Letters to the Editor

Critics off base

August 21, 2012


To the editor:

Dr. Bud Gollier wrote on Aug. 17 to raise skepticism about Obamacare, relying on an Aug. 6 Wall Street Journal piece criticizing Massachusetts’s RomneyCare. But the Wall Street Journal article is factually misleading and illogical.

The WSJ fails to even mention the purpose of Romneycare – to increase the number of people with health insurance. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 16 percent of the U.S. population is uninsured compared to only 5 percent in Massachusetts. Under Romneycare, 3 percent of children are uninsured compared to 10 percent nationally. So Romneycare worked.

The WSJ article insinuates that Romneycare is to blame for Massachusetts’ growing health care costs for Medicaid, etc., by comparing state expenditures from 2001 to 2012. But Romneycare did not become law until June 2006. And the WSJ article offered nothing to show that these rising costs were in any way related to Romneycare. Clear thinking leads to the opposite conclusion: The more people with health insurance, the less a state will pay in Medicaid and similar programs.

Dr. Gollier’s letter also echoes WSJ’s smug claim that, “Sure enough, 79 percent of the newly insured are on public programs.” Does the WSJ think the pre-Romneycare uninsured were among the better off classes?

Enough about the WSJ’s anti-Obamacare propaganda. What about Kansas? Thirteen percent of us have no health insurance, with 8 percent of our children uninsured. We would be fortunate indeed if Obamacare does for Kansas what Romneycare did for Massachusetts.


rtwngr 5 years, 6 months ago

Your letter fails to examine how many of the 13 percent that you cite choose to have no health insurance. I don't disagree that those who want it should have some kind of access to it but I disagree that those who don't should be forced to take it or be fined. Additionally, when we talk about the cost of healthcare, there are a lot of other things that could be done to reduce costs. The options are far too numerous to list here but I have real problems with the federal government, that has a terrible track record of management, controlling that large of a portion of our personal freedoms and money.

appleaday 5 years, 6 months ago

Try buying health care on your own if your employer doesn't provide it. In Kansas at least, insurance companies can deny coverage for any reason when an individual applies for insurance.

cowboy 5 years, 6 months ago

Rtwngr , your use of the word "choose" illustrates your bias on the matter. Much of the insurance reform effort is focused on getting affordable coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. While you may think these follks are all terminal patients or lazy neer do wells they aren't. Most , upper 70 % receive coverage thru their employers , lose a job , self employed , change jobs and you too can have a lapse in coverage that will put you at the mercy of the underwriter.

I did not choose to have a heartbeat issue. However the insurance companies think I'll drop dead tomorrow and "choose" not to cover me. I chose to get a simple prescription to control it. I chose to spend a small amount each month on prescriptions , annual testing , and am a healthy hard working fella and would bet that most of you could not keep up with me.

Now i could get in the worthless Kansas high risk pool for a grand a month , 12 k a year , or I can pay my own expenses , about 2k per year , but i can't get covered until 2014 when the act kicks in. I would wager that i spend a lot less than most weekend warrior athletes do on health care.

The problem and the reason for the health care act is to prevent insurance companies from constantly redefining the risk pool to drive profits. My doc laughed at my rejection letters from BCBS , Coventry , listing allergies among other things for pre-existing conditions.

I dont think many are looking for free care , but affordable care.

voevoda 5 years, 6 months ago

"If the topic of your post is "Liberty_One" then you've lost the argument."

Liberty_One doesn't deal well when other people disagree with him. He does feel very free to criticize everyone else's opinions, though.

voevoda 5 years, 6 months ago

Liberty_One, If the only way you can win arguments is by declaring "If the topic of your post is "Liberty_One" then you've lost the argument," you are tacitly admitting that your logic and evidence can't withstand critique. As for the "personal attacks," perhaps you need to be reminded of the email you sent me on August 18:

Private email from Liberty_One, August 18, 2012 Hello,

The user Liberty_One sent the following message to you via LJWorld.com:


Well, I proved to you that I know what I'm talking about when it comes to US history and the post office. I've done this many, many times to people on here. I state a fact, you guys act as if I'm just making it up, then I prove it with multiple sources. I have never been proven a liar with this kind of stuff, yet you guys keep acting like I'm making it all up. I've spent years studying US history. I know my stuff and can prove everything I say. Maybe you think my theories about WHY things happened are wrong, but I know WHAT happened far better than you or anyone else here and I'm sick of being questioned by ignoramuses when I've proven it over and over again.

You don't know what you're talking about. You're a child compared to me. Learn. Your. Place.

[End of Liberty_One's email]

voevoda 5 years, 6 months ago

Liberty_One, Each time you call other people names; each time you claim that you know more than anybody else; each time you whine about so-called "personal attacks" after you yourself attacked other people yourself in much nastier terms, you dissuade people from your "libertarian" ideology. Ron Paul--your libertarian idol, as I recall--wrote: "We must learn to present our ideas in an inoffensive manner. Hysterics, emotions and name-calling will never help in achieving our goal of a society that maximizes individual freedom.” "Hysterics, emotions and name-calling," Liberty_One; unfortunately, an apt description of too many of your postings.

