Under the plan now headed to Obama, individuals are required to purchase health insurance coverage or face a fine of up to $750 or 2 percent of their income -- whichever is greater. It includes a hardship exemption for poorer Americans.
Companies with more than 50 employees that don't provide coverage are required to pay a fee of $750 per worker if any of its employees rely on government subsidies to purchase coverage.
The compromise package would drop the individual fine to $695 or 2.5 percent of income, whichever is greater. The fine on companies failing to provide coverage would jump to $2,000 per employee.
Third, if more than two-thirds of the employees qualify for subsidies, the company would be paying the same tax penalty as if it had not offered a health plan in the first place. Faced with paying a hefty tax penalty whether they offer health insurance or not, many companies would drop their health plan, harming the remaining workers who do not qualify for subsidies. Those workers would be forced to buy health insurance on their own, paying 100 percent of the premium (instead of 40 percent or less through the employer) and paying with after-tax dollars. Even if the company raises pay by the amount they would have paid for health insurance (less the tax penalty), employees would now face income taxes on compensation that would otherwise be non-taxed health benefits.
This will result in an even higher cost for the program than projected, and will spell the decline of healthcare in America. Those who will be impacted most, will not be the wealthy, who will always have access to quality care, or the poor who will see very little difference in their access to care. Instead, it will be America's middle class who will bear a higher burden for a lower quality of care.
Think of the ever-growing costs and accompanying decline in quality when it comes to public education, and you've got a good idea of what to expect in the not too distant future of healthcare.
The Mayo Clinic, praised by President Barack Obama as a national model for efficient health care, will stop accepting Medicare patients as of tomorrow at one of its primary-care clinics in Arizona, saying the U.S. government pays too little.
More than 3,000 patients eligible for Medicare, the government’s largest health-insurance program, will be forced to pay cash if they want to continue seeing their doctors at a Mayo family clinic in Glendale, northwest of Phoenix, said Michael Yardley, a Mayo spokesman. The decision, which Yardley called a two-year pilot project, won’t affect other Mayo facilities in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota.
Look for more top quality healthcare facilities to follow suit in the coming months and years. And, where will this leave us? Well, like most big expensive government entitlement programs, it will leave us even deeper in debt, and an insolvent program that fails to deliver as promised. Oh sure, the program won't be a total loss. In fact, for those states whose Senators were into selling their votes, this legislation will prove to be a big win:
New Mexico Sens. Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman on Wednesday criticized special deals that Democratic leaders struck with some senators to win support for a sweeping Senate health care bill headed for passage today.
But the two Democrats said the deals weren't enough to justify voting against a measure they said would benefit New Mexicans.
Senate leaders offered Sen. Ben Nelson, a Nebraska Democrat, 100 percent federal subsidies for new Medicaid beneficiaries added to his state's rolls under the Senate legislation. Other senators wrangled separate financial concessions for their states in exchange for their support for the Senate bill.
Sorry, criticizing the deals after the fact, but voting in a manner that tacitly endorses the deals doesn't really hold water. Pretending this was a win for New Mexicans is a little less than honest:
According to Udall, the Senate health care overhaul would eventually insure 91 percent of New Mexicans, improve rural health care and grant permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, among other things.
Think about that for a moment. Despite promises that this "landmark legislation" would insure all Americans, in New Mexico, the best outcome will be to insure 91% of New Mexicans... EVENTUALLY. When this does EVENTUALLY happen, you can't help but wonder how many of the newly insured still won't have access to quality healthcare because they won't be able to find an institution willing to take their insurance.
The Senate began a debate Monday over the future of health care in America that's likely to go on for weeks, but behind the scenes, lawmakers are struggling to resolve an even more explosive issue: how to pay for all their ideas.
Federal budget deficits remain at record highs. The national debt is $12.1 trillion; Congress must vote soon to let it go higher, or else the Treasury won't be able to issue new debt. President Barack Obama is expected to announce today a plan to send an additional 30,000 to 35,000 American troops to Afghanistan, which will require more spending.
If you think healthcare insurance for all is the most important issue facing this country, think again. This forced insurance boondoggle will result in a deterioration of service options and a bankrupting of America. The only good news is that bankruptcy is a time of re-organization. At least that's good news if you think the political leadership of our country needs to be re-organized out. And, by re-organized, I mean shown the door.
One of the things I've always liked about living in New Mexico is how convenient it is for business travel. I can hop on a plane and get to many of our nation's largest metros within three hours. Well, shortly after the New Year, it looks like it is going to cost me an extra $100 if I want to avoid being quarantined to New Mexico:
"The way it is right now, come Jan. 1st, residents of New Mexico and residents of about 25 other states wouldn't be allowed to board airplanes unless they had a valid passport."
And, why is this?
The biggest issue is that New Mexico gives driver's licenses to foreign nationals and illegal immigrants, which under the new law, would be illegal.
So, because our state government thinks it is important to make New Mexico a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants, I have to pay $100 extra if I want to travel freely in my own country. Yeah, that makes sense. Oh, I know some of you want to blame it on the Bush Administration for pushing the Real ID Law. For the record, I was not a fan of the expansion of a police state then any more than I am now. But, they've been gone for almost a year, so the new administration is just as much to blame for pushing this expansion of government and the resulting new tax on citizens.
And, that is exactly what it is - a new tax. Any time a government decision requires you to fork over more money to comply, it is a new tax. What really irks me is that no one at the state or federal level seems to care that this is going to cost me both a significant amount of time and money:
"Right now it's a game of chicken, between the federal government and the state governments," [New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Secretary Rick] Homans said.
A game of chicken? That's the game where two people in moving vehicles come right at one another and see which one swerves out of the way first, right? Well, it's really easy for state and federal government to play chicken with one another when the taxpayer/traveler is the one driving both cars. Nothing like taxpayer pain for bureaucratic amusement.
So, the states and the feds can't get on the same page to allow law-abiding citizens to travel freely within our national borders. Now, what do you think is going to happen when we have nationalized healthcare?
As the healthcare debate continues and a public option keeps being pushed, it is a good idea to do a reality check and see just how inefficient government programs truly are. The mostly highly publicized "successful" government program of late is the Cash For Clunkers program. This was a $3 Billion taxpayer funded bailout of automotive manufacturers. It was a small part of the overall redistribution of dollars from taxpayers to automotive manufacturers and their Wall Street investors.
