On Friday, Investors Business Daily (IBD) reported on leaked government documents identifying what employer-provided health plans can and cannot do if they wish to retain their "grandfathered" status under the statist health care legislation commonly known as ObamaCare that became law on March 23. One of the items in the government document (83-page PDF) is the following table, which estimates the percentages of large and small employers who will choose to (or be financially forced to) "relinquish" (i.e., give up) their grandfathered status:
In ironic timing, Walecia Konrad at the New York Times, in a personal finance column that appeared in the paper's Saturday print edition and which was probably written shortly before IBD's report, inadvertently revealed that ObamaCare itself may be a reason why employer "relinquishments" over the next three years come in well above the mid-range estimates in the table:
In mid-July of last year, the good folks on the editorial board at Investors Business Daily made the following observations about the version of ObamaCare then under consideration by the House:
... Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal.
... the "Limitation On New Enrollment" section of the bill clearly states:
"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.
So ... Those who currently have private individual coverage won't be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.
The leaked Treasury draft documents (83-page PDF) referred to in an earlier post this morning about employer coverage (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) go beyond vindicating IBD by applying the same prohibitions to group coverage, as the following language found at Page 14 of the document shows:
Earlier this year, in his "Can we lose health coverage? Yes we can" column, syndicated columnist Deroy Murdock made a point asserted in dozens if not hundreds of columns and reports during the hide-and-seek legistlative process that ultimately led to the passage of what is commonly known as ObamaCare: The President's core promise relating to the statist health care legislation that ultimately became law in March -- namely that "If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what" -- could not and would not be kept.
In that column, Murdock quoted Cato Institute analyst Michael Cannon as follows:
"Obama's definition of 'meaningful' coverage could eliminate the health plans that now cover as many as half of the 159 million Americans with employer-sponsored insurance, plus more than half of the roughly 18 million Americans in the individual market. ... This could compel close to 90 million Americans to switch to more comprehensive health plans with higher premiums, whether they value the added coverage or not."
In a late Friday afternoon blog post followed by a fuller early evening report, David Hogberg and Sean Higgins at Investors Business Daily confirmed that Obama's never-credible core promise is on the brink of being shattered, and that the employer-related calculations by Cato's Cannon were essentially correct (graphically illustrated by IBD at the top right):
A protest noticed by the target's next-door neighbor who happened to be home at the time, namely journalist Nina Easton (who also took the photo at right), occurred in a Metro DC suburb in Maryland marked the next round of a national labor union's attempt at persuasion through intimidation.
IBD concisely describes what happens, and why it should cause so much concern:
Mob Rule From SEIU
On May 16, Washington, D.C., police escorted 14 busloads full of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) members at least part of the way to storm the Chevy Chase, Md., home of Bank of America's deputy legal counsel, Greg Baer.
The editorialists at Investors Business Daily are not pleased with the values on display in the relative importance given to three major stories: the deaths of 11 oil rig workers off the Gulf Coast, the oil spill that resulted from that rig's collapse, and the historic flooding in Tennessee that has taken at least 30 lives.
What does it say when 11 men who perish on an exploding oil platform, or 30 poor souls who die in a 1,000-year Tennessee flood, get less coverage than two oil-soaked birds? It says news is driven from the left.
It is to the credit of the one media outlet that reported the paparazzi-like scrums of reporters trailing rescue workers as they tried to clean off one oil-soaked gannet caught in the oil spill off Louisiana waters after a rig exploded in the Gulf on April 20. Not only did the U.S. and European media obsess breathlessly about the bird, and later about a brown pelican that followed, they seemed to be panting for more.
That's because birds are convenient tools for driving the radical green agenda to halt all oil drilling. TV media and the national papers pounded the bird story because it served a political purpose.
Investors Business Daily ("What the Government Can't Do"), whose editorials are must-reads for hard news the establishment media will either ignore or downplay, has tipped readers off to the poor reviews General/Government Motors and Chrysler cars are receiving. These would include the latest automaker report cards compiled by Consumer Reports magazine.
