Back to the Future?

Is it March Madness or the start of one of the ugliest periods in Virginia’s history?
The Old Dominion is fast getting a reputation for the kind of politics of disenfranchisement, stubborn states’ rights-ism and glib constitutional arguments designed to attack the “enemy” a stone’s throw on the other side of the Potomac River that many thought had died out years ago.
Within two months of taking office, Republican Atty. Gen Kenneth Cuccinelli filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency for doing its job and identifying new pollutants (in this case, carbon dioxide).
Then you had “the Cooch” taking it upon himself while not bothering to inform his fellow Republican, Gov. Bob McDonnell, to declare as invalid any prohibitions by state colleges of discrimination against homosexuals.
Next, after President Barack Obama’s huge achievement (those are the word’s of London’s Economist magazine, not mine) of getting health reform passed, you had the Cooch, this time with McDonnell by his side, suing the federal government.
One top of this you have some very ugly incidents. After some yah-hoo Tea Party types in Southside erroneously posted the address of the brother of Democratic Congressman Tom Perrillo, the poor man had the natural gas tube to his grill cut on his screen-in porch. In short order, Eric Cantor, the House Minority Whip from Henrico County, claimed that someone fired a bullet in a Richmond office. City police, who, unfortunately, have a lot of experience with firearm forensics, said that the bullet was fired randomly.
Pushing this all along are such bigots as Glenn Beck egging on polyglot Tea Baggers and Macho Alaska Girl Sarah Palin coming on with such class acts as posting Web pictures of Democratic politicians with grass hairs around them and saying it is time to “reload” in fighting the creeping socialism of Obama. And this woman wants to be a national leader?
What is strange is that all this is happening during the administration of America’s first African-American president. There was plenty to bellyache about during the presidency of George “W” Bush but protests never got so personal or venomous.
As far as the “Cooch” goes, you have to give the man credit — he campaigned on exactly what he has turned out to be. Instead of working on its reputation as a reasonable, progressive state that’s a good place to raise and education family and do business, the Old Dominion is instead being the tip of the reactionary spear. And Richmond, once again, is becoming the capital of a new kind of Confederacy for a slipshod of states’ rights, self-appointed armed militia and zealots out to disenfranchise minorities although this time it is those with a different sexual orientation, rather than blacks.
All the anti-Washington lawsuiting brings back bad memories of Massive Resistance and other dark periods when Virginia led the way to hatred and bigotry. For a good understanding, look at a piece in Style Weekly written by a former Virginian-Pilot colleague of mine, Margaret Edds. Her commentary reminds us of some rather ugly periods of our history, such as one in 1924 when the General Assembly passed the Racial Integrity Act which made it a felony to marry someone with even a trace, or one-sixteenth, of non-Caucasian blood.
Or, consider another act by those descendants of Thomas Jefferson in state government.In the 1920s, they pushed policies for the state-sanctioned sterilization of people with low IQs, in a campaign so ruthless that it attracted the interest of none other than Adolf Hitler. Or, how the state officially harassed African-American lawyers in the 1950s who tried to get Virginia to go along with federal civil rights rules and Supreme Court decisions.
The new attitude is that we can pick and choose which federal laws we like –thinking that got us into the Civil War.
But is that what Virginians really want? Or have they been high-jacked by right-wing radicals?
There is evidence that the latter is true. The State Air Pollution Control Board, the citizen body that protects state air quality and works to enforce federal laws of the 1960s and 1970s, has distanced itself from Cuccinelli’s EP lawsuit. It seems that the “Cooch” didn’t bother informing them of the suit before he filed it. What’s more, there isn’t much evidence suggesting that any state college administration formally requested an attorney general’s opinion on the gay rights matter. It seems that the “Cooch” pounced a couple of days after a bill to grant such protection was tabled in a state Senate committee.
All of this is coming from a fractured GOP (see a Style Weekly story I did). It isn’t evident just how the Republican Party will react from these sudden wing nut plays. One would think that they might retreat and retrench in a more intelligent way. But that might not happen until people realize that something had to be done with health care and after some of these goofy states’ rights challenges get deep-sixed in a higher court. My fear is that reason won’t prevail until blood is spilled.
Peter Galuszka

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103 responses to “Back to the Future?”

  1. Mimi Stratton Avatar
    Mimi Stratton

    I find the violence, grandstanding, and hyperbole you cited in your blog disturbing as well. I find Attorney General Cuccinelli's filing of frivolous lawsuits willy-nilly completely unwarranted and have written him and Governor McConnell several times to lodge my complaint.

    Citizens need to speak up in a lawful manner when they see injustice, or when they don't agree with what's going on. For instance, the textbook rewrites in Texas going on today (separating Jefferson from history) have a long history. Texas is second only to California in public school enrollment. The state spends about $30 million annually in biology texts alone. More significantly, Texas underwent a political sea change in 2002, when for the first time since 1870 conservative Republicans, who are traditionally susceptible to creationist propaganda, took full control of state government. If you've been following this, you'd think everyone in Texas is a creationist. But not so. Two rational women are now running for the State Board of Education. They could tilt the balance.
    So when you see things you don't agree with, step up. Get involved. Educate yourself. Make friends with people from all backgrounds so you can form more objective opinions. Don't stop learning!

  2. Gooze Views Avatar
    Gooze Views

    The photo popped up on a KKK in Richmond image search but somehow I think it is in DC, circa 1920s.


  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Mr. Gooze

    I believe you can trash can the repeat posts by Rt Wing Ext.

  4. James A. Bacon Avatar
    James A. Bacon

    (I accidentally deleted this post by Larry G. Fortunately, I was able to retrieve it.)

    Peter – did you say where the picture was taken?

    Sometimes I think we're witnessing a momentous juncture in the history of this country and sometimes I think we just cannot shake off the darker parts of our personality – that they are like a disease that ebbs and flows but never goes away.. a permanent incurable malady.

    I love how the state can, in effect, force you to be financially responsible if you own a car but apparently the government cannot require you to be financially responsible for your health care because, in theory, if you never want it then you should not have to pay for it.

    Using that logic, we could have folks refusing to pay into Social Security and Medicare… then when they do retire – needing health care – they come back…being the staunch conservatives they never were, hat in hand begging for help…..

    we we're to be personally responsible for our health care but if that xray fries our private parts, it's government's fault, eh?

    No other than Ronald Reagan brought socialized medicine to the US.. you know.

    Just read up on the law that says that anyone who needs medical care can get it free – by law – EMTALA – brought into existence with Mr. Reagan's pen.

  5. Groveton Avatar


    I think your attack on the McDonnell / Cuccinelli administration lack political precision. There have been a series of actions in the Commonwealth. Each needs to be considered in it own right.

    1. Cuccinelli's letter to public colleges and universities. This was perhaps the most egregious bungle. It has yet been defined who asked for the ruling. Rather, it appears to have been more of a publicity stunt than anything else. More troublesome, Ken Cuccinelli appears to be wrong in his legal interpretation. Former governor and AG Jerry Baliles clearly described how the General Assembly had provides charters to the public colleges and universities sufficient to allow for the language which Cuccinelli tried to forbid. However, the General Assembly has had 25 chances to right this wrong over the past 10 – 15 years. They have either voted down each bill or killed each bill in committee. In the recently ended 2010 legislative sessions another bill to forbod discrimination based on "sexual orientation" was killed in committee. Generally, rural, Republican legislators have been willing to kill these bills. If any one of these bills had passed there would have been no reason for the letter from Cuccinelli.

    2. Cuccinelli's letter about global warminh makes more sense to me. It was something of a warning shot. Given the shenanigans happening around the East Anglia research and the vast impact that cap and trade will have on all Americans, I think a bit of caution may be warranted.

    3. Cuccinelli is completely right with his letter about the health care bill. It is Congressional over-reach. Massachesets already implemented universal care. Virginia could do the same. However, I see no basis for the federal government forcing individuals into contracts with private companies.

  6. Mimi Stratton Avatar
    Mimi Stratton

    Mr. Galuszka's post doesn't lack political precision so much as it disagrees with your position on the healthcare reform law. You both have a right to your opinion, of course. But overwhelmingly the opinions I've been reading of the legal constitutionality of Congress to mandate purchase of insurance say that it is well within Congress' right. And these are far more well-informed folks than I.

    What makes me wonder more than anything is the extreme haste in which Cuccinelli filed his lawsuit. He didn't seem to deliberate or consider; it speaks to me of grabbing for media attention–Me first! Me first!

    Cuccinelli has been in office, what? 3months and some days? If you were brand-new in a position, wouldn't you first keep your head down a bit, learn the culture and the nuances of your job? There is plenty of important work for him to do; I wish he'd buckle down and do it.

  7. Mimi Stratton Avatar
    Mimi Stratton

    Since we're all here (so to speak), I'd like to ask everyone's opinion about how to follow the Virginia legislature. It's not on C-Span–what are the best sources to keep up with what Virginia is doing? I only just started following VA politics, though I've lived in Arlington most of my life. Thanks for any help you can give.

