Leather puppet Mona Charen is one of the most consistent and reliable contributors over at Intellectual Chernobyl, possibly because she began writing opinion columns shortly after the advent of the written word. She is the savings bond of right-wing stupid – never flashy and with limited upside, but a good choice for a safe, predictable return. Someone like Doug Giles is a lottery ticket, occasionally delivering a bonanza but more often proving worthless. Mona is like your grandmother. Your insane, not terribly bright grandmother who somehow and to your great displeasure has internet access. Let us peel back the layers of the onion of retardedness that is "Government by Holiday Inn Express." Clever title, and a not-so-subtle way of reassuring us that, yes, Mona Charen does own a television. Possibly with rabbit ears.
You've seen those commercials in which an airline pilot, or surgeon, or nuclear engineer is giving expert advice only to acknowledge eventually to his nonplussed listeners that while he is not actually a fill-in-the-blank, he did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
You know it's A) bound to be hilarious and B) aimed at an audience over 70 if you have to explain the joke in advance. This isn't exactly an obscure reference, Mona. You're not quoting Ecclesiastes or the lost plays of Shakespeare here. It's a commercial that everyone with a TV has seen. Thanks for explaining it anyway, though. Many writers would confuse us by attempting to speak in metaphor, but why make readers do all that heavy lifting?
Do you ever get the feeling that we are getting Holiday Inn Express government?
ZOMG! I TOTALLY SAW WHAT YOU DID THERE! I WASN'T SURE AFTER I SAW THE TITLE AND THE FIRST SENTENCE BUT I THINK I GET IT!
Does anything they say make basic economic sense?
The best judge of that is clearly the woman best known for being Nancy Reagan's speechwriter. Someone with a degree in English from the 1960s. Someone who was an editorial assistant at the National Review. Anyone springing to mind, Mona?
President Obama and the Democratic Party propose to save money (or what they call "bend the cost curve") on health care spending. They will spend less, they say, but also cover more people — the 47 million or 30 million uninsured (Obama has used both numbers). This will be accomplished without reducing care for anyone and without raising taxes on anyone except the rich. In fact, care will be improved.
Their ignorance of all things economic is as obvious as it is all-encompassing.
Sounds great. But do these people know what they're doing? They mouth the words "choice" and "competition" but only, ironically, in praise of a "public option."
How in the hell is that ironic? Do you even know what irony is? More importantly, do you even understand a public option? It's an option. One option in – let me choose my words carefully – "competition" with other options.
The concept of encouraging choice and competition in the health insurance market — say by permitting interstate sales — is off the table.
That is "off the table" in the same sense that phrenology is off the table in medical schools. It is off the table because it is stupid, based on a woefully naive and unrealistic premise, and it makes no sense.
The Wall Street Journal provided a handy chart of "Uncle Sam's Cost Overruns." In 1965, when Medicaid was enacted, the House Ways and Means Committee estimated that first year costs would amount to about $238 million. The actual price was $1 billion. The program now costs $251 billion annually and is climbing fast. The record is similar for Medicare. In 1965, Congress predicted that by 1990, Medicare would be costing $12 billion. The actual cost — $90 billion. As Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget has admitted, "If costs per enrollee in Medicare and Medicaid grow at the same rate over the next four decades as they have over the past four, those two programs will increase from 5 percent of GDP today to 20 percent by 2050."
I wonder how she managed to forget the war that was supposed to last "six days, six weeks. I doubt six months" and pay for itself. You know, the one that actually cost $700,000,000,000. That's seven hundred billion dollars, Mona. Compare that to the costs of Medicare you've cited here, bearing in mind that unlike the money we're pissing into Iraq, Medicare actually, I don't know, helps the people who paid for it.
It's not necessary to dwell on the risible claim that they will cut half a trillion in waste from the Medicare budget. If they know where that waste is, why aren't they cutting it now?
