Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

cancellation

Wading through all the rhetoric, I’ve come to these conclusions:

  • Health insurance companies are trying to take advantage of the situation – Health insurers have been sending out notices cancelling plans.  In those notices, they blame Obamacare for those cancellations.  They further offer new more expensive plans that the insured will be enrolled in if they take no action before a certain date.  However, they FAIL to mention the new insurance exchanges where not only they might find a cheaper, better option, but also might find that they qualify for credits toward their health insurance.  (Another ploy has been trying to pressure current insureds to renew their current plan or be force onto new, more expensive plans, once again without making it clear that finding another plan on the exchange is also an option.)
  • Any plan COULD have been grandfathered and remain with a few modifications – Plans in place prior to March, 2010 could remain, as long as they were modified to cover children through the age of 26, end lifetime coverage limits, provide a summary of benefits, end arbitrary cancellations, and have most of the money spent on actual health care as opposed to administrative costs and bonuses.  NONE of the other Obamacare provisions would apply.  (However, if a company opts to start making other changes to the plan, then yes, then they have to make it Obamacare compliant.  Insurers also can’t enroll anyone new into the grandfathered plans.)
  • A lot of people who “like” their plan only care that they have something they can call “health insurance”, even if their plan sucks – Prior to Obamacare, there was the existence of what was called “junk insurance”.  To be fair, the people who have these plans often don’t even know that their plan sucks, they just know they have “insurance”.  These plans often cover VERY little, and barely qualify as insurance at all.  (And sometimes what people are buying are “supplemental” plans, which are called “supplemental” because they are supposed to supplement other plans, not be the plan.)
  • The people going on television thinking they are getting ripped off by the law often are not actually getting ripped off – I’ve ran across two examples of people who have gone on tv as examples of being wronged by Obamacare, but once people walk them through their current plan and the options they have, they actually come out ahead.  The first example, the insured would indeed have to replace her $46 per month “supplemental” plan with a $97 per month plan.  The rub though is the $97 per plan is an actual health insurance policy with real coverage, not just some minor supplemental coverage.  So when this woman actually has health issues and is in need of services, the savings will be significant.  The second example, the insured could actually pay less ($194 per month versus $256 per month) for a plan with the same deductible, but lower maximum out-of-pocket limits and more coverage.  In other words, it’s a better plan for less premium.
  • But even with all that said, President Obama should have never said “if you like your current plan, you can keep it” – The fact of the matter is that some people were probably were aware that their plans were “junk”, but were still happy with it.  Also, there are certainly plans that were borderline compliant that people were happy with.  But I think maybe more importantly, that statement sent the message that as long as you have a plan, you have nothing to worry about.  So a lot of people were under the impression that they could just forget about it, when actually that hasn’t been the case.  In other words, they thought the law would either not affect them, or in as so much as the law would have a positive effect, it would just have that positive effect without them having to do anything, to shop around for a new plan.  And some are seeing that as a betrayal of trust.
  • And it makes me wonder yet again if the mistake here is trying to work within the current framework of insurance, or should health care even be in the private sector? – For most of us, insurance is a big hassle that we would just like to forget about.  When is the last time you looked at your policy?  (really any policy, health, auto, home?)  We get it because we know we need it, but we don’t really have the time to figure out all the ends and outs of it all.  I think for most of us, when it comes to health care, we just want to be able to know we can get the care we need without going into bankruptcy.  I am just not sure how well suited the health care industry is for what normally makes a free market system work.  Even in the examples above, those two consumers have media members walking them through their options.  Before that, they really thought they were getting screwed over.  Everyone else has to know to go to a website or make a call (a website that doesn’t work so well and from what I hear the customer service provided over the phone isn’t  always so great either) and then try to work through the complexities of insurance options on their own.  Add to that the totally nonsensical billing for hospital procedures, and it’s hard to have the knowledgeable consumer base to create a truly competitive market.
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2016 Presidential candidate

2016 Presidential candidate

One thing that annoys me is that the “go-to” defense of members and defenders of the Obama administration (including Obama himself) when something bad happens is that he was simply unaware of it (but now that he knows, he’s as mad as anyone about it, blah, blah, blah).  Examples include:

