Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

What we voted for: new Obamacare taxes coming in 2014

The New York Post reports.

Excerpt:

The cost of President Obama’s massive health-care law will hit Americans in 2014 as new taxes pile up on their insurance premiums and on their income-tax bills.

Most insurers aren’t advertising the ObamaCare taxes that are added on to premiums, opting instead to discretely pass them on to customers while quietly lobbying lawmakers for a break.

But one insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, laid bare the taxes on its bills with a separate line item for “Affordable Care Act Fees and Taxes.”

The new taxes on one customer’s bill added up to $23.14 a month, or $277.68 annually, according to Kaiser Health News. It boosted the monthly premium from $322.26 to $345.40 for that individual.

The new taxes and fees include a 2 percent levy on every health plan, which is expected to net about $8 billion for the government in 2014 and increase to $14.3 billion in 2018.

There’s also a $2 fee per policy that goes into a new medical-research trust fund called the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

Insurers pay a 3.5 percent user fee to sell medical plans on the HealthCare.gov Web site.

[...]Americans also will pay hidden taxes, such as the 2.3 percent medical-device tax that will inflate the cost of items such as pacemakers, stents and prosthetic limbs.

Those with high out-of-pocket medical expenses also will get smaller income-tax deductions.

Americans are currently allowed to deduct expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of their annual income. The threshold jumps to 10 percent under ObamaCare, costing taxpayers about $15 billion over 10 years.

Then there’s the new Medicare tax.

Under ObamaCare, individual tax filers earning more than $200,000 and families earning more than $250,000 will pay an added 0.9 percent Medicare surtax on top of the existing 1.45 percent Medicare payroll tax. They’ll also pay an extra 3.8 percent Medicare tax on unearned income, such as investment dividends, rental income and capital gains.

Right now, Obama is furiously trying to re-write the law by arbitrary executive decisions. But all this does is remove the amount of money being paid into the system, while keeping the amount being spent the same. What will be the end result of a massive shortfall in funding for Obamacare? As Byron York argues, the end result of will be that the Democrats bail out health care insurance companies to keep them from going bankrupt.

Transcript:

COLBY: What do you think about these bailouts of insurance companies, as well? Could that happen?

YORK: It absolutely will happen –

COLBY: Will happen?!

YORK: As a matter of fact, it’s written into the law. There’s something called “risk corridors,” which basically ensure that if an insurance company ends up paying a lot more in benefits than it takes in in premiums, then the federal government will bail it out — it will make it good. And it looks like we are entering a situation — certainly in the first month of January — where the insurance companies will be in that situation. And they’e not going to take the losses. It will be the taxpayer who makes up for those losses.

Do you think that raising the debt from $8.5 trillion to $17 trillion was irresponsible? Then wait until the government has to bail out all their left-wing cronies in the health insurance industry.

One thing is for sure – the Republicans will be running on Obamacare in 2014:

New Hampshire:

Minnesota:

This money that is being wasted due to socialist incompetence doesn’t come from government workers or politicians – they don’t earn any money of their own. The money comes from government borrowing from your children. Honestly, I if I had children, I might be tempted to leave this country, especially if I wanted to have lots of them. This really isn’t the place for a big family any more.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Food stamp president: nearly 16 million more people getting food stamps since Obama’s election

From CNS News.

Excerpt:

 Since taking office in 2009, food stamp rolls under President Barack Obama have risen to more than 47 million people in America, exceeding the population of Spain.

“Now is the time to act boldly and wisely – to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity,” said Obama during his first joint session address to Congress on Feb. 24, 2009.

Since then, the number of participants enrolled in food stamps, known as the Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP), has risen substantially.

When Obama entered office in January 2009 there were 31,939,110 Americans receiving food stamps.  As of November 2012—the most recent data available—there were 47,692,896Americans enrolled, an increase of 49.3 percent.

Not only are we borrowing trillions of dollars to pay for all these handouts, but being dependent on government is not good for people.

Arthur Brooks explains in the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Earned success means defining your future as you see fit and achieving that success on the basis of merit and hard work. It allows you to measure your life’s “profit” however you want, be it in money, making beautiful music, or helping people learn English. Earned success is at the root of American exceptionalism.

The link between earned success and life satisfaction is well established by researchers. The University of Chicago’s General Social Survey, for example, reveals that people who say they feel “very successful” or “completely successful” in their work lives are twice as likely to say they are very happy than people who feel “somewhat successful.” It doesn’t matter if they earn more or less income; the differences persist.

The opposite of earned success is “learned helplessness,” a term coined by Martin Seligman, the eminent psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. It refers to what happens if rewards and punishments are not tied to merit: People simply give up and stop trying to succeed.

During experiments, Mr. Seligman observed that when people realized they were powerless to influence their circumstances, they would become depressed and had difficulty performing even ordinary tasks. In an interview in the New York Times, Mr. Seligman said: “We found that even when good things occurred that weren’t earned, like nickels coming out of slot machines, it did not increase people’s well-being. It produced helplessness. People gave up and became passive.”