voevoda 5 years, 6 months ago

Well, Liberty_One, I was indeed responding to the content of your posting--specifically, the sentence, "If the topic of your post is "Liberty_One" then you've lost the argument." If you did not want responses to that sentence, why include it?
It seems that you're confused about the difference between using someone's moniker to identify which posting you're replying to, and a "personal attack." It's not the presence or absence of an individual's name that makes the difference, Liberty_One. I'm being entirely civil to you, responding to the content of your posting, using your name politely as my mother taught me to do when you are talking with someone. You, however, since last Friday have sarcastically called me "genius" and deridingly called me "a child" and an "ignoramus" and told me to "Learn. Your. Place." And still more insults. That's a personal attack, even if you didn't use my moniker. Everyone who follows these forums knows how you choose to conduct yourself, and how often you resort to put-downs and name-calling. I doubt that very many people are inclined to take your views seriously, much less "discuss the news" with you, given how vituperatively you respond every time someone disagrees with you. I'm sure that many people don't bother to respond to you any more--you now explicitly discourage people from responding--because of your propensity to be so unfair in arguing and gratuitously nasty. I have chosen to continue to challenge you, on occasion, on the content of your postings--whether they concern the news or devolve into snide posturing and name-calling. That's because I do not want you or other people to confuse silence for consent to your often-outrageous statements. I do have to wonder why your postings so often devolve into arrogant and unkind rants. Is there something in your so-called "libertarian" (in actuality, anarcho-capitalist) ideology that leads you to be so angry and misanthropic? In any case, you damage your cause by the way you behave in these forums. If your goal genuinely is to "discuss the news," start by adopting a civil tone and open your listening ears. You could learn something.

chootspa 5 years, 6 months ago

I think you misspelled a word. "Author" isn't spelled t-o-p-i-c.

Cai 5 years, 6 months ago

I will say this much - a change needed to be made. I, personally, would love to have health insurance. But I'm a student, so no employment provided insurance. That's fine - I'm 27, healthy. Shouldn't have a problem.

But my father had cancer 23 years ago. He's fine now, but suddenly I'm in a high risk pool, and pre-Obamacare, it would have cost me $200/month to have health insurance that only covers ER visits in which I'm admitted to the hospital.

Now I'm over 26 (so can't be on mom's employer provided insurance anymore), but the cost of insurance is still ridiculous. I look forward to 2014 when there are some options out there for me that will be useful without costing 1/4 of my total monthly salary. (yes, still a student. Take home pay? 780/month, give or take 20.)

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 6 months ago

We have a lot of ideas on the consumers side, we might need a little discussion from the providers side.

I wonder how I would feel if I hocked my house and started a business called an insurance company, then the feds came in and told me who my customers are supposed to be, and how I was to do business with these customers. The feds already tell you who you can hire, what color they should be, and what happens to them when you terminate them. The tell you how much you have to pay as in a minimum wage.

Everyone should have access to health care. I do have a problem when they give a transplant to a thug in prison instead of someone who has worked all their lives, paid into the system, and needs the same transplant. Which brings me to my largest concern about Obamacare... rationing. If the governments eyes, producers and non producers are equal. I'd be damned if a procedure I needed was given to a non producer when I have worked and paid taxes all my life ... just to support some moocher or 400 lb Walmart breeder.

It looks like a couple in here feel the same as I do, just on the other side of the argument.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

You've got my vote for God. You clearly know best who is a "producer," and who is a "moocher," who deserves to live, and who deserves to die.

But since you can't be God, I vote for you to be Rationer in Chief, because I know you're so deserving of putting yourself at the front of the line for everything.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

I guess it's to the back of the line for me-- the Rationer in Chief has spoken.

George Lippencott 5 years, 6 months ago

Two points for consideration.

The $700 billion cut in Medicare is directed at providers. Providers are in the system by choice. If we cut to much they will leave or ration care. Nice to have insurance that you cannot use.

Massachusetts is consideri9ng a form of rationing on their Romney Care. Seems the costs are exceeding what was planned – for whatever reason. Sounds very much like what the critics said then and say now about Obama care. Market Econ 101. If you limit prices you will get less product.

voevoda 5 years, 6 months ago

Obamacare doesn't involve "nationalization" of the health care sector of the economy, rockchalk1977. The ACA works primarily through private insurance companies and private health care providers. The only way people will lose access to health care is if those private companies raise their rates outside of the levels normal wage-earners can afford. The only way there will be "death panels" is if private insurance companies refuse to deliver on care that they promised--that is, continue to do what they are already doing.
The "nationalized" sector of the health care industry in the US is--the VA. I hope, rockchalk1977, that you do not begrudge our veterans of their health care.

cowboy 5 years, 6 months ago

"The Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, is a fifteen-member United States Government agency created in 2010 by sections 3403 and 10320 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which has the explicit task of achieving specified savings in Medicare without affecting coverage or quality.[1] Under previous and current law, changes to Medicare payment rates and program rules are recommended by MedPAC but require an act of Congress to take effect. The new system grants IPAB the authority to make changes to the Medicare program with the Congress being given the power to overrule the agency's decisions through supermajority vote."

How you take the above and twist it up then flush it out of rockchalks brain into death panels is pretty bizarre.

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 6 months ago

The Gubment landed on the moon. Hell they even freed Europe from the tyranny of Hitler and his ilk. I bet the Gubment could save your house from total destruction should it ever happen to catch a fire. The Gubment does a good job at a lot of things, you brainwashed a-hole. And a corporate insurance company has no death panel, now do they? You are just another totally stupid idiot.