  8. Gooze Views Avatar
    Gooze Views

    I agree with your some of your views but disagree with what you say about the constitutionality and legal life span of Cuccinelli's health reform lawsuit.
    It seems that it will be a waste of taxpayer money. According to the New York Times (I know you don't agree with it but the Economist, which you do like, makes some of the same arguments) notes that the federal government has the right to levy taxes and regulate interstate commerce.
    The "penalties" that non-buyers of required insurance are actually "taxes." And if insurance companies sell across state lines, well, that is interstate commerce.
    The Times says today in an editorial that the "cooch's" suit claims that "the new law amounts to an unprecedented encroachment on the sovereignty of the states. It will require them to greatly expand their Medicaid programs, imposing substantial costs, and add administrative burdens in setting up new insurance exchanges that will offer an array of private policies.
    "That seems a stretch. No state is required to set up an exchange. If states fail to do so, the federal government will take over. Nor is any state required to participate in Medicaid, a joint federal-state program in which Washington pays half or more of the costs."
    Cuccinelli can't just waste our tax money going for suits that he doesn't like. And the law the General Assembly passed is litle more than an empty political gesture.
    We've been through the same with the Social Security, Civil Rights Act, Medicare and other laws which were extremely important, brought vast change and were bitterly fought. But not one legal challenge to them has succeeded. Also of interest but of somehow never mentioned is that Richard Nixon, a Republican, managed to get passed the most sweeping environmental laws ever in this country. They has largely withstood legal challenges from states and companies.
    What strikes me as so odd here is that the heallth bill that was passed goes nowhere close to setting up federal involvement in health care that Medicare and Medicaid did. In fact, in my book, there should have been a public option. I'm no doctor, but I come from a family of doctors and many of my friends are doctors. I maintain that they know more about health care than Kenneth N. Cuccinelli, Jr.

    Peter Galuszka

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    I don't know about any of that stuff, but last night I had to drive part of th ebeltway and 66 in the rain.

    Those roads are literally falling apart, and the lane markers are all but invisible. For some stretches drivers, including myself could not determine which lane they were in.

    The beltway maybe has some excuse since it is under construction, on the other hand, being under construction you would think they would have new safety markers in place, at least.

    Cucinelli and his boss need to pay attention to real stuff instead of chicken feed. we are getting to the point some roads are literally falling apart. Instead of just resurfacing we will be faced with far more expensive repairs.

    All to be done with no new taxes, of course.


  10. Anonymous Avatar

    The state legislatures that had the job of regulating inurance companies failed to do the job.

    My experience with the Virginin Insurance Commission left me with the distinct impression that they thought they worked for the insurance company more than they worked for me. Otherwise known as unequal protection of property.

    Now the state has been taken out to the woodshed, and like an errant child Cuccinelli is screaming "Unfair" before the first blow is even struck.

    The Feds have got to be thinking, "What is your problem son, this is going to hurt me more than you."

    The Feds may be able to do it no better, but at least the standards the insurance companies are supposed to live up to will be uniform.

    Speaking of hurt, it is curious that Maryland figures to come out ahead on the health care bill and Virginia behind. How is that?


  11. Groveton Avatar

    This is the best article I have read on the question of Cuccinelli's lawsuit over health care. It is balanced and contains experts on both sides of the question:

  12. Mimi Stratton Avatar
    Mimi Stratton

    Thanks, RH. Appreciate the Sunlight link. And thanks Groveton for the TPM article.

  13. Larry G Avatar

    ha ha ha.. just when the "clown show" very accurately describes the politics in Richmond, Groveton has sworn off the phrase.

    do we think that this was more than a coincidence and actually a strategic move on his part?

    ha ha ha

    come on Groveton.. I think you owe us some explanations here.


  14. Groveton Avatar

    My explanations are on my blog …

    My post "Stolen Without A Gun" is about as aggressive as I am going to get. You'll note that I take the Republicans to task.

    Interestingly, I am in Bad Homburg Germany today (outside Frankfurt). Looking for examples of EMR's functional human settlement patterns. I see some of what EMR describes – dooryard, cluster, alpha community, clear edge, etc. However, I see some of what Jim Bacon worries about too – sky high taxes, lots of restrictions, nanny statism.

    Hard to say whether the relative calm of relatively functional human settlement patters is worth the loss in personal freedom.

  15. Anonymous Avatar

    "Hard to say whether the relative calm of relatively functional human settlement patters is worth the loss in personal freedom."

    One of the costs EMR seems to forget when he talks about all costs being fairly allocated.


  16. Anonymous Avatar

    "…have made a grab-bag of claims, among them that the bill violates state sovereignty."

    Pretty amusing, since the Republicans main suggestions was a federal rule to order cross state sales of insurance.


  17. James A. Bacon Avatar
    James A. Bacon

    I side with Cuccinelli on this one. Permitting the federal government to require people purchase insurance policies would strip the Constitution's "commerce" clause of any meaning whatsoever. The logic could be stretched to cover any human activity or non-activity of any kind (except where it bumps up against other constitutional amendments). Federal regulatory powers would be unlimited.

    That's fine, you say, because you happen to agree with Obama on what needs regulating. But you should fear the precedent you set. What if Sarah Palin or someone like her becomes president? Then she will enjoy the power to force you to do, or not to do, whatever she wants.

    I also agree with RtWing Extrmst that Peter's hyperbole is over the top. Equating Cuccinelli with the KKK? C'mon. Peter, you have serious things to say. Why undermine it with such nonsense?

  18. Gooze Views Avatar
    Gooze Views

    Jim Bacon,
    How exactly am I equating Cuccinelli with the Klan? Do I ever say flatly that he is a Klanner? That's your interpretation. I'm just bringing up the current political atmosphere that seems to be hypercharged unduly with hate politics and disenfranchisement of minorities. And Virginia sure has a history of it, no matter how you don't want to be reminded of it.
    The problem with people like you, Jim, is that you seem to think that politics is not real, but rather a kind of polite little wonky world where the impact is painless. But you tend to hide from some ugly truths and by doing so, you become complicit by not speaking out.
    Peter Galuszka

  19. Anonymous Avatar

    If someone chooses not to buy insurance because they think they don't need it, and they later become sick or injured, who picks up the cost?

    If this was really a case of self- determination, we would allow them to not buy insurance and the penalty would be that you get no medical care unless you can pay for it.

    We have chosen a lesser penalty, if you choose not to buy insurance you pay a fine.

    I don't see the difference except that inthe first case you might not codify the penalty: you would just let it be understood.

    Or is it that the self-determination argument is that you cannot be forced to buy insurance and you also cannot be forced not to sponge off the government?


  20. Larry G Avatar

    " the penalty would be that you get no medical care unless you can pay for it."

    but our savior Ronald Reagan said "no can do" on that point…

    it was the Conservative folk hero, Ronald Reagan who signed his name on the law that said anyone who needs medical care can go the the ER and get it – free.

    so all this stuff that has happened since then.. especially the cost-shifting that hospitals do by charging those who do have insurance – $100 for a toothbrush is the endearing legacy of Ronald "the govt is the problem" Reagan and all the anti-HC nuts apparently are clueless to this important aspect of history.

    Ronald Reagan was a closet socialist – folks..

    you can't revisionist history your way out of this one…

  21. Anonymous Avatar

    " the penalty would be that you get no medical care unless you can pay for it."

    but our savior Ronald Reagan said "no can do" on that point…"


    Exactly. So the position of the self-preservationists is that they cannot be forced to buy something tha they are guaranteed to get anyway – free government sponsored health care.


  22. Anonymous Avatar

    " the penalty would be that you get no medical care unless you can pay for it."

    but our savior Ronald Reagan said "no can do" on that point…


    Exactly. So now the self-determinationist arguement boils down to the idea that they cannot be forced to buy something that they are guaranteed to get anyway – mandatory government sponsored health care.


  23. Gooze Views Avatar
    Gooze Views

    I agree that your blog cite on the "commerce clause" is interesting and one wonders how the Roberts court will deal with it.
    I admit that something in me grumbles when I have the government telling me I have to buy something. However, I understand that our for-profit health system is a dysfunctional model that charges the healthy big bucks while it tries to deny care as much as possible for the sick.
    Meanwhile, the truly sick and indigent (or those who just don't feel like bothering with health insurance) end up getting emergency care at most ER's. Who pays for that? The rest of us with insurance, that's who. Europe has a much better record with access to medical care than we do and they understand that for their system to work, all have to have insurance. That's how Massachusetts' system works and it was begun under a Republican governor no less (who seems strangely quiet on Obamacare).
    This reminds me of my parents' plight a few years ago. My dad was a doctor in a small town. In his latter years, he was quite ill but couldn't get into assisted living because my Mom didn't want to give up her house. So, they, by default, started depending upon their close network of friends, former coworkers and neighbors even though they were in denial that they did so. If Dad fell down and couldn't get up for a couple of hours, a neighbor had to come over and help him. Pretty soon, I was getting calls from people telling me that, hey, you'd better do something — set up some kind of new system, because we can't be held responsible for your parents. It's not that these were poor, ignorant people. Far from it. Just stubborn and Libertarian.
    So to what extent should society or family (namely neighbors) have to endure the true cost of medical care because we don't want to mess with someone's "commercial clause" rights that the right wing is now suddenly trotting out because they couldn't kill health care reform legislatively?
    Does society have to spend a hell of lot just to honor the stubborn right of someone not to provide himself with a needed service.
    Speaking of Dad, he was a Navy doctor in WWII and saw a lot of combat with the Marines. When "Saving Private Ryan" came out just before he died, he was disgusted. It was just blame wrong for the military to sacrifice so many lives just to save somebody's brother for sentimental reasons, he said.
    He may have been wrong on refusing to get more help but he was right on the Tom Hank's movie.
    So what's the point here. "Saving Lindsey Libertarian?"
    Peter Galuszka

  24. Larry G Avatar

    If we did not have Medicare – a WHOLE LOT of people would be getting calls to go take care of their parents.