Ford Motor Co. earned $1 billion in the third quarter, fueled by U.S. market share gains, cost cuts and the government's Cash for Clunkers rebates.
The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker on Monday reported net income of $997 million, or 29 cents per share. Ford says it now expects to be "solidly profitable" in 2011. Previously the automaker said it would be break-even or better.
That's great news, right? Well, I guess that depends on who you are. If you work for Ford, or are an investor in Ford, definitely great news. If you were one of those folks who traded in your clunker and walked away with a new Ford, also, great news. If you are a present or future taxpayer who actually had to underwrite this latest government scam, well the news is not so great. You may have thought you were helping your fellow citizen get into that new car ( I'm sure a high priority for most of you) with a $4,000 subsidy, but the truth is actually a much bigger subsidy:
Edmunds.com, the premier resource for online automotive information, has determined that Cash for Clunkers cost taxpayers $24,000 per vehicle sold.
Nearly 690,000 vehicles were sold during the Cash for Clunkers program, officially known as CARS, but Edmunds.com analysts calculated that only 125,000 of the sales were incremental. The rest of the sales would have happened anyway, regardless of the existence of the program.
Ironically, the average transaction price for a new vehicle in August 2009 was only $26,915 minus an average cash rebate of $1,667.
Nice, every taxpayer just paid to give away a free car. Only a federal government program could take money from the masses and redistribute it to a few, who would have bought a new car at some point in the future with their own money, in order to help some companies postpone their demise or exceed expected earnings. This is just too absurd.
For that price, the federal government could have purchased the 125,000 cars outright at manufacturer suggested retail prices, such as a Ford Fusion, Focus or even a Mustang, and then handed each of the recipients an additional bonus check averaging the Cash-for-Clunkers subsidy of $4,000. Or they could have bought every one of those 125,000 people a Smart car and then given them a check for $6,000.
Now, we're going to put these same government folks in charge of our healthcare programs in order to cut costs. Yeah, that's gonna work well.
Congress and President Obama have made it clear that their number one priority right now is pushing through a healthcare "reform" bill. If you ask me, this is a political mistake that is going to come back and bite them. Estimates of the numbers of Americans without health insurance range from 10% -20% depending on the point that is trying to be made and by whom.
Research released this week in the American Journal of Public Health estimates that 45,000 deaths per year in the United States are associated with the lack of health insurance. If a person is uninsured, "it means you're at mortal risk," said one of the authors, Dr. David Himmelstein, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Highway fatalities account for more than 94% of all transportation deaths. There were an estimated 6,289,000 car accidents in the US in 1999. There were about 3.4 million injuries and 41,611 people killed in auto accidents in 1999. The total number of people killed in highway crashes in 2001 was 42,116, compared to 41,945 in 2000.
Yet, we don't feel the latter is a crisis that deserves the full attention of Congress and the President. The healthcare insurance debate is a political sideshow at best. Yes, it is terrible for those who are struck with a chronic or fatal illness who do not have insurance, but it is not the the number one crisis facing America. Nor, for that matter is climate change, but I digress.
Let's look at the reality. People with cushy, protected government jobs, or the those at the highest and lowest levels of earnings scale are not impacted by a recession, but million of middle class Americans, who incidentally vote, are impacted. After all, they are the growing number of unemployed unable to find work.
Sure, the political elite and Wall-Street-Give-Me-A-Bailout-Followed-By-Large-Bonus types like to talk about how the recession has ended, and in their insulated bubble it may have. But, for millions upon millions of Americans, not only has the recession not ended, it is still expected to worsen:
National unemployment rates remain extraordinarily high, having reached almost 10 percent. According to the Congressional Budget Office, unemployment will climb to 10.2 percent in 2010 before falling to around 9.1 percent the following year.
Within particular states, the situation is dire. In Massachusetts, unemployment rates have reached a level not seen since 1976. Michigan's unemployment rate is at a little over 15 percent. State budgets, according to a report by the Rockefeller Institute of Government, are still devastated by rapidly declining tax revenue. According to its study, collections by states fell by 16.6 percent from April to June.
Keep in mind that every time you read about another couple of hundred thousand jobless claims, those losses very often impact, not only the individual, but the other members of their households. Consider those millions compared to the 45,000 who die because they don't have health insurance. Now consider that the proposals in front of Congress are going to force 100% healthcare insurance coverage through punitive actions on business:
Businesses would not be required to provide health insurance under legislation being readied for Senate debate, but large firms would owe significant penalties if any worker needed government subsidies to buy coverage on their own, according to Democratic officials familiar with talks on the bill.
For firms with more than 50 employees, the fee could be as high as $750 multiplied by the total size of the work force if only a few workers needed federal aid, these officials said. That is a more stringent penalty than in a bill that recently cleared the Senate Finance Committee, which said companies should face penalties on a per-employee basis.
In other words, Congress is going to make it even more expensive to do business in the U.S. We'll see even more jobs evaporate in order to solve a problem impacting the lives of 45,000 of Americans. Not smart.
So we are sticking with our plan and paying the tax. But what bothers me most is that a similar health-care mandate is being proposed in Washington, and some of the same promises that were made here are being made again—such as that the mandate will never hit middle-class folks with a new tax. When asked about the mandate, Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe said recently, according to the New York Times, "It surprises me that we would have these high-level penalties on average Americans."
Well, I don't find it surprising. The mandate in Massachusetts was sold as something that wouldn't penalize people like my husband and me. But those political promises were only good for as long as it took to get the mandate enacted into law.
I can't help but wonder what happens to one of my favorite past times if we get a government run healthcare system in the U.S. In July 2007, I bought a four door Jeep Wrangler. I can't even tell you how therapeutic I find it to drive with the top off and the windows open under the clear blue skies of the Land of Enchantment.
I've put nearly 60,000 miles in the first two years of ownership criss-crossing the state. Sometimes I did it for business, sometimes for fun. Actually, no matter what the purpose, I always had fun. Especially those trips that took me on dirt roads with nothing but the cows and deer for company.
The first month or two I had the vehicle the doors were off as well, but my always sensible wife ruled that the kids were forbidden to drive with me if there were no doors on the vehicle. So, that didn't last too long. [Note to lawmakers enacting revenue generating schemes: No law had to be passed to protect our children.]
