Posted on: June 8, 2009 5:44 pm

While Obama picked his brackets the media slept

I have been quiet for too long....

Folks, I hate to be the one to say I told you so, but I told you so. Many people tried to tell you so, but you would not listen. Obama is going to raise your taxes. All of you are about to feel a tax increase that will hit us all hard. More to the point the folks in the less than $75K range will be crushed by the tax increase. Heck under $30 K will see a $2000 tax increase! All this to pay for ObamaCare, the national healthcare plan. These are the bread and butter folks that support Obama. Will they stand for being lied too?

People are going to flip out, folks. The Unions are going to flip out and turn on him. Average Americans are going to flip out and turn on him. 62% of Americans do not support this tax increase to pay for ObamaCare. This is the same proposal made by McCain during the campaign that was shredded by Obama as unAmerican, taxing your employer healthcare benefits, how dare you! Yet that is just what he and his Democrats in power are proposing.

And it appears the quality of our coverage, read that to mean the quality of your healthcare will reduce to a minimum standard as put forth by the GOVERNMENT, not your doctors. Read the attached article below and please tell me how you feel. If you voted for Obama, I want to hear you explain this. Please, I am all ears.

First he said he was going to undo Bush policies on torture, apply civil due process for detainees (can't call them terrorists) and war prosecution in the MidEast and Afganistan, yet Obama has continued or intensified the Bush policies in all cases! Anyone tired of being lied to?

The Article from MSNBC June 8

As part of a health insurance reform package now before Congress, some of the 164 million Americans who are covered by employer-provided health plans could be asked to give up at least part of the longstanding tax exemption granted to such compensation.

It’s an idea likely to be met with howls of opposition if it makes it into the final version of health insurance legislation that President Barack Obama is pushing.

The idea of limiting the tax break for employer-provided insurance gained momentum last week, when Obama told senators that he’d consider it as one ingredient of the  health insurance reform bill he wants Congress to pass by early August, when the Senate starts a one-month recess.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who conveyed Obama’s willingness to consider the idea after a White House meeting Tuesday, has said the tax treatment of employer-provided health insurance ought to be made "fairer and more equitable for everyone."

Will you end up with more taxable income?

While details of such an approach are still sketchy, it would likely involve employees paying tax on a percentage of their employer-provided health benefits. So if Congress decided that all such premiums in excess of $11,000 for family plans would be taxable income, and your company paid premiums worth $16,000 for your coverage, you’d have to pay taxes on $5,000. 

Obama’s new openness to the idea stands in contrast to what he said six months ago as a presidential candidate, when he harshly criticized his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, for proposing that employer-provided benefits should be taxed.

Scolding McCain in their debate on Oct. 15, Obama said, "This is your plan, John. For the first time in history, you will be taxing people's health-care benefits." Obama also pledged last year not to raise taxes for families making less than $250,000, and a health benefits tax, depending on how it was structured, could run afoul of that promise.

The tax exemption on employer-provided health insurance, which dates to 1943, has already survived one attempt to limit it.

An echo of Ronald Reagan

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan floated the idea of requiring workers to pay taxes on employer contributions to their health insurance exceeding $2,100 a year. A Washington Post editorial the following year called the proposal "surprisingly lucrative yet eminently fair," and speculated that "(it) might have helped hold down health care costs in the bargain." But opposition, especially from labor unions, scuttled the proposal.


Folks with an adjusted gross income of less than $10 grand would pay an average of $635 more in taxes a year, generating $3.6B.

Folks with an adjusted gross income of $10-30k would pay an average of $1952 more in taxes a year, generating $34.4B.

$30-50K would pay $2,457 morea year and generate $42.7 Billion.

$50-75K would pay $3,095 more a year and generate $46B.

$75-100K would pay $3,900 more a year and generate $37B.

$100-199K would pay $4,481 more a year and generate $48B.

$200-500K would pay $4,728 more a year and generate $11.6B.