    That's the dark side of this issue.

    It's okay if Mom and Dad get subsidized govt health care because it relives the sons and daughters from having to cough up the money.

    but it's not okay if Joe Blow down the street has a wife who is under 65 but can't get up when they fall.

    and for those who advocate self reliance.. who more than those who have spent their whole lives preparing for their retirement would you think least needs govt subsidized health care?

    If you spend your whole life contemplating what you would do the last years of your life and you don't prepare adequately, why should the govt take care of you – especially when there are kids who never had the opportunity to prepare for their health needs?

    the whole system is backwards in my view.

    People pay about 30K on average into Medicare and then about $100 a month and virtually everyone takes more out of the fund that they put into it..

    and we know it..

    and we say that Medicare will go broke if we don't fix this

    and then when we say we need to fix it – the Conservatives talk about sending Granny to a death panel… so they can get Granny to vote for the guys who would deny the same benefits that granny gets to others.

  25. Anonymous Avatar

    This has nothing to do with commercial clause issues and everything to do with denying and defeating the opponent at every possible turn and hedgrow.

    It is wartime thinking, not a plan to improve society and get some of the credit. Republicans would rather fight a delaying battle in the hope their fortunes will turn inn the future.

    To them, the commerce clause is just a bangalore torpedo to slide across the enemy lines.


  26. Anonymous Avatar

    People pay about 30K on average into Medicare and then about $100 a month and virtually everyone takes more out of the fund that they put into it..


    But you put the money in back when it was worth more and it was paying contemporary bills at that time. Such payments essentially "earn interest" even though they are not placed in a bank.

    You are not getting back your own money that you put in, and this is a faulty way to view the situation.

    The situation is still bad, don't get me wrong, but not for the reasons you think.



  27. Mimi Stratton Avatar
    Mimi Stratton

    Dear Mr. Galuszka,
    I want to thank you for sharing your parent's story with us. Families everywhere are going through the same decisions; it is very stressful in the best of circumstances. My own parents moved to a nursing home when Mom had a stroke. There was no way Dad could provide the around-the-clock care she now requires. He has a decent pension; but even so, in a very few years they will be broke (at $250/day–for Mom's room alone) and of course, I don't expect a penny of inheritance. I'll be lucky if my own income doesn't take a substantial hit in caring for them; there are many costs not covered by Medicare.

    Even with friends and family nearby, the care of aging parents is a huge burden for us boomers. We like to think we're aging so much better than previous generations but I don't think that's necessarily true.

    One of the best things we can do for ourselves is purchasing a supplemental long-term care insurance for the days when we are at the same stage of life (shudder) in needing assistance with the activities of daily living.

    One of the hard facts of facing up to this healthcare reform debate is the intractable evidence of our own mortality.

  28. Anonymous Avatar

    "My own parents moved to a nursing home when Mom had a stroke. There was no way Dad could provide the around-the-clock care she now requires."

    Yep, same here.

    Mom-in Law showed up at our house in the middle of the night driving her car in an ice storm, having locked herself out of the house when she thought it was time for church.

    My father died suddenly, but the other parents underwent long slow declines that ate up their savings and the government funds, and ultimately our savings.

    Naturally, this puts us in a hole for the future.

    Given my luck with insurance companies I'm not too sanguine I'll ever see a dime out of long term care insurance, and probably hope I don't.

    One of the hard facts of facing up to this healthcare reform debate is the intractable fact that we can save a lot of money by dying a couple of years earlier.


  29. Larry G Avatar

    so the Republicans were right all alone – die quickly.

  30. Larry G Avatar

    one of the things that is truly perverse in the economics of Medicare is the actuarials which are predicated on a certain number of folks dying before they can use up the funds they paid into Medicare.

    When you get right down to it – this is what it comes down to if there is no Medicare AND even if there is Medicare.

    looks like we need insurance for if we don't die when we should, eh?

  31. Groveton Avatar

    Oddly, I have no problem with government mandated health insurance. I just think that the right government in this case is the state government. The Mass. law was just fine by me – for the people in Mass. How do you think the same law would fare if voted on as a referendum in Virginia? I believe it would fail and fail badly. However, I'd be happy to see the matter decided in my home state.

    For those who have read what I have written over the years my stance on this matter should be quite predictable. I believe that the governemnt which governs closest to the people governs best. That means transferring power from the federal government to the state. And, more importantly, transferring even more power from the state government to the localities. I realize that the transfer fo power from the state government to the localities should be accomplished via a change to the Virginia Constitution. However, I feel no such change is needed for the US Constitution. The founding fathers clearly wanted to limit the power of the central government. Generations of Americans have apparently agreed since the US Constitution has only been amended a very few times. I believe that the health care bill is unconstitutional and I applaud Mr. Cuccinelli for filing suit against the federal government.

    Since there is much talk of how much better European countries handle their affairs I thought I'd ask my hosts here in Germany for their opinion. They all like Obama and believe that health care is a right. However, they are all equally cautious about the level of taxation and regulation in Germany. Germans do not pay property tax (beyond the initial purchase of the land). However, a moderately successful executive can expect to pay 50% of his or her salary in income taxes. In addition, the Value Added Tax (VAT) is 19% of just about everything. So, the bill at dinner was sunject to a 19% tax which the restaurant owner must pay to the government. The restaurant owner may deduct the VAT he paid on the raw materials which went into the dinner. If he paid 10 euros for shrimp and sells grilled shrimp for 20 euros, he must collect 3.80 euros from the diners but may deduct the 1.90 euros he paid to the fishmonger for the shrimp. Petrol comes by the liter and costs about 1.50 euros per liter. There are about 3.8 liters in a US gallon so a US gallon of gas would cost 5.70 euros. Meanwhile, one euro is worth about $1.30. So, a gallon of gas in Germany costs $7.41. Of this amount, approximately 80% is tax. All present at the dinner agreed that too many Germans lived their lives on the dole usually engaging in some "cash only" work (which allows them to stay on the dole but earn a little more money).

    On the positive side, unlike France, German tax law allows for very few exemptions. A well paid business executive can expect to file a 2 page tax return.

    All American need to start seriously considering how life will change if we continue to adopt the European model. Certainly, that's the path down which Obama is headed. Over the next 6 – 9 months expect to see schools, energy and financial regulation on his agenda. Is this Communism? No. Is it Socialism? It's pretty darn close.

  32. Anonymous Avatar

    Comparing required health insurance to require car insurance is stupid.

    Only individuals who have the privilege of owning vehicles are required to pay car insurance. If you don't own a car, you don't have to pay a penalty for not having car insurance.

    The health insurance penalty (tax) is almost essentially a tax on mere human existence.

  33. Larry G Avatar

    the idea behind having to have insurance for the car is the same idea behind having to pay into social security and Medicare though.

    same basic concept which is – ironically – enforced personal responsibility…

    the anti-HC folks are essentially arguing that folks should be able to be irresponsible with regards to their eventual needs – of which I would actually agree with if we did not say the government would go to their aid later on when they needed it.

    But we don't do that. We play this silly game that people don't have to save for their future needs – as a "right" and then they come back to us and tell us we have to pay for their retirement and health care even though they had chosen to not pay into it earlier in their lives.

    this is exactly why we make people pay into Medicare and SS and exactly why – if they are going to drive that they are forced to be financially responsible – one way or the other.

    that's basically what part of this HC reform is about – and not in coincidentally – the same theme is all other countries that provide universal HC – each person must pay into it because only complete fools and idiots would accept anyone's assertion that they don't need HC now nor will they in the future.

    How many people if SS and Medicare were OPTIONAL would pay into it?

    we're just playing silly games here.

    the reality is that many folks will not prepare for their future and they will come back to the others later on when they are penniless with their hat in their hand and we will pay.

  34. Mimi Stratton Avatar
    Mimi Stratton

    Europeans have 50%+ taxes for several reasons, including the fact they have something like the public option–which we do not have in this just-passed bill. I'm not sure we can know for sure that Obama's plans are to move toward a European-style healthcare system; he is focused now education (not doing a great job, there, in my opinion) and as for finance reform, I hope we may have better bipartisan cooperation.

    I do agree with you that local government is best when providing social services. I just wish that Virginia, a fairly wealthy state, was ranked higher than #47 nationally in providing health and human services to its citizens.

