Four More Years of Half Assing Everything

We now have four more years of half assing everything. Seeing how I had plenty of time to ruminate on this topic sitting in the dark in the storm battered northeast, this has been rattling around in my head for quite a bit. Like many voters, I’m socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Both candidates fit (and didn’t fit) my bias in wholly opposite but mostly related ways. There’s very few differences between Romney and Obama. The problem, I think, is that the average American voter just didn’t give a shit about either one. What pushed me to Romney wasn’t so much encouragement from him, but rather that I feel Obama does everything half assed. If he’s thinking more than a year out, I would be surprised. More on the point Obama frames everything in us-against-them, whereas Romney frames most of his stuff in “common sense math”. Obama and his base tend to turn me off with the divisiveness, so I expect this to be a lame duck four years. No-one is really interested in working across the aisle with a guy who says “Voting is the best revenge” instead of “we can compromise”. I was somewhat surprised at the election results, but it was narrow enough with each candidate getting 50%-ish of the vote that I think I probably am in tune with the majority of America. The problem which no-one is pointing out at the moment is that each candidate also received only 25%-ish of the possible votes. That means 50% of America simply doesn’t care. This is bad. That idea alone should really raise your hackles, that means 75% of America doesn’t want what the other guy is doing (or said he would do). If “your guy” won, it does not mean you’re in a majority. There is no mandate here.

What is the mandate for then? Since neither party has 2/3rds majority required to force things through, the mandate is for Obama to actually work across the aisle. If you’re someone who feels like he does this and does it well, you’ve got nothing to worry about. If you’re someone who noticed nothing has been happening (judging from the blame game of “obstructionist Republicans”, “yes”), I expect at least two more years of lame ducking, if not an entire term of it.

Cries of the “culture war” being over and other such nonsense will be laughed off the blog.

Lets take a look at what we can expect:

Obamacare Raising Taxes – This went from being “interesting” to “WTF” when the Supreme Court decided the election for us. Romney stumped on Obamacare rather than other issues, but the elephant in the room was that Romney couldn’t implement Romneycare as he did in his home state because of the Supreme Court ruling that you can’t fine people for not buying something. The individual mandate we upheld as a tax penalty. Obama therefore did raise taxes on us, and Romney really couldn’t run against Obamacare aside of it being way too complicated.

Obamacare on employement – This is one of two places I wish it was repealed and didn’t get brought up in the debates. The IRS counts “part time” as 39 hours a week. Obamacare counts “part time” as 30 hours a week. Obviously this doesn’t quite add up nicely, so businesses are running split shifts now where people are being cut to 20 hours a week to make the scheduling line up nicely. One of my buddies commented that more businesses are hiring more people for less hours. This isn’t actually how that works. More businesses are hiring the same people to work the finite amount of hours. If there’s 40 hours worth of work to do something, and your business doesn’t want to pay the health insurance fees, you just cut those 40 hours a week in half. Really the net result here is that people who were comfortable with their earnings now have the headache of balancing split shift schedules for their two (or three) jobs who hardly give them any hours. The implementation in Obamacare sucks and could be solved by…

Obamacare single payer – This was never actually on the table, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have merit. If we had single payer (something I strongly object to if Medicare/Medicade services are any indication of how it works), then people working 60 hours a week at their now 20 hours a week jobs would have healthcare. This would have been an expansion of medicare/medicade but since Obama is some sort of egoistic toolbox he had to come up with a separate government body to administer this stuff. It just doesn’t make sense.

Obamacare on Gay Marriage – or just gay marriage in general. Obamacare still has strong gender typing in the language (“bride and groom” language). Obama is in a particularly weird position where he now has to run against his own legislation in order to legalize gay marriage if this is even on his bill. The terribly irony here is that Romney’s position of states-rights is actually whats happening for both legalizing marijuana and gay marriage. Again, this is a place where Romney might actually have done better making this a states-rights issue and repealing Obamacare versus having a guy in office who has to defend his own train wreck. I suspect Obama’s ego is way too huge to fix this. Romney’s own position on it was actually the most flexible – if we define “marriage” as “between a man and a woman” and “gay marriage” as “domestic partnership”, then we can simply amend Obamacare to include domestic partnership if Romney failed to repeal Obamacare. This is roughly how Joe Biden deals with abortion, which he is “100% opposed to” and the whole Catholic Social Doctrine comment.

