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Obama Declares Self-Determination to Be a Threat to US National Security

By Paul Craig Roberts | Dissident Voice | March 16, 2014

In his March 6 Executive Order, “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine,” Obama declares that support for Crimean self-determination constitutes “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.”

Obama and the lawyers who drafted his executive order did not notice that the way the order is drafted it applies to Obama, to the unelected coup government in Kiev, and to the Washington and EU regimes. The order says that any person “responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, directly or indirectly … actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine” is subject to having his assets frozen.

Washington and the EU are the only two governments whose personnel have undermined democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine by overthrowing the elected government and imposing an unelected one.

Obama worshippers–yes there are still people that stupid–object when I call Obama the White House Fool. Yet, here is Obama or his lawyers proving that he is a fool by issuing an executive order that requires the property of Obama, Victoria Nuland, Samantha Powers, Susan Rice, the UK prime minister, the German chancellor, the French president, the EU Commission and any number of associated persons to be frozen by the US government.

Of course, Obama’s executive order will not be applied to those to whom it is applicable. It will be applied to those to whom it is not applicable–authorities who permitted the Crimean population to exercise democratic processes in order to determine their own fate.

Washington has stood democracy on its head. Overthrowing Ukraine’s democratic government and installing a puppet regime does not undermine democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine, but anything that allows self-determination to go forward in Crimea does undermine democratic processes.

Clearly, the West can no longer be associated with democracy.

March 17, 2014 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Case of the Missing Recovery

By Paul Craig Roberts | Dissident Voice | January 4, 2014

Have you seen the economic recovery? I haven’t either. But it is bound to be around here somewhere, because the National Bureau of Economic Research spotted it in June 2009, four and one-half years ago.

It is a shy and reclusive recovery, like the “New Economy” and all those promised new economy jobs. I haven’t seen them either, but we know they are here, somewhere, because the economists said so.

Congress must have seen all those jobs before they went home for Christmas, because our representatives let extended unemployment benefits expire for 1.3 million unemployed Americans, who have not yet met up with those new economy jobs, or even with an old economy job for that matter.

By letting extended unemployment benefits expire, Congress figures that they saved 1.3 million Americans from becoming lifelong bums of the nanny state and living off the public purse. After all, who do those unemployed Americans think they are? A bank too big to fail? The military-security complex? Israel?

What the unemployed need to do is to form a lobby organization and make campaign contributions.

Just as economists don’t recognize facts that are inconsistent with corporate grants, career ambitions, and being on the speaking circuit, our representatives don’t recognize facts inconsistent with campaign contributions.

For example, our representative in the White House tells us that ObamaCare is a worthy program even though those who are supposed to be helped by it aren’t because of large deductibles, copays, and Medicaid estate recovery. The cost of this non-help is a doubling of the policy premiums on those insured Americans who did not need ObamaCare and the reclassification by employers of workers’ jobs from full-time to part-time in order to avoid medical insurance costs. All it took was campaign contributions from the insurance industry to turn a policy that hurts most and helps none into a worthy program. Worthy, of course, for the insurance companies.

Keep in mind that it is the people who could not afford medical insurance who have to come up with their part of the premium or pay a penalty. How do people who have no discretionary income come up with what are to them large sums of money? Are they going to eat less, drive less, dress less? If so, what happens to people employed in those industries when demand falls? Apparently, this was too big a thought for the White House occupant, his economists, and our representatives in Congress.

According to the official wage statistics for 2012, forty percent of the US work force earned less than $20,000, fifty-three percent earned less than $30,000, and seventy-three percent earned less than $50,000. The median wage or salary was $27,519. The amounts are in current dollars and they are compensation amounts subject to state and federal income taxes and to Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes. In other words, the take home pay is less.

To put these incomes into some perspective, the poverty threshold for a family of four in 2013 was $23,550.

In recent years, the only incomes that have been growing in real terms are those few at the top of the income distribution. Those at the top have benefitted from “performance bonuses,” often acquired by laying off workers or by replacing US workers with cheaper foreign labor, and from the rise in stock and bond prices caused by the Federal Reserve’s policy of quantitative easing. Everyone else has experienced a decline in real income and wealth.