Windemere 5 years, 6 months ago

"Death panels" is too easy to mock. But the point about rationing is significant. As said above, the health care act will have repercussions and long waits and rationing are not in the least far-fetched. When pressed, the people who support it, when they are honest, have acknowledged this. They'll use different words. Like, the "system is full of waste" and there are now "unnecessary procedures that waste money." All true, but the remedy that is the ACA could mean huge changes that most Americans do not want (and would loudly object to if they paid attention to the issue sufficiently). There is waste (aka too much money being paid to those in the medical profession, drug companies, medical device mfrs, etc) but there are other ways to reduce the waste.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

There is already rationing, based almost solely on income and place of employment, which leads to nearly 1/3 of all Americans with little or no access to healthcare for at least some period in their lives, and millions never have access to any sort of insurance coverage.

"could mean huge changes that most Americans do not want"

Which changes are you referring to?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

Show me where the constitution prohibits such a guarantee.

tbaker 5 years, 6 months ago

Read the constitution Bozo. Our federal government was designed to be of limited and enumerated (listed) powers. This means that the federal government only has powers over the things that are specifically given to it (listed) in the Constitution.

The constitution does not say everyone in the country is entitled to free healthcare provided by the government. Of course nothing is stopping people from demanding an amendment to the constitution be passed to make this idea a “right” but until it is the absence of such a thing being “enumerated” in the constitution means it is prohibited by the constitution.

Kirk Larson 5 years, 6 months ago

"The constitution does not say everyone in the country is entitled to free healthcare provided by the government." The ACA is not free. Those who don't have health insurance will have to pay premiums. It is not provided by the government. You would have to pay into a policy from a private insurer. Would that we had a single payer system. That would be great, but no we had to go with the republican originated idea of the individual mandate.

tbaker 5 years, 6 months ago

Those without health insurance need to demand the government help remove the barriers currently preventing them from taking care of themselves and not ask other tax payers to fund what is their personal responsibility.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

There are lots of things the constitution doesn't say. Just because you don't like something and can't find words explicitly outlining it in the constitution doesn't mean it's a bad idea, or somehow prohibited because of mere omission from a 230-year-old document.

Armstrong 5 years, 6 months ago

Boz, that one is painfully weak, even for you

don1157 5 years, 6 months ago

LIFE, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, or would you just like to recognize the latter two.

Windemere 5 years, 6 months ago

I don't think the word rationing is correct. There may be problem with affordability and access, which to me is not the same thing as rationing (which I associate with government; believe I've only heard the word used in the context of government policy). I would like to see the debate/analysis include ways to reform this sector of our economy that do not involve a big surge in government control and spending. A few ways to curb the "waste" -- create policies that, over time, stop tying health insurance to employment (which happened as a result of government wage controls in WWII); enact laws that make it easier to sell insurance across state lines, which will increase competition, phase out the employer tax deduction associated with insurance premiums. Reducing the jackpot justice of tort cases (which makes malpractice insurance so high, and thus increases healthcare costs) is a harder one to tackle, but it can be done. There are many ways to help eliminate waste and increase access for all citizens that don't involve a giant power grab by the Federal govt.

George Lippencott 5 years, 6 months ago

Perhaps because some of us have been around a while.???

The panel has been quiet. If it works on FW and Abuse more power to it. If it feels compelled to cut payments - remember we have a rule like that in effect now. Each year we are supposed to cut and each year congress overrules the cuts. Right now they are at about 20% of the cost of services if implemented – and the next deadline -= you guessed it Jan 1.

Do you really think we can cut 20% and not impact the quality of service? Do you really think the new panel will not face the same problem? Of course I might note that the availability of service is not part of the new law. So seniors get only the doctors willing to accept lower payments or too poor a doctor to compete in the rest of the market. Gee thanks!!

I don’t think I like that and apparently many many seniors don’t like it either!!!

tbaker 5 years, 6 months ago

The people who insist that healthcare is some kind of right must therefore believe the government has a duty to force the providers of health care to work. Only a slave has no choice in the work he does. If health care is considered a right, then someone must provide it, willing or not. If too few people choose the profession of health care to provide for everyone’s “rights,” how will the need be met? Will doctors be jailed for the “crime” of leaving medicine? Will students be drafted into medical schools? If so, what kind of doctors will result?

Why is it morally right to regard some individuals as servants to those in need, rather than as independent human beings with their own lives and goals? What is noble about a morality that turns men into beggars and victims – those taking government hand-outs, and those forced to work in order to pay for them, the bailed-out and the bailers?

What happened to the American ideal of fierce self-reliance which held the right of the individual to exist for his own sake. The founders knew that this is the only possible basis for a free country. Today, it’s freedom or service - the pursuit of happiness or of the "public good", the Declaration of Independence or the endless crises of the welfare state where "you didn't build that" and lets "spread the wealth around."

Mr. Rockwell is a begger. He expects others to provide what he should be providing for himself. If he can't, then he needs to ask what government can do to clear the path for him to take care of himself instead of asking the government to force the rest of us to take of him.

roadrunner 5 years, 6 months ago

Doctors will always be available for the job creators to pay cash for services rendered... Doctors will not suffer anymore than they already do... Insurance companies have been dictating how they practice medicine for a very long time. And I hope tbaker doesn't ever need any government services, like police and fire or roads to drive on because he clearly doesn't want any government involvement in his life!!!

tbaker 5 years, 6 months ago

Strawman fail. Where did I say I didn't want any government in my life?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

"If health care is considered a right, then someone must provide it, willing or not."

