20 November 2013

Listening to The Morning Briefing on SiriusXM POTUS Radio this morning, we heard Tim Farley interview Representative Cory Gardner about healthcare. Congressman Gardner represents Colorado’s Fourth District.

Among several points related to limitations of the Affordable Care Act, Congressman Gardner said that the states could do a better job when it comes to managing their citizens’ healthcare insurance. Congressman Gardner said, for example, that it would be beneficial if insurance policies would be sold across state lines.

Mr. Farley followed up the Congressman’s comment about inter-state insurance with the kind of incisive question for which Tim Farley and The Morning Briefing have become known. Here, Mr. Farley asked about challenges that might derive from differences between the states, where each state has its own set of  insurance laws.

The Congressman’s answer caught our interest.

According to Congressman Gardner, the states could work together to overcome such limitations. His idea is that the states could form agreements or alliances among themselves. This way, different insurance regulations at the level of the individual states would not cause problems among the allied states.

The advantage of this, per Congressman Gardner’s view, would be that, in using such cooperative arrangements, the states could work together to solve insurance challenges, without being forced to suffer from national intervention with our healthcare insurance.

That’s an interesting idea. One wonders that the Founding Fathers didn’t think of it.

The Idea Highlights a Key Difference between the GOP and the Democrats. Of course, where the Democrats come from, such an organization of alliances to provide for the common good among the several states already exists.

It’s the Federal Government.

(($; -)}


19 November 2013

In a Recent Austin American-Statesman editorial, Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak says I’m lying about why he wants to restrict the rights of our fellow Americans to vote:

“Increased Turnout Trumps Democrats’ ‘Suppression’ Argument”*

Okay then: fair enough. In my defense, I call Mr. Mackowiak out. In my opinion of Republican malfeasance, I am telling the truth.

It is Matt Mackowiak who is lying.

Please bear with me on this one. The defensive case to make can seem a bit convoluted:


The Republican Party wishes to impose photo I.D. laws for the sole purpose of preventing more people of Democratic American values from voting in elections throughout the country.

Given (1) how hard it is for someone else to vote using someone else’s voter registration, and (2) how easy voter fraud is to detect, and (3) given how the preponderance of the evidence supports that such fraud does not practically exist, and (4) given that even voting registrars—even some Republican registrars—insist that voter fraud is no problem and (5) that photo-I.D. laws only serve to  reduce voter turnout—

The only real reason for Republicans to promulgate costly and inconvenient Voter I.D. laws is because, to paraphrase Mr. Mackowiak, “Republicans want fewer legal votes, not more. Anyone who claims otherwise is lying.”

By the abandoned virtue of his presumptive projection, Matt Mackowiak naturally must be included in the  “lying” group.

This “presumption of guilt” on Mr. Mackowiak’s part does not just run counter to our Constitution. It also creates challenges for those who would defend against the accusations—when it is so often those first accusers who are guilty.

Take the current Obamacare controversy.

In the lead up to the bill that became the ACA, those on the Right kept saying, “Obamacare is a government takeover of healthcare! You will lose your current insurance! You will lose your doctor!”

These accusations forced the President to come out and say, “No, it’s not. No, you won’t.”

In my personal case, President Obama’s assertions have proved true. Over the course of the past year, I’ve received several notices from my insurer, describing the few, key changes that Obamacare has made to our “grandfathered” insurance plan. So what I have, as a direct result of Obamacare, is a policy that has increased about the same as, in past years or less this year than in some years, while the benefits have increased dramatically.

It’s harder to defend against and to describe untruths succinctly than it is to make originating accusations in the first place. Republicans accused Obamacare of things that are mostly untrue.This led President Obama to respond in kind. The result is now commonly taken for a lie. But the President’s words have borne out exactly as promised, for me and for millions of other self-employed, formerly under-insured Americans.

Republicans such as Matt Mackowiak accuse me of lying about their voter-suppression issues. It’s harder to defend against and to explain how wrong these Republican activists are about voter fraud than it is to make the preemptive accusations in the first place. And it’s harder to convey the case that the only benefit served by photo-I.D. laws is to suppress Democratic voters. But this, here, has been my short version of that case.

Mr. Mackowiak is a liar: the only true reason for the epidemic of photo I.D.  laws is because Republicans want fewer [Democratic] votes. Not more.

(($; -)}
*Matt Mackowiak, Austin American-Statesman, 7:00 p.m., 11/17/2013


[A Hypothetical Encounter Somewhere in the Nation’s capital]

14 NOVEMBER 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C.: In a Surprise, Imaginary Visit to the Capitol yesterday afternoon in the midst of an ongoing crisis over the Affordable Care Act Web site, President Barack Obama delivered the following address to a joint session of Congress:

“Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen, and thank you for meeting here with me, to hear my unequivocal, public apology about the ongoing situation at healthcare-dot-gov.

