Reality trumps the law

Those who think a Supreme Court decision makes ObamaCare a permanent feature of our lives need to read Robert Laszewski:

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision President Obama said, “the Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”

Will it be repealed and replaced by Republicans? I doubt it because it is so unlikely that Republicans will score the electoral trifecta Democrats did in 2008 by winning the White House, the House of Representatives, and having a filibuster proof 60 votes in the U.S. Senate and therefore have the power for a complete repeal and replace.

But does that mean Obamacare is “here to stay” as it is? It clearly is not.

Why not?

Here is the answer in just one picture:

… Why is Obamacare still so unpopular?

The most recent Real Clear Politics average of recent Obamacare approval finds 43.6% favoring the law and 51.4% opposing it.

Why have so many more opposed Obamacare than approved it since its inception?

Just look at the picture.

For those eligible for Obamacare, an impressive 76% of those earning between 100% and 150% of the federal poverty level have signed up. [Note: the eligible up to 400% of the federal poverty level includes only those eligible for Obamacare’s insurance subsidies and does not include those in or eligible for employer-based plans.]

But after that income level the percentage of those eligible who have signed up drops like a rock.

The proportion of the population that is signing up for Obamacare is concentrated in the very lowest income categories while Obamacare is obviously unattractive to everyone else.

It’s no secret that wealthier consumers who make more than 400% of the federal poverty level, and therefore don’t get an Obamacare subsidy, have seen their individual health insurance rates increase substantially because of the new law and haven’t been happy about it.

So, this picture tells the story. Obamacare is unpopular because only the poorest have literally embraced it by buying it.

Why do they buy it? Because they pay very little in after subsidy premium and they get their deductibles and co-pays substantially reduced to boot.

And who votes? The poor don’t come to the polls in the same numbers as the rest of the population. Even in the 2008 election, with the first African American presidential candidate nominated by a major party on the ballot, only 52% of adults coming from families making less than $20,000 a year voted while 80% of the adults from families making over $100,000 voted.

Obamacare will never be popular, or a great vote getter, unless it meets the needs of other than the poorest.

Despite all of the subsidies, why aren’t the working class and middle-class signing up for it?

Consider this:

  • The law requires people who do not have health insurance to buy Obamacare.
  • If they do not buy it they are subject to a fine.
  • Obamacare subsidies help people who can’t afford it pay for it.
  • Obamacare is a monopoly—the only way in America you can buy individual health insurance is to buy an Obamacare compliant plan.
  • The only place you can get an insurance subsidy is on the Obamacare exchanges.
  • People generally want to have health insurance.

After all of this and two complete open enrollments, only 40% of those who are eligible for Obamacare have signed up—far below the proportion of the market insurers have historically needed to assure a sustainable risk pool.

If this were a private enterprise enjoying these kinds of benefits, and only sold its product to 40% of the market, its CEO would be fired.

Looking at this picture, only 20% of those eligible for Obamacare, who make between 251% and 300% of the poverty level, bought Obamacare. Why?

According to the Kaiser Calculator, a family of four making $60,300 a year (253% of poverty) would still have to pay out premiums of $4,934 a year (8.18% of household income) for the second lowest cost Silver Plan after their Obamacare subsidies. The good news is this is about half the price of an unsubsidized policy.

The bad news is Obamacare would still cost this family $4,934 a year for a policy with an average deductible of almost $2,900. How many families making $60,000 have an extra $4,934 in their budget for a policy that will likely pay them almost nothing?

Apparently, many of these families have concluded that they are better off staying uninsured and paying for their health care costs out-of-pocket.

Of course if someone in the family is really sick even premiums and deductibles this high can be a great deal.

And therein lies the challenge as the administration tries to sign-up enough healthy people to offset the cost of the sick, who will join no matter what the price, and keep premiums affordable.

Why is the Obamacare population sicker and causing so many big 2016 rate increases a year earlier than expected?

Because, the very poor aside, the people who most often see value from Obamacare’s high priced policies and big deductibles are those who know they will use it and take more money out of the system then they will put into it.

