Thursday, September 03, 2009

Obama's Health Care Mushroom Cloud

Among the dozens of new Executive Branch agencies to be created by Obama and the 1,018 pages of the Democrat's health reform bill, H.R. 3200, are sections that would greatly expand the information gathering and enforcement power of the IRS, Internal Revenue Service.

Declan McCullagh of CBS News wrote on Aug 26, 2009:

Under the various proposals now on the table, the IRS would become the main agency for determining who has an "acceptable" health insurance plan; for finding and punishing those who don't have such a plan; for subsidizing individual health insurance costs through the issuance of a tax credits; and for enforcing the rules on those who attempt to opt out, abuse, or game the system. A substantial portion of H.R. 3200, the House health care bill, is devoted to amending the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 in order to give the IRS the authority to perform these new duties.

The Democrats' plan would require all Americans to have "acceptable" insurance coverage (the legislation includes long and complex definitions of "acceptable") and would designate the IRS as the agency charged with enforcing that requirement. On your yearly 1040 tax return, you would be required to attest that you have "acceptable" coverage. Of course, you might be lying, or simply confused about whether or not you are covered, so the IRS would need a way to check your claim for accuracy. Under current plans, insurers would be required to submit to the IRS something like the 1099 form in which taxpayers report outside income. The IRS would then check the information it receives from the insurers against what you have submitted on your tax form.
Section 431(a):
The IRS must divulge taxpayer identity information, including the filing status, the modified adjusted gross income, the number of dependents, and "other information as is prescribed by" regulation. That information will be provided to the new Health Choices Commissioner and state health programs and used to determine who qualifies for "affordability credits."
Section 245(b)(2)(A):
The IRS must divulge tax return details -- there's no specified limit on what's available or unavailable -- to the Health Choices Commissioner. The purpose, again, is to verify "affordability credits."
Section 1801(a):
The Social Security Administration can obtain tax return data on anyone who may be eligible for a "low-income prescription drug subsidy" but has not applied for it.
A previous bill, HR 1: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, signed into law by Obama Feb. 17, 2009 contains a 140 page section of the 800 page law that, according to CNET, "is intended to radically reshape the nation's medical system by having the government establish computerized medical records that would follow each American from birth to death." The government recognizes many citizens do not want their medical records electronically stored and shared "with over 600,000 covered entities through the forthcoming nationally linked electronic health records network," said Sue Blevins, president of the Institute for Health Freedom, a nonprofit group that advocates health care privacy." There is, however, no method provided for opting out.

Congressional Democrat leaders have in mind long time-frame-goals. The already voted and signed law puts into the hands of a
"still-to-be-named health care bureaucrat the "goal of utilization of an electronic health record for each person in the United States by 2014." Selecting official standards will be left to the Department of Health and Human Services (page 265).

The databases will, "at a minimum," include information on every American's race and ethnicity. They will be used for "biosurveillance and public health" and "medical and clinical research," both of which raise privacy questions. They will become part of a "nationwide system for the electronic use and exchange of health information."
Add the power of a nearly unfettered IRS, and the government will have total control of the financial, physical, and psychological health of every American from cradle to grave to be implemented by 2014. Physicians not using the Federal electronic records system will be punished with declining reimbursements beginning 2015, the resulting loss of income almost guaranteeing compliance or retirement.

In many versions of health care reform winding through Congress, says the Washington Examiner yesterday,
the IRS would be the key to making the system work. Before you could receive any subsidy, whether through the IRS or not, the Health Choices Administration would have to determine whether you are eligible for it. To do so, the bills under consideration would give the Health Choices Commissioner the authority to demand sensitive, confidential information from the IRS about individual taxpayers. The IRS would have to provide it.

Under current law, it is a felony for a government official to release taxpayer information in all but the most limited of circumstances. One such exception is for law enforcement; the IRS is allowed to give taxpayer information to prosecutors in criminal cases. The information can also, in some instances, be released to the Social Security Administration and the Veterans' Administration for the determination of benefits. The health care bills would change the Internal Revenue Code to permit the IRS to give similar information to the vast, new health care bureaucracy.

