I Don’t Understand People

People like Kimberley A. Strassel, anyway:

It began one week after the swearing-in, when Nancy Pelosi whipped through a big expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. The Schip bill was Democrats’ first stab at stealth expansion, unveiled in 2007, though vetoed by George W. Bush.

Initially designed for children of working-poor families, this new Super-Schip will be double in size, and even kids whose parents make $65,000 a year will be eligible. The program will also now cover pregnant women and automatically enroll their new arrivals. The Congressional Budget Office estimates 2.4 million individuals will drop their private coverage for the public program.

[…]

Under “stimulus,” Medicaid is now on offer not to just poor Americans, but Americans who have lost their jobs. And not just Americans who have lost their jobs, but their spouses and their children. And not Americans who recently lost their jobs, but those who lost jobs, say, early last year. And not just Americans who already lost their jobs, but those who will lose their jobs up to 2011. The federal government is graciously footing the whole bill. The legislation also forbids states to apply income tests in most cases.
[…]
The “stimulus” also hijacks Cobra, a program that lets the unemployed retain access to their former company health benefits — usually for about 18 months. The new stimulus permits any former employee over the age of 55 to keep using Cobra right up until they qualify for Medicare at age 65. And here’s the kicker: Whereas employees were previously responsible for paying their health premiums while on Cobra, now the feds will pay 65%. CBO estimates? Seven million Americans will have the feds mostly pay their insurance bills in 2009.
[…]
Add it up, and Democrats may move 10 million more Americans under the federal health umbrella — in just four weeks! Good luck ever cutting off that money. …

And Charles Hurt:

Buried deep inside the massive spending orgy that Democrats jammed through the House this week lie five words that could drastically undo two decades of welfare reforms.

The very heart of the widely applauded Welfare Reform Act of 1996 is a cap on the amount of federal cash that can be sent to states each year for welfare payments.

But, thanks to the simple phrase slipped into the legislation, the new “stimulus” bill abolishes the limits on the amount of federal money for the so-called Emergency Fund, which ships welfare cash to states.

“Out of any money in the Treasury of the United States not otherwise appropriated, there are appropriated such sums as are necessary for payment to the Emergency Fund,” Democrats wrote in Section 2101 on Page 354 of the $819 billion bill. In other words, the only limit on welfare payments would be the Treasury itself.

“This re-establishes the welfare state and creates dependency all over the place,” said one startled budget analyst after reading the line.

In addition to reopening the floodgates of dependency on federal welfare programs, the change once again deepens the dependency of state governments on the federal government.

And Betsy Newmark:

Rather than making the mistake that Hillary made in trying to nationalize health care in one big comprehensive package, the Democrats are now going about it by expanding one group after another and hoping that no one will notice until we wake up and realize that the government has taken on the responsibility of paying for health care for everyone.

This is being accomplished without much debate under the cover of providing stimulus. Of course, there is nothing stimulative about this. The health care industry is not the sector of the economy where we have to worry about unemployment. This isn’t about stimulus, but about changing the relationship between health care and the government. And there will be nothing temporary about it. We’ll be on the hook for all this promised spending.

And Ed Morrissey:

Rahm Emanuel once advised that crisis means opportunity, and the Democrats have taken that message to heart.  They’ve exploited the sense of economic crisis in order to build a Trojan Horse stimulus bill that encompasses all of their legislative goals — and they’re trying to stampede people into supporting it out of panic.  Hope and Change?  More like Fear and Loathing.

What this does has nothing to do with stimulating the economy.  Worse, it exponentially increases the difficulty in reforming entitlements, and Medicare already was the one program most in need of reform.  It’s heading into insolvency even without the additional load of ten million new and unplanned subscribers in three weeks.  Now, we will have even more subscribers to throw into the reform grinder, making it more painful than ever to effect the necessary changes to bring the program back into solvency.

The mind reels. It’s not just the selfishness or the sheer meanness. It’s also the complete absence of even the most rudimentary critical thinking skills.

Okay, one by one:

Expanding health care coverage is not economic stimulus.

  1. Um, yes it is. Regular medical checkups, doctor visits when sick, emergency and long-term medical care, are essential expenses — no less than food, shelter, and clothing. And given that the United States is the only industrialized country on earth to not provide its own citizens with comprehensive national health insurance, that means that the cost of health care in a catastrophic economic downturn, such as the one we are in now, is an indispensible part of any economic recovery and stimulus package.
  2. What on earth is wrong with helping unemployed, underemployed, uninsured, financially struggling Americans pay for health care expenses? Even if they live above the poverty line? Why is that wrong?

Congress passed stealth legislation expanding SCHIP coverage. They snuck it past unsuspecting Americans when they were in the middle of an economic crisis. They didn’t allow any public discussion.

  1. You nincompoops: No, Congress did not do any of that. Congress passed an extension of non-expanded SCHIP coverage last year, after then-Pres. Bush vetoed TWO previous broadly bipartisan attempts by the House and Senate to enact expanded SCHIP coverage.
  2. The legislation was widely and endlessly discussed in the media and in the blogosphere, both left and right, which in the latter case included much wingnut hysteria and disgusting, vile behavior — mostly by one particular wingnut who specializes in disgusting, vile behavior. The merits of the legislation were thoroughly and amply aired; there was broad support for it in both political parties in Congress; and the now mercifully former Pres. Bush used one of his rare vetoes to block the bill from passing.
  3. You think a combined family income of $65,000 is adequate to pay for private health insurance for a family with two or more children living in a major metropolitan area like New York City or Boston or Chicago or Los Angeles or San Francisco or Washington, D.C.? Either you’re insane or haven’t had to pay for your own health insurance since 1965.
  4. What on earth is wrong with enrolling pregnant women “and their new arrivals” (so respectfully put) in a low-income health insurance program specifically intended for children?

