Since GOP Congressmen are also allegedly terrorists, it's only logical to expand the list, I guess. Excerpt:
An FBI Denver Joint Terrorism Task Force handout being distributed to Colorado military surplus store owners lists the purchase of popular preparedness items and firearms accessories as “suspicious” and “potential indicators of terrorist activities,” instructing store owners to keep records on and report people who:
“Make bulk purchase of items to include: Weatherproofed ammunition or match containers; Meals Ready to Eat; Night Vision Devices; night flashlights; gas masks; High capacity magazines; Bi-pods or tri-pods for rifles”
The FBI handout, entitled “Communities Against Terrorism: Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activities Related to Military Surplus Stores” also instructs surplus store owners to:
“Require valid ID from all new customers; Keep records of purchases' Talk to customers, ask questions, and listen to and observe their responses; Watch for people and actions that are out of place; Make note of suspicious statements, people, and /or vehicles; If something seems wrong, notify law enforcement authorities.”
The handout also instructs surplus store owners to consider as “suspicious” anyone who “demands identity ‘privacy’” or anyone who expresses “extreme religious statements” and those who “make suspicious comments regarding anti-US, [or] radical theology.”
The “Communities Against Terrorism” flyer closes by stating:
Preventing terrorism is a community effort. By learning what to look for, you can make a positive contribution in the fight against terrorism. The partnership between the community and law enforcement is essential to the success of anti -terrorism efforts.
Let me give a more realistic set of terrorism indicators: Possession of a Koran; Getting your butt up in the air 5 times a day; saying "inshallah", "Allah Akhbar" or "Peace be upon him"; wearing long white coats; being seen inside a mosque.
Why Profit Is Our Best Friend in healthcare too
Many liberals think of profit as evil. They see it as the product of “corporate greed,” something that needs to be harshly taxed. Yet the desire to earn a profit is what impels innovators to solve some of our most important social problems.
I don’t think that getting rich is the main motivation of entrepreneurs — the possibility of changing the world may be an even stronger desire. However, you can almost guarantee there will be no entrepreneurship if you do two things: (a) eliminate all possibility of getting rich, and (b) make it impossible to change anything without the approval of an intractable bureaucracy.
That in a nutshell is my explanation for why our two most visibly dysfunctional social systems — health care and public education — remain so dysfunctional.
I meet entrepreneurs in health care almost every day. Their novel ideas are invariably focused on helping some entity — a hospital, insurer, employer, etc. — solve a problem. They are rarely focused on how to solve an overall social problem, however. Because our health care system is so dysfunctional, in solving the problem for a client, they may be making our social problems worse than they would have been.
Solving social problems in health care with innovative policy proposals is what I do. It is a lonely field. But it would be a lot less lonely if we allowed people to get rich doing it.
To take one example, it is often asserted that one-third of all health care spending is wasteful. Suppose Bill Gates was able to write a computer program that would find the waste and eliminate it. Society as a whole would save more than $800 billion. So how much should we be willing to pay Bill Gates? A tenth of the overall benefit he creates ($80 billion)? One-half the benefit ($400 billion)?
Perhaps you’re thinking that we shouldn’t pay Bill Gates anything. Maybe you think he should give us the program for free, as an altruistic gesture. Or, maybe you think the most he should get back is a 1% or 2% return — something close to the return paid by government bonds. If this is your viewpoint, welcome to the world of health policy. You will find all kinds of people who think just like you do.
In general, there is no limit to how much people can make in health care by successfully exploiting reimbursement formulas. But the federal government is in the process of limiting what insurance companies can earn, effectively reducing them to the role of public utilities.
Two recent items in the news help illustrate why this approach is so wrong. In one, The New York Times reports:
The brothers, Philip and Joel [Levy], earned close to $1 million a year each as the two top executives running a Medicaid-financed nonprofit organization serving the developmentally disabled.
