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The GOP seems to be in the middle of an identity crisis.  They’re looking to re-brand and re-package their message to motivate the base back to the tent.

The biggest problem, in my mind, is that they haven’t simply had a few bad years – they’ve totally lost their way and no amount of re-packaging and re-branding is going to do much until they get back to basics.

The number one basic they’ve totally lost sight of – LIMITED GOVERNMENT.

Not only have they abandon the very principle, they’ve reached a point where they’re really no better than Democrats when it comes to spending, expanding government and imposing more regulations on individuals lives.  These days the Democrats and Republicans really are no more than two-sides of the same coin, with very little difference at the end of the day in how they actually operate.

Actions speak louder than words.

If you say you’re conservative and want limited government, but then spend like there is no tomorrow, increase the size of government and such – well, your actions betray you – you’re no better than the tax and spend Democrat you’re attempting to win against!  In fact, you’re just a tax-and-spend politician calling yourself a Republican.

The Republicans can try to re-brand – but until they start to frame things based on conservative principles, they won’t get much traction with the populace since they’ve allowed themselves to be sucked in by the idea that the government should be regulating social issues, medical procedures and ideas.  They’ve allowed themselves to come to the belief that the Federal Government should be calling the shots, when the reality is that so much of what’s been going on in Washington should have been left to the states to decide.

Until the Republicans start to frame things in terms of how a particular issue involves government, little is going to change and I won’t be voting Republican.  (I won’t be voting Democrat either)

A good example of what I’m talking about – the stimulus package.  Both Democrats and Republicans started from the point of the stimulus package as being a done deal, the quibble was in the details of just how much money they’d spend and on what it would be spent. 

The Republicans failed to step up and clearly articulate that stimulating the economy was not the job of the Federal government; that if anything, the Federal government should be looking for ways to encourage the private sector to work things out so that the economy could get moving again.  They didn’t do this, instead they simply argued over how much money to spend and where.  They joined the chorus of doomsday, that without the stimulus package, the US would collapse.  They joined the Democrats and worked together to achieve the goal to spend more and expand the government rather than step-up and do their duty to work to limit government.

If the Republicans want to get back on track and get back the base of voters whom are truly conservative – their question for each issue MUST be: 

WHY IS THIS SOMETHING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHOULD DO? 

And then:

WHERE IS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TASKED WITH DOING THIS?

If they can answer the “why” but can’t answer where they’re justified, they need to step back and hold the position that for whatever the issue is, it’s not the business of the Federal government. 

Period.

End of Story.

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President Obama decided that three pressing issues require attention this year – healthcare, energy and education; curiously, each sector is among the best performers in the current economic climate.

With regard to healthcare, we’re spoon-fed the idea that our healthcare costs are out-of-control, that we have too many uninsured among us, that we spend an astronomical amount compared to other nations ($7,439 per person on average), and that we need to overhaul the entire system to not only deliver healthcare to all but to also reduce costs.

For a while now I’ve been trying my best to fully understand why this is now a centerpiece issue for the new administration. While many are quickly concluding that this is due to Obama looking to socialize medicine in the United States, I think it’s something else.

Something that few are willing to seriously discuss.

Why exactly might the government be pressing so hard to reform healthcare now?

The most compelling reason may be the fact taht while government programs provide coverage to 27.8% of the population, government spending accounts for 45% of all healthcare expenditures in the United States.

Basically the government is in a terrible financial position at the moment, and the situation isn’t getting better, it’s getting worse.

One quick and clever way to fix the problem is to make the issue a crisis for all of us, make it appear we’re all paying too much, getting too little and the government is able to resolve this problem.

And the way they’re going to attempt to resolve this is by sucking healthy people into the government system, to capture dollars that would otherwise be spent in the private sector – where private insurance is held by 67.5% of the population with expenditures toward healthcare costs at about 43% of the total expenditures in the United States and the remaining 12% are out-of-pocket as either co-pays, deductibles and/or those without insurance paying for their medical services.

