Archive for February, 2013

Hey, Mr. And Ms. Average American Couple, Under ObamaCare You Can Pay $20,000.00 Or $2400.

Which do you think they’ll choose?

In a final regulation issued Wednesday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) assumed that under Obamacare the cheapest health insurance plan available in 2016 for a family will cost $20,000 for the year.

Under Obamacare, Americans will be required to buy health insurance or pay a penalty to the IRS.

The IRS’s assumption that the cheapest plan for a family will cost $20,000 per year is found in examples the IRS gives to help people understand how to calculate the penalty they will need to pay the government if they do not buy a mandated health plan.

The examples point to families of four and families of five, both of which the IRS expects in its assumptions to pay a minimum of $20,000 per year for a bronze plan.

“The annual national average bronze plan premium for a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 children) is $20,000,” the regulation says.

Bronze will be the lowest tier health-insurance plan available under Obamacare–after Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Under the law, the penalty for not buying health insurance is supposed to be capped at either the annual average Bronze premium, 2.5 percent of taxable income, or $2,085.00 per family in 2016.

Ok, so the cheapest plan for a middle class family is $20,000. What happens if they opt to pay the “penalty/tax” instead?

“Example 3. Family without minimum essential coverage.

“(i) In 2016, Taxpayers H and J are married and file a joint return. H and J have three children: K, age 21, L, age 15, and M, age 10. No member of the family has minimum essential coverage for any month in 2016. H and J’s household income is $120,000. H and J’s applicable filing threshold is $24,000. The annual national average bronze plan premium for a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 children) is $20,000.

“(ii) For each month in 2016, under paragraphs (b)(2)(ii) and (b)(2)(iii) of this section, the applicable dollar amount is $2,780 (($695 x 3 adults) + (($695/2) x 2 children)). Under paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section, the flat dollar amount is $2,085 (the lesser of $2,780 and $2,085 ($695 x 3)). Under paragraph (b)(3) of this section, the excess income amount is $2,400 (($120,000 – $24,000) x 0.025). Therefore, under paragraph (b)(1) of this section, the monthly penalty amount is $200 (the greater of $173.75 ($2,085/12) or $200 ($2,400/12)).

“(iii) The sum of the monthly penalty amounts is $2,400 ($200 x 12). The sum of the monthly national average bronze plan premiums is $20,000 ($20,000/12 x 12). Therefore, under paragraph (a) of this section, the shared responsibility payment imposed on H and J for 2016 is $2,400 (the lesser of $2,400 or $20,000).”

Hmmm. And you can sign up for coverage at any time? So what I’m hearing here is that I can pay $200/month, hoping I stay healthy. But the instant that something goes wrong, why I just sign up for coverage. Sweet. That’s much less expensive than what I’m doing now, under RomneyCare, which is ObamaCare. Incidentally, the family coverage under ObamaCare, even at the cheapest level, is HIGHER than what we pay in Massachusetts. You can get a family bronze plan here for something like $1200/month or something like $15,000/year. ObamaCare raises the rate to $20,000.00. As John Kerry would say: Bring. It. On.

- Aggie

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Really, what can one say?

Today the Newtown Board of Education made the only choice any parent can: It voted to put armed guards in its schools:

The vote, for now, only represents a request — it still needs to clear budget and logistical boundaries since the guards would come from the town’s police resources as opposed to the school board itself. But the plan ‘would put two eyes and ears — one armed, one unarmed — at each Newtown school,’ reports Bronxville Patch’s Davis Dunavin. The guards, officially called school resource officers (SROs), were already a fixture at all Newtown schools in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, but until this vote they were budgeted only to be a presence at middle and high Schools, according to NBC Connecticut.

The Breitbart author offers this comment:

Meanwhile, in Democrat-run Chicago, there’s a Newtown every month. But the only solution to that problem would be admitting harsh gun control laws and liberalism run amok have failed. So the media would rather Chicago’s monthly Sandy Hook goes on than ever admit to such an inconvenient truth.

