QUOTE OF THE DAY
Rasmussen Poll: 67% Say Private Sector Employees Work Harder Than Government Workers
Americans continue to believe those in the private sector work harder for less money and have less job security than government workers.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of American Adults finds that 67% say employees in the private sector work harder than government workers do. Only seven percent (7%) think the opposite is true, but 25% are not sure.
American Thinker: A Perfect Contrast
Contrast can bring clarity. And I do not think that the two warring political ideologies in America have never been personified, juxtaposed, and as clearly defined as the contrast we witnessed at this week's National Prayer Breakfast.
Dr. Benjamin Carson, the famed director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University, was given the unique opportunity to share his beliefs before a distinguished audience, including President Barack Obama. He did not waste the opportunity, and courageously expressed his beliefs with conviction, contrary though they are to those of the president.
Much has been made of Dr. Carson's alternative solution to make healthcare more efficient:
Here's my solution: When a person is born, give him a birth certificate, an electronic medical record, and a health savings account to which money can be contributed - pretax -- from the time you're born 'til the time you die. When you die, you pass it on to your family members, so that when you're 85 years old and you got six diseases, you're not trying to spend up everything. You're happy to pass it on and there's nobody talking about death panels.
Number one. And also, for the people who were indigent who don't have any money we can make contributions to their HSA every month because we already have this huge pot of money. Instead of sending it to some huge bureaucracy, let's put it in their HSAs. Now they have some control over their own healthcare.
The Freeman: Rahm’s Rule of Crisis Management: A Footnote to the Theory of Regulation
Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago and former White House chief of staff, is famous for a lot of things. But perhaps his most celebrated claim to fame has to do with the politics of crises.
“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” he said. Why? Because “it’s an opportunity to do things you could not do before.”
Rahm’s Rule gives a whole new meaning to the term “crisis management.” It also helps us understand how opportunistic politicians can both establish and respond to crisis-based circumstances—ensuring that pork gets delivered to favored constituents while everyone else is distracted by the looming crisis. The rule forms a footnote to theories that help us understand the regulatory state.
The situation is akin to a fire-stoking arsonist who is also a volunteer firefighter. But there’s more to the matter than this. A few examples of crisis-enabled pork production will illustrate just how complicated things can become.
Washington Post: Obama: Job of debt reduction nearly done
One thing you won’t hear when President Obama delivers his State of the Union address Tuesday: An ambitious new plan to rein in the debt.
In recent days, the White House has pressed the message that, if policymakers can agree on a strategy for replacing across-the-board spending cuts set to hit next month, the president will pretty much have achieved his debt-reduction goals.
“Over the last few years, Democrats and Republicans have come together and cut our deficit [over the next decade] by more than $2.5 trillion through a balanced mix of spending cuts and higher tax rates for the wealthiest Americans. That’s more than halfway towards the $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists and elected officials from both parties say we need to stabilize our debt,” Obama said during his weekend radio address.
By the administration’s math, Washington needs to enact only another $1.5 trillion in 10-year savings to hit the $4 trillion target, White House economic adviser Jason Furman told reporters last week. At $1.2 trillion, the automatic cuts, known as the sequester, quite nearly fit the bill.
The problem with this scenario? It would indeed stabilize the national debt, compared with the broader economy, for the next 10 years. But the debt would fluctuate between 73 percent and 77 percent of gross domestic product, according to new projections by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office — the highest level in U.S. history except for the period after World War II.
It’s also much higher than the 62 percent target policymakers were aiming for just 3 years ago when Obama appointed the Bowles-Simpson debt-reduction commission. And because policymakers have avoided reforms to the big health and retirement programs, the debt would start rising again after 2023, as the baby boom generation retires.
Forbes: Amity Shlaes Tells The Story of Calvin Coolidge, Another "Forgotten Man"
In her award winning book, “The Forgotten Man,” Amity Shlaes offered a refreshing alternative to conventional wisdom about the Great Depression. Her forgotten man was not Roosevelt’s man at the “bottom of the economic pyramid” but William Graham Sumner’s forgotten man whose toils toward self improvement form the foundation of economic progress. He is the quiet innovator and adventurer who ultimately foots the bill for the Progressive social agenda. We now also recognize him as the man who President Obama famously discredited during last year’s re-election campaign.
In one sense, Shlaes new book “Coolidge” represents a prequel to “The Forgotten Man.” More importantly, however, we rediscover a man who throughout his career championed the cause of Sumner’s forgotten man but whose reward for doing so was to become himself a president whom history books have also largely “forgotten.” Shlaes sees Coolidge as “a rare kind of hero: a minimalist president, an economic general of budgeting and tax cuts.” She then thoroughly and persuasively documents that judgment.
In both books, Shlaes’ captivating portrayals of her forgotten men resonate. We come to identify with Coolidge because he embodied the timeless virtues of honesty and personal responsibility to which we all aspire. We also see Coolidge as wholly a product of his time. At the time of his birth –on Independence Day 1872 in a rural Vermont town — the Industrial Revolution had not yet transformed the U.S. economy from its agrarian roots. Some three fourths of the U.S. population in 1870 lived in a rural area and the 1880 Census showed that more than 60% of the rural population lived on farms. The experiences and life lessons that would form Coolidge’s character were those shared by most other Americans of the day. My own grandparents, born that same decade on farms in Ohio, embraced those same values and not surprisingly became Coolidge Republicans. While such voters could readily identify with Coolidge, they also admired and rewarded the leadership skills that conventional historians seem to have overlooked.