Nearly one year into their new lives as wards of the state, it looks like one of those government "can't do's" involves improving car quality, while the car company not owned by Uncle Sam has gotten a bit better. Specifically, CR's April 2010 overview post tells us the following:
Among American manufacturers, only Ford improved over last year. It scored one point better to pass Mitsubishi for 11th place in our rankings. By contrast, Chrysler is again in last place and dropped two points since last year. And General Motors placed right where it did last year—second from the bottom—even though it eliminated half its brands and about one-third of its models.
A look at the magazine's "most and least reliable" narrative shows just how bad things are at GM and Chrysler, and how things are looking up at Ford (bolds are mine; personal commentary is in italics):
In its obituary on the passing of Nobel economics laureate Paul Samuelson, who died on December 13, Michael Weinstein at the New York Times lavished well-deserved praise on the winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize in Economics for building "one of the world’s great centers of graduate education in economics" at MIT, but erred seriously in recounting his most visible public policy role.
Also worth noting is how the Times headline at Samuelson's obit compares to those the paper accorded Milton Friedman and John Kenneth Galbraith upon their deaths. Friedman and Galbraith were also pioneering economists in their own right who passed away after living into their 90s during the final half of this decade:
Friedman (November 16, 2006) -- "Milton Friedman, Free Markets Theorist, Dies at 94."
Galbraith (April 30, 2006) -- "John Kenneth Galbraith, 97, Dies; Economist Held a Mirror to Society."
Of the three, only the free market capitalism-championing Friedman, who like Samuelson but unlike Galbraith was a Nobel-winningeconomist, was deemed undeserving of being identified as a member of his chosen profession in his Times obit's headline.
More seriously, Weinstein rewrites history to give Samuelson significant credit for the prosperity of the 1960s where very little is due.
According to IBD, the Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) alleged in a new report "that England's Hadley Centre for Climate Change and the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, the U.K.'s two top climate research outfits, had improperly selected climate data from Russia."
IEA's Andrei Illarionov said the think tank's analysis found that temperature data in Russia used by Hadley-CRU was limited to 25 percent of Russia's stations and left out almost half of the country's land mass.
As if the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (Fan and Fred) crackups weren't bad enough, IBDeditorials.com noted on Thursday evening that another bad-mortgage shoe is about to drop. This time it's at the Federal Housing Authority (FHA).
First, let's revisit Fan and Fred to remind readers just how complete the disaster has been at these decades in the making Democratic crony-controlled entities.
A little-noticed CNNMoney.com item by Chris Isidore in late July told us what the original announced loss estimate had been a year earlier (bolds are mine throughout this post):
When Congress was debating the bailout of Fannie and Freddie last July (of 2008), the official estimate from the Congressional Budget Office was that a bailout would most likely cost taxpayers $25 billion, with only a 5% chance of the price tag reaching $100 billion between them.
Isidiore then noted that just one year later the loss estimate had doubled:
A new Investor’s Business Daily poll of more than 1,300 physicians finds that nearly two-thirds (65%) don’t back ObamaCare, more than 70% say the government cannot provide insurance coverage for 47 million additional people and save money without harming quality, and 45% of doctors say they “would consider leaving their practice or taking an early retirement” if the liberal health care plan passes.
Earlier this week, as the front-page story in today’s Investor’s Business Daily noted, the Los Angeles Times ran a front-page story touting the American Medical Association (AMA)’s backing of President Obama’s health care plans, while a National Public Radio publicized a poll funded by a pro-ObamaCare group to claim that “nearly three-quarters of doctors said they favor a public option.”
The IBD/TIPP poll of 1,376 physicians suggests that the AMA does not represent most doctors as it advertises and lobbies on behalf of the administration’s plan, and offers a second opinion to the poll (of 991 physicians) originally published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggesting strong support for a bigger government role.