I think Congress is working on some sort of "health care" legislation right now. The GOP did crap out the Medicare Modernization Act in 2003, which they cleverly passed and then immediately told everyone it would cost $150 billion more than they told Congress! And. And! Eight months after that, they doubled the projected cost to $1.2 trillion. Boy, those Democrats have no credibility when they talk about cost cutting.
Where, on the books, are the federal waste-cutting initiatives?
Well, Republicans like to pass them to make rubes and syndicated columnists slap their fins together with glee. And then they totally ignore them and spend money like drunken sailors on shore leave.
The administration has also highlighted two other ideas that will supposedly provide tremendous cost savings. Both have been in the news lately. Starting during the campaign, President Obama touted digital medical records to reduce errors, improve care, and cut costs.
That charlatan! Everyone knows paper is the way of the future.
More than $19 billion of stimulus funds were earmarked for it. But when the Washington Post examined the matter, they discovered that digital records not only fail to produce the promised benefits, they actually reduce efficiency and cause errors. The digital systems currently available give physicians too much information. Pages upon pages of digital information document every conceivable ailment a patient might have. Doctors have difficulty wading through all of the unnecessary data to reach the critical information. One emergency room physician at a hospital that had adopted a digital system complained, "It's been a complete nightmare. I can't see my patients because I'm at a screen entering data . … Physician productivity and satisfaction have fallen off a cliff."
Well based on your double-blind, peer reviewed survey of this one guy, I'd say it's a resounding failure! Gosh, we should really take seriously the whining of doctors and nurses who hate having to be re-trained or learn a new system once they get set in their ways. I mean, they love change. They embrace it.
Some hospitals have adopted digital systems only to abandon them.
I bought a Model T when it came out. It sucked. Good thing we all abandoned cars. That was a stupid idea.
Another silver bullet the administration has peddled is preventive care.
Ha ha ha! What a bunch of nutbars! Put away the leeches and plague masks, Doctor Quack!
Everyone knows that a timely PSA test will detect prostate cancer at an early and treatable phase thus saving the patient's life and saving money, right? Not exactly. The test is obviously worthwhile for that individual. But testing all men for prostate cancer — an overwhelming majority of whom will never get the disease — is expensive.
Read that. Read that again and again until it sinks in. Why are we wasting money testing people for prostate cancer? Most of them won't even get it! So why test them? We could save a lot of money this way – I mean, let's just take all the people who are never going to get sick and allow them to stop paying for insurance?
If more and more of us are tested for more and more diseases — even accounting for some illnesses found early — health spending will rise, not fall.
Tell us more, John Maynard Keynes.
By the way, this has absolutely nothing to do with the kind of "preventive medicine" they're talking about, which entails reducing the variable risk factors for diseases. You know, more quackery.
Further complicating the picture, the National Cancer Society has announced that the benefits of cancer screenings, particularly for breast and prostate cancers, have been oversold. They aren't saving very many lives, but they are causing needless tests and surgeries.
This is why the Republicans are so popular. Health care costs too much because of all of you fuckin' pansies won't stop getting tested for diseases you don't even have! This wouldn't be such a mess if you weren't running to your doctor every couple of months whining like little bitches, "Oh doctor, I need a mammogram" or "I'm over 40, I think I should get a regular prostate exam."
The Baucus bill — even before being melded with House versions — weighed in at 1,502 pages of new taxes, fees, and mandates.
Hmm, about that Medicare Modernization Act once again…the summary of which is 148 pages long.
Every single page proclaims something that is dubious — that the Democrats know what they are doing.
Well, "know what they are doing" is kind of a relative concept in a two party system. No one thinks they're rocket scientists. In fact, most voters probably just think they're less idiotic than the GOP. This is a zero-sum game. We get one or the other. And the "other" in this instance might be a viable alternative if it, you know, proposed something. Anything. Anything other than "No" and "Let the market solve it!" Keep plugging away though, Mona. You're really starting to gain traction. This groundswell of teabagging support has really eroded the popularity of a public option and the President, not to mention boosting the GOP's place in the public's heart to historic highs.