So here we have:

Government programs – 27.8% of population; 45% of spending
Private insurance – 67.5% of population; 43% of spending
Out-of-pocket – 12% of spending

The government obviously has a problem and despite lowering reimbursements, shifting administration costs to the private sector, increasing compliance requirements for reimbursement and a host of other ways to frustrate the system, it has not, and can not reduce its financial load without healthy individuals contributing toward its ever increasing burden with our aging population.

Some interesting statistics that you won’t find all in one place, but need to go searching to bring the puzzle pieces together for a look at the bigger picture here:

80% of Americans utilize less than $1200 a year in healthcare services
10% of Americans utilize $1200 to $3500 a year in healthcare services
10% of Americans utilize more than $3500 a year in healthcare services

5% of Americans utilize more than 50% of all healthcare costs each year
1% of Americans utilize more than 27% of all healthcare costs each year

In 2007, medicare spent an average $5,694 per beneficiary on healthcare, medicaid spent $6,120 per beneficiary. That’s just “average” though and does not include that medicare spends an average $22,107 per beneficiary in their last year of life or the $14,858 for blind/disabled beneficiaries with medicaid and $14,058 on aged beneficiaries with medicaid in addition to medicare!

Is it any wonder seniors and senior advocacy groups are concerned about how various changes will impact those 65 and older?

As it is right now we have about 40 million seniors in the United States – in ten years it’s projected we’ll have 55 million, and even if we increase the age of eligibility for medicare, the projected 25% increase of eligible seniors is untenable – unless the government can convince us to suck healthy individuals into its system to capture those dollars.

When we begin to look at the even bigger picture – the $5,400 average for an individual health insurance policy and the $12,500 for a family policy, the bucks start to add up very quickly as we realize that if that money is captured by the government, effectively taken out of the private sector, it’ll be a boondoggle for the government financially – especially when you consider that 80% of the population needs less than $1,200 a year in healthcare.

When you do the math, it’s a no-brainer why the government is so hot on reforming healthcare – taking control of the current flow of money that’s within the private health insurance sector, capture those dollars to cover their butts since they’re going to go broke without those dollars and creating a crisis now is an effective way to convince us the entire system is broken and needs fixing.

Could our entire system need some reform? Sure – but it’s certainly not the crisis the government is making it out to be, except for the government programs themselves right now.

In future posts I’ll attempt to tease out changes that can make a difference and delivery better for the American public – and I can say, it’s not through expanding government programs!

The word “profit” comes from the Latin, to make progress. 

Profit is the difference between the price something sells for and the cost of bringing to market whatever is sold, be it a product or service. 

Within the healthcare debate, we’re told profit is bad, it is a dirty word, it must be eliminated from our healthcare system so that we can deliver quality healthcare to all Americans.

The problem is one of semantics; any business endeavor, whether it is classifed as “for-profit” or “non-profit,” must generate enough revenue to meet its financial obligations like operating expenses and salaries. 

In the for-profit business model, revenues that exceed the cost of doing business are “profits”, whereas the same excess in the non-profit sector is termed “surplus”. 

No matter what you call it, it’s the same thing, more money in than money going out. 

The damning of profit however is an extremely effective way to terminate any discussion of alternatives or options to the current system we have because no one from within the healthcare system is going to step up and say “but profits are good” or anything related to money.

It’s manipulation pure and simple – carefully crafted and designed, then repeatedly executed well, by those who wish to keep the focus on establishing a single-payer universal healthcare system in the United States.

How can anyone have a meaningful discussion of the state of our healthcare system if you don’t talk money?

There is indeed much discussion on the demand side of the equation, that is the cost to those who need healthcare and virtually no discussion about the supply side of the equation, the costs to those delivering healthcare.

We absolutely must open the discussion up, take it beyond its cost to patients, and look at all sides if we are going to fix the areas in our healthcare system that need fixing and address the issues that are important to us all – the quality of our healthcare, how and where to better manage costs, and how to reach out to and provide affordable coverage to those uninsured among us.

Share your thoughts on this matter in the comments!

