Best tweets of the health care presser

twitcigSix months ago I said that I didn’t “get” Twitter — well, now I do. Perhaps too much.

Twitter serves many purposes. It’s like a constant thought stream, a way to keep track of your friends and, for me anyway, it can replace RSS readers.

During President Obama’s press conference last night, it served as a great live-blog featuring who knows how many people.

Here’s some tweets from the presser I found particularly amusing (which helps when you’re watching a press conference in which the president essentially says nothing new, important or engaging).

  • @HeyTammyBruce: If we had UrkelCare, Gidget, the Taco Bell Chihuahua, wouldn’t be dead right now.
  • @drstrangelove17: Obama mentioned the blue pill vs. The red pill! THE MATRIX IS REAL! Haha. Just… kidding. (maybe)
  • @allahpundit: There’s nothing quite like getting a health lecture from a guy with a smoking habit, is there?
  • @pinkelephantpun: Oh here we go, he may actually answer…. oh. Wait. No.
  • @mkhammer: “Maybe you’re better off not getting your tonsils taken out, kid. Maybe you should take pain killers.”
  • @andylevy: Dr. Obama: Maybe you don’t need your tonsils removed. Maybe you have allergies. Let’s check with a bureaucrat!
  • @CalebHowe: Tonsil-profiteering is one of the seven scourges of the economy, second only to the nutritionist-gap.
  • @jimgeraghty: I could be completely wrong, but I think the body language of the press corps suggests that they want to chant “bull-****” in unison.
  • @lehmannchris: Potus vows that Americans “won’t have to pay for things that don’t make them healthier” FREE CIGARETTES!!
  • @CalebHowe: So, you know, in summary. I’m the president. This is my house. George Bush. Tonsil-profiteering, and get a nutrionist! Clear?
  • @andylevy: Everytime I hear “And I mean it,” my immediate response is “Anybody want a peanut?”
  • @IMAO_: Missed the speech because we were hosting Bible study. You know – stuff about the other savior.
  • @mkhammer: My presser headline: Obama touts his ground-breaking transparency practice of… appearing on C-SPAN.
  • @daveweigel: Wait, I missed the presser. Is Obama going to ration health care for white cops or something?

And if you want to follow me on Twitter, I’m @rockmycar.


Public option: good enough for us, but not for them

greggLast week the Senate committee drafting the upper house’s version of health care reform barely passed a provision that would require Congress to enroll in the “public option” and forgo their current health insurance program.

Ten of the 11 who voted against the amendment were Democrats:

In the health debate, liberals sing Hari Krishnas to the “public option” — a new federal insurance program like Medicare — but if it’s good enough for the middle class, then surely it’s good enough for the political class too? As it happens, more than a few Democrats disagree.

On Tuesday, the Senate health committee voted 12-11 in favor of a two-page amendment courtesy of Republican Tom Coburn that would require all Members and their staffs to enroll in any new government-run health plan. Yet all Democrats — with the exceptions of acting chairman Chris Dodd, Barbara Mikulski and Ted Kennedy via proxy — voted nay.

In other words, Sherrod Brown and Sheldon Whitehouse won’t themselves join a plan that “will offer benefits that are as good as those available through private insurance plans — or better,” as the Ohio and Rhode Island liberals put it in a recent op-ed. And even a self-described socialist like Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, who supports a government-only system, wouldn’t sign himself up.

Rep. John Fleming is proposing a similar amendment in the House.

How quickly will the “public option” die if liberals in Congress are forced to sign up?

The only Republican senator to vote agains the provision was Judd Gregg, who said it “will be so bad that I don’t think anyone should be forced to join.”

Is it any wonder Gregg decided not to take that commerce job?


Stimulus: Like Special Olympics

obama-bowlingRemember back in January and February how imperitive it was for Congress to pass the $787 billion economic stimulus package? President Obama constantly repeated his refrain that the U.S. had to move “swiftly and boldly” to get the economy back on track. He told us it would quickly create millions of jobs.

Now the White House is walking all of that back, claiming the “stimulus” was never actually intended to “stimulate” anything.

You can’t blame the president, really. The numbers show that, clearly, the stimulus hasn’t provided any kind of measurable boost to the economy thus far. The U.S. is still hemorrhaging jobs — the very thing the stimulus was supposed to provide, to the tune of 3 million or so, according to the presidet at the time.

The walk-back began last weekend, during the president’s weekly address. He said:

Now, I realize that when we passed this Recovery Act, there were those who felt that doing nothing was somehow an answer.  Today, some of those same critics are already judging the effort a failure although they have yet to offer a plausible alternative.  Others believed that the recovery plan should have been even larger, and are already calling for a second recovery plan.

But, as I made clear at the time it was passed, the Recovery Act was not designed to work in four months – it was designed to work over two years.  We also knew that it would take some time for the money to get out the door, because we are committed to spending it in a way that is effective and transparent.  Crucially, this is a plan that will also accelerate greatly throughout the summer and the fall.  We must let it work the way it’s supposed to, with the understanding that in any recession, unemployment tends to recover more slowly than other measures of economic activity.