Some of us have been wondering how viable the Voluntary Employee Benefit Arrangements (VEBAs) set up by the United Auto Workers for its auto industry employees really are. This is of particular concern at the VEBAs tied in to General Motors and Chrysler. What happens to the employer stock these VEBAs own will heavily influence whether they have the money to pay promised benefits.
The answer to the viability question must be "not very," because the House version of health care that has made it out of committee has a $10 billion provision tucked into it that would largely work to back the VEBAs up in case GM and Chrysler are never able to stand on their own -- or in case other high-wage, high-benefit companies, many of which are unionized, follow them into serious financial difficulty.
Maybe it's because $10 billion doesn't mean much any more in an era of trillion-dollar deficits, but media coverage of this "little" provision has been very, very light. A Google News search on "retiree health care UAW" (not typed in quotes) came back with only about 25 relevant items of roughly 100 total results earlier this afternoon. Many of those results are outraged editorials and op-eds. There is precious little original news coverage of the topic.
One of the few examples of original coverage is an August 24 report by Justin Hyde and Todd Spangler of the Detroit Free Press that explains the provision and provides background:
This post proves the point, as if it even needs to be proven, that you have to go to the editorial pages of publications like the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily to get your news when leftists are in control of the government.
When the topic is statist health care, that's doubly true.
IBDeditorials.com got to Page 16 of the House's health care bill, did the investigative work the establishment media was either too lazy to do -- or worse, other outlets did the work and didn't think readers should know what IBD found.
Yesterday afternoon, IBD laid the following bombshell on its readers (HT to dscott; I also heard Rush mention this a short time ago; bolds after title are mine):
It's Not An Option
Congress: It didn't take long to run into an "uh-oh" moment when reading the House's "health care for all Americans" bill. Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal.
In a scathing editorial Monday, the folks at IBDeditorials.com ripped President Barack Obama's misguided, life-destroying, science-denying Executive Order that allows federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research (ESCR).
Later, Nicholas Wade at the New York Times, in two paragraphs of his March 10 report ("Rethink Stem Cells? Science Already Has"), in essence confirmed the validity of IBD's claim about ESCR's relative uselessness in treating diseases and other human maladies -- something adult stem cells, a blanket term describing any stem cells obtained from other human sources without destroying human life, are already doing.
IBD's editorial shows that one doesn't even have to be religious to recognize the fundamental disregard for science and ethics in Obama's EO (bolds are mine):
There has been an unreality in the reports on the falling stock markets for at least the past 10 days. Each day's plunge seems to have been exclusively due to the "global economic crisis" and/or the supposed "freeze on credit."
Oddly enough, the admittedly small bank where I have my business accounts is having absolutely no problem funding mortgage, home-equity, and other loan applications from qualified borrowers -- a fact I confirmed just before posting this entry. With all due respect to the global business press, if there's truly a "freeze," how can that be?
I've put forth an alternative explanation to the media meme a couple of times this week myself, but an editorial at IBDeditorials.com yesterday brought out a major element of what I have been saying much more forcefully and articulately. Remarkably, though the possibility seems pretty obvious to me, and I suspect many others, I have seen no one in the business press covering daily market events even mention the obvious and quite likely alternative that follows.
The editorial, "Investors' Real Fear: A Socialist Tsunami," teases with the plaintive question, "What is it about the specter of our first socialist president and the end of capitalism as we know it that they don't understand?"
Much as Bush-hating media members conveniently ignore historical events that led to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, their current finger-pointing at the White House, John McCain, and all Republican politicians for the collapse of the financial services industry lacks any honest assessment of decades-old legislation that laid the groundwork for today's problems.
In particular, 1977's Community Reinvestment Act which required banks and savings institutions to make loans to the lower-income areas in the communities they served.
Despite how integrally tied the current crisis is to this bill enacted by a Democrat-controlled Congress and signed into law by Jimmy Carter, no major media outlet other than Investor's Business Daily and National Review Online mentioned it during last week's market meltdown.
