families and refusing to fund children’s cancer research programs, while simultaneously giving 1/2 a BILLION to NPR and PBS… that’s really bad PR.

    It can only get worse for him, if he’s forced to cut spending.

  38. teapartydoc Says:

    Obama is using the same strategy used by Robert Mugabe in the negotiations leading up to the transfer of power and initial elections in Zimbabwe. The press is playing the role of Jimmy Carter/Andrew Young. He will be obstinate, then, when it seems nothing can be worked out he will suddenly act conciliatory and everyone will think that a deal has been worked out, and then suddenly he will make greater demands that would have been unthinkable at a previous stage of the negotiations, and the Republicans will in all likelihood cave because of pressure from the press. We may be looking into the mouth of a permanent dictatorship, unless the Republicans can hold their ground and remember that no one is going to like them anyway after this and it is their job to save the country, not their jobs.

  39. M J R Says:

    Once one internalizes the fact that the (mainstream) media are one’s opponent, it all becomes clear. And easy, like shooting ducks in a barrel.

    DUFFY: Andrea, that’s ridiculous.

    MITCHELL: Well, we’ve asked questions to both sides. That’s not fair.

    DUFFY: Do you ask that question, Andrea?

    DUFFY: Don’t spin that on me.

    DUFFY: Andrea, hold on. that’s your spin.

    DUFFY: No one’s asked that question but Jon Stewart. I think the media should start doing its job.

    MITCHELL: Thanks for your advice. Thank you, congressman.

    Have a read . . .

    M J R

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2013/10/08/rep_sean_duffy_to_andrea_mitchell_i_thin k_the_media_should_start_doing_its_job.html

    Rep. Sean Duffy To Andrea Mitchell: “The Media Should Start Doing Its Job”
    October 8, 2013

  40. expat Says:

    That Cavuto takedown was really good. I hope it goes viral.

  41. sharpie Says:

    Your link, unfortunately, isn’t working, M J R. I was searching for it and came across how the Washington Compost is spinning the Duffy/Mitchell encounter:


    Andrew McCarthy has an excellent article (see link below) that rebuts the argument that the Supreme Court “upheld” Commiecare. And it is spin to assert that the re-election of Obama is a mandate for Commiecare. If that is so, why does only a minority (a shrinking minority) support it?


  42. T Says:


    You can read a transcript of the Duffy-Mitchell dust-up (along with a video) at http://www.newsbusters.org

  43. Capn Rusty Says:

    Steve White at 12:21 pm asked

    “Who’s going to be responsible for cutting 20% of the budget?”

    I would answer “The Gods of the Copybook Headings.”

    And they will cut a lot more than that . . .

  44. M J R Says:

    sharpie, 4:20 pm — “Your link, unfortunately, isn’t working.”

    I’m not a fan of tinyurl, but here goes. Try . . .


    . . . worked twice for me (out of two tries). Apologies.

  45. Steve Carstensen Says:

    Funny that the right-wingers think the ACA is so evil, but no one steps up to defend the way it was before – tens of millions of Americans with no coverage, all of us paying higher premiums to support the free care the uncovered are forced to endure in ERs for simple (often dental) problems.
    The most frequent cause of bankruptcy was medical bills. Great system we had there. But it was run by big business, which prevented real reform, leading us into the partial, serves no one well ACA. Do the families of the most vitriolic haters enjoy the fact that they can cover their kids until 26? Or that they aren’t locked into one coverage because of ‘pre-existing conditions?”

    You do realize that you are already paying for the uninsured’s care, right? You don’t fantasize that insurance companies price your premium only for your care, do you?

    As a small business owner, I pay for my employee’s health care – and I’ve had double digit increases in premiums every year for many renewals. I’m happy that system is on its way out!

  46. Artfldgr Says:

    Moody’s says in the memo dated Oct. 7.

    ” We believe the government would continue to pay interest and principal on its debt even in the event that the debt limit is not raised, leaving its creditworthiness intact,” the memo says. “The debt limit restricts government expenditures to the amount of its incoming revenues; it does not prohibit the government from servicing its debt. There is no direct connection between the debt limit (actually the exhaustion of the Treasury’s extraordinary measures to raise funds) and a default.

  47. neo-neocon Says:

    Steve Cartensen:

    Nice strawman argument you’ve got there. No one’s defending the old system because it was deeply flawed (and not necessarily because of conservatives, either). There were many many ways to have fixed it; Obamacare is clearly one of the worst ways that could have been chosen, where the “cure” may end up being worse than the disease.

