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Now what they’ve raised taxes on the wealthiest Americans
what is the Democrats’ plan to address nation’s debt crisis?

Had I been a member of Congress, I would have voted against the fiscal cliff deal that passed the House earlier today.  Given the current political environment, I could accept the higher taxes on the “wealthiest Americans”, had Democrats finally agreed to real spending cuts.

But, they haven’t; they’ve just kicked the can down the road.  Democrats just aren’t willing to face the fiscal crisis facing our country, a fiscal crisis largely of their own creation.  (Until the election of a Democratic Congress in 2006, deficits had been declining for three successive years–a fact of which many Americans, including a good number of Republicans, remain ignorant.)

I haven’t been following the debate as closely as I normally follow political issues because, well, I’m on vacation and would rather spend time with my family or read a book on Hawai’ian mythology than follow politics, especially given the media coverage of this issue.

President Barack Obama effectively took us to the cliff and many in the media are giving him a free pass.  We are here because he and his Democrats ramped up spending in the first two years of his term when his party had large majorities in both houses of Congress and now are effectively asking Republicans to join them in paying for his spending spree.

And as they ramped up spending, Obama Democrats, to borrow an expression, gave us a vast expansion of the federal government they didn’t pay for.

Their fiscal irresponsibility notwithstanding, thanks in large part to the slanted coverage of the fiscal cliff negotiations — and to Speaker John Boehner’s reluctance to make the Republican case to the public — Democrats won this thing.  And not just legislatively.

But, should Republicans play their cards right, it could well prove to be a Pyrrhic victory.  In the 2012 election, Obama really only had one big issue which seemed to resonate with voters, that of raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.  He no longer has that issue and he hasn’t even begun his second term.

In a great piece on the left and the cliff, Yuval Levin concludes with the crucial questions, “Now they have gotten their tax increase, and what has it gained them but the prospect of an even slower economy? What’s their game plan?

Exactly.  What is their plan?

“Having discovered an effective political wedge in the tax debate,” Levin writes,

. . . the Democrats have now basically used it up and gotten awfully little in return. They can’t begin to acknowledge that the levels of spending they want to sustain will require a far greater tax burden on far more people (and in a far more regressive way) than today’s code, and if they can’t even state what they want out loud then they’re not likely to get it.

And Republicans need to remind Americans that if they want the goodies the Democrats keep promising, raising taxes on the rich won’t be enough to sustain them.  They need force Obama and his Democrats to confront the issue they’ve been dodging–that we can’t fund the level of government they want just by raising taxes on the “rich.”

This tax hike won’t solve the nation’s debt problem, indeed, will barely put a dent in the deficits as Levin reports that the “deal is projected to yield $620 billion in revenue over a decade—increasing projected federal revenue by about 1.7% over that time.”  (Read the whole thing.)

Bottom line is this:  Obama has tried to demagogue the debt issue, suggesting that the only problem is the “rich” not paying their “fair share.”  He knows the tax issue is toxic and has tried to style himself a tax cutter.  But, to pay for the levels of government he has proposed, it’s not enough to raise taxes not the top 2%, even as he suggested it is.  Now that he has, as Levin put it, used up this “wedge issue,” he and his Democrats will have to confront a continued sorry fiscal state of affairs.

The wedge issue gone, he can’t demagogue the supposedly low level of taxation on the wealthiest Americans.

I don’t like this deal.  It stinks, but it does deprive the Democrats of a key issue — and gives the Republicans an opportunity, if only they will take it.

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164 Comments

  1. The problem with healthcare in this country is that it’s taking up a bigger and bigger percentage of our GDP, and that these costs are driven by sicknesses and ailments that are preventable. People are eating themselves to death, and that’s really expensive.

    Comment by Levi — January 4, 2013 @ 2:22 pm – January 4, 2013

    Actually, Levi, the people who are eating themselves to death in this country are you and your fellow Obama supporters.

    And you know who’s using the most expensive health care in this country? That’s right; you and your fellow Obama supporters.

    And guess where the rate of STDs is a) highest and b) increasing? You got it: you and your fellow Obama supporters.

    So screaming and pissing Levi, when are you going to demand that you and your fellow Obama supporters stop eating bad food, stop strolling into emergency rooms, and stop having promiscuous unprotected sex?

    The short answer: Never. Your parents were stupid enough to subsidize you, and now you’re screaming and crying and pissing that society should subsidize you and your incredibly-bad choices.

    You are the problem, Levi. Facts prove it. Your lies only demonstrate what worthless, irresponsible moochers and looters Obama supporters like you are.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 4, 2013 @ 3:29 pm - January 4, 2013

  2. So, … Levi thinks that insulating people from the consequences of bad health choices by forcing other people to pay for their bad health choices is going to make health care less expensive.