Going against the grain was a highly-informative editorial by IBD Thursday (emphasis added, h/t NBer Gary Hall, photo courtesy About.com):
Today on Neil Cavuto, Monica Showalter of Investor's Business Daily was on, speaking about their editorial on Nanny Pelosi called "Feckless to Reckless." It's about Nancy Pelosi's recent reckless call to drain the strategic oil reserves in an attempt to answer our problems and pains at the gas pumps, short term. Needless to say, IBD was not impressed; in fact, the article calls for her resignation. You can read about it and watch the video interview at MsUnderestimated's site here.
"It's not just here and it's not just GM. Since 2005, the big three - GM, Ford and Chrysler - have had 70 plants and supplier shutdowns with a total loss of 149,000 American jobs," CBS correspondent Cynthia Bowers said. "At the same time, foreign automakers selling more fuel-efficient vehicles are building five new U.S. plants that will employ 24,000 workers over the next three years."
In the past several years, on any given day -- including holidays, mind you! -- you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a media member complaining about how America's respect within the international community had declined under George W. Bush.
This makes Friday evening's editorial in Investor's Business Daily all the more astounding.
Readers are strongly advised to prepare themselves for an alternate state of reality before proceeding any further (emphasis added, h/t NB reader Andrew Gill):
It's not often you'll hear a right-leaning media critic say this: I agree with the Pulitzer Prize committee this year, at least when it comes to the award the committee gave to Investor's Business Daily's Michael Ramirez for his excellent cartooning work.
Ramirez's win is the first time since 1998 that a Pulitzer has been given to a cartoonist with even moderately conservative opinions. The committee has similarly been biased against right-leaning columnists as Brent Bozell noted last year:
Any conservative student who aspires to be a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist should really try another line of work. Here’s the list since George Will won in 1977 and William Safire won in 1978: Charles Krauthammer in 1987, Paul Gigot in 2000, and Dorothy Rabinowitz in 2001. That’s five conservatives in 30 years.
On April 7, the Pulitzer Board announced the 2008 winners for perhaps the most coveted prize in journalism. At least one right-of-center recipient emerged among the Prize winners: cartoonist Michael Ramirez of Investor's Business Daily.
For a distinguished cartoon or portfolio of cartoons published during the year, characterized by originality, editorial effectiveness, quality of drawing and pictorial effect, in print or in print and online, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Awarded to Michael Ramirez of Investor's Business Daily for his provocative cartoons that rely on originality, humor and detailed artistry.
For a 20-cartoon portfolio of Ramirez's work from 2007 that impressed the Pulitzer Prize nominating jurors, click here. Ramirez and other Pulitzer winners will be recognized and awarded at a luncheon at Columbia University on May 29.
The news media contribute to the American public's pessimism about the economy, Business & Media Institute Vice President Dan Gainor wrote in Investor's Business Daily April 4.
"Major downturns aren't just caused by economic circumstances anymore. The news media will have done their best to help it along with years of negativity," Gainor wrote. "They've succeeded in part already. The March 18 USA Today reported a Gallup poll showing that 59 percent of Americans thinking a depression ‘lasting several years' is ‘likely, and 79 percent are worried about the possibility.'"
The three broadcast network news shows compared current economic conditions to the Great Depression more than two dozen times since the beginning of 2008. "Gallup simply heard people parrot what they were told," Gainor said.
He compared media coverage of the economy to advertising's effect on the public's buying habits and called out a Washington Post columnist who went so far as to say that "the best thing that could happen to our economy is for a dozen high-profile hedge funds to collapse; for investment banking to enter a long, deep freeze; for a major bank to fail."
"More than a dozen lenders have pulled out of the federal student loan program, unable to raise enough money to make loans," NBC correspondent Tom Costello said. "Now - Pennsylvania, Missouri, Michigan, New Hampshire and Iowa have suspended parts or all of their student loan programs - unprecedented."
Investor's Business Daily is reporting something we haven't seen much of in the media since the 1970s: concerns about global cooling. You read that correctly: cooling.