The NRA proposed putting armed guns in schools, and now the school board closest to this tragedy agrees.

Keep laughing and ignoring Chicago, media. You’re only fooling your corrupt selves.

He’s right. But who wants to gloat?

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How’s That Arab Spring Working Out, Mr. President?

Heating up in Egypt

A fire erupted at the entrance of Egypt’s presidential palace Friday night as protesters hurled Molotov cocktails and rocks in a battle with security forces, who responded with tear gas and water cannon.
Egypt has been rocked by violence since last week’s two-year anniversary of its 2011 revolution. Protesters have fumed over the slow pace of change and recent edicts by President Mohammed Morsy, who imposed a 30-day curfew on areas engulfed by violence.

State television reported that security forces were clearing the area in front of the palace as rioting continued.

Hmm, if they oust Morsi, will they be able to find anyone worse? Can they give the job back to Mubarak? Will the US support whomever they come up with next?

- Aggie


Childless in Seattle

This columnist has decided not to have children.

Big deal. It’s her choice (and her husband’s); none of my business. I hate to see people with a dog when they’re not into it, let alone a child.

But the more she explains herself (which I didn’t ask for, remember), the less persuaded I am. If you need this many reasons, most of them lame, maybe you don’t really have any.

My husband and I just ended our debate about having children. To breed or not to breed, this was the question — and it had been ticking like an egg timer in the back of my head for 15 years.

We talked about it for five months. In the car on the way to work. During dinner. For five minutes, for 30 minutes. After seeing nephews and nieces.

I wanted it to be a decision we made, not one made for us by chance or time. I turned to friends with kids for advice. “Feel free to convince me to your side,” I told them. Leaving a legacy and crazy joy, they said. I bow down to their personal sacrifice. It is an enormous gift for society to raise an educated, productive, ethical, moral child.

On our last vacation, my husband and I mulled over this question: “On your deathbed, what will you regret not doing?” We listed our answers at dinner on the last night. Neither of us mentioned children.

We have decided we have other things to give to the world. We won’t be having kids. We choose to be childless in Seattle.

I would have been fine there. She points out that Seattle and San Francisco, the two most narcissistic cities in America, have the fewest kids as a percentage of their populations. More gay people, more hipness (with some overlap), equals fewer kids. I get that.

But then she starts to justify her decision, and she loses me:

I’m lucky. I live in a time and place where I have the freedom not to have kids. But that doesn’t mean society has fully accepted me.

Feminism empowered women to talk about motherhood as a pursuit that deserves as much attention as men’s work. In the past 20 years, women have bravely spoken about struggles to conceive, which helped educate a generation about fertility. But society rarely hears from women who decide not to have kids.

“Do you have children?” My friend’s standard answer is, “No, and it’s not for medical reasons.” I’m cribbing it.

Do I detect a note of hostility? Why should an innocent question be met with such a strident answer?

Will I regret not having children to care for me when I’m old and infirm?

Kids or no kids, everyone should be saving for retirement. I don’t believe in treating children like indentured social security, and, let’s be honest, many people in nursing homes have children.

What is she, a Republican? As she is a journalist in Seattle, I very much doubt it. Don’t worry about your senescence, honey, ObamaCare’s got your back.

Would I have to sacrifice my career goals if we had a child?

Probably. I’ve gone from believing I can do it all to believing that life is short. Saying no to some things allows me to say yes to others.

My husband could be the primary caregiver while I charge after my goals, but then he would have to say no to some of his goals.

If you’re talking about some amorphous career “goals” (in journalism, no less!) as more important than possibly raising a family, you’ve made the right choice for yourself—even if I kind of pity you your way of thinking.

My mom was a senior manager at a global stem-cell bank when she retired. While my brother and I were growing up, she worked part-time. I’ve heard her say more than once: “If I had just had another 16 years, I could have gone so high.”

Ah, I think I see the issue: mom not so subtly insinuated that if not for her two children she “coulda been somebody.” Her kids are left with the subconscious belief that they were burdens, that children are joy-killers.

Am I being selfish if I don’t have children?

