Sunday, April 06, 2014

Jack Kelly on Obamacare, even though I write about the media

This is, as is my habit, a copy of a comment I put on today's Jack Kelly column Jack Kelly: The coming tsunami - Democrats would be wise to bail out on Obamacare .

The irony of this column is that Jack Kelly may not be wrong about the Democrats taking a pounding in the coming midterms, but it has little to do with any failings of the ACA. The irony is that Republicans/conservatives are really good at appearing to be victims of a vast left wing conspiracy that of course does not exist. But there is a solid fraction of the population that always loves a good conspiracy theory, and of course also the huge majority of the population that doesn't care about politics (and doesn't read Jack Kelly), but can be scared into voting certain ways.

The reason this is ironic is that Jack Kelly constantly talks about how ALL the media is liberal and in bed with the Democrats, faithfully reporting everything the Democrats want them to verbatim. Actually, the media pretty much reports most things most politicians (whether Democrat or Republican) say. but the news media is good at sniffing out more sensational stories. Stories about how SNAP (food stamps) is helping keep people from going hungry are nice and worth a few seconds on the TV news. but stories of food stamp fraud will play so much better, just like stories of investigations into murdered diplomats (how high does it go? Who knew what and when? Were they watching the murders on TX?) and stories of how the government health program is killing people will get so many more viewers. And it is pretty obvious no proof is needed, as long as there is an accusation from a Congress person, it will make the air.

All these accusations of welfare and healthcare fraud and abuse that we hear now, does anyone ever wonder why we didn't hear them from January of 2001 through December of 2008? Sorry, I guess that is a rhetorical question.

But the fact is that Republicans/conservatives are far better at getting their stories out into both the conservative and the mainstream media. Even the liberal media (such as it is) dutifully reports on conservative stories, if only to pick them apart.

We all know that 85% of us are covered by health insurance at work, so the stories of skyrocketing premiums are only about the remaining 15%. Yes, some corporations with lots of minimum wage employees are cutting hours to avoid insuring their employees, but rather than blame the greed of the companies and their stock holders (who are overwhelming part of the 1%), Republicans screech that this is the fault of the ACA (and the media dutifully repeats every word). But the scope of the individual market for healthcare is relatively small, yet again Republicans are able to frighten huge masses of voters into thinking the ACA is going to take away their employer provided health care.

I keep reading conservatives saying that the United States is being destroyed by Barack Obama, and giving us all these untrue reason why. Perhaps the United States is being destroyed, but I think it is because of all the conservative lies that permeate the media.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Jack Kelly today 2/23/14

I posted the below on the comment section of today's (actually yesterday's online) Jack Kelly column "Jack Kelly: The end is nigh, with Obamacare the last straw (Obamacare may tank the economy within weeks)" in the PG. Last I looked, it was "awaiting moderation". Maybe it will appear, maybe it shan't. I thought I would put it here anyway.

It is funny to see Jack Kelly play economist. I personally am constantly attacked if I try to introduce the least amount of economic ideas into the discussions here, yet I see none of the conservatives who attack me here, attacking Mr Kelly. I guess IOKIYAC.

Kelly makes this assertion un-sourced "Enrollments fell 29 percent in January from December, with the pace of signups slowing as the month wore on." Why should we trust that statement? Kelly misidentified Larry Kocot as "of the Brookings Institution" when in fact he is a visiting fellow. In fact Mr Kocot was a senior adviser on Medicare in the bush Health & Human Services department. There is valid reason to think he has a political agenda.