Substitute "roads" or "police" or "fire protection," and it's pretty much the same scenario.

don1157 5 years, 6 months ago

For the person who wanted to know where in the constitution it says we are guaranteed healthcare...Here you go: LIFE, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Or do you just wish to recognize the LIberty part?

tbaker 5 years, 6 months ago

The text: "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" comes from the declaration of independance - not the constitution. On top of demonstrating a clear ignorance of the constitution, you employ the "compositon falacy" to inferr meaning that is not in the constituition.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

That is technically correct.

But, are you really claiming that the DOI, and the ideals it sets forth has nothing to do with the constitution?

And, of course, life and liberty are also protected in the constitution itself.

Abdu Omar 5 years, 6 months ago

Most of you republicans that are complaining about the ACA must remember that your party had a chance to do their own health care plan while GW Bush was in office and GHW Bush was in office and when Reagan was in office, etc. So why didn't you? Because those who were uninsured were of no consequence to you, right? So now Obama got a plan passed, no republican plan, no attempt at discussion and negotiation, just say "no".

Now we have the plan and it will not be perfect nor even close, but what other choice do we citizens of this great country have? No Health care? Health care dictated by the insurance companies where everyone with a little murmur in their heart is declined coverage? Is that good insurance? No one in this county has perfect health. Everyone will get sick and some will die. So what is the other choice, Repubs? You don't have a solution, you just have a complain yourselves and you cry and stamp your feet, but have no idea of your own.

tbaker 5 years, 6 months ago

Not true wounded_soldier. The republicans did introduce alternatives to ACA and every one was killed by the democratic congress. For example:

  1. Make the first dollar of healthcare spending tax deductible. Cost to taxpayers? Zero.

  2. Make every dollar put into a health savings account tax deductible. No limit on contributions. Cost to taxpayers? Zero.

  3. Permit the sale of health insurance nationwide. Exercise the Commerce Clause properly by knocking down all the state-level mandates and restrictions on cross-state insurance purchases. Cost to taxpayers? Zero.

  4. Reform state insurance commissions to remove “mandated” coverage so people can pick and choose what they want coverage for. Cafeteria plans, just like congress gets. Cost to taxpayers? Zero.

  5. Reform state and federal insurance laws so doctors can opt out of malpractice insurance. If a patient is willing to sign a hold-harmless waiver, the doctor should be able to treat him without the huge burden of malpractice premiums.Cost to taxpayers? Zero.

  6. Reform medical licensing laws so nurse practitioners and physician assistants (for example) can deliver primary care. I don’t need 12 years of higher education to prescribe pink stuff antibiotics for a 5 year old with an ear infection. This will increase the number of walk-in primary care clinics which are way cheaper to operate than ERs are. Cost to taxpayers? Zero.

  7. End tax breaks for business. De-couple healthcare from employment. Employee-sponsored health insurance is a dumb relic from FDR’s WWII price controls. By incentivizing employee-sponsored insurance, government has choked off the individual market, making it much harder for the self-employed and other people who don't want to work for a big company. Under the current system, the true cost of health care is hidden by tax incentives provided to businesses. Cost to taxpayers? Zero.

  8. End casino lawsuits / tort reform. Loser pays. Lawyers add costs to the health system in all kinds of ways. First, there's the obvious way, in that they frequently try suing the pants off professionals, forcing doctors to get very expensive insurance. But what's more, is that they contribute to the over testing culture, as doctors order up extra tests and exams, just so they can't get sued. Cost to taxpayers? Zero.

Make healthcare choices a decision that occurs between people and healthcare providers, not the unholy alliance of big government and massive campaign-contributing insurance companies. Individuals who are free to make their own choices, who control their own healthcare dollars, are best suited to make decisions for their particular desires in a free marketplace. This works. Government stranglehold on markets doesn't work and is why healthcare costs so much. Less government and more free people making their own choices is the answer.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

You've posted this before, and while there are some good ideas, most of them would do nothing to expand the availability of healthcare to those who currently can't afford it (but it would be a great boon to those who already have it, especially those who earn enough to itemize deductions) and your "tort reform" would be a great boon to insurance companies and bad doctors.

Windemere 5 years, 6 months ago

Excellent post. Main thread seems to be: Governemnt regulations and policies are a (or the) main cause of the bad system we have today. What a radical idea to roll back the harmful policies and favoritism and give the free market a try. Those who are destitute are a concern, but there can be a safety net. Right now, there are just too many people on the healthcare dole and the government gets in the way of encouraging competition to bring costs down and choices up.

headdoctor 5 years, 6 months ago

The only thing I can get from this thread is that sometime after 8am August 21, 2012 Liberty_One was self elevated to the status of "legend in his own mind".

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

It is true that the Constitution doesn't specifically offer the guarantee of health care for all.

But, it's also true that it says the enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shouldn't be taken to mean that other non-enumerated rights don't exist as well.

Since those aren't spelled out, it makes it complicated and difficult to decide whether or not health care is a right of American citizens.

tbaker 5 years, 6 months ago

Thats why there is a 9th and 10th amendment. Those rights not specified are not lost, they are retained by the states and/or the people themselves. Someone has to work to pay the taxes the government needs to fund "free" healthcare. That money the government takes from the tax payers is personal property, which is the singular expression of individual liberty. People have to give up some of their liberty in order for other people to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

The main purpose of the US federal government was to protect and gurantee individual lilberty, not diminsh it. Instead of taking from one group and giving to another, the US government should be clearing a path and making it as easy as possible for everyone to take care of themselves. MediCare/MediCade were intended to be safety nets for the extremely poor and vulnerable. They were not created to replace personal responsibility at the expense of others.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Yes, they are retained that way.