  35. Larry G Avatar

    actually German health care is not public option but actually a lot like this Federal Govt's FEHB Health care:

    " Health Reform Without a Public Plan: The German Model"


    "… the health systems of the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland are any guide.

    None of these countries uses a government-run, Medicare-like health insurance plan. They all rely on purely private, nonprofit or for-profit insurers that are goaded by tight regulation to work toward socially desired ends. And they do so at average per-capita health-care costs far below those of the United States — costs in Germany and the Netherlands are less than half of those here."

    perhaps Groveton can inquire of his German hosts as to their thoughts about their Health Care system.

  36. Mimi Stratton Avatar
    Mimi Stratton

    Comparing required health insurance to required car insurance is probably stupid, only because having to replace a car is a drop in the bucket compared to the costs of recovery from cancer, or from an "unplanned" heart attack, or the effects of diabetes.

    Only the very young who've never gotten sick, or the very foolish think they don't need insurance.
    And yet, the state of Virginia, in its infinite wisdom is the only state in the nation to pass a law "protecting" its citizens from having to buy health insurance. Why? Please don't tell me it's because we love our freedom or I will gag.

  37. Anonymous Avatar

    I'd like to see the 10th Amendment litigated and decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Just what does it mean in this context? I don't think this is frivolous whatever the Court decides. I'm glad the lawsuits were filed.

    Politically, the problem, IMO, is that Obama bit off way too much and will create too many losers. I worked for a telecom company for 20 years. Many of my friends from that company and others retired with health care benefits. Part of the employment contract. AT&T just announced a $1 billion write-down related to hearth care reform. AT&T and others will cut back on retirement and probably employment health care benefits. Like or not, those employees and retirees are very angry. Health care reform is a loss for them.

    I read today where young people will likely face big increases in health care costs. That is a loss for them. I suspect many will react very negatively when they start getting these bills.

    I also read today that most health care insurance companies expect to raise premiums because of health care reform. People who pay premiums in whole or in part are losers under health care reform.

    Obama is going to cut Medicare. People who receive Medicare benefits are losers under health care reform.

    I submit most people don't worry about political or economic theory. They simply measure whether they are better off or worse off. Obama created too many losers with his plan. He overreached. That's the political problem.

    I think Obama is very smart and very personable. But I also believe he is in way over his head. Reminds me of Jimmy Carter. The Recovery Act is generally regarded as a failure. People see a run up in the national debt and few jobs. Cap and Trade has alienated many real people. People see Wall Street and big companies winning, while their energy bills will increase. Health care reform is similar — too many people see themselves as losers.

    I think that a Hillary Clinton or Mark Warner might have tackled the same basic issues, but more narrowly, more targeted. I think either would have taken manageable bites at issues and kept Pelosi on a short leash. I suspect either Clinton or Warner would be viewed as successful.


  38. Mimi Stratton Avatar
    Mimi Stratton

    Wow–good for those Germans! And Belgians, and Swiss. Great health care, and quality of life (the food, the sitting in outdoor cafes, the more leisurely lifestyle . . .)

  39. Larry G Avatar

    TMT – the ATT and other companies write-downs.. were.. in effect taxpayer subsidies of those "private" health care programs, right?

    another subsidy – many of these "private' HC programs force their subscribers to make Medicare their primary while they become the secondary – for the SAME premium cost.

    Many people on Medicare pay $100 a month. Tell me where else you can get that kind of coverage for $100 a month?

    those who can afford to pay more SHOULD be paying more – ESPECIALLY if Medicare will cease to be a viable program if something is not done.

    but here's what I really have a hard time with.

    On one hand – virtually everyone says that Medicare will go broke.

    I've not heard anyone say that the solution is to kill Medicare. Nope.. instead we tell Granny that death panels will fix Medicare starting with her.

    whenever anyone proposes that Medicare recipients pay more of the costs so that Medicare does not go broke – there's heck to pay. We're taking away their "entitlement" – you know – the same "entitlement" that they say others under age 65 should not get.

    then the final insult.

    Medicare will go broke …

    well.. yes.. but so will private health care if they don't ALSO raise their rates, cut their benefits AND have the one option that Medicare does not have in reducing costs – the ability to dump those who cost too much.

    TMT nailed it. The folks who have it good – don't want it less good…

  40. Larry G Avatar

    here is the rest of the NYT Economix article – that has persuaded me on this issue:

    " To see how this can work, think of the basic functions that any health system must perform. To wit:

    1. the financing of health care, that is, the extraction of the required funds from individuals and households who ultimately pay for 100 percent of all health care

    2. the pooling of individual risks with the aim of protecting individuals and households from the high costs of medical care in case of illness

    3. the purchasing of health care from its providers (doctors, hospitals, drug companies, etc.)

    4. the production of health care goods and services

    5. the regulation of the entire system so that it operates towards socially desired ends.
    Who should perform these functions is powerfully driven by the distributive social ethic that nations wish to impose upon their health systems.

    In Europe, as in Canada, that social ethic is based on the principle of social solidarity. It means that health care should be financed by individuals on the basis of their ability to pay, but should be available to all who need it on roughly equal terms. The regulations imposed on health care in these countries are rooted in this overarching principle.

    First, these countries all mandate the individual to be insured for a basic package of health care benefits.

    Many Americans oppose such a mandate as an infringement of their personal rights, all the while believing that they have a perfect right to highly expensive, critically needed health care, even when they cannot pay for it."

  41. Groveton Avatar

    "In Europe, as in Canada, that social ethic is based on the principle of social solidarity. It means that health care should be financed by individuals on the basis of their ability to pay, but should be available to all who need it on roughly equal terms. The regulations imposed on health care in these countries are rooted in this overarching principle.".

    LarryG quoting the New York Times.

    "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need (or needs) is a slogan popularized by Karl Marx in his 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program.[1] The phrase summarizes the principles that, under a communist system, every person should contribute to society to the best of his or her ability and consume from society in proportion to his or her needs. In the Marxist view, such an arrangement will be made possible by the abundance of goods and services that a developed communist society will produce; the idea is that there will be enough to satisfy everyone's needs.".

    Groveton quoting Karl Marx.

  42. Larry G Avatar

    Now that we have that out of the way – how about Groveton getting a couple of quotes from real live Germans about their "marxist" Health Care System?

    "Be all you can be" – Larry quoting the U.S. Army

    Each child enabled to meet his/her full potential – Larry quoting the standard public school mission that feeds kids who need it and gives each of them special help according to their academic needs.

    The very essence of the American Dream is what?

    Public Education – designed, developed and rendered according to Mr. Marx espoused principles.

    YO GROVETON! If you get a minute – go ask a couple of Germans how they like their health care… their egalitarian Karl Marx health care…..

  43. Mimi Stratton Avatar
    Mimi Stratton

    and bring us all back some strudel, pleeeaaaase . . .

  44. Anonymous Avatar

    Larry – there is not enough trust in government to permit a movement to a social solidarity-style health care program. Let's see Congress abolish their own health care program and jump into what they've voted for the public. Let's bar members of Congress from Bethesda and Walter Reed.

    "The folks who have it good – don't want it less good…" That is absolutely correct. Few people want to give up something without obtaining some sort of benefit. Now that benefit need not personal gain. Look at the sacrifices made by residents of the United States during World War II. But I suggest those who oppose this plan of health care reform don't believe that they will gain anything.

    I can understand how someone who does not have insurance could support this plan. But again, he/she is getting something and his/her motivation is no different from those who oppose this plan of reform because they perceive loss.

    It's like old Creigh Deeds. He saw money coming from Fairfax County to be redistributed around the state. I perceived I would likely lose more with Deeds. Been down that path with Mark Warner; saw a $107 million net flow to Richmond; $7.3 million come back in new state aid for Fairfax Schools; and 49 cities and counties cut their local support for public schools the next fiscal year. McDonnell reversed Kaine's proposed freeze of the Local Composite Index (LCI), worth $61 million to Fairfax County. This is any easy choice for me. People generally need to see they benefit from public decision-making. I don't think that is a bad thing at all.


  45. Larry G Avatar

    TMT – Congress had the same exact plan that all Federal Govt employees have – and the new HC plan is styled the same way and if not mistaken Congress will have to give up their Govt plans and join the exchanges.

    but what does any of this have to do with anything that Congress has done now or in the past to start with?

    where was this concern 5 years ago when Tom Delay had govt health care and walter reed perks and rammed through Medicare part D – off budget at 4am in the morning?

    How many members of Congress who voted against HC reform are currently active recipients of govt controlled single-payer Medicare?

    Are those guys/gals who are opposed to single payer HC going to give up their own single payer HC – as a demonstration of their principles?

    I respect Ron Paul and even Dick Armey. They are true to their principles and they have a single consistent position – that the govt should not be involved in health care – in any way, shape or form – no excuses -no exceptions.

    That's a position that does not wobble.

    The rest of these guys are feckless weak-kneed blatherbutts.

    If you want to be opposed to HC and especially single-payer govt HC then take that position – and stick to it.

    Man up to the rhetoric. Be a man and stop being a girlie man (sorry Mimi).