I’m selfish for not committing to my hypothetical child’s well-being. But I will have a lot more attention and money to shower on real-life nieces, nephews, mentees and philanthropic causes.

For which the World Wildlife Fund is eternally grateful. And any future “mentees”. (Is she planning on adopting a sea mammal?)

Also, not having a child is the most important thing I could do to reduce my carbon footprint, according to a 2009 study by Oregon State University statisticians. (Of course, like all parents, I believe my theoretical child would have grown up to become a brilliant physicist and saved the world from global warming, so this is a moot point.)

No wonder she saved this one for so late—it’s complete bull[bleep]. No statistician from Corvallis, Oregon has a relevant opinion on whether you procreate, now or in 2009. And unless your little shnookums was planning on staying warm by burning cow dung, I think he or she would have had a significantly smaller carbon baby footprint than one born in Africa or Asia. What a crock.

I told my parents in California over Christmas. “Don’t do it if you don’t want to,” my mom said without pause. “You won’t like it.”

See my point about mom above. The woman sounds like a champion child-rearer.

The ability to bear a child may be what defines me as female, but I’m still a woman without one.

Agreed. And I agree with the five paragraphs at the start. Everything else is just horse[bleep]. It’s her choice, as I say, and none of my business. But I think it’s sad someone would be so hounded by an ambivalent mother to forswear children in favor of writing editorials for the Seattle Times. That’s not a goal; it’s a prison sentence.

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It’s “The Same Old Crap!”™

Thank you, President Obama.

I mean that. By making the economy so sucky, he’s keeping us from a false sense of security.

First, the suck:

The U.S. economy added 157,000 jobs in January, according to a Labor Department report released Friday. That’s slower growth than in December, when employers hired 196,000 workers.

Call it “Groundhog Day in the labor market,” said Heidi Shierholz, economist with the Economic Policy Institute. “It’s the same old crap. We’ve been waking up to this same story for two years.”

The unemployment rate was 7.9% in January, as 12.3 million people were counted as unemployed. Overall, hiring is barely keeping pace with population growth, and the Labor Department noted that the unemployment rate has barely changed since September.

The U6 rate of unemployed and underemployed is unchanged from last month at 14.4%, which is also unchanged from the month before that.

And the Labor Force Participation Rate is also unchanged from the last two months previous, at 63.6%:

All pretty dismal, agreed?

Now, the silver lining:

Nearly two-thirds of Americans between the ages of 45 and 60 say they plan to delay retirement, according to a report to be released Friday by the Conference Board. That was a steep jump from just two years earlier, when the group found that 42% of respondents expected to put off retirement.

The increase was driven by the financial losses, layoffs and income stagnation sustained during the last few years of recession and recovery, said Gad Levanon, director of macroeconomic research at the organization and a co-author of the report, which is based on a 2012 survey of 15,000 individuals.

Why is that good news? Because it means we’re not Greece! Or not quite yet anyway. There’s still a core population that think they need to work to look after themselves. By so mismanaging the economy, Obama has forced people to stay on the job and build up their savings. That’s good old American thrift, that is. The only people who can afford to retire in their fifties are mega-millionaires and public sector union workers (very little difference between them). The sugar daddies can live off their investments, and the retired hacks live off the rest of us. Everyone’s happy.


Venezuelan Government Spying On Jewish Population

Chavez just doesn’t like Jews

Venezuela’s secret service, SEBIN, is spying on the country’s Jewish community, according to leaked documents said to be from the spy agency.

Last week, Analisis24, a right-leaning Argentinean news website, released 50 documents attributed to the Venezuelan intelligence agency containing private information on prominent Venezuelan Jews, local Jewish organizations and Israeli diplomats in Latin America. The Anti-Defamation League, among others, believes the documents are authentic based on the wealth of detailed and private information included.

The papers include a dossier on Espacio Anna Frank, a coexistence group in Caracas, with clandestinely taken photos of its offices and private information on its personnel, including their home addresses, passport numbers and recent travel itineraries. It identifies the organization as a “strategic arm of the Israeli intelligence agency in the country,” the Mossad, and as a front for “far right-wing Zionists” to recruit agents using “subversive socio-political influence.”

