Congress, Why Not Try To Pay Attention?

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“Part of my responsibility as the Ranking Member is to look at the long-term costs of legislation… I was floored by what we discovered. At a time when we should be trying to shore up Medicare and Social Security, this health law adds an entirely new obligation—one we cannot pay for—and puts the entire financing of the United States government in jeopardy. We don’t have the money. We don’t have another $17 trillion in unfunded liabilities that we can add to our account.”

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, spoke on the Senate floor today to share the Committee’s finding that the president’s health law will grow our nation’s unfunded liabilities by $17 trillion beyond our existing obligations, putting current entitlement programs in much greater jeopardy. The new $17 trillion unfunded obligation is more the twice Social Security’s $7 trillion unfunded obligation, and represents a modest estimate based on the administration’s own optimistic assumptions.

A rush transcript of Sessions’ remarks follows:

“I’m here today to share a new and stunning revelation unearthed by my staff on the Senate Budget Committee. Part of my responsibility as the Ranking Member is to look at the long-term costs of legislation. So we wanted to ascertain the long-term costs of the president’s health bill and I mean the kind of long-term cost analysis that has been going on for a number of years with regard to Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid over a 75-year period. I was floored by what we discovered. But first, let’s put this in a little context.

President Obama told the American people that his health law would cost $900 billion over ten years and that it would not add ‘one dime’ to the debt.

But we have shown the cost for ten years of implementation is actually $2.6 trillionalmost three times as much. In addition, the offsets used to reduce the law’s official cost were enormous and phony, as I have discussed before, and will detail at another time. The more we learn about the bill, the more we discover that it’s even more unaffordable than was suspected.

So, over a period of about three months, our staff worked to estimate the new unfunded liability imposed by the health law. This is not the total cost of the bill, but the unfunded, mandatory coverage obligations incurred by the United States government on behalf of the United States people over a period of time. An unfunded obligation is basically the amount of money we have to spend on a mandatory expense that does not have a funding source—money we don’t have but that we are committed to spend. It is this kind of long-term, unfunded obligation that has placed this nation’s financial situation at such great risk. It is what has called witness after witness before the Budget Committee, where I serve as Ranking Member, to tell us that we are on an unsustainable path. That means money we will either have to print, borrow, or tax to meet the obligations we have incurred as a people as a result of the passage of this bill. For instance, Social Security has an unfunded liability of $7 trillion over the next 75 years. That’s an enormous sum. It’s double the entire amount of the United States budget today.

My staff used the models that are used by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and worked diligently to come up with a figure. That figure—based on the administration’s own optimistic assumptions and claims about the cost of the law—is an incredible $17 trillion. That is more than twice the unfunded liability of Social Security.

When you include the new health law with our existing obligations like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—we now have $99.4 trillion in total unfunded obligations over 75 years.

I want to emphasize: this $17 trillion figure is not an estimate based on what we think will occur if the administration’s claims and promises are false. We use the administration’s own figures. So the unfunded liability is almost certainly not going to be less than $17 trillion but, if any more of the administration’s claims unravel—as so many already have—the cost of the program’s unpaid for obligation will rise radically higher than $17 trillion. For instance, former CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin says millions more may lose their current employer coverage and be placed into the government exchanges than currently projected.

Let me briefly explain some of what now comprises this additional $17 trillion in unfunded obligations.

$12 trillion is for the health care law’s premium subsidy program. You see, the law created new regulations that drive up the price of insurance for millions of Americans. The writers of the law knew it would inflate the cost of insurance premiums, so to cover that cost they had to include new government subsidies so people could pay for their more expensive insurance.

On Medicaid, this new health care law has added another $5 trillion in unfunded liabilities. This is on top of the substantial unfunded obligations that the federal and state governments have already had to take on in order to support Medicaid, and they have vigorously protested to us, warning of these deep, additional expenditure requirements that are falling on the states.

And these figures don’t even account for the dozens of new bureaucracies that will be created to implement the president’s health care law or the expansion of existing bureaucracies. For instance, the IRS has requested 4,000 new agents and $303 million in additional funds to begin implementing the law.