    If we really don't want socialized medicine – then openly advocate for the repeal of EMTALA – the law that guarantees free medical care to anyone including illegals – and the very reason why HC costs are skyrocketing.

    you want to know why illegals come here?

    Jobs and free medical care. right?

    I can take principled opposition but this flavor gags.

  46. Anonymous Avatar

    Larry, back up the truck. Members of Congress have access to Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital. Regular federal employees, such as my wife, do not.

    My point is not about consistency in theory or belief. It's that the reform plan will create too many people who lose something. That is not a measure for political success.

    It's similar to the sales tax referenda for developers, err transportation. Too many people thought correctly that they would pay more in taxes and see the money go to enrich one big landowner or another.

    I expect to see much of Obamacare unravel overtime. It hurts too many people. He should have picked four or five smaller reforms; got them through Congress; and made incremental progress. But then he should have targeted stimulus money at real public works projects, rather than saving state and local government employee jobs. He's a likable and smart guy who is in way over his head.


  47. Mimi Stratton Avatar
    Mimi Stratton

    Obama in over his head, huh? He deserves a HUGE amount of credit from saving us from the brink of economic collapse.

    He managed to pass healthcare reform, something no one else has accomplished.

    The middle class, young adults, we're all getting squeezed–not because of healthcare reform (and I'm skeptical the AT&T write-down can immediately be traced to h/c reform, regardless of what they've told you) but because the rich are getting richer, paying less percentage of taxes than they did back in 1961, and the middle class getting poorer.

    You said: "Obama is going to cut Medicare."

    That is not true. In fact, Medicare is getting strengthened due to the closing of the famous "donut-hole". Seniors are getting a break on paying the cost of their prescriptions. Medicare Advantage is having a reduction in some the add-on benefits–but only a small percentage of people use M/A; most, by far, use traditional Medicare.

    This bill makes winners of everyone in America. But the Rs lied so much about it; they had everyone scared to death. They are geniuses at that.

  48. Larry G Avatar

    TMT – I can buy your point of view.

    but to clarify – Congress has always had Walter Reed Perks though – not just under Obamacare -right?

    I'm still not sure what Walter Reed has to do with all of this at this point in time.. unless I'm being dense or something.

    probably too much – certainly in the perception of many but I have a hard time separating out the genuine concerns with HC and the underlying "he ain't one of us" sentiment.

    What I am convinced of is that the fire and fury over the avalanche of misinformation is going to subside and that just as with other legislation (like Medicare part D, the Patriot Act – and even original Medicare – that it will take time for the law to be turned into govt regulations that we'll all start to understand.

    Heckfire.. when you talk to people about how Medicare works – even the folks on Medicare itself don't have a clue on a lot of it.

    The average person NOT on Medicare, for instance, thinks it's free and mandatory and both are false.

    Of course some of these folks still think Saddam is the one who took down the twin towers also.

    further..just as we have witnessed with the Va 3202 legislation.. if some aspects of the law are really really stinky.. I think we'll see them whacked… or tweaked , etc…

    The original Medicare has been poked, prodded, tweaked, and tuned-up several times since it's original passage and I fully expect the same to happen to this legislation.

    I think it's going to take a while to understand this bill just as it has with previous legislation.

  49. Anonymous Avatar

    Larry – my point on Congress is: Give up Walter Reed/Bethesda Medical Center and live under FEHP and however that is changed, if at all.

    Mimi – your arguments are breath-taking! No Medicare cuts.

    AT&T write-down

    I agree that the write-down relates to a change in the federal tax code that was changed as a result of health care reform. One can fairly argue whether this tax break was right or wrong. But it helped fund health care benefits earned by AT&T retirees during their career. Ending the tax break will likely result in benefit reductions in the future. I suspect that those retirees and their families will think that they are worse off because of health care reform.

    If everyone thought health care reform was so wonderful, why are Obama's poll numbers sinking? I am not a rabid anti-Obama person. I think his policies to crack down on Wall Street are good and probably don't go far enough. But he bit off much more than he can chew on health care reform and has created a critical mass of U.S. citizens who see that they lose more than they gain from health care reform.


  50. Larry G Avatar

    " But it helped fund health care benefits earned by AT&T retirees during their career."

    "it" being a taxpayer subsidy available to AT&T retirees and not to others?

    doesn't this define our current system of winners and losers with the govt involved in who gets and who does not?

    as far as cutting Medicare – I ask – how do we keep it from going broke?

    How can on one hand we say it's going broke but then on the other hand when cuts to preserve are proposed – it proves the govt is trying to screw retirees?

    how can you win with this approach?

    It's a lose – lose.

    If you don't do anything, you're irresponsible. If you do ,do're "hurting" people".

    how much more disengenous can the dialog get?

    then finally – we pay twice as much per capita …for health care because we provide late-stage, exceptionally expensive ER care "free" … and when I say "we", I mean all the folks on Medicare, on the govt FEHB program and everyone else who has insurance.

    …because we apparently are so afraid that if we give them Primary Care – it will someone make our system more socialistic and make people more dependent and less willing to work….

    Only in this country – do we reason this way and I use the word "reason" with caveats out the wazoo.

    We are so selfish as a nation that we'd rather pay twice as much for free ER care than to give those same people 1/2 price Primary Care because the former way we can pretend we don't pay but the latter way, we have to admit it.

    and then the same Pretenders blame the messengers who tell them this… like it's the messengers who made it this way.

    I hate to say it but we are one dumb-as-a-stump nation when it comes to health care.

    It's one thing to be ornery but to be ornery and stupid is more than enough.

  51. Larry G Avatar

    not insulting you TMT and my apologies if you received it that way.

    I do get spun up on some subjects.

  52. Mimi Stratton Avatar
    Mimi Stratton

    Dear TMT,
    Here's what I see in almost every organization — where I work, apparently where you work as well. There are these wedges being placed between us all — retirees, the recently-hired, young vs. old, baby-bearers vs. non-breeders . . . as management offsets more and more of the cost of healthcare onto the employee. It's so easy to divide us–and so difficult for us to hang together! You say people will blame healthcare reform for their reduced benefits–is it that? That alone?

    Healthcare is skyrocketing, and somebody's got to pay. I'm starting to see this as one societal symptom of a greater evil–that of a disproportionate amount of tax burden being placed on the middle class. The top 1% of earners are paying far less tax today than they did in the 60s and 70s, creating a staggering disparity between super-rich and everyone else, and the uneven society that results has us all at each other's throats. Healthcare reform debate perfect example. This probably topic for another blog.

    Obama's numbers are at 51% currently. Not too shabby for someone attempting to tackle some very difficult topics; certainly better than his predecessor's. When h/c law passed, there was an initially positive public reaction. See Gallup:

    Time will tell. There are so many people making predictions about what's going to happen–taxes will go sky-high! Medicare is going to get cut! Dogs and cats, living together . . . who really knows? Does anyone have a crystal ball? We didn't know for sure that the stimulus was going to work; we hoped, and looking at my 401K, now back at levels before the crash, I can see it has had a positive effect on stocks. (Have been reading "The Great Depression Ahead", by Harry S. Dent, Jr, who says there's another crash coming) Yes, unemployment is lagging, but it does that historically. My friends who watch this say it lags behind about 9-12 months, and the stimulus effects didn't really kick in until about February 2010, so we may have to wait to Nov 2010 before we can hope to see unemployment trends start to improve. Here's hoping it's sooner; it's very very difficult out there.

  53. Anonymous Avatar

    Larry – no offense taken.

    Mimi – Sticking together can be a good thing or a bad thing. When someone wants me to stick with them so that they win and I lose, I generally not only refuse to stick together, but also I try to derail that someone's efforts. I've also been fairly successful at that over the years.

    When I saw the sales tax referendum for "improved transportation" was really designed to enrich real estate developers, I helped fight and defeat the referendum. I worked against the Mark Warner – John Chichester tax increases because it shipped more money from Fairfax County so other localities could lower their real estate taxes. I know quite a few bozos who worked hard sticking together for the harm of their neighbors.

    On the other hand, I've stuck with people to support Tim Kaine's efforts that resulted in the 527 traffic impact analysis law; to oppose the madness of the Tysons Land Use Task Force to impose Manhattan-sized density and the associated infrastructure tax bills on residents of Fairfax County; to persuade Governor McDonnell to reverse Governor Kaine's freeze of the Local Composite Index that would have cost Fairfax County $61 million.

    I think it is foolish for people to work against their better interests. I'm all for compromise for progress, but not when there are no benefits whatsoever for me.

    There is a better chance the sun will rise over California's Pacific Coast tomorrow morning than there is for this Congress to make any positive changes improve health care for me. More taxes; more bureaucrats; no cost savings. Every entitlement program ever created by Congress now broke or almost broke. Why should any sound-thinking person believe otherwise?


  54. Mimi Stratton Avatar
    Mimi Stratton

    TMT bring up some great examples of how wedges get driven between us.

    The four billionaires in Virginia are sitting on collective personal fortunes of 22.9 billion (Forbes). Yet the state of Virginia is facing a $1.2 billion shortfall. So every single university of higher learning in Virginia is being slashed. Health and human services planned cuts will devastate an already broken system of care.