Convertible lovers who take to the open road with the top down may be risking hearing damage, according to a new study out of the U.K.
"If you are exposed for long periods above 85 decibels [of sound], you have the potential for hearing loss," says Philip Michael, MD, an ear-nose-throat surgeon at Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcestershire, U.K., and the study's lead author. In his study, he found that the noise level with the top down was higher than 85 decibels. "The maximum noise was at 70 miles per hour and that was 89 decibels. It has the potential for causing long-term hearing loss.''
To put those decibel levels in context, a normal conversation is about 60 decibels; a rock concert is about 115 decibels.
Well, once the government is running the healthcare system is it too far fetched to consider that they might outlaw the use of convertibles, or rock concerts for that matter, to cut costs related to hearing loss? I don't think so. Remember our own Senator Bingaman has already made the point:
If the government is going to be involved in the far end… I don’t see why it’s inappropriate for the government to encourage healthy behavior up front.
Time and time again, we allow the government to extend its reach into our lives without giving much thought to the precedent that sets for further intrusions. If you enjoy cranking up the stereo while driving your convertible, and eating an occasional fast food burger, fries and a large chocolate shake, you may want to give a second thought to the implications of a government run healthcare system.
The Left has historically outperformed the Right in New Mexico when it comes to turning out crowds to rally behind political causes. However, it seems that the continued radical and extreme shift to the left of our federal government is beginning to change that.
More than 300 people from all over the state attended the rally, which was one of many held across the country on Sunday. The rally was organized by Grassroots4PublicOption, a nonpartisan New Mexico group.
While most members of New Mexico's congressional delegation support a government-run public option for health care coverage, nearly half of the state's registered voters don't want one, a Journal Poll found.
Forty-nine percent of the voters surveyed statewide said they opposed a government-run insurance program that would compete with private industry.
Forty-two percent said they favored a government-run program, or public option. Nine percent said it would depend or they didn't know.
Intensity also was apparent. Respondents who "strongly opposed" a public option outnumbered those who "strongly favored" such a plan by more than 3-to-2.
Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in the state. However, the majority of voters in New Mexico, with the exception of this last presidential election, seem to vote center/center-right. Factor in the growing legions of independent voters, and those in office who blindly rubber stamp the ultra-left agenda will likely find themselves in serious trouble come Election Day.
Speaking to reporters, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs pointed out that the most recent numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor indicate that “we continue to see a slowing of the pace of job loss.”
I've heard of putting a positive spin on something, but this is ridiculous. The White House actually wants the public to get excited about the fact that things are worsening, albeit at a slower pace. That's the equivalent of telling a terminal patient to feel good that he doesn't need a new pair of glasses.
Attempting to spin an economic reality does nothing to increase confidence in government. In fact, it has quite the opposite effect. People listen to our leaders saying things are getting better, yet those same people know that they're struggling to pay their bills. In New Mexico, you can combine that growing reality with the ongoing corruption scandals, and failing government programs (i.e. education), and we may just be at a point where folks feel enough is enough.
Today marks the eighth anniversary of the attacks of 9/11. It is a day that should always serve as a reminder of two irrefutable facts:
There are people in this world that hate America and the freedom it represents, and would do anything to destroy us.
There are unsung heroes that everyday put their lives on the line to safeguard our communities.
Let me first acknowledge that second point by thanking the firefighters and police officers that step up everyday when no one is looking to protect and to serve. Thanks for what you do.
As to the first point, I can't help but be concerned about the direction our country is heading. On 9/11, the terrorists failed to destroy America, but since that time, a greater and greater number of those elected to lead our country have made, and are making, decisions that might well accomplish what the terrorists failed to do those eight years ago.
The state's boating law says the operator of a vessel has 48 hours to provide information about an accident, and Condit complied with that, according to Jodi McGinnis Porter, spokeswoman for the energy and minerals agency.
Porter said Fay, the boat's owner, stayed at the scene and provided information to investigators, while Richardson, Condit, Miller and the state police officers left. They were not required to remain there, she said.
What's been largely missing from this discussion is not what is legal, but what is ethical. Legally, the perpetrators of the accident may not have been required to remain at the scene of the accident, but ethically, they should have remained.
Think about it.
There are only two reasons that the Governor and his staff fled. First, there was alcohol involved, and it would have been determined that a crime had been committed. Or second, they wanted to avoid the unfolding public relations nightmare that would have been made worse by having their pictures taken at the scene of the accident. I'm reasonably confident that if cell phone records were checked, one of the individuals in the party will be shown to have called for advice on whether or not they "had" to remain at the scene of the accident.
There is always a lot of gratuitous talk about the need to legislate ethics in this state. But, this is just another example of why you can't legislate ethics. Unethical people will act in their own self-interests, and the shrewdly unethical will do it in within the letter of the law. You probably also noticed that not one Democrat running to lead our state in 2010 condemned the blatantly unethical act committed by Governor Richardson and his staff.
A GAO report finds that illegal immigrants constitute more than one-third of all Medicaid-funded pregnancies in California. Elsewhere in the country, the GAO found: "From 1992 to 1995 in Texas, the number of Medicaid-funded births to undocumented alien mothers more than doubled, while the total number of births remained fairly stable." People respond to economic incentives. Even when the people and the incentives are illegal.
Missouri attorney general Chris Koster has estimated that one in ten Medicaid claims is fraudulent. How much of that fraud diverts money to illegal immigrants? Nobody knows for sure and don't ask the state bureaucrats for help in finding out: When the federal government passed new rules demanding better documentation of legal residency for Medicaid recipients, the states resisted. In California, officials representing the state's Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, wanted to use such lamentably inadequate documentation as insurance records and school report cards in place of passports and birth certificates. We are entitled to question their motives, and their prudence.
So, Representative Wilson could use a visit from Miss Manners. But he is telling the truth, and President Obama is not.
Of course, President Obama's dishonesty on this topic is not limited to the question of whether or not illegal immigrants will benefit from the healthcare changes being proposed. There were numerous inaccuracies his speech. For example, take this:
OBAMA: "Nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have."
THE FACTS: That's correct, as far as it goes. But neither can the plan guarantee that people can keep their current coverage. Employers sponsor coverage for most families, and they'd be free to change their health plans in ways that workers may not like, or drop insurance altogether. The Congressional Budget Office analyzed the health care bill written by House Democrats and said that by 2016 some 3 million people who now have employer-based care would lose it because their employers would decide to stop offering it.