Some will do almost anything to attempt to make it seem like Republicans only promote tax cuts for the “rich”.  Today, TaxProf Blog provided a post, Republican Tax Cuts Skewed Toward Rich, with this graphic:

From TaxProf Blog

From TaxProf Blog

Hmmm…

That sure looks like the proposed Republican tax cuts favor the “rich” doesn’t it?

Wait a minute!  How much money are we talking about for each level of income in the graphic above?

Ah, see TaxProf didn’t bother to provide any context for his readers.  Instead, he’s leaving it up to his readers to figure out what he means by “rich”.

This graphic provides a bit more context:

taxcuts21

So, 94% of all the proposed tax cuts go to those households with $199,999 or less income.

What I find purposely misleading is the category “next 15%” with households between $92,500 and $199,999.  That is the widest gap of income in TaxProf’s graphic.  It’s hard to know how many households are at the $92,500 level versus the $199,999 level since they’re all lumped together, leaving us thinking many are at the higher end of the spectrum.

The US Census actually let’s us know how many households are in each and every income group! 

Of the 15% of households with incomes between $92,500 and $199,999:

  • 16% of households have income between $92,500 – $99,999; this income level is 3% of US households
  • 64% of households have income between $100,000 – $149,999; this income level is 9.9% of US households
    20% of households have income between $150,000 – $249,999; this level of income is 3% of US households

So, 80% of those in the income group TaxProf wants us to believe are “rich”, have a household income that’s between $92,500 to $149,999.

Anyone living in Manhattan, Los Angeles or Miami knows $100,000 to $149,999 ain’t “rich”.

…in a sea of red.

While the progressives may *think* because they have the White House they can do whatever they please, America remains a traditional, conservative place.  Take a look at the county-by-county voting patterns over the last eight years:

Presidential Election 2000

Presidential Election 2000

 

2004 Presidential Election

2004 Presidential Election

 

2008 Presidential Election

2008 Presidential Election

Socialism within these maps?  I think not!

They can try, but they’ll fail because they’re not going to be able to convince the large swaths within our republic to accept socialism.

It is the time for calm in the face of a storm that few fully understand. Let us, as advocates of freedom, be steadfast, rational, clear, and focused on the long term. Be of good cheer and never stop pointing to the truth about freedom. The answer is not the left nor the right nor the state. The way out of this mess is freedom. It is time we defer to it, and to the revolution in the status quo that freedom implies, and give up pretending as if any politician can finally stop it.

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

Full article here

On the White House website, under the Agenda for Family, we find the following:

The American dream is increasingly out of reach for many people. Americans with incomes below $100,000 have experienced stagnating wages, declining health care coverage, erosion of pension protections, rising personal debt, and jobs disappearing as a result of global competition and rising housing costs. Further, the gap between America’s richest and poorest is at its widest points in at least 25 years. At a time when costs are rising and Americans are working harder just to keep up, President Obama will provide relief for the middle class and support for working people. In addition to his health care and tax relief plans, Obama will make college affordable, reform our bankruptcy and credit card laws, protect the balance between work and family, and put a secure and dignified retirement within the reach of all Americans. President Obama has been a strong advocate for working people throughout his public life, and he will stand up to special interests and bring America together to reclaim the American dream.

Can you spot the false dichotomy? 

Share your thoughts in the comments!

Smoking Mirrors sums it up with:

Hope and change are the slogans of a product that promises results than cannot be delivered. They are a call to arms against an enemy who is yourself. Hope is best defined in the phrase, “wish in one hand and shit in the other.” Change and the promise of improvement are best understood in the belief that you can achieve different results by doing the same thing over again. But you do not want to hear this. This is like fingernails drawn down a blackboard. This provokes the rage behind your denial and though it is never different, you believe that this time it will be different.

Here we have a lawyer with no practical grasp beyond his profession who intends to change your world without either the tools or the skills to accomplish it. Therefore these tasks will be handed over to the very elements that have brought you to where you are today. His chief adviser is an on site representative of a foreign nation which is the greatest enemy your country has beside epidemic ignorance and a childish enthusiasm for magic wands and miracle products. You have my sympathies.