    In VA, the top 1% of the rich pay 4.2% income tax. Middle class (20% of population) pay 3.3%. (
    If today’s rich — in Virginia and out across the United States — were paying as much of their incomes in taxes as America’s rich paid back in the middle of the 20th century, we would be witnessing no public sector meltdown.

  55. Groveton Avatar


    "The top 1% of earners are paying far less tax today than they did in the 60s and 70s,…".

    The top 1% of wage earners do not pay a smaller total percentage of the tax burden than in the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, that's completely wrong. Here's a look at the top 1/2 of 1% –

    I am very open minded if you can provide any authoritative data to the contrary but I've looked at this matter dozens of times and I don't think you will find the rebuttal.

    However, it is fair to say that the rich are getting richer. The top 1% controls more of the country's total wealth than in the the 1960s and 1970s but it hasn't occurred because they are paying a smaller share of the overall tax bill. Quite the opposite in fact.

    As I wrote, I am happy to change my opinion in light of facts.

  56. Mimi Stratton Avatar
    Mimi Stratton

    Sorry, my URL broke. (Hate it when that happens). Here it is, from Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy:

  57. Mimi Stratton Avatar
    Mimi Stratton

    Yes, Mr. Groveton, if you don't mind me pointing you towards another URL. In 2007, IRS data show top 400 averaged over $344 million, 27 times more than top 400 averaged in 1955. But top 400 in 1955 paid over 3x more of their income in fed tax than top 400 in 2007. see

    The rich aren't paying their fair share.

  58. Anonymous Avatar

    Only individuals who have the privilege of owning vehicles are required to pay car insurance.


    Virtually a specious argument since virtually everyone does own a car. The analogy seems valid even if it is extended as you point out. You are still required to buy insurance provided you wish to do a certaqin thing (drive a car, live in the US).

    You are not required to buy auto insuance for your self or your property, but you are required to buy insurance which covers damage to others.

    You can look at health insurance the same way: you buy it when you are healthy and don't need it, not for youself but to cover the costs of others, who happen to be ill or damaged this month. In turn, they do the same for you.

    Opposing mandatory coverage is just another way of saying you think people should be free to be free riders.


  59. Mimi Stratton Avatar
    Mimi Stratton

    Mr. Groveton,
    Head to the Web site of University of California economist Emmanuel Saez. He's the most recent winner of the American Economic Association John Bates Clark prize as the best economist in the U.S. under age 40.

    This is the link to the data set we've been discussing:

    Go to table 2, a chart that runs from 1960 to 2004 (nothing has changed since 2004 on tax federal income rates).

    Average incomes for most Americans have not risen in the last 10 years. We're hurting!

  60. Anonymous Avatar

    because only complete fools and idiots would accept anyone's assertion that they don't need HC now nor will they in the future.


    I'm willing to let them opt out, but with the understnding that it is a true one way ticket. After you opt out the only health care you get is what you pay for.

    Some people believe cash health care would reduce costs, so I'm willing to let them take the risks, and we will see if it lowers costs.

    My guess is that it would lower costs because the money is simply not available. Costs would be lowered by the amount of health care services such people can't afford to buy. They can be their own death committtee. Give them exactly the "freedom" they demand.


  61. Anonymous Avatar

    "even though they had chosen to not pay into it earlier in their lives."


    This is part of the silly game we play, pretending that good planning is sufficient in this area. In fact, no amount of prudent saving and planning will be enough to protect you if you just have a little bad luck.

  62. Anonymous Avatar

    Groveton admits the rich are getting richer relative to the middle class.

    We hope that continues to be so, but less quickly.

  63. Larry G Avatar

    " I'm willing to let them opt out, but with the understnding that it is a true one way ticket. After you opt out the only health care you get is what you pay for.

    In fact, no amount of prudent saving and planning will be enough to protect you if you just have a little bad luck. "

    this is why it is called INSURANCE.

    you buy INSURANCE. You don't get a refund if you don't use it because what you paid went to pay for someone else.

    this IS – PLANNING

    letting people "opt-out" is like letting peope opt-out of SS or Medicare or fire insurance or auto insurance.

    you could save a bundle of money if you did not need auto insurance – right?

    "opting out" of HC is not "opting out" if when you do get sick – you can show up at the ER and receive medical care courtesy of others .

    that's why I say we won't walk-the-walk.

    we talk the talk – personal responsibility, personal decision-making and all that right but when they show up hat-in-hand at the ER for $1000 worth of medical care care paid for by other that should have cost them $200 of their own money we have a problem that we won't face the reality off.

    You cut of free ER care and I guarantee you of two things:

    1. – more people would buy their insurance.

    2. – we're have regular occurrences of people dying at the entrances of ERs…

    it's item number 2. that these girlie men who say they are opposed to socialized HC won't follow through on.

    I don't agree that this would be any more or less socialized medical care but if others do feel that way – then fine – walk-the-walk and stop living the lie.

  64. Anonymous Avatar

    Mimi – I share your concerns about income inequality, but head in different directions. Part of the problem is competition, domestic and global, that reduces the ability of those with fewer skills and/or lesser education to earn a good living. Piled on that we have a much larger public employee sector and reams of regulations, many of which are not effective. (I am not arguing that we need neither government employees or regulations, but their costs are increasingly passed along to those lower on the economic scale in the form of lower wages.)

    By failing to enforce our immigration laws, we import competition for our least skilled citizens. We also import poverty, which increases government operating costs. (I'm not arguing against immigration, but illegal immigration pushes down wages, generally for the benefit of the well-to-do.)

    We permit the uber-rich to create foundations that go on for years largely tax free. Let Bill Gates make billions, lightly taxed today, but why let him live on after death through a tax exempt foundation, when most people leaving assets to their families pay estate taxes or will soon? Henry Ford has been dead for more than 60 years. Yet, the Ford Foundation lives on tax free. Why not tax private foundations as if they were businesses?

    The financial services industry has moved from financing business growth to Las Vegas gambling. How many people have been hurt by increases in commodity prices caused by traders and manipulators? How much has the middle class suffered so that investments can be liquid? New financial products allegedly designed to reduce business risk has created huge business risks and failures that were remedied by taxpayers. Increase the tax on capital gains on assets held for less than six months to 80% and you'd see a better working financial market.

    Reduce and eliminate subsidies to businesses. Let people compete without subsidies and without the ability to hobble their competitors through subsidies.

    Increase restrictions on lobbyists. Make them reduce their requests to writing and post them on the Internet.

    These changes would do a lot more for wage equality than raising taxes.


  65. Anonymous Avatar

    letting people "opt-out" is like letting peope opt-out of SS or Medicare or fire insurance or auto insurance.


    Exactly, you opt out on fire insurance, you sign up for accepting full risk: you lose your house you still have to pay the morgage, if you can get one.

    You can opt out of auto insurance, you just can't drive if you do.

    You can opt out of health insurance but yu get do not resuscitate tattooed on your forhead. No emergency ER services except cash up front.

    They talk a good talk but not very many would actually avail themselves of that "freedom". I think wse can accept the Darwinian losses for those that do.


  66. Anonymous Avatar

    opting out" of HC is not "opting out" if when you do get sick – you can show up at the ER and receive medical care courtesy of others .


    That's what I mean, you can only opt out if you give up all health care not paid immediately by yourself, no loans, no nothing: you agree to become a health care leper.

    Give the morons what they ask for, and good riddance.

    We can have a new survivor show where the winner is the one that suffers longest without his dialysis. Naturally the sponsors would be health insurance companies.


  67. Anonymous Avatar

    " Part of the problem is competition, domestic and global, that reduces the ability of those with fewer skills and/or lesser education to earn a good living."


    Same as my comment to EMR: you cannot adjust the prices to reduce competition and expect a good outcome.


  68. Anonymous Avatar

    "You can opt out of auto insurance, you just can't drive if you do."

    Not quite correct. Virginia law allows one to pay a $500 unisured motorist fee and drive without insurance.

    And, yes, I'd argue that a state's power over licensing drivers is different than the federal government's authority over health care. That's why I want to see the 10th Amendment lawsuits be litigated. The Commerce Clause and the 10th Amendment need to be reconciled.


  69. Larry G Avatar

    " competition, domestic and global, that reduces the ability of those with fewer skills and/or lesser education to earn a good living"

    all things being equal – don't all the rest of the industrialized countries who also offer UHC have to deal with this same issue?

    re: " no insurance, no ER care"

    nope. even the most strident of the opponents won't address this.

    The ONLY Conservative that I have heard who has mentioned EMTALA as part and parcel of the govt HC issue is Ron Paul and even Paul does not advocate repeal but instead special govt payments to the ER staff and operation.

    In other words, even Ron Paul favors subsidies for the ER – except from taxpayers not the insurance companies.

    In other words, have the govt take ownership of the cost-shifting.

    we have folks who are opposed to UHC but in favor of EMTALA which to me is an untenable philosophical position and worse.

    It's a "pretend" position.