Folks making over $500K would pay $4,467 more a year and generate $2.7B for the Federal Healthcare program.

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Obama’s new receptivity to the tax springs from the massive sums of money needed to pay for expanding health coverage to the uninsured.

Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors last week cited a figure of about $125 billion a year to insure the uninsured. But the president aims to do more than that. He also wants to subsidize the cost of coverage for lower-income people, subsidize COBRA coverage for those who lost their jobs and make other changes. MIT economist Jonathan Gruber told the Finance Committee last month that curbing the health insurance tax break was "both the most natural source of financing for health care reform" and "one of the few that is clearly large enough to finance the subsidies needed for reform."

According to the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, the Treasury misses out on $226 billion a year because employer spending on health insurance isn’t counted as taxable income.

That figure dwarfs any other potential health-related revenue sources that have been identified as possibilities to help fund the health care expansion. Among them are a 3-cent-per-can tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates would raise about $50 billion over 10 years, or increasing taxes on beer, wine and distilled liquor which, under one CBO scenario, would raise $60 billion over 10 years.

According to an analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation, curbing the tax break for employer-provided health insurance would primarily affect the wealthy, who "receive the greatest tax benefit from the exclusion from income." According to Gruber, "about three-quarters of these dollars go to the top half of the income distribution."

But opposition to the proposal may be as big a problem for Obama as it was for Reagan.

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey in April that asked whether workers "with the most generous health care benefits" should be required to pay taxes on their coverage found 52 percent of respondents opposed to the idea. Of those who currently have employer-sponsored health insurance, 62 percent opposed it. (The poll of 1,203 adults had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.)

Will Americans bridle at loss of tax break?

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce warned Baucus in a letter last month that workers view employer-provided insurance "as duly-earned income" that should be "protected from the tax collector. This perception perhaps explains why the president was so successful in campaigning against Senator McCain’s health reform proposal — Americans generally do not support tax increases."

The American Benefits Council, which represents principally Fortune 500 companies, is also opposed to the idea of limiting the tax break for employer-provided insurance.

"It is likely to lead to higher deductibles or co-pays, so there’s higher cost sharing" by workers, said the group’s health care spokesman, Paul Dennett. If Congress were to set the threshold for taxation of benefits at $13,000 for a family coverage plan, then employers "in order to help workers not face taxation, may offer coverage below that threshold. This is a course employers say they would likely take."

Reduction in health benefits?

Economist Elise Gould at the liberal think-tank the Economic Policy Institute gave a similar assessment. Employers would see the threshold for taxation as what the government deemed the target level for health benefits, she said. "Employers will respond by reducing the comprehensiveness of benefits. They’ll likely target premiums to fall below the (threshold) value or just at that value, so employees don’t have to pay those additional taxes." Corporate America also fears that a limit on the tax break for health insurance would create an administrative nightmare, especially for large firms with employees in different states who face widely varying health care costs. And opposition also remains strong among labor unions, which were big Obama backers in last year’s election.

Barbara Coufal, the assistant director of legislation at American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, said, "We don’t think we need to look inside the health care system to seek all the revenues we need for health care reform. Over the last 10 years, there have been a lot of tax breaks that have been given to the wealthy and to businesses. We maybe ought to look there and restore some equity." With momentum growing to enact some limit on the tax break for health benefits, increasing energy is being devoted to develop a workable taxation scheme.

Target upper-income Americans?

Gruber suggested the possibility of having a baseline so that only families with incomes above $125,000 per year would pay tax on their benefits. Gruber said this would still raise a lot of revenue: more than $40 billion a year if the cap were indexed to increases in the Consumer Price Index. But in its letter to Baucus, the Chamber of Commerce said that such a proposal might "foster class warfare by (repealing the exclusion) … for certain income earners and not affecting others." Baucus, a 30-year Senate veteran, knows the politics of this issue are delicate. Limiting the tax break for employer-provided health benefits has "got to be done in a very sensitive way, to make sure the limits are high enough," he was quoted as saying last Thursday by the Capitol Hill publication CQ Today. Yet if Congress changes the law so that the tax bite ends up hitting only the wealthy, it might not raise enough revenue to help pay for health insurance overhaul. "That’s the real dilemma," said Dennett, of the American Benefits Council. "The lower the threshold is set, then the lower the revenue gain — and the scramble would be on to find other revenue sources."

