What is interesting to note is that we elected (some of) these people, and we pay (some of) their salaries. We have only our selves to blame.
Not all those unclear being raked over here are professional politicians. That is, some have never held public office and have not previously been on the public dole. However, if you run for office, ta-da, you’re a politician. Welcome to the club.
So what’s wrong with politicians these days? Same as before. Same as always. If not outright liars, a typical politician is often unclear of that about which he speaks. This includes women politicians, in case I left that unclear. I will start with last night’s political debate in Manchester, New Hampshire. The Associated Press performed some painful fact checking, disclosing a considerable lack of clarity. I will summarize:
DONALD TRUMP: “Right now, we’re the highest taxed country in the world.”
The AP fact checkers(Josh Boak and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar plus Alicia A. Caldwell, Deb Riechmann, Eric Tucker and Vivian Salama) beg to disagree. Here is how some countries stack up with respect to taxes stated as a fraction of the GDP:
- United States — 26.9%
- Sweden — 45.8%
- United Kingdom — 39%
- Spain — 37.3%
- Israel — 36.8%
- Italy — 42.6%
- Germany — 40.6%
- France — 44.6%
The list goes on. Maybe Mr. Trump is thinking about only countries on the North American Continent. Like Panama and others:
- Panama — 10.6%
- Mexico — 19.7%
But there is:
- Canada — 32.2%
Does Mr. Trump live in the United States? Does Mr. Trump pay any taxes? The world wonders. The world wonders whether Mr. Trump is stupid or dishonest. The truth be known, I prefer a dishonest person. You can reason with them.
The AP further reports the following from Texas Senator Ted Cruz:
CRUZ, defending his vow to deport 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally: “I would note that in eight years Bill Clinton deported 12 million people. In eight years George Bush deported 10 million people. Enforcing the law. We can do it.”
THE FACTS: Statistics from Immigration and Customs Enforcement show that roughly 1.6 million were deported under Bush, not 11 million. Under Clinton, about 870,000 immigrants were deported, not 12 million, according to the Migration Policy Institute. So far, about 2.4 million have been deported under the Obama administration.
To get the swollen figures, Cruz appears to be combining deportations with arrests made by the Border Patrol in the previous administrations, according to the institute.
Enough said about that. Again, I prefer a liar to a fool.
Trump again. From the AP story:
TRUMP: “The insurance companies are getting rich on Obamacare.”
Not quite, according to the AP fact checkers. A closer read of the facts reveals a different story. In particular, the ACA has not been kind to the insurance industry, and that’s a failing of President Obama’s key piece of legislation. The ACA depends on private insurers, not on the federal government, and if it doesn’t work for the insurers, it’s not going to work in the long run.
The facts are these: United Health is the largest participant and has been losing money with the ACA exchanges. It will now decide whether to continue its participation. Number two, Anthem, made money, but profits are less than hoped for.
Aetna is having the bad experience of people signing up late. They apparently sign up late because:
- They fail to sign up initially because they are not having any health problems that require insurance coverage.
- At the onset of an ailment requiring insurance they sign up and suck on the insurance company to cover their expenses.
- The ones who failed to sign up originally and never suffer any medical expenses never sign up and do not pay into the premium pool.
Full disclosure: Aetna carries my medical insurance under Medicare.
The AP reports that 12 of the 23 nonprofit insurers working under the ACA have gone out of business. The insurance business relies on the following:
- Everybody pays premiums.
- People suffering a loss draw on the insurance company’s funds.
- People who do not suffer a loss pay the same premiums as those who do, subsidizing the others.
The ACA is supposed to cover the expenses of those who do not pay premiums by levying a fine on those who do not. A Supreme Court ruling in 2012 held that this “fine” was actually a tax, which the federal government has the power to assess, in this case by way of the ACA. How the government reimburses insurance providers that are shafted by late subscribers is not clear to me. What is important is to keep the insurance companies participating in the plan, and one way to do that is to ensure they do not lose money. In on respect, Mr. Trump is correct. The insurance companies are supposed to make money under the ACA. A key to getting the legislation passed in the first place was the support of the industry. If the insurance industry does not make money, then support for the ACA will swiftly erode.
Regarding Mr. Trump, I was hoping here for a liar rather than a fool. The nation can tolerate a liar in the White House. A fool is another matter.
The AP reports that Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey made the following declaration:
The president and his former secretary of state are for paying ransoms for hostages. When (you) do that, you endanger even more Americans around the world to be the subject of this type of hostage-taking and illegal detention.
There must be something in the drinking water in New Jersey, because neither the AP fact checkers nor I nor anybody else on this planet have found anything to substantiate this assertion. Hopefully the Governor is merely lying out of the other side of his face.
Senator Cruz again:
We will adopt commonsense reforms, No. 1, we’ll allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines that will drive down prices and expand the availability of low-cost catastrophic insurance.
Nah! That’s never going to happen. Insurance companies are regulated on a state-by-state basis, and state regulators are never going to tolerate the government of a rogue state setting the insurance policies for people of their state. It is quite possible that in this matter Senator Cruz has crossed over the line separating the liar and the fool. That does not speak well for the people of Texas who elected him in 2012.
Senator Marco Rubio seemed to be confused about the religiosity of Kurd fighters. He seemed not to realize the Kurds are predominately Sunni. All right! This is a point that was not clear even to me. However, Senator Rubio is a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence. This assignment should require some deep knowledge of foreign affairs. This may be another case of a politician crossing that odious line between the liar and the fool.
Senator Cruz again:
When I say saturation carpet bombing, that is not indiscriminate. That is targeted at oil facilities. It’s targeted at the oil tankers… It’s using overwhelming air power.
Hopefully, should Senator Cruz ever become President Cruz, somebody will sidle up next to him and fill him in on the military definition of carpet bombing. We can dream.
This account was drawn from a debate among Republican candidates. Do I believe Democrats have similar issues? Does Cruz pray on his knees? I will have the lowdown on Clinton and Sanders and more in a future post.
Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.