So, if "the people" choose to vote for universal health care in one form or another, it may be well within their rights to do so.

The idea that property is the singular expression of liberty seems way off base to me - I can think of a number of other expressions of freedom that are much more important.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

I have already in a previous post to you - I hope you read them.

Love, friendship, art, music, spirituality, discussion and debate come immediately to mind.

tbaker 5 years, 6 months ago

We're talking about "rights" so I don't understand your example aside from freedom of speech inference (discussion and debate).

Do you have and inalienable right to your neighbor's labor and wages, or does he to yours?

This explains it very well: http://www.thefreemanonline.org/features/the-primacy-of-property-rights-and-the-american-founding/

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

You mentioned liberty as fundamental, and property as the singular expression of it.

I commented that I find many other things, like the ones I mentioned, to be more important and meaningful expressions of liberty than owning things.

If your primary expression of your freedom is to buy things, I think you're making a big mistake.

tbaker 5 years, 6 months ago

I don’t think you understand. Private property rights isn’t about being able to buy things, it is about an individual person being protected by the rights in the constitution to own something and being safe from having that something confiscated by the state, namely the money you go work for and earn. The money you earn represents a piece of your life.

Private ownership vs. collective ownership. When the state can take from you what is yours by inalienable right, we cease to be a free people. Your liberty is gone. The collapse of the Soviet system (as well as many other socialist systems) clearly demonstrated that without clearly defined and enforced private property rights, the development of an advanced economic system isn’t possible and all the people collectively suffer.

Take for example the former communist countries of the Soviet Union where less than 1% of the agricultural land was privately owned. These private plots out-performed the huge collective farms owned by the state. In Latin America and all across Africa, insecurity of ownership / poorly defined or enforced private property rights have resulted in the constant threat of predation by the State and politically connected private actors. There are hundreds of millions of people living in squalor and poverty as a result. In 1623, the Plymouth Colony nearly starved to death before they abandoned the failed communal farming system and established private property rights.

We are slowly but surely losing our private property rights through massive regulation and arbitrary and onerous taxation for the purpose of wealth re-distribution. Less than half the country pays income taxes and that percentage is falling. We have the highest corporate tax rate in the world and one of the highest effective rates of taxation in the world. It is unsustainable and most definitely unfair.

"The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property and in their management." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

If the founders had believed as you do, they wouldn't have given the federal government the right to tax the citizens.

The often quoted 47% don't pay "federal" income taxes. And, a large majority of those are senior citizens living on small SS benefits - do you believe we should tax them on those?

I think your comments about actual and effective tax rates are off a bit - I recall seeing some charts, and the US isn't taxing us as badly as you seem to think.

If you don't mind a personal observation, you seem to repeat the same things over and over again, even after I've shown you some data that contradict your view, and you don't respond to questions. It might be in your own best interests to think critically about your ideology, rather than believing in it zealously.

tbaker 5 years, 6 months ago

My beliefs are based on those of the founders. They did not give the federal government the right to tax individual citizens in the original constitution. The federal government did not have that power until the 16th amendment in 1913.

A large majority of senior citizens DO pay income taxes. Social Security and pension /401K / traditional IRA disbursements are all considered income (even though some of the income has already been subject to income tax at least once) Do some research at the Tax Policy Center and see for yourself.

My comments are not off. The US has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Prove me wrong.

Recalling some charts? Do you recall this testimony to congress too?

(from the web) On Sept. 14, 2011, former U.S. Treasury economic official Stephen J. Entin, who is now president of the Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation, testified before Congress and noted that "the top earners already pay a very high portion of the income tax. The top 2 percent of the taxpayers had 27.95 percent of AGI [adjusted gross income] and paid 48.68 percent of the income tax. The bottom 50 percent of the tax filers had 12.26 of AGI and paid 2.89 percent of the income tax. Half of the filers now owe no income tax or receive a refundable income tax credit."

I repeat the same answers over and over again because people refuse to think critically about their own ideology. They are so blinded by dogma that they routinely post the same misguided positions on these topics we discuss.

My ideology really doesn’t matter. Facts are facts regardless. Contradict my data. Please.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Article 1, Section 8 of the "original" constitution gives the federal government the right to tax.

Look again at the data - as I said, a large majority of those who don't pay federal income taxes are seniors living on modest SS benefits.

Why don't you show me your evidence that we are the highest corporate taxers instead? It's your claim. From what I recall, the nominal rates are higher than the actual, collected rates due to numerous loopholes and exceptions.

Even if those figures are correct, it doesn't make your point as far as I can tell. What it mainly says to me is that the bottom 50% aren't making enough - you should note that the top 2% make over twice as much as the bottom 50%, according to your own figures.

I have no particular ideology - I prefer to try to look at reality first, and then form my ideas and opinions. You, on the other hand, are clearly libertarian, from your posts. I find libertarian ideology appealing in a few limited areas, like freedom for consenting adults to act as they please, if they're not hurting anybody else. Other than that, it seems quite misguided to me.

tbaker 5 years, 6 months ago

Jafs - your game is way off today. Cite for me in the constitution where it says the federal government can tax individuals. I'll save you the trouble - it does not. The federal government levied taxes on the states up until the 16th amendment.

Go to the Tax Policy Center. Go to CATO. Go to Reason Magazine. Heck, just google it. Do you're own research.You'll see that for the last 20 years or so, the 30 most industrialized countries have steadily lowered their corporate tax rates until recently the US became number one. I know this conflicts with your world view and you don't like it, but it's true regardless. I don't care if you believe me or not. I know I'm right.