I feel better now.  Thanks.
Category: MLB
Tags: Yankees
Posted on: May 6, 2009 10:52 am

Another day in the jar

Arlen Specter pronounced that his former party's priorities killed Jack Kemp this past weekend. Arlen was quoted on CBS Sunday that (with regards to medical research), "...if we had pursued Nixon's call to war on cancer in the 1970's, Jack Kemp would be alive today." The presumption was he was talking about the funding for the National Institutes for Health. What is interesting is under the Republicans (Congress, White House or both) from 1994 to 2006 is the NIH budget more than doubled to around 25 billion annually. Wow! I suppose he is suggesting it should have been higher?

What is really interesting is the advances in medical techology , treatment and research are the result of even more private money through venture capitalists. In fact, in the same period of time, the US venture capitalist machine invested four times more heavily than the whole of the European Union. The reason given is the EU is more centralized and intolerant of risk whereas the Americans can offset the risk of the investment by making huge profits on the back end. To a large extent patients in the EU, Canada and Japan - where strict caps on spending for medical research exist - are free loading off the more open US Heathcare system.

Now that Democrats are looking to bring the same models of healthcare to the US shores the result will likely be more bureaucracies that try to contain costs by restricting access to new therapies by limiting or denying payment or even restricting what doctors are allowed to prescribe. The tragedy of the Universal Healthcare system is the lifesaving medicines that are never developed.

See Wall Street Journal for more.

Another interesting article in yesterday's WSJ was in regards to ethanol production in the US and the subsidies that are given to bait farmers into production. The pollution abatement from ethanol is real when you compare just the fuel to gasoline in a side by side test. However, when you include the environmental impact of farming to meet the needs (think volume) the pollution is double that of gasoline. Ooops!

And yet we proceed with more ethanol production. The chosen one has been deceived by his envirobuddies and he is pandering to the farmers. At least he is as transparent as he said he would be.

Obama's approval rating is still up around 70% or so we are told by the big media outlets. Typically these polls are 1000 people and have an error of +/- 4%. Last week MSNBC had a poll that asked respondents to grade Obama's first 100 days A-F. Incomplete was not an option even though it is the only correct answer. When last I checked the results, 350,000 folks had weighed in and the results were not 70% approval. Only 32% of voters graded him as an A with another 6% giving him a B. 39% gave him an F with 10% giving him a D. What is interesting is the bathtub shape to the distribution. If Obama seeks to make good on his promise to unite America he has sorely failed in his first 100 days. Clearly he needs to do more to reach across the aisle instead of proclaiming, "We won. Get over it!" or using reconciliation to avoid debate on tough issues like spending trillions on healthcare.

Another day in the jar.

Category: MLB
Posted on: April 21, 2009 2:08 pm

A modern day parable...

Amanda was a tall beautiful woman. She was young, athletic, terribly funny, charismatic and never wanting for friends. "Strangers were just friends she had not yet met," she liked to say. She could always see the best in people and gave everyone the benefit of the doubt when they were mean and nasty. "Perhaps they are just having a bad day," she would say. She always saw the silver lining and projected that to everyone around her. Of course her detractors thought she was inexperienced and naive. These had earned their pessimism no doubt the old fashioned way, taking it on the chin everyday in the real world. They admired Amanda and wished her well as she battled the negative in the daily world on eperson at a time.