As only slightly more than one percent of Americans make more than $200,000 annually and less than four-tenths of one percent make $1,000,000 or more annually, there are not enough people with discretionary income to drive the economy with consumer spending. When real median family income and real per capita income ceased to grow and began falling, Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan substituted a credit expansion to take the place of the missing growth in income. However, as consumers became loaded with debt, it was no longer possible to expand consumer spending with credit expansion.

World War II left the US economy the only undamaged industrial and manufacturing center. Prosperity ensued. But by the 1970s the Keynesian demand management economic policy had produced stagflation. Reagan’s supply-side policy was able to give the US economy another 20 years. But the collapse of the Soviet Union brought an era of jobs offshoring to large Asian economies that formerly were closed to Western capital. Once corporate executives realized that they could earn multi-million dollar performance bonuses by moving US jobs abroad and once they were threatened by Wall Street and shareholder advocates with takeovers if they did not, American capitalism began giving the US economy to other countries, mainly located in Asia. As high productivity manufacturing and professional service jobs (such as software engineering) moved offshore, US incomes stagnated and fell.

As real income growth stagnated, wives entered the work force to compensate. Children were educated by refinancing the home mortgage and using the equity in the family home or with student loans that they do not earn enough to repay. Since the December 2007 downturn, Americans have used up their coping mechanisms. Homes have been refinanced. IRAs raided. Savings drawn down. Grown children, now adults, are back home with parents. The falling labor force participation rate signals that the economy can no longer provide jobs for the workforce. In such a situation, economic recovery is impossible.

What the Treasury and Federal Reserve have done, with the complicity of the White House, Congress, economists, and the media, is to focus on rescuing a half dozen banks “too big to fail.” The consequence of focusing economic policy on saving the banks is rigged financial markets and massive stock and bond market bubbles. To protect the dollar’s exchange value from quantitative easing, the price of gold has been forced down in the paper futures market, with the consequence that physical gold is shipped to Asia where it is unavailable as a refuge for Americans faced with currency depreciation.

At a time when most Americans are running out of coping mechanisms, the US faces a possible financial collapse and a high rate of inflation from dollar depreciation as the Fed pours out newly created money in an effort to support the rigged financial markets.

It remains to be seen whether the chickens can be kept from coming home to roost for another year.

~

Paul Craig Roberts is an American economist, author, columnist, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and former editor and columnist for corporate media publications. He is the author of The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism.

January 4, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics | , , | Comments Off on The Case of the Missing Recovery

What is the real agenda of American police state?

By Paul Craig Roberts | Press TV | November 14, 2013

In my last column, I emphasized that it was important for American citizens to demand to know what the real agendas are behind the wars of choice by the Bush and Obama regimes.

These are major long-term wars each lasting two to three times as long as World War II. Forbes reports that one million US soldiers have been injured in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

RT reports that the cost of keeping each US soldier in Afghanistan has risen from $1.3 million per soldier to $2.1 million.

Matthew J. Nasuti reports in the Kabul Press that it cost US taxpayers $50 million to kill one Taliban soldier. That means it cost $1 billion to kill 20 Taliban fighters. This is a war that can be won only at the cost of the total bankruptcy of the United States.

Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes have estimated that the current out-of-pocket and already incurred future costs of the Afghan and Iraq wars is at least $6 trillion.

In other words, it is the cost of these two wars that explain the explosion of the US public debt and the economic and political problems associated with this large debt.

What has America gained in return for $6 trillion and one million injured soldiers, many very severely?

In Iraq, there is now an Islamic government allied with Iran in place of a secular regime that was an enemy of Iran, one as dictatorial as the other, presiding over war ruins, ongoing violence as high as that during the attempted US occupation, and extraordinary birth defects from the toxic substances associated with the US invasion and occupation.

In Afghanistan, there is an undefeated and apparently undefeatable Taliban and a revived drug trade that is flooding the Western world with narcotics.

The icing on these Bush and Obama “successes” are demands from around the world that Americans and former British PM Tony Blair be held accountable for their war crimes. Certainly, Washington’s reputation has plummeted as a result of these two wars. No governments anywhere are any longer sufficiently gullible as to believe anything that Washington says.

These are huge costs for wars for which we have no explanation.