    And by the way, that bankruptcy assertion of yours is incorrect, although it’s often heard as a talking point. See this for the truth, if in fact you’re interested in learning it.

  48. Artfldgr Says:

    this was so predictable…
    enough to take saddle option
    sell on the low from the “tension”
    then sell on the high when it “resolves”

    pump and dump the way the big boys do it….

    remember Apr 12, 2013? (or around that date?)
    in 2012 Obama signed into law:
    Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge act

    The law wouldn’t just outlaw trading on nonpublic information by members of Congress, the executive branch and their staffs. It would greatly expand financial disclosures and make all of the data searchable so insider trading and conflicts of interest would be easier to detect.

    how nice…

    however a year later most of the law was reversed

    its still illegal to inside trade, but there is no way to get the information to find out…

    with one hand given, the other hand takes away…

    kind of like that constitution i recommended people read to get a feel for how things operate.

  49. sharpie Says:

    Under Obamacare, bankruptcies will go up due to the higher deductibles and job loss (Job loss is the second reason for bankruptcy.)

    The tea party (vitriolic haters, all of us) is the party against crony big business/insurance companies supported by Democrats and RINO’s.

    The market can provide health care much better than socialism, even when the population suffers from so much laziness and expectation for handouts, in fact, the first principle to fiscal health is to knkow that health care is not a right.

  50. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    Steve: you don’t really believe that Obamacare will cover most dental treatment . . . do you?

    As for your belief that everybody paid the bills for all care given to the uninsured before now, let me please point out to you that many uninsured people — including me and my family, for many years — covered our medical bills on our own, thank you very much, by saving in advance, working out payment plans with the providers and then working to earn the necessary money. That included bills from our family doctors and specialists — much cheaper, usually, than cell phones or cable TV — as we certainly never turned to ERs except in bona fide emergencies. Yes, we were fortunate not to sustain truly catastrophic medical events during that time, but if we had, we’d have paid what we could. Most Americans, I find — insured or not — are more like my family than the desperate victimized deadbeats of your imagination. Contrast the new situation, which will reward healthy people who don’t plan ahead by purchasing insurance for letting them do so at the last minute, only after they get sick, and will punish the sick and the responsible people who do purchase care, by driving up their costs to cover the premiums that healthy people no longer need to pay, because there’s no longer any risk of catastrophic loss to protect against. Why, exactly, is this an improvement? How is it possibly going to make coverage more affordable?

    As for your belief that the most frequent cause of bankruptcy is medical bills, provide a reliable citation please. The mere presence of medical bills among the unpaid bills in a bankruptcy is not proof that that the medical bills were the main cause. Although such bankruptcies certainly occur — and I certainly agree that they shouldn’t — in my legal experience a much more frequent cause of consumer bankruptcy is, and will continue to be regardless of Obamacare, credit card abuse. Of course, the same people who charge more than they can afford often also fail to pay bills of other kinds, including those from doctors.

    And couldja please, please try to set aside the irrational conflation of “vitriolic haters” with those of us who rationally believe that the ACA is a hot mess that will make our already-troubled system of health care delivery much worse, and hurt many of the people who need help most? Really, those who are incapable of understanding good faith, reasonable dissent as anything but malevolence ought to be careful who they’re calling “haters.” Glass houses, and all that.

  51. neo-neocon Says:

    Mrs Whatsit:

    Here’s the link you’re seeking, the one about the bankruptcy statistics. I provided it in an earlier comment.

  52. T Says:

    Steve Cartensen,

    Furthermore, one of the problems of the current medical insurance system (which you rail against) is that companies are prohibited from selling medical insurance across state lines.

    You get that? A major problem of the current system is government interference in the insurance market to be replaced by a system in which the government interferes with the medical insurance market.

  53. Steve Carstensen Says:

    I never said anything about dental care and the ACA.

    I also didn’t call anyone a vitriolic hater, but there may be some out there who fit that description, using labels such as ‘Commiecare.’ I just said those who have that worldview may want to think about the benefits available under the method worked out in Congress, four years ago, called ACA. Do you think everything in just this thread is ‘good faith, reasonable dissent?’ Couldja, please, try to set aside the irrational conflation of pointing out some good parts of a attempt to improve with ‘incapable of understanding?’ Glass houses, and all that.

