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Archive for December 21st, 2011

Medicare Doctor Fix

There has been some concern over congress failing to pass the “Doctor Fix” before leaving for Christmas. What is the “Doctor Fix?”
The way I recall this being explained is that congress passed a law to stem the growth of Medicare spending around 2005 plus or minus. At least one part of the plan was to limit what they paid Doctors.
The Doctors did not like this so after they took credit for passing it, they voted not to actually reduce it. This has happened every year since.
This begs the question: If they are not actually going to do it, why does congress not repeal it?
I think that the way this works is that back when the US had a budget (pre Obama) they would include cutting the Medicare reimbursement that Doctors receive for treating Medicare payments to make Medicare look like it was not crashing and burning so badly. Then, after it was scored, they would vote not to reduce the reimbursements and just borrow the money to cover the shortfall; kind of a magician’s trick except that all of the people voting were in on it.  It has been done ever since.
Is this not correct?

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1% versus 99%. That has been the media’s attempt to gin up support for the Occupy movement. As I’ve stated before, I share many of the concerns of the “Occupiers”, I just think that you should be presenting solutions and not just whining. However, from Gallup comes bad news for Democratic candidates who think that there is more there there in translating “occupying” into votes. From a December 15th Gallup poll:

Americans are now less likely to see U.S. society as divided into the “haves” and “have nots” than they were in 2008, returning to their views prior to that point. A clear majority, 58%, say they do not think of America in this way, after Americans were divided 49% to 49% in the summer of 2008.

1988-2011 trend: Some people think of American society as divided into two groups -- the "haves" and "have nots," while others think it's incorrect to think of America that way. Do you, yourself, think of America as divided into haves and have-nots, or don't you think of America that way?

The shift, documented by a Gallup poll conducted Nov. 28-Dec. 1, is noteworthy in that it came after 3 ½ years of economic turmoil in which more Americans have become unemployed and more have become negative about their personal finances. The current poll was also conducted as the Occupy Wall Street movement continues to focus on the disparities between the wealthiest 1% of Americans and everyone else.

If they had to choose, 58% of Americans would say they are in the “haves,” rather than the “have nots” group. This breakdown has held remarkably steady over the past two decades of economic boom and bust, with a record-high 67% of Americans putting themselves in the “haves” category during the strong economic times of the late 1990s.

1988-2011 trend: If you had to choose, which of these groups are you in, the haves or the have-nots?

Not surprisingly, Republicans and Democrats are on opposite ends of the spectrum in both cases, with Democrats more likely than Republicans to say society is divided into haves and have nots, and more likely to see themselves in the “have nots” group. However, it is independents and moderates who since 2008 have grown significantly less likely to see society this way.

So, instead of 1% versus 99%, try 58% to 34%. You need only 51% to win an election.

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