Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE
I had hoped President Obama wanted to sit down and have an open “bipartisan” discussion with both the Democratic and Republican leadership after his stunning losses in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
I hoped the meeting would be a breakthrough because the nation desperately needs effective healthcare reform.
The Healthcare Summit was riveting television because live unrehearsed television can reveal much about people and their attitudes.
I did not realize that President Obama was so arrogant and condescending. My impression was he is self confident and mildly cocky. I think those are good traits. Arrogance and condescension are not good traits. Those traits can be harmful when a person wants to influence the public positively. Peggy Noonan summed it up perfectly.
“Mr. Obama will not have helped himself by his manner. The summit highlighted, even showcased, something unappealing and unhelpful there, a tendency to attempt to show dominance and command by patronizing, even subtly bullying, even trimming.
All people in public life have moments like this—most people do, in whatever walk of life—but you’re not supposed to have them when you’re trying to sway minds, reach out and build support.”
Peggy Noonan goes on with a few specific examples.
“The way the meeting was arranged, the president was the teacher, the lecturer. Arrayed before him were the bright if occasionally unruly students.
He was keen to establish that it was his meeting—he decides who speaks next and who should wrap up, he decides what is and is not "a legitimate point."
He was Mr. President, they were John and Lamar. He wielded a shiny pen like an anchorman eager to show depth and ease.
He even said, "There was an imbalance in the opening statements because—I’m the president." Grace shows strength, accommodation shows security. This showed—well, not strength.
When Rep. Eric Cantor attempted to make a sharp point, the president took the camera off him by calling for his aides and conferring with them as Mr. Cantor spoke.”
President Obama said he came to listen but he spoke one third of the time, the Democrats spoke one third of the time and the Republicans the other third. I do not think he was there to listen. He was there to set up his trick play to get his healthcare reform bill passed. He wanted get the American public behind him and pass his healthcare reform bill in the Senate with 51 votes rather than 60 votes.
I think he failed.
I was most impressed by observing President Obama’s lack of interest in the effect of his healthcare reform plan will have on the budget deficit, our economic growth and the increased tax burden those of all income levels.
He kept referring to the CBO’s scoring about budget surpluses. The CBO has said repeatedly that it scores a bill on the assumptions it is given. Those assumptions have been roundly criticized.
President Obama recently proposed his 2011 budget with $1.3 trillion dollar deficit. The budget does not include the $750 billion dollar increase over the next ten years for his healthcare reform.
Many of the reforms will not go into effect for 5 years while the proposed tax increases will go into effect immediately. The plan incorporates a mixture of the many tax increases proposed by the House and Senate, increasing taxes by almost $750 billion over ten years.
The $750 billion dollars does not included the increases in consumer out of pocket expenses and expenses included in other budgets. (The economic recovery act and others).
I do not think the American people are fooled by all the President’s rhetoric anymore.
I assume President Obama’s thinking is raising taxes will raise revenue. In normal times that might be true. However, raising taxes can cause an increase in unemployment and a decrease in revenue.
He should be focused on decreasing the defects in the systems government has created and the defects in the healthcare system. These defects lead to inefficiency and stakeholder abuse which in turn lead to increased budget deficits.
I would refer President Obama to my brother Charlie Feld’s book “The Blind Spot” if he wants to fix the government and the healthcare system. His book outlines how he has helped some corporations decrease its inefficient systems through the use of information technology as an extension of business planning. Information technology should not be an inefficient tool of business operations.
If all of the American public was aware of the various taxes hidden in healthcare reform more than 70% would want the President to scrap the bill and start over. America must reduce escalating healthcare costs. You do not reduce escalating costs by increasing taxes. You do it by fixing what’s broken. Let us discuss the taxes in the Senate and House bills.
a. Medicare Part A is funded by payroll taxes. The payroll tax will be increased beyond the current limit to pay for the new health care entitlement. The Senate bill includes a tax on investment income for Medicare Part A.
b. Higher taxes on dividends, interest and business income increases the cost of capital. It will depress investment. Job creation will decrease. President Obama said our economy needs to create jobs by stimulating investment.
The effect of an increase in Medicare Part A tax on dividends and capital gains will have a devastating effect on retired seniors because their investment income is a major supplement to their pensions and Social Security checks. Raising the Medicare Part A tax on income and capital gains reduces seniors ability to buy goods and services in an economy that is dependent of consumer spending.
One has to wonder why President Obama has not figured this out. The American people have.
c. Raising the taxes on capital income and capital gains will lower asset values. Thirty percent of all stocks are held in retirement savings plans. The seniors that rely on the income from these plans for their livelihood are not rich investors that have been the target of other tax increases.
They are people that spent their working years saving money for their own retirement in mutual funds, 401(k)s, IRAs and other savings vehicles; this would just punish them for a lifetime of careful planning and saving.
A third level of taxes is an excise tax on medical device manufacturers and brand name pharmaceuticals. There will also be a tax on the healthcare insurance industry.
Who do you think these increased costs will be passed down to?
Will these taxes stimulate jobs formation, create incentives for innovative solutions, reduce total healthcare costs to consumers, and provide high quality healthcare coverage at a lower cost?
We get it President Obama. You cannot charm us anymore.