James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

Obama’s bad healthcare day

Jun 16, 2009 15:31 UTC

First, Obama gets booed by the doctors at the AMA conference. Then the Congressional Budget Office prices the Kennedy-Dood healthcare bill at $1 trillion over ten years but only covers an additional 16 million people. The analysis does not include an expansion of Medicaid — which, of course, would mean more people would be covered but at a higher cost. Drip, drip, drip …

Obama vs. Obama on healthcare

Jun 15, 2009 19:36 UTC

Obama today, in front of the AMA: “What are not legitimate concerns are those being put forward claiming a public option is somehow a Trojan horse for a single-payer system. ”

Candidate Obama: “I happen to be a proponent of a single payer, universal health care plan.”


Thought for the day – It’s time something is done, as the doctors are extremely overpaid for what they do, after all life is just not worth what they seem to think it is and the health insurance companies are merely professional ponzi skimmers. The citizens then get stuck paying inflated prices for medical care based on unnecessary tests that doctors think need to be done to minimize their legal liability. The whole “doctor” thing is a joke especially when we all know that the vast majority of medical care is provided by medical assistants making $8/hr. I will never pay into a system like this and know many people who reject the whole idea of routine medical care. More and more Americans are self-medicating with inexpensive outstanding results.

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Will Obama fire his accountants?

Jun 12, 2009 12:45 UTC

Some Democrats want the costs of healthcare reform to be judged by the White House Office of Management and Budget, not the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. As The Hill explains: “This unusual option could give Democratic leaders hundreds of billions of additional dollars to work with as they draft their plans. But Republicans would call it an accounting gimmick and a huge spending loophole.” It doesn’t need to be said, but I will say it: If the Bush White House would have tried a stunt like this, the Dems and the MSM media would have screamed.

How to pay for healthcare

Jun 9, 2009 16:07 UTC

Capitol Hill watcher Pete Davis gives the breakdown:

Health care reform financing options estimated by JCT. Yesterday, June 2 Joint Committee on Taxation “very preliminary” revenue estimates were obtained by the Bureau of National Affairs showing the following 10 year revenue increases:

  1. Cap the employer health exclusion at the FEHBP, index to CMS         $418.5 b.
  2. Cap, but only for singles (joint) over $100,000 ($200,000)                     $161.9 b.
  3. Limit exclusion to 50% of premium amount                                           $1,173.1 b.
  4. Repeal medical itemized deduction over 7.5% of AGI                            $180.7 b.
  5. Repeal Flexible Savings and Health Reimbursement Accounts               $68.6 b.
  6. 3¢ per 12 oz. sugar-sweetened beverage                                                   $51.6 b.
  • Raise alcohol excise tax to $16 per proof gallon                                        $61.5 b.

    want to pay for healtcare? e tax on all unhealthy habits and diets.. imagine if it cost $20 to eat a burger and fries at McDonalds? with over 1 trillion served, we could tax fat food all over the planet, (i mean obama is god, he has domain, ask him)and then get paid to go do the doc. gosh why didnt barny but-fuk-frank think this one up?

    Posted by zapperz | Report as abusive

    Is healthcare bill faltering?

    Jun 6, 2009 13:46 UTC

    This from Robert Reich: “I’ve poked around Washington today, talking with friends on the Hill who confirm the worst: Big Pharma and Big Insurance are gaining ground in their campaign to kill the public option in the emerging health care bill  …”

    Me: Reich also thinks that talk about a public option that would only kick in if healthcare costs failed to come down is a back-handed way of killing the public option. But GOPers I talk to worry about just the opposite, that with Dems as the trigger pullers, the trigger for a public option would definitely get pulled.


    in the above comments, i believe in fact that the time for the legislation is for the bill to be on the president’s desk is by the end of august. so, the time frame is obviously 8 weeks, not 8 days…

    Obama moves to adopt McCain healthcare idea

    Jun 5, 2009 12:19 UTC

    Howard Gleckman over at TaxVox blogs that Obama seems to be moving toward capping the $246 billion employer-sponsored insurance tax exlcusion, an idea he ripped McCain for during the presidential campaign:

    All of this will result in a few weeks of serious inside-the-Beltway reading of entrails. But my own sense is that Obama will inevitably accept a curb on the exclusion. He’ll do so reluctantly, at least in public, to placate unions and others who insist the exclusion is untouchable. But, as we’ve seen, Obama, unlike the most recent President Bush, is not a my-way-or-the-highway kind of guy. His governing style appears to tilt much more in the direction of my way…or your way.