  • He was supposedly unaware of the Affordable Care Act website issues until AFTER the website went live.  For this to be true, either the people running this thing outright lied to him about the progress of the website or they were too incompetent to know whether the website would work or not.  In either scenario, heads should roll.  The only other option is that President Obama didn’t even take enough of a passing interest in the project to get updates.   For something that has become known as Obamacare.  As in President Obama Care.  But probably not important to….Obama?
  • He was supposedly unaware that the NSA spying on world leaders.  Now I understand he is not going to know every action the NSA takes.  But in his meetings with the NSA, I would expect them to hit the high points.  Spying on world leaders would seem to qualify.  (Though with as much as has come out recently, I think the safest assumption is the NSA has decided it needs to know EVERYTHING about EVERYONE, and is acting accordingly without limits.)
  • He was supposedly unaware of the IRS scandal regarding conservative groups until he saw it on TV just like the rest of us.  Once again, you would think the President might get a heads-up regarding such things before it hits the news.
  • Other examples include:  The failed Fast and Furious ATF sting operation and the Justice Department obtaining Associated Press phone records.

I am not sure if the people defending him thinks this places the President in a good light (or at least a more innocent light) but it does not.  It makes him look incompetent.  It’s his job to stay on top of things.  It’s also his job to hire people who will help him stay on top of things, not keep him out of the loop.  You can’t effectively lead if you never know what is going on.  So if it’s a lie that he doesn’t know, it’s not an effective lie for absolving the President of responsibility.  And if it’s the truth (the scene from Independence Day where the President is informed that he didn’t know about aliens at Area 51 for “plausible deniability” reasons comes to mind), that’s even worse.  Because if you aren’t in the loop, you ain’t in charge!

syria

President Obama is set to make a speech on Tuesday night to convince the American people of the need of military action in Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack in that country.  This probably doesn’t make me a good citizen or whatever, but I do not believe there is anything Obama can say that would convince me that this is the correct course of action.  I am just so solidly in the ‘no more wars’ camp at this point.  And this just bothers me.

  • First, hearing all the discussions about whether or not we should do this or not, the fact that more people WILL die as a result of our attack just never comes up.  And tomahawk missiles just don’t know the difference between responsible parties and innocent people.   The only thing I ever hear is whether or not Americans would be at risk, as if the lives of Syrians are not human or something.   The human costs should be at the forefront of any calculation for an attack, but it doesn’t seem to enter into the equation at all.
  • What does seem to be a major variable in the calculation is some vague notion of “credibility”.  I have even often heard that an attack on Syria would almost certainly not change anything in that country, but we still have to do it to retain “credibility”.  I’m sorry, but I think “credibility” is a stupid reason to kill people.  Also, exactly what happens if we lose “credibility”?  We lose influence?  As near as I can tell, we don’t have any influence to lose in the Middle East, at least not anymore.
  • Speaking of “credibility”, how much “credibility” do WE  have when it comes to so-called “weapons of mass destruction”?  Iraq anyone?  You know what’s a much better way of earning credibility than killing people?  Telling the truth.  Our track record is not good on that front lately.
  • So it seems clear that chemicals were used.  But did the al-Assad regime do it?  Or was it the rebel opposition?  Now, not everyone acts rationally.  But it probably makes more sense for the rebel opposition to try to coax American involvement than it does for al-Assad to risk it unless he was desperate.  It doesn’t appear that he should be that desperate yet.
  • The rebel opposition are not ‘good guys’.  In fact, al-Qaeda is involved with some of the rebel factions.  I just don’t think the saying ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ can possibly apply to al-Qaeda.
  • So chemical weapons are awful, but this has been a human tragedy even before their use.  Over 100,000 dead along with over a million fleeing the country.  Is the message we are sending here is that it’s okay to commit atrocities against people as long as you do it the “right” way?
  • Obama has also said that action would be “limited”.  But how can he promise that?  Either our actions have a point, in which case that action must continue until that point is achieved, or there is no point, in which case we are pointlessly killing people.

So no, there’s nothing Obama could say on Tuesday that’s going to change my mind.  Further, until we learn that problems are not solved by killing people, and killing people is not solved by killing even more people, there is no hope for peace on earth.

Please define change.

Please define change.

No credibility is what the New York Times declared about President Obama after the revelations regarding NSA’s very expansive and very secret surveillance programs.  I couldn’t agree more.  Obama says he welcomes a debate about this.  But that’s not true.  He kept the program secret.  He is going after the source of the leak.  These are not the actions of a man who is welcoming a debate.  And if it wasn’t already clear before, the promise that this administration would be the most transparent in history was also a lie.