They each had luxury cars paid for with public money. And when their children went to college, they could pass on the tuition bills to their nonprofit group.
Philip H. Levy went as far as charging the organization $50,400 for his daughter’s living expenses one year when she attended graduate school at New York University.
That money paid not for a dorm room, but rather it helped her buy a co-op apartment in Greenwich Village.
In the other story, The New York Times reports that Blue Shield of California will voluntarily limit its profit to no more than 2% of revenues — no doubt anticipating that government regulators were going to force that result anyway.
Think about those two examples. Almost everybody in health care agrees that many of our biggest problems stem from the way we pay for care. And who is paying? Insurance companies.
The $800 billion is almost all funded by third-party payers. So another way of stating the social problem is: we need to find newer and better types of third-party payment.
Let’s suppose that an insurance company contracts with Bill Gates for the hypothetical software described above. By using it, the insurer will cut its spending by one-third and add that amount to the bottom line. This would be good for numerous reasons: the elimination of wasteful spending would improve the quality of care for patients, reduce the chance of medical errors, free up resources for use by other patients and encourage every other insurer to find ways of achieving the same outcome.
But under ObamaCare, the software will never be invented, never be purchased and never be used. Why? Because under the new health law it will be impossible for an insurer to cash in on that innovation.
Under the new law, large health insurance companies have to pay out as much as 85% of their premium income in the form of benefits. The remaining 15% has to cover all sales and administrative costs plus brokers fees and if anything is left that’s what the insurer gets to keep.
The insurer with Bill Gates’ hypothetical software would have to rebate its profit to enrollees in the form of lower premiums. Thus, no insurer will be able to profit from major cost-reducing discoveries. Nor will any insurer even try. Instead, insurance companies will function like utilities, taking no real risks and making no radical changes in their current business model.
ObamaCare has ensured that our health care problems will not be solved by stifling innovation in the one sector of the market that most needs vigorous entrepreneurial activity.
Obamacare Gets Thumbs Down by court
The hallmark legislation of the Obama administration, Obamacare, took another body blow when the 11th Circuit Court ruled Friday that the individual mandate requiring adult persons in the U.S. to purchase health insurance is unconstitutional. Where have we heard that argument before?
While the court didn’t go so far as to declare the entire act void, it effectively scrapped the legislation by denying it the source of its funding. The administration is expected to appeal the ruling, but a final decision will likely come in the U.S. Supreme Court.
A coalition of 26 states, kind of an ad-hoc death panel for Obamacare, is suing the federal government to stop implementation of Obamacare, arguing that key provisions of the act are illegal.
A key argument by the states was that the power to require Americans to purchase a product gives the government unlimited powers to regulate all aspects of someone’s life and is thus unconstitutional.
The 11th Circuit Court seems to agree by a 2-1 margin: “The government’s position amounts to an argument that the mere fact of an individual’s existence substantially affects interstate commerce, and therefore Congress may regulate them at every point of their life.” In short, it’s the same old argument liberals always make that the mere ability to pass legislation is more than enough reason to do it, 'cuz "Hey, let's see what's in it.".
Forbes quotes the crux of the argument from the 11th Circuit’s Death Panel thusly: “The federal government’s assertion of power, under the Commerce Clause, to issue an economic mandate for Americans to purchase insurance from a private company for the entire duration of their lives is unprecedented, lacks cognizable limits, and imperils our federalist structure.”
While politically the passage of Obamacare was the biggest legislative accomplishment of the Obama administration, more and more Americans are growing uneasy about the wisdom of the legislation as they “find out what’s in it.”
In June, a CNN poll showed that more Americans opposed Obamacare than supported it by a landslide margin of 17 percent. A Rasmussen poll in August showed a margin against by 14 points. And it looks like opposition is coming from both Democrats and Republicans.
The Washington Post quotes Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute as saying “One of the striking things about today’s ruling is that, for the first time in one of these cases, a Democrat-appointed judge, Frank Hull, has ruled against the government,” although Shapiro warns that the fight is far from over.
