–Read how debt-hysteria destroys American medicine

The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology. Those, who do not understand monetary sovereignty, do not understand economics. Cutting the federal deficit is the most ignorant and damaging step the federal government could take. It ranks ahead of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff.

Last Wednesday, 11/24/10, I posted America’s future if the debt hawks have their way. It told about the misery Ireland, not being monetarily sovereign now will suffer. The other EU nations, that also surrendered their monetary sovereignty, i.e Portugal, Greece, Italy, France et al, eventually will meet the same fate.

Sadly, though the U.S. is monetarily sovereign, and so can create unlimited dollars to service any size debt, our leaders do not understand the concept. In the name of “fiscal prudence,” we suffer at the hands of ignorance. Here are excerpts from an article (Doctors say Medicare cuts force painful decision) about elderly patients, demonstrating the harm debt-hawks do to our families and to us.

By N.C. Aizenman, Washington Post Staff Writer, Friday, November 26, 2010; 12:02 AM

“Want an appointment with kidney specialist Adam Weinstein of Easton, Md.? If you’re a senior covered by Medicare, the wait is eight weeks.

“How about a checkup from geriatric specialist Michael Trahos? Expect to see him every six months: The Alexandria-based doctor has been limiting most of his Medicare patients to twice yearly rather than the quarterly checkups he considers ideal for the elderly. Still, at least he’ll see you. Top-ranked primary care doctor Linda Yau is one of three physicians with the District’s Foxhall Internists group who recently announced they will no longer be accepting Medicare patients.

“’It’s not easy. But you realize you either do this or you don’t stay in business,’ she said.

“Doctors across the country describe similar decisions, complaining that they’ve been forced to shift away from Medicare toward higher-paying, privately insured or self-paying patients in response to years of penny-pinching by Congress.

“And that’s not even taking into account a long-postponed rate-setting method that is on track to slash Medicare’s payment rates to doctors by 23 percent Dec. 1. Known as the Sustainable Growth Rate and adopted by Congress in 1997, it was intended to keep Medicare spending on doctors in line with the economy’s overall growth rate. But after the SGR formula led to a 4.8 percent cut in doctors’ pay rates in 2002, Congress has chosen to put off the ever steeper cuts called for by the formula ever since.

“This month, the Senate passed its fourth stopgap fix this year – a one-month postponement that expires Jan. 1. The House is likely to follow suit when it reconvenes next week, and physicians have already been running print ads, passing out fliers to patients and flooding Capitol Hill with phone calls to convince Congress to suspend the 25 percent rate cut that the SGR method will require next year.”

Debt-hawks tell us that by reducing the federal deficit, they protect our children and grandchildren. But in fact, they condemn our children, grandchildren and us to more costly medical services, fewer doctors, nurses and hospitals, as well as to lower paying Social Security, poorer roads and bridges, a less-equipped military, worse schools and indeed less of every benefit our monetarily sovereign government easily is able to pay for.

Yes, the EU nations were foolish to surrender their ability to control their money supply. That control is one of the prime duties of any government. But we are even more foolish not to understand that we have that control, yet we neglect to use it.

Our leaders fear deficits, not realizing that “federal deficit” merely is a synonym for “money created this year.” Rather than being a negative, it’s a positive; it’s an absolute necessity.

Our leaders fear “federal debt” (which contrary to popular belief is not the total of deficits, but rather the total of outstanding T-securities). Federal debt could be eliminated by the simple act of no longer creating and selling T-securities. They became obsolete in 1971, the end of the gold standard. It is difficult to understand why Congress believes we must borrow the dollars we previously created and have the unlimited ability to create.

Our leaders fear ” uncontrollable inflation.” They do not understand we are so far from uncontrollable inflation that since we went of the gold standard, there has been no relationship between federal spending and inflation, . Further, our leaders don’t realize inflation easily can be controlled by raising interest rates, which is exactly how the Fed has controlled inflation all these years.

By what logic could these fears and the resultant actions, be considered “prudent” or “protecting our grandchildren”?

“Among the top points of contention is the complaint by doctors that Medicare’s payment rate has not kept pace with the growing cost of running a medical practice. As measured by the government’s Medicare Economic Index, those expenses rose 18 percent from 2000 to 2008. During the same period, Medicare’s physician fees rose 5 percent.

“’Physicians are having to make really gut-wrenching decisions about whether they can afford to see as many Medicare patients, said Cecil Wilson, president of the American Medical Association.’”

Of course, not all doctors are suffering. To continue quoting the article:

“On average, primary-care doctors make about $190,000 a year, kidney specialists $300,000, and radiologists close to $500,000, figures that reflect the income doctors receive from both Medicare and non-Medicare patients. The disparity has prompted concern that Medicare is contributing to a growing shortage of primary doctors.”