You know, I have reached a point where I am not sure I am willing to defend him anymore on anything.  For instance, previously I really didn’t think the IRS scandal really had much to do with him.  But there does seem to be an arrogance that permeates the administration from top-to-bottom.  Trust us, we know best.  Let me make a connection here.  When asked by Congress before the NSA stuff blew up whether or not the NSA collected any information at all on millions of Americans or hundreds of millions of Americans, Intelligence chief James Trapper said “no sir”.  That was a flat-out lie.  When asked by Congress before the IRS stuff blew up whether or not the IRS targeted conservative groups, acting (now former) IRS director Steve Miller said no.  Now we know that he knew that such targeting had occurred.  So another flat-out lie.

Does this mean that Obama  personally directed the IRS to target conservative groups?  No.  But I do see a pattern that reflects a rotten culture inside the administration.  We don’t have to tell you what we are doing and why.  Just trust us, we know what we are doing.  Don’t worry your little heads about it. And if you do ask a question, we’ll just lie.  The culture of any organization is set by the leadership.  Obama is that leader.

President Obama has not been the catalyst of the change we have been hoping for.  He has just been more of the same government as usual (heck, as far as I can tell, even worse, he has been the continuation of the downward spiral of government toward abuse of power with decreased transparency).  It’s just so disappointing to see it all come to light, even if I had suspected it for quite sometime.

fatigue

I guess the next government manufactured crisis is coming up next week with the sequestration.  I am just worn down from all the fiscal cliffs and debt ceilings and sequestrations.  All I know is it’s no way to govern, and it will not lead to any good outcomes.  I can’t even work myself up to writing a particularly long article about it.

But I will say that while President Obama and the Democrats are out casting blame in regards to the sequestration, a Republican representative (Justin Amash) had a “tweet” that rings with truth to me.  He said…er, rather “tweeted”, “You don’t sign a bill unless you’re OKAY w/the consequences.  It’s Being President 101.”  It’s hard to argue with that, and something President Obama needs to take to heart.  95 Democrats in the House voted for it, and 45 Democrats in the Senate voted for it.  A Democrat President signed it.  Without Democratic support, this fails.

It’s a stupid gimmick and it shouldn’t have been done.  But President Obama and the Democrats can’t pretend to have had nothing to do with it.

If you want to get a pretty good idea of why nothing gets done in Washington, watch the State Of The Union address on Tuesday.  Watch Congress’s behavior at its most juvenile.  It shouldn’t be any wonder that serious problems do not get solved given these are the immature people we send to solve them.  Oh how I wished:

  • Congresspersons did not feel compelled to “vote” on every single thing the President says by vote of standing applause or lack thereof.  I mean, since voting on things is a pretty large part of their normal job, looks like they could give it up for just one night.  It may come as a shock, but not everything the President will say Tuesday will be worthy of wild admiration nor hateful scorn.  In fact, it’s likely he won’t say anything that’s really worthy of either.  Given the number of standing ovation interruptions, I have to assume these folks actually have to stretch before and after the speech given the workout they will have.  I wished we could have a polite applause at the beginning, then strap them into their chairs like an amusement park ride so they would be forced to respectfully listen.
  • Also I wish we could ban making faces like you smelled a turd.
Yes, Cantor, I'm talking to you.

T Yes, Cantor, I’m talking to you.

  • Should this be televised?  On the one hand, televising the speech promotes transparency, which is great.  On the other hand, television also promotes grandstanding and turns this thing into just another political speech.  This is suppose to be a report given to Congress regarding to pass along the current state of things and to recommend certain actions to Congress.  It’s not really for the public per se (though the public can certainly exert pressure on Congress to take action).  The thing is, as a political speech, there is no way you are going to get anything other than an overly rosy picture of the state of the union.  It might be nice for Congress to be presented with an honest assessment of the shape we are in.  Of course, nothing prevents this from happening at some other time, besides the lack of desire of the two sides to talk to each other at all these days.

I find this event that should be worthwhile comes off as very silly.  But that pretty much IS politics these days.