Jack Kelly says about Grady Means "Mr. Means isn’t a doomsayer who’s predicted 11 of the last two recessions. He isn’t trying to sell gold, silver or freeze-dried food." I don't exactly see anything that contradicts that statement on the web, although Mr Means himself wrote essentially this same column right before the Presidential election in 2012. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/oct/25/us-economy-on-schedule-to-crash-march-2014/?page=all . Breitbart (the pillar of journalistic integrity) has since picked up Mr Means predictions. And actually the most amusing thing is that after Mr Kelly exonerates Mr Means, he references two quotes from "Trends Research Institute founder Gerald Celente". There are many who would say that Gerald Celente predicted 11 of the last two recessions, ABC News and future editor of the New York Times Magazine Hugo Lindgren among them. In fact, Mr Lindgren is credited with coining the term "doomsday porn" to describe Mr Celente (among others).

You know, if Jack Kelly turns out to be right, then he (or Grady Means) will have pulled off the greatest prediction in history of predictions (well, maybe second to Dr Michael Burry, if Michael Lewis is to be believed). But I, for one, am not going to run off to rural Montana and invest in shotgun shells and freeze dried food.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Jack Kelly in the new year...Jack Kelly Today

On the advice of Pod Camp, I will say nothing of my absence on this blog. I will say tax season is in full swing, but I am still commenting furiously on the PG, when I see something comment worthy. And today I decided to go "old school", and revive my blog posts of my PG comments on Jack Kelly columns. So....

So without further ado .... Today Jack Kelly thinks he has trapped Democrats in their support of job loss caused by "Obamacare", as detailed by the CBO; "Spinning the CBO: The latest analysis further discredits Obamacare". I immediately found a couple of economists who disagree.

This would be exciting if it were any kind of new and significant find. However it is an issue that economists have already acknowledged, but say will not bring about the apocalypse. In general, they say, the positive effects of the ACA (increasing access to healthcare for the poor, allowing some with multiple jobs to drop one job because they would have independent access to health care) outweighs the negative effects of not taking on additional income because of drops in *all* subsidies or aid to the poor.

And by the way, the poor almost never have the option, on any given day, or either accepting a significant raise or taking a better job. Any conservative who says the poor would rather stay lazy that accept a high paying job because they will lose the food stamps, section 8, Obamacare and Obamaphone is doing no more than repeating the latest Fox News "let's whip up our base into a frenzy". The way the "undeserving, lazy" poor can increase their income is if the take a second job, work 60-70 hours a week.

So as I say, this issue has already been addressed by economists who have already studied the issue.

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116613/obamacare-critics-still-tell-just-one-side-jobs-story

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/14/stupidity-in-economic-discourse/?_php=true&_type=blogs&module=BlogPost-Title&version=Blog%20Main&contentCollection=Opinion&action=Click&pgtype=Blogs®ion=Body&_r=0

We should understand Kelly's final quote about Democratic spin is in fact furious spin itself, entirely distorting the findings of the CBO.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Jack Kelly Sunday 11/24/13 - Jack Kelly - Sudden Populist

This a copy of a comment I made on Jack Kelly's 11/24/13 column in the PG "Party of the rich: Obama policies have been helping fat cats". Does anyone think that Democrats have been getting their way for the last fives years, the ACA non-withstanding (and perhaps in fact exhibit one, considering the single payer option)? Anyway, here it is:

I am sure many of us remember Pat Buchanan talking about income inequality and fair trade over free trade in the 1990's. That did not make him particularly a friend of the working man, and Jack Kelly gives us no reason to think a Mitt Romney or Sarah Palin administration would be one now. He just sees a angle to attack Barakc Obama on.

It is certainly true that Wall Street has not done badly in the Obama administration. Anyone who watches the documentary "Inside Job" would quickly understand why. And I have long advocated paying attention to what Glenn Greenwald was saying, years before Edward Snowden, but certainly in the Obama administration. Obama has not been the hero liberals thought he would be. Maybe with the utter and total obstructionism of Republicans, he would not have been anyway, but what seems to make things worse is he doesn't seem interested in even trying.