    Yes, there are many solutions to our deeply flawed medical reimbursement system. While some responsible Americans pay for their own health care, I have to say that empirical sense makes me think there are not so many of those folks. And who sets the prices for what they pay? Large corporations with no oversight – health care is not well controlled by ‘market forces’

    Good for you, really good, that Mrs. Whatsit didn’t have any major medical issues. But you said yourself that if something had happened, you would have ‘paid what you could.’ What about the rest? That’s what insurance is supposed to be for, but previously, if something had happened, you would have never been able to ever get insurance.

    The link provided is all the citation needed. What other factor is cited more often than health care expenses for bankruptcy?

    Selling insurance across state lines would be an excellent move. I’m thinking the state governments are more in charge of this than the feds are. State’s rights and all.

  54. neo-neocon Says:

    Steve Carstensen:

    When replying to specific comments, it is best to mention who you are addressing with each of your responses. Otherwise it is very hard for people to know who you are addressing.

    The bankruptcy link I provided explains why that statistic is very suspect.

  55. sharpie Says:


    Didn’t you write, “Do the families of the most vitriolic haters enjoy the fact that they can cover their kids until 26?”

    Hmmm. Didn’t call anyone a vitriolic hater? Who are these people? And is there any reason to suppose their status as a vitriolic hater is merely because they oppose commiecare?

    I am a vitriolic hater. Of lies, deception, socialism, Obama’s attempt to “fundamentally transform” America, media corruption and failure, academic conformity and programming of our children, loss of property, prosperity and freedom . . .

  56. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    Steve: you wrote: “. . . the way it was before – tens of millions of Americans with no coverage, all of us paying higher premiums to support the free care the uncovered are forced to endure in ERs for simple (often dental) problems.” If this doesn’t mean that you expect the ACA to change the awful past in which uninsured people had to go to the ER for dental care, what does it mean?

    As for your belief that neo’s link proves your point, you need to read the article again more carefully — all of it, please. It most definitely does not.

    And people who call other people “vitriolic haters” don’t fool anybody but themselves by insisting, just a few inches down on the very same page, that they never did so.

  57. rickl Says:

    Speaking of dental insurance, a few years ago I had a problem with receding gums. I got treatment, and they had me coming for a checkup and cleaning every three months instead of the customary six. My gums are fine now, but I’ve kept up that frequency of checkups.

    My insurance covers two checkups per year, for which I pay a $5 copay each. The other two are not covered, and I pay $80 each. I asked, and was told that that would be the charge if I walked in off the street without insurance.

    $80 for a teeth cleaning and cavity screening is not unreasonable. It’s somewhere between the price of an oil change and a brake job, which need to be done periodically and which no one expects to be covered by their auto insurance. Routine visits like that will go a long way towards catching any problems before they become more serious. I think even a filling would only cost $200-300 without insurance. That’s certainly doable.

    Last month I had my annual physical. I asked my primary care physician whether she would accept cash payment if I lost my insurance coverage. She said, “Absolutely, and we’ll adjust the price accordingly.” I was very glad to hear that, since I really like her. While we didn’t actually discuss prices, if push comes to shove, I’ll pay cash for routine checkups and lab work rather than sign up for Obamacare. If something more serious crops up, I’ll have to play it by ear and cross that bridge when I come to it.

    There isn’t anything wrong with our health care system that can’t be alleviated by free market competition. People have gotten so used to insurance paying for even minor office visits that they have a distorted understanding of what these things actually cost.

    And if people start paying for their routine care, that will tend to spur them to taking their health less for granted. In my case, my cholesterol and triglycerides were a little high and I was told to get another blood test in three months. I’m trying to improve my diet in the meantime, so we’ll see how that goes.

    Here’s a recent article from Reason magazine about doctors and labs who do cash business:

    The Obamacare Revolt: Physicians Fight Back Against the Bureaucratization of Health Care

  58. Steve Carstensen Says:

    Mrs. Whatsit:
    Nothing in the ACA addresses dental care for adults. It is a fact that many people visit the ER for dental reasons (Pew Research: A Costly Dental Destination estimates that preventable dental conditions were the primary reason for 830,590 ER visits by Americans in 2009—a 16 percent increase from 2006.) These people incur medical costs to support that ER visit. Those without insurance are either left to self pay, like you would, or we pay for them. And they are left with the dental conditions that drove them to the ER, a topic for another discussion entirely.

    I did read all of that article and stand by my understanding that there is no single factor cited more often in bankruptcy than illness and medical costs. Sure there are many other factors, but is there one more significant? I didn’t see anywhere in the article that says there is.

    Where did I call anyone a ‘vitriolic hater?’ I believe they are out there, and sharpie’s claim to that label validates that those folks do exist. In fact, she/he equates the tea party with the term, something I didn’t do.