    Idiotic.

    Comment by V the K — January 4, 2013 @ 3:41 pm - January 4, 2013

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  4. If Levi really cares about medical spending being too large a share of GDP (and we all know he doesn’t)… then boosting government’s role in it is exactly the wrong to do.

    We’ve been boosting government’s role in it, for six decades. That is WHY the sector is now a bloated mess. If we actually want to shrink the bloat and make medical care efficient and affordable again for ordinary Americans, then we must reverse everything we’ve done since the early 1960s, including a repeal of Obamacare, Medicaid and Medicare.

    But Levi, of course, isn’t interested in any of that: As a fascist, a worshipper of the State, all he cares about is growing government at every excuse.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — January 4, 2013 @ 5:29 pm - January 4, 2013

  5. The little fascist proclaims this whopper:

    The problem with healthcare in this country is that it’s taking up a bigger and bigger percentage of our GDP, and that these costs are driven by sicknesses and ailments that are preventable. People are eating themselves to death, and that’s really expensive. We’re devoting a huge amount of our resources and output to completely avoidable problems.

    There he goes again.

    The little fascist can not help but murder his claims by coating them in superlatives such as “completely” and “primary” and “totally” and blah, blah, blah.

    So, our society is so pampered and stupid that we are forced to devote a huge amount of our resources and output to completely avoidable problems.

    Well, little limp-synapse fascist, why do we let them vote?

    Why do we bitch that they can’t get insurance?

    Why do they get a free pass for pre-existing conditions?

    Why don’t you and your Politburo just round them up and break them of their addictions and habits?

    You kill babies without much concern. Hell, you have billboards inviting the process. You have the state workers delivering the girls right out of the schools.

    Why don’t you shackle the big mommas on the subway and haul them in for gastric by-passes? Why piddle away valuable time by banning food for everyone?

    Drugs really mess people up. Why not cage them up in communes and feed them their drugs until they rot in place?

    STD’s? Shoot them before they spread it. Or cut things off and sew things shut so they can’t penetrate.

    Damn, little fascist, you sure are weak-spined for a statist.

    But, of course, we’re devoting a huge amount of our resources and output to completely avoidable problems is just boiler plate demagoguery.

    However, I will back you up to a small extent. My wife had an MRI and lots of IV’s and medicine for five days in a hospital in Denpasar, Bali. Including the emergency room, I paid $760 for the whole treatment and testing regime. Wow!

    Here is how it worked. I rented the room from the hospital. I stayed in the room with her and took care of her. Every time I needed a nurse, I paid cash for the service. I went to the hospital pharmacy and bought the IV bag. I went to the kitchen and bought the food. I cleaned the room. I summoned the doctor and paid for each consultation. I rented the wheel chair. I sterilized the wheelchair and all eating utensils and I chased the birds and lizards out of the open-to-air windows. The President of the hospital was highly concerned that my wife receive the best of treatment and he encouraged a specialist from the medical college in Bali to treat her. I did not file for insurance when I got home, because, frankly, I considered $760 to be worth every penny in exchange for the forms and crap I would have to go through to get some piddling little bit of it back.

    [Livewire: agree?]

    Now, I was in England when my wife had another occurrence of this same condition. We went to Queen’s Hospital as they had a specialty center for the problem. I had to bull our way in by waving fists full of pounds in order to by-pass the national health bureaucracy.

    What we encountered was a filthy room with nasty equipment. The poor nurses were overwhelmed with cases and no time to be thorough, precise or even pleasant. I don’t blame them as people, they were literally overwhelmed. I quickly arranged to have my wife moved to a priority suite for which I paid 1,500 pounds per day and I rented a private nurse for an additional 200 pounds per day. Luckily, we were in and out in four days.

    This time, I used my travel insurance company and they reimbursed me the “regular” hospital rates at Queens and I lowered the bill to around 4,000 pounds out of pocket. I was darn glad to get the relief.

    I served for a number of years on the board of a non-profit doctor’s hospital. I am always open to hearing new thoughts and theories, but Progressives whining and opining are a dime a dozen.

    Understand, this is not “an appeal to authority” fallacy in logic. I hang out around the medical community and have done so around the world. Talk is cheap. The vast majority of healthcare providers are dedicated to healing and, usually, money is the farthest thing from their minds.

    People like you and me head off for hospitals on Thursday nights and early morning (the most dangerous night of the week) to handle people with wounds spurting blood and on the verge of dying. They do incredible work in saving human bodies entirely divorced from what caused their traumas. Maybe the guy is the shooter who is sent a dozen kids dying to other hospitals. That is not the point. Healing is the point.

