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  • Morning Bell: Do You Trust Congress to Compete Fairly?

    The federal government’s decision to become both a market player and regulator in U.S. residential real estate was a major cause of the financial crisis. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, using their government-given advantages (including lower capital requirements, guaranteed access to federal credit, and a federal guarantee of their debt), established a massive mortgage duopoly. Barack Obama now wants to do for health care what the left has done for the housing market: concentrate as much decision-making power in Washington so that all health care decisions are politicized and magnified.

    Obama likes to sell his health care plan as similar to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) that is available to all members of Congress. But there are fundamental differences between Obama’s plan and FEHBP, as Heritage scholars Bob Moffit and Nina Owcharenko detail in an analysis of Obama’s health care proposal:

    1. The Obama plan imposes a standardized benefits struc­ture on both the new government plan and every private health plan that participates in the pro­posed National Health Insurance Exchange. There is no comprehensive, standard benefit package in FEHBP.
    2. The Obama plan creates a gov­ernment-run health plan in the National Health Insurance Exchange. No federal agency offers a government health plan through FEHBP. Only private health insurance plans compete in that program, and even more importantly, they compete on a level playing field.
    3. The Obama plan would require price controls, including “fair” premiums and “minimal co-pays.” Either Congress or some government bureaucrat would have to define these terms. This would put the federal government in the business of deciding what constitutes a fair price and a proper co-payment for benefits and ser­vices, leading to some type of centralized rate set­ting or standardization of payments for providers. By contrast, prices are market-based in FEHBP. No price regulation is imposed on plans or services.

    In addition to having the power to set prices and control benefit packages, the government plan would also enjoy a huge advantage in the marketplace since employers and tax­payers would subsidize the new government plan and cover any related risks — a unique advantage unavailable to the private health plans in the exchange. Remember, Congress will have ultimate control over Obama’s new government-run health plan and the new health exchange.

    It is impossible to imagine how political incentives, not just economic and medical incentives, could not end up paving the way for a government monopoly over health care. At a minimum, the pri­vate plans could be reduced to operating simply as administrative agents of the federal plan. In either case, without any realistic market options, would-be consumers, patients, individuals and families seeking value for their health care dollars would be the biggest losers.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to Morning Bell: Do You Trust Congress to Compete Fairly?

    1. Jonelle Mades, Monro says:

      No, I no longer trust Congress. Between lobbyists, earmarks, personal greed and corruption, we need to wipe the slate clean and begin anew. Trouble is, with the massive decline in the morals of the populace in general, I don't know if a sufficient number of capable and honest statesmen can be found to represent us.


      Jonelle Mades

    2. Spiritof76, New Hamp says:

      It is so strange to witness total ignorance on a significant part of the American population in this day and age of communication.

      It is amazing that people can not connect the two dots of government involvement and guaranteed failures in any enterprise it had entered into, to repudiate the latest socialist proposal of Obama of government provided health care. It would follow the same example of the government run monopoly of public school- astronomical cost for shoddy health care. One thing though,the trial lawyers will be forbidden to sue the government dispensers of health care. But then, when you are already paying equivalent penalty through the inefficiency of bureaucracy, you would wish you could have taken your chances with the trial lawyer scams.

      What we are witnessing now is the lasting legacy of FDR that created the entitlement mentality through government power.

      Is it time for another tea party?

    3. Byron Simmons, Alpin says:

      After reading your story on BO's healthcare plan, it reminds me of a story I heard earlier this yr. about a retired rail worker in England. He developed macular degeneration in one eye, a shot is available that will help this but it is costly. The Govt. run plan told him they would not pay for the shot until he had lost sight in one eye. We cannot Washington bean counters decide our health care for us. Unless we stand up and fight, this is where we are headed.

    4. R Buck Gray, Pittsbu says:

      My expectation is that the Democrats will increase their gaming the system, power politics, disregard for truth and solidification of their power. The general public seems to feel that this is OK as long as they still have sports entertainment.

      The despising of free choice in school systems is a victory for the teachers' union. The push to eliminate secret ballots in union election is amazing as to how many politicians are thumbing their nose at freedom. The embracing of the most liberal elitist in the Senate will certainly drive enterprise to other countries and cost us jobs. With over half of the voters not directly paying taxes, socialism will continue to be seen as "the answer" as our government run schools advocate. Our country seems to despise business competition, accountability and honesty. As Bill Clinton illustrated, lets see if we can get away with it.