Who gets to decide what "enough" is? How is it fair that the 97% of all the income taxes are paid by 50% of the people? Everyone should pay their fair share and not live off someone else. There is a growing portion of that bottom 50% who not only pay no taxes, but they get a "refund" check on top of that. They pay a negative rate of taxation. That is pure wealth transfer and it is immoral. Despite the fact I think the private sector would do a far better job, I believe it is the role of government to provide saftey nets for the very poor and vulnerable - I support this - but the welfare state has turned into a career choice for a large and growing part of the population. It is not only un-American and immoral, it is unsustainable. We borrow 41 cents of every dollar we spend and have reached the point we can no longer sell enough treasury notes at the bond auctions to finance our debt. The Federal Reserve just prints up money and buys them from the treasury (quantatative easing). This has to stop or we will face the same disaster Europe has.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Article 1, Section 8 doesn't specify taxing states vs. individuals. It gives Congress the "Power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States."

That obviously could include a variety of taxes levied on a variety of individuals or states, etc.

If you want me to change my view, you have to convince me - so far you've presented no evidence of your claim.

No response to the facts about seniors on limited SS benefits yet. Should we tax them on those?

Your continual assertions without evidence seem to be getting more strident - I wonder why that is?

Is it fair that the top 2% make more than 2x the bottom 50%? When discussing taxation, I find that there is not a good way to define "fair" in that context - various different ways have different positive and negative attributes.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

"The US has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. "

That's just intellectually lazy and dishonest. While the nominal rate may be highest, few corporations actually pay that rate, and many regularly pay little or nothing. If measured on that basis, the taxes on US corporations is well down the list.

In terms of total dollars collected, the taxes on corporations account for less than 10 percent of all federal taxes collected. The amount collected in payroll taxes is nearly 3 1/2 times the amount collected in corporate taxes.


jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Also, of course, the ability and process to amend the constitution was something the founders intended, and set up.

So, the implication that the 16th amendment is somehow illegitimate seems off base as well.

If you like, try to repeal it, using the process that the founders designed.

tbaker 5 years, 6 months ago

I made no implication. The 16th amendment was ratified. End of story.

Speaking of the process that the founders designed...

Even the most cursory reading of Madison (architect of the constitution), the writings of the other founders, the federalist papers, etc, will show you that the founders did not believe the federal government should be empowered to take money from individual citizens and they design the original constitution accordingly. Remember - the principal role of the federal government was to protect and guarantee personal rights and liberty. The federal government taking money from a citizen was antithetical to this purpose.

This is why taxation was aportioned and levied on the states. The Founders also spent a great deal of effort making sure the power of the federal government was balanced with that of the states in order to keep both in check. As I have pointed out, the federal government was originally prohibited from collecting taxes from individuals. Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution states: "No capitation, or other direct Tax, shall be laid unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration." This meant that the federal government could collect revenue from the states according to population, but had to leave the methods of collection up to them. This is why the Supreme Court declared the income tax unconstitutional in 1895. Referring to the explicit prohibition against direct taxation in Article I, the court argued that the income tax would excessively enhance federal power in relation to state power. As a result the 16th amendment was needed.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Ok - then the 16th amendment, which was duly passed in accordance with the process outlined by the founder and our founding documents, is completely legitimate.

If the founders felt that strongly about individual taxation, then they could have put something in the constitution protecting against that, but they didn't do that, right?

I can't really determine exactly what section 9 means yet - I'd have to do some research. If you're right, then it seems to violate that section to tax individuals, and if the SC ruled that way, that would confirm that view.

But, of course, the ability to overturn SC verdicts with constitutional amendments is also part of the fabric of our system, so the 16th amendment supercedes the SC decision, right?

tbaker 5 years, 6 months ago

They DID put something in there. Like I said: Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution states: "No capitation, or other direct Tax, shall be laid unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration."

This is why they had to pass an amendment to change the original constitution to permit income taxes. The 16th amendment over-rides Article 1, Section 9 and it nullifies the SC "Polock" case.

I disagree with your statement the government still has the power to levy individual income taxes without the 16th amendment. As I said, Article 1, Section 9 makes that unconstitutional. The Polock case "basically" affirmed this with some exception which was one of the political drivers (plus a lot of national wealth envy / soak the rich, etc) that caused the 16th amendment. It was actually introduced as a joke/dare to the democrats by a conservative Nebraska congressman who ended up arguing and voting against his own bill in the end. Kinda backfired on him.

Now you probably know by now that I despise the 16th amendment and I think it is not only patently un-American, but immoral as well. Nonetheless it is the law of the land. I support its repeal, and the abolishment of the income tax altogether. I’m in favor of the FairTax (HR 25/S 296) but only if the 16th amendment is repealed, otherwise we will end up with both an income AND a national sales tax. There is a 5 year sunset provision in the proposed law which would automatically nullify it if not re-passed by congress. I think it’ worth a try.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

A very quick search shows that your presentation of Pollock is incorrect.

According to what I've read, income taxes were considered "indirect" taxes and thus not subject to the argument about direct taxation. Pollock was about taxes gathered from property, not wage income.

So, even without the 16th amendment, the government probably still has the power and right to levy individual income taxes on wages.

tbaker 5 years, 6 months ago

I said Pollock "basically" established the precident covering some forms of income, but not all.

You are going to have to show me where the constitution - minus the 16th amendment - would allow the federal government to collect income taxes from individuals. As it was written states could do that, and then remit the money, but not the feds.