Life on America’s farms and in rural villages during the final three decades of the nineteenth century demanded self-discipline, sacrifice and perseverance. Shlaes notes that Coolidge himself saw “perseverance as the key” to success. Just as perseverance defined Coolidge’s work ethic, “parsimony” in both word and deed seems to have defined his life’s mission.
Reason: The Costs and Consequences of Obamacare
“We have to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it,” said Nancy Pelosi during the debate over Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act passed, and Americans are now finding out. It’s not a pretty picture.
Take employment. “Medical device makers in Massachusetts and elsewhere are warning of potential job losses,” reports The Boston Globe, because of a 2.3-percent tax on medical devices imposed by law. Even liberal-heartthrob-turned-Massachusetts-Senator Elizabeth Warren, a supporter of the law, says repealing that tax is “essential.” (To paraphrase a cliché, if it saves one job – hers – it’s worth it.)
But the ACA’s effect on jobs goes well beyond medical device makers. Reporting on January’s employment numbers, Investor’s Business Daily notes an “apparent shift to part-time work ahead of a key Obamacare deadline.” Although more people are working in the retail sector, they are working fewer hours per person – now just a hair above 30 hours a week. “A similar trend,” IBD notes, “showed up in leisure and hospitality.”
Why? No great mystery: Under the ACA, companies with 50 full-time employees or more must provide health insurance or pay a fine. As Paul Christiansen writes in The Wall Street Journal, “thousands of small businesses across the U.S. are desperately looking for a way to escape their own fiscal cliff” through layoffs or shifting to more part-time employees. (He advises a third route: “going protean,” an approach in which a small cadre of managers sets strategy and outsources everything else – from accounting and IT to product development and manufacturing – to contractors.)
This employment shift may frustrate one of the aims of the Affordable Care Act: increasing the percentage of Americans who have employer-based health insurance. Won’t the downsized be able to buy subsidized health insurance through the new state exchanges, though? Sure. In fact, they will be forced to, or pay a fine. But that only highlights another area where the law is falling short: cost control. Back in 2010 the Congressional Budget Office estimated the average subsidy at $3,970 per individual. It’s now up to $5,510 – bringing the overall cost between now and 2022 to more than $1 trillion.
Reuters: If Detroit needs emergency manager, Michigan gov. has 'short list'
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said on Monday he has not offered the job of emergency financial manager of Detroit to anyone but does have a "short list" of candidates if he decides that the state should take over management of the city.
"I have a short list," Snyder told reporters after a luncheon speech to the Detroit regional Chamber of Commerce. "I haven't made an offer to anyone. We're talking to people."
The Detroit News reported on Sunday, quoting anonymous sources, that Snyder had selected an emergency manager, offered the job and expected a response this week. The person offered the job was not identified, but the article said it was not former Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony Williams.
Snyder declined to comment on Williams, saying if he responded about one name, he would be asked about others. But Snyder said there are not many candidates with the skills necessary to do the job.
Confirmation from the Republican governor that he has assembled a short list of names for the position came as a review team studying Detroit's financial situation is expected to recommend soon whether an emergency manager should be appointed.
The city of about 700,000 people has been struggling for years with a falling population, shrinking tax base and large payroll for city services.
Forbes: 1 In 10 Doctor Practices Flee Medicare To Concierge Medicine
As Medicare whacks away at what doctors are paid and health insurers move away from paying fees for service to bundled payments, more physicians who own their own practices will start direct pay or concierge medicine in the next one to three years.
New data from a national survey of nearly 14,000 physicians conducted by physician staffing firm Merritt Hawkins for The Physicians Foundation, analyzing 2012 practice patterns, found that 9.6 percent of “practice owners” were planning to convert to concierge practices in the next one to three years.
The movement is across all medical disciplines with 6.8 percent of all physicians planning to stop taking insurance in favor of concierge-style medicine or so-called “direct primary care.”
“Physicians have been running for cover for several years now,” said Mark Smith, president of Merritt Hawkins. “There is a lot of uncertainty in health care now and the only certainty is there is a lot of talk about cutting physicians fees. One way to get out of it is to go off the grid.”
The data release comes less than a month after Congress waited until the 11th hour to avoid the fiscal cliff as well as the so-called “doc fix” on Medicare payments. Even though a cut of nearly 27 percent in Medicare payments to doctors was avoided, doctors remain upset at the lack of a permanent solution for dramatic cuts to doctor payments from the Medicare health insurance program for the elderly under the sustainable growth rate formula also known as “SGR.”
Already, one in five physicians is restricting the number of Medicare patients in their practice and one in three primary care doctors – the providers on the front lines of keeping the cost of seniors’ care low – are restricting Medicare patients, according to a 2010 AMA survey of more than 9,000 physicians who care for Medicare patients.
CARTOON OF THE DAY