If you like it, you can keep it

Updated: Thursday, November 14 2013, 09:15 PM EST
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.

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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.
If you like it, you can keep it
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Last Update on April 24, 2014 07:31 GMT

WORLD MARKETS

TOKYO (AP) -- Asian shares lacked a clear direction today as players took a mostly wait-and-see view ahead of talks between Japan's prime minister and visiting President Barack Obama.

The focus is on what Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may say about negotiations on a wide-reaching trans-Pacific trade agreement, despite resistance from local interests on both sides to wiping out tariffs.

Sentiments on Asian markets were dampened by worries about the U.S. economy, highlighted by a surprise drop in new home sales as well as dismal earnings.

The pessimism overshadowed confirmation from the European Union that Greece achieved a primary surplus in 2013 -- what's left when interest payments are stripped out.

The dollar fell against the euro and was little changed against the yen.

Benchmark crude oil fell but remains above $101.50.

ECONOMY- THE DAY AHEAD

Major business and economic reports scheduled for today

WASHINGTON -- The government's weekly jobless claims report comes out today.

Also, the government will release March durable goods numbers and Freddie Mac will report weekly mortgage rates.

A slew of quarterly earnings reports will be released today.

Before the market opens, investors will hear from Aetna, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Altria Group, General Motors, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines, 3M , Caterpillar, Verizon, and UPS.

After the closing bell, Amazon.com, Starbucks, Visa and Microsoft will report their quarterly financial results.

EARNS-FACEBOOK

Facebook 1Q results soar; CFO to step down

NEW YORK (AP) -- Facebook's first-quarter earnings and revenue grew sharply, surpassing Wall Street's expectations thanks to an 82 percent increase in advertising revenue.

The social network says it earned $642 million, or 25 cents per share, in the January-March quarter, up from $219 million, or 9 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. Adjusted earnings were $885 million or 34 cents per share.

Facebook says its revenue was $2.5 billion, up 71 percent from $1.46 billion in the same period a year ago.

Analysts expected adjusted earnings of 24 cents per share on revenue of $2.36 billion.

Facebook says its finance chief, David Ebersman, is leaving on June 1 after five years. He'll be replaced by David Wehner, currently vice president of corporate finance and business planning.

EARNS-TEXAS INSTRUMENTS

DALLAS (AP) -- Texas Instruments is giving an upbeat forecast for the current quarter after the chipmaker's first-quarter profit rose 35 percent.

Texas Instruments makes semiconductors used in consumer devices and industrial equipment and is reducing its reliance on chips used in smartphones and tablets. The company said that revenue from chips that convert analog signals to digital ones and from embedded technology such as microcontrollers accounted for 84 percent of first-quarter sales. Both segments grew by double-digit percentages.

Meanwhile, revenue from everything else tumbled by 28 percent.

Net income was $487 million, or 44 cents per share, including a gain of 2 cents per share from a sale that the company had not included in previous guidance to investors. The results compared with year-ago profit of $362 million, or 32 cents per share. Revenue grew 3 percent to $2.98 billion.

For the second quarter, the company predicted that earnings would be between 55 cents and 63 cents per share on revenue of $3.14 billion to $3.40 billion.

CHINA-INDUSTRY REFORM

BEIJING (AP) -- China's government says it will open 80 projects in eight state-run industries to private and foreign investors as part of efforts to make its slowing economy more efficient.

The Cabinet announcement is the latest in a series of policy changes aimed at carrying out the ruling Communist Party's promises to give entrepreneurs and foreign investors a bigger role in the state-dominated economy.

The statement late Wednesday gave no indication whether private investors would be given any control over the newly opened industries, which include oil and hydro power.

Other industries cited by the statement were wind power, natural gas storage and distribution, solar power, coal, railways and port operations.

INTERNET NEUTRALITY

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Federal Communications Commission is set to propose new open Internet rules that would allow content companies to pay for faster delivery over the so-called "last mile" connection to people's homes.

The proposed rules also call for enhanced scrutiny of such deals so they don't harm competition or limit free speech.

That's according to a senior FCC official familiar with the matter who wasn't authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is to present the proposed rules to the other commissioners on Thursday.

The new rules are meant to replace the FCC's open Internet order from 2010, which was struck down by a federal appeals court in January.

While the older rules technically allowed for paid priority treatment, such dealings were discouraged.

TRAIN SAFETY-EMERGENCY ACTION

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The head of the National Transportation Safety Board says the Obama administration needs to take steps immediately to protect the public from potentially catastrophic oil train accidents even if it means using emergency authority.

Deborah Hersman, wrapping up a two-day forum on the rail transport of oil and ethanol, said the Transportation Department shouldn't wait for the usual federal rulemaking process to run its course. She urged regulators to use their authority to issue emergency orders or interim rules to bring about tougher standards for tank cars used to haul oil and ethanol.

She said the risks of such accidents are clear and waiting will only lead to a "higher body count."

Hersman praised Canadian authorities who announced Wednesday that they banning or phasing out older, more dangerous tank cars.

WAL-MART STORES-EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION

NEW YORK (AP) -- The pay of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s outgoing CEO fell 73 percent in 2013 because he didn't get stock awards that are given in anticipation of future performance as well as a lower performance-based bonus.

The world's largest retailer gave Mike Duke, 64, a compensation package worth about $5.6 million including a base salary of $1.4 million and a performance-based bonus of $2.8 million for the fiscal year that ended on Jan. 31.

Other compensation totaled $490,090, including retirement contributions and $144,586 for personal use of company aircraft.

The AP's calculation counts salary, bonuses, perks and stock and options awarded to the executive during the year.

COCA-COLA-BUFFETT

NEW YORK (AP) -- Warren Buffett says he disapproves of Coca-Cola's highly contested pay plan for its executives.

Buffett, the beverage maker's largest shareholder, called the plan "excessive" in an interview on CNBC after the plan was approved at the company's annual meeting.

But Buffett said Berkshire Hathaway abstained from voting against the pay plan because he believes in Coca-Cola's management and CEO Muhtar Kent.

The pay plan came under scrutiny after Wintergreen Advisers took public issue with it last month. Wintergreen CEO David Winters said the plan was a "raw deal" for shareholders that would transfer roughly $13 billion to management over the next four years. He urged Buffett to vote against the plan.

In a statement, Coca-Cola Co. says it respects Buffett's "philosophical stance on equity-based compensation."

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