Article 1, Section 9 of the constitution makes the collection of income taxes by the federal government from indivduals unconstitutional, which is why the 16th amendment was needed in order to do that.

As I said many posts ago - the founders were fundamentally opposed to the federal government doing this, hence Article 1, Section 9 (and a whole lot of other historical examples from the writings of the framers)

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 6 months ago

Cost for universal healthcare for everyone in the USA? Around $70-billion. Money spent in the USA on the war machine? Around $700-billion. Tell me again about how our taxes/private property should be spent? What a joke this country has become! Laughing-stock of the world!

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 6 months ago

Cost for universal healthcare for everyone in the USA? About $70-billion. Money spent by the USA on our war machine? About $700-billion. Tell me again how we should be spending our tax dollar/personal property? The USA is back-asswards and the laughing-stock of the world.

George Lippencott 5 years, 6 months ago

Ah, but would it not require a constitutional amendment to allow the federal government to do that??

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

I don't see why.

If the people retain various rights not enumerated, then they may very well have the right to vote for universal health care, through their elected representatives.

Medicare is an essentially socialized version of health insurance for seniors, and could be expanded to include everybody if we wanted to do that, I would think.

Was a constitutional amendment required for Medicare?

George Lippencott 5 years, 6 months ago

I agree with tbaker. The constitution IMHO was an agreement to limit the power of government not a writ to solve all preceived problems. If people want the government to do something not enumerated they can amend the document to allow it.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

You can believe what you like.

But, the fact is that Medicare didn't require a constitutional amendment, and was the government doing something not enumerated, right?

tbaker 5 years, 6 months ago

The constitution was not designed to proect someone's "right" to live at the expense of someone else.

George Lippencott 5 years, 6 months ago

Here we go again. If you challenge any government program you oppose fire and police services. Poppycock.

In arguing Medicare and ACA we could think of the argument in another way.

Medicare is the ACA of my generation. We decided to force all seniors (albeit not a few rich or powerful (unions)) into it at 65 under the guise of a good deal for the poor. We did that and millions of seniors with the means to provide their own care were thrust into the program.

Part A at least made sense with a trust fund. Part B was never properly sourced for funding although it is means tested – you have to join and you have to pay more. Now when the costs come due we want to hammer the people we forced into the program

Once side wants to cut services or charge seniors more for less after they can no longer do much about it. Theses are the sucessors of those who created the program. The other side wants to end it all and calls those forced into the program "moochers”.

Tell me again why the ACA will not follow the same pattern. Even at its birth we are taking services from those already promised them to give them to a new vocal group while lying about the tru costs. The advocates seem oblivious to the fact that they, too, will lose those services – or are they so rapacious and self serving that they believe they can restore them in the future after devastating current seniors??

That is the problem with government programs. They are oversold, underfunded and in the end leave innocent people in the lurch.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Could be.

The original question was whether or not we need a constitutional amendment to provide universal coverage - I say no based on the fact that Medicare didn't need one, apparently.

Nobody seems interesting in volunteering to give back their Medicare benefits, so far.

George Lippencott 5 years, 6 months ago

And my alternative is?? If there were no Medicare or just a Medicaid version there would be commercial alternatives and we would be there. Now all the cokmmercial alternatives are second payer to Medcare

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

I don't understand your question.

There are plenty of private sector health insurance companies around.

My point about nobody wanting to give up their Medicare benefits is that, even if government programs are poorly designed or seriously problematic, those who benefit from them personally aren't inclined to give them up.

And, most government spending benefits somebody, so there's always resistance to cutting spending and programs.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

Romney, Ryan, and The Devil’s Budget: Will America Keep Its Soul? by George Lakoff and Glenn Smith


George Lippencott 5 years, 6 months ago

You should get what you were promised!!! If we want to change the rules - by all means - but before the game is played.

Once you make agreements with people as their government I believe you are bound by those agreements. The idea you suggests is to undercut any effort by the government by calling into question the governments willingness/ability to honor it.

Sounds like you and LO are joined at the hip!

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago


Article 1, Section 9 refers to "direct" taxation.

Since income taxes are technically, and actually, "indirect" taxation, they wouldn't be covered by the exclusion there, so the government has the right to tax individual income.

Pollock was about the question of income derived from property rental, and the SC agreed that sort of income tax would be "direct" taxation, and thus subject to Section 9. Thus the 16th Amendment, of which the important clause seems to be "from whatever source derived".

It's interesting actually, seems to be a rather early attempt by wealthy landowners and landlords to avoid paying the taxes that wage earners pay - I guess nothing's new under the sun.

This question of direct vs. indirect taxation is new to me, and I'm not sure exactly what they were getting at, but it seems to me that they didn't want the government to tax people unless they were engaged in an activity in which money exchanges hands.

So, interestingly, the ACA's new "tax" on the failure to purchase health insurance might qualify as a "direct" tax - I wonder if that argument was made to the SC.

Working is obviously an activity in which money exchanges hands, just as buying something in a store is, or renting an apartment to a tenant is, so all of those seem to be indirect to me. I'd say that the SC in Pollock was wrong in their determination, at least based on the research I've done so far.

George Lippencott 5 years, 6 months ago

JAFS, I duck the argument on strict vs. flexible interpretation of the constitution. My personal opinion is that the founders were strict interpreters based on their fear of the crown. If it were to be read as flexible then why bother with a mechanism to amend it.