Under the economic stimulus package as it exists now, Medicaid will be available “not just to poor Americans, but Americans who have lost their jobs. And not just Americans who have lost their jobs, but their spouses and their children. And not Americans who recently lost their jobs, but those who lost jobs, say, early last year. And not just Americans who already lost their jobs, but those who will lose their jobs up to 2011.”

  1. Americans who have been unemployed for a long, long time don’t need Medicaid?
  2. The spouses and children of Americans who have lost their jobs don’t need Medicaid?
  3. Americans who are lucky enough to still have their jobs, but who lose them within the next two years — which is how long, at minimum, this global depression is supposed to last — should be denied Medicaid coverage because they lost their jobs in the second or third year of the downturn rather than the first?
  4. I’m sorry. I’m not seeing the problem here.

The new stimulus permits any former employee over the age of 55 to keep using Cobra right up until they qualify for Medicare at age 65. And …  [w]hereas employees were previously responsible for paying their health premiums while on Cobra, now the feds will pay 65%. Seven million Americans will have the feds mostly pay their insurance bills in 2009.

  1. Another indication that you are either wealthy or have never been in a position to need Cobra. It’s prohibitively expensive. I was in the position of needing Cobra a couple of times many years ago (decades), and it was totally unaffordable even then. Perchance this might explain why the stimulus package provides for the federal government to pay 65% of the Cobra premium for unemployed Americans in this economic crisis where millions of people are out of work?
  2. Re: Seven million Americans will have the feds mostly pay their insurance bills in 2009: Wow, there sure must be a lot of unemployed Americans out there, eh?

The very heart of the widely applauded Welfare Reform Act of 1996 is a cap on the amount of federal cash that can be sent to states each year for welfare payments…. the new “stimulus” bill abolishes the limits on the amount of federal money for the so-called Emergency Fund, which ships welfare cash to states.

  1. Check it out, dude. In 1996, the overall economy was a hell of a lot better than it is now. Strict limits on welfare payments that might have made sense in 1996 are irrelevant and inappropriate now. Try to make sense, okay?
  2. Look. In the past several years, I have received, at different times, food stamps, unemployment, and general assistance. Without that help, as minimal as it is (in New Jersey, for an adult with no children to support, $140 a month max), I don’t know where I would be right now — probably in a homeless shelter or sleeping on a park bench. These programs exist because people need them. In the best of times, people need them. These are not the best of times.

2 Responses to “I Don’t Understand People”

  1. gcotharn says:

    This is not to argue issues about which we will never agree. This is, instead, an effort to decrease future instances of “I don’t understand.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The foundational metaphysical split between right and left:

    The Right believes humans have evil nature;
    The Left believes humans are basically good.

    The Right belief in evil nature affects how the Right interacts with both the common man and the government.

    Right interaction with Common Man

    The Right believe we humans either stand up and care for ourselves, or we become lost souls. Further, we become lost souls who are uncared for, as government ultimately cannot care for all our needs. We either take care of ourselves, or we flounder.

    Certainly there exist victims – of mental illness, of other conditions – who deserve consideration and care. The Right see far fewer victims; the Left see far more victims.

    Certainly there exist persons who are temporarily down on their luck, and who could benefit from compassionate action. Private charity is the preferred solution. Government must tread cautiously and scrupulously in this area, remembering to “first, do no harm” (to incentive, for instance).

    Right interaction with government

    The Right believe government is run by fundamentally flawed persons whose group instinct is always to gain more power. The only way for government to gain more power is to take more liberty away from citizens. Therefore, government is dangerous. Very dangerous.

    Margaret Thatcher:

    “When all the objectives of government include the achievement of equality – other than equality before the law – that government poses a threat to liberty.”

    Barry Goldwater:

    A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Second, in the area of economic and government theory: the right believes government cannot provide massive care for it’s citizens and long survive. Margaret Thatcher:

    “The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Every quotation you did not understand, every way of thinking you did not understand, was grounded in the above. You say “What is wrong with…?” Rightly or wrongly, the Right looks to the above and finds fault.

  2. Kathy says:

    Every quotation you did not understand, every way of thinking you did not understand, was grounded in the above.

    Greg, I should explain something that I thought was clear, but apparently is not. When I said, “I don’t understand,” I did not mean that, literally, I did not understand the meaning of the English language words I was quoting. I did not mean that, literally, I had never heard such opinions before and was unaware of the right-wing ideology of “rugged individualism,” sink or swim, take care of yourself or die. I’m well versed in these beliefs, Greg.

    When I said that I did not understand, what I meant, but did not explicitly state because I assumed a certain level of customary understanding on the part of my readers, was that I do not understand how the right can believe the assertions and claims exemplified by these quotes, because they are so uninformed, so ignorant, and so inhumane.

    I understand that the right-wingers I quoted do not see themselves as uninformed, ignorant, or inhumane. But they are. So telling me what they believe and why they say what they say does not advance the discussion. I already know all the arguments. The point is, those arguments are worthless. They are easily disproved, not supported by historical facts, and ultimately incomprehensible, in the way that inhumanity, selfishness, and meanness are always incomprehensible — at least to me.

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