It’s a lie to say that he “made clear at the time it was passed” that it would not work in four months. In fact, he repeatedly said it would create jobs “immediately,” as this ad from congressional Republicans illustrates:

Then, in off-camera interviews on Thursday (off-camera so they couldn’t be used in ads like the one above, maybe?), administration officials attempted to say the stimulus was only meant to soften the economic fall. As the president’s chief spinner, Robert Gibbs, said:

This legislation was designed to cushion the downturn. That’s why we have always talked about this as one function of economic recovery.

Please. When the president was pitching the bill, he said:

That is why I have moved quickly to work with my economic team and leaders of both parties on an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that will immediately jumpstart job creation and long-term growth.

What’s more, the White House continued to refer to it as a “stimulus” up until Thursday’s off-camera interviews.

Is it any wonder that Larry Summers uses Google trends to judge how well the stimulus is working?

The fact is, congressional Republicans were right. The stimulus bill had very little to do with stimulating the economy, and more to do with funding pet projects, expanding the size of government and rewarding Democratic contributors.

The question for everyone now is: Should we continue to believe the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress as they proceed to “reform” health care? The Congressional Budget Office — which typically underestimates the cost of new government programs — says the health care bill will end up increasing costs, not lowering them, as Obama says his “reform” will do.

Should we believe the administration when it says cap-and-trade will create jobs and “stimulate” the economy?

The answer is “no.”

The vice president famously said the adminsitration misread the economy. Not only did they misread the economy, they prescribed a solution that did nothing but help create the largest U.S. deficit in history.

We shouldn’t have any confidence in their health care promises. President Obama and his administration have shown they don’t know what they’re talking about or what they’re doing.

After the health care plan doesn’t work, will the president tell us it was never meant to “reform” health care?


Say goodbye to your health care

If you believe the dribble from President Obama and the Democrats in Congress that everyone who’s happy with their current health insurance will be able to keep it under their “reforms,” then I’ve got 3 million jobs created under the stimulus for you and your friends to take.

The “keep your happy insurance” mantra was a complete lie to begin with, but with the proposal released today by Sens. Chris Dodd and Ted Kennedy (well, his staff) we can see just how foolish and math-deficient the goons pushing the government plan really are.

The new Dodd-Kennedy plan comes in with an initial cost estimate that’s about $400 billion below the Congressional Budget Office’s $1 trillion price tag during the next decade from the initial proposal. While that estimate is definitely going to get bigger, it’s not the important part of the new plan.

Here’s the fun part:

Committee staffers reworked the bill — and added a new provision requiring most employers to contribute to the cost of health insurance — to arrive at the lower estimate. Under the new proposal, any business with more than 25 workers would be required to offer coverage or pay a $750 penalty per employee.

Gee. This sounds strikingly familiar.

Back in 2007, California’s esteemed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a similar plan. He would have required all employers in the state to provide health insurance for their employees or pay a 4 percent fine to the state to cover them instead.

After Schwarzenegger (really, we want to follow his lead?) proposed his plan, the publisher of the paper at which I was working remarked in a meeting that it was good news — he would have been more than willing to pay a mere 4 percent to the state than pay to provide insurance for all of us working in his newsroom.

The new, Obama-Dodd-Kennedy plan would have the same effect. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2003 American businesses spent between 6 percent and 9 percent of their payroll on health insurance. Going with the lower number, everyone working at any given company would need to make less than $13,000 a year for the $750 penalty to cost our bosses more than providing private insurance.

I remember back when I settled on making $13,000 a year. I think I had just turned 18 and demanded that I could take my summers off.

Median household income in the U.S. in 2007 was just over $50,000 a year. If that’s a two-income household, then employers are paying $1,500 to insure each of the two employees — about double the new fee for government to provide insurance. And again, that’s using the smaller estimate of how much employers spend to provide health insurance.

If you run a business, this will be an easy decision. Pay $1,500 per person in your employ and deal with the hassles of finding them an H.M.O., or pay half that amount to the federal government to do the job for you?

This is where Dodd’s and Kennedy’s numbers really go off the rails. They claim their plan will cost $611 billion during the next 10 years to provide coverage for a mere 39 percent of Americans who don’t have health insurance. Once companies begin dumping their employees into the federal system, just wait for the costs to balloon. There will be a lot more than 39 percent of the currently uninsured waiting in line at the government’s new medical clinics.

President Obama’s other health care lie is that all he wants to do is inject some more competition into the market — give those evil insurance companies a run for their money. “They need to be more competitive,” he says.

This plan is anything but about competition. If Obama thinks this is going to save health care in this country, spur the economy — as he said today — and make the market more competitive, then maybe he really did campaign in 57 states.