LO In our system I have elected a representative who acting on my behalf establishes programs such as social security to support the common good (the old definition where that included a majority of the citizens). In your system that would not happen. A very substantive difference worth a true argument.

AGNO In IMHO that government when we use it to establish programs that affect all of us develops a responsibility on all our behalf to administer that program fairly. If you create a government run necessity (like health care) we all become responsible for insuring that program is not precipitously changed to the detriment of those we have placed in it by law or administrative restrictions and who no longer have means to respond quickly to changes. That is the dangers of government programs – they create very long lasting legacies. Do we understand and are we prepared to live with the legacies of the ACA?

I do not attack the ACA based on constitutionality. I do question how far the commerce clause can be bent. Does it support federal creation of commerce as opposed to oversight??? I do question the affordability of the entitlement portion of ACA (supplement income to certain insurance policy holders based on income). Can we afford an honest reflection of the costs given all our other obligations? IMHO that is the appropriate debate. If we really want to do it then we can raise the revenue through the income tax system or by adding another element to the payroll tax process (if you don’t provide your employees with insurance you get to pay a very hefty payroll tax (in addition to a personal payroll tax).

I do not attack the federal income tax as unconstitutional on its face. I do challenge whether it is treating people unequally before the law. If we believe that a progressive system is legal then how do we justify a steeply progressive component, a flat component and a non existent component as treating people equally? Hence I argue for a uniformly progressive system with few if any deductions/adjustments. If something is worth supporting then by all means do so through the appropriations process.

Too many Red Herons!!

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

If Medicare and SS are constitutional without an amendment, then expanding those programs should be as well, unless there's some sort reason that wouldn't be ok.

I never said we should read the constitution "flexibly", so I don't know what you're responding to there.

The SC ruling on the ACA didn't accept the Commerce Clause argument.

I believe you mean "red herrings".

George Lippencott 5 years, 6 months ago

  1. If you believe that they are. I ducked that issue.

  2. Strict intrepretation vs what? I used flexible. Strict means in my world as written

  3. Yep but we still have most of the program (can't make people join) so we still have to pay - only more since the cohort lost were low cost juniors who can now wait until they are high cost to join.

  4. No I meant birds vs fish. Got tired of the fish comparison

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Well, do you think Medicare and SS are unconstitutional?

I've never argued against strict interpretation of the constitution, in fact I've argued several times that it's very important to understand what was intended, so again, I don't know what you're talking about.

You mentioned the ICC in context of the ACA, which made it seem as though you think the ACA has something to do with the ICC, which isn't what the SC said.

George Lippencott 5 years, 6 months ago

The Republican vs Democratic battl over what was intended. The Republicans using the term "struct" argue for as written. If it is not clearly there it isn't. The Democrats argue for a "living " document that evolves with the times (I use the term flexible for lack of a better one). The real issue becomes a matter of degree as most arguments on here are.

By strict intrepretation thye are unconstitutional. By flexible intrepretation theyprobably are not. Not sure the courts hav ehad a full say on this although there is some history.

ICC?? did I do that or was that somebody else.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

The issue arises with terms that have to be interpreted and applied, like "general welfare".

And, applying the principles to situations with which the founders had no experience at all.

If we said that only that which was specifically written and specified could be used, we'd have to amend the constitution every time we had any cases involving things the founders didn't know about, like computers. That seems overly burdensome and time consuming, so I think it's better to take the principles laid down and apply them to new situations. That's neither an "as written" exclusion or a "living document" one.

Why do you say they're unconstitutional by strict interpretation?

Yep - I do not attack the ACA based on constitutionality. I do question how far the commerce clause can be bent. As I've said, the ruling on the ACA specifically disallowed the government from using the ICC (Interstate commerce clause) to justify it.

tbaker 5 years, 6 months ago

Medicare, Medicade, SS, fill-in-the-blank etitlement program, etc are "constitutional."

That doesn't make them good ideas in their present form.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Why the quotation marks?

They're either constitutional or they're not.

It's interesting, though, that you say they are constitutional without an amendment - what do you base that on?

George Lippencott 5 years, 6 months ago

Because my remarks were conditional. If you believe in the constitution as written they are probably unconstitutional. If you believe in the constitution as a "living" document than they are probably constitutional.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

My comment was for tbaker, who generally seems to favor "strict" interpretations of the constitution

tbaker 5 years, 5 months ago

To say I have a “strict” view of the constitution is to say I read and interpret it in the manner in which the founders designed it to be read and interpreted. Their #1 purpose in writing the document was to produce something that “strictly” limited the power of the federal government.

The founders “enumerated” (e.g., specified) the powers of the federal government for a very specific reason - they did not want to leave anything open for interpretation. They wanted the powers of the federal government to be confined to JUST those powers they gave it. They wanted the federal government to be small and limited and its power checked by the other two branches of the government and by the states. They wanted the federal government’s primary function to be the power that guarantees all of the rights granted to citizens in the states in the constitution, and whatever power it had “over” the citizenry to be strictly limited and very narrowly defined.

I recommend picking up a copy of “The 5000 Year Leap.” It will give you a better understanding of the origins of our republic and our constitution. It also provides a lot of context and background that explains the philosophy of the founding fathers' personal views and how that shaped their contributions to the constitution. One of the best things the book does is clearly illustrate how the views and philosophy of the founders is just as relevant today (perhaps even more so.)

George Lippencott 5 years, 6 months ago

Aah but we can argue it forever without dealing with affordability

Armstrong 5 years, 6 months ago

Barry, pandering to his base 4 years and counting

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