Neal Obermeyer

Neal Obermeyer is a Reader contributor. See staff page for published articles.

Local Lead Indicators Inch Up

Re: #7 AT&T's complaints have nothing to do with cost controls in the bill. Medicare Part D, passed during the Bush administration, gave companies tax-free 28% subsidies in order to provide prescription drug benefits for their employees, but it also allowed companies to deduct those subsidies from their taxes, which was absurd. The healthcare bill recently signed into law eliminated the deduction. From Commerce Secretary Gary Locke quoted Donald Marron, acting CBO director for President George W. Bush, in his recent WSJ editorial: "[A]s the Joint Committee on Taxation recently noted, that treatment is highly unusual. In my view, it's right that the recent health legislation closed that loophole." Locke added, "This change has garnered recent headlines because, to comply with accounting laws, companies affected by the provision have taken a one-time charge reflecting the loss of future tax deductions over the decades-long duration of their retiree health-care plans. Critics have seized on this accounting adjustment to suggest these costs—as much as $1 billion in one company's case—are going to place immediate and substantial cost burdens on America's businesses. "This is disingenuous. "The actual cash flow impact of these provisions begins in 2013, and is only a tiny fraction of the accounting charge-offs." And to say the bill "does nothing to contain costs" exposes either dishonesty or ignorance. It includes insurance exchanges, price reductions, delivery reforms, capping the employer-provided tax exclusion, advances malpractice reforms, IT investments, prevention measures and an independent Medicare commission, not to mention what is possibly the most powerful -- bringing another 30 million plus into the ranks of the insured. Harvard health economist David Cutler recently assembled a list of the 10 most potent cost controls in a Wall Street Journal editorial, and the bill includes all but one of the reforms on his wishlist -- a public option.
— April 1, 2010 6:11 p.m.


It's an interesting theory, however, but it doesn't hold up in New Hampshire, because the polls matched the outcome in the rural areas. The raw exit polls showed an Obama victory, yet pundits are using the adjusted demographic exit poll data to refute the raw data. Does that not seem a bit absurd? If the whole thing is wrong, how can you use something extracted from it to prove that? Everone's performance matched the polls in the hand-counted precincts. And in the machine-counted precincts, Clinton and Obama's percentages swapped while everyone else still matched the polls. So this makes sense if we choose to believe that the strong female outpouring only happened in machine-counted precincts; if we believe that the independent swing that supposedly benefited Clinton only happened in machine-counted precincts; if we believe that the only people who changed their mind at the last minute were people defecting from Obama to Clinton, and they happened to live exclusively in machine-counted precincts; if we believe the urban-rural distribution from Iowa completely flipped in New Hampshire; and if we believe that it's reasonable to use exit poll demographic data to discredit the raw data from which the demographic data was derived, which many pundits seem fine with in spite of the inherent flaw in logic. New Hampshire uses the same Diebold machines that have been decertified in other states, all of their voting machines are controlled by one private company, and their legislature chose to ignore testimony about the known vulnerabilities in their system. Kucinich's recount request will be interesting, but hardly as interesting if recounts had the same open access and verification requirements that election night vote counts do.
— January 11, 2008 1:40 p.m.

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