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January 14, 2013

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Great commentary, Mr. Talton. More later when time permits, but for now, here are some interesting trivia tidbits regarding the national debt.

Number of times the debt limit was raised during Ronald Reagan's time in office: 18

During Obama's thus far: 6

See Table 7.3

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Historicals

The "debt ceiling" applies to the gross federal debt. Only about 56 percent of the gross federal debt is owed to entities other than the federal government itself or the Federal Reserve System.

For example, in 2011 the gross federal debt was $14.8 trillion but the amount held by entities other than the federal government and the Fed was just $8.5 trillion. See Table 7.1 at the link above.

It's time for a national discussion about the national debt that puts it in proper perspective. Since, however, that would involve disabusing the population of the carefully fostered illusion of federal "trust funds" (e.g., Social Security and Medicare) which both parties find so useful for different reasons, that is unlikely.

Instead, I suspect that the current crisis may result in the reclassification, by presidential executive order, of that portion of the gross federal debt held by the government itself. Congress will rage and fume but will not be able to stop Treasury borrowing, much to the general relief of investors and businessmen.

Only about 56 percent of the gross federal debt is owed to entities other than the federal government itself or the Federal Reserve System.
Who needs a trillion-dollar coin? Jubilee!

“By presidential executive order.”

“Only 13 (probably a lot less) years transpired between this comprehensible division and the start of the Civil War.”

The NRA and god will save the king and all his white men. Onward Christian soldiers!

High Sheriff Johns and posse comitatus will collect the taxes, pillage, rape and murder to gain a seat at the Kings castle round table. The Hunger games are about to begin. Chose your weapons.

Interestingly, in Gov. Brewer's State of the State address today, she decided to expand "the state’s Medicaid program as part of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul."

http://www.azcentral.com/news/politics/articles/20130114arizona-brewer-state-of-state-medicaid-more-arizonans.html

No doubt this will be hugely unpopular with the right-wing fringe in the state. Nonetheless, I am sure that the medical community (and companies) and healthcare advocates had much to do with this latest news. I must say, I am surprised given that most Arizona lawmakers are hellbent on "saving" the state from future financial obligations that come with extending coverage to over 300,000 uninsured lower income individuals.

She is trying to not be "baited and switched" by Obama.

Cal, that is probably too late. However, Brewer's proposal will still need to be approved by the Legislature. I suspect they will get the numbers to do so especially with the business community pulling strings.

money talks

BUSES? i posted you all a bus note on Arizona BIO I.

The Kooks will not change and the Wimps will play ball with them. We're cooked.

Great article Rogue.

Rogue writes, "Most come from net "taker" states and all from states deeply dependent on government spending."

Yes, they do geographically come mostly from Red states but represent only the ruling elite in those geographic domains. That is significant because the ruling elite can withstand and possibly benefit from social chaos and economic depression.

Rogue writes,
"The sense I get from D.C. hands is that the Republicans couldn't possibly do what they say, right down to risking default. But this is coming from rational, well-educated people who have good jobs in media or policy, living in New York or Washington made rich from finance and imperial largess."

A point well taken. DC better understands the politics of faraway lands than those of uber-redneck states such as Arizona, Kansas and othe backward political divisions.

Rogue writes,
"The sense I get from D.C. hands is that the Republicans couldn't possibly do what they say, right down to risking default. But this is coming from rational, well-educated people who have good jobs in media or policy, living in New York or Washington made rich from finance and imperial largess."

A point well taken. DC better understands the politics of faraway lands than those of uber-redneck states such as Arizona, Kansas and othe backward political divisions.

Rogue writes,
"Such is the hostage-taking before which President Obama always bends. This time he claims he won't...blah, blah, blah."

Obama's problem, among other things, is his lack of experience dealing with ultra-rednecks like those who govern Arizona. He doesn't understand the suicidal nature of heartland reactionaries because his life experiences have occurred in Hawaii, Chicago, New York City and DC. He needs to understand that Brewer and other like politicians are no different than the terrorists that he so readily kills with drones. Moderation is not the solution with this white trash.

A. If I recall human history correctly, the Chinese race was "civilized" way before most of "our" ancestors had even determined that our feces were not part of the food pyramid. Thus, it will be interesting to see how the Chinese react to their horrible air situation. After all, the rulers answer to no one and can make decisions "right now" versus our leaders "kick the can down the road" approach to all problems.

B. Letterman had Brian Williams on his show recently. They discussed gun attitudes, Amerian west verus DC and East coast. Bottom line, we're different and we'll never agree.

C. I despise Democrats. I despise Republicans even more. If Obama played it right, he could drive a spike into the black heart of the Repubs. He won't though. He's a sissy. He throws like a girl. He's a wimp. His mother in law could kick his ass. He's a wimp with drones. Not a good combination for a sane world. I bet Mr. Janet Napolitano could beat him at arm wrestling.