Whether an average income of $190,000 per year is enough to entice the thousands more doctors we need annually, to endure and pay for many years of post-graduate and internship is debatable. The article quoted one doctor:

”’I graduated medical school $100,000 in debt. I worked 110 hours a week during my residency for $30,000 a year and sacrificed all through my 20s. And even now, you’re still seeing people all day, with meetings and paperwork at night, on top of the emotional side of worrying when the patients you care for aren’t doing well. This is life-and-death stuff. And I feel like that should be compensated.’”

Many doctors have begun to restrict the number of Medicare patients, either by refusing to accept Medicare or by demanding annual fees (boutique doctors).

And the misery rolls down hill. I, who am on Medicare, received this note from Blue Cross, the supplementary insurance I pay for, because Medicare doesn’t pay enough: ‘Effective January 1, 2011, the deductibles and coinsurance amounts for Medicare Parts A and B will increase, which will result in Medicare paying less toward hospital and medical services next year. To compensate for Medicare’s changes, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois will automatically update its coverage. ‘Update’ is a euphemism for ‘charge more’.”

So this is the way the debt hawks protect our children and our grandchildren. As medical costs increase, Medicare payments decrease. Our families will have fewer doctors from which to choose, receive less service and pay more. And all because of the false belief our monetarily sovereign government can’t afford to pay for America’s health care.

Watch the EU nations slide into poverty and know that is the future awaiting us. And know whom to blame.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity. Those who say the stimulus “didn’t work” remind me of the guy whose house is on fire. A neighbor runs with a garden hose and starts spraying, but the fire continues. The neighbor wants to call the fire department, which would bring the big hoses, but the guy says, “Don’t call. As you can see, water doesn’t put out fires.”

–Health care: The tragic misunderstanding

An alternative to popular faith

On March 20, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial, “The ObamaCare Crosswords” said, “The Congressional Budget Office estimates ObamaCare will cost taxpayers $200 billion per year when fully implemented and grow annually at 8% . . . Soon the public will reach its taxing limit . . . medicine will be rationed by politics. . .

On March 22nd, the Chicago Tribune editorialized, “The health care reform legislation would raise, not lower, federal deficits by $562 billion . . .(there is time) to craft a more sensible compromise that extends health care coverage to more people without breaking the bank.”

Which bank? Do you mean the federal government, which has increased its debt in the past 30 years an astounding 1,400%, from $800 billion to $12 trillion, yet never has had, and never will have, any difficulty whatsoever in servicing its debt? Or do you mean the taxpayers, already suffering, but whom debt hawks will require to send additional money to a federal government that neither uses nor needs the money?

The Tribune’s solution: “Our choice would require insurers to take all comers but give them a big new customer base: American who now don’t have health coverage but who don’t need an overhaul this expensive in order to get it.” And who are these Americans? They fall into two main categories: Lower income people who can’t afford health insurance and people who have pre-existing health problems.

To assist the former would require insurers to lower rates, thus increasing premiums for everyone else. To cover the later would require insurers to accept greater risk and provide greater payouts, thus again increasing premiums for everyone else.

The strange belief that a federal government, which repeatedly demonstrates it has the unlimited ability to create money without inflation, suddenly would have difficulty servicing additional debt, has caused otherwise intelligent people to lose their ability to reason. Though our government continuously has proved it can service a debt of any size, taxpayers are limited in what they can service. So, why do respected media editors prefer tax increases to federal debt increases, especially when increasing federal debt stimulates the economy?

Contrary to media demagoguery and popular faith, taxpayers do not pay for federal spending. When the government spends, it merely reaches out and credits the bank accounts of its creditors. There is no limit to the government’s ability to activate these credits, which are not in any way affected by tax receipts. If all federal taxes were eliminated today, the federal government’s future ability to spend would not change by even one penny.

The confusion comes because the federal government is unlike you, me, companies and state, county and local governments. We all must obtain money to spend money, and we are limited in our ability to obtain money. By contrast, the federal government creates money out of thin air, with no limits. Taxpayers are not involved in the process.

Astute politicians are aware of the disconnect between taxes and spending, which is why Vice President Cheney, in an unguarded moment, famously said, “Deficits don’t matter.” But politicians, knowing the public believes taxes pay for spending, and not wanting to appear imprudent, go along with the myth.

We could have a health care program in which doctors, nurses and hospitals are well paid, pharmaceutical companies are incented to create new drugs, and all Americans receive optimum health care. Instead, wrong-headed budget concerns have taken precedence over human health concerns, leaving us with a crazy-quilt, inadequate health care bill.

The current plan is to take money from Medicare, from doctors, nurses and hospitals, from employers and from those who currently pay for health insurance. What a terrible, unnecessary human tragedy we have created, all because of ignorance about federal budgets.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell