If you like it, you can keep it

Updated: Friday, November 15, 2013
If you like it, you can keep it story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A quiet piece of legislation from a West Michigan Congressman turned Washington on its head Thursday in the ongoing debate over the Affordable Care Act.

Congressman Fred Upton's bill to hold President Barack Obama to his promise that "if you like your health care you can keep your health care," instead inspired the President today to do in a more casual way what Upton wanted to make him do by law.

Tonight in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says it's not much of a fix.

=====================

A politician woke up to find himself at the pearly gates, face to face with a panel of robed figures at a large table studying a set of books.

He waited until they looked up and said to him, "you've got an amazing record here. From what we can tell...just about everything you've said over the past 20 years has been a lie."

The politician smiled, looked at them with confidence, and said, "those weren't lies...that's what we call 'spin.'"

The joke doesn't inspire much of a laugh because its rooted so firmly in what we now see as a sad reality.

So when President Obama on at least 12 occasions said, "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it. Period," you have no reason to disbelieve him, until you learn that it wasn't true.

Just not true. Millions of policy holders have been told they've been or are about to be canceled.

When House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted today that five-million people have signed up for Obamacare, you have no reason to disbelieve her until you find that its not true.

Only 126,000 have done so, and only a fifth of them through the Obamacare website.

And when HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the overseer of this disastrous, trust-destroying roll-out, said yesterday that the healthcare marketplace "is working," you have no reason to disbelieve her until...well...you get it.

So when Congressman Upton filed what he calls the "Keep Your Health Care Act," still scheduled for a vote in the House tomorrow, it struck fear into the heart of the Obama administration.

Because there's no spin.

This quiet little bill, forcing the President by law to keep his promise, has the potential to do what 42 Congressional efforts have so far failed to do—to knock the Obamacare train right off its tracks.

All it wants is to help the millions who don't know what to do now for replacement coverage. In the process it would provide people with an escape from Obamacare. And simply put, if people can escape Obamacare, the plan will ultimately not work.

How insurance companies reverse that they've already done isn't clear.

But that's why Obama held his news conference today—to say he was going to fix the problem administratively.

That the Upton bill wasn't necessary. The problem is an "administrative adjustment" has no force of law. It was also, by the way, an effort by the President to take the heat off a growing number of democrats who are distancing themselves from the whole mess.

In the words of former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, as reported in the Washington Post today..."It offends that a politician would lie to me when he knows that I know that he's lying—because it makes me think that he thinks that I'm a fool."

For me, personally, this debacle is particularly tragic because I believe so strongly that our nation needs a national health care plan. I've got my fingers crossed. But I'm not holding by breath.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on August 29, 2014 17:14 GMT

CONSUMER SPENDING

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer spending fell in July, with a drop in auto purchases accounting for most of the weakness. Income growth also slowed in July.

The Commerce Department says consumer spending edged down 0.1 percent last month after a 0.4 percent increase in June. It was the first decline in spending since January. Income growth slowed to a 0.2 percent rise in July, the weakest showing in seven months.

The fall in spending came primarily from a decline in auto sales, which took a breather in July after posting big gains in recent months, although spending in other areas was also weak.

Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity, so it needs to recover for the economy to keep its momentum in the second half of the year.

CONSUMER SENTIMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer sentiment ticked up in August, driven by greater optimism about jobs, rising incomes, and increasing wealth. The increase largely occurred among higher-income groups.

The University of Michigan says its index of consumer sentiment rose to 82.5 from 81.8 in July. Still, it has barely risen in the past year.

Consumers have sent mixed signals in recent months. The Michigan index has fluctuated between 80 and 82.5 since December. A measure of consumer confidence by the Conference Board rose this month to nearly a seven-year high. And yet Americans cut back their spending in July.

Nearly 60 percent of households in the top third of income earners say they are financially better off this month, the Michigan survey found, compared with only 36 percent in the bottom two-thirds.

US-FIAT-CHRYSLER

DETROIT (AP) -- U.S. investors should soon be able to buy stock in Chrysler for the first time in seven years.

Italy's Fiat and Chrysler are merging to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Fiat says Friday that an ongoing tally of investors suggests there is not enough opposition to derail the deal.

Earlier this month, Fiat shareholders approved combining the companies. But Italian law gives dissenters the right to cash out. Fiat has said that if investors offered more than 500 million euros ($650 million) in shares, the merger would be off.

Fiat SpA will announce the final tally by Sept. 4. So far the maximum number of shares to be cashed is below the cap.

Shares of Chrysler haven't been publicly traded since 2007 when it was still combined with German automaker Daimler.

REYNOLDS AMERICAN-LORILLARD

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Federal regulators are putting Reynolds American Inc.'s planned $25 billion takeover of rival cigarette maker Lorillard Inc. under the microscope.

The nation's second-biggest tobacco company said Friday that the Federal Trade Commission has asked for additional information as part of an antitrust review of the deal.

In July, Reynolds announced the deal to combine two of the nation's oldest and biggest tobacco companies, creating a formidable No. 2 to rival Altria Group Inc., owner of Philip Morris USA.

Reynolds markets Camel, Pall Mall and Natural American Spirit cigarettes. Lorillard sells Newport, Maverick and Kent cigarettes.

The companies plan to sell the Kool, Salem, Winston, Maverick and blu eCig brands to Imperial Tobacco Group for $7.1 billion to ease regulatory concerns about competition.

HEALTH OVERHAUL-TAX FORMS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The federal agency that brought you the glitchy HealthCare.gov website has a massive new project.

If the Health and Human Services department has trouble this time, that could delay tax refunds for many people.

Complicated connections between the new health care law and income taxes will start to surface in 2015.

HHS has to send millions of people who got health insurance tax credits this year a new tax form that's like a W-2 for health care. It's called a 1095-A.

If they're delayed beyond Jan. 31, people who got coverage through the new insurance exchanges may have to wait to file their taxes -- and collect their refunds.

Some tax preparation companies are worried.

The Obama administration says it's on task, but won't provide much detail.

EUROPE-ECONOMY

BRUSSELS (AP) -- Inflation has fallen to an annual 0.3 percent in August for the 18 countries that use the euro, underlining the shakiness of the continent's economic recovery.

Eurostat, the EU statistics agency, says the figure is down from 0.4 percent in July, as expected by market analysts.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy, sent a modestly brighter signal as it rose to 0.9 percent from 0.8 percent.

The eurozone economy showed no growth in the second quarter as fears about the Ukrainian crisis weighed on consumers and investment decisions.

The European Central Bank has warned that inflation expectations are worsening and says it will add more stimulus if needed. Many analysts are predicting the bank will launch large-scale purchases of financial assets to pump more money into the economy.

BRAZIL-ECONOMY

SAO PAULO (AP) -- Brazil's government says the country's gross domestic product contracted 0.6 percent in the second quarter compared with the previous three months, sending the country's economy into a recession.

The government's IBGE statistics bureau said Friday it was the second consecutive quarterly contraction of the economy.

In the first quarter of the year, GDP was reported as having grown 0.2 percent. But that figure was revised downward to minus 0.2 percent.

The IBGE says the country's GDP stands at 1.27 trillion reals ($567 billion).

advertisement
Washington Times
advertisement