Consumer Power Report #204

Published November 25, 2009

This is going to be an abbreviated issue this week to accommodate Thanksgiving.

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot to be thankful for this year. I will spare you the details of my family, my church, and the people I am surrounded by everyday. They all provide me with a community of love — even when they are sometimes exasperating.

More to the point of this newsletter, last year I wrote the following:

With the stock market crashing, home values falling, unemployment rising, and the prospect of massive federal intrusion in the health care you get, it may be hard to find things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.

Call me Pollyanna, but I’m not worried. Yes, we will dither. The country will experiment with centralized planning and control. The Washington Elite will be telling you what to do, and how to do it. They will tell you that you are nothing more than a cog in the machine and your number one duty as a citizen is to obey their instructions. It will be ugly for a time.

But we’ve been there before and other countries have tried it on massive scales. It never works. Never. And it won’t work this time, either. Liberty is the inevitable answer, as the Founders knew. Each one of us is still endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights.

We will fight, as the Founders did, to restore those liberties and regain our personal sovereignty from the usurpers. We will win. But tomorrow I will be thankful not just for family and friends and turkeys, but to be born in a country that is founded on such ideals.

At the time I didn’t know where it would come from or how long it would take, but I was confident that we would find our way back from the abyss.

Sure enough, in the past year there has been a resounding renewal — an Awakening — of the American spirit. I am just in awe of the incredible resolve that has taken hold of people who would prefer to live their lives as they see fit and otherwise be left alone to make their own decisions about their own lives.

The coming year will be one of the most interesting of my lifetime. I can’t wait!



As we expected, Harry Reid was able to bribe and cajole reluctant Democrats into allowing his bill to go to the floor. The remarkable thing was that it was such a struggle just to get it this far. I am providing a link to a clip from MSNBC’s Morning Joe show in which former Senate staffer Lawrence O’Donnell compares this to 1994 when the Clinton bill went to the floor with unanimous consent, only to die after five days of debate and amendment. It is an extremely important perspective.

SOURCE: Morning Joe

Underlying all the angst is not some conflict of principles, but the cold reality of public opinion. Rasmussen reports that the public is decisively turning away from this legislation. The lowest number yet recorded (38 percent) now support the bills in Congress while 56 percent are opposed. This is an astonishing margin of opposition. The latest survey was conducted just as the Senate was voting on Saturday and Rasmussen reports that those who were polled after the vote were slightly less supportive than those polled before the vote. In fact, the more people know about the bills the less they support them, belying the argument that once something passes it will change minds. Just the opposite is more likely. Even more remarkable is that 70 percent of Independents are now opposed to the legislation.

SOURCE: Rasmussen

The new reality is sinking in with the mainstream press. The “dean of political reporters,” Washington Post‘s David Broder, wrote on Sunday that the well-respected Quinipiac Survey found that only 19 percent of voters think health reform will not add to the deficit, as Obama promised. He adds, “Nine of 10 Republicans and eight of 10 independents said that whatever passes will add to the torrent of red ink. By a margin of four to three, even Democrats agreed this is likely.”

He goes on, “I have been writing for months that the acid test for this effort lies less in the publicized fight over the public option or the issue of abortion coverage than in the plausibility of its claim to be fiscally responsible.” He goes on to explain the efforts of the Democrats to hide the stark fact that this bill is, “a budget-buster in the making.”

SOURCE: Broder in the Washington Post

Then on Monday, Robert Samuelson weighs in, also in the Post, but his focus is more on the mandates than the deficit. He is especially concerned about the “burden on the young.” He writes, “Now comes the House-passed health-care ‘reform’ bill that, amazingly, would extract more subsidies from the young. It mandates that health insurance premiums for older Americans be no more than twice the level of that for younger Americans. That’s much less than the actual health spending gap between young and old.”