The Bush/Obama regimes have come up with various cover stories: a “war on terror,” “we have to kill them over there before they come over here,” “weapons of mass destruction,” revenge for 9/11, Osama bin Laden (who died of his illnesses in December 2001 as was widely reported at the time).

None of these explanations are viable. Neither the Taliban nor Saddam Hussein was engaged in terrorism in the US. As the weapons inspectors informed the Bush regime, there were no WMDs in Iraq. Invading Muslim countries and slaughtering civilians are more likely to create terrorists than to suppress them. According to the official story, the 9/11 hijackers and Osama bin Laden were Saudis, not Afghans or Iraqis. Yet, it wasn’t Saudi Arabia that was invaded.

Democracy and accountable governments simply do not exist when the executive branch can take a country to wars on behalf of secret agendas operating behind cover stories that are transparent lies.

It is just as important to ask these same questions about the agenda of the US police state. Why have Bush and Obama removed the protection of law as a shield of the people and turned law into a weapon in the hands of the executive branch? How are Americans made safer by the overthrow of their civil liberties? Indefinite detention and execution without due process of law are the hallmarks of the tyrannical state. They are terrorism, not a protection against terrorism. Why is every communication of every American and apparently the communications of most other people in the world, including Washington’s most trusted European allies, subject to being intercepted and stored in a gigantic police state database? How does this protect Americans from terrorists?

Why is it necessary for Washington to attack the freedom of the press and speech, to run roughshod over the legislation that protects whistleblowers such as Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, to criminalize dissent and protests, and to threaten journalists such as Julian Assange, Glenn Greenwald, and Fox News reporter James Rosen?

How does keeping citizens ignorant of their government’s crimes make citizens safe from terrorists?

These persecutions of truth-tellers have nothing, whatsoever, to do with “national security” and “keeping Americans safe from terrorists.” The only purpose of these persecutions is to protect the executive branch from having its crimes revealed. Some of Washington’s crimes are so horrendous that the International Criminal Court would issue a death sentence if those guilty could be brought to trial. A government that will destroy the constitutional protections of free speech and a free press in order to prevent its criminal actions from being disclosed is a tyrannical government.

One hesitates to ask these questions and to make even the most obvious remarks out of fear not only of being put on a watch list and framed on some charge or the other, but also out of fear that such questions might provoke a false flag attack that could be used to justify the police state that has been put in place.

Perhaps that was what the Boston Marathon Bombing was. Evidence of the two brothers’ guilt has taken backseat to the government’s claims. There is nothing new about government frame-ups of patsies. What is new and unprecedented is the lock-down of Boston and its suburbs, the appearance of 10,000 heavily armed troops and tanks to patrol the streets and search without warrants the homes of citizens, all in the name of protecting the public from one wounded 19 year old kid.

Not only has nothing like this ever before happened in the US, but also it could not have been organized on the spur of the moment. It had to have been already in place waiting for the event. This was a trial run for what is to come.

Unaware Americans, especially gullible “law and order conservatives,” have no idea about the militarization of even their local police. I have watched local police forces train at gun clubs. The police are taught to shoot first not once but many times, to protect their lives first at all costs, and not to risk their lives by asking questions. This is why the 13-year old kid with the toy rifle was shot to pieces. Questioning would have revealed that it was a toy gun, but questioning the “suspect” might have endangered the precious police who are trained to take no risks whatsoever.

The police operate according to Obama’s presidential kill power: murder first then create a case against the victim.

In other words, dear American citizen, your life is worth nothing, but the police whom you pay, are not only unaccountable but also their lives are invaluable. If you get killed in their line of duty, it is no big deal. But don’t you injure a police goon thug in an act of self-defense. I mean, who do you think you are, some kind of mythical free American with rights?

November 14, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

ObamaCare is Another Private Sector Rip-Off

By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS | CounterPunch | October 3, 2013

The government of the “world’s only superpower,” the “exceptional,” the “indispensable” country, claims to know what is best for Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Mali, Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, China, indeed for the entire world. However, the “indispensable” country cannot even govern itself, much less the world over which the “superpower” desires hegemony. The government of the “world’s only superpower” has shut itself down.

The government has shut itself down, because it cannot deal with the budget deficit and mounting public debt caused by twelve years of wars, by financial deregulation that allows “banks too big to fail” to loot the taxpayers, and by the loss of jobs, GDP, and tax base that jobs offshoring forced by Wall Street caused.