At a time when we should be trying to shore up Medicare and Social Security, this health law adds an entirely new obligation—one we cannot pay for—and puts the entire financing of the United States government in jeopardy. We don’t have the money. We don’t have another $17 trillion in unfunded liabilities that we can add to our account. We have to reduce the ones that we have. This has been obvious for decades. Multiple decades. People have talked about it repeatedly. Instead of doing something about those programs that are headed to bankruptcy, we add—under this president’s determined insistence and under a straight party line vote—one of the largest unfunded mandates in history on top of what we already have. How can we possibly justify this? We cannot justify it. This bill has got to be removed from the books. It would be absolutely irresponsible for this Congress to maintain a law that would run up this kind of debt. Two and half times the unfunded obligations of Social Security.

I will be sending a letter to the Government Accountability Office asking them to construct their independent estimate of the president’s unfunded health law obligations. This is an urgent matter. And I plan to come to the floor in coming days to continue to explain the true fiscal facts about this legislation.

This bill is unpopular, unaffordable and unconstitutional. It must be repealed.”

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A Billion Paid To Dead Folk

 

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By Chuck Ring (GadaboutBlogalot ©2009 – 2010)

Quote Freely From The Article – Leave The Pseudonym Alone

Our dear government has paid out cash, or rather other coin of the realm, such as warrants, direct deposits or purchased equipment  over the previous ten years.  I assume the congressman who is reporting the information did not go back past the preceding decade, or we would surely know the real extent of our collective victimization.  The Washington Times in a story by Stephen Dinan reports:

The federal government has paid out more than $1 billion in checks to dead people over a decade, according to a new report by the top Republican on the Senate’s investigative panel.

All told, the government has paid out funds to some 250,000 dead people, said Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on investigations.

“Washington paid for dead people’s prescriptions and wheelchairs, subsidized their farms, helped pay their rent, and even chipped in for their heating and air conditioning bills,” Mr. Coburn’s report said.

There must be an explanation for this particular brand of waste.  Maybe it is ineptitude, plain intentional acts of fraud or just pure unqualified personnel acting like the ignoramuses they strive to emulate.  Whatever the reasons or excuses, they come at a time when the country should have a handle on this type of activity.  Of course, we have to have qualified employees AND qualified managers supervising the qualified employees.  Otherwise, there is no solution to the issues … just more of the same.  What makes this all the more difficult to swallow is the bitter pill which consists of the stimulus funds which were supposed to resolve problems and grow the economy.  The have instead been used to pay for some of the ill-gotten gains paid to “undeserving” dead people. (;>)  Such as the following:

Among the payments to dead people were $18 million in stimulus funds from Social Security, $92 million in Medicare claims paid for treatments prescribed by dead doctors and $8.2 million for medical supplies prescribed for dead patients.

President Obama took steps in June to try to rein in those types of mistakes by issuing a memo asking that payments be checked against the Social Security Administration‘s Death Master File, though Mr. Coburn said that won’t find of the errors.

So, just keep in mind what is said above as you read the next excerpts from the article.  See if there is any likelihood that blame tailoring follows in the information found immediately below:

White House acting budget director Jeffrey Zients said in a blog post on the White House website Friday that payments to the dead are one example of the broader trend of erroneous payments, which he said totaled $110 billion last year.

He said Mr. Obama takes the issue seriously, and has set a goal of eliminating $50 billion in improper payments between 2010 and the end of fiscal year 2012.

Set your eyes on the $110 billion of erroneous payments and the inadequate goal of eliminating just $50 billion in payments made in error over the almost two years until the end of fiscal 2012.  Why do our leaders set goals that do not reach the extent of the waste and instead pretend that less than half of the problem is real progress.  What follows borders on negligence of the criminal sort

For his part, Mr. Coburn blamed Congress as much as the administration, arguing lawmakers have been lax in overseeing payments and in some cases have failed to give agencies the means to correct payment errors. For example, Congress failed to give Social Security the ability to rescind electronic payments in the stimulus bill, which means the government has only been able to recoup 52 percent of the $18 million in payments to 71,688 dead people.