Amanda met a new girl at work named Irina. She too was young, athletic, and beautiful. She was charistmatic to her small group of friends but she did not like Amanda at all. They simply had differing viewpoints on everything and Irina was heard to use words like "hate" and "get rid of" in her verbal attacks on Amanda. These attacks were right to her face or whenever she had an audience. Amanda's friends were in shock and tried to come to Amanda's defense but Irina focused her attacks only on Amanda.

Amanda had taken some courses in conflict managment so she thought she would use the techniques to find common ground with Irina and hopefully become friends with her or at the very least, to stop the terrible attacks. Her friends cautioned Amanda against this course, reminding her of Irina's visceral hatred toward her. They were concerned about how the attempt could turn confrontational. Amanda ignored them and pointed to the silver lining of solving the problem and becoming friends.

At the local watering hole after work, Amanda approached Irina and extended a hand in friendship. Irina did not take it. Amanda asked Irina what it was that made her dislike Amanda so much. Irina spat back, "Because of who your friends are and how you support them hurts me and my friends!" Amanda did not back away. She lowered her voice and asked for more specifics. Irina took to name calling and threatening Amanda with violence. Amanda extended her hand again only to be slapped in the process and further insulted. Amanda was shocked and finally moved away.

On the way back to her friends she was stopped by the barkeep, an old fella from Texas named George, who had heard the exchange with Irina. He laughed and said, "Watch that one Amanda, she is an evil witch.

"No, I refuse to believe that," she said. "There is good in everyone."

Her friend Izzy, joined Amanda at the bar and overheard the conversation with George. Izzy said, "Damn you sure are naive Amanda. You just can't reason with Irina. Look, I know how to deal with evil like her. We just have to go over there and kick her butt right there in front of her friends. And if you don't I will. It is the only way to get through to her."

Amanda just sat there sulking feeling like a fool for having been so naive to think she could make friends with a bitter illogical enemy.

Putting her rose colored glasses back on she thought maybe she could make friends with her other bitter rival Kora.

Again Izzy chimed in, "Amanda, do you realize how big a fool you are? And how weak Irina and Kora think you are? You need to take off those rose colored glasses and live in the real world where not everyone is nice and happy to be your friend."

Amanda said, "Maybe if I just go apologize one more time for whatever I did wrong."

Izzy cut her off, "I 'm going to go kick both of their backsides and then you can apologize for me, how's that?"





Category: MLB
Posted on: April 7, 2009 9:01 am
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Posted on: January 6, 2009 10:28 am

Smorgie licks another woman...

I had a very Merry Christmas and a great New Year's Eve and hope you all had similar if not better experiences. One of my resolutions this year is to seek out stupidity and call it out for all to see. My first installment in 2009 relays just such a stupid person.

While driving along in the Queen City last Friday evening I encountered a stupid person. I was driving along the I-275 beltway in Cincinnati approaching rush hour traffic in one of the interminable construction areas. Years ago I gave up driving fast in and around the city and have taken up the role of right lane slow driver. It is just easier and way less stressful, I recommend some of you with too much stress give it a try. Back to the story. I pulled into the left lane to pass some slower merging traffic which I went around in good time, but apparently I did not return to the right lane fast enough for the person behind me. This lady came along side and slowed, blew her horn and gave me the finger. Happy New Year to you I thought to myself. Oh well. Let it go, Cyndi. The woman moved on ahead of me.

At this point I had a great view of the back of her Toyota Prius. She had several bumper stickers that struck me as interesting and down right hilarious in retrospect. The one that caught my attention was a simple statement: Envision World Peace. Ironic that a woman who drives aggressively in her eco-green machine and flips people the bird, is interested in world peace don't you think? World Peace? How do you actually have world peace when people of different ethnic or religious or geographical demographics just don't like each other. Beyond reason or logic, it is just a visceral hatred. We can't even seem to love our neighbors here in the US.

The bumper continued to extoll its knowledge to those trailing in her dust. She had the Make Love Not War sticker. The Jan 20th End of an Error sticker - a big fan of Bush, not. An Obama 08 sticker was there.

