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Here is the sub heading for the article (as if the headline wasn’t bad enough):

Tax Day rhetoric aside, Americans’ bills are lower than recent years

So, I’m not a student of journalism, but wasn’t one of the core beliefs of a free press to scrutinize the government, not name-call American citizens?

Anyway…here are some quotes from the second half of the article:

The massive economic recovery package enacted last year included about $300 billion in tax cuts over 10 years. About $232 billion was in cuts for individuals, nearly all in the first two years.

Can you say, campaign finance reform?  Seriously, $232 billion in tax cuts for individuals in the “first two years”?  Does anyone else see this as buying votes, or am I just a partisan hack (easy now)?  Even if you didn’t approach it from the perspective of vote buying, $300 billion over ten years amounts to $3o billion a year.  If you divide that by 300 million, then you get a whopping $100 per capita per annum (I realize that not every American pays taxes…I simplified for my fading math skills sake…oh, and I’ll stop with the Latin, because I don’t really know how to use it properly).  Now, I wouldn’t complain about having to pay $100 less per year in taxes, but how about some real tax reform instead of off-year election planning.

The most generous was Obama’s Making Work Pay credit, which gives individuals up to $400 and couples up to $800 for 2009 and 2010. The $1,000 child tax credit was expanded to more families, and the working poor can qualify for as much as $5,657 from the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Extending the $1,000 child tax credit to more families sounds like a good thing to do on the surface, but the likely objective is to get more families (read: gullible voters) to rely on their government).t to provide them with what they need.  They (the Democrat-controlled state) are taking us to Pinocchio’s Pleasure Island with their hard-to-refuse offers of sweets and “free” money, but we all know how that ends for Pinocchio and the boys (is it a coincidence that they are all turned into donkeys?).

There were also credits for qualified families who buy new homes or make energy improvements to existing ones, as well as tax breaks to help pay college tuition or buy new cars.

I assume that the “buy new cars” tax credit is referencing the not-so-successful Cash for Clunkers program.  If so, was that credit really helpful?  Perhaps to the individuals who were already poised to purchase a new car, but economically it was a miserable disaster.

“From investing in small business to buying a home or making it energy efficient, to sending your children to college to buying a car, these tax cuts are helping families and businesses across the country,” said Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo.

And the increased jobless claims are indicative of what, exactly?

For the first time, the Medicare payroll tax would be applied to investment income, beginning in 2013. A new 3.8 percent tax would be imposed on interest, dividends, capital gains and other investment income for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and couples making more than $250,000.

In 2013, the tax is for people making over $20o,000.  In 2023, at what level will the tax kick in?  $150,000?  $100,000?  A tax on investment like this is disturbing because, in theory, even your savings account could be a target for (additional) taxation.  Where does it stop?  There are many conclusions you can reach from a scenario where the government reaches deeper and deeper into people’s wallets, and none of them are pretty (but they probably don’t involve zombies).

Dennis Miller, on his radio show today, listed off at least a score of things on which we pay tax, either directly or indirectly.  If I can, I will update with a link to that list.

via Taxes down, grumbling up: Rutland Herald Online.

I forgot to mention something that I picked up on in my post on Obama’s carefully crafted (watch the video, it’s a hoot!) health-care town hall.  I found a transcript of the meeting/infomercial at the LA Times.  Below is are excerpts from Obama wrapping up his town hall meeting a la campaign mode:

America — one of the great things about this country is we’ve got a system that’s sometimes kind of hard to change.  Congress gets kind of bogged down, and part of that is because of the way the Constitution is designed — it’s served us well because it keeps us very stable.  We don’t have coups and all kinds of governments collapsing all the time.  But the disadvantage sometimes is, is that it’s hard for us to make big, bold steps.  But the great thing about the system is that, every once in a while, when we finally hit a point where things just aren’t working at all, we are able to generate the political will to finally get things done.

Let’s see.  Hard to change.  What does the constitution of the United States have to say?  Read Article V for a what the founders of our country had to say about making things difficult to change (or better yet, read the entire United States Constitution).  Apparently, he thinks the Constitution is a disadvantage for us because we can’t implement his health-care ideas tomorrow.  Well, I for one am glad for that.  I am certain that if Ronald Reagan had wished for the ability to implement his visions for America that his critics would have all cried foul.  What matters is that we continue to be a nation under the rule of law and the flagrant disregard that Obama seems to have for the Constitution is at least a little bit alarming.

What causes alarm for me in this portion of his monologue is that Obama uses the past tense when referring to how the Constitution is designed: it’s served us well.  I hope that he meant to say, and it continues to serve us well today and into the future, but I didn’t hear it yesterday.