    I posed a question if those like sharpie liked some of the benefits of the ACA. You have all focused on the label and ignored the question.

    Sharpie, you say the market can provide health care much better than socialism. How do you measure that? Do you think our health care is better than other countries who have socialized health care? Statistics say way otherwise except in cost. How is the market making it better?

  59. rickl Says:

    A few years ago, one of my cats developed acute kidney failure and spent four days in the animal hospital on an IV to flush out his kidneys. The total bill including follow-up visits came to about $1000, which I paid out of pocket.

    If it had been me instead, it probably would have cost that much just for the ambulance ride. A four-day hospital stay might have run into five figures, because of the insurance system and attendant bureaucracy.

    For a while there, I was really tempted to ask the vet whether she would be interested in becoming my primary care physician for cash under the table.

  60. sharpie Says:

    SC, you say,

    “Sharpie, you say the market can provide health care much better than socialism. How do you measure that?”

    Shite. Only a progressive educated progammhead could ask that question. Really, I mean really?

    Who developed medicine? The Soviet Union, China or the good ole U S of A? Yes, give credit for naturopathic medicine but that medicine is thousands of years old and wasn’t developed by commies. But for all the other medicine . . . who will you credit? I’d like to know.

    If you are an enemy combatant, is your survival after wounding better if you are from Libya or the good ole U S of A?

    Where are germs controlled? Where are there good sewers and clean homes? What country provides more medical and survival aid than any other? Is it Saudi Arabia with its billions of oil revenue? Is it any African country? Is it even any Asian country? How good is the health care in Egypt?

    And statistics? Kept by whom? China? the UK? Want to compare the US and the UK? Why are they all coming over here if they have such great health care?

    Statistics? Give me a break. The UK sacrifices so much to even approach the US in the medical field and then you want to trumpet what appears as parity without acknowledging what made that parity. There is a parallel. The Soviet Union looked like they had military parity but they sacrificed their people to get it. And the Soviet Union is dying and awash in alcoholism. Finished as a major country. So is England. And that is your example? Whew.

    You labor under such factual restriction and narrative imposition. And fear. Fear of want from energy depletion, global catastrophe, population explosion, food shortages . . . you live in a world of zero.

    Tea Party does not believe that way. We believe in creation of food, medicine, technology, new worlds, abilities. Why don’t you join our side which believes in the individual and the future?

  61. Don Carlos Says:

    rickl: I guarantee on my Board certifications that neither animals nor humans have acute kidney failure treated with IV fluids to ‘flush the kidneys out’. That approach would kill the patient every time. Your cat did not have acute kidney failure. If that was the vet’s diagnosis, that vet was wrong.
    Your cat likely had pre-renal azotemia, due to dehydration. The cat probably needed only 1 day of fluids vigorously given. You got ripped off.

  62. sharpie Says:

    Here’s another thought, SC!

    Capitalism allows all sorts of freedom from the culture of itself. If you don’t like, there are lots of alternatives. The same does not present with socialism as the Catholic Church is finding out.

    If you, or any of your welfare lazy friends want to donate any of your time or money, you are free to do so.

    How come that isn’t good enough. Because you want us to give up our property for your ideas of fairness.

    If you gave up your property and income, that would do it, wouldn’t it?

    Why don’t you do it? How charitable are you with your own money?

    Compare Romney and Obama for an example. One man earned money and gave money to charity. The other man earned nothing and gave nothing.

    Senator Reid used the amnesty and protection of the senate floor to defame (a crime) Romney in order to elect the crime that is our President. How ugly. You should be ashamed if you voted for Obama.

    You want to hold up to examination the hatred of the tea party. What do we hate? Old privilege? Supposedly what you hate? Romney wasn’t exactly an old family of privilege. Neither is Cruz. Or Rubio. Or Martinez. Yet your “people of socialism” hated Romney and loved a crony capitalist, Obama. True story. Ask Wall Street. Ask lobbyists. Ask the failed “most transparent administration” in history. Ask the persecutors of whistleblowers. Ask the most scandal riddled administration in history. Ask the most incompetent administration in history. Ask the most unconstitutional administration in history.

    Obamas. Clintons. And Bushes. Looks like they are setting up permanent ruling status. Well, you are welcome to them. Take them and make your own welfare. See how much they give.

    Meanwhile, leave us alone. And that’s a threat.

    Don’t tread on me. Asshole.

  63. sharpie Says:

    Here’s something to think about: Retirement.