He points out that AARP is all too happy to get young people to pay for their parents, “Meanwhile, AARP lobbyists scramble to shift their members’ costs onto younger generations.” But young adults don’t have an AARP to speak for them. So the House bill would make them buy more comprehensive coverage than they prefer, AND it would make them pay excessive premiums for that coverage. He adds, “Whatever the added burden, it would darken the young’s already poor economic prospects. Unemployment among 16- to 24-year-olds is 19 percent.”

The consequences for this country would be profound as younger people find it ever harder to start a family, set up a home, find a satisfying career, start a business, or simply take the time to decide what they want to do with their lives.

SOURCE: Samuelson

Dick Morris thinks young adults are key to the outcome of these debates. Until recently they had been the strongest supporters of ObamaCare — “Health reform? Sounds good!” They had not stopped to consider how they would be affected. But Mr. Morris did some advertising in Maine, Arkansas, and North Dakota explaining the impact on their lives, and opinion completely turned around. In these three states, voters under the age of 30 are now the biggest opponents, by a margin of 25 percent in favor to 65 percent opposed. He quotes John Zogby, the pollster who actually conducted the survey, as saying, “These results among 18- to 29-year-olds are striking. It puts in jeopardy the whole theory of the new Democratic majority, because young people are essential to that base.”

SOURCE: Dick Morris’s release

Speaking of jobs, the Illinois Policy Institute has published a paper by Laffer Associates that finds the current “reform” proposals in Congress will lead to a loss of 169,000 jobs in Illinois and an added cost of $4,418 per person in the state, and will reduce the state economy by 5.1 percent. Interestingly, these projections are based on an assumption that the Congressional bills will cost $1.0 trillion over 10 years, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the full 10-year cost will be more like $2.5 trillion once it is fully implemented, so these job losses and tax estimates are understated.

SOURCE: Illinois Policy Institute

The whole process is beginning to stink to high heaven. Grover Norquist writes that he has learned four lessons from the Senate vote. They are:

1. There are no “moderate” Democrat senators. No Senators who put the interests of Nebraska, Arkansas, Indiana, or Nevada ahead of the raw political demands of the liberal Democrat leadership in Washington, DC.

2. Everything Barack Obama’s handlers put up on his teleprompter during the 2008 campaign turns out to be a lie. Everything.

3. This isn’t about health care at all. It’s about raising taxes and increasing government spending and government make-work jobs.

4. How completely corrupt Congress has become. Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat from Louisiana, bragged that she knows the legislation will hurt consumers, but she sold her vote for $300 million.

Norquist concludes, “This is not about doctors or hospitals or health. It is about politics; about taxes and spending and moving power to the special interests in Washington DC. Big government won round one. Now, maybe, we will hear from America.”

SOURCE: Fox News

Writing in the Chicago Tribune, Dennis Byrne focuses on the new mammography guidelines as an indication of things to come. He writes, “You need to consider exactly what’s in the health care legislation to understand why the breast cancer uproar is instructive and frightening. The legislation provides for the creation of a Health Choices Administration headed by a Health Choices commissioner. Their job is to establish “qualified health benefits plan standards — including the enforcement of such standards in coordination with state insurance regulators and the secretaries of labor and the treasury.”

He adds, “Now, here’s the most important point: The task force, in its new breast cancer guidelines, is doing precisely what the health legislation intends to do — reduce the cost of American health care by rationing (or ‘deciding,’ if you prefer) what procedures can or should be covered. The task force admits that more women will die if everyone follows its recommendations, but that’s supposedly worth the price of bringing down health care costs.”

SOURCE: Chicago Tribune

Speaking of the mammography issue, I posted an article on the American Spectator blog and also was quoted by ABC News on this topic. My comment is essentially that these committees average the outcomes of large numbers of people and base their recommendations on the average. But, as with all things, the average hides more than it reveals. Forget the committee and trust your doctor.

SOURCE: ABC News; American Spectator

Finally, let’s wrap up with a cute but very telling video about how people pay for health care, sponsored (surprisingly) by Regence Blue Cross and Blue Shield.