That the Obamacare exchange population is a lot sicker than the off-exchange population has been clearly demonstrated by a recent research brief, “Understanding the Exchange Population: A Statistical Snapshot,” from Truven Health Analytics.

Among Truven’s findings was the fact that the on-exchange population had 39% more hospital admissions and 64% more emergency room admissions, have a “significantly higher prevalence of chronic conditions,” is much older, and has a higher use of expensive specialty drugs, than the off-exchange population.

The Truven data also reaffirmed the notion that most exchange participants are the poorest who, unlike everyone else, benefit from substantially reduced deductibles and co-pays because of cost sharing reductions: “For all of the exchange members we found that most (73%) are enrolled in a [cost sharing reduction] plan, and most of these enrollees (44%) are in the Silver plan with an actuarial value of 94% [the most generous of plans].”

Is Obamacare financially sustainable in its present form?

Just look at the picture.

To be financially sustainable Obamacare is going to have to attract a lot more people. This program, with its high after subsidy premiums and huge deductibles, simply isn’t attractive to most consumers—unless a person is really sick. So, far the only people attracted to Obamacare are the poorest—whose premiums and out-of-pocket costs are very attractive.

Is Obamacare politically sustainable as it is?

Supporters have often pointed to surveys that say Obamacare participants are very happy with their policies, including one that found that 86% were happy with their coverage.

Of course they are! Just look at the picture. The majority of people who bought it are poor and therefore have very low premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. Marketing 101 would suggest that these supporters should also ask the 60% of the people who didn’t buy it how they feel about Obamacare.

So far Obamacare is popular among the poor people who disproportionately get the benefits. It is not popular among the people who get far less out of the program, are the taxpayers who have to pay for it, and also are the people who vote the most often.

If the only information you had about Obamacare you got from this picture, would it look to you like Obamacare is both financially and politically sustainable?

The good news is that Obamacare dodged a huge bullet when the Supreme Court upheld its subsidies in 34 states.

The bad news is that it is still Obamacare.

For health insurance reform to be both politically and financially sustainable Obamacare will have to be materially changed and I have no doubt, that when the 2017 rates are known to all of the people going to the polls in late 2016, there will be an undeniable mandate to change it come 2017–no matter who wins the election.

The common theme of last week

Michael Smith:

Our political history reveals that too many times people who say they are against infringement of individual rights, what they are really against is that they aren’t in charge to do the infringing. If you say you are against some sort of abuse, and then prosecute the same sort of abuse when you are in the majority, you are a hypocrite.

This is the biggest problem I have with the establishment GOP, they wail against the Democrats doing crappy things and when they get in charge, they just do crappy things of their own…we must avoid the urge that “WE. MUST. DO. SOMETHING!” instead of approaching a response that is well thought out…

But agit8er’s gonna agit8.

I will say that what this ruling does is legalize the hunting of gay marriage opponents. As an example, I offer the process in the New Mexico gay wedding photography case of a few years ago, Willock v. Elaine Photography, LLC – because there is something that never really came to the attention of the public in that case that is revealed in the final order of the New Mexico Human Rights Commission.

The fact of the matter is that while the respondent, Elaine Photography was clear that they did not prefer to photograph gay weddings, the complainant’s (Vanessa Willock) partner, Misti Collinsworth (aka Misty Pascottini) proceeded to attempt to secure the services of Elaine Photography after it was clearly known that they were not interested in the business. Collinsworth did so under the name of Misty Pascottini without identifying that it would be a same-sex ceremony, apparently with the intent to deceive Elaine Photography.

Ms. Willock and Ms. Collinsworth (Pascottini) filed a “public access” discrimination complaint AFTER securing another photographer who successfully photographed the ceremony – and for substantially less than the amount quoted by Elaine Photography.

According to the final order:

“Ms. Willock was shocked, angered and saddened to receive Ms. Elaine Huguenin’s response. Ms. Willock was also fearful, because she considered the opposition to same-sex to be so blatant. Ms. Willock thought that Ms. Elaine Huguenin’s response was an expression of hatred at what Ms. Willock had hoped to be a happy occasion.”

So, other than losing her “joy” over this, she could demonstrate no material harm. She must have had time to recover her joy as the actual ceremony didn’t take place for almost another year.