The Republicans are using the fight over the limit on new public debt to block  Obamacare. The Republicans are right to oppose Obamacare, but they are opposing Obamacare largely for ideological reasons when there are very good sound reasons to oppose Obamacare.

Last February 3, I posted on this website a column, “Obamacare: A Deception,” written by an expert on the subject.

When Republicans for ideological reasons blocked a single-payer health system like the rest of the developed world has and, indeed, even some developing countries have, the Obama regime, needing a victory, went to the insurance companies and told them to come up with a health care plan that the insurance lobby could get passed by Congress. Obamacare was written by the private insurance industry with the goal of raising its profits with 50 million mandated new customers.

Obamacare works for the insurance companies, but not for the uninsured. The cost of using Obamacare is prohibitive for those who most need the health coverage.  The cost of the premiums net of the government subsidy is large. It amounts to a substantial pay cut for people struggling to pay their bills.  In addition to the premium cost, it is prohibitive for hard pressed Americans to use the policies because of the deductibles and co-pays. For the very poor, who are thrown into Medicaid systems, any assets they might have, such as a home, are subject to confiscation to cover their Medicaid bills.  The only people other than the insurance companies who benefit from Obamacare are the down and out who are devoid of all assets.

This might prove to be a growing percentage of Americans. On September 19 the New York Times on the front page of the business section reported what I have reported for years: that real median family incomes in the US are where they were a quarter of a century ago. In other words, in a quarter of a century there has been no income growth for the median American family.

In 2013 payroll employment is below where it was six years ago. During 2013 most of the new jobs, barely sufficient to stay even with population growth and insufficient to recover the job loss from the recession, have been part-time jobs that do not provide any discretionary income with which to drive a consumer economy.

Obamacare has resulted in the health insurance companies, who thought that they would be living in high profits from the mandated health coverage, being outsmarted by employers, who have reduced their full-time workers to part-time in order to avoid Omamacare’s requirement to provide health coverage to those employees who work 30 hours a week or more.

Employers can get away with this, because jobs are hard to find. The lack of employment opportunities results in Americans with engineering degrees working as retail sales clerks and as shelf stockers in Walmart and Home Depot. Despite the abundance of unemployed and under-employed American technical and engineering workers, the large corporations lobby Congress for more H-1B visas to bring in lowly paid foreigners with the argument that there is a shortage of qualified Americans for technical work.

As I have pointed out so many times, if there were a shortage of engineering and technical workers, salaries would be rising, not falling.

For millions of employees, Obamacare means cut hours and less take home pay plus out-of-pocket expenses to purchase an Obamacare health policy.  For most people covered by Obamacare, this is a lose-lose situation.

It is also a lose-loss situation for the vast majority of the young.  Most young people, unless they have jobs that provide health coverage, do without it, because the chances of the young having heart attacks, cancer, and other serious health problems is low.

Obamacare, however, requires the healthy young to pay premiums for coverage or to pay a penalty to the IRS.

In my day this might not have been a problem. However, today there are few jobs for the young that pay enough to have an independent existence. The monthly payroll jobs reports do not show well-paying jobs. The Labor Department’s projections of future jobs are not jobs that pay well. For the youth, it seems that the penalty is less than the premium, so youthful penalties paid out of waitress and bartender tips will subsidize the unusable Obamacare health policies for the poor adults who are not thrown into Medicaid, which confiscates their assets, if any.

Obamacare benefits only two classes of people. It benefits employers who drop their employees working hours below the hours specified for Obamacare coverage, and it benefits the insurance companies or the IRS who collect the premiums and penalties.

Many of the people who pay the premiums won’t be able to use the policies because of co-pays and deductions.

The very poor with no assets might receive health care if they reside in states that accept the Medicaid provisions of Obamacare.

In 21st century America, the few people who have experienced income gains are the executives and shareholders of firms who offshored their production for US markets, Wall Street which makes bets covered by the Federal Reserve, and the military-security complex which has been enriched by the neoconservatives’ wars.

Every other American has lost.

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. His latest book The Failure of Laissez-Faire Capitalism. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format.