In the past Obama repeatedly said, "If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period." Now he's stopping short of that unconditional guarantee by saying nothing in the plan "requires" any change.
Considering how much effort goes into writing a presidential speech, these careful manipulations of the English language cannot be considered accidental. Again, we deal with a question of ethics. Is it ethical to put something forward as factually truthful that is actually intended to deceive?
Of course, these unethical manipulations of language are not limited to our elected officials. They are also being used by "community organizations" to confuse the issues. Consider this taken directly from the ACORN site:
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now does not apply for nor does it receive any federal grants.
ACORN has had contracts with other nonprofit organizations to perform work on projects which received federal grant support.
In illegal circles, what ACORN is describing is called money laundering. Organized crime has been doing this for years. In the case of organized crime, dollars from an illegal activity, take prostitution as an example, are flowed through a third party entity before making its way to a "legitimate" business. In this way, the business has deniability about the illegal source of the funds. Much the same way as ACORN has deniability about the federal source of its funding.
Two staff members of the Baltimore office of ACORN were fired Thursday after they were captured on hidden camera appearing to give advice on evading tax laws to a man and woman posing as a pimp and a prostitute.
The video depicts a man and a scantily dressed female partner visiting the Charles Village office of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, where they appear to ask two employees about how to shield their work from state and federal tax requirements. The supposed pimp also appears to ask the employees how to conceal underage girls from El Salvador brought into the country illegally to work for him.
"If they don't have Social Security numbers, you don't have to worry about them," the employee says.
Of course, the only problem is that this isn't a comedy skit. It's actually real. Now, factor in the economy, our increasingly uncompetitive educational system, the ever-growing size of government, and the you'll see why I'm so concerned that America may be doing to herself what the terrorists failed to do on 9/11.
But why did taxpayers, having already bailed out GM and Chrysler once, have to do so again to the tune of $3 billion through the $3,500-$4,500 C4C incentives? This taxpayer money simply enabled the dealers to avoid having to offer discounts off sticker prices and to extract higher profit margins than they would have otherwise obtained on the qualifying new cars. The program proved so popular that inventories of the qualifying cars soon dwindled, further boosting the dealers' negotiating leverage and unit profit margin.
Did C4C sell more cars? Maybe in the short term but, in reality, the promotion stole largely from future sales with taxpayers subsidizing over half a million new car sales that would have occurred anyway.
Did the consumers win in this game? No, we did not. Was this a good deal for the American taxpayer? No, it was not. So, who are the beneficiaries of this latest round of bailouts? The same big businesses who have already gone to Congress with one hand out and the other in our back pocket. Of course, the taxpayer ripoff is only half of the story. I mentioned that consumers didn't win either in the Cash for Clunkers debacle:
Like hundreds of thousands of folks this summer, Anna Causey knew a deal when she saw it. Enticed by the rebates offered under the cash for clunkers program, the Summerville, S.C., resident ran her 1986 Buick Century down to a local dealer last month, scrapped it for a 2009 Dodge Ram pickup, and scooped up a $3,500 government discount for the trouble.
A month later, it doesn’t seem like such a great bargain.
Causey’s trade, it turns out, didn’t qualify for a rebate based on the cash-for-clunkers’ mileage requirements. Though she’d signed all the papers, swapped the tags and updated her insurance policy, Causey was called back to the dealership shortly afterward and presented with two options: either accept a new contract — one that would grant $1,000 for the old Buick and require that she pay back the $2,500 difference — or give up the truck. Thinking a deal’s a deal, Causey and her husband chose a third route: they stormed out, and hired a lawyer instead.
Now, consider this was a rather straightforward program that went through billions in weeks. You have an old car with high gas mileage, and you bring it in and get $4,500 off a new car. Should have been simple, but instead, the execution has been a total disaster for everyone involved. Yet, there are still some of you out there that want to put these same people in charge of administering your healthcare program?
Several members of the audience asked about costs and how they would affect a rapidly growing federal deficit, now projected to reach $9 trillion over the next decade.
Heinrich said much of the more than $1 trillion in estimated costs would be funded through provisions in various bills that would tax certain employers who do not provide health insurance to employees. Other costs would be paid for by eliminating "waste, fraud and abuse," he said. The congressman said he would remain open to other ideas on paying for health care changes.
A gift to the health insurance industry is in fact what we are talking about here. This is another classic example of taxing one form of business to give to another. In this case, every business that does not now pay for health insurance will have to pay for health insurance. We're also going to find in the long run that everyone's personal income taxes are going to go up. Because, let's face it, government can't control costs either:
State government's largest health care program faces a serious budget shortfall that could balloon to $300 million next year, forcing Gov. Bill Richardson's administration to start planning for cutbacks in Medicaid.
Options range from reducing or eliminating benefits, such as dental care for poor adults, to lowering the reimbursement rates for doctors and other providers, according to New Mexico Human Services Secretary Pam Hyde.
If drastic cost-cutting becomes necessary, she said, the state might need to scrap entire portions of Medicaid, such as a program to help low-income workers with insurance coverage, or revamp Medicaid to provide a minimum amount of services.
Mind you, this is what it looks like when state government is receiving $3 billion dollars of federal bailout money for services. Oh, I know what you're going to say. That's a state problem. We're talking about the a federal healthcare solution. The federal government can control costs:
Millions of older people face shrinking Social Security checks next year, the first time in a generation that payments would not rise.
The trustees who oversee Social Security are projecting there won't be a cost of living adjustment (COLA) for the next two years. That hasn't happened since automatic increases were adopted in 1975.
By law, Social Security benefits cannot go down. Nevertheless, monthly payments would drop for millions of people in the Medicare prescription drug program because the premiums, which often are deducted from Social Security payments, are scheduled to go up slightly.
Yeah, right. The federal government is great at balancing a budget and projecting the ultimate costs of a pie in the sky program. If you believe that, please send me an email regarding the ocean front property I have for sale in Arizona.
The Obama administration will raise its 10-year budget deficit projection to approximately $9 trillion from $7.108 trillion in a report next week, a senior administration official told Reuters on Friday.
The higher deficit figure, based on updated economic data, brings the White House budget office into line with outside estimates and gives further fuel to President Barack Obama's opponents, who say his spending plans are too expensive in light of budget shortfalls.
