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Tuesday Evening News Roundup

Tuesday Evening News Roundup

With President Obama set to nominate former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon, there’s been a surprising amount of opposition coming from Republican ranks. On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled that it would be rough sailing for Chuck Hagel in the Senate. Hagel’s former friend, John McCain, looks like he is going to lead the opposition. Remember that Chuck Hagel and John McCain really separated ways over the Iraq war. This is going to be a good knock-down drag-out fight. I’m just not sure what the Republicans hope to gain by opposing Hagel.

So, former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head by a crazed gunman last year, decided to visit some of the families who suffered losses in the Newtown shooting. For some reason, Rep. DebraLee Hovey decided to post the following welcoming statement, “Gabby Giffords, stay out of my towns!!!” She went on to say that Gifford’s visit must be politically motivated. Within less than 24 hours, she retracted her venomous statements. Craziness. (more…)

By |2013-11-03T18:20:21-04:00January 8th, 2013|Domestic Issues, Foreign Affairs, Military|2 Comments


A friend of mine sent me this today. I will call this the conservative tax rant. (Please read the rant.) We’ve all seen multiple variations of this tax rant over the years. This e-mail is a mix of probably three or four different e-mails. I haven’t taken the time to look it up but I bet you it is so. The underlying theme throughout the e-mail is that we pay “too many taxes.” I would like to look at this from several different angles because I think it reveals the conservative mindset – do anything to make your point (including play loose with the facts) then drive it home over and over and over again until you get an emotional response.

First, deception. I have no idea when this e-mail was written. I suspect the person who sent it has no idea either. But one billion seconds ago equals a little over 31 years. If you’d like to round up, equals 32 years. 32 years ago makes it 1979. There’s a lot of difference between 1959 (which is stated in the e-mail) and 1979. I was alive in 1979 enjoying disco music (the BeeGees were hot), wearing bell bottoms and silk shirts. I was not even a twinkle in my mother’s eye in 1959. The purpose of this first section is to inflate how big one billion really is. Jesus was not alive 1,000,000,000 min. ago. Most scholars have him dying around the year 33 – 34 A.D. Remember, accuracy is not the point of this e-mail. The e-mail then launches into the fact that Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (a Democrat) is asking for approximately $250 billion to rebuild New Orleans. What the e-mail intentionally leaves out is the fact that Republican Senator David Vitter cosponsored the bill. What it also doesn’t mention is that the bill was never passed. The bill never left committee. It was read twice at the Senate Finance Committee. It never had a hearing. Nothing. Yet, the e-mail would have us believe that we spent $250 billion and basically gave the residents of New Orleans this money in a direct infusion.

Next, we have a laundry list of taxes. This laundry list is supposed to be so overwhelming to get you frustrated, mad, red in the face and ready for action. Let’s look at the first 10 taxes that are listed – Building Permit Tax, CDL License Tax, Cigarette Tax, Corporate Income Tax, Dog License Tax, Federal Income Tax (Fed), Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA), Fishing License Tax, Food License Tax, Fuel Permit Tax. How many of these taxes do you pay? I’m not building a building. I don’t smoke cigarettes. I do have a small corporation and I pay corporate income tax. I don’t have a dog. I do pay federal income tax. My federal unemployment tax is minimal since I really don’t make a whole lot of money in my corporation. I don’t fish. I don’t pay a food license tax or a fuel permit tax. So, what’s the point of listing all these taxes that most of us don’t pay? The point is not for the viewer to stop and think about this rationally, it but instead of you to get mad. It’s purpose is to get you to join the “I hate taxes” association.

More later. I need to go to work.

By |2011-01-12T12:42:24-04:00January 12th, 2011|Congress, Party Politics, Taxes|Comments Off on $1,000,000,000

CNN's State of the Union – Where is Congress on Healthcare Reform?

I get so frustrated listening to the healthcare debate that I can only listen to it in small bits. So Republican Senator Lamar Alexander is talking about taxing something if you are ready have the “Cadillac” of health insurance plans. What the heck is that? Any health insurance plan offered in 2009 is a fraction of what was offered in 1989. There are no Cadillac insurance plans anymore. He goes on to talk about some plan in which the government gives Americans money (I guess in tax breaks or tax rebates) in which to buy health insurance. This has got to be a popular plan with the insurance companies.

Wolf Blitzer, who for the most part is clueless, states that in order to get coverage it will cost hundreds of billions of dollars. The statement is simply wrong. The statement should be in order to keep giving insurance companies our money we will need to spend hundreds of billions of dollars. If we exclude insurance companies universal coverage will not cost any more than we’re paying now.

Senator Judd Gregg asked a good question but then has a stupid answer. Why are going to spend more money on healthcare? We are already spending enough (my answer not his). Senator Gregg is 100% wrong when he says that there are good studies which suggest that if you give patients incentives they will purchase better healthcare. This is simply wrong. It is wrong in a number of ways — first, the majority of patients do not want to go through some complex permutation of healthcare plans to decide what’s best for them. Secondly, Senator Gregg is asking patients to project into the future as to what their healthcare problems will be. As a trauma surgeon, I can tell you that most people do not plan on seeing me. Most people think of themselves as careful and thoughtful.

Senator Judd Gregg then launches into the fear tactics that Republicans have been using for nearly 18 years on healthcare reform. He suggests that the healthcare in Canada and England is awful. He suggests that a single-payer system would lead to rationing of health care. One of the things that he doesn’t say is that currently insurance companies are rationing healthcare. They are deciding what to pay for and what not to pay for. So the current system not only rations but puts a for-profit company (insurance) between you and your doctor. The single-payer system puts nothing between you and your doctor. What could be simpler?

Update: Senator Judd Gregg also had some disturbing statistics about breast cancer in England and the United States and survival rates. Fortunately, there’s something called the Internet. You can look up the survival rates in England and the survival rates here in the United States. The survival rates in England are actually better than they are here in the US. This really should not be a surprise to anyone. Everybody in England has insurance. A large number of Americans do not have insurance. These Americans present later, with more advanced disease and have poorer outcomes. This drives down the overall survival rate.

Senator Conrad is still pushing these co-ops as viable alternatives. It is clear that these co-ops are not viable alternatives and would be crushed by insurance companies. I have talked about the utter stupidity of this co-op option. I haven’t changed my mind.

The bottom line in this healthcare debate is obvious. Confuse, obfuscate and dance around the issue. The issue is simply this — do health insurance companies add value to healthcare? If the answer is yes then we need to spend time talking about healthcare co-ops in some sort of hybrid plan to get everyone covered. If the answer is no, then we need to quit wasting time talking about giving tax rebates to people so that they can afford insurance. Senator Stabenow understands the problem completely. She’s the only one on the show that made any sense.

By |2009-07-12T19:46:36-04:00July 12th, 2009|Healthcare|Comments Off on CNN's State of the Union – Where is Congress on Healthcare Reform?
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