That means the personal tax information of millions of Americans would enter the system whether they want it to or not. "There's a mandate to buy insurance," says one Republican House aide. "You have to buy it. You have millions of people who can't buy it without a subsidy, so they will have no choice but to accept the subsidy in order to buy insurance, and then the Health Choices Commissioner will have access to their tax records."
The majority of the public debate has focused on the "Public Option". Obama has indicated he is willing to abandon the public option, but with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 already law plus HR 3200 minus the public option sections, government mandated and controlled health care is still a near inevitability, but only if the entire redesign of America project isn't stopped. The reform pushers know the public option can be added later after the bulk of the current health care system has been dismantled.

Many involved in the debate have considerable concerns about IRS involvement in health care. The first concern is whether the IRS is capable of managing the new duties.
"There is a sense at the IRS that their purpose is to collect revenue and not to implement all sorts of other programs," says a second Senate GOP aide. "Also, the IRS isn't necessarily great at doing what it does already. How is it going to determine whether 300 million people have health insurance?"
Second, fraud and abuse are endemic to any government program.
"You're going to have lots of fraud," says the House source. "People claiming lots of affordability credits or refundable tax credits. The IRS is not going to have the resources and expertise to police this stuff."
Third is the question of whether the IRS should be involved in health care at all.
As seen in the town halls across the country in August, many Americans are concerned about the coercive nature of the proposed national health care system. Handing the IRS the power to monitor every American's place in the system worries them even more.
A new word has recently come into the government control debate in relation to the Presidential Address to School Children next week. The word is "innocuous." It means "1. Having no adverse effect; harmless. 2. Not likely to offend or provoke to strong emotion; insipid."

The various parts of a nuclear armed ballistic missile may seem innocuous to a layperson when seen individually. Put the parts together and they are anything but innocuous. Obama's vision for America seems innocent enough when viewed one at a time and described very benignly. Assemble the various pieces of legislation and, like the constructed nuclear ballistic missile, massive destruction ensues without warning leaving only shadows of freedom on our memories.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Finally, The Cavalry Arrives

... with the help we need. Mass. Senator John Kerry* will pick up the Kennedy mantle as socialist health care champion.

* He received three Purple Hearts in the Vietnam War.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Obama Invites Himself to Congress

Obama told the media he will talk to a Joint Session of Congress Sept 9th in prime time again interfering with the TV network's ability to turn a profit. He then informed Congress he was showing up. Politico says Reid and Pelosi immediately issued an invitation to Obama.

After plans for the session had been reported, Reid and Pelosi released a letter of invitation to the president: "Our nation is closer than ever to achieving health insurance reform that will lower costs, retain choice, improve quality and expand coverage. We are committed to reaching this goal. We would like to invite you to address a Joint Session of the Congress on Wednesday, September 9 on health insurance reform. Thank you for considering this invitation to speak to the Congress and the nation."
That was rude. These people don't seem to like one another.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


After being battered and bruised all through August on every issue before the voting public and his overall approval rating down to 46% on Sept 1st, the sharpest decline of any president since Clinton, Barack Obama is giving up on the health care public option - for now.

Perhaps as early as next week, Obama intends to outline his demands to Congress, dictating what he wants and will accept in a health care bill. More than likely this maneuver will alienate Congress as much, or more, as previous tacks alienated the public. "On health care," Politico informs us,

Obama’s willingness to forgo the public option is sure to anger his party’s liberal base. But some administration officials welcome a showdown with liberal lawmakers if they argue they would rather have no health care law than an incremental one. The confrontation would allow Obama to show he is willing to stare down his own party to get things done.
Although this is only the ninth month of the new administration's four year run, David Axelrod is making no bones that time is running out.

“We’re entering a new season,” senior adviser David Axelrod said in a telephone interview. “It’s time to synthesize and harmonize these strands and get this done.

