Rethinking Obamacare

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 12:38 AM EDT
Rethinking Obamacare story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, is in the cross hairs of just about everyone who has spoken at the Republican National Convention thus far.

It could very likely come up again as Mitt Romney formally accepts his party's nomination for President with a speech to the nation.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe wonders if Obamacare's supporters AND detractors know for sure what they're even talking about.


That idea was offered yesterday at lunch with three friends after we'd finished a round of golf.

One of them is an economic conservative, the second quite liberal across the board, and the third a committed advocate of the tea party.

Weird, I know, but true.

Because we're all getting older now, our conversation turned to health care, the Affordable Care Act, and Canada's system.

After a few minutes, the tea party guy held up his hands, palms out, and said, "Wait a minute. The truth is, none of us really knows what the hell we're talking about."

After a few moments reflection, we all nodded our heads and reluctantly agreed that, the details are so many and so confusing and so often contradictory, he was right. We really didn't.

So, after some research last night, here's what I learned. I don't know for sure if Obamacare is the answer, but we'd better do something. And fast.

I often hear that our health care system is the best in the world. But if that's true why do we spend so much--$8,000, per capita far more than any other country in the world, while ranking only 50th in life expectancy and infant mortality rates?

We rank behind countries like Singapore and Greece and Hong Kong and South Korea, even Cuba. Yet, we spend more than 18 percent of our GDP on health care.

I know that in the days after the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare in June, a number of Americans cluelessly tweeted that they were so angry, they were going to move to Canada until the political winds here in the U.S. changed. Not the best place to run to to escape socialized medicine.

Canada. I know that in the 60's, the cries of outrage against Canada's concept of universal health care was the lead story almost daily in in newspapers there.

It would bring the country to its knees, critics said. It was, if there is such a word, un-Canadian. Canadian doctors fought it tooth and nail. In other words, it was a lot like here, now.

But 45 years later, a recent poll reveals that 82 percent of all Canadians—across all demographics--prefer their system to ours. 82 percent!

We can't get that many people in this country to say they prefer sunny days.

Fact is, only 25 percent of Americans, a couple of years ago, had kind things to say about our healthcare system.

Fact is, we're paying tons of money in this country for healthcare that's too expensive and, for the "best system in the world," just isn't getting the job done.

A few years ago, the CBC asked Canadians to choose the greatest Canadian in history.

Hockey player Wayne Gretzky made the list. So did former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone.

But the winner was none other than Tommy Douglas.

He was a Canadian politician and the father of his country's universal health care.

They're doing something right up there, eh?

So, if the only reason you'd vote for Mitt Romney is to get rid of Obamacare, it wouldn't hurt to give it some thought.

That's all I'm saying.

In this corner... I'm Tom Van Howe.
Rethinking Obamacare
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Business News

Last Update on April 24, 2014 17:31 GMT


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits surged 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 329,000 last week, though the gain likely reflected temporary layoffs in the week before Easter.

The Labor Department says the four-week average of applications, a less volatile number, rose 4,750 to 316,750. The four-week average fell two weeks ago to its lowest level since October 2007, two months before the recession began.

Applications can be volatile around Easter, because many school systems temporarily lay off bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other employees during spring break. Some of those workers file for unemployment benefits.

Despite the volatility, applications have generally been declining in recent months, a hopeful sign for the job market. Three weeks ago, applications fell to 301,000, the lowest level in nearly seven years.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Orders to U.S. factories for long-lasting manufactured goods posted a solid gain for the second straight month in March. A key category that signals business investment plans increased at the fastest pace in four months.

The Commerce Department says that orders for durable goods increased 2.6 percent in March following a 2.1 percent rise in February. Those back-to-back gains followed two big declines in December and January which had raised concerns about possible weakness in manufacturing.

Demand for core capital goods, considered a good guide for business investment plans, rose 2.2 percent in March after a 1.1 percent drop in February. It was the best showing since a 3 percent rise in November.

Manufacturing seems to be recovering after a cold winter disrupted business activity.


TOKYO (AP) -- Talks between the United States and Japan on a Pacific Rim trade pact have halted for now without any resolution in sight, spoiling plans for a showcase deal during President Barack Obama's visit to Tokyo.

Economy minister Akira Amari, Japan's top negotiator, said too many issues remained unresolved and further working-level talks will be needed to reach a market-opening pact as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Amari told reporters Thursday that no end was in sight. He described the negotiations as in a "tough situation."

The two sides had hoped to proclaim a broad agreement or at least significant progress during Obama's visit, which ends Friday.