“Supporters of limited constitutional government need to temper their celebrations — just as they wisely tempered their sorrows after the last ruling — because we must all now realize that this will not end until the Supreme Court rules,” Shapiro concluded.
Progressives ballyhooed the legislation as healthcare reform that would help lower costs and increase coverage. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that while it may increase coverage, costs will skyrocket. As Townhall’s political editor Guy Benson noted in June, 1 of 3 employers will probably cancel employee coverage by 2014 because of Obamacare.
A survey by Mercer finds that 55 percent of employers think that their costs will go up as a result of Obamacare, while premiums already continue to rise.
“Rising health care costs are putting a huge financial burden on employers across the country,” says Robert Zirchelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, which represents insurers who provide health benefits to some 200 million Americans according to the San Antonio Business Journal. “Rather than help control the rising cost of medical care, the new health care reform law instead imposes billions of dollars in new taxes and benefit mandates and will significantly increase the cost of coverage for employers and their employees.”
It’s just another example of the Obama administration passing laws that don’t even attempt to solve actual problems faced by the American people, but rather try to take advantage of problems faced by the American people by passing legislation that increases the reach of the federal government regardless of the consequences to personal liberty.
Huge new costs are another reason scrap Obamacare
A few hundred billion dollars here, a few hundred billion dollars there — sooner or later we’re talking about the real cost of Barack Obama’s new socialized medicine monstrosity.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi once said that “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Apparently, passing the legislation was also a prerequisite to determining its actual price tag — which as it turns out is much higher than anyone fathomed.
The latest cost overrun associated with ObamaCare? A $500 billion “error” associated with insuring the spouses and children of new entitlement recipients. That’s $500 billion in additional deficit spending — although it didn’t stem from an “error” so much as it was the result of a deliberate miscalculation.
As it attempted to calculate ObamaCare’s true fiscal impact, the Congressional Budget Office was explicitly instructed to ignore the cost of covering family members under new eligibility requirements for low-income private sector employees.
“The Congressional Budget Office has never done a cost-estimate of this (because) they were expressly told to do their modeling on single coverage,” researcher Richard Burkhauser told the Daily Caller this month.
Documents obtained from the Democratic-controlled Joint Committee on Taxation confirm Burkhauser’s account — and demonstrate the lengths to which Obama supporters went in an effort to hide these costs from the taxpayers.
Obviously this isn’t the first “oversight” associated with this unconstitutional abomination. In March of 2011, Obama’s heath care czarina Kathleen Sebelius was forced to acknowledge under oath that the government double-counted $529 billion in “savings” associated with the implementation of the legislation.
Numerous other errors and omissions have been uncovered within ObamaCare’s fuzzy math — including a $52 billion raid of Social Security and a $72 billion repayment obligation for a new “long-term care trust fund.”
According to Congressional Budget Office estimates released on the eve of its passage in March 2010, ObamaCare was originally projected to add $109 billion to the federal deficit over 10 years.
We can now add more than $1 trillion to that total (and counting), shredding once and for all Obama’s ridiculous claim that his signature legislation is “one of the biggest deficit-reduction plans in history.”
It’s also critical to remember that all of this deficit spending comes after the imposition of new tax hikes totaling hundreds of billions of dollars — a double whammy for taxpayers.
In addition to its infamous (and unconstitutional) individual mandate, ObamaCare also includes a new employer mandate tax, a new tax on “Cadillac” health insurance plans, the creation of a new 3.8% surtax on investment income for households that earn more than $250,000, increases in Medicaid payroll taxes, a new tax on medical device manufacturers, a new tanning tax, a tax hike on drug companies and at least a dozen other new “revenue enhancements.”
Many of these tax hikes have already been implemented — siphoning money away from our economy at the worst possible time. They’re also being collected even after a federal judge struck down ObamaCare in its entirety.
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