The White House took heat for sticking with its $7.108 trillion forecast earlier this year after the Congressional Budget Office forecast that deficits between 2010 and 2019 would total $9.1 trillion.
The public option is a provision in the House and Senate bills to establish a government-operated insurance plan designed to be funded by its customers' premiums and compete against commercial insurance companies.
Over the weekend, Obama administration officials hinted that state and regional nonprofit insurance cooperatives might be an acceptable alternative to the government-run plan.
Oh yeah, that's a much better way to go. Phew, what a relief. Now we can have state government administer the health insurance program public option. Remember that is what we are talking about here. We are talking about health insurance program redesign, we are not talking about healthcare.
Think of it this way. The state administers an unemployment insurance program. That program pays unemployed people a certain stipend, but it is not near the same amount of money they would earn if they were gainfully employed. Moreover, receiving unemployment insurance benefits does not mean that the recipient will receive better employment the next time they get a job. One has nothing to do with the other. Same is true with the the great "healthcare" reform of 2009.
For the second time in two weeks and the third time this year, thousands of New Mexicans expecting to find their unemployment payments in the bank first thing Monday morning discovered the money wasn't there.
This time, a computer glitch on the Department of Workforce Solutions' end of the process delayed deposits until about 1 p.m., spokeswoman Carrie Moritomo told the Journal.
Hmm, and we want to put these guys in charge of healthcare? I wonder how those system glitches might delay the approval of some life saving medical treatment. If you think that's totally different, you've got another thing coming.
I know, I know. It doesn't have to be a state run program. It could be a regionally run government program. You know, like the schools are a regionally run government program:
Hundreds of APS teachers were underpaid last month due to a computer glitch.
About 300 teachers were affected, and when some of them notified the school district, officials launched an investigation, Albuquerque Public Schools chief financial officer Dupuy Bateman said Monday.
"Some employees notified us," Bateman said. "We did research to find that there were others and continue to do that ourselves."
It was unclear how much money was missing from the individual paychecks in late July. Employees were given the option of getting a check for the missing amount or having it added to their next paycheck, he said.
I don't know why, but I'm really not feeling a lot of confidence in the proposed health insurance solutions.
First, let me say that I almost never go to Whole Foods. It's just not close to where we live or shop. However, today our oldest had a soccer tournament right up the street from the Whole Foods on Wyoming. We were tight on time to grab lunch, so we decided to run into Whole Foods to grab a quick lunch. The place was packed. Now, I don't think it has anything to do with the CEO's recent stance on healthcare in the Wall Street Journal:
While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment.
Less than two days after the editorial appeared, the protest and boycott group organized on Facebook is up to more than 4,000 members, and pundits seem to be scratching their heads as to whether Mackey's missive was a bold entrance into a polarizing political debate, or a shortsighted business blunder that will only alienate his customer base. What do you think?
Well, I think that the people that love to shop at Whole Foods regularly will continue to do so, and I wouldn't be surprised if the stores find a whole new clientele as a result of Mr. Mackey's refreshing willingness to speak his mind. After all, it's not like the guy just hired Michael Vick.
For many people, Republican policy has always been seen aligned with business, and Democratic policy has been equated to big government. Now, with the Republicans out of power and the Democrats firmly in control, it has been interesting to observe the shift that is occurring.
President Obama and the vast majority of congressional Democrats are proposing big government solutions to every problem from the economy to healthcare and everything in between. Of course, that's exactly what was expected. What wasn't expected, at least not by me, is that the these same Democrats are not only out there promoting big government solutions, but the big government solutions have all been crafted in a way to put the interests of big business first.
Yet, this is precisely what is occurring on the federal level. A recent Business Week Behind This Week's Cover Story podcast examines the ways that UnitedHealth has been a key player in crafting the healthcare legislation, and how at the end of the day, it is the giants of the healthcare insurance industry that are going to be the big winners:
As the health reform fight shifts this month from a vacationing Washington to congressional districts and local airwaves around the country, much more of the battle than most people realize is already over. The likely victors are insurance giants such as UnitedHealth Group (UNH), Aetna (AET), and WellPoint (WLP). The carriers have succeeded in redefining the terms of the reform debate to such a degree that no matter what specifics emerge in the voluminous bill Congress may send to President Obama this fall, the insurance industry will emerge more profitable. Health reform could come with a $1 trillion price tag over the next decade, and it may complicate matters for some large employers. But insurance CEOs ought to be smiling.
This is a theme that is being repeated over and over since the Democrats have taken full control. However, as a result of continued economic pressures, more and more people are finding themselves being laid off from large companies. More and more people are struggling to ensure their families have the basics. The Democrats in control may talk on the stump about being the advocates for hard-working Americans, but their actions speak louder than their words:
Missing from Washington's health-reform discussion is a simple change that would make insurance more affordable for millions of the nation's smallest business owners by letting them fully deduct the cost of their health insurance premiums.
By a quirk in the tax code, self-employed workers who buy their own health insurance essentially pay an extra tax on their premiums. They're the only taxpayers in the system who pay taxes on premiums, which count as a business expense for corporations and pretax income for employees. Because self-employed workers have no corporate employers to match their payroll tax contributions to Social Security and Medicare, they pay double the rate of wage and salary workers in a levy known as the self-employment tax equal to 15.3% of their net earnings. That's on top of regular state and federal income taxes, and the income they spend on health premiums is not exempt.
The nation's 9 million self-employed—sole proprietors with few or no employees, contract workers, and freelancers—constitute about 8% of the total U.S. labor force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (The Census Bureau counts 22 million sole-proprietors, but it's not clear how many of those may be payroll workers as well.)
Healthcare is just one example where inequities like these exist. Right now, there is a large section of the population that is not being represented by our elected officials. There is an opportunity for leaders to emerge that represent our interests. Those leaders will find their support crosses party lines. Their supporters won't be made up of the radical fringes of the left or the right. Their supporters will not look for big government solutions to their problems or to further their pet causes, anymore than they want big business to solve their problems. It's time for these leaders to step forward.
Well, I think frankly we’ve got this weird view in the country that if a person comes down with Type Two diabetes because of being overweight, and there’s a pretty good correlation there — I think most physicians would agree with that — and they need dialysis, that the government should step up and provide the resource of that dialysis. I agree with that. If the government is going to be involved in the far end… I don’t see why it’s inappropriate for the government to encourage healthy behavior up front.
