Morning Reads for Tuesday, January 24th

Here in Georgia…
– Don’t get too excited, birthers, Obama isn’t likely coming to court.
– Are we still supposed to act like Occupy Atlanta exists?
– The state Board of Natural Resources will enact new regulations to protect Georgia’s freshwater turtles.
– The author (also the publisher of the paper) of the controversial column suggesting Israel assassinate Barack Obama has resigned.
– Some Georgia legislators are pushing for a Constitution Convention to enact a federal Balanced Budget Amendment.

National stories of interest…
– There were fireworks in last night’s debate between Gingrich and Romney.
– Romney has released his tax returns.
– And in case you haven’t seen it, Romney has released a brutal ad against Gingrich in Florida.
– The Supreme Court has turned down a request for debate over whether Justice Elena Kagan should recuse herself from the ObamaCare case.
– Want an idea of what Obama would do in a second term? Here’s an idea.
– Speaker John Boehner says that the GOP will hold the House for the next decade.

A few that I like…
– The Atlanta Braves will cut concession prices for season ticket holders for the 2012 season.
– People take football way too seriously.


  1. John Konop says:

    Newt told us last night at the debate, he is very proud how he was paid by drug companies to help pass Medicare part d that will BK the country? He also said it is free market system for tax payers to put out 4 dollars for every 1 dollar a senior pays for drugs. WOW and Newt calls Obama a socialist? This bill makes Obama/care look like a tip at the bar compared to Newt/Part D care! How is this conservative?

    ………..As bad as that is, however, Social Security’s problems are trivial compared to Medicare’s. Its trustees also issued a report this week. On page 69 we see that just part A of that program, which pays for hospital care, has an unfunded liability of $36.4 trillion in perpetuity. The payroll tax rate would have to rise by 6.5% immediately to cover that shortfall or 2.8% of GDP forever. Thus every taxpayer would face a 28% increase in their income taxes if general revenues were used to pay future Medicare part A benefits that have been promised over and above revenues from the Medicare tax.

    But this is just the beginning of Medicare’s problems, because it also has two other programs: part B, which covers doctor’s visits, and part D, which pays for prescription drugs.
    The unfunded portion of Medicare part B is already covered by general revenues under current law. The present value of that is $37 trillion or 2.8% of GDP in perpetuity according to the trustees report (p. 111). The unfunded portion of Medicare part D, which was rammed into law by George W. Bush and a Republican Congress in 2003, is also covered by general revenues under current law and has a present value of $15.5 trillion or 1.2% of GDP forever (p. 127)………

    • Three Jack says:

      John, Newt didn’t say it the way you put it in your post. He stated that he supported Part D because it would be smarter to provide preventive or treatment medications vs. costly surgery and/or hospital stays. The bill also included HSAs which are supported by most conservatives.

      You have adamantly opposed my position of gradually ending SS, MediXXXX and all other redistribution handout programs. But yet you criticize those who try to find better methods of delivering service under these programs. You can’t have it both ways John…the only real solution is to get government out of the medical/food/housing/daycare businesses. Otherwise politicians and bureaucrats will find ways to ‘improve’ the programs. Unfortunately there is not a candidate willing to step up and call for an end to social welfare programs so we’re left with picking the person who may actually challenge the status quo upon taking office…Newt definitely has a history of doing that.

    • peachstealth says:

      I supported part D for one simple reason.
      I have seen physicians keep elderly patients in the hospital for a day or two longer than was actually necessary because he knew if he discharged them, they couldn’t afford to stay on their medication which was paid for as long as they were inpatients.
      I was in hope part D would shorten or eliminate some hospital stays thus at least partially pay for itself through savings to traditional medicare.

  2. John Konop says:

    ………….GINGRICH: I publicly favored Medicare Part D for a practical reason. That reason is simple. The U.S. government was not prepared to give people anything — insulin, for example. But they would pay for kidney dialysis. They weren’t prepared to give Lipitor but they would pay for open heart surgery. That’s a terrible way to run medicare. I’ll say this in Florida. I’m proud that I publicly advocated Medicare Part D. It saved lives. It’s run on a free enterprise model, includes health savings accounts and includes Medicare alternatives which gave people choices. ………………………

    Above is what Newt said.

    1) Creating a business model that will BK the country to solve a healthcare problem is not rational in my opinion.

    2) All we needed to do is create public exchanges for businesses, individuals….. and allow the exchange to co-op buy drugs with the VA. This would of saved tax payers on average 58% on drugs. Instead the people who paid Newt (drug companies) got a 58% increase on drugs via his lobbying effort, which 80% is paid by tax payers and 20% paid by seniors. It would also saved 20% on healthcare cost by allowing the groups to self insure.

