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Source: National Review

By Ramesh Ponnuru

The Senate floor debate on health-care legislation has included a lot of confident assertions — many of them false.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.), for example, said during floor debate that the uninsured impose a “hidden tax” of more than $1,000 per person. That claim, as regular readers of NRO already know, originated with a left-wing advocacy group. A Kaiser Family Foundation study debunked the group’s analysis, reaching an estimate closer to $200 per year for a family. The Congressional Budget Office has joined in the debunking.

Sen. Richard Durbin (D., Ill.) said that half of all bankruptcies are caused by medical bills. A 2006 study found that only 9 percent of bankruptcies were primarily the result of medical bills. The study where Durbin’s claim originated used very loose criteria to classify bankruptcies as medical in nature; even in that study, only 29 percent of those surveyed blamed health expenses for their bankruptcies.

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By Scott W. Atlas from National Review Online, December 14, 2009

Trumpeting the straw-man argument that “doing nothing is simply unacceptable,” U.S. lawmakers continue to advocate a frighteningly sweeping government takeover of American health care. Those Democratic senators who dare to hesitate a bit before voting for this takeover are characterized as “moderates.” Yet their initial votes — made a whole three days after the unveiling of a 2,000-page bill that pushes a radical overhaul of the world’s most advanced health-care system, a bill opposed by the majority of American voters, and at a cost of a trillion dollars paid by massive taxes, penalties, and cuts in coverage — in the end were a loud and unanimous “yes” to proceed. Ultimately, these “moderate” senators merely wish to tinker with a grossly flawed plan that hemorrhages money, rather than thoughtfully consider alternatives and preserve the excellence of our medical care.

All the while, several obvious, commonsense reforms that would benefit American citizens have been stonewalled. Reforms that can bring health costs down without imposing government restrictions and mandates are being ignored, as if they just don’t exist. Americans should ask their elected officials why commonsense reforms that would increase health-insurance competition and reduce costs are being disregarded. Let’s consider six such reforms.

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Before Thanksgiving, the Senate voted to opening debate on President Obama’s health-care bill, and that debate has begun in earnest this week.

Well, if they want a debate, let’s let them have it. But let’s not get distracted by the sideshows Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has planned for us.

Forget about abortion. Of course the left will accept restrictions on funding for abortion, because they want to keep moderate Democrats on board for the goal they know is really important: giving the government a dominant role in health care. Everything else is just details, and funding for abortions is an issue to which the left can return at leisure later on-once government is firmly in charge of everything.

And don’t bother debating the “public option,” either, because it’s already dead; enough Democratic senators have come out against it. But Harry Reid is all too happy to have a debate over the public option so he can make a show of “compromising” and giving it up. And while we’re having that fake debate, he’s hoping that we won’t be challenging everything else in the bill.

So let’s get straight what the real essentials of the bill are-and how disastrous they are.

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Source: Wall Street Journal

None of the new distortions that the Senate health-care bill will layer onto the already-distorted tax code have received the attention they deserve, but in particular its effects on marginal tax rates could use scrutiny. Incredibly, for those with lower incomes, ObamaCare will impose a penalty as high as 34% on . . . work.

Central to Max Baucus’s plan—assuming the public option stays dead—is an insurance “exchange,” through which individuals and families could choose from a menu of standardized policies offered at heavily subsidized rates, provided that their employers do not offer coverage. The subsidies are distributed on a sliding scale based on income, and according to the Congressional Budget Office 23 million people will participate a decade from now, at a cost to taxpayers of some $461 billion.

Think about a family of four earning $42,000 in 2016, which is between 150% and 200% of the federal poverty level. CBO says a mid-level “silver” plan will cost about $14,700 in premiums, of which the family will pay $2,600—since the government would pay the other $12,100. If the family breadwinner (or breadwinners, because the subsidies are based on combined gross income) then gets a raise or works overtime and wages rise to $54,000, the subsidy drops to $9,900. That amounts to an implicit 34% tax on each additional dollar of income.

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Source: National Review

Ten things that ought to be in the health-care bill (but probably won’t).

By Kevin Williamson

If you want to know what the solution to America’s health-care problems looks like, reach into your pocket: About 90 percent of Americans own cellular phones, up from less than 1 percent 20 years ago. The cell-phone market is a highly democratic one in that working-class and poor Americans have access to roughly the same range of products and services as middle-class and wealthy Americans, and practically everybody has access to products and services that 20 years ago were reserved to millionaires, to the extent that they were available at all. Remember those gigantic cellular bricks that Wall Street traders toted around in their briefcases back in the 1980s? Those were pricey status symbols in the Reagan era — Motorola’s two-pound DynaTAC 8000X cost the equivalent of $9,000 in today’s money, and the service fees were enormous — but using one today would get you laughed out of the poorest trailer park or housing project in America.

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President Barack Obama’s push for a sweeping health care overhaul edged closer to a major victory in the Senate Finance Committee. Early next week, the Senate Finance Committee will vote on final passage on the “Vapor Bill” being debated and marked up in Committee. The term “Vapor Bill” is used to describe the legislation, because the Senate Finance Committee has been debating the outline of a bill and not actual bill text in Committee. Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) offered an amendment to allow a reading of the bill for 72 hours before final passage, so that members could read the bill they were voting upon, yet liberals in the committee blocked this amendment. We have mapped out one scenario for Senate consideration before, but we now have more details on the secret plan to pass Obamacare.

The Senate floor debate on health legislation could start as early as next week, but more likely they will consider Obamacare starting on October 13th. The Senate Finance Committee has been held up and will not have a final vote on the Committee bill until next Tuesday, therefore the Senate will have to wait another week before the debate starts.

Here is what we know. Sources on K Street and on Capitol Hill have confirmed the following scenario:

  1. Senate staffers from the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee) are in the process of writing the bill RIGHT NOW that the Senate will consider the second full week of October;
  2. Senator Reid will have to move to proceed to a House passed tax measure to avoid a “Blue Slip” problem. The term blue slip describes the procedure the House uses to stop the Senate from originating a tax bill. The Constitution states “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.” The House passed tax measures that are on the Senate Calendar are as follows:
    – H.R. 1664 The AIG Bonus Bill;
    – H.R. 2751 A tax bill promoting fuel efficient cars;
    – H.R. 2454 House passed Global Warming bill; and,
    – Any other tax measure that comes from the House in the next few days.
  3. Senator Reid uses all the procedural tactics in his toolbox to shut down debate and control the Amendment process to get this Senate debate completed by the end of October. They can add the Public Option as an amendment on the Senate floor with a simple majority if they have the will.

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