    The socialism of social security brought the uselessness of old age. It’s not there historically. But make a person useless by retirement and guaranteed income, an income not controlled or governed by the person, and what do you get? An old age populace that is alienated. Totally against Scripture and Torah which give respect and power to old age and property. But remove the right to that respect which discipline and years of experience acquires, and what do you have? An old pen of old people like sheep going bahhhhhhh.

    How come people who don’t retire, like Justice Ginsburg, remain viable? Could Alzheimer’s disease be related to retirement? How many old people could still be healthy and working but are not because they have been programmed to accept the dribbles of social security.


  64. sharpie Says:

    Limited choice,

    Describes today.

    Choose slavery,

    In democracy.

    A moth was sent

    To guide your way,


    Are here to stay.

  65. SteveH Says:

    We have a fiscal/political crisis in this country because of a media dominated by progressive ideologues.

    All the truth, facts, articulate conservative arguments and common sense mathematics in the world isn’t going to reach the average voter under such a lopsided system. It’s a system that can never provide the country with anything close to the rational debate it’s starving for.

  66. Steve Carstensen Says:


    Wow, interesting that Mrs. Whatsit calls me out for a label I used but no one says squat about the extremist talk you spew out. Calling me names and vomiting out unsubstantiated opinion as if it were real is hardly adult discourse.

    Want statistics about health care? http://www.aei.org/outlook/health/global-health/us-health-care-a-reality-check-on-cross-country-comparisons/

    Don’t overlook how we got those improvements in health care, sewers, and clean, safe homes. Why don’t our schools and factories collapse on the innocents? It’s the government you hate so much that paid for the health care research and sewers. It’s buiding codes and inspectors that make sure our people go to safe schools and workplaces. Bet you don’t like those inspectors much, but imagine if they weren’t there, and you’d have Bangladesh.

    I’m done here. I believe there are many on forums like this who would engage in reasonable discourse, but then you guys have to let the sharpies of your group spoil all that. And the meek let the bloviating few dominate.

  67. JuliB Says:


    We have a horribly mixed system right now, not a market based one. I believe that it would be better to go to a more market based approach, with some gov’t thrown in.

    For the gov’t part: free clinics which would cover poor people without insurance. Forgive a percentage of government loans for medical personnel working there in addition to a lower wage.

    Tort reform.

    Change the charitable deduction laws for the medical industry (including dentists) so that labor and not just cost of goods could be a tax deduction. I would assume some type of state standards for low income benificiaries. Would there be fraud? Probably as much as in the current medicare/medicaid system now.

    Change the Flex spending back to a level of 5K instead of 2.5 K is is changing to (or has done already). At year end, allow participants to receive any overage back (minus taxes) or allow the money to roll so that people can accumulate money for large bills (braces, major operations where the out of pocket will go above 2.5 K). Change the requirements back so that all medical costs, not just prescribed medicines, are covered.


    Encourage medical professionals to come up with different ways of approaching health care delivery. There are examples in Catholic health care where a group of doctors will set up a pre-pay practice where individuals pay a certain amount to them each month. The number of patients is kept low enabling them to see the pre-payers more quickly. The patients also pay for a catastrophic care policy to cover major medical. With a guaranteed cash inflow even with extra time to spend with patients, there are extra time slots available. This allows the doctors to care for additional needy patients at no charge.

    It’s a wonderful model since it allows for both paying patients and medical professionals to work together to care for the sick and needy which is a Christian requirement.


    Encourage medical professionals and hospitals to publish price lists.

    This is just off the top of my head and I think it would make life better for so many people. And it wouldn’t take regulations the size of 10 bibles to make it so.

    I would suggest focusing on the states as independent units trying different things to help more people get access. The President could have used his bully pulpit to encourage real change. Instead, he uses the point of a gun (gov’t = force) to change things to increase his control.

    Somewhere, I don’t recall where, it was stated that extra private coverage would be illegal. Even in Canada’s socialized health care, they can buy additional coverage.

    I’m sure that many people could come up with more ideas in no time.

  68. Ymarsakar Says:


    An example of what might exist should there be civil war in the US once more.

    Not all bad, but not all good either.

  69. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    Steve C: so, as far as I can see, your point with regard to “vitriolic haters” is that people who object to the ACA even though they may, individually, get some goodies from it — such as insurance for our young adult kids — are in the wrong. In your view, the right thing for anybody who sees a freebie in front of them is to grab it and shut up, even if they think the ultimate impact of handing out all those freebies is going to be economic disaster for the young adult kids, the health care system and for the country? This attitude of grab-what-you-can-get and the devil take the future is certainly a common one these days, and getting more so — but you’ll have to excuse me if I decline to agree with you.