Elaine Photography and its owners, Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin, were hunted – they were targets of two apparently radical lesbians who engaged in a blatant set-up and apparently were intent on forcing their views on others. There were ample opportunities for them to secure another photographer (which they did) and there was no binding legal agreement between the complainant and the respondent. This case was decided wrongly on the law and says more about political correctness and arbitrary exercise of authority by the New Mexico Human Rights Commission than it does fairness.

After Canada legalized same-sex unions, they set up a national “human rights commission”, the job of which has been to prosecute and persecute “non-approved” beliefs and opinions. Those that aren’t clearly in violation of any law, they tie up in a lengthy and expensive process of defense. As author and columnist Mark Steyn says, “the process the punishment.” Get ready for such a national “human rights commission” in the US.

The point to all of this is this: you can’t trust a government or a judiciary to decide based on principle. Most quasi-judicial bodies like the New Mexico Human Rights Commission are politically motivated and view legislation as nothing less than an opportunity for mischief. This is the kind of crap that has opened Pandora’s Box and ultimately results in less liberty for everybody. There is a reason that the Constitution spells out limited government.

Yesterday’s and today’s racist Democrats

Mona Charen:

Here’s what the former president of the United States had to say when he eulogized his mentor, an Arkansas senator:

We come to celebrate and give thanks for the remarkable life of J. William Fulbright, a life that changed our country and our world forever and for the better. … In the work he did, the words he spoke and the life he lived, Bill Fulbright stood against the 20th century’s most destructive forces and fought to advance its brightest hopes.

So spoke President William J. Clinton in 1995 of a man was among the 99 Democrats in Congress to sign the “Southern Manifesto” in 1956. (Two Republicans also signed it.) The Southern Manifesto declared the signatories’ opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education and their commitment to segregation forever. Fulbright was also among those who filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That filibuster continued for 83 days.

Speaking of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, let’s review (since they don’t teach this in schools): The percentage of House Democrats who supported the legislation? 61 percent. House Republicans? 80 percent. In the Senate, 69 percent of Democrats voted yes, compared with 82 percent of Republicans. (Barry Goldwater, a supporter of the NAACP, voted no because he thought it was unconstitutional.)

When he was running for president in 2000, Vice President Al Gore told the NAACP that his father, Senator Al Gore Sr., had lost his Senate seat because he voted for the Civil Rights Act. Uplifting story — except it’s false. Gore Sr. voted against the Civil Rights Act. He lost in 1970 in a race that focused on prayer in public schools, the Vietnam War, and the Supreme Court. Al Gore’s reframing of the relevant history is the story of the Democratic party in microcosm. The party’s history is pockmarked with racism and terror. The Democrats were the party of slavery, black codes, Jim Crow, and that miserable terrorist excrescence, the Ku Klux Klan. Republicans were the party of Lincoln, Reconstruction, anti-lynching laws, and the civil rights acts of 1875, 1957, 1960, and 1964. Were all Republicans models of rectitude on racial matters? Hardly. Were they a heck of a lot better than the Democrats? Without question.

As recently as 2010, the Senate’s president pro tempore was former Ku Klux Klan Exalted Cyclops Robert Byrd (D., W.Va.). Rather than acknowledge their sorry history, modern Democrats have rewritten it.

You may recall that when MSNBC was commemorating the 50th anniversary of segregationist George Wallace’s “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” stunt to prevent the integration of the University of Alabama, the network identified Wallace as “R., Alabama.” The Democrats have been sedulously rewriting history for decades. Their preferred version pretends that all the Democratic racists and segregationists left their party and became Republicans starting in the 1960s. How convenient. If it were true that the South began to turn Republican due to Lyndon Johnson’s passage of the Civil Rights Act, you would expect that the Deep South, the states most associated with racism, would have been the first to move. That’s not what happened. The first southern states to trend Republican were on the periphery: North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Tennessee, and Florida. (George Wallace lost these voters in his 1968 bid.) The voters who first migrated to the Republican party were suburban, prosperous New South types. The more Republican the South has become, the less racist.