Hell, Janet Brewer kicked his ass. In his place, I would have had the Secret Service shoot her bony butt into La Paz county. (Google it). After all, a pointed finger is a weapon. Just ask Homeland Insecurity.

Wow JMAV and AZREBEL on Steroids. WOW

On behalf of Lance Armstrong, JMAV and myself, the only juice I let into my body is good ole Arizona orange juice.

phxSUNSfan wrote:

"I must say, I am surprised given that most Arizona lawmakers are hellbent on "saving" the state from future financial obligations that come with extending coverage to over 300,000 uninsured lower income individuals."

These figures keep changing, astonishingly, from month to month: not only the numbers of additional enrollees covered, but the costs as well vary wildly, even from the same sources. Obviously there is a great deal of political game-playing going on.

Just six months ago in July of 2012, the state's Joint Legislative Budget Committee wrote that "expansion of coverage from 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL) to 133%...is expected to cost the state $28 million to add 76,000 adults and children. The federal government will pay 100% of the cost of the expanded adult coverage for the first few years while the state will pay the regular match rate for the children."

http://www.azleg.gov/jlbc/ACAreport062912_2.pdf

Then in October, the same JLBC issued a considerably less detailed report that asserted that "relative to the JLBC Baseline, this option would increase participation by another 167,000 participants and cost another $135 million in FY 2015."

http://www.azleg.gov/jlbc/FACstaffNarrativeSummary10-04-12.pdf

Some of the difference seems to involve a changing "baseline" since the more time that passes, the more childless adults who were previously frozen out fall off the rolls and cannot re-enroll.

Other differences may involve the failure of the JLBC in its later reports to include savings from the extended federal match rate to all applicable parties: in earlier reports they include the savings from childless adults who were never kicked off the rolls; in later reports they (and others) may exclude these when calculating costs to the state. Or, they may not. Nobody seems to be publishing a detailed accounting nowadays and trying to get clarifications from JLBC is like interrogating the legendary Three Monkeys.

The governor plans to raise taxes through a hospital assessment. That pays AT LEAST the state's costs, though frankly I believe that it raises far more. So, it makes perfect sense from a state budgetary standpoint to expand Medicaid, let the federal government pay for nearly all of the state's costs, and levy a tax on the hospital system in the hope of gaining a budgetary windfall under the camouflage of inflated state costs.

Note also that "In the long run, the federal government is scheduled to: 1) increase its financing of the under 100% (of the federal poverty level) population to a 90% match rate by 2021." (JBLC) So the deal just gets sweeter in that respect.

Great analysis Emil; however, my surprise isn't really that the state would eventually benefit from federal funding and a hospital tax...but that Brewer, and eventually legislators, will go along with this "federal largesse" and increased taxation (whatever form it takes). There will still be fervent opposition from the far right. Perhaps the more moderate Legislature makes this easier for Brewer to push through (thanks to more Democrats being elected in 2012).

I envy your positivism phxsunfan but Its about money and Brewer running for US Senator.

I wish i had been born thinking positive but alas I came out thinking negative first and trying hard to work to positive.
and the "Good News" is
"Humans are cooking the planet into a nightmare out of a science-fiction movie." What a great opening Jon.

phxsunfan left you a note on Veolia on Arizona bio I. I ran out of time but did a little followup for U on buses and ect.

Though there may be some ulterior motives for expanding Medicaid in Arizona, it is a good thing and the expanded coverage for children and childless adults is necessary. I could not imagine being uninsured and constantly worrying about getting sick or having an accident. Leaving hundreds of thousands on their own is not only immoral but will end up costing everyone else more money in the long-run.

To clarify, I am stating that it is a good thing that Medicaid could be expanded...and not that certain politicians have ulterior motives.

How far will they go? As far as they can. I'm currently on "Blood Meridian" in which a crazed character says this:

If God meant to interfere in the degeneracy of mankind would he now have done so by now? Wolves cull themselves, man. What other creature could? And is the race of man not more predacious yet? [...] He loves games? Let him play for stakes. This you see here, these ruins wondered at by tribes of savages, do you not think that this will be again? Aye. And again. With other people, with other sons.

What really gets my goat is even the $28 million overstates the state's cost according to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee report that appeared back in July. Here's the breakdown for the first full year (FY 2015):

Cost of Medicaid expansion from 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL) to 133% per Obamacare:

.........50,400 adults: $0 (per Obamacare)
.........26,000 children: $27.7 million (assumes regular federal match rate)

Cost of ending Medicaid Freeze on childless adults through 100% FPL:

.........116,000 adults (returning to rolls): $166.4 million

Savings from application of increased match rate (per Obamacare) to remaining childless adults on rolls:

.........120,844 adults still enrolled: (-)$217.3 million

Total number of additional enrollees:

.........192,400 (166,400 adults and 26,000 children)

Cost of ending childless adult freeze and expanding Medicaid for all through 133% of FPL:

.........$27.7 + $166.4 - $217.3 = (-)$23.2 million

That is, a NET SAVINGS of $23.2 million to the state by ending the freeze on childless adults and expanding Medicaid from 100% to 133% of the federal poverty level.