    I’m not playing your “I didn’t say what I did say” game any more, except to point out that with regard to bankruptcy, what you did say in your first comment on this thread was “The most frequent cause of bankruptcy was medical bills.” The article at Neo’s link demonstrates irrefutably that this is not the case. Moving the football downthread to try to pretend that you said “health-related expenses” or “job losses resulting from illness” or some other thing unrelated to whether people have medical bills that aren’t covered by insurance, once again, fools nobody but yourself.

    You didn’t answer my question about how the ACA’s removal of the risk of financial catastrophe is going to result in affordable health care. I wish you would. Meanwhile, you asked me what my family would have done if we had encountered catastrophic expenses while we were uninsured. Ironically, as it turns out, the answer is that we would have bought health insurance, and it would have covered most of the expenses. We lived in New York at that time, where the law required insurers to cover pre-existing conditions. I didn’t know that then, and would have worried a lot less if I had, but there it is: we’d have bought insurance and — exactly as things will work under the ACA — our costs would have been covered by other people’s premiums.

    Now, ironically, New York’s requirement for coverage of preexisting conditions was a primary reason that my family could not afford health insurance. New York also prohibits catastrophic coverage — as does the ACA — meaning that no affordable bare-bones policy existed that my family could have used to protect ourselves against potential disaster, while footing the rest of our bills on our own. The combination of those requirements, and others, effectively destroyed the individual-coverage market in NY, causing premiums to skyrocket so high that almost nobody could afford it — and of course, the savvy ones realized that they didn’t have to, because of the very same removal of risk that I asked you about upthread. Now, unlike New York, the ACA theoretically solves the lost-risk problem with the individual mandate that forces everyone to buy. Stepping out of theory into reality, however, the penalty for refusing to buy is so much less than the cost of coverage — and will remain so for years into the future, though it slowly goes up — that the effect, as far as I can see, will be the same nationwide as it was in New York. The ACA incentivizes people not to buy health insurance and rewards those who don’t by protecting them from the consequences of that decision and imposing the costs, instead, on those who did choose to buy and the sick who had to. The consequence, as in New York, has to be escalating costs and the ultimate destruction of the whole system. What will happen to the freebies that you think I should be rejoicing about then? What will happen to my young adult kids then? Once again, I ask you, this is a good thing WHY? This will improve the system HOW?

  70. JuliB Says:

    Don Carlos,

    My beloved cat had kidney issues – I wouldn’t call it straight out failure. It’s been several years and I don’t recall the exact diagnosis but it’s certainly not uncommon. (per google – chronic renal failure). http://www.felinecrf.com/managb.htm

    I had to give him subQ fluids every couple of days. I was trained on how to do it at home, and the supply costs were minimal. He was like a new cat after these treatments. Alas, I was told that it would hasten his demise, but by how much it was unknown. So I made the choice to make his shorter time on earth a better time for him.

    The ashes of my Nikolai (Kolya) are in my home office.

  71. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    “It’s the government you hate so much that paid for the health care research and sewers.”

    Steve: No, it was not. It was the taxpayers.

  72. Ymarsakar Says:

    all of us paying higher premiums to support the free care the uncovered are forced to endure in ERs for simple (often dental) problems.

    Are you pretending that you don’t know why you were paying more for less, or do you really not know that the Democrats were siphoning the money from the top and forcing health payments to go up?

  73. Ymarsakar Says:

    The regime will have plenty of quislings, judas goats, and various others hanging on so that they get a little bit trickle of the blood money coming forth soon. They think they will be repaid for their ‘loyalty’.

  74. Richard Saunders Says:

    Steve C:

    If the problem was that we have millions uninsured, all that would have been necessary was a two section bill —

    1. Anybody who doesn’t have health insurance can go down to the local Social Security office and sign up for Medicaid.

    2. We will take [pick a number from 1 to 10] percent of your pay to cover it.

    Instead, there was a 2700 page bill which not even its sponsors had (or could) read, making it very obvious that the purpose of the bill was not to cover the uninsured, but to take over the nation’s healthcare.

    Doctors are retiring by the thousands and medical school admission are down substantially because they don’t want to be part of Obamacare. Fortunately, I like Indian doctors. Hope you do, too.

  75. Ymarsakar Says:

    There’s also Middle East doctors like Major Hasan. Although you have to tolerate a few jihad incidents as a result.

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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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