    3) Newt hurt more people than he helped by creating a staggering debt via Medicare part d.

    4) Anyone who reads this blog knows I have been advocating for public exchanges for a long time. A public exchange really is capitalism by allowing people to form self insured policies that compete with traditional insurance model. And the concept of co-op purchasing by associations, groups…….is called SMART BUSINESS.

    • Three Jack says:

      John’s version of what Newt said — “Newt told us last night at the debate, he is very proud how he was paid by drug companies to help pass Medicare part d…”

      Newt actually said (posted by John in response to my earlier challenge) — “I publicly favored Medicare Part D for a practical reason. That reason is simple. The U.S. government was not prepared to give people anything — insulin, for example. But they would pay for kidney dialysis. They weren’t prepared to give Lipitor but they would pay for open heart surgery. That’s a terrible way to run medicare.”

      Thanks for corroborating my point John. Newt also said he never lobbied on anybody’s behalf…if you have proof otherwise, please provide (I’m sure there are campaigns salivating over such information).

      Your solution is to get government more involved by forcing citizens into government run exchanges. Sorry John, we will just have to disagree on this one because I believe based on years of failed government attempts at running parts or all of our healthcare there is no logical basis on which to expand government’s role. We need to end SS, MediXXXX as soon as feasibly possible to be replaced by an alternative that does not include government as middle man.

      • John Konop says:

        Bart you are clueless on this issue! Public exchanges is a conservative idea and it does not force people into exchanges. It gives small business and individuals the right and option to form large pools as well as self-insure. You are way off the deep-end on this issue.


        ……I am proud of the fact — and I’ll say this in Florida — I’m proud of the fact that I publicly, openly advocated Medicare Part D. It has saved lives. It’s run on a free enterprise model…..

        • John Konop says:

          BTW Bart help me understand a “free enterprise model” that has tax payers foot 80% of the bill for seniors? And the bill does not allow Seniors to negotiate prices on mass like most companies, co-ops, associations…………… You and NEWT have a bizarre view on capitalism……………

          • Three Jack says:

            John, as I posted earlier sans the name calling, we will simply have to disagree on this issue because unlike you, I don’t want government involved. If a person wants to get their individual policy through a private (vs. public) exchange, then join a local chamber of commerce.

            As far as Newt saying what he said, you can misconstrue it all you want, but he never said anything about being proud to support something because he got paid to do so. In fact, he said just the opposite.

            Might be simpler for you to just say ‘Newt sux’ and get on with supporting whoever it is that meets your criteria.

            • John Konop says:

              In all due respect Bart, you are confused about how a exchange works with healthcare.

              1) The chamber does not have a self insurance product in Georgia.

              2) Why should a person be forced to join an organization even if they had the product to be able to pool with other individuals and or companies?

              3) The government involvement in an exchange is no different than how they deal with insurance companies today. You do understand how an exchange works?

              4) Obviously I was be sarcastic, with my comment about Newt. Do you think Newt should be proud of Medicare part d?

              • Three Jack says:

                John, I understand public and private exchanges, no confusion here. And again I re-emphasize my position that we should be striving to eliminate government involvement in healthcare. So no matter how you want to frame it, we will not agree because you base your support of exchanges on a government/public model.

                If an individual wants to join a private healthcare exchange, they can signup at today…no need for government assistance or new laws.

                I think Newt should be proud of whatever makes him proud. I was/am strongly opposed to Part D, but he does make a decent case for why he supported the legislation. He has done far more good than bad over his career, so I look at the entire history instead of a few lapses in judgement over a 30+ year career.

                • John Konop says:

                  ….If an individual wants to join a private healthcare exchange, they can signup at today…no need for government assistance or new laws….

                  That is not a self-insured exchange. The product they sell is regulated just like an exchange. What an exchange does is allow groups of people, companies….form their own insurance conmpany at their option ie that is why you would save around 20%. The key is you need enough people to make the system work ie PUBLIC EXCHANGE

                  • Three Jack says:

                    John, the site I referenced allows groups, small businesses, etc. to purchase insurance. It is a private exchange offering everything you want, no need for an Obama public version.

                    Of all the definitions I found for healthcare exchange, not one mentions ‘forming their own insurance company’ to save 20%. Exchange is simply a single location for everybody to purchase from various companies thus increasing buying power.

