As they say it's all over but the crying. Well, healthcare reform will be here just in time for Christmas as long as the House and Senate can agree on a few things, including the public option and the abortion issue. Because of all the wrangling and backroom deals it's hard to imagine that party leadership will ask for major concessions from Senators, many of who realize they are committing political suicide and will need jobs from the administration after next year's elections. But one has to wonder how many ambassadorships there are to be given out after voters give these people their long overdue pink slips. The vote to get the bill through this last leg of the process is known as cloture. The word is French for closure, to bring debate to a quick end, and is also called guillotine.
How appropriate because a guillotine was used this year to shut up critics, change laws, give some take breaks here, create some tax hikes there, and more than anything else slice the tongues of those that dared to stand up for their rights. Tea party goers were dismissed as racists and ignorant, and as it turns out they know more about the constitution and care more about this nation than most of the politicians I've met. People that objected to the design of healthcare reform were portrayed as heartless even though their concern revolved around passion for their children and grandchildren paying for a flawed legislation that simply isn't honest about cost. Ironically, the President got a pyrrhic victory at best; without the public option the bill wasn't nearly as socialistic as it could have been although it's nothing to cheer about. The process was hardball stuff that saw rules and civility tossed out the window.
The process, in the end, became a farce. Votes were bought and paid for at the expense of hard working Americans who are once again getting hammered in the wallet. The goodies keep coming out like the string of liaisons by that famous golfer, and yet so many in the media are shielding the news. The sad thing is that this is a betrayal of the nation. In the end, this revolutionary healthcare reform is just another massive entitlement program that will cost trillions of dollars more than advertised. In the end, this was just about control. In the end, it was all about beating an artificial timeline that will become part of campaign material down the road. It's a disgrace. The whole process stinks, and I'm glad that it's over for now, but also glad the American public rose up out of the sea of indifference because the original timeline had this reform going through by July 4 with a robust public option.
The plan is still filled with pork, taxes, and a shaky payment plan. By the way, what the heck is the deal with the 10% tax on indoor sun tanning salons? By the way, according to Scott Hodge, President of The Tax Foundation, the $2.7 billion that is supposed to be raised by this take amounts to $11,000 for every tanning parlor. Talk about a tax hike on small businesses and the middle class! There were promises made during the campaign about not taxing people that make less than $200,000. Those same promises were echoed in the President's first address to Congress. Those promises have been shattered. Those promises lay on the ground like a melon sliced by a guillotine. Like the broken hearts of people that just wish the greatness of this nation wasn't under attack.
The Overworked Straw
For years I used to say that America was the straw that stirred the global economic drink, and that was always true, except this year. When Time magazine put the Chinese worker on its short list of "Persons of the Year" the statement was clear, even though the more compelling story is the unemployed American worker. The point is that while we have been saddled with a stimulus plan that has to be touted and re-sold over and over again rather than letting results speak for themselves, China has been a machine. For the longest time experts were saying that the numbers were fudged, but now those same people say the growth is unsustainable and tapping the brakes could see the whole thing derailed.
Yes, the reads on personal income and spending were below consensus estimates ever so slightly. However, the results received were positive considering we are at 10.0% plus unemployment (17.5% underemployment) and headed into a year of many unknowns. Personal spending has now been positive for two consecutive months, rising 0.5% in November (consensus: +0.7%) after increasing 0.3% in October. Personal income came in 0.4% higher (consensus: +0.5%), paced by gains in all components; goods producing, manufacturing, services, government. The personal savings rate held steady month to month at 4.7%. Consumers continue to rework their balance sheets, paying down debt and boosting savings. Ultimately, this course of action will set the foundation for a stronger recovery in GDP long-term.