See, I don't agree that the government should pay for a patient to get dialysis for Type Two diabetes that is the result of being overweight. Mind you, I write that knowing full well that diabetes runs in my family.
Aside from the issue of personal responsibility, my other reason for being against this is the very sound logic put forth by Senator Bingaman. Hey, if we're going to pay for it later, we should be involved in the decision making process before. The path we're on is for government mandated exercise and government mandated diets. Remember, the government never mandates for some, it mandates for all.
President Barack Obama is declining to take a surtax off the table in the escalating debate over how to pay for a new health care system that would cover millions of uninsured people.
That's right, here comes the tax increases. Remember, taxation is a zero sum game. When you start taxing for ever larger government programs, you are removing dollars that would otherwise be invested in the economy. Think about that as you read about the next increase in unemployment numbers and business closures.
So, I'm a little late to the table due to travel schedule, but I was invited to participate in the ABQ Journal's Online Health Care Reform Debate. I just submitted my response this morning to yesterday's question. I'm also cross posting it below, but I'd encourage you to hop over to the Journal and read what the other panelists had to say.
What is the ideal way to expand coverage and cut costs in our health care system?
Let's look at the basic problem with this question. First, it is a contradiction. You can't expand coverage and cut costs. You can do one or the other, but it is not possible to do both at least not without degrading the quality of available care.
Moreover, it's a classic example of a one-size fits all type of question. The thing is that there in not a one-size fits all type of answer. In many cases the costs of health care are directly tied to the malpractice insurance doctors are required to carry as a result of lawsuits - some frivolous, some not. In other cases the rising costs of healthcare are the result of government regulation and mandates intended to reform the system or protect consumers. Then, there is the subjective nature inherent to providing "health insurance that covers all medically necessary care." To a family, it might seem that no expense should be spared to keep a loved one alive, but is it really society's responsibility to pay for that care? I would argue it is not.
Let's also examine the question of expansion of health care coverage. If someone smokes two packs of cigarettes a day, do they deserve the same access to health care and level of care as someone who does not? If someone chooses to live a rural lifestyle is it really the responsibility of society to build them rural health centers. If you choose to get cable television and a cell phone instead of paying for health insurance, should everyone else chip in to pay for your insurance. Again, I would argue not.
So, let's look at the latter first. The best way to cut costs in the health care system is on a case be case basis on the local level. Looking at the individual costs, be they hospital, doctor or individual, and coming up with solutions to reduce those costs. And, acknowledging that cutting those costs may very well involve making tough decisions about the type of health care services that will be made available. Incidentally, this is also the trick to expanding coverage. Get away from trying to provide the same level of coverage to everyone, everywhere. Health care is a service it is not a fundamental guaranteed right. Any more than than we should guarantee equal types of housing to everyone in America.
Does the current focus on costs undermine the importance of quality of care, as discussed in Win Quigley's article on Sunday?
Without moving to a barter system there is absolutely no way to separate costs from quality as it relates to health care. The two are inherently tied together. In our form of society the quality of every service or product purchased is related to price paid, up to the point of diminishing returns. Shifting to a government run health care system only shifts those costs from one entity to another (i.e. business-to-consumer to government-to-consumer).
It is the demand for quality and quantity of care that is causing escalating costs. In a government run system the costs will only increase not decrease. In fact, I challenge you to find any government run program where costs do not increase year over year. They don't exist. Medicare, public education, public housing... pick a program and the costs always increase.
Anyone who has ever worked inside a government funded institution understands why. Government run programs have no incentive to cut costs. Quite the contrary, they are incentivized to spend every last dollar in order ensure that they can receive the same level of funding the next year. This makes it all the more ludicrous for government to try and devise solutions for cutting costs. It's like asking a vegetarian what's the best way to cook a steak.
How can we change the incentive structure that leads to the use of expensive procedures that may not lead to optimal health outcomes?
There is only one way to significantly do this and that is at the consumer level. Something along the lines of health savings plans wherein individual consumer choices regarding the quality, quantity and type of care they receive directly impacts the dollars in their pocket. Also, I believe that consumers should indemnify medical providers, so that we remove the burdensome costs malpractice has introduced into the system.
And, finally, what proposals or ideas in Congress strike you as smart and feasible?
All of the proposals in Congress are feasible. Feasible in that they can be implemented. However, implementing a program is never the same as achieving a goal. I'm not aware of a single smart proposal in Congress. Anything Congress passes is going to be a one size fit all approach for the nation, and that is a mistake, a very costly and ineffective mistake made time and time again.
We have become so accustomed to employer-provided medical care that we regard it as part of the natural order. Yet it is thoroughly illogical. Why single out medical care? Food is more essential to life than medical care. Why not exempt the cost of food from taxes if provided by the employer? Why not return to the much-reviled company store when workers were in effect paid in kind rather than in cash?
The revival of the company store for medicine has less to do with logic than pure chance. It is a wonderful example of how one bad government policy leads to another. During World War II, the government financed much wartime spending by printing money while, at the same time, imposing wage and price controls. The resulting repressed inflation produced shortages of many goods and services, including labor. Firms competing to acquire labor at government-controlled wages started to offer medical care as a fringe benefit. That benefit proved particularly attractive to workers and spread rapidly.
Initially, employers did not report the value of the fringe benefit to the Internal Revenue Service as part of their workers’ wages. It took some time before the IRS realized what was going on. When it did, it issued regulations requiring employers to include the value of medical care as part of reported employees’ wages. By this time, workers had become accustomed to the tax exemption of that particular fringe benefit and made a big fuss. Congress responded by legislating that medical care provided by employers should be tax-exempt.
I'd recommend reading the article in it's entirety.
A leading health care bill under consideration in Congress would cost the government an estimated $1 trillion over the next decade and reduce the ranks of the uninsured by about one-third, or 16 million individuals, congressional budget officials said Monday in a preliminary estimate.
I want to make sure you read that passage carefully. A trillion dollars will reduce uninsured by one-third. Therefore, it is not to far off to assume that it would take $3 trillion to insure everyone. And, make no mistake, there is not such thing as bills that "cost the government" money. It costs the taxpayers money. The only money the government has comes from you or me.