Is it unforgivable that Bill Clinton praised a former segregationist? No. Fulbright renounced his racist past, as did Robert Byrd and Al Gore Sr. It would be immoral and unjust to misrepresent the history.

What is unforgivable is the way Democrats are still using race to foment hatred. Remember what happened to Trent Lott when he uttered a few dumb words about former segregationist Strom Thurmond? He didn’t get the kind of pass Bill Clinton did when praising Fulbright. Earlier this month, Hillary Clinton told a mostly black audience that “what is happening is a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people and young people from one end of our country to another. … Today Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting.” She was presumably referring to voter-ID laws, which, by the way, 51 percent of black Americans support.

Charen didn’t mention the racist history of Lyndon Johnson; MSNBC did:

In Senate cloakrooms and staff meetings, Johnson was practically a connoisseur of the word. According to Johnson biographer Robert Caro, Johnson would calibrate his pronunciations by region, using “nigra” with some southern legislators and “negra” with others. Discussing civil rights legislation with men like Mississippi Democrat James Eastland, who committed most of his life to defending white supremacy, he’d simply call it “the n—-r bill.” …

Johnson was a man of his time, and bore those flaws as surely as he sought to lead the country past them. For two decades in Congress he was a reliable member of the Southern bloc, helping to stonewall civil rights legislation. As Caro recalls, Johnson spent the late 1940s railing against the “hordes of barbaric yellow dwarves” in East Asia. Buying into the stereotype that blacks were afraid of snakes (who isn’t afraid of snakes?) he’d drive to gas stations with one in his trunk and try to trick black attendants into opening it. Once, Caro writes, the stunt nearly ended with him being beaten with a tire iron.

Nor was it the kind of immature, frat-boy racism that Johnson eventually jettisoned. Even as president, Johnson’s interpersonal relationships with blacks were marred by his prejudice. As longtime Jet correspondent Simeon Booker wrote in his memoir Shocks the Conscience, early in his presidency, Johnson once lectured Booker after he authored a critical article for Jet Magazine, telling Booker he should “thank” Johnson for all he’d done for black people. In Flawed Giant, Johnson biographer Robert Dallek writes that Johnson explained his decision to nominate Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court rather than a less famous black judge by saying, “when I appoint a n—-r to the bench, I want everybody to know he’s a n—-r.”

According to Caro, Robert Parker, Johnson’s sometime chauffeur, described in his memoir Capitol Hill in Black and White a moment when Johnson asked Parker whether he’d prefer to be referred to by his name rather than “boy,” “n—-r” or “chief.” When Parker said he would, Johnson grew angry and said, “As long as you are black, and you’re gonna be black till the day you die, no one’s gonna call you by your goddamn name. So no matter what you are called, n—-r, you just let it roll off your back like water, and you’ll make it. Just pretend you’re a goddamn piece of furniture.”

Johnson also said to two southern governors (who certainly were not Republicans), “These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference… I’ll have them n—-rs voting Democratic for the next two hundred years.” That word also figured prominently in the daily language of the sainted Democratic president Harry S. Truman.

Various excuse-mongers claim that, hey, that’s how Southerners talked in those days, and look at what Truman and Johnson did for blacks. That is a pass that no Republican or conservative ever gets.

Roger L. Simon adds:

I am uniquely positioned to say this because I spent most of my life on the Left and was a civil rights worker in the South in my early twenties. I was also, to my everlasting regret, a donor to the Black Panther Party in the seventies.

So I have seen this personally from both sides and my conclusion is inescapable. The Left is far, far worse. They are obsessed with race in a manner that does not allow them to see straight. Further, they project racism onto others continually, exacerbating situations, which in most instances weren’t even there in the first place. From Al Sharpton to Hillary Clinton, they all do it.

Barack Obama is one of the worst offenders in this regard. Recently, in reaction to the horrid actions of the deranged, but solitary racist Dylann Root, the president claimed racism is in our DNA.

How could he possibly utter such nonsense and who was he talking about? The majority of Americans are from families that came to this country after slavery existed. Many of those were escaping oppression of their own.  In my case my family was fleeing the pogroms of Eastern Europe. Many of the members of my family who stayed behind ended up gassed in Auschwitz or exterminated in Treblinka.