That’s how we got Social Security. After the Great Depression, nobody had any pensions or protection, and people started realizing, we can’t have a country where suddenly older Americans are just on the streets, after working hard all their lives.  And finally we got Social Security.  And then people said, well, we can’t have older Americans who don’t have any health care, and we got Medicare.  At every juncture, when we finally need to make a change, we make a change. This is one of those times.

Okay, now on to the alarm of the moment: health-care reform.  In the previous excerpt Obama talks about times in history when things aren’t working well as though there will never be any tough times.  Of course, operating under that assumption plus the assumption that government is the best means for alleviating tough times, Obama is ready and willing to scare us into the kind of action that he wants.  Obama conjures up two of the Left’s favorite government programs to illustrate his point.  Programs, by the way, that are either inevitably going to be bankrupt (in the case of Social Security) or are wrought with problems of fraud and inefficiency (in the case of Medicare).

So don’t be scared about the future. Let’s embrace the future. Let’s go after the future. If we do, then I’m confident that we can create a health care system that gives you choice, allows you to keep your doctor, drives down costs, makes sure that every American doesn’t have to worry if they lose or change their jobs.  That’s our aim. That’s our goal. We’re going to make it happen this year. Thank you, everybody.  I appreciate you. Thank you.

Don’t be scared!  He is telling us this because earlier in this portion of the town hall he accuses his opponents of fear mongering.  The reality is that he intends to be the one controlling the type of fear that you experience.  If he can control your perspective on the problem then you will have the right kind of fear in order to buy into his version of the solution.

Gives you choice…maybe for the first year of the program until the private insurance companies go out of business.

Allows you to keep you doctor…what doctor?  Who will want to become a doctor when they are forced to accept payments well below what their services are worth.

Drives down costs…artificially and temporarily at best.  First it will be because the bureaucrats will find a way to infuse a ton of cash into the public option so that it looks good.  Then as tax revenues dry up costs will have no choice but to go up.

Makes sure that every American doesn’t have to worry if they lose or change their job…utopia is the stuff of make-believe.  I hope that Americans are a little more grounded in their perspective on life than our president seems to be.  Otherwise, we may wake up to a burgeoning totalitarian state that will dictate what perspective you will have, or else…

On Friday there was an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal by Steven Burd, the CEO of Safeway.  In it he declares:

While comprehensive health-care reform needs to address a number of other key issues, we believe that personal responsibility and financial incentives are the path to a healthier America.

It is not only refreshing to see that some business leaders think outside the box on health-care issues but it is especially refreshing to see that Mr. Burd’s thinking outside the box involved a free-market approach to finding answers.  In a free market you can’t remain static for very long or your likely to lose money and Burd suggested:

As a self-insured employer, Safeway designed just such a plan in 2005 and has made continuous improvements each year.

I have pondered something like this for a while and I am sure I am not the only citizen of the United States to do so.  The comparison to, even the modeling after, the automobile insurance industry is also something that I discussed with my dentist father-in-law a few years ago.  What would it take to insure people in a manner that encouraged personal responsibility via healthy habits and rewarded that behavior accordingly?

Without having researched the obstacles to such reform, it seems to me that there is one big (generic) problem to implementing a health care reform like this plan (that has kept Safeway’s health insurance costs from rising over the last four years while the rest of the country has had an average of a 38% increase in costs): Government.

Government “meddling” in the health-care world via Medicare and Medicaid has distorted the ability of real reform-minded individuals and companies from making any inroads to meaningful changes.  When you insure a large group of the population free of charge (to the insured, at least) via Medicare and you artificially set reimbursement rates to providers that are below market value then you have a system that cannot sustain itself (where are my “sustainable lifestyle” peeps now?).  As more people join the rolls of the “no-cost-to-the-individual” insurance of Medicare, the health-care providers are either forced to accept those patients at lower reimbursement rates or dump them all because there is no financial incentive to provide care for them.

It has been my experience that government regulation, and not the “evil” insurance companies, are to blame for most of the problems and waste found in the health-care industry.  Insurance companies have a host of factors to look at when they insure an individual and his family, but it appears to this average consumer that it is the factor of government regulation that causes the most problems for the company.  Of course, the insurance company is left holding the ball when all is said and done so it usually appears to the insured that their insurance company is the one that raked them over the coals.

I may not have all the answers to a workable health-care solution, but I can at least identify the problem.  End government interference in health-care and let the power of the individuals operating in a free market begin to find a genuine solution.