                    • benevolus says:

                      As I understand it, the exchange being implemented by the government is voluntary for both insurers and customers. But if an insurer wants to list there, their policy must meet certain minimum requirements. That way, customers know that if they buy through the exchange they will at least get that coverage.
                      Insurance policies can be complicated and difficult to understand. This is just a way to establish some basic minimum standards that people can rely on. Individual states currently have minimum standards (or not), but they vary widely and the minimum standards aren’t well known, and there isn’t a good way to compare policies. This just creates a nationwide standard that people and companies can agree to participate in or not. Nothing prevents companies from offering policies outside the exchange or people from buying policies outside the exchange.

  3. peachstealth says:

    As long as you’re going to have a constitutional convention, how about addressing term limits for members of congress and recess appointments?
    Lots of freshman congressmen go to Washington intending to change it. After a few years it is always Washington that changes them. As someone said, members of congress and diapers should be changed often, and for the same reason
    Back in the days of travel by horseback and congress only being in session for a few months a year, recess appointments were necessary. Today if we keep them at all they should be for no more than six months after congress goes beck into session and congress should be required to vote on the appointment during that time.

    • David C says:

      Term limits are an awful idea. Two words: Institutional memory. If you limit legislators to only 6 or 8 years in office, pretty soon the only people who will now how to get anything done are the lobbyists. You look at state legislatures like California, where people are only there six years, and you have no one who knows how to do anything. Further, anyone with a salt of ambition has one eye out the door from the moment they arrive, because otherwise they’re toast in six years. Like any job, legislating has particular skill and requires experience and practice to get good at it. Indeed, it’s hard for a Congressman from a particular district to really gain expert knowledge of things like the armed services, national security, intelligence, or foreign policy except through service in the Congress. (People who arrive in the House or Senate with a strong background in those fields are rare.) The country benefits from having statesmen in the legislature who know how to get things done, and who understand the fields that they’re legislating and providing oversight on. Richard Russell, Carl Vinson, and Sam Nunn served Georgia and our armed forces well for decades. If you want someone out of office, vote them out. Deciding that no one in the Congress should really know anything about their job because otherwise it means they’ve “gone Washington” is just sillyness.

      • seenbetrdayz says:

        I think it would be great to have people in Washington who don’t know how to do anything. I’d like to know exactly how we’ve benefited from having skilled politicians in Washington, versus how much we’ve suffered for that same reason.

        But, let me say, I’m not sure that term limits would help. That tends to interfere with the right of the people to get the government they deserve — and to get it good and hard.

      • benevolus says:

        Term limits are a way for people to remove other peoples representatives.
        If you don’t like your rep, get active and get rid of them. You should have no say on whether another district wants to keep their rep or not.

        • cheapseats says:

          Excellent! I don’t know if you made that up but I gotta give props.

          Best post I’ve read here in a very long time!

  4. Three Jack says:

    Absolute scariest idea — Constitution Convention. The GOP would forever regret it because a Constition Convention would open the door for all kinds of shenanigans leaving the original document shredded and scattered all over the country.

    Instead of wasting all this time trying to force a BBA, why not just do their jobs and balance the freakin budget (it has happened in our lifetimes as Newt constantly reminds us — 4 times!). The House should put forth a balanced budget by June, let the dem lead senate vote it down then campaign on the issue until November.

  5. ricstewart says:

    My biggest problem with a balanced budget amendment and term limits is that it gives people a way to abdicate their responsibility to be civically engaged.
    People don’t want to do their civic duty to elect fiscally responsible elected officials and oust politicians that have become ineffective, so they take the lazy way out: pushing term limits and balanced budget amendments.

    • David C says:

      Plus it’s the kind of hard rule that leaves out important flexibility. There are good lawmakers who serve a really long time doing good. Some times you need to run a deficit, especially in a recession or a needed war. Very rarely is life or governing a series of hard absolute choices. Making iron clad rules, then enshrining those rules in the Constitution, is a horrible, horrible idea.

    • analogkid says:

      I would argue that the opposite is actually true. Without a BBA, taxes are not raised and services/ expenses/ defense are not cut. Thus, those on both ends of the spectrum have no pressing need to be engaged in the process. Implement a BBA and instantly those on the right are faced with higher taxes and fewer recreational wars, and those on the left are faced with fewer services and giveaways.

      Voters shouldn’t have to explain to legislators how to balance a budget. They expect them to already know, because voters themselves do it every day at their kitchen tables. When legislators are forced to decide between A or B (because you can’t fund both without raising taxes), that’s when they will truly begin to make the decisions they are paid to make. It will also be the point where every voter begins to care about actual policy issues and how they will be paid for.

      Just my 2 cents.

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