 “First of all, let me say it straight out: I screwed up. Now I’m busy fixing it.

“No question about it. It was my job to get this website up and running, so that millions of Americans can finally get access to the kind of healthcare insurance that Obamacare makes available. This was my job. We had an opening date of October first. The site wasn’t ready. It’s in better shape now, but it’s still not what it should be. It’s my fault. I deserve all of the blame. I screwed up.

“I’m sorry. I apologize. Words cannot convey how bad and embarrassed I feel that this happened, to my signature achievement, so deep into my watch.

“In addition to a fix, I owe you a full accounting. I intend to make sure that you get that accounting. I promise that you will have that accounting, as soon as this ACA start-up work is complete.


“But For right now—

“Hey! It’s only a website.

“And as the ‘face’ of Obamacare, with my name on it, it’s an important website.

“But still. It’s only the face. It’s not the insurance programs themselves.

“The important thing is to get the insurance policies up and running.

“Getting Obamacare up and running: that’s what my people are working on right now. Even as we speak.


“Now, we only have four more months left to do it. Only four more months, if we’re to see this thing through on time.

“And just about a month left, for people to get those first policies, that start January 1, 2014.

“Now, I realize it’s tempting, to spend a lot of time right now, figuring out how to blame the guy responsible. It’s tempting to call some people out on the carpet, and to see some heads roll. Right now!

“But we are busy right now! We have to get Obamacare up and running as soon as possible. We want millions of Americans get the solid healthcare coverage they are entitled to.

“And we still need to make that happen on time.

“When you’re aboard a ship that’s sprung a leak, you have two options:

“First, you can work to fix the leak, and keep the ship moving forward while you’re doing it.

“The second option is to sit around talking about how bad the leak is, and who caused it. Maybe make them walk the plank.

“So while you in Congress sit around, and hold hearings, and subpoena witnesses to assign blame (and we know that the blame falls on me), my people are going to keep working on patching the leak in the boat. We will keep busy, bailing and paddling. Moving the Obamacare forward.


“Hopefully, we can agree that we all want the best outcome for the American people. So in every thing we do, in the White House and here in the Capitol, blame has to come second. Because what comes first is working for the people. We are all here for one thing: to bring the American people the best outcomes possible.

“In that regard, my people and I have important work to do. We have a leaky website to fix. And then we have to make sure a bunch of insurance policies get to a bunch of our people.


“So if you’ll excuse me for the time being, Ladies and Gentlemen, I have important work to do. And right now, I’m going to get back to work.

“Thank you for your interest in the progress of the Affordable Care Act, and especially in the terrible website we put together.

“It’s still ‘All Obama’s fault.’ I can’t really tell you sorry I am about that.

“God bless America.”

12 November 2013

As “Fiscal Conservatives,” we take issue with how the “Conservative” side of American politics looks at deficit spending and debt. Here’s why:

Every year, our family takes in a certain amount of money as “income.” A portion of that income, we use to make “capital improvements” and “investments.”

A portion of funds employed for capital investments constitutes down-payments for new real estate properties, for which we take out mortgages.


If One Were to Look at selective parts of our family balance sheet, one might see:

Deficit Spending (We have added 80% of “spending” in relation to the 20% down-payment)

Increasing Debt (We have added that 80% of “debt” to the balance sheet. This debt addition may be offset by total reduction of principal on all mortgages.)

Over more than three decades of such “deficit spending,” our debt-to-equity ratio is less than 50%.

Any political “Conservative” might say that we are “spending” ourselves to ruin, and that we risk leaving a mountain of debt to our children and grandchildren.

Our children don’t mind.

(($; -)}

[NOTE: The above post on “deficit spending” was prompted by our reading of Why The Most Important Budget Event Of The Year Has Had No Impact, which was posted earlier today by Stan Collender, at “StanCollender’s Capital Gains and Games.


10 November 2013

 10 November 2013

The Best Way to buy ACA insurance is the best way to buy an airline ticket on Kayak or Expedia: do your comparison shopping on the website, and then contact your chosen provider directly.

You can create an account on healthcare.gov, log on, and shop for the policy you want.

Once you’ve narrowed down your options, call the insurer or insurers directly. These are helpful, sales-motivated people who will give you all the information you need, and then walk you through the application process.

Just as When Working with any “sales-motivated people,” it’s best to know ahead of time what you plan to choose.

On the other hand, one great thing about Obamacare:

If you don’t like what you end up with this first go-around, you are free to change it a year from now. Such an easy way of comparison shopping and of changing policies never used to be available.

But now there’s better policies and the convenience of Obamacare.


(($; -)}