    5. Lawrence C. Betzler, says:

      The "forest for the trees" metaphor applies to these issues. You can't treat this malgnancy, which we call The National Legislature by "chanting" over the patient. There are 535,000 bright, informed and devoted youthful individuals who would be eager to replace these tired, corrupt and self-serving politicians. They would consider it an honor to serve and share their ideas and relevant views for a maximum of two terms, then go home and continue their lives and citizenship, just as the persons who serve their country in the military….no outrageous pensions, no million dollar booty, no medical plan desined for royalty…..and no spending 50% of their time raising money to support their careers and egos.

      The country needs TERM LIMITS…..and LINE ITEM VETO. Most of the ills and corruption by these tired old career politicians would cease…and we would get the intelligence and dedication…..the representation…and the type of country which could grow again and be respected by everyone.

    6. Paul A. Schwab, Cent says:

      There is a way to create CHANGE in this Country and that is – TERM LIMITS, not only for the President, but for the Supreme Court and the U.S. Congress. These people are staying in this, so called, leadership position entirely too long. This creates what we have today.

      How do I go about this task?

    7. Edwin Buck, Albuquer says:

      Hell no. These thieves have stolen us blind. They've turned this country into a "banana republic". What is a "banana republic"? These are people who will promise everyone, every thing in order to get elected. But, once in office, their only job is to enrich themselves, their families and their cronies. Let's look at the facts. William Jefferson, representative in New Orleans, got caught with $90,000 bribe, in cold cash (in his freezer), he has never been indicted. Harry Ried, senator in Nevada. He or his cronies buy worthless pieces of land, old Harry then passes a law to build roads or bridge, making that piece of property very expensive. No one says anything about it. Nancy Pelosi, representative in San Francisco, got her husband's company a fat government contract, (multi million dollars, by the way)and no one says anything. Barney Frank, representative of Boston, got his boy toy a sweet job with Fannie Mae, took a lot of money from the Mac's and Mae's as pay off's, no one says a word about it. Stood up and prevented any inquiries against same Mac's and Mae's. Chris Dodd, senator in Connecticut, got a sweetheart deal from a lending institution, got lots of money from the Mae's and Mac's and stopped any congressional inquiries against same. And that's just what's known. I'm sure, if we just scratch a little bit, we will find a whole lot more with different law makers. They've turned this country into a banana republic, and we voted them in. What does that tell about us?

    8. Michael J O'Bri says:

      A good example of how our elected officials view constitutions look at King Michael Bloomberg in New York City. New Yorkers have twice voted for term limits. Now King Bloomberg has made a back door deal with Quinn [another liberal] the city council president, whose term is also about to expire, to cancel term limits without a referendum. How democratic, and they wonder why approval ratings are low.

    9. BMoore, Pittsburgh, says:

      I would like to know how the democrat politicians and voters go home and face their families knowing that they are destroying their children's future if a socialist is elected. Most democrat voters think they are still the party of the sixties. They are NOT – JFK is turning in his grave. The last democrat to give Americans a tax break was JFK wich is almost fifty years ago. Are you aware that Obama who has only been in the senate 940 days and has approved 930 million dollars worth of PORK, where McCain has been in the senate over 7,000 days and has never asked or approved any PORK. Obama will not release his college records because it is associated with socialists. Wake Up America!!!!!!!

    10. David Howard Ocala F says:

      I have just a few Questions going through my mine. 1. The banks we as taxpayers are bailing out evidently have a very poor credit rating. Do we as tax payers get to charge them the same 21% interest the charge us on our credit cards? If no why not? If they go over their limit can we charge them say 1000.00 and increase their interest charge to 28%? 2. Can we require every board member to sign a personal loan guarantee. You know, like the ones we have to sign at their banks when we make a business loan. Can we have some say in what they pay their executives? Maybe we can have each branch bank save us money by cutting their own grass. Have you noticed that every choice commercial building lot has a Walgreens Drugs store or a new bank built on it. Maybe we should sell the banks to Walgreens.

    11. dave schraub, indian says:

      I believe the problem we are facing is, the fact is that, all of the politicans are lawyers, and they know how to manipulate the laws to benefit them. also they american public is stupid, and the liberal programs they have been inoculating us with over the years, are finally starting to pay dividends. dumbing down the school system, removing god from everything, and making people believe that patriotism is evil. if you believe in the 1st and 2nd amendments, your some kind of nut. well for that matter, if you believe in the constitution, your delusional. because the politicans sure don't believe in it.

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