The Widdershins


Posted on: October 21, 2014

Remember the movie, UP? In it there was a particularly eloquent dog who could carry on conversations courtesy of his Up -- Squirrel“magic collar”. He could have the most lucid conversations until he saw a squirrel — at which time, after screeching “SQUIRREL!” his attention was completely lost.

This past week while the media and the opportunistic politicians were squealing “Squirrel!” over Ebola and who voted for whom in the 2012 Presidential election, there were plenty of attention-worthy issues slipping by totally unnoticed. So I thought I would devote today’s post to a couple of “desquirrelification” issues that have long-term consequences.


Here’s an issue I bet you didn’t see this past week and you‘ll never see in a political ad because of the pornographic word that is “Obamacare”. There will be no increase in the Medicare Part B premium or deductible in 2015. A radical departure from 2000 through 2008 when the Medicare premium shot up 112 percent — jumping from $45.50 to $96.40.

The main reason, and yes, there are others, but the main reason premium growth has shown such a dramatic decline is the Affordable Care Act. Over the past four years, Medicare spending per capita has averaged only 0.8% a year — compared to an average growth rate of 6.3% a year from 2000 to 2008.

The ACA has also dramatically affected senior care with free preventative service such as mammograms and colonoscopies. In 2013 alone, Thirty-seven million seniors received free preventative services.

Add to that the 8.3 million seniors who have saved more than $12 Billion on their prescription drugs with an average savings of $1,443 per senior.

Here’s the real hidden acorn of truth that would propel the little tree rodents into onrushing traffic in a mad, suicidal squirrel rage: Since the enactment of the ACA, the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund has been extended by 13 years! The Medicare Trustees now project the Trust Fund will remain solvent through 2030.

A particularly Republican squirrel...

A particularly Republican squirrel…

In the alternative fact-free universe inhabited by Faux News and talk radio devotees, they will never hear about the Medicare premiums or the fact that the number of companies competing to offer policies under the ACA will increase by 25 percent in 2015. They will never hear about it because the narrative has been and continues to be, the ACA is killing competition, but the truth is — competition is increasing.

In this alternative universe devoid of enlightenment, few, if any conservatives realize the premiums under the ACA are lower-than-expected, and that the ACA’s costs are also lower-than-expected — $104 Billion lower to be exact.

Obamacare’s competitive insurance marketplaces are actually doing what they promised to do: Forcing insurers to compete for customers by cutting costs. The Congressional Budge Office explains the cheaper-than-expected premiums because of:

[L]ower payment rates for providers, narrower networks of providers, and tighter management of their subscribers’ use of health care than employment-based plans do.

That is an extraordinary sentence. Obamacare, a government program, is forcing insurers to run leaner and more cost-effective programs than the private sector, employer-based programs. Simply put: The government is more cost-effective than the private sector. Somewhere there is a squirrel that looks a lot like Paul Ryan whose little Ayn Randian head is exploding.

Tax Reform

Speaking of Paul Ryan and his innate squirrelliness, he has a new idea for the math associated with reviewing budgets. Here’s the idea: Ryan wants the CBO to always assume that tax cuts will pay for themselves. You read that sentence right — Paul Ryan wants to cook into the budget review process the overarching principle that tax cuts will pay for themselves.

That has NEVER happened — NEVER. It didn’t happen during Reagan’s term when he sold it to the country through Tax Cuts and Wars are one half public debt by 2019voodoo economics. It didn’t happen during Dubya’s term when the Heritage Foundation proclaimed that the Bush tax cuts would “pay off the national debt.” In fact, according to the CBO, the Bush tax cuts and his credit card wars of choice will account for one-half of all the public debt by 2019.

Now Paul Ryan is a smart guy — why on earth would he scurry into this squirrel’s nest? Simple, this type of dynamic scoring would only be able to look at how much a bill cost in total, and not provision-by-provision. This type of dynamic scoring is also very complicated especially when you start out with the loblolly, upside-down, backassed assumption that tax cuts pay for themselves.