Those are the ONLY direct cost changes to the state resulting from policy changes. Period.

The report then goes on to suggest that half of the ALREADY ELIGIBLE but non-enrolled individuals in the state will enroll in Medicaid, not as a result of policy changes making them eligible, but as a result of the publicity surrounding Obamacare! Here's what they say about that:

"The greater media attention on federal health care and the requirements for the uninsured to acquire health insurance (or pay a penalty) is expected to incentivize already eligible non-participants to sign up for coverage. The requirement to buy insurance will only exist for Medicaid-eligible non-participants with incomes near the upper limit of Medicaid eligibility. The higher awareness of the federal benefit, however, could increase enrollment throughout the Medicaid income range. This possible incentive factor is the single largest component of the ACA cost estimate. If ACA encourages 50% of the currently eligible non-participants to enroll, it would cost $232 million and add 133,000 new participants."

Obviously, if a larger number of additional individuals who are ALREADY ELIGIBLE are going to enroll because of publicity about Obamacare, they can and will do so regardless of whether the state ends the freeze on childless adults and regardless of whether it expands Medicaid to 133% of the federal poverty level. To include this kind of speculation as a "cost" resulting from the state's decisions regarding Obamacare is therefore patently absurd. They're simply padding their figures.

See Table 1 and text:

http://www.azleg.gov/jlbc/ACAreport062912_2.pdf

The Arizona Republic drives me crazy. I tried like mad, many months ago when these figures were new, to get them to report on this. I spelled it out in emails to half a dozen reporters. Not a word. Novel-length articles about dead jaguars, but nothing about a health-care issue affecting hundreds of thousands of the state's most vulnerable residents, both adult and child. It isn't as though the information came from some left-wing website spin-doctoring the issues to suit its readership. This came directly from a three page JLBC document which specified and detailed its figures in simple to understand language. All you have to do is read it, pay attention to it, and think about it. As reporters for the state's newspaper of record, they also have the resources to get someone independent in academia, business, or the public sector to evaluate and explain the information to them.

It's true that since July a large number of childless adults have dropped off the rolls and, as a result of the pre-existing freeze, been unable to re-enroll. Those adults will not be included in the savings from application of the increased match rate to existing enrollees, but they will add to the costs of ending the freeze. But the fact that every month which passes removes more Medicaid participants from the rolls doesn't mean that they represent actual new costs to the state because until recently they were already on the rolls. This is what I mean what I talked about a shifting baseline. Talking about the costs of returning folks to the rolls who were on it as recently as the middle of 2012, as though they were some costly new phenomenon, is simply misleading.

I'm also not sure if the JLBC is including, in its subsequent reports, the savings from applying the increased federal match rate to existing enrollees: if not, talking about "costs" is misleading because it is NET costs that count.

Now, as to why the hospital association is gladly supporting a statewide assessment of $154 million "to cover the state's cost of Medicaid expansion" it's because they pay a lot more currently for uncompensated (and undercompensated) treatment of patients who will be covered by Medicaid under the expansion. They have plenty to gain.

As for why Brewer supported this, "she was lobbied hard in recent weeks to support Medicaid expansion by a coalition of hospital CEOs and business leaders, represented by former Brewer adviser and state budget director Peter Burns". Money talks, especially to politicians seeking office or careers in the private sector afterwards.

http://www.azcentral.com/news/politics/articles/20130114arizona-brewer-medicaid-plan-draws-tepid-gop-reaction.html

Don't forget also that Brewer has an independent streak. She did support the temporary sales tax and pushed the legislature into allowing it onto the ballot as a referendum.

"'With this move, we will secure a federal revenue stream to cover the costs of the uninsured who already show up in our doctors’ offices and emergency rooms,' Brewer said. 'Weigh the evidence and do the math.'"

Well, yeah. It's not going to cost the state anything: in fact the hospital assessment will bring in far more than the state's cost, acting as a cash cow.

The reason Kavanagh and company reject this is that, first, the hospital assessment will be passed on to patients, and the patients who will pay it out of pocket are their wealthy constituents in Fountain Hills and elsewhere; so in effect the assessment is a redistributive tax from the well-off to the poor, and they oppose that.

They also have a vested interest in seeing government fail to deliver on critical services, because if government succeeds in adding value to people's lives, who is going to support the conservative agenda of cutting services? Without service cuts, you can't get tax cuts (except with deficit spending, which they also oppose). And if there is one thing which conservative Republicans and their wealthy constituents want, it is tax cuts. So again, you have to go back to simple class interests.

Brewer, by constrast, is more of a political pragmatist than an ideologue: her firebrand ideology is a political ploy and when it doesn't serve her interests to toe the line of conservative dogma, she doesn't.

Brewer independent and a pragmatist?
Like Bush and Cheney
I think Grant Woods is Brewers brain

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