    We "pretend" that we don't have govt-subsidized HC at the ER level and we hold fast to that fantasy because if we actually come right out and admit it – then we're admitting we actually do have a socialistic govt and that idea is unacceptable to those who want to believe that our current system is not socialistic (except of course for our Seniors and Kids).

  70. Mimi Stratton Avatar
    Mimi Stratton

    I'm with you on the reduction of subsidies to businesses–because that IS the way to raise tax revenue. And have been studying Oregon's recent success in this regard. Oregon State Public Interest Research Group
    (OSPIRG) has just come out with a report that shows how much tax subsidies are being given away to corporations with very little accountability. And Oregon successfully passed a more progressive tax initiative. The same thing wasteful practices happens in Virginia! There's a document called Tax Expenditure Report in Virginia
    and it points out how Virginia gives away the store year after year, never going back and figuring out if we're getting any value for the tax revenue we're simply giving away. So this is one of those common interests we discussed earlier–how do we tap it?

  71. Larry G Avatar

    " And, yes, I'd argue that a state's power over licensing drivers is different than the federal government's authority over health care."

    the Fed is charging a fee, a tax, if you don't have HC much like it does if you don't pay into FICA or the state charges you if you don't have auto insurance.

    Let's say the SCOTUS agrees that the Feds cannot use the current path.

    All they will do is make the HC work like SS and Medicare currently work – and on your tax form – you get a credit for proof of purchase your insurance – a W99 or whatever.

    this is a tax guys. it will appear as a tax on your 1040 form and you get a deduction for your purchased HC that will offset that tax.

  72. Anonymous Avatar

    Mimi – I don't want a bigger state government. The Commonwealth has an abuser-abusive relationship with Fairfax County. It takes more than its fair share of our tax dollars to subsidize not just the truly poor areas of Virginia (which is OK with me), but also most of the rest of the state (which is not OK with me). Virginia's public colleges and universities discriminate against Fairfax County students in admissions. It has also ignored many ways that it could become more efficent. Check with former Governor Doug Wilder.

    And I'm hesitant to support any new social programs, because they get funded in perpetuity even when they don't work. I share your dislike of business subsidies, but not your vision of a bigger government — anywhere.

    We need a small government that is efficient; does not do things beyond its charter; treats government employees fairly; encourages job growth without subsidizing businesses; and protects public safety.


  73. Larry G Avatar

    We have down in the Fredericksburg Area a clinic known as the Moss Free Clinic and it sits right next to the Hospital Complex.

    It's no open 24 hrs but it does have substantial "local" community support and it's not ER care and much more like Primary care.

    Sometimes I think something along those lines would have been more acceptable to more people than Fed govt HC.

  74. Mimi Stratton Avatar
    Mimi Stratton

    Did I say anything about bigger state government? I'm talking about reducing inefficiencies. Please don't fall back on old generalizations and assumptions–so tiresome and lame. Well, ta ta. I am off to join a progressive tax group; perhaps some folks that might actually get something accomplished.

  75. Groveton Avatar


    You are a breath of fresh air on Bacon's Rebellion. I applaud your polite and fact-based arguments. However, I have both a rule and a recommendation (in the general sense).

    The rule is that nobody calls me Mr. Anything. Well, that's not quite true. The good officers of the Virginia State Police always call after me "Mr." after they impede my important progress on Virginia's crowded and pot-holed roads for exceeding what I consider an arbitrary and carpricious limit on speed. Why am I allowed to buy cars which can travel at over 140 MPH if a full half of that top speed is illegal? Once again, conflicting government regulations.

    As for Groveton – it's the now defunct public high school I attended on the RT 1 corridor south of Alexandria, not my name.

    On to the recommendation – I don't use my real name when blogging. Neither does LarryG or TMT or RH. A few other regular bloggers are professional journalists and writers. They use their real names – presumably as a badge of honor for their professional endeavors. LarryG once used his full name. A quick search through thge public internet armed me with sufficient information to provide LarryG with a fairly extensive biography of his life. The next day he decided that LarryG was a better handle. Those of us who post on this blog on a routine basis are all ladies and gentlemen. Hoever, the same cannot be said for the internet as a whole. It's certainly your choice but I'd suggest a bit more anonymity when posting anywhere. Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of browsers.

    In the event yoy'd like a more personal name for me than Mr. Groveton, my full name is Groovy G. Groveton.

  76. Groveton Avatar


    On to your data. You wrote, "Here it is, from Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy:".

    That is fresh new data for me. However, I find it a bit flawed. It relates seven statistical income levels to the associated tax rates for property, sale, excise and income taxes in Virginia. In an invetives twist, it also documents the related federal tax offset for the payment of state taxes.

    I have to eliminate property, sales an excise taxes from the equation. I can't control what people buy. If you don't like the sales taxes don't buy so much stuff. If you don't like property taxes, don't buy property.

    However, the state incime taxes and federal offset have merit. Here are the basics:

    Lowest 20% = 1% income tax – 0% offset = 1%.

    Second 20% = 3% income tax – 0% offset = 3%.

    Middle 20% = 3.5% – 0.5% offset = 3%.

    Fourth 20% = 3.5% – 15 offset = 3%.

    Next 15% = 4.5% – 1.5% offset = 3%.

    Next 4% = 4.5% – 1.25% offset = 3.25%.

    Top 1% = 4.5% – 1% offset = 3.5%.

    So, the net tax rates are:

    Lowest 20% – 1%
    Second 20% – 3%
    Middle 20% – 3%
    Fourth 20% – 2.5%
    Next 15% – 3%
    Next 4% – 3.25%
    Top 1% – 3.5%

    Other than the Fourth 20% getting a bit of a break I don't see the problem.

  77. Groveton Avatar


    Table 2
    Federal Tax Rates by Income Group from 1960 to 2004

    Interesting read. The final gradation gets down to the highest paid 1/100th of 1%. I thought we were talking about the top 1%. Let's go to that line on the table:

    1960 = 34.0%
    1970 = 36.1%
    1980 = 37.6%
    1990 = 31.5%
    2000 = 35.7%
    2004 = 31.3%

    It seems that the evil years of teh Ronald Reagan 80s with its trickle down economics actually cost the 1% a higher percentage of taxes than any other time over the 34 years. Not sure I see a systematic rip-off here.

  78. Larry G Avatar

    some say that the way that Europe deals with wealth and income is to tax consumption – not capital nor investment.

    I understand that none other than Glen Beck supports a VAT.

    We could do a VAT with food and rent exempt, eh?

    so you take home a bunch of your money and you can save it so someone else can use it for capital or investing or you can spend it and contribute to jobs and social good.

    I'm surprised Obama has not recommended a VAT.

    Krauthammer seems to think it will happen.

    I'm very impressed that Groveton can still buy expensive dodads in this economy. The man is either smart or lucky or both compared to the thousands of overqualified who are showing up at the job fairs.

    I wonder if Groveton would still be acquiring these doodads if there was a 20% VAT on them. My guess is that not only would he continue but it would make no difference.

  79. Groveton Avatar

    "In 2007, IRS data show top 400 averaged over $344 million, 27 times more than top 400 averaged in 1955. But top 400 in 1955 paid over 3x more of their income in fed tax than top 400 in 2007. see"

    400 wage earners? Out of 315 million? That's 1.3/10,000 of 1 percent of the population. Pretty thin sample for meaningful analysis. And 1955? ven I wasn't born yet and I am an old man!

    As a final point, none of your analysis has taken any cost of living into account. $45,000 a year in Wise County is a whole lot different than $45,000 per year in Loudoun County.

    Have fun at the progressive tax meeting.

  80. Groveton Avatar


    I did ask my German hosts about the school system here in Bad Homburg as requested. They all felt that the public schools had deterioated over the past 10 years. All sent thheir children to the International School at great after-tax to themselves. They tell me that the bureaucrats in the public school system have so over-standardized the curriculum that all students are taught to the average rather than being taught to their individual levels. Math was stressed and considered a success. However, public speaking and sports were shunned. Children play sports at private health clubs in the neighborhood for years and years at a charge of $150 per year.

    Health care is a struggle and getting worse. Doctors and dentists are being paid less and less convincing many that they should retire. Total prescriptions per physicans are limited by statute. The doctors prioritize their prescriptions and when the allotment runs out, it is out. Older people are often denied medical care based on the expected usefulness of the procedure. One friend had a wreaked knee at 74. The doctor made the decision that the knee was too old to replace – a waste of resources. The man is now 92 and has been hobbling for 18 years due to the decision not to have knee replaqcement surgery.

    Sorry libbies, life is not so sweet over here in the socialist paradise Obama hopes to recreate in America.

    One good thing – malpractice is all but extinct. Courts will not penalize a doctor who has shown professional and competent care. A doctor may have his license suspended but wil not be peronally baknkrupt after aq suit. He or she also does not need expensive malpractice insurance.

    Where is that in the Obama health care bill? Or, is Obama such a sniffling coward thet he can't go after the malpractice lawyers like every country in Europe has done.

    Maybe that woulkdn't sit too well With Obama's lawyer friends.

  81. Groveton Avatar

    "I wonder if Groveton would still be acquiring these doodads if there was a 20% VAT on them. My guess is that not only would he continue but it would make no difference.".