Other documents say the local Jewish community has benefited from the “political and military interference” of the United States in the South American country’s affairs and accuses certain Venezuelan Jews, like journalist Abraham Belilty Bittan and former parliamentarian Paulina Gamus, of being foreign agents.

Etc. More at the link.

- Aggie


The 4 Biggest Obama Care Lies

Where to begin?

1. We can’t afford our current health care system. ObamaCare reduces costs:

…The president, citing the work of several health-policy experts, claimed that improved care coordination, investments in information technology, and more efficient marketing through exchanges would save the typical family $2,500 per year.

That was then. Now, even advocates for the law acknowledge that premiums are going up. In analyses conducted for the states of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Colorado, Jonathan Gruber of MIT forecasts that premiums in the non-group market will rise by 19% to 30% due to the law. Other estimates are even higher. The actuarial firm Milliman predicts that non-group premiums in Ohio will rise by 55%-85%. Maine, Oregon and Nevada have sponsored their own studies, all of which reach essentially the same conclusion.

I have a dear friend who is an attorney in the midwest. As a self-employed guy, his coverage is exactly half of ours in Massachusetts. I cannot wait, simply cannot wait, for Americans to get the full bill for ObamaCare. BTL and I talked and talked, presented evidence based on the fact that Massachusetts has beta ObamaCare, and no one listened. Time to pay up.

2. Our deficits will go down as health care costs decrease.

Increases in the estimated impact of the law on private insurance premiums, along with increases in the estimated cost of health care more generally, have led the Congressional Budget Office to increase its estimate of the budget cost of the law’s coverage expansion. In 2010, CBO estimated the cost per year of expanding coverage at $154 billion; by 2012, the estimated cost grew to $186 billion. Yet CBO still scores the law as reducing the deficit.

So they’re still lying.

3. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.

This claim is obviously false. Indeed, disruption of people’s existing insurance is one of the law’s stated goals. On one hand, the law seeks to increase the generosity of policies that it deems too stingy, by limiting deductibles and mandating coverage that the secretary of Health and Human Services thinks is “essential,” whether or not the policyholder can afford it. On the other hand, the law seeks to reduce the generosity of policies that it deems too extravagant, by imposing the “Cadillac tax” on costly insurance plans.

Employer-sponsored insurance has already begun to change. According to the annual Kaiser/HRET Employer Health Benefits Survey, the share of workers in high-deductible plans rose to 19% in 2012 from 13% in 2010.

That’s just the intended consequences. One of the law’s unintended consequences is that some employers will drop coverage in response to new regulations and the availability of subsidized insurance in the new exchanges. How many is anybody’s guess. In 2010, CBO estimated that employer-sponsored coverage would decline by three million people in 2019; by 2012, CBO’s estimate had doubled to six million.

I disagree slightly. I think the intended consequence is for the law to fail, and then for a panicked public to demand single payer health care.

4. The law will increase productivity.

In 2009, the president’s Council of Economic Advisers concluded that health reform would reduce unemployment, raise labor supply, and improve the functioning of labor markets. According to its reasoning, expanding insurance coverage would reduce absenteeism, disability and mortality, thereby encouraging and enabling work.

This reasoning is flawed. The evidence that a broad coverage expansion would improve health is questionable. Some studies have shown that targeted coverage can improve the health of certain groups. But according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Economic Research Initiative on the Uninsured, “evidence is lacking that health insurance improves the health of non-elderly adults.” More recent work by Richard Kronick, a health-policy adviser to former President Bill Clinton, concludes “there is little evidence to suggest that extending insurance coverage to all adults would have a large effect on the number of deaths in the U.S.”

The reasoning is flawed because insurance isn’t health care. And no matter how many times we said it, the public couldn’t grasp the difference. (But Aggie – the public opposes ObamaCare! Really? Then they should have voted for Romney.)