As you all know when driving in traffic, you can swerve and pass all you want, in the end you never get very far. As it turned out, this peace loving road raged lady never got very far from me. In fact, the slow lane was moving a little faster and I ended up passing her. She actually swerved toward me as I drove past at all of 35 mph. I apparently had gotten under her skin rather badly with my correct driving. Let it go Cyndi.

The rest of the drive went rather uneventful and I arrived at my destination, a wonderful restaurant to celebrate a friends promotion within a local non profit organization (a charity). Amazingly, the lady in the Prius entered the parking lot right behind me. She was going to the same place! What a coincidence. Or wait....maybe she was really pissed at me and wanted to kick my butt! I didn't know which. She parked and went into the restaurant...it was just a coincidence. So I went in to meet my friend only to find the Prius woman sitting at the same table with an open seat on her left. Hugs and greetings for all of our friends. Pleasantries and introductions were exchanged for those who did not know everyone at the table. This is when I got to meet the Prius lady. She recognized me immediately. The look on her face was difficult to discern. Was she still angry at me? Was she embarrassed by her actions? Was she waiting for me to say something mean? Whatever it was, she was very uncomfortable. I only smiled and said it was nice to meet you. I took great pleasure in remaining cordial and nice to her all evening, I never let her know that I knew she was the lady who flipped me off only 20 minutes prior. She began to relax and the dinner and drinks came to a close. People were beginning to leave and the conversation died down. Eventually she and I were seperated from the others by a chair. So I turned to her and said, "So you are a peace advocate, huh? How do you expect to attain peace in the world when we don't even have peace in our own country?" The Prius lady was flustered and she stared at the table for a second or two. She looked me in the eye and apologized for her actions out on the roadway and I accepted it with no ill will. We continued our evening and she was really a nice person. She was smart and funny. She is devoted to Obama, which is okay by me, I respect that. We sparred back and forth over some of our political differences but ended the evening as friends. In parting I asked her what I did to warrant the rage on the road out there on the way to the restaurant, not trying to rub her nose in it but to truly understand what I did. She said I was just in her way, she was late for this meeting with her friend.

She apologized again and I told her not to worry about and thanked her for her honest answer.

Looking back I wonder how often we all get so wrapped up in ourselves that we begin to look at those neighbors around us as only hinderances to our own progress. I looked inside myself too. I admit I lose sight of the what is really important , too. I just hope I can keep reminding myself that the person in the next car is a person with a family, with desires and wants, with ideas and beliefs, and with hopes and dreams.

World peace? Let's start with peace in America first. It begins with each one of us living the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. Stop the road rage, stop the bird flipping. Drive safely for your sake and that of your family. Respect each other.  In the words of Bill and Ted, "Be excellent to each other."

If she ever flips me off again, though, I am calling the cops!!

Posted on: May 21, 2008 3:22 pm

Chatter on the diamond translated to the bedroom

We have all played baseball or softball or at least watched a movie about kids playing ball.  So it is safe to assume we have all heard the coach yell, "Talk it up out there!!!"   Followed by a cacophony of taunts, chants, annoying barbs meant to distract, and pure old noise which causes the parents to wince or groan. I went to a game to watch my nephew play baseball.  He is so cute in his little uniform, but I digress.  I heard, "Hey batter, batter, batter, swing batter!"   "Swings like a rusty gate."  "He's got the bat on her shoulder!"  "You got it, you got it, hum it baby!"  Now that last one got my attention.  I began to notice similarities between this juvenile chants and some of the demands I have heard (given) in the bedroom.  And I wondered if it was my imagination which has been known to frequent the gutter.   A devilish smile found my face and sat down for a while.

I began to think about my sex coach yelling, "Talk it up out there!"  What would I say?  My favorite right now, "You got it, hum it babe!"

I am sure you can all contribute something to this tawdry blog.  The winning responses will get used the next time I get home.  I will let you know how it is received.  Nothing that would require I delete your entry, please!


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com