October 3, 2013 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Comments Off on ObamaCare is Another Private Sector Rip-Off

How Elites and Media Minimize Dissent and Bury Truth

By Paul Craig Roberts | IPE | May 10, 2013

Over the last several years I have watched the rise of an important new intellect on the American scene. Ron Unz, publisher of The American Conservative, has demonstrated time and again the extraordinary ability to reexamine settled issues and show that the accepted conclusion was incorrect.

One of his early achievements was to dispose of the myth of immigrant crime by demonstrating that “Hispanics have approximately the same crime rates as whites of the same age and gender.” You can imagine the uproar, but Unz won the debate.

Unz provoked and prevailed in another controversy when he concluded that Mexican-Americans have approximately the same innate intelligence as whites, with their lower IQs being due to transitory socio-economic deprivation.

He next surprised by showing the connection between the declining real value of the minimum wage (about one-third less than in the 1960s) and immigration. Americans cannot survive on one-third less minimum income than four decades ago, and the unfilled jobs are taken by Hispanics who live many to the room. A higher minimum wage, Unz pointed out, would cure the illegal immigration problem as American citizens would fill the jobs.

I wrote about some of Unz’s remarkable findings. One of my favorites is his comparison of the responsiveness of the Chinese and US governments to their publics. I found his conclusion convincing that the authoritarian one-party Chinese government was more responsive to the Chinese people than democratic two-party Washington is to the American people.

The person is rare who can take on such controversial issues in such a professional way that he wins the admiration even of his critics. In my opinion, Ron Unz is a national resource. He has established online libraries of important periodicals and magazines from the pre-Internet era, information that otherwise essentially would be lost. I have not met him, but he donates to this site and is an independent thinker free of The Matrix.

Unz’s latest article, “Our American Pravda,” http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/our-american-pravda/ is a striking account of the failure of media, regulatory, and national security organizations and subsequent coverups that leave the public deceived. Unz uses the Iraq war as one example:

“The circumstances surrounding our Iraq War demonstrate this, certainly ranking it among the strangest military conflicts of modern times. The 2001 attacks in America were quickly ascribed to the radical Islamists of al-Qaeda, whose bitterest enemy in the Middle East had always been Saddam Hussein’s secular Baathist regime in Iraq. Yet through misleading public statements, false press leaks, and even forged evidence such as the “yellowcake” documents, the Bush administration and its neoconservative allies utilized the compliant American media to persuade our citizens that Iraq’s nonexistent WMDs posed a deadly national threat and required elimination by war and invasion. Indeed, for several years national polls showed that a large majority of conservatives and Republicans actually believed that Saddam was the mastermind behind 9/11 and the Iraq War was being fought as retribution. Consider how bizarre the history of the 1940s would seem if America had attacked China in retaliation for Pearl Harbor.

“True facts were easily available to anyone paying attention in the years after 2001, but most Americans do not bother and simply draw their understanding of the world from what they are told by the major media, which overwhelmingly—almost uniformly—backed the case for war with Iraq; the talking heads on TV created our reality. Prominent journalists across the liberal and conservative spectrum eagerly published the most ridiculous lies and distortions passed on to them by anonymous sources, and stampeded Congress down the path to war.

“The result was what my late friend Lt. Gen. Bill Odom rightly called the “greatest strategic disaster in United States history.” American forces suffered tens of thousands of needless deaths and injuries, while our country took a huge step toward national bankruptcy [and a police state]. Economics Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and others have estimated that with interest the total long-term cost of our two recent wars may reach as high as $5 or $6 trillion, or as much as $50,000 per American household, mostly still unpaid. Meanwhile, economist Edward Wolff has calculated that the Great Recession and its aftermath cut the personal net worth of the median American household to $57,000 in 2010 from a figure nearly twice as high three years earlier. Comparing these assets and liabilities, we see that the American middle class now hovers on the brink of insolvency, with the cost of our foreign wars being a leading cause.

“But no one involved in the debacle ultimately suffered any serious consequences, and most of the same prominent politicians and highly paid media figures who were responsible remain just as prominent and highly paid today. For most Americans, reality is whatever our media organs tell us, and since these have largely ignored the facts and adverse consequences of our wars in recent years, the American people have similarly forgotten. Recent polls show that only half the public today believes that the Iraq War was a mistake.”

