Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Here's A Few Stories and Opinions On What People Call Obamacare...

by Roger L Simon

Amidst the brouhaha over defunding Obamacare, the government shutting down, the Republican brand plummeting as the party fractures, etc., etc., the GOP is being presented with a golden opportunity that they would be extremely wise to consider and exploit carefully — Obamacare is about to defund itself.

And this isn’t just because of the ridiculously rocky rollout of its website. The government is apparently sending for the private tech industry “fire department” in the Silicon Valley. Those folks will probably be able to unsnarl things sooner or later.

Apple, after all, was able to sell 9 million of their new iPhones in the first weekend, a figure the Affordable Care Act is unlikely to achieve ever, let alone in the first forty-eight hours.

The government hopes to have 7 million insured by March. Now several weeks after launch, less than half a million have taken only the first application step. Who knows how many have actually gotten health insurance. The government isn’t saying — and we can guess why.

Indeed, the entire fiasco is a perfect example of the efficiency of free markets over government.

But that’s obvious. What is worse for Obamacare is what happens after they actually fix HealthCare.gov. They need young people to sign up, almost three million of them, to make the system fly, to subsidize it. But why should they? Many twenty and thirty somethings are paying off $20,000-$30,000 student loans. Many others don’t have jobs. And those that do, already subsidize Social Security.  More at:

by Victor Davis Hanson

The defunding wars are over. The accusations are fading. We are back to reality. Of course, America’s long-term prospects, at least in comparison with other countries’ futures — whether in terms of demography, military power, food-production, constitutional stability, energy sources, or higher education — are bright.

But short term, we are walking over landmines that threaten to blow up the normal way of doing business, and pose far more harm for Democrats than for Republicans.

The real story about the debt is that by the end of Obama’s eight years, he will have matched the borrowing of all previous presidents combined.  Yet incredibly, the present huge sum of $17 trillion in debt is serviced at the same cost that we paid over 15 years ago. Such free use of money without raging inflation is almost historically unprecedented — and it won’t last.

Indeed, we are paying today about the same amount in aggregate annual interest payments, in non-inflation-adjusted dollars no less, as in 1997 — even though the 2012 figure of $17 trillion in debt is about three times larger than it was a decade-and-a-half ago. That anomaly is possible only because today’s interest rate of about 2.2% is only a third of what it was back then.

If interest ever returned to 1997 levels, at say 6.6%, we’d be paying over a trillion dollars a year in debt service. In crude terms, the winners of this Ponzi scheme are the very wealthy connected to Wall Street, which is flooded with foreign and domestic capital. It need not do much of anything more than outperform a pathetic 1% return on savings accounts.

The poor benefit from the vast increase in federal spending and exemption from federal income taxes. In contrast, the middle class still pays high interest on its student loans, credit card, and, to a lesser extent, car debt, receives almost no interest on its meager savings accounts, and is not so ready, after 2008, to dabble in real estate and the stock market.

In some sense, holders of U.S. Treasury debt and passbook savers are giving up hundreds of billions of dollars in interest returns (cf. the difference, say, between 1% and a more normal 5%) to subsidize the redistributive policies of the federal government.

The lack of interest, or de facto negative interest, keeps the near-retired working and hampers job prospects of the young; discourages thrift, savings and investment; and plays an underappreciated role in the slow economic recovery. The Democrats must deal with the contradiction of needing zero interest rates to service their recent extra $6 trillion in debt, and higher interest to encourage savings, investment, and job growth.  Read more at---

Tech ‘surge’ to repair Obamacare websites

The Obama administration Sunday said it’s called on “the best and brightest” tech experts from both government and the private sector to help fix the troubled website at the root of the Obamacare enrollment problems.

The unusual Sunday 600-word blog post from the Department of Health and Human Services was the first update in more than a week on the many failings of an expensive website that HHS itself described as “frustrating for many Americans.” But it didn’t specify whom the administration had called in, or when the American people would see clear-cut results on HealthCare.gov.

“We’re kind of thinking of it as a tech ‘surge,’” an HHS official told POLITICO.

The Health and Human Services statement didn’t explain everything that’s wrong, or give technical details about the repairs under way. It outlined some steps being taken to fix the site, including updates with “new code that includes bug fixes.” The department also says it’s installing monitors to catch parts of the website that are proving the most troublesome for consumers. And it also said it had seen some improvements in wait times and consumer access to the website, the online portal to health insurance exchanges or marketplaces the federal government is running in 36 states.

The administration said one essential component — the federal data hub — is working as hoped. That hub is crucial. It links federal agencies to determine an applicant’s eligibility for Obamacare coverage and subsidies. States running their own exchanges have to be able to draw on that data as well, and some of them have been doing so successfully.

The HealthCare.gov glitches are not just a high-profile embarrassment; delays could make it harder for the administration to reach its enrollment goals for Obamacare, a centerpiece of the Obama presidency. And they provide even more fodder for the intense GOP opposition to the health law which led to the government shutdown.

President Barack Obama will “directly address the technical problems with HealthCare.gov” and announce steps he’s ordered to address them at a Monday event, a White House official said Sunday. He also plans to underscore the benefits his health law will provide Americans and will be joined at the Rose Garden event by people whom the White House described as already benefiting from the law, or as helping with the outreach for people to understand and sign up for the new health coverage options.

In a separate statement Sunday evening, HHS announced some modifications to the homepage to allow consumers to get more information upfront without having to wrestle with the rest of the balky site. That includes information about health plans, subsidies and costs, as well as a directions for signing up by phone, on paper, or with in-person assistance.
you can see more here: http://www.politico.com/story/obamacare-website-fixes-hhs