Learned helplessness was what my wife and I observed then, and still do today, in social-democratic Spain. The recession, rigid labor markets, and excessive welfare spending have pushed unemployment to 24.4%, with youth joblessness over 50%. Nearly half of adults under 35 live with their parents. Unable to earn their success, Spaniards fight to keep unearned government benefits.

Meanwhile, their collective happiness—already relatively low—has withered. According to the nonprofit World Values Survey, 20% of Spaniards said they were “very happy” about their lives in 1981. This fell to 14% by 2007, even before the economic downturn.

If we really cared about people, we would give incentives to job creators (“the rich”) to create jobs for them. Earned success makes people happy.

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How much did taxpayers lose in Obama’s GM bailout?

Investors Business Daily does the math on the GM bailout.

Excerpt:

Sale of the U.S. government’s stake in General Motors Corp. ends a sorry saga. Not only were Americans lied to about the costs, but the bailout underscores why replacing market forces with federal bailouts doesn’t work.

The Obama administration says it will unload 200 million shares — or about 40% of its holdings — back to GM right away. The rest, 300 million shares, are to be sold by March 2014.

[...]Well, GM on Wednesday said it will buy back the 200 million share government stake for $5.5 billion, or $27.50 a share.

The break-even point on the government’s total holdings was $53 a share. But now, with $20.9 billion in taxpayer funds left to pay off from 300 million shares, the break-even point has risen to $69.72 a share.

In other words, at current prices, taxpayers are sitting with a loss of 61%, or nearly $15 billion, on their investment.

So where did the money go, then?

According to a study last summer by the Heritage Foundation, the $80 billion auto bailout gave the UAW and its members nearly $27 billion due to the fact that GM couldn’t shed its outrageously expensive labor contracts, something it could have done in a normal bankruptcy.

As such, Obama didn’t bail out the auto industry; he bailed out the unions. Without the unions’ added costs, taxpayers would have owed nothing.

It’s not hard to see how this happened. The UAW and its affiliates give tens of millions of dollars each election cycle, almost entirely to Democrats.

This union influence explains why Obama’s auto czars, Steve Rattner and Ron Bloom, arranged a government bankruptcy for GM that flew in the face of hundreds of years of bankruptcy law and violated investor rights.

Bondholders took huge losses, while unions got a big chunk of ownership in GM stock that they weren’t legally entitled to.

In a shocking display of favoritism and blatant unfairness, GM’s union workers kept their pensions, while nonunion workers at GM spin-off Delphi lost theirs.

Those unions paid Obama back by working hard to get him re-elected. That’s how socialism works.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Explosion at government-run Amuay refinery, nationalized by Venezuela in 1976

Are Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez very different?

Are Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez very different?

In the United States, we’ve been seeing some efforts by the Marxist Obama administration to nationalize the auto industry and health care, too. This is what communists favor as the alternative to the free-market system. It makes sense, then, to look at how well the nationalization of assets, especially those owned by foreign-owned private companies, works out in the real world.

Let’s see:

The Creole Petroleum Corporation was an American oil company, formed in 1920 to produce fields on Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela.[1] The company was acquired by Standard Oil of New Jerseyin 1928. Until 1951 Creole Petroleum was the world’s number one oil producer.[2]

In 1950, Creole opened its refinery at Amuay.[3] This is now a part of the Paraguaná Refinery Complex.

The Venezuelan assets of Creole Petroleum Corporation were nationalized along with those of other foreign oil firms on January 1, 1976, becoming part of Lagoven, a Venezuelan government-owned operating company.[4]

And here is the latest triumph of Marxist economics in Venezuela:

A huge explosion rocked Venezuela’s biggest oil refinery early Saturday, killing at least 24 people and injuring more than 80 others in the deadliest disaster in memory for the country’s key oil industry.

Balls of fire rose over the Amuay refinery, one of the largest in the world, in video posted on the Internet by people who were nearby at the time.

At least 86 people were injured, nine of them seriously, Health Minister Eugenia Sader said at a hospital where the wounded were taken. She said 77 people suffered light injuries and were released from the hospital.

Officials said those killed included a 10-year-old boy, but that most of the victims were National Guard troops stationed at the refinery.

Filthy capitalist dogs! Making money on the backs of the poor workers! Making them work in filthy, unsafe – oh, wait. When workers are left free to take their skills to a number of private employers, then those employers are pressured to provide them with better working conditions, wages and benefits. Otherwise the employees leave for better companies. The only problem is that it doesn’t work if all the industries are state-run monopolies. Then, you just get KA-BOOM!

All you have to do to understand economic systems is to compare capitalist Chile with communist Venezuela. The people are the same, and both started out poor. One embraced free trade and privatization, and now that one is rich. The other one gets Chernobyl explosions because they elected a Marxist.

Venezuela’s economic policy is the same economic policy that Barack Obama wants to force on us with his takeover of General Motors, his frequent bailouts, his give-aways to campaign fundraisers, his blocking of free trade deals, his heavy-handed anti-business regulations, and his other intrusions into the private sector. Our entire economy is going KA-BOOM right now because of Marxism.

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