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Sorry, BHO, you're not FDR



September 13, 2009 – Comments (6)

I've seen some comments drawing parallels between the current "reform" and those by FDR and LBJ.

The authors of such comments like to support their point by citing some superficial resemblances between these reforms. For example, they point out that both FDR and LBJ made their social programs universal in scope, and mandatory for all citizens. And by that count, the logic goes, our current "yes we can" orator who has successfully lied his way to the top job, deserves to stand side by side with those two titans of the past, for making his healthcare proposals Napoleonic in scope and mandatory in implementation.

Alas, the actual facts have a strong anti-obama bias. There is no way the current prez is going to earn an affectionate appelation "BHO" for his reform becuase despite the apparent similarities, his reform is exactly the opposite of what FDR and LBJ have done. Whereas Social Security and Medicaid/Medicare  were pushed through in order to guarantee some income to their recipients (the fact that FDR and LBJ were no philantropists and have okayed these reforms with a longer view toward boosting corporate profits as described by Keynes is a separate issue), obamacare is being imposed on us with the only goal of giving a boost to HMOs. Consumers are never going to see any benefits of this reform becuase, quite simply, the deal they are being offered is a very substandard deal that will force them to put more money into the system than they are going to receive from it.

If you really want to compare obamacare to Social Security, you must imagine that your mandatory FICA tax goes toward purchasing a lifetime annuity product from Berkshire or SunLife. And a Medicare comparison would be valid if LBJ had privatized Medicare, establishing HMOs as your only source of Medicare coverage. (As of this writing, the Evil Big Government is spending the average of $10,200 per year per average Medicare recipient, who is in her mid-70s. Now try shopping for a $10,200 primary policy with coverage for hospitalization, physician and nursing services and outpatient procedures for a 75-year old person on the free market. Good luck with that!)

So how should one describe this so-called reform while avoiding false parallels? The essence of obamacare is that government will guarantee HMO profit margins by decree. By fining the reluctant customers, it will force them to purchase a substandard product that does not offer any value for the money by any count. The rest is just technicality. We all understand that the political ritual has to be followed, so politicians from CBO must now make an honest effort to square the circle by looking for benefits to consumers in a healthcare plan that cannot offer any such benefits because of the way it was designed. They can shuffle and reshuffle numbers in their elusive search for "savings", but since the obama plan has just diverted into the pockets of HMO executives all 100% of these savings and them some extra, their search is going to run into unsolvable mathematical difficulties each time they try to produce a cent from an empty piggybank.

The bottom line is that the mandatory programs of FDR and LBJ are similar to the mandatory program of BHO in the same way as mandatory seatbelts are similar to a mandatory purchase of a 1992 Ford Escort priced as a 2009 Toyota Prius. If anything, the healthcare reform of BHO will be remembered the same way as the tax reform of GWB.

6 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On September 13, 2009 at 4:41 PM, Alex1963 (27.89) wrote:

"Now try shopping for a $10,200 primary policy with coverage for hospitalization, physician and nursing services and outpatient procedures for a 75-year old person on the free market. Good luck with that!)"

Unless maybe ythey were paying into it since their twenties?

I haven't heard anyone comparing BHO to LBJ or FDR. I have heard many references to the similarity of the difficulties, the intial resistance, the bare knuckle fighting, and speculation of what BHO might consider to achieve the success these former presidents achieved. Is Fox comparing him to LBJ or FDR? Good for them! It's about time. 

Why do people call it Obama care? More accurately it could be Pharma/AMA/Insurer care. They are supporting the broad concepts, have endorsed them publically, negotiated for their positions and stand to do quite well by it. I would hope you are then advocating for the public option to protect against the very reasons you give. But I doubt it.

So besides a clear dislike for Obama what exactly are you for then? 



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#2) On September 13, 2009 at 5:05 PM, starbucks4ever (86.87) wrote:

"Unless maybe ythey were paying into it since their twenties?"

Let's review the basics once again. The government insures you for $10,200 after you're 65. How the government gets this $10,200 - collects your FICA taxes since your twenties, taxes Dick Fuld's severance package, invades Irak and steals their oil, goes to Bernanke and has him print it, is irrelevant. The common view is that it does it by collecting your FICA taxes and then printing some extra. But the bottom line is, it gives you treatment after 65, and this treatment cost the government $10,200 a year. If any HMO is able to beat that price, I will support privatization of Medicare. If not (and you know the answer to that one), I will support the public option, and I will want it to be vertically integrated - from the insurance level all the way down to the hospital bed. Hope it wasn't too ambiguous.

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#3) On September 13, 2009 at 6:26 PM, devoish (70.28) wrote:


It plan does add some value over present conditions by restricting rescissions and caps, if our legal system can execute. Otherwise I pretty much agree with you.

At ths point, with our second best option, Medicare for All HR676 coming for a House vote, it cannot possibly hurt to encourage your Representative to consider its benefits. And while you are at it offer a vote of confidence for our best option. Language that specifically guarantees a States Right to implement a Single Payer plan of its own.

A public option, I am afraid will only be as good as the insurers want it to be, or worse, a dumping ground for those the insurers would otherwise have dropped or rescinded.

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#4) On September 13, 2009 at 6:42 PM, Alex1963 (27.89) wrote:

Ah, I did misunderstand. I agree with you. Thank you for the moderate reply to my rather ham handed sarcasm

rec for that


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#5) On September 14, 2009 at 8:56 AM, gembree (99.80) wrote:

Yeah, despite the fact that the end to rescissions and caps is going to be folded back into premium, it's still a net gain.  But broadly, what a mess.  I continue to hope that Obama will put a spine into Harry Reid and pass a real public option, although I can't imagine why.

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#6) On September 14, 2009 at 10:14 AM, starbucks4ever (86.87) wrote:

"although I can't imagine why." 

Actually I CAN imagine that. If S&P drops back to 667, I guarantee you they will again start talking about the reform for real. 

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