More on ObamaCare and individual insurance

July 23, 2009

I wrote earlier about what looked like a provision in the proposed health care reform bill to kill the private medical insurance market by banning the sale of new policies after the government plan comes into effect.  This was based on a  reading of the bill by the staff at Investor’s Business Daily. Others disagreed somewhat.

Philip Klein at American Spectator has taken a closer look at the bill and seems to have figured what’s really intended: it’s not that ObamaCare will ban new private insurance, it just bans the private market in insurance:

IBD followed up with a bit more nuanced editorial explaining that private insurers would still be able to offer individual insurance, but only through a new government-run exchange that would impose heavy regulations on participating insurers. At the prompting of our dilligent intern Molly O’Connor, I looked a bit further into the issue. This morning, I was able to independently confirm the IBD editorial with several Republican staffers on the Ways and Means committee. And if that doesn’t convince you, especially telling is a video clip (see below), in which Rep. Paul Ryan poses the question of individual private insurance to Cybele Bjorklund, who is the Democrats’ staff director on the Health Subcommittee that helped author the bill. While existing plans would be grandfathered in, Bjorklund responds that insurers “cannot create new policies outside of that window, outside of the exchange, but they can choose to operate in the exchange.”

In other words, private insurance may only be offered via a government-controlled market. And if the government provides the only market, it can also control the price and the breadth of offerings. It doesn’t have to own the insurance industry outright as long as that industry serves government ends, the essence of liberal fascist or corporatist economic policy.

It amazes me that the administration and the progressives in Congress insist on statist solutions straight out of the mid-20th century, which have been shown not to work as well as a free or mostly free market, when the tide of the world is still moving against collectivism.

Commanding the uncontrollable didn’t work for King Canute, either.

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Good thing we killed the F-22

July 23, 2009

We wouldn’t want to worry possible opponents by having advanced fighters that are actually ready now, would we?

F-35 Fighter Two Years Behind Schedule: Pentagon Panel

An internal Pentagon oversight board has found that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is two years behind the publicly announced schedule, say multiple congressional aides familiar with the findings, sparking a sharp response from those invested in the debate over the F-22.

As Congress has debated the future of the F-22 fighter program, lawmakers have used the promise of the F-35 plane’s completion as a key plank in their argument that the F-22 line could be ended without a significant risk to national security.

Now, senators and aides are lamenting that the Pentagon oversight panel’s more pessimistic view on the F-35 program was not publicly released during the F-22 debate and are calling for more open disclosure of the problems with the development of the F-35.

The Pentagon’s Joint Estimate Team (JET), which was established to independently oversee the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, is at odds with the fighter’s Joint Program Office, the aides said. The oversight panel’s calculations determined that the fighter won’t be able to move out of the development phase and into full production mode until 2016, rather than 2014 as the program office has said. That’s assuming there are no further problems with the program, which has already faced cost overruns and schedule delays. The Government Accountability Office said the delay could cost as much as $7.4 billion.

“In every parameter and in every respect, the Joint Program Office’s projections were always a hell of a lot rosier than what the Joint Estimate Team found,” said one Senate aide who was briefed on the findings.

Doesn’t that make you feel secure? I know it reaffirms my faith in the fine, sober work Congress is doing overseeing our national security needs. Worried

LINKS: The Weekly Standard, which quotes a (yeah, anonymous) “defense expert:”

“Gates and company get caught hiding the ball once again. Just another piece of evidence suggesting the decision to end the F-22’s production was driven not by analysis and study but simply a desire to cut the budget.”


We don’t need no steenking bailout!

July 23, 2009

Unlike GM and Chrysler, Ford refused the crack turned down the federal bailout money. Unlike GM and Chrysler, Ford managed to adapt and stay out of bankruptcy court and didn’t need President Obama to rip off bondholders.

And, unlike GM and Chrysler, Ford has managed to turn a profit. Imagine that.

Helped by a lightened debt load, Ford Motor Co. posted a surprise second-quarter profit of $2.8 billion Thursday, following the worst loss in company history a year earlier. Shares rose more than 6 percent in morning trading.

The net profit ends a string of four straight quarterly losses for the nation’s second-largest automaker, which has gained U.S. market share at the expense of crosstown rivals Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co., both of which spent time under bankruptcy court supervision. Ford last went into the black in the first quarter of 2008, with net profit of $70 million.

However, excluding its debt reduction and other items, Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford would have reported a quarterly loss, though smaller than Wall Street expected.

Okay, so GAAP accounting rules helped create the profit. Ignore them. Even the smaller-than-expected loss is a good sign, often the first in a genuine turnaround.

It’s also a sign that sound business practices and making cars people want to buy is better than becoming Congressional Motors: