November 23, 2009
Mary Landrieu Takes Louisianans for a RideBy J. Robert Smith
All it took for Senator Mary Landrieu to vote to open debate on the Democrats' leviathan health care reform measure was a hundred million. Or was it $300 million, as Landrieu claims? That's $100 million in aid to Louisiana for disaster relief plus another $200 million for Medicaid or whatever else she could weasel. And whatever she's saying about being undecided on final passage, don't buy it. The only way she'll cart off the dough is if the bill passes.
But while the senator is preening like a peacock about the fat she plans to ladle from the federal pork barrel, Louisiana taxpayers and Medicare recipients should consider this: Be it $100 million or $300 million or something in between, there's no such thing as a free lunch -- or free disaster relief, or whatever else.
If the Democrats' health care grab ever becomes a reality, plenty of Louisianans will end up paying through the nose like the rest of us taxpayers.
Democrat Harry Reid and the Boys' Club that runs the Senate needed Landrieu's vote in the worst way. With no Republicans crossing the aisle to vote with the Democrats, Reid needed all 58 Democrats plus Bernie Sanders (Vermont Socialist) and independent Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman to gain 60 votes for cloture to proceed to debate.
There's no telling what the final "bill" will be after buying enough votes to grease the skids for government-run health care. It may have already been paid for through the president's failed economic stimulus program. The sordid details are sure to dribble out in the coming days.
From President Obama's and Harry Reid's standpoint, the $100 million to $300 million they're doling out to Landrieu is chump change to win a critical vote to create game-changing, government-controlled health care. Landrieu's stash is on par with a cheap date. Burger King and dollar-movie stuff.
In other words, for these men, who want to move the country radically left, the payoff matters far less than the game-changing result.
Though Landrieu's take is sizable, consider that whatever legislation emerges from the Senate, and then out of a conference committee with the House, will easily bust the trillion-dollar mark. Republicans estimate it will come closer to $2.5 trillion. They may well be right.
Aside from the Democrats' baseless claims that government-run health care will be as good as or better than the current system, what Louisianans get in federal largess will be more than offset through higher taxes, endless government debt, and inflation.
Louisianans, like all Americans, will be socked with higher hidden, and not-so-hidden, taxes. When the government mandates that Americans buy something like health insurance, or dictates minimum standards for insurance that raise costs, those are taxes.
Consider that under government-controlled health care, the cost for mandatory insurance per family is expected to be $15,000. The average family's premiums will climb by $1,700. Expect new or higher taxes on medical devices like wheelchairs, pacemakers, and hearing aids. Also, expect a threshold increase in deductible medical expenses from 7.5% to 10%.
The topper is that by Year Five of government-run health care, families with an average income of $75,000 will pay a 40% tax on health insurance premiums.
Not exactly sounding like a plan to gouge only the wealthy, huh?
And as TV hucksters say, "Wait, that's not all." States -- and that includes Louisiana -- are going to get walloped by another mandate: Democrats want to expand Medicaid eligibility. Their legislation will force states to pick up the tabs. Since states can't print money, nor can they borrow indefinitely, then either other services will be slashed to generate the new Medicaid funds, or -- you got it -- taxes will increase. And borrowed money needs to be repaid. Any which way, taxpayers lose.
Even with the Medicaid buy-down that Landrieu claims to have gotten, there will still be significant attendant cost to the states. When was the last time that Medicaid's or Medicare's actual costs fell below estimates?
As for the Medicare-dependent elderly, they'll have to ante up too, to the tune of $400 million in Medicare cuts to be shifted to the new government scheme.
There are some 650,000 Medicare recipients in Louisiana. Most are retirees who paid taxes for much of their working lives with the promise and expectation that Medicare would be there for them when they needed it. What seniors may get is a stripped-down version of what they were promised. So much for politicians' promises.
But wait, that's still not all. With the nation already under mountains of debt, government-run health care will just pile more debt upon it. We're not talking here about a straw breaking a camel's back. We're talking about tons of rock crushing the camel.
The Democrats' proposals are built on faulty assumptions, on rosy projections of cost savings and revenues collection. When the Democrats' loopy fantasy falls flat, how will they propose to pay the freight? What if foreigners, especially the Chinese, decide to unload some of their U.S. bonds, or cease to buy more? Will the Democrats print more funny money to cover costs? Isn't inflation called the cruelest tax? Will they insist on raising yet more taxes on those mythical legions of the rich?
And haven't we all read something about a recession? Despite the propaganda, the recession is lingering like a bad cold. If it goes to the nation's chest, it could be real trouble. Higher taxes, bigger government, and inflation are surefire ways to turn a cold into pneumonia.
Come, come. Who's going to take it in the shorts when the Democrats' House of Health Care Cards tumbles down? Why, average, hardworking Americans, of course.
Among those average, hardworking Americans are plenty of Louisianans, who may think Mary Landrieu is just swell for bringing home the bacon...that is, until they discover that the cost of the bacon is really coming out of their wallets.