    If you have facts of hospitals turning away the critical or dying patient, bring it on.

    If you have facts of hospitals padding the bills of patients, bring it on.

    If you have evidence of people getting into bad drugs, gunfights, stabbings, overdosing, overeating, etc. in order to run up medical costs, bring it on.

    You have succeeded in pissing me off. That is not easy. Usually, I give idiots a couple of passes. But you really do not have a clue. You seem to be hooked on perfection first and anything less is nasty, old conservative mean-spiritedness.

    [Here is how conservatives think: I was visiting Royal Perth Hospital in Western Australia and it occurred to “us” that we could have our hospitals exchange MRI and CT-scan readings done in the dead of night for each other. Their beds and our beds were nearly equivalent and it seemed like a great match. When our people were in off for the night, theirs were on for the peak of the day and vice versa. You can not begin to imagine how much we helped each other out at no “cost” to either system. That is at the heart of medicine. Not dollars, but efficient and effective care.]

    Comment by heliotrope — January 4, 2013 @ 7:07 pm - January 4, 2013

  6. Firmly agree.

    Hospitals love cash. Cash means less paperwork, means no waiting. Means no chance of human error coding the claim (or human error readin the coding) No worries about which contract applied. No worries about if the insurance information is good.

    There’s a reason hospitals offer prompt pay discounts. It’s because any reduction of bureaucracy is a force multiplier on profit.

    It’s also why smaller companies hate working in California. They need lawyers to figure out what they can cover. And those cost money that isn’t being used to pay for claims.

    Comment by The_Livewire — January 4, 2013 @ 9:59 pm - January 4, 2013

  7. You have succeeded in pissing me off. That is not easy. Usually, I give idiots a couple of passes. But you really do not have a clue. You seem to be hooked on perfection first and anything less is nasty, old conservative mean-spiritedness.

    You took that little journey on your own, buddy. All I said was that we’re spending lots of money on healthcare in this country, is that disputable? I’ve said that other countries, with different healthcare systems, seem to be able to get better results in certain metrics compared to the US, is that disputable? Your irrelevant personal anecdotes notwithstanding, you do understand that we’re lagging way behind when it comes to national health statistics, don’t you? That sucks, and I see no reason to be complacent about these terrible results that the status quo is producing.

    You’ve got some kind of personal experience and that’s great, but you’re imagining things if you believe I’ve ever suggested that doctors and hospital administrators are doing anything other than saving people’s lives.

    Comment by Levi — January 5, 2013 @ 12:53 am - January 5, 2013

  8. You took that little journey on your own, buddy. All I said was that we’re spending lots of money on healthcare in this country, is that disputable? I’ve said that other countries, with different healthcare systems, seem to be able to get better results in certain metrics compared to the US, is that disputable? Your irrelevant personal anecdotes notwithstanding, you do understand that we’re lagging way behind when it comes to national health statistics, don’t you? That sucks, and I see no reason to be complacent about these terrible results that the status quo is producing.

    And Levi, as was pointed out, all of these are the results of irresponsible and lazy behavior on the part of Obama supporters.

    You are fat because you use food stamps to purchase bad food. You drive up health care costs because you use the emergency room rather than a physician. You require more health care because you and your fellow Occupy rapists refuse to wear condoms and thus spread disease.

    In short, Levi, if you and your fellow Obama supporters changed your behavior, we wouldn’t have a problem. It’s the fact that worthless Obama liberals like you won’t make wise choices and demand that the rest of us cover your bills that drives up costs.

    And this was hilarious:

    You’ve got some kind of personal experience and that’s great, but you’re imagining things if you believe I’ve ever suggested that doctors and hospital administrators are doing anything other than saving people’s lives.

    Comment by Levi — January 5, 2013 @ 12:53 am – January 5, 2013

    Nope. Your Barack Obama, your Obama Party and you have shrieked and screamed that doctors are performing unnecessary amputations for money.

    You’re a liar, Levi. Once again, simple research has caught you in your lies, proving that conservatives are more educated, more rational, and more moral than “progressives” like yourself.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 5, 2013 @ 1:25 am - January 5, 2013

  9. All I said was that we’re spending lots of money on healthcare in this country, is that disputable? I’ve said that other countries, with different healthcare systems, seem to be able to get better results in certain metrics compared to the US, is that disputable?

    Oh. I thought this is what you said:

    Healthcare costs are so high right now because of the profit motive – companies make money by not paying for treatments. We can look all around the world and find healthcare systems that are less expensive and produce better results, and they’re all run by the government. We’ve given our system over to corporations, who’ve used their leverage and political influence to gather themselves a number of lucrative laws and policies.