So why is Ryan pursuing this change — it is a way to hide a multitude of corporate greed, tax loopholes, and corporate welfare while getting an unrealistic favorable political talking point. Better said: It is a way to hide from view the true impact of tax cuts and conversely force cuts in the social safety net while acquiring tongue splinters from performing fellatio on corporate boards. A remarkable feat even if the squirrelly fellow does P90X.

There are many other examples, but there just isn’t enough room or time and I’m having trouble keeping my attention focused. Squirrel!

So enjoy your Tuesday and feel free to take this conversation in any direction you may desire.

11 Responses to "Squirrel!"

Interesting post Prolix and yes I’m sure most folks except those on medicare realize or know that premiums for Part B won’t be going up.

Also it’s funny that I was just having a “discussion” with a guy on the parish forum on about medicare and the advantage programs. He had announced he won’t be voting for Mary Landrieu because she voted for obamacare and because of that some of his family members in the parish won’t have the same advantage program they had last year; it won’t be available there. I tried explaining apples/oranges but he said he was at a meeting and the ins. company told the folks that it was because of o-care. My reply was “And you believe an ins. company?” . I explained that no, the ins. company was probably leaving because medicare was reducing the overly inflated reimbursements they had paid to advantage plans, showed him some links from Kaiser and the rest. Long story short, I’m not convincing him otherwise so what can you do? I did some checking and yep there’s only one advantage plan offering coverage in the parish. But yet there are 14 available in Orleans and Jefferson parishes.

Oh, message from chat: She called me in her whispery little recovering voice and said her computer just got the last rites. She’s ordered another but it won’t be in until next week so she will be absent until then. 😦

Chat, sorry about the passing of your googling machine. Hope you are feeling better.

@1, Fredster, I about pull out what little hair I have left over the crazy claims about the ACA and Medicare. You are exactly right about the advantage plans. The real irony is this: While the Repubs scream about the ACA limiting choice, the alternative offered through Ryan’s plan or what Romney was touting during the election is allowing insurance companies to limit choice through their offerings.

I’m the first to say I would have rather had single payer, but the Repubs have no credibility on the healthcare issue. They have the logical consistency of a jellyfish doing a particularly aggressive limbo.

They have the logical consistency of a jellyfish doing a particularly aggressive limbo.

Love it!

Prolix I have no idea why People’s Health Advantage pulled out of my parish and yet still have plans available in Orleans and Jefferson. As I told the guy on the forum, “ask them that”. And speaking of limiting choice, most of the Advantage plans are basically HMO in nature. Now that’s limiting! Further, I know people who had relatives that got *big* surprises with what wasn’t covered with the advantage plans as opposed to traditional medicare and a gap policy, like for the SNF care after a hospitalization. An acquaintance I know got a big surprise with that care for her mom…it was drastically reduced under the advantage plan.


Since chat is computerless until sometime next week, I’m going to leave Prolix’s post up for tomorrow-Wed and then I’ll do the post for Thurs, leaving that for Fri. and then have a new post for Saturday.

Hey, so sorry to hear about Chat and her voice AND computer! She’s having a rough go of it. Fredster, thanks for taking over.

Prolix, UP! is one of my favorite movies of all time. That dog and his “Squirrel!” ADD are an in-joke between me and my husband.

MB@6: No problem. I would try to have a Wed. post but I got my absentee ballot from La and in addition to the senate and local elections, the good members of the lege saw fit to put 19 state constitutional amendments on the ballot. I downloaded an analysis of the amendments and I’ve got to read through that, decide on how I want to vote, do my ballot and then get it ready to mail back out. The analysis itself is 28 pages so I’ve got some reading to do beforehand.

@5 Sounds good. will miss chat this week.

Prolix, thanks for the excellent post.

@annie: Yeah, will miss her not being here and on top of everything, Georgia has a bye week this week so she won’t even be able to (silently) cheer her Dawgs on. 😦

Thats a bummer. Hopefully she’ll find something great to read or maybe an old movie she loves.

Hey annie! I was working on the post for today and didn’t see your comment.

Well there will be other college games on to watch. I think she mentioned watching the LSU/Ole Miss game. The last time I checked we were a 3.5 point underdog for the game at home in Baton Rouge. I’m surprised it wasn’t greater.

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