    Your guess is correct. Being rich is such fun…

    I wonder if my new iPads will be delivered to my estate once I get home on the corporate jet from Germany?

  82. Larry G Avatar

    thanks Groveton.. even if there was a heavy dose of snarkiness….

    Is there a law in Germany that keeps people from pursing better education or better replacement knees if the govt is unwilling?

    just thought I'd ask because it appears that some folks get grumpy about their entitlements and completely forget that they are free to pursue more/better options – and that would be the difference between those who would be content with minimal personal that gets you minimal entitlement perks verses someone who wants more than that and is willing to work to get it?

    not sure why we all got a case of stupid on this issue.

    Obama is not telling you he's going to fine you for working to get more than the minimal plan is he?

    If he is.. I'm changing sides.

    If not.. why haven't you guys?

  83. Larry G Avatar

    I see that Groveton might be suffering from jet lag…here… 10:00 pm here is 4:00 am in Germany?

  84. Mimi Stratton Avatar
    Mimi Stratton

    I appreciate your concern for my safety. Mimi Stratton isn't my real name, either.

  85. Anonymous Avatar

    Mimi – my statement about government spending was a reaction to your statement: "I do agree with you that local government is best when providing social services. I just wish that Virginia, a fairly wealthy state, was ranked higher than #47 nationally in providing health and human services to its citizens."


  86. Anonymous Avatar

    "….because they get funded in perpetuity even when they don't work."

    Yup, that is why I suggest follow on Cost and Benefit studies. It might not be so much that the programs are flawed as it is that there is little or no quality control.

    We have CBA prior to a bill being passed, and then nothing. The CBA should include metrics for future analysis and the bill should require that certain metrics be met. If they are not met, you would have an excuse to pull the plug, or improve the program.


  87. Anonymous Avatar

    "Not quite correct. Virginia law allows one to pay a $500 unisured motorist fee and drive without insurance. "

    Same with the health insurance bill, you can opt out and pay a fee. Therefore AI argue the analogy holds.

    However, if you pay the uninnsured motorist fee, it provides NO INSURANCE. That means you are on the hook for anything snyone might sue you for in case of an incident.

    We don't have that same understanding with health care, as Larry points out: Free riders can refuse to buy health insurance and still get emergency service. If their health problems bankrupt them, they can still collect disability etc.

    Since we do not have the same level of responsibility, those arguing for self-reliance, and freedom to shoose whether to buy health insurance are talking through their hat.


  88. Anonymous Avatar

    "…the ATT and other companies write-downs.. were.. in effect taxpayer subsidies of those "private" health care programs, right?"


    Notice what happened here. They had expectations of income based on playing by certain previous government rules. Changing those rules created a loss for them, same as changing government regulations causes losses for many other people.

    The difference here, aside from the size of the losses is that they MUST BE PUBLICLY REPORTED. Government is upset with this because it makes them look bad.

    How many othere regs would look bad with full disclosure?

    The argument that the losses are not real because the government is only taking back something it previously "gave" is no more relevant here than it is in a zoning case: tha change in expwctation, tghe change in investment, and the losses are still real.


  89. Anonymous Avatar

    ….", either."




  90. Anonymous Avatar

    I posted the comment @ 3/29/10 4:50 PM that was not well received. I am not opposed to "universal health-care". I look for forward to it, however, I don't think "universal health insurance" is the answer. That being said, the health-care bill a lot of pros. The only thing I hate about it is the punishment for not having health insurance

    The "lack of health insurance" penalty is adding insult to injury for people who are destitute enough to quality for public benefits but are barely making ends meet.

    I found a comment @ the Richmond Times-Dispatch website that kind of explained what I wanted to say much better
    Point 1 – As mentioned ad nauseum, this[uninsured vehicle penalty] is a state law, not a federal one. The state has a right to regulate such actions due to the Reserved Powers clause of the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

    Point 2 – The law regulates actions of people who choose to participate in a particular action (i.e driving vehicles on the roads in the Commonwealth)

    It is different from the federal mandates in Health care legislation because the mandates in the federal law punish people for not participating in a particular area of commerce.
    it goes on to say:
    Ruling the Federal Health Care unconstitutional would have no effect on Social Security. The two are not equal. IN the health Care legislation, people are forced to buy from a non-governmental private company. In Soc Security, people are required to pay into a government entitlement program. The two are miles apart in theory and practice

    I must admit that I’m quite surprised that the left did not latch onto Cooch’s lawsuit.

    It seems to me that he makes a valid point, and given the right justices at the court level, he could very well end up with the Supreme Court ordering that the Congress create a ‘Public Option’ government-run health care program in order to make the law constitutional. That would provide a government program that people could ‘opt out of’ if they had adequate private insurance. Crazier rulings have been made.

    The congressional democrats would then be able to defend the overhaul and the creation of a public option by saying they had to do it in order to appease the Supreme Court and/or make the overhaul constitutional.

    Don’t assume that if Cooch wins in court that means his ideology wins in the end.


  91. Anonymous Avatar

    Point 2 – The law regulates actions of people who choose to participate in a particular action


    It also regulates those who choose NOT to participate in a particular action: buying insurance for the protection of others.

    Point 2 is a mistatement and misleading because it is incomplete.


  92. Anonymous Avatar

    "I must admit that I’m quite surprised that the left did not latch onto Cooch’s lawsuit."


    Because, If Cooch wins he is going to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

  93. Anonymous Avatar

    "IN the health Care legislation, people are forced to buy from a non-governmental private company. "


    Well, whose fault is that? First the right fought down the public option, and then turn around and claim the law is unconstitutional because it doesn't have one.

    Could we at least have arguments that are a little consistent?


  94. Larry G Avatar

    same old. same old.

    Statement 1: Medicare is going broke so it proves that govt is incapable of running a cost-effective operation.

    Statement 2: Okay, so let's fix Medicare by cutting out the waste, reducing benefits and raising premiums.

    Statement 3: If you do that it will kill Granny, shame on you.

    this is the rhetoric from those on the right.

    this is the rhetoric form formerly moderate folks like Grassley and others.

    this is what passes for "logic" from our friends on the right.

    this has nothing to do with HC and everything to do with doing whatever it takes to undermine this Presidency.

    This President is more man than most of them will ever hope to be as most of them are having a hard enough time competing to be weasels.

  95. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    The 24 March post by EMR HEALTH CARE — VOCABULARY AND METRICS was an attempt to provide overview / context for health care progress but it did not get very far. This post by Peter G. has resulted in an number of good ideas being put on the table – perhaps it was the KKK picture that got commentors going.

    However the big picture is still not in focus. An editorial cartoon in the Buffalo News comes close. It was reprinted in WaPo on 27 Mar.

    The cartoon shows a three headed dragon – Cost, Quality and Coverage – with the current health care effort slaying one of the heads.

    If the Coverage dragon has been slain is still an open question but the other two are alive and well.

    Why does the cost continue to go up? In WaPo on 30 March Non Sequitur (a daily cartoon) Wiley has the answer in four panels – see what happens when Find-A-Cure, Inc. finds a cure.


  96. Anonymous Avatar

    @ RH
    The state law is still regulating people who chose to buy vehicles and operate…car insurance is condition of owning a vehicle in the commonwealth of virginia. the penalty is essentially a loop hole in the law. if you don't have insurance and don't pay the penalty you are in violation of the law.
    If you don't own a vehicle, this is all moot.

    I am going to (falsely) assume health care is a benefit everyone should have, like education, public defender. A better solution would be a taxes increase for everyone that would allow the govt to subsidies a basic level of health care for everyone and reward those who can have health insurance though a tax break.

    I was thinking health-care would be like NHS in the UK.

  97. Anonymous Avatar

    @ RH
    The state law is still regulating people who chose to buy vehicles and operate…car insurance is condition of owning a vehicle in the commonwealth of virginia. the penalty is essentially a loop hole in the law. if you don't have insurance and don't pay the penalty you are in violation of the law.
    If you don't own a vehicle, this is all moot.

    I am going to (falsely) assume health care is a benefit everyone should have, like education, public defender. A better solution would be a taxes increase for everyone that would allow the govt to subsidies a basic level of health care for everyone and reward those who can have health insurance though a tax break.

    I was thinking health-care would be like NHS in the UK.

  98. Anonymous Avatar

    if you don't have insurance and don't pay the penalty you are in violation of the law.


    Same for health insurance, now.

    If you don't have any health to insure the issue is also moot. I don't see your argument changes anything.

    I still think the analogy holds, and the forced to buy argument is a red herring for other issues.


  99. Anonymous Avatar

    A better solution would be a taxes increase for everyone that would allow the govt to subsidies a basic level of health care for everyone …


    Try telling that to the republicans.

    We are going to get the tax increase, we are just sending it directly to the insurance companies.


  100. Anonymous Avatar

    Good comment by EMR at 12:07.


  101. Larry G Avatar

    If you do not pay into social security and Medicare – you are not only in violation of the law, but you will not receive benefits either.

    whether or not you "need" these things is an entirely separate issue.

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