What follows to the end of the report borders on criminal negligence by our Congress and this administration … not that we haven’t had copycat ignorance in the past, it just seems so magnified due to the state of our economy:

Mr. Coburn also said Congress is to blame for rules that required dead farmers to receive benefits — more than $1 billion, sent to nearly 173,000 deceased farmers over seven years. Of that, nearly a fifth of the money went to farmers who had been dead at least seven years.

You can read the story as it is found by clicking here.  Be sure to use any links found below.

Thanks and a flap of the cap to The Washington Times and Stephen Dinan

Liar, Liar — Facts On Fire

 

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By Chuck Ring (GadaboutBlogalot ©2009 – 2010)

Quote Freely From The Article – Leave The Pseudonym Alone

In this political season, especially as the election draws near and the races knot tighter, we can count on some Texas style tales. FactCheck.org lets us know all about the serious ones on both sides of the aisle, in-between, above and beyond.  Below you’ll find information from their latest summary,  followed by more detail than you can poke a lie-detector toward.  They call the wind Whoppers of Campaign 2010:

Midterm elections are an embarrassment of riches for fact-checkers — this year more than others. With Democrats fighting desperately to keep control of the House and Senate, and a torrent of money from corporations and other undisclosed, unaccountable sources adding fuel to the Republican attack, the amount of deceit in political advertising is at least as high as we’ve ever seen.

While we generally agree with the above, we feel it important to point out the Demos have their own largess  from their union, Soros, and other supporters — so not much ado there, except in the minds of some, that is.

Some candidates slung whatever mud they thought would stick, regardless of the facts. One falsely claimed his opponent had been a Vietnam draft dodger who “doesn’t love his country” — and then compared his opponent to the Taliban.

Republicans accused Democrats of favoring cuts in Medicare benefits, while Democrats claimed their opponents would cut Social Security benefits. Republicans accused Democrats of planning to unleash a huge tax increase on ordinary families and on small-business owners, while many Democrats accused Republicans of wanting to slap a 23 percent national sales tax on everything from groceries to medicine, as though that would come on top of all existing taxes. We found fault with all those claims, on both sides.

We at gadabout-blogalot, do not always get it right, that is why we are pleased to have FactCheck and other sources to help us … and you our readers, come to some semblance of truth.

FactCheck will certainly take some of your time as you examine what they present from the links below.  We hope you’ll let us know through comments if you find a fact presented that turns out less.  Less than a full fact that is.

FactCheck: For our round-up of the campaign year’s most widely repeated misstatements — and the wildest — read on to the Analysis section.

Note: This is a summary only. The full article with analysis, images and citations may be viewed on our Web site:

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Thanks and a flap of the cap to the folks at FactCheck

FactCheck.Org Claims To Stop Another POTUS Whopper

By Chuck Ring (GadaboutBlogalot ©2009 – 2010)

Quote Freely From The Article – Leave The Pseudonym Alone

FactCheck.org (FCO) claims to have found another Social Security whopper presented by Obama.  This one brings with it an accusation that a tale told by POTUS accusing the Republicans of a plan to privatize Social Security is mostly bunkum.  Although, FCO stops short of calling the President the great prevaricator, here  are three points they make at the front of their article:

Few if any Republicans now in Congress have ever pushed for total “privatization” of Social Security. What President Bush proposed in 2005 was to allow workers under the age of 55 to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes in private accounts. Most of their taxes would have continued to go into traditional Social Security.

Bush’s proposal to create private accounts had so little Republican support in 2005 — when the GOP controlled both the House and Senate — that it was never introduced as formal legislation. We’ve seen no evidence to suggest the idea is any more popular among Republicans now.

Only one Republican “leader” is currently pushing publicly for Bush-style private accounts, as part of an overall budget plan. He is Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the senior GOP member of the House Budget Committee. His plan currently has only 13 cosponsors, none of them in the GOP House leadership.