Unz covers a number of cases of criminality, treason, and coverups at high levels of government and points out that “these dramatic, well-documented accounts have been ignored by our national media.” One reason for “this wall of uninterest” is that both parties are complicit and thus equally eager to bury the facts.

Unz is raising the question of the efficacy of democracy. Does the way democracy works in America provide any more self-rule than in undemocratic regimes? He offers this example:

“Most of the Americans who elected Barack Obama in 2008 intended their vote as a total repudiation of the policies and personnel of the preceding George W. Bush administration. Yet once in office, Obama’s crucial selections—Robert Gates at Defense, Timothy Geither at Treasury, and Ben Bernake at the Federal Reserve—were all top Bush officials, and they seamlessly continued the unpopular financial bailouts and foreign wars begun by his predecessor, producing what amounted to a third Bush term.”

In an article not long ago, I raised the issue whether Americans live in The Matrix with their perceptions and thoughts controlled by disinformation as in George Orwell’s 1984.

Unz adds to this perspective. He tells the story of Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky’s plan to transform Russia into a make-believe two-party state complete with heated battles fought on divisive and symbolic issues. Behind the scenes the political elites would orchestrate the political battles between the parties with the purpose of keeping the population divided and funneling popular dissatisfaction into meaningless dead-end issues. In such a system, self-serving power prevails. After describing Berezovsky’s plot, Unz asks if Berezovsky got his idea from observing the American political scene.

Thinking further about the propagandistic nature of the US media, Unz writes:

“Individuals from less trusting societies are often surprised at the extent to which so many educated Americans tend to believe whatever the media tells them and ignore whatever it does not, placing few constraints on even the most ridiculous propaganda. For example, a commentator on my article described the East German media propaganda he had experienced prior to Reunification as being in many respects more factual and less totally ridiculous than what he now saw on American cable news shows. One obvious difference was that Western media was so globally dominant during that era that the inhabitants of the German Democratic Republic inevitably had reasonable access to a contrasting second source of information, forcing their media to be much more cautious in its dishonesty, while today almost any nonsense uniformly supported by the MSNBC-to-FoxNews spectrum of acceptable opinion remains almost totally unquestioned by most Americans.” http://www.theamericanconservative.com/american-pravda-reality-television/

Unz’s view of the US media as propagandists for power is consistent with that of John Pilger, one of the last remaining real journalists who refuses to serve power, and with Gerald Celente, who sums up the sordid American media in one word–”presstitutes.” I know from my own media experience that an independent print and TV media no longer exists in the West. The American media is a tightly controlled disinformation ministry.

Those few Americans who are free of the constraints imposed by dogmas on their ability to think and to process information have a huge responsibility for their small number. The assault on the rule of law began in the last years of the Clinton regime, but the real destruction of the US Constitution, the basis for the United States, was achieved by the neoconservative George W. Bush and Obama regimes. Wars without declarations by Congress, torture in violation of both US and international law, war crimes in violation of the Nuremberg standard, indefinite detention and assassination of US citizens without due process of law, universal spying on US citizens without warrants, federalization of state and local police now armed with military weapons and uniforms, detention centers, “your papers, please” (without the Gestapo “please”) not only at airports but also on highways, streets, bus terminals, train stations, and at sporting events.

On May 5 Obama gave the commencement address at Ohio State University. No doubt that the graduates thought that they were being honored by being addressed by the world’s greatest tyrant.

Obama told the graduating class, to applause, that their obligation as citizens is to trust the government. Outdoing George Orwell’s Big Brother, Obama said in public to a graduating class of a great university without shame: “You have grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as . . . some sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems; some of these same voices also doing their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.”

Listen to my propaganda, not to those constitutional experts, legal authorities, and critics of me, the First Black President, who tell you to beware of unaccountable government. Due process is decided by the demands of the war on terror. If there is a war on terror, do you want a fair trial or do you want to be safe? I am going to make you safe by not giving defendants accused of terrorism, who some liberal-pinko-commie judge would set free, a fair trial.

Making you safe by enveloping you in a police state is a nonpartisan undertaking. Just listen to Lindsay Graham and Peter King and John McCain. These Republican leaders are demanding the police state that I am providing.