I had an interesting conversation with someone who runs a health care enterprise. She told me that ObamaCare will fail and be replaced with a single payer system – and intentionally so – and that we should have done that in the first place. She is untroubled by the fact that a 2,000 page bill was passed without being read, or that it is failing before implementation. “That was the only way to get single payer in our country.”

So that’s that. We have the government we deserve.

- Aggie


This Was the Moment…

I still get chills when I recall President Obama’s 2008 convention speech. Unless it’s the norovirus I’m feeling.

Anyway, when his Muslim outreach is successfully completed, I look forward to his Tide Reduction Initiative:

Ambulances and fire fighters rushed to Ankara’s central Cankaya neighbourhood where many other institutions and embassies are also located.

Contrary to early reports in the Turkish press, the explosion is understood not to have been caused by a suicide bomber.

“It was not a suicide bomber or car bomb. Someone left a package or threw a package,” the source said.

An Associated Press journalist reported seeing a body in the street at a side entrance.

A witness on the ground has contradicted earlier Turkish media reports that the blast was caused by a suicide bomber. One source at the nearby British Embassy told the Daily Telegraph that the explosion was caused by a bomb.

“It was not a suicide bomber or car bomb. Someone left a package or threw a package,” the source said.

However, witnesses told CNN’s Turkish service that a bomber was seen appraching the building and later entereed a gate at the fortified compound.

Initial reports say the blast occurred near the gates of the visa section of the embassy compound. Security has been tightened around the embassy as there are fears that a second bomb could be detonated.

Oh well, at least there’s Egy—… I mean Lib—… well, Syri—… Iran is… uh… at least Afgh—….

Get to work on those tides, Mr. President!

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Reporting for Duty

As John Kerry prepares to take his phony act to the international stage, it seems the proper time to revisit some of his greatest hits to date—courtesy, of course, of the great Howie Carr:

Here is Mr. Secretary on Syria and its very ethical leader: “Syria is an essential player in bringing peace and stability to the region. … President Assad has been very generous with me in terms of the discussions we have had.”

On the dedication of the Big Dig tunnel: “This tunnel will be a bargain!”

Remember when the Herald caught Liveshot trying to beat the $500,000 state sales tax on his new $7 million yacht, the Isabella? As reporters swarmed, he jumped into his Chevy Volt, er, SUV, and issued this clarion explanation:

“Can I get outta here please?”

As the reporters kept pestering him with questions, perhaps because he’s never seen a tax he didn’t like, unless it was on himself, of course: “Let’s not get silly here.”

On the fact that when it comes to charity, he tosses around quarters like they were manhole covers: “The fact is I did make some contributions. They’re not enormous. I have two kids. I live off my Senate salary. My wife may be independently wealthy. I’m not.”

Now he’s worth $193 million.

And of course, this great one from 2004: “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”

Music, anyone? “I’m fascinated by rap.”

His favorite Red Sox player? “Manny Ortez.”

Favorite football team? “You’re lookin’ at the biggest cheesehead in America, right here.”

In rural Ohio, pandering for the hick vote: “Can I get me a hunting license here?”

If you don’t study hard, you’ll end up in Iraq. “It was a botched joke.”

That would seem an appropriate one to end on, but let Howie have his say:

Everyone has their own favorite John Kerry moment, and this is mine, from 2004, when he announced that his vice presidential running mate was U.S. Sen. John Edwards. Liveshot, always a superb judge of character, said this about the ambulance-chaser who touched everything but the third rail:

“I know his skill. I know his passion. I know his conscience. I know his faith. He has honored the lessons of home and family.”

Yes, Mr. Secretary, but did you know his pregnant mistress?

You can hear some of these gems for yourself here.

America had the choice between this boob and an unpopular, illegitimate, war-mongering, inarticulate Texas hick—and wisely chose the latter. We, on the other hand, have voted the boob to the Senate five times. Draw your own conclusions.

PS: That’s why every town needs at least two newspapers. One to print the truth (in this case, the Herald), and one to provide the staff (in this case, the Globe), as Aggie reports below.