    Even before Obama’s trip the Hill, OMB Director Peter Orszag drew his own line in the sand. In his blog (does Peter never sleep?), Orszag wrote, “We are insisting that health reform be deficit neutral even over the next five to 10 years, through scoreable offsets such as savings within Medicare and Medicaid and (as necessary) additional revenue.”

    This means one of two things: Either health reform will be slowly phased-in over the next decade or more—a step that will allow lawmakers to finesse the offsetting tax hikes as well. Or Obama will have to swallow an exclusion cap. Once Congress is through, the kind of Medicare and Medicaid savings Orszag is thinking about will not add up to a lot of money—at least not in the context of a $1.5 trillion reform plan. And there just is no other politically-acceptable place to go to raise the kind of tax revenue the President will need.

    Study: Democratic healthcare plan could cost $300 billion a year

    Jun 4, 2009 20:12 UTC

    I just attended a healthcare symposium at the American Enterprise Institute where Prof. Stephen Parente of the University of Minnesota revealed the results of a complex healthcare cost simulation model.  What did the number crunching show? The Democratic healthcare plan under consideration by the Senate Finance Committee would cost $300 billion a year if it wanted to reduce the number of uninsured Americans by three quarters. (Hello VAT!) And just to show how hard it is to do healthcare reform within current parameters of public policy, a conservative Republican alternative plan would cost $150 billion a year, though it would achieve the same results.  Or America could try this approach.


    James, how come your ugly face turns up everywhere?

    I just want to know what happens in Peru, and your face is stuck up everywhere.. When my facebook-friends shares a link because they want others to know whats going on, your fucking frogner-face turns up. Seriously…

    Posted by Grilen | Report as abusive

    Obama’s ‘Moonstruck’ healthcare plan

    Jun 2, 2009 14:22 UTC

    The White House released an economic analysis of the economic benefits of healthcare reform. After skimming it, I am reminded of this classic scene from 1987 film “Moonstruck” where the economics of plumbing are explained:

    There are three kinds of pipe. There is what you have, which is garbage and you can see where that’s gotten you. Then there’s bronze, which is very good unless something goes wrong. And something always goes wrong. And then there’s copper, which is the only pipe I use. It costs money. It costs money because it saves money.

    Or as Team Obama might put it:

    There are three kinds of healthcare systems. There is what you have, which is garbage and you can see where that’s gotten you. Then there’s the GOP free market system, which is very good unless something goes wrong. And something always goes wrong. And then there’s Obamacare, which is the system America should use. It costs money. It costs money because it saves money.

    Me: The White House says healthcare reform is a bundle of goodies: a) 500,000 new jobs a year, b) an average increase of $2,600 in income for a family of four in 2020 and $10,000 by 2030, c) $100 billion in economic gain by insuring the currently uninsured. Oh, and lower long-term budget deficits. And here is where my movie analogy breaks down: the White House never actually says healthcare reform is going to require new spending.


    Back home in Canada, healthcare is better and it’s free. Per capita cost of healthcare is lower too, as is in all countries that have universal healthcare. Insurance companies are just an unnecessary middleman, if Obama squeezes them out then you’re right — we all save money.

    Poll: Americans don’t want a VAT healthcare tax

    May 29, 2009 17:37 UTC

    Scat VAT! Rasmussen reports that while Democrats would go for a national sales tax to pay for universal healthcare, no so the rest of the country:

    Democrats strongly support a national sales tax to provide universal health insurance coverage. Republicans are opposed by a three-to-one margin, and those not affiliated with either major party are opposed two-to-one.


    The problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much.-Ronald Reagan

    Dem healthcare reform adopts ‘most liberal approaches’

    May 29, 2009 15:42 UTC

    Healthcare reform is gaining momentum. (“If we don’t get it done this year, we’re not going to get it done,” Obama said yesterday.) Ted Kennedy’s bill is beginning to be unwrapped, says the WaPo:

    In many respects it adopts the most liberal approaches to health reform being discussed in Washington. Kennedy, for example, embraces a proposal to create a government-sponsored insurance program to compete directly with existing private insurance plans, according to one senior adviser who was not authorized to talk to reporters. The draft summary also calls for opening Medicaid to those whose incomes are 500 percent of the federal poverty level, or $110,250 a year for a family of four.