Update on the Waxman-Markey climate change bill: House energy bill gains support

Unfortunately some of those supporters fail even the the ecoweenie test. Case in point: Debbie Halvorson (from IL):

A presidential phone call helped win at least one vote: Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-Ill.), a freshman lawmaker and former state senate colleague of Obama’s, said Thursday evening that after months of indecision, she “feels great” about the bill.

Here’s why she feels so great about it:

“I think it’s something that I’m going to support,” Halvorson said. “It’s a thousand-page bill. It has a lot of amendments. I wanted to read it, take my time.” Later, she added: “I had a nice chat with the president this morning.”

Well, hell, why wouldn’t you support a thousand page bill with lots of amendments that you’ve never read after “a nice chat” with the president.

You know, this shit writes itself. Today’s contributor is none other than President Barack Obama. In his press conference today, he threw his support behind the Waxman-Markey climate change bill. And he is supposed to be the smartest guy in Washington:

At a time of great fiscal challenges, this legislation is paid for by the polluters who currently emit the dangerous carbon emissions that contaminate the water we drink and pollute the air we breathe.

I’m no science whiz but the water I drink hasn’t turned into Perrier yet. And I’m confused. Am I included in the “polluter” category because I am emitting “dangerous” emissions that “pollute the air we breathe” by breathing out?

In the end I suppose it doesn’t matter. I will pay for it.

T-word

June 18, 2009

I love this title from NPR on the cost of Obama-care:

T-Word Looms Large In Health Care Cost Debate The T-word they are talking about is trillion.

Despite reassurances by President Obama and Democratic leaders that all new spending would be fully offset by other spending cuts or tax increases, Republicans immediately jumped on the T-word.

Now saying trillion is akin to swearing. Like N-word or B-word.

And it’s soap in the mouth for the head of the (nonpartisan) CBO :

According to our preliminary assessment, enacting the proposal would result in a net increase in federal budget deficits of about $1.0 trillion over the 2010-2019 period. When fully implemented, about 39 million individuals would obtain coverage through the new insurance exchanges. At the same time, the number of people who had coverage through an employer would decline by about 15 million (or roughly 10 percent), and coverage from other sources would fall by about 8 million, so the net decrease in the number of people uninsured would be about 16 million or 17 million

The full report here.

WTF? One t-word dollars (over ten years) and we will reduce the number of uninsured by only 17 m-word people? It works both ways right? F-word that.

Why not give one trillion dollars to the uninsured so they can buy their own insurance. The number of uninsured people in the US is roughly 48 million. If you split up the cost of this part of the Obama plan, an uninsured family of four would get over $8,000 a year to pay for insurance. If you take out the uninsured that already would be covered by Medicaid but haven’t applied, that number falls to 31 million. That means a family of four would get almost $13,000 a year. If you want to be harsh and subtract out illegal immigrants without health insurance, the amount rises to $17,000 a year. That should be enough to buy you some decent insurance.

Doing something

June 10, 2009

Frequent commenter (and all around good guy) Dave’s response to my last post inspired this post. His comment (referring to global warming/climate change/CLIMATE CRISIS!)

Doing something about a problem is better than doing nothing.

I’ve heard this a lot recently. This “doing something” must be important. I guess if you are “doing something”, that means you care. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if “doing something” is an effective way of reducing the problem. It doesn’t matter how much “doing something” costs. It doesn’t matter that “doing something” might actually do more harm than good. The important thing is that you are “doing something”.

A recent example: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. President Obama said we had to “do something” (or else) to save and/or create new jobs. If we didn’t do something right now it would get worse. Here are the results:

unenployment

So much for “doing something”.

I support doing things that may make actual differences, not just feel good measures that, in the end, could do more harm than good.

I’ve been seeing these signs pop up all over the place (how much do they cost?):
stimulus sign

But I haven’t seen anyone working. And I haven’t seen any of this:

Read the rest of this entry »

I like Ike

May 25, 2009

ike
You might remember the famous warning about “the military industrial complex” that President Eisenhower expressed when leaving office:

But yet this quote from that same speech is largely ignored:

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

Is it just me or does “global warming” research follow this pattern?

Bjorn Lomborg (my favorite Dane) has an excellent piece in the WSJ on the subject. His main point:

We are told that very expensive carbon regulations are the only way to respond to global warming, despite ample evidence that this approach does not pass a basic cost-benefit test. We must ask whether a “climate-industrial complex” is emerging, pressing taxpayers to fork over money to please those who stand to gain.

Shell game

May 12, 2009

My last post dealt with basic understanding of government proposals. I’m not surprised that more people don’t understand what is going on when I read stories like this: Report: Medicare fund eight years from insolvency

The opening line (emphasis mine):

Spurring new demands to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system, Medicare trustees announced Tuesday that the program’s biggest fund for serving the elderly would run out of money in just eight years.

Run out of money? Who are you kidding?

Someone needs to tell the LA Times that there isn’t a stash of money in the Medicare Trust Fund that will “run out” anytime soon (same goes for the Social Security Trust Fund). Both “trust funds” consist entirely of government bonds ie debt.

Here is the difference between now and when the trust fund “runs out of money”:

Now: Tax payments to Medicare by current taxpayers don’t cover cash payments to retirees. The balance due is paid by the general fund or borrowing.

After the trust fund is depleted: Tax payments to Medicare by current taxpayers don’t cover cash payments to retirees. The balance due is paid by the general fund or borrowing.

The trust funds are political fiction.