Posts tagged ‘Deval Patrick’

Why Obamacare 2.0 is Like Cap-and-Trade

This was the trick behind cap-and-trade: Politicians know that the only real way to reduce energy usage is to raise its price much higher.  They also know that doing so would lose them their jobs, so instead of passing a simple carbon tax, they created a cap-and-trade system that would force private companies to be the bad guys.  They then try to hide this basic fact with a lot of distracting arm-waving about green jobs and wind power.

The new Obama health proposal, which looks a heck of a lot like the old Obama health proposal (same basic features, same lack of detail) plays a similar game.  Do you remember all that Obama talk about mysterious brilliant ways to reduce health care costs?  Where did they all go?  It turns out that the only real idea they had for reducing health care costs was to deny people care.  They just try to hide this with a lot of distracting arm-waving about gold-plated insurance and electronic medical records.

This denial of service is unpopular.  In fact, it is a great (and sad) irony that Obama is trying to harness anger at insurance companies that is caused mainly by denial of coverage for certain procedures with a system that will deny coverage for even more procedures.  Just like carbon taxes, Obama has fixed on a scheme where once again he sets up private enterprises to be the bad guys to give himself some sort of quasi-plausible deniability.  Obama is proposing artificial price caps on insurance premiums.  The inevitable result:

For example, as I have written elsewhere, artificially limiting premium growth allows the government to curtail spending while leaving the dirty work of withholding medical care to private insurers: "Premium caps, which Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick is currently threatening to impose, force private insurers to manage care more tightly "” i.e., to deny coverage for more services."  No doubt the Obama administration would lay the blame for coverage denials on private insurers and claim that such denials demonstrate the need for a so-called "public option."

Alan Reynolds has more.  And Peter Suderman.   And Phillip Klein points to an interesting anti-progressive angle:

Like the Senate bill, Obama's proposal doesn't include a strict employer mandate, but it does penalize businesses who do not offer insurance to workers who then get their insurance through the exchange. The Obama proposal provides more subsidies to small businesses, and helps mid-sized businesses by exempting the first 30 workers when calculating the tax, but large employers who do not offer coverage would face higher penalties under the Obama proposal. In the end, the tax will make it more expensive for large employers to hire lower income workers (who qualify for government subsidies), and thus exacerbate unemployment.

My read is that this all takes a hodge-podge mess and, uh, makes it even  hodgier-podgier.

By the way, my take is that there is only one health care cost reduction proposal worth talking about, and that is making individuals more responsible for their own health care costs, not less, thus creating incentives to do the thing we do for every other purchase we make:  shop around.

Like Me Choreographing a Ballet

I often respond to various articles that a group of politicians are going to create a strategic plan** for the local economy that this is similar to my trying to choreograph a ballet .  TJIC has similar words for this effort:

Governor Deval Patrick and Senate President Therese Murray plan to propose this week several ways to improve the Bay State's business climate, saying they need to be more aggressive in steering the region out of its economic malaise.

Both have lifelong careers in non-business sectors (government, academia, journalism, legal, non-profit).  TJIC responds:

Asking them to design programs to better the business climate is about like asking me to design menstrual pads "“ I don't understand the sector, I don't understand the features, I don't understand the problems, and there's no way that the effects of my work will ever come back to make an impact on me.

This is reminiscent of this great comment from Kevin Williamson  via Instapundit

The good news is that, when it comes to reshaping the U.S. mortgage market [any market for that matter "” ed.], the Obama administration's top guns are bringing to bear all of the brisk, rough-'n'-ready entrepreneurial know-how they picked up in their previous careers as university professors, nonprofit activists, and holders of political sinecures.

But we are spending more and more to get this "expertise", as documented in a depressing post at Carpe Diem on the growth of government employment and salaries.  One chart out of many:

fedemp

** Footnote:  About once a month we get some group lamenting that Phoenix has no master plan to create some kind of economic focus for itself.  One of the hilarious things about this is that if you go back and look, about half of the past proposals have Phoenix focusing on some super-hot industry (e.g. semiconductor manufacturing, e-commerce) that is just about to crash.  Lately, everyone has decided that Phoenix should be the center of the solar industry, because, uh, we have a lot of sun, without any particular explanation of why having a lot of sun should be an advantage in precision manufacturing and assembly of solar components.  But we are shelling out all kinds of tax breaks and subsidies for these companies to come here.  My prediction - solar will be the next ethanol.  In ethanol, increases in government subsidies caused a lot of manufacturing capacity to be built.  But subsidies could not grow as fast as capacity, and a glut resulted in a huge shakeout.  The solar boom will occur when a technology is perfected that makes solar economic without subsidies.  When that occurs, I will be the first in line to cover my roof in the new tech.

Vote For Me Because I Care

How many politicians have you heard say that they care deeply.  I hate politicians who care.  You know why?  Because the way they demonstrate that they care is by using my money against my will to help someone else.  It is a freaking slap in the face every time I hear this.

Now, government employees in Massachusetts are getting a new way to demonstrate they care at taxpayer expense:

A much-hyped program that
gives state workers up to a dozen paid days off per year to "volunteer"
in a wide variety of community activities gives another perk to
employees who already have one of the most generous benefit packages in
the country....

   A Herald analysis
shows that if the 80 employees in the governor's office took full
advantage of the program, the one-year cost would be $217,000. The
taxpayer cost just for Patrick, who makes $140,000, to take all 12 paid
volunteer days would be about $6,400. There are 50,000 state workers
eligible to participate in the program.

    "Beyond
the loss of productivity for days off, consider the cost of tasking
other state employees with making sure their co-workers aren't just
extending their weekends," said state GOP spokesman Brian Dodge. "With
bright ideas like this one, the stream of wasted money directly
attributed to Deval Patrick is quickly becoming a raging river."

Its not "volunteering" if you get paid to do it, any more than its "charity" when you give away other people's money.  (HT:  Maggie's Farm)

Each Day, A little Bit Harder

Every day, the government makes it a little bit harder to run a business.  Today's water drop in the ongoing Chinese water torture comes from TJIC up in Massachusetts

Governor Deval Patrick, returning to one of the more contentious
issues of his campaign, has begun quietly putting together a plan to
limit employers' access to the criminal records of potential employees.

Aides have been meeting with lawmakers and advocates working
to limit the scope of the Criminal Offender Record Information law,
which gives many employers broad access to criminal records. Activists
argue that many applicants are rejected for jobs based on minor
criminal convictions, crimes unrelated to the post"¦

Somehow, they are going to do this:

Patrick has not yet settled on specific legislation, an aide said, but
wants to give employers access only to criminal information that is
relevant to the job being sought.

Let me ask you readers a question:  If a company hires an employee with a criminal background who then does harm to someone (say a customer or another employee) in the workplace, who get's sued:

  1. The employee, who is held individually responsible for his own actions
  2. The employer, who hired the employee in good faith but was not able to get a reference (because lawsuits have pretty much ended the practice of giving honest information about ex-employees) and was not able to do a background check (because the government would no longer share criminal records)

If you answered "1", then you either have been in cryogenic sleep for 30 years or you have never run a business.  No hope, I suppose, of tying liability protection for employers to this legislation, I guess.

By the way, the 800 pound gorilla in the room is the war on drugs.  I am sure the concern here is that more and more white collar workers are saddled with petty drug convictions that are hurting their ability to get jobs.  I would have not problem wiping all the drug possession offenses off the record, particularly since I don't think these possession offenses should be crimes anyway.

Update: From the indispensable Overlawyered.com