Kenneth Tapping, a researcher at Canada's National Research Council, wants to look for evidence of increased sunspot activity, according to IBD. "The lack of increased activity could signal the beginning of what is known as a Maunder Minimum, an event which occurs every couple of centuries and can last as long as a century."
A "solar hibernation" in the 17th Century "corresponded with a period of bitter cold that began around 1650 and lasted, with intermittent spikes of warming, until 1715," IBD reported. "Frigid winters and cold summers during that period led to massive crop failures, famine and death in Northern Europe."
I've said this before, but it merits saying again: We'll know that the news we're fed every day by the wire services, "newspapers of record," and TV networks is fair, accurate, and complete when those in search of the full picture no longer have to go to the editorials of the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily to fill in Old Media's yawning information and coverage gaps.
Among the latest pieces evidence that we're not there yet -- Thursday's IBDeditorials.com opinion piece, which had this news from Britain's National Health Service (NHS):
The British have found a way to shorten those long, annoying waits for care and lower the rising costs of their universal access system. They'll let patients take care of themselves.
The new year is beginning with some very serious shots being fired across the bow of the manmade global warming myth and at alarmists using it to advance their deplorable agendas.
Moments after Investor's Business Daily presaged that "2008 just might be the year the so-called scientific consensus that man is causing the Earth to warm begins to crack," the New York Times of all entities published a rather shocking piece pointing fingers at folks like Nobel Laureate Al Gore for being part of a group of "activists, journalists and publicity-savvy scientists who selectively monitor the globe looking for newsworthy evidence of a new form of sinfulness, burning fossil fuels."
This from the New York Times?
Hold on tightly to your seats, folks, for the shocks in this piece came early and often (emphasis added throughout):
According to MasterCard SpendingPulse, retail sales were up 3.6 percent during the holiday season - 2.4 percent excluding gas prices. But because it's not as big an increase as recent years have produced, the media reported it as bad news.
On NBC's "Nightly News," reporter Savannah Guthrie announced a "dramatic" 2.4 percent decrease in women's clothing sales. She didn't think the same percentage increase was "dramatic," however. Instead, she referred to the overall sales increase as "disappointing."
Other media labeled the figures "dismal," "small," "weak," "bleak" and "a clear sign that the economy is slowing down." Most made sure to point out, like "Good Morning America's" Ryan Owens, that the increase is "the smallest in four years."
When Larry Summers suggested in early 2005 that, as paraphrased by Slate's William Saletan, "innate differences between the sexes might help explain why relatively few women become professional scientists or engineers," the outcry was immediate, furious, and went to saturation level virtually overnight. The controversy ultimately led to his resignation a year later as Harvard President.
On Wednesday, Mr. Summers, a Democrat who was once Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton, made a recommendation in his area of expertise -- that is, that a tax cut would be a good idea to protect against a possible recession. (Yours truly doesn't believe that a recession is anywhere near occurring. But hey, I've said since May, and several times since [here, here, and here, among others] that a tax cut is needed anyway to keep the economy chugging along at a good rate. So if panicked pols want to enact a tax cut for the wrong reason, I'll take it.)
Old Media reaction to Summers has been virtual silence.
From the no-news-is-good-news department (and Instapundit) comes news that the media have suddenly decided to start covering Iraq less. Investor's Business Daily explains:
Ever since the Sept. 10 testimony of Gen. David Petraeus, we've heard less and less from the mainstream media about the war in Iraq. The old adage "no news is good news" has never been truer.
That the media are no longer much interested in Iraq is a sure sign things are going well there. Instead, they're talking about the presidential campaign, or Burma, or global warming, or . . . whatever.
Why? Simply put, the news from Iraq has been quite positive, as Petraeus related in his report to Congress.
David Shuster's tasteless game of "gotcha," that we reported here and here, in which the MSNBC "correspondent" exploited the name of a fallen American soldier to put Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on the spot, is getting considerable media attention. Brit Hume featured it in last night's "Grapevine" segment of "Special Report."