(GM) Bailouts – GM is insolvent again. While it’s Just Wrong to bailout a company, this is what Bain Capitol was doing to a T. Instead of Chapter 11, they would loan the company money and be the co-signer. Either people like the bailout and then should accept Bain or people object to Bain and should see the bailout as a trap. As it stands, GM didn’t produce anything that anyone was interested in buying, so they’re insolvent again. Could there have been another way? Yes. Obama should have put import tariffs on cars and paid for the bailout with that while increasing competition. One of my coworkers I was discussing this with said that “But cars are made from all over!” Well that’s sort of the point. We’re not tariffing parts (people have to maintain their crapmobiles in this economy, after all), we’re tariffing where the cars are assembled. All the Japanese made Toyotas would become more expensive. All the American made Toyotas wouldn’t get hit with it. Either Toyota creates more jobs here by expanding it’s plant or it has to pay the price. GM’s bailout gets offset by the tariff until they catch up. Companies like Mitsubishi making their cars in Mexico pay the tariff on 100% of all their stuff. And what about GM making cars in Mexico? They probably should expand their local plant and make some jobs. It’s a win-win.

Four more years of half assed status quo. The upside is that with re-election, Obama can’t blame the last term’s policy.

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Obama Care Part Deuce

The American Thinker has up what he thinks will happen on the July 9th(?) vote – Republicans could repeal obamacare as a de-facto tax. If the argument is that it’s not a de-facto tax, then it’s subject to the Commerce Clause, which would make it unconstitutional. If it is a defacto tax, it’s subject to recall, which is simple majority.

Anyway that aside, what has my head scratching is what the heck Romney is waiting for. Obama has obamacare, which is a huge debacle. The original draft of the bill defrayed costs to health insurance companies by having them receive the “penalty money”. In fact, it’s worth discussing Romneycare, because it’s how this sort of thing is done correctly. Under Romneycare, both individuals and businesses had to pay a penalty for not having insurance. Individuals could receive an exemption to this for earning less than $50,000. That’s not a typo, that’s the number (this is roughly twice whats in Obamacare but the value depends on the federal poverty definition among other things). Businesses would pay the fine if they didn’t make “reasonable insurance” available if they had more than 10 employees. In every way, these make better talking points than Obama even has. Weirdly enough Huffington Post either is “pro Romneycare” when talking about Obama or anti-Romneycare when going back to 2006, speaking of talking points. If I were Romney I would be pointing all this out.

Where did all these fines go?

Romney set up a fund to expand medicare in his state. If you went to the ER without insurance, it paid the hospital. If you took the fine, it went into the slush fund. If you needed help affording insurance, it was a tax credit.

I know what you’re saying “But that IS Obamacare!”

No, it’s not. It required a mandate from the federal government to expand medicare which administered the plan. While I object to the expansion of the government, the one place the money wasn’t going was the insurance companies. The fine went into social programs, the money which left the social programs went to the hospitals. Medicare has price controls built in – when they’re involved, they dictate the price of what they’re paying for. This works really well. The higher the insurance companies jack up the prices, the more people end up on Medicare, the more they dictate the cost of what they’re paying for. The insurance companies either had to play ball or they had to withdrawal from the state.

What we’re critically missing from the Obamacare plan is the authority to regulate the insurance companies. The one line item requires insurance companies to spend 80% of their take on premiums, but now we have another interesting problem: With no authority from the commerce clause per the supreme court (which is why this is a tax and administered by the IRS in the first place), there’s really no defined oversight here. The argument I would make if I were Obama would be that health insurance companies pay 100% tax on everything they make over 80% of the premiums they put out, but the traditional stance taken by the government is that diversified companies pay only what their business units take in. LOLWUT?

Take Toll Brothers, which is vertically integrated. The company doesn’t pay logging fees based on profits from the entire company, nor does the land ownership division pay capital gains based on the value of land changing. They are governed by separate bodies of law. Similarly the business as a whole make or loses money, but it’s governed by individual laws for individual business functions. To put this in perspective, a commercial driver carries insurance for his own personal vehicle, but he also carries a bond and a professional insurance policy. My wife (a nurse) carries personal insurance for her life and injury, but we also carry professional insurance for malpractice along with malpractice insurance for the hospital at large.

Why is this important? The insurance companies already offer consulting services for things like minimizing workplace injury, passing OSHA exams, legal consulting, etc. If the insurance companies suddenly decide the take from premiums goes into the individual business units, it’s really not that hard to spend 100% (or more) of the funds which go into the “medical care” pot versus something like consulting which is obviously not a medical function and then not governed by the law. Remember, no commerce clause means this is virtually unenforceable and the IRS already exempts businesses which operate at a loss. The whole thing is hollywood accounting at it’s finest and the IRS has been giving it a pass for years in the movie and music industry. Why not the insurance industry now? Its one of the things that really pisses me off come tax time – people who are consultants and operate their own company (on paper) claim a loss on their taxes from a consulting company which doesn’t reimburse them for computers and such and taxpayers foot the itemized deductions.

All this being said, I don’t see there being a mass of insurance companies dumping people for two reasons: rescission has been illegal since 1996 in almost every state and without the expansion of medicare per romneycare, obamacare has nowhere to put people. I do see our healthcare generally going to shit – Europe has had a serious problem with complex, long term care like cancer and I expect the US going over to this sort of system will encourage this.