Only five months after Inauguration Day, the focus of Washington’s economic and domestic policy is already shifting. This reflects the emergence of much larger budget deficits than anyone expected. Indeed, federal deficits may average a stunning $1 trillion annually over the next 10 years. This worsened outlook is stirring unease on Main Street and beginning to reorder priorities for President Barack Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership. By 2010, reducing the deficit will become their primary focus.
Why has the deficit outlook changed? Two main reasons: The burst of spending in recent years and the growing likelihood of a weak economic recovery. The latter would mean considerably lower federal revenues, the compiling of more interest on our growing debt, and thus higher deficits. Yes, the President’s Council of Economic Advisors is still forecasting a traditional cyclical recovery — i.e., real growth of 3.2% next year and 4% in 2011. But the latest data suggests that we’re on a much slower path. Probably along the lines of the most recent Goldman Sachs and International Monetary Fund forecasts, whose growth rates average about 2% for 2010-2011.
06/30/2009 Posted by ellatinolaw | Free Market Economics, Government Debt, Liberal Business, Obama - Domestic Policy, Obama Budget, Redistribution of Wealth, socialized medicine, tax cheats, Useful Idiots | Leave a comment
Will Democrats truly pose hurdles for Obama?
WASHINGTON — As Congress tackles President Barack Obama’s top two domestic priorities — climate change and health care — he faces some of his most serious challenges from fellow Democrats.
The narrow passage Friday of an environment bill came with nearly one in five Democrats defecting, and only after supporters from coal-producing and agriculture districts won concessions that eased the impact on business and aggravated some environmentalists. Prospects for the measure remain uncertain in the Senate, even though Democrats hold a 59-40 voting majority.
Some Democratic defections were to be expected. Republicans’ argument that the cap-and-trade program would effectively impose a national energy tax on consumers and businesses was a message likely to resonate in conservative congressional districts won by moderate Democrats in the past two elections.
So what just happened? How is it possible that Democrats cruised to a huge victory on Election Day in November 2008 and are yet again unable to make good on their top legislative priority? Why are the ghosts of Bill Clinton’s 1994 healthcare reform debacle suddenly flitting about Capitol Hill? What happened was the Great Recession, the political impact of which the Obamacrats completely misunderstood. Oh, they knew the financial and economic crisis helped sweep them to office. That part they got just fine.
But they also assumed that the downturn would create such a sense of economic insecurity that time would be ripe for the sort of expansive, government-led healthcare changes that the party has been dreaming of for two generations. Instead, the Great Recession made healthcare less of a priority for voters than economic recovery — as fast as possible, please — and job creation. A recent spate of polls shows concern about healthcare (and climate change and pretty much everything else) lagging concern about unemployment. Healthcare lags concern about the shocking enlargement of the federal budget deficit, which has grown partly due to government actions — such as the $800 billion Obama stimulus package — to deal with the recession, as well as by the decline in tax revenue caused by the downturn itself.
The Federal government cannot keep top-secret nuclear sites an actual secret
And now we’re surprised to trust them with collecting our health information into one national database???
The federal government mistakenly made public a 266-page report, its pages marked “highly confidential,” that gives detailed information about hundreds of the nation’s civilian nuclear sites and programs, including maps showing the precise locations of stockpiles of fuel for nuclear weapons.
The publication of the document was revealed Monday in an on-line newsletter devoted to issues of federal secrecy. That publicity set off a debate among nuclear experts about what dangers, if any, the disclosures posed. It also prompted a flurry of investigations in Washington into why the document was made public.
So what’s in it for health care companies when it comes to socialized medicine? Ask Despina D. Karras.
“An unrivaled set of abstractions and posturing,” is how a Boston University Professor of Health Policy described the announcement that health companies (insurers, providers and drug companies) have promised to enact $2 trillion in cost-cutting measures over the next 10 years.
This ceremonial commitment came on the heels of Democrat’s revealing their willingness to use reconciliation to push universal healthcare legislation through soon. While the announcement was a nice gesture, it left many of us wondering, where’s the beef? First, with no enforcement mechanism, the government cannot force the companies to follow through on their promises. And secondly, if realized, these savings wouldn’t benefit the government alone, but would also accrue to the consumers of health services. In other words, the money saved won’t be put in a big pot that the government can reach into to fund their healthcare initiatives.
So what did this announcement really mean? For example, might the President be willing to explore reforming healthcare without instituting socialized healthcare? That seems unlikely. The more likely explanation is that up until now, the major road block to providing a public, government-run health insurance has been finding a way to pay the ever increasing bill for such a Medicare-style entitlement, and the President believes that “lowering the costs of health care will complement the overall reform of the health-care system” that Congress is getting ready to take up soon.
What about the insurance companies? Why would they be willing to get on board with an administration and Congress that is set to pass legislation that could devastate, if not eliminate, their industry? The New York News Blog provides a rundown of opinions on this issue that range from believing that this group has accepted what’s coming down the pipeline and is now ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with this administration to suspecting that the industry hopes that universal healthcare will “give them a huge revenue boost in the short term – and then every lobbyist … will fight those spending reductions over the long term”.