The article continues to say Obama even pushed the truth when he said, in effect,  that the Republican’s plan would throw citizens’ investment to the wolves of  Wall Street.  This is another FAIL in the truth column for our leader according to FCO:

That’s not true of the private accounts Bush proposed. Those would have been invested in strictly regulated, broadly based mutual funds, much like the funds in which millions of federal workers invest their own retirement fund.

It looks as though Mr. Obama starts with a tall-tale (I’m being overly kind) and quickly sinks to more elephant “tails”  if we take it from the beginning and continue to their analysis.  What the analysis actually does is to spread bull butter over much, if not most, of  Obama stories and during the process of churning the substance, they manage to acquit George W. Bush‘s plan for privatization.  And that acquittal after all those years of progressives’ bashing of Bush’s ideas on Social Security.

So here we are with FCO and just in front of their analysis.  Don’t take my word, read the analysis contained within the complete article.  Here’s their link to a report on an earlier whopper by the same man … on the same subject.  Just click here.

Mr. Obama's Best Friend?

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Former Sheriff Flunks Lie Detector

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By Chuck Ring (GadaboutBlogalot ©2009 – 2010)

Quote Freely From The Article – Leave The Pseudonym Alone

Would that Sheriff Andy Taylor would never sink to being a shill for parts of Obama Care,  but according to Fact Check he is guilty of spreading bull butter to old folks and old folks to be.  Here’s some of what Fact Check has to say:

In a new TV spot from the Obama administration, actor Andy Griffith, famous for his 1960s portrayal of the top law enforcement official in the fictional town of Mayberry, N.C., touts benefits of the new health care law. Griffith tells his fellow senior citizens, “like always, we’ll have our guaranteed [Medicare] benefits.” But the truth is that the new law is guaranteed to result in benefit cuts for one class of Medicare beneficiaries — those in private Medicare Advantage plans.

Back when the good sheriff and his trusty Deputy Barney Fife were active in Mayberry, NC, their following was built on trust.  Now it looks as though the Health Care brain weevil has sucked all the gray matter from Sheriff Andy’s gray cranium.  Here’s the story according to the former sheriff:

The trouble with the sheriff’s spiel is that it rises, rather sinks, to the level of puffery and false prophesy for Obama Care.  Perhaps Sheriff Andy can be granted some leeway since the law seems to support him, however the support is only as good as the fine print:

There’s even a section in the new law (section 3601) that says: “Nothing in the provisions of, or amendments made by, this Act shall result in a reduction of guaranteed benefits under title XVIII of the Social Security Act” (the title that establishes the Medicare program). Section 3602 says even Medicare Advantage recipients won’t suffer any reduction of “any benefits guaranteed by law.”

But, there is a catch … isn’t this always the case?   No need to trust me when you can get access to the complete Fact Check  piece to catch the catch by clicking here.

Change without trust and truth seems in ample supply when it comes to Obama Care.

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Notable Quoteable — One of New Mexico’s Own

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By Chuck Ring (GadaboutBlogalot ©2009).

Quote Freely From The Article – Leave The Pseudonym Alone

According to Prescriptions, a New York Times Blog edition posted on November 7th, after a pep-talk given by President Obama, prior to the vote on Pelosi’s Peril (house health bill) Representative Martin Heinrich (D-NM) had something to say. Before we get to Heinrich’s statements, let me warn you that you will either like what he says or you will detest what he says.  Make your decision … I don’t think there will be any middle of the road opinions:

Another freshman Democrat from New Mexico, Representative Martin Heinrich, said the president’s comments overall were reassuring. “If you want to see a recipe for failure,” Mr. Heinrich said, “don’t do the things you talked about in your campaigns and turn your back on your base. All the independent voters in the world don’t matter if the Democrats don’t turn out.”

“This is an opportunity to do something as big as Social Security,” he added. “And me, personally, I don’t want to be on the wrong side of history.”

via Lawmakers Detail Obama’s Pitch – Prescriptions Blog – NYTimes.com

Looks like he wasn’t talking about me, i.e., his base.

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