A Japan-U.S. deal is seen as crucial for talks among the other 10 countries participating in the U.S.-led initiative to move ahead.


DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors says first-quarter profit fell 86 percent as a series of recalls dragged down its earnings.

GM had a net profit of $125 million, the company's worst quarterly performance since it posted a net loss after leaving bankruptcy protection in 2009.

The Detroit automaker says it took a $1.3 billion charge for recalling about 7 million vehicles worldwide. The company also incurred $300 million in restructuring costs, mostly in Europe. And it took a $419 million charge due to a change in the way it values Venezuela's currency.

GM made 6 cents per share, down from 58 cents per share a year ago.

Excluding one-time items, GM made 29 cents per share, far above Wall Street estimates of 3 cents per share.


Caterpillar 1Q profit climbs 5 pct, forecast rises

Caterpillar's first-quarter earnings climbed 5 percent and the construction equipment maker raised its 2014 forecast. But the company also says a mining equipment sales slump is still hurting results.

The Peoria, Ill., company says it now expects 2014 earnings of $6.10 per share excluding restructuring costs. That's up from its previous forecast for $5.85 per share.

Analysts expect $5.72 per share, on average.

Caterpillar Inc. says it earned $922 million, or $1.44 per share, in the quarter that ended March 31. That compares to $880 million, or $1.31 per share, last year.

Earnings totaled $1.61 per share, excluding restructuring costs. Total revenue was nearly flat at $13.24 billion.

Analysts forecast earnings of $1.21 per share on $13.09 billion in revenue.


DALLAS (AP) -- First-quarter revenue at UPS slumped 12 percent as winter storms increased costs for the shipping giant and cut into its revenue.

The Atlanta company says the rough start to the year means that full-year earnings will come in at the low end of earlier forecasts.

UPS posted earnings of $911 million, or 98 cents per share, well short of the $1.08 that Wall Street was looking for, and less than the $1.04 billion, or $1.08 per share, it reported a year earlier.

UPS says winter storms reduced operating profit by $200 million as costs rose.

Revenue rose 2.6 percent to $13.78 billion, but that's still shy of the $13.91 billion that analysts had forecast.


DALLAS (AP) -- Even with the turbulence of severe winter storms and stubbornly high fuel prices, many of the major airlines are cruising and their stock prices are soaring.

On Thursday, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines reported record profits for the first quarter, usually the weakest time of year for the airlines. That followed a rousing report from Delta Air Lines a day earlier.

Still stuck on the tarmac: United Airlines. While rivals were making money, United lost another $609 million during the first three months of the year.

The No. 2 airline company behind American, United Continental Holdings Inc. is struggling to make the 2010 merger of United and Continental work. As costs rise, United is taking in less per mile from passengers -- it's not charging fares high enough to cover expenses.

"This quarter's financial performance is well below what we can and should achieve," conceded United Chairman and CEO Jeff Smisek. He said the airline is taking steps to fix its operations and service to boost financial results.


ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The frugality of the Great Recession may be history.

Orbitz senior editor Jeanenne Tornatore (jeh-NEEN' TOR'-nah-tor) says the travel website's survey finds 88 percent of Americans plan real vacations this year. She says "people don't talk staycation anymore," as was popular a few years ago. This year's survey finds "people really getting back out, taking these longer vacations and kind of trading up for some bigger destinations."

Tornatore says Orbitz bookings show the Mexican resort of Cancun as the top destination, but most of the other hot spots for fun-seekers are in the U.S. -- with Las Vegas, Orlando, Seattle and Los Angeles rounding out the top five, and Honolulu ranks tenth.

Average airfares are up about six percent from a year ago, according to Tornatore. She urges vacation travelers to shop around for deals, and use rewards points -- they can save big time.

Tornatore says mid-June through late July is the peak summer vacation period, and you should get airline tickets about 60 days in advance. She says if you're planning your vacation during that busy period, "you really want to book now."


LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The Mandalay Bay resort in Las Vegas is planning a $66 million expansion that will boost its convention center from the seventh-largest to the fifth-largest in America.

Company officials said Thursday that the 350,000 square feet of new exhibit space will help it attract larger trade shows, and will allow events already there to expand.

The convention center will hit 2 million total square feet after the expansion, putting it behind only McCormick Place in Chicago, the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Expo that's also in Las Vegas.

Construction is scheduled to begin late this year and wrap up in January 2016.

Las Vegas hosted 53 of the nation's 250 largest trade shows last year, more than any other U.S. city.

Washington Times