All that said, Republican politicians, pundits and Jack Kelly seem to think that both liberals and their own readers are easily persuaded idiots. Whatever the failings of Barack Obama in specific and the Democrats in general, laying the blame for everything that has happened in the last five years solely at their feet is ignoring reality. I mean, Jack Kelly is right that the rich have gotten richer in the last five years, the poor have gotten poorer and the rich have skated on any consequences from the near depression they essentially caused. But when you think about it, there was some short time period, five or eight months, when the Democrats had a super majority in the Senate, which was mostly squandered with debate over the health care bill. Before that was the stimulus bill, which in the end a couple of Republicans voted for because even the Republicans couldn't let themselves go down in history as the party that allowed America to slide into another great depression (remember George Bush also spent hundreds of billions on that before he left office). Mind you, the couple of Republicans demanded so many compromises of a stimulus bill that was brought to Congress already too weak, facts conservatives like Jack Kelly conveniently forget.

But past the time when Democrats had a super majority in the Senate, Republicans had set records for filibusters in the Senate (really since January 2007). Then in January 2011 they took control of the House. Between those two facts, it is hard to escape the conclusion that any legislation that has passed Congress has had to be at least agreeable to Republicans as well as Democrats. Everything Jack Kelly is saying about income inequality and the rich getting richer is as much if not more the result of Republican policies and efforts.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Kelly tries to capitalize on Obamacare 11/09/13

This is a comment I made on the PG on this Sunday's Jack Kelly column More lies about health care Now the president is lying about past lies.

Let's be clear what we are talking about here. The insurance policies that are being cancelled are policies that do not conform to the rules of the ACA, in that they have limited yearly or lifetime maxes, or the deductibles are out of bounds, what have you. You understand that these letters are not coming from the government, they are coming from private health insurance companies. To me it is perfectly clear the insurance companies are trying to lock customers into relatively expensive plans while the ACA website is still a mess. They are trying to take advantage of the inability of customers to shop around at this moment, trying to trap people for a year or more in a more expensive policy.

This is happening because Obama did not want to legislate the health insurance companies out of existence. But does Jack Kelly acknowledge this?

Now clearly when Obama said that if you like your health insurance plan, you can keep, he essentially had in mind the people who get their health insurance through their employer. And I believe for the most part that is still true. As I understand it, there are some employers throwing people off insurance, forcing them to get it through the ACA. I believe they will pay a penalty for having done so, not to mention as the economy gets better their employees may well move to a different job.

But the interesting thing is how extreme Mr Kelly's rhetoric is. As conservatives claim Obama is a pathological liar, it pulls the dialogue of the media outlets that actually want to report the news to the right. We should all remember the summer of 2010 when conservatives started a relentless drumbeat of how Obama hadn't done enough for the unemployed. This was echoed by the Tea Party candidates and probably could be found on Youtube if someone looked hard enough. That conservative drumbeat was commented on by the CNN's and MSNBC's, and then they tried to analyze and in so doing, legitimized it as the dominant talking point of the midterms (to be fair, Democrats failed spectacularly to offer any counter message). Now conservatives are trying to do the same thing, pull CBS, ABC, NBC and CNN to the right with their relentless and baseless propaganda.

The thing is that George W Bush claimed Iraq had WMD's, and that claim cost 4,487 American military deaths, as well as probably over 100,000 Iraq's dead. I don't see conservatives apologizing for that, I see them blaming liberals or distracting us with their complaints about Obama.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Jack Kelly in/on the shutdown

This is my comment on todays Jack Kelly column "Shutting down the Democrats: They have more to lose than they might think". Let me note the PG online has gone behind a paywall; you might get a few as five clicks in month, so keep that in mind.

"This "shutdown" is over Obamacare, which most Americans dislike." I heard a number, which now I forget, but a Google search indicated 2.8 million people visited the online exchange web sites in the first couple of days (actually that number may be low, a different source said 2.5 million visited the web sites in New York alone, on the first day). That is certainly not "most Americans" but it is a sizable number of people, all of whom presumably do not have health insurance now. Jack Kelly wants to see 2.8 million specific Americans go without health insurance.