“I’m not going to put a date on any of this,” Axelrod said. “But I think it’s fairly obvious that we’re not in the second inning. We’re not in the fourth inning. We’re in the eighth or ninth inning here, and so there’s not a lot of time to waste.”
Make no mistake, however. Obama intends to pursue single payer universal health care coverage. His principles remain the same, the ideas remain the same, and goal has not changed. There is a in Washington D.C., an adage that says failure begets failure. Obama cannot afford to lose an issue as large as UHC with a public option that he has made the centerpiece of his administration. This is a strategic and tactical retreat to regroup his forces and refocus American attention on the villains of Wall Street who will be cast as the ne'er do wells of Obama's melodrama, letting health company CEOs off the hook for a time. And best of all, it doesn't cost anything. Scarlet letters for the Wall Streeters and new regulations and Americans will be happy as clams.

"His goal is to create the best possible situation for consumers, create competition and choice," Axelrod said. "We want to bring a measure of security to people who have health insurance today. We want to help those who don't have coverage today, because they can't afford it, get insurance they can afford. And we want to do it in a way that reduces the overall cost of the system as a whole."

Also this fall, Obama wants to slap new regulations on Wall Street firms, a goal that is now considered a higher priority than cap-and-trade energy legislation in the West Wing. White House officials think the legislation will show voters, especially wavering independents, that he is serious about making the culprits of the economic crisis pay. It also helps that it doesn't carry a big price tag, like other Obama priorities.
Obama will attempt to take control of the debate and the issues, much of which he ceded to Congressional leaders. His relationship with Congressional leadership, especially Senate Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is considerably strained after the long hot summer. Attempting to wrest control from those two control freaks may fracture the Democratic leadership from the executive beyond repair.

White House officials say they are looking forward to "a break from the August break" -- a chance to take back control of the debate after a grim month where news coverage of the issue was dominated by vocal, emotional opponents at lawmakers’ town meetings, railing against the cost and complexity of the plans being debated.

So Obama and Democrats will return from vacation wounded, divided and uncertain of the best way to turn things around. Many Democrats, especially in the House, were spooked over break by the rowdy town hall meetings and flurry of polls showing independent voters skeptical of their leadership and spending plans.

The mood swing is hitting some top leaders hard: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), for instance, is trailing little-known GOP contenders in his re-election race now. The news swing has been no less brutal. There has been saturation coverage of the town halls and rising casualties in Afghanistan -- the latter leading to a big drop in support for the war.
We can only hope for fractious change within the Progressive wing in the party of the left. Without it, things will just get worse. This has all the makings of a very graceless fall for the Democrats and Obama.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Portrait of a Molecule

For the first time in human history, mankind has looked at of an actual molecule and its five atoms - pentacene. This is as big an achievement as any other great advances of knowledge at any time in our histories - reading and writing, new lands discovery, sliced bread, beer and pretzels, circumnavigation of Earth, harnessing fire, terrestrial and space flight, medicine... you name it, this is as big. Maybe bigger.
It may look like a piece of honeycomb, but this lattice-shaped image is the first ever close-up view of a single molecule.

Scientists from IBM used an atomic force microscope (AFM) to reveal the chemical bonds within a molecule.

'This is the first time that all the atoms in a molecule have been imaged,' lead researcher Leo Gross said.


The team from IBM Research Zurich said the results could have a huge impact of the field of nanotechnology, which seeks to understand and control some of the smallest objects known to mankind.

Eventually we want to investigate using molecules for molecular electronics,' Mr Gross said.

'We want to use molecules as wires or logic switches or elements.'
These are the intrepid explorers who risked failure and the possibility of having to do the work all over again in their search for a single molecule photo -

The fearless IBM research team standing behind the atomic force microscope is from left to right: Nikolaj Moll, Reto Schlittler, Gerhard Meyer, Fabian Mohn, and Leo Gross. Photo by Michael Lowry Image courtesy of IBM Research - Zurich

Read more at Mail Online.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.