The three advocate a mix of tax increases, spending cuts and new mandates guaranteed to annoy nearly every major player in the health-care debate, including a mandate on businesses to contribute to health insurance costs and a tax on some benefits provided through the workplace.
Funny how they like to call it "tax increases" and "new mandates" as if they are two different things. A tax increase takes money out of your pocket and gives it to the government to spend as it sees fit. A mandate, as described above, takes money away from businesses and forces them to spend it on government programs. If you ask me, that's the exact same thing.
Some things only work if everyone is in the same fix, everyone does the same thing. For example, consider sewer systems. If, in Albuquerque, some people had privies and some had septic systems and some bought from a private sewer system and some bought the city's sewer system service, we'd have a mess. We'd have both private sewer systems and City sewers on some streets (probably the richer neighborhoods) and and probably no sewer system on poorer streets, and cholera from the privies. But since we all are required to buy the City's sewer system, we all have a pretty adequate system at lower total cost (because no street has two sewers).
Health insurance has some similarities to sewers.
First, let me reiterate, I really appreciate the people who take the time to leave comments - especially those with a different point of view. With that said, I found it interesting that Mr. Schneider should choose to use the example of sewer systems to make his case.
I live about eight miles from Albuquerque. I have a septic system. It's probably worth noting that neither myself nor anyone around me is suffering from cholera. As to the presumption that people in rich neighborhoods would be the ones with a city sewers system, I'd suggest a drive through North Albuquerque Acres. You'll find some of the largest and most expensive city adjacent homes are all on septic systems.
The vast majority of the folks in the East Mountains have fought city/county unification for over fifty years because we don't want to be forced into supporting everyone else in the city and live according to what is best for the city. We don't want to be forced to adopt city water (yeah, many of us have our own wells), city sewer and city trash pickup. Consider that last one, despite the fact that no government entity is picking up the trash, I think you'll find much less trash on along the roads of the East Mountains then you would in the City of Albuquerque.
Well, the same holds true for health insurance. We should not all be forced into one system that rations care for all. A system like that will not improve health care service over the long run. It will degrade it. And, the way it is being offered, it will degrade it for everyone equally. Our governments - local, state and federal - are already struggling to fund the unwieldy systems for which they have already taxed us, and lest you think they will only tax the rich, think again.
President David Schmidly said UNM employees who participate in the voluntary furlough program, which he announced this week, will help UNM avoid cutting jobs.
"We have got to hold the line on spending. If we don't, we're going to get in a situation where we can't cope with our reduced appropriations without doing something major with our payroll, and I want to try to avoid that," he said. "And so, if I can reduce expenditures, get people that want to voluntarily do some things that save on their salaries, and don't fill those vacancies that come up that we can deal with in some other way, then we can save money and be in a better position to cope with the budget downturn."
Now, you want a state that doesn't have enough doctors to run the health care system? IF you think you're health care situation is dire now. Just imagine when the state run system asks doctors, nurses and technicians to take a furlough to help avoid cutting jobs. Hopefully, you're not scheduled for major surgery during that furlough week.
Now, let's say you disagree with me here, and you believe that this is a problem that needs to be immediately addressed. Well, I can tell you without a doubt THIS IS NOT the bill to do it. Take a moment to read the Fiscal Impact report for HB 339, and you'll discover something VERY SCARY:
The bill will effectively subject all existing health care facilities and health care providers in New Mexico to state control. It will require mandatory participation in the health care plan by most state residents other than persons covered by federal health plans, military personnel, and members of Indian tribes covered by federal health plans. It will prohibit the sale of health insurance in New Mexico for health care that is covered by the health security plan except for retiree health insurance plans that do not enter into contracts with the health security plan. The private sector would continue to provide the actual delivery of health care but will be required to comply with the rules of the commission and provisions of the health care plan.
In other words, this doesn't just provide health insurance for the uninsured, this takes away our right to choose our health insurance policy providers and condemns us all to a government run system. Want a preview of what that looks like? Well, you don't have to look any further than the level of care our neighbors to the North are currently "enjoying":
Canadians often wait months or even years for necessary care. For some, the status quo has become so dire that they have turned to the courts for recourse. Several cases currently before provincial courts provide studies in what Americans could expect from government-run health insurance.
In Ontario, Lindsay McCreith was suffering from headaches and seizures yet faced a four and a half month wait for an MRI scan in January of 2006. Deciding that the wait was untenable, Mr. McCreith did what a lot of Canadians do: He went south, and paid for an MRI scan across the border in Buffalo. The MRI revealed a malignant brain tumor.
Providing health care for some should not mean reducing the level of care others are currently receiving.
Even some of the [State Investment Council's (SIC)] smallest acquisitions look questionable. Take for instance, its investment in Small Smiles. The SIC's 2007 annual report showed an investment of an unstated sum in this New Mexico company. By directly contacting the venture capital firm that handled this investment, the Rio Grande Foundation learned that about $500,000 New Mexico taxpayer dollars have been invested in Small Smiles. The SIC itself had not been able to answer this question.
Contrary to the SIC's annual report, Small Smiles, is not a New Mexico company. It is a national chain of low-income dental clinics owned by a bank in Bahrain. Furthermore, at the time half a million taxpayers dollars were going to help Arab investors, Small Smiles was being blasted in an Emmy Award winning investigative television series called "Drilling for Dollars."
Small Smiles clinics in the Washington, D.C. area were exposed for abusing children by strapping them to "papoose boards." Small Smiles had engaged in unethical billing practices. Parents came forward with complaints of unnecessary dental work being performed on their children without their consent.
Mind you, I'm the father of two young boys. My oldest needed to have a dental "appliance " installed at the age of four to correct a problem. It was not a fun experience for him, but I was there the entire time to hold his hand. I can't imagine how he would feel about me or the dentist if we had allowed him to be strapped into a papoose board. I'm thoroughly disgusted.
That's right, I said, "Deals that Governor Richardson wanted approved." After all, the Governor is the chairman of the SIC. Now, in light of all of the recent scandals, you may be wondering if the Governor has ever received any campaign contributions from anyone connected to Small Smiles.
Of course, my guess is that our Speaker of the House Ben Lujan solicited the funds on his son's behalf. After all, other than the imprisoned former State Senator Manny Aragon, the only other elected official to recieve funds cycle after cycle from Small Smiles in New Mexico is Speaker of the House Lujan.