"Americans blame Republicans more for the "shutdown," polls indicate, but by smaller margins than in the past. Most of the few who will suffer real pain typically vote Democratic." I have no idea if the first sentence is true, but giving Mr Kelly the benefit of the doubt, that is probably because of partisanship and literally years of the Republicans saying "Obamacare is bad" without giving specific verifiable reasons why it is. And the second sentence is Jack Kelly implying that he does not care if people who vote democratic suffer real pain or not.

I have yet to meet a Republican/conservatives who addresses the issue, in an aggregate manner, of every other high income country - all of Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand - having a universal health care system that costs less per capita and has better public health outcomes. Yes, when asked about this Republicans make up mythical wait times and invariably talk about foreign citizens who come here. But never do they deal with the comparison of the entire systems statistic for statistic.

Now that reliance on the foreign visitor anecdote should tell us two things, neither of which Republicans/conservatives explicitly admit. First, pretty much by definition a foreigner who comes here for treatment is coming for treatment for a exotic or at at least very serious and *expensive* condition, meaning they are wealthy themselves. And second, no one denies that at the top price level, we have the best health care in the world. But literally 99% of Americans can not afford that level of health care. In some senses we have three levels of health care. One is for the wealthy, the second, being trimmed away every day, is for the middle class with health insurance, and the third is no health insurance, which is the one where a visit to the emergency room mean that if your credit wasn't ruined before, it is now. And you better not have a chronic condition, because then the emergency room will stabilize you and release you to die some time in the future, with those tens of thousands of medical bills.

That Republicans/conservatives see the pre-ACA system as more desirable than the ACA, with its increasing share of the GNP and large numbers of people dying prematurely and/or going personally bankrupt, tells you quite a lot. I will say that Republicans do have plan to reform health care, I guess. The only one anyone has mentioned involves allowing health insurance companies to sell insurance across State lines. Wait a minute, you say, doesn't Aetna show up in multiple state? Yes they do, but they have to follow the rules of each particular state. So the Republican plan is to allow insurance companies to follow the rules of the *least* strict state to sell insurance. And noticing the natural consolidation of the banking industry (based on the big guys gobbling up the little guys), what we would be left with only a few huge health insurance companies, unanswerable to anyone below the millionaire level.

That is the real meaning of this column.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Kelly relives the glory of the cold war

My long overdue return to blogging, and yes, it is a Jack Kelly column. Today's column, of course, "Humiliated by Putin. The below is the comment I made about it.

I hadn't realized the Cold War had never ended. Mr. Kelly's yearning for that time is almost palpable.

Who was it who suggested Syria turn its chemical weapons over to international control? Come on, say it out loud, we all know ... even Jack Kelly admits this "So when another stupid thing Secretary of State John Kerry said provided an opening, the Russians pounced.". Here is a conundrum, if this is/was such a self-evidently clever policy move for the Russians, why didn't they just propose it? Why wait for John Kerry to make the mistake he might never make? Suddenly Jack Kelly's estimate of the cleverness of Vladimir Putin seems on shaky ground.

And let's notice the appropriation of the phrase "low information voter" by conservatives. George Lakoff identifies the phrase as having originated with liberals, and to be fair the studies showing (in mixed results) the largely lower knowledge Fox News viewers have of current events (I would add slanted to the description) as well as the voting pattern of States like Kansas and Texas which have voters who are in the majority poor give some credence to the notion that a majority of low information voters are Republicans. That said, Dr Lakoff does bring up two uncomfortable points for liberals, a) why can't there be Democratic low information voters, and what is the implication if there are (as there surely are) and b) the term is insulting, even or especially to a person who makes a quick voting decision based on their gut choice.

Maybe we should let conservatives keep the phrase.

Never the less, I think it is worth asking Jack Kelly what his evidence for "President Obama expects the news media to help him persuade "low information" voters that this catastrophe is really a triumph." is. He's not just describing what the White House is doing, he is actually reading the President's mind.