“Hahahahaha….I’m going to kick your ass…..hahahaha.”
“Hahahahahha….I hate your guts….hahahahaha”

Make no mistake, the excitement of the “hope and change” election is long gone.  Specifically, I am disappointed by our increased use of drones, the very existence of a “kill list”, the lack of action on Guantanamo (which I will reiterate is about policies and rights, not the physical location of the prison), the lack of transparency, the continuation of the Patriot Act. etc.  I’m disappointed in how Libya has been handled.  I’m disappointed about the performance of the economy (not that this is necessarily Obama’s fault, the stimulus was too small, but I don’t believe Congress would have passed a bigger one, and they sure as hell won’t pass a new one).  I am even disappointed by Obama’s big accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, because of the lack of some sort of public option and the fact that too much of the focus was on getting people insured and not enough focus was on just trying to reduce health care costs.

But mostly, I am disappointed that Washington did not change.  The thing is, Washington is broke.  There has always been too much interest in leveraging problems into power instead of trying to solve them.  But at least in my mind in the past, there was a least some occasions where politics were set aside to deal with larger matters for the greater good.  Now I believe there is no issue so big that it trumps politics in Washington.  It’s a problem is so systematic and runs so deep that no one man is going to be able to fix it, not Obama, not anyone else.  It’s pretty discouraging.

All that said, I simply just can’t vote for Mitt Romney.  Just off the top of my head:

  • Tax cuts for everyone, weeee!!!!!! – And this is no small tax cut.  20% across the board for individual earners.  Plus cuts to the corporate tax rate and the elimination of the alternative minimum tax.  He then says he will pay for them with the elimination of deductions, but somehow will amazingly avoid doing that for the middle class (though don’t worry your little heads about those details!).  Romney must have some magicmaticians on his staff, because the math really doesn’t work.  That said, he doesn’t have any intention of paying for the tax cuts.  Republicans only “care” about budget deficits and fiscal responsibility when the other party is in charge.  Otherwise, it’s pretty much tax cuts.
  • Emergency rooms are an awesome health care plan! – Yes, once you have a life or death emergency, the E.R. can’t just boot you out and let you die in the street.  That makes us SO advanced as a nation. Please.  Because clearly the best time to start treatment is to wait until it becomes an emergency.  Romney actually had the audacity to compare our E.R. law to universal healthcare.  The Affordable Care Act is FAR from perfect, but anyone who thinks that just not kicking people out of the emergency room makes for a great health care system does not have the capability of leading toward a better solution.  (Of course, the old 2007 Mitt Romney would take issue with 2012 Mitt Romney on this, which is a problem in itself…)
  • Bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran – Frankly we take military action way too often as a nation regardless of who is in charge.  But Romney has gone out of his way to make me believe war with Iran would be almost a certainty if he is in charge.  (With Obama, I think it is just really likely, unfortunately.)
  • Tea Party influence – Romney’s VP choice, Paul Ryan, is a tea party guy.  And I am just afraid that’s a sign that they will have too much influence if Romney gets in there.
  • Lies and damn lies – Both sides lie too much.  But Mitt has gone overboard.  In Ohio, he has started running ads claiming that Chrysler took bailout money from the government just to cut American jobs and add Chinese jobs for Jeep production.  And the Italians were involved somehow.  Oh, and that it is Obama’s fault.  But here’s the problem.  There’s not a shred of truth in the ad.  Factcheck.org says it’s a lie.  Politifact gives it the “pants on fire” rating.  The Washington Post gave it four Pinocchios.  So naturally when faced with this much criticism, the Romney campaign sheepishly pulled the ad in a bit of shame.  Nah, just kidding!  They actually just started running the ad even more!
  • Is there a real Mitt Romney? – I think there is only one thing that defines Mitt Romney.  He really, really, really wants to be President.  It’s been his life for over 8 years.  I actually don’t know if even he knows what he would really do if I got the job.  He just wants to have that job. Otherwise, he can be and say whatever you want him too.  I think it’s all just business strategy to him.  The man who ran Massachusetts really wasn’t that bad.  But then again, he was doing and saying the things you have to do and say to be put in charge of Massachusetts by voters.  Now he has changed everything to try to be put in charge of this nation.  Every politician is malleable to an extent with their political positions.  But Mitt is simply ridiculous.  Telling an audience what you think that particular audience wants to hear (backed by market research I’m sure) is NOT leadership.

Anyway, at least this will be over after Tuesday (please let this thing be over after Tuesday and not be another Bush/Gore!).

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