Now, I'm sure none of this is tied to pay-to-play in New Mexico. It's probably all just some strange coincidence.
Universal health care proponents are upset that providing taxpayer funded health care for everyone seems to be taking a backseat while legislators begin to struggle with the half a billion dollar budget shortfall:
“There is tremendous interest in both the advocacy and constituent communities to focus on health care reform during the upcoming session,” said Roxanne Spruce Bly, executive director of Health Action New Mexico, in an interview with the Independent. “For many voters, health care was a top priority and a key reason why they supported change at both the national and state level.”
Indeed, achieving universal health care was not only a major plank during the Democratic presidential primary, it was also a major issue in 2008 during the short legislative session and the special session.
Still, the results were minimal. There has been no movement on bills that would ensure New Mexico’s 400,000 uninsured people gain access to health care, or that would contain the rapidly increasing costs.
“The time to act is now,” Bly said. “In 2006, New Mexico commissioned a study which showed that if we continued to do nothing, the cost of our health care system will increase from $6 billion to $8 billion by 2011.
Ok, let's state the obvious. The time to act is NOT now. Forget the fact that we are facing a budget crisis this year that in all likelihood will be worse next year. Instead, consider that achieving universal health care was a major plank during the Democratic presidential primary. Well, the Democrats won on a federal level and New Mexico's state lawmakers would be wise to take a wait and see attitude until it is clear how those national Democrats plan on delivering on their promises.
Obviously, I don't want to see a universally mandated and taxpayer funded health care system. But, the Democrats now control the House, the Senate and the Presidency. So, I don't really have much say in the issue.
As to the "New Mexico commissioned a study which showed that if we continued to do nothing, the cost of our health care system will increase from $6 billion to $8 billion by 2011." I'm sorry, but if state government takes on the task of managing all aspects of the health care system, I can practically guarantee that we will see even more than a $2 billion increase over the next two years.
After Gov. Bill Richardson announced a state government hiring freeze, his administration put 416 people on the payroll before it took effect.
Members of the Legislative Finance Committee, confronted with a projected state budget shortfall of about $454 million, weren't happy with the news Wednesday.
"I think it was disingenuous," said Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort, R-Sandia Park.
To call adding $1 million to a state payroll budget while supposedly instituting a hiring freeze "disingenuous" is putting it nicely. I would call it "criminal." How can anyone believe that putting these folks in charge of the health care system is going to reduce costs. They can't even reduce costs when they are implementing cost cutting measures.
My plan begins by covering every American. If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change for you under this plan is the amount of money you will spend on premiums. That will be less. If you are one of the 45 million Americans who don't have health insurance, you will have it after this plan becomes law. No one will be turned away because of a preexisting condition or illness.”
Keep in mind that any time a politician tells you that they can provide you more, and you'll be paying less, they are, well to put politely, full of... it. It just doesn't work that way. And, take a look at that last promise, "no one will be turned away because of a preexisting condition or illness." Is the issue really about people with preexisting conditions unable to get health insurance, or is it about them unable to get health care? It's the latter not the former.
Of course, that leads to the next argument supporting a government run health care program. We need to join the other industrialized nations, Canada and Great Britain always being held out as shining examples, in providing nationalized health care. But, here is the ugly truth about these national health care programs (subscription) that very rarely sees the light:
In Britain right now, the national health system is falling apart, for the same reason our system is struggling. It costs too much. The British ration care by withholding services and making people wait. Americans ration care by allowing 47 million people to have no insurance.
Polling shows that the British will accept the waits and the lack of services as long as everybody has the same wait and the same lack of services. Egalitarianism is a value system, and the health system reflects it.
See, you can't eliminate the costs of a program by changing who is paying for it. And, despite what Winthrop Quigley would have us believe, Americans do not "ration care by allowing 47 million people to have no insurance." People without insurance walk into emergency rooms everyday and receive treatment. Guess what, it's being paid for by you and me. We pay for it with our premiums, and we pay for it with our taxes.
Of course, waiting hours upon hours in an emergency room to receive care is no one's idea of an ideal health care system. Yet, if the nationalized health care advocates get their way, we'll all be waiting months upon months for rationed care in what will undoubtedly be an increasingly expensive system.
In a market driven economy, those who buy products and services in bulk usually do so at a discount. Think about your last trip to a warehouse store. Buy more, and pay less on a per unit basis. Or, think about the last membership offer you received. Your discount was higher for a three year commitment than it was for a month to month commitment.
The city-county water board tonight could close a loophole that lets some high water users escape penalties for hogging water in the summer months.
The board will take up an amendment that would affect the top 1 percent of residential water users in Albuquerque, who officials say account for 5 percent of total residential water use.
It would impose higher penalties on about 1,500 residential users who use large amounts of water in the winter months, defined by the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority as December through March, water authority executive director Mark Sanchez said Tuesday.
For example, the No. 1 residential water user had a $2,989 water bill in 2007. Under the proposed change, it would be $4,811. The 2007 bill that included sewer services was $4,335, and that would increase to $6,157.
The proposed amendment would charge $1.41 extra per unit of water to customers using more than 84 units per month in the summer, Sanchez said. Another $1.41 would be added for every unit above 112.
Why the difference? Simple. This is a classic example of how government run services work. 99% of the users have absolutely no idea what the real cost of water is. They comprise 95% of the water usage. Yet, since they are not responsible to pay real costs, they have no motivation to reduce unnecessary water consumption. Instead, the 1% that use only 5% of the water will be taxed. Will the tax make a difference? Probably not. Since these users either need the water, or find the higher water rate cheaper than fixing the leak that might be causing it.
For a moment think about all of this in terms of the recent spike and decline in gas prices. Everyone felt the pinch, and all of sudden people were driving slower and coming up with solutions to minimize their consumption. Everyone was equally hit. People who operate fleets of vehicles were not charged a premium, nor were those who operate less fuel efficient vehicles. This is a much better approach. Sure there has been public outcry about higher gas prices, but conservation is much more likely in this scenario.
Now, think about all of this in terms of universal public health care, and you'll understand why it is such BAD IDEA.
I was born a New Yorker and have lived in more places than I can count on one hand. My wanderings included a total of more than two years in Ecuador and nine years in California. The latter being significant as that is where I met the love of my life. Of course, she determined that our progeny would be the tenth generation of her family to be raised in New Mexico. So, this is where my roots will grow long.