Some examples of the cost-cutting measures offered up include making payment systems more effective, reducing administrative costs and improving technology. However, similar efforts have failed in the past, and experts say it will be difficult to squeeze that kind of savings out of these kinds of proposals.
So, the question remains, did these health companies come to the table because they wanted to be players that would help reshape healthcare as we’ve known it? One person suggested they wanted a seat at the table so as to avoid being on the menu. Yesterday’s announcement may have been long on admirable goals and short on the details as to how we get there, but one thing is for sure: this administration and Congress is intent on passing healthcare reform and soon. Yesterday’s announcement may have been unclear and may not have seemed like the game changer we expected on the surface, but with even the health companies seeming to accept government-run healthcare as inevitable, it was the first symbolic step toward socializing healthcare in America.
NICE Continues To Ration Access To Kidney Cancer Medicines, Preventing Doctors From Providing The Best Possible Treatment Option For Each Patient
Article Date: 30 Apr 2009 – 1:00 PDT
Today the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) announced the Final Appraisal Determination (FAD) for Nexavar® (sorafenib), Sutent® (sunitinib), Avastin® (bevacizumab) and Torisel® (temsirolimus) in advanced kidney cancer. NICE has not recommended sorafenib, bevacizumab and temsirolimus as first line treatment option for kidney cancer. Furthermore, it does not recommend sorafenib or sunitinib for second line treatment for renal cell carcinoma (RCC) patients.
More than 7,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with kidney cancer each year, of which 1,7001 will have the advanced form of the disease.
Remember, our population is aging. And with the very, very elderly, the costs go down, so that percentage should be falling, and it’s not. Second, the cost of care is growing by so much, so at the same percentage, it’s worth a lot more. So let’s go back to the issue of comparative effectiveness, which we’re supporting. That’s where that can have a big impact. It’s not only there, but that’s where the waste is. That’s where people are using technologies that really either don’t work at all or keep people alive for for very limited [time] and [at] very high cost.
Hospice is one option, but we do need take account of the cost — you know, I hate to say it, the cost-benefit of some of the things we do. And either we can do it directly, or we can do it by bundling the payments and let the delivery system deal with it. So it’s a combination of the delivery system dealing with it, or, and/or providing more information for people to make the right decisions, both for themselves and for the care.
Among those affected by such changes would be some of Mr Obama’s most powerful supporters in the election, such as Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, and other “Silicon Valley” executives whose profits are mostly made abroad. They were taken aback when the President blasting companies for “shirking” their responsibilities by avoiding tax.
New York Democratic congressman Joseph Crowley said closing the loophole would hurt Citigroup Inc., his New York district’s largest employer.
It has also dawned on wealthy Americans who flocked to the Obama campaign of “Hope” and “Change” that the president opposes the “trickle down” theories that have guided US economics since President Ronald Reagan was elected with a mandate to slash taxes.
He warned that by the time he was done with them, Silicon Valley and Wall Street would remain large parts of the US economy, but not “half of our economy”.
05/10/2009 Posted by ellatinolaw | Disenfranchise Voters, Former Obama Supporters, Free Market Economics, Government Debt, Health Care, Liberal Business, Neutral Govt, Obama - Domestic Policy, Obama - Spending Bills, Obama - Stimulus Bill, Obama Budget, Obey Obama, Redistribution of Wealth, socialized medicine, tax cheats, Tax Cuts, Teleprompter, Useful Idiots | Leave a comment
If Obama and Co get their wish for socialized medicine, then this is probably the type of high-level security we should expect when it comes to the government guarding our information…
Hackers last week broke into a Virginia state Web site used by pharmacists to track prescription drug abuse. They deleted records on more than 8 million patients and replaced the site’s homepage with a ransom note demanding $10 million for the return of the records, according to a posting on Wikileaks.org, an online clearinghouse for leaked documents.
Wikileaks reports that the Web site for the Virginia Prescription Monitoring Program was defaced last week with a message claiming that the database of prescriptions had been bundled into an encrypted, password-protected file.
Wikileaks has published a copy of the ransom note left in place of the PMP home page, a message that claims the state of Virginia would need to pay the demand in order to gain access to a password needed to unlock those records:
“I have your [expletive] In *my* possession, right now, are 8,257,378 patient records and a total of 35,548,087 prescriptions. Also, I made an encrypted backup and deleted the original. Unfortunately for Virginia, their backups seem to have gone missing, too. Uhoh :(For $10 million, I will gladly send along the password.”
The site, along with a number of other Web pages related to Virginia Department of Health Professions, remains unreachable at this time. Sandra Whitley Ryals, director of Virginia’s Department of Health Professions, declined to discuss details of the hacker’s claims, and referred inquires to the FBI.
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