Is Obama telling me that racism is in my DNA? What a wretched and insulting statement. If he means that, he should tell it to me face-to-face.

If he does, I will tell him what I think. The racial situation in this country has gotten decidedly worse since he took office. And he is a great deal to blame. Ever since the beer summit it was obvious he was disingenuous and harmful on the subject of race, seeking to stir the pot when it was actually empty or nearly. His claim that if he had had a son he would look like Travyon Martin was ridiculous and self-serving in the extreme. Barack Obama is a product of the fanciest private school in Hawaii and his children go to Sidwell Friends, the fanciest school in D.C. He takes vacations on Oahu and his wife parties in Switzerland. He had as much in common with Trayvon as I do with the queen of Spain.

And speaking of foreign lands, I’ve spent time abroad and speak Spanish and French and if Mr. Obama thinks the U.S. is a racist country, he ought to do a little bit of traveling not on Air Force One. Try sitting at a French dinner table for twenty minutes and listening to the casual conversation if you think America is racist.

The truth is the USA is remarkably un-racist for a country its size.  We weren’t always that way, obviously, but we walked the walk and we are now.  Or were. The Democrat Party and its assorted media hacks are trying to take us backwards. They suffer from nostalgia for racism for the glorious days when they could assert their moral superiority. Sorry, those days are over. The only way to stop remaining racism is to stop it, not talk about it, impute racism to people who don’t have it and generally do everything possible to divide the American people from themselves.

Let’s assume for a moment that racism reveals itself not by what someone says, but by what someone does. In this state, with few exceptions (two being late state Rep. Polly Williams (D–Milwaukee) and former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist), Democrats opposed Milwaukee school choice, the only way anyone has come up with to get inner-city children out of bad Milwaukee Public Schools. The reason, of course, is that school choice is opposed by the teacher unions, proving where the Democrats’ priorities are, and are not. The same forces spiked the creation of a Madison charter school for black students.

Similarly, Democratic Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett and his police chief, Ed Flynn, refuse to support policies that would reduce crime in high-minority-population areas, such as Saturation Area Patrolling. It is racist to assume that non-whites don’t care about being victims of crime. (Barrett, meanwhile, has not lifted a finger to improve MPS. Had he wanted to, he could ask Gov. Scott Walker to get legislative Republicans to pass a law to give the Milwaukee mayor control over MPS, and the Legislature would pass that law in seconds. Barrett hasn’t, and either isn’t interested or is too afraid to take on the education establishment.)

Blacks have higher unemployment rates than whites. So when Democrats support policies such as ObamaCare and minimum wage increases that make employment more costly for employers, Democrats advocate policies that make things worse for blacks.

Martin Luther King Jr. said that he looked forward “to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” That is the only standard worth having.


Presty the DJ for June 29

Today in 1957, Iran banned rock music, proclaiming that rock dancing was “harmful to health.” The ban stayed until the 1990s, which is surprising … that it was ever lifted. (I’m guessing it remains a de facto ban.)

Proving that there is no accounting for taste, here is the number 17 song today in 1968:

Today in 1967, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were sentenced on drug charges. Jagger was sentenced to one year in jail and Richards to three months after marijuana residue was found in Richards’ apartment. After a public outcry that included a London Times column, Richards’ charges were dropped and Jagger’s sentence was reduced to probation.

Of course, you could replace “1967” with any year and Jagger’ and Richards’ names with practically any rock musician’s name of those days.

Or other people: Today in 2000, Eminem’s mother sued her son for defamation from the line “My mother smokes more dope than I do” from his “My Name Is.”

Birthdays start with LeRoy Anderson, whose first work was the theme music for many afternoon movies, but who is best known for his second work (with which I point out that Christmas is less than six months away):

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Presty the DJ for June 28

Today in 1957, Jerry Lee Lewis made his U.S. television debut:

Today in 1965 may have been why videocassette recorders (the precursor to TiVos, for younger readers) were invented. On ABC, Dick Clark premiered “Where the Action Is …”

… while on CBS New York DJ Murray the K hosted “It’s What’s Happening Baby!”

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