    Wiki is using WHO and OECD lists which are popular with socialists, so I chose this link.

    Lets just assume the numbers are easily obtained and correct. There is not a lot of dispute concerning what constitutes health care expenditure. That is the easy one.

    But you insist that universal health care provided by the government gets more bang for the buck and in 2000 the WHO ranked the US at 38 in the world.

    But note: It was the organization’s first ever analysis of the world’s health systems. The WHO abandoned ranking processes due to academic criticism regarding the methodology and validity of rankings.

    Ooops. You see, when it comes to “quality” there is a whole ocean of disagreement. If the US has a high infant mortality rate (and it does) is it because of lousy healthcare? The US rate is 6 per live births and 1.8 in Monaco. It is 4.49 for the European Union, 4.85 in Canada and 5.94 in the Faroe Islands. You can check for yourself.

    So, there must be something behind these cold numbers. Is is lousy healthcare? Is it “universal health care”?

    Here is a nugget from an extensive CDC paper:

    Infant mortality rates were above the U.S. average for non-Hispanic black, Puerto Rican (8.30), and American Indian or Alaska Native (8.06) women.

    These differences may relate in part to differences in risk factors for infant mortality such as preterm and low birthweight delivery, socioeconomic status, access to medical care, etc. However, many of the racial and ethnic differences in infant mortality remain unexplained.

    One can look to see what the infant mortality rate is county by county in the US and time and again the problem is connected to race, the age of the mother, the family and other sociological indicators.

    (Should I commend Progressives for their single-minded efforts to get black girls to abort babies before before they become a premie or infant death statistic.)

    Nowhere that I can find in the research does anyone think that US healthcare is backwards, incomplete and to blame. The CDC can not explain it in simple terms like “we need universal health care.”

    Our permissive society has whole groups of welfare supported individuals breeding and neglecting and shooting each other and doing drugs and living in STD high risk and filling prisons and dropping out of education and generally mucking up the statistics. We even tried giving them houses they could never, ever have a chance to pay for.

    And, how do we confront the social collapse of some among us? Obamacare.

    So I ask the little fascist again why he favors killing them in the womb and lathering other people’s money on them and legalizing drugs for them and imagining that their “concerned” vote is equal to that of a dumb stiff who works for a living and pays taxes?

    The answer is plain. Egalitarianism. Just like the TSA treats every single soul who isn’t wearing a burka like a terrorist, it is important to let the homeless person crap on the sidewalk.

    We have bred a party of extra-sensitive people who are out raged at those who profile problems by stats and accomplishments or lack thereof. And when Charles Murray wrote The Bell Curve he was pilloried for daring to think that …….

    And yet, statistically, across the United States we struggle with why the lowest quintile in school district after school district is made up of people who have nearly the same profile.

    And, when we sort out who is in prison and who comes back to prison and who procreates and runs and who this and who that, the same sociological profiles keep popping up.

    Either we do what the CDC does and winnow the disease down to the cause and treat it or we look the other way and throw money into the wind and let it do good sometimes and buy more of the same most times.

    The damn fool who went ballistic because she couldn’t “buy” an iPad with food stamps is the poster child for Progressive tolerance.

    The little fascist knows no other cure than to spend other people’s money on the poor, misguided creatures who didn’t get the “good luck” gene.

    But, like the great Progressive War on Poverty, the little fascist is totally invested in absolutely knowing that universal health care run by the state socialism Politburo will move us to the top of the WHO charts. Yessiree.

    Comment by heliotrope — January 5, 2013 @ 10:29 am - January 5, 2013

  10. i will admit, I’m always impressed by heliotrope’s posts. Levi is afraid to reply to my posts shredding him because he can at least understand that he is outclassed. heliotrope’s posts are so far beyond Levi’s comprehension that he continues to make a fool of himself because he can’t see he’s lost the debate before he even tries replying.

    Comment by The_Livewire — January 5, 2013 @ 8:15 pm - January 5, 2013

  11. Livewire,

    The little fascist has Tourret syndrome. It is his own type of repetitive, stereotyped, coordinated vocalizations which are automatic responses to environmental triggers.

    Quite possibly, his Tourret syndrome stores up and makes him antsy crazy until he comes here and lets fly. When he finally feels relief, he disappears into his loons and moonbat world to get all agitated again.

    Or, maybe not.

    Comment by heliotrope — January 6, 2013 @ 11:28 am - January 6, 2013

  12. And the little fascist has redeployed to another thread.

    Comment by The_Livewire — January 7, 2013 @ 3:20 pm - January 7, 2013

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