As my own legal department, The US Department Of Justice, decided, the Dictator, I mean, elected president, has the power to save the country from domestic and foreign terrorists by abrogating the US Constitution, an out-of-date document that binds our hands and prevents us from keeping you, our serfs and minions, I mean our cherished citizens, safe.

Trust me. That is your obligation as a US citizen. Trust me and I will make you free, happy, employed sometime later in this century when the Amerikan Empire controls the world.

The US Constitution was written by people who opposed Empire. These people were misguided, just like the Roman Republicans who did not understand the need for a Caesar. The American Empire, as the neoconservatives have made clear, is what keeps you free from terrorism. We have to kill them over there before they come over here. And those who are over here will be killed too. We tolerate no dissent. That part of the Constitution is gone, along with the rest of it.

Now give me my honorary doctorate, another sign of approval of my usurpation.

~

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.

May 13, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Obamacare: A Deception

The Devil is in the Details

By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS | CounterPunch | February 5, 2013

The article below is the most comprehensive analysis available of “Obamacare” – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The author, a knowledgeable person who wishes to remain anonymous, explains how Obamacare works for the insurance companies but not for you.

Obamacare was formulated on the concept of health care as a commercial commodity and was cloaked in ideological slogans such as “shared responsibility,” “no free riders” and “ownership society.” These slogans dress the insurance industry’s raid on public resources in the cloak of a “free market” health care system.

You will learn how to purchase a subsidized plan at the Exchange, what will happen when income and family circumstances change during the year or from one year to the next, and other perils brought to you by Obamacare. It is one of the most important articles that will be posted on my website this year. Americans will be shocked to learn the extent to which they have been deceived. The legislation neither protects the patient nor are the plans affordable.

The author shows that for those Americans whose income places them between 138% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level, the out-of-pocket cost for one of the least expensive (lower coverage) subsidized policies ranges from 2% to 9.5% of Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI), a tax base larger than the Adjusted Gross Income used for calculating federal income tax.

What this means is that those Americans with the least or no disposable income are faced in effect with a substantial pay cut. The author provides an example of a 35 year-old with a MAGI of $27,925. The out-of- pocket cost to this person of a Silver level plan (second least expensive) is $187.33 per month. This cost is based on pre-tax income, that is, before income is reduced by payroll and income taxes. There goes the car payment or utility bill. The lives of millions of Americans will change drastically as they struggle with a new, large expense – particularly in an era of no jobs, low-paying jobs and rising cost of living.

The author also points out that the cost of using the mandated policies will be prohibitive because of the large deductibles and co-pays. Many Americans will find themselves not only with a policy they can’t afford, but also with one they cannot afford to use. Those who cannot afford the insurance, even with a subsidy, will be faced with a costly penalty, and in many cases, this, too, will be difficult, if not impossible, to pay. As each year’s subsidy is based on last year’s income, there will be a substantial year-end tax liability for those who must repay the subsidy in whole or part because their income increased during the year.

The stress alone from such a regressive scheme is, without a doubt, not conducive to good health and well-being.

Diets will worsen for millions of Americans as they struggle with a new large expense. Thus, the effect of Obamacare will be to worsen the health of millions. Indeed, a “glitch” in the legislation allows millions to be priced out of coverage.

Alternatively, Americans might be able to acquire health insurance coverage but have no doctors willing to treat them.

The demand that Obamacare places on household budgets in which there is no slack makes me wonder where the president’s economists were while the insurance lobby crafted the product that serves the profits of insurance companies. Two well-known economic facts are that real family income has been stagnant or declining for a number of years and Americans are over their heads in debt.

How does Obama preside over a recovery when consumer purchasing power is redirected to insurance company profits?

Obamacare not only rations health care by what a person or family can afford, but also has implications for Medicare patients. Hundreds of billions of dollars are siphoned from Medicare to help pay the cost of Obamacare. The health care provided to Medicare patients will decline with the reduced payments to care providers. Health care seems destined to be rationed according to the age and illnesses of Medicare patients. Those judged too old and too ill could be denied expensive treatments or procedures that would prolong their lives.

Obama will rue the day that his name was put on this special interest legislation, and most Americans, once they realize what has been done to them, will be angry that special interests again prevailed over the health of the nation.

OBAMACARE: THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, commonly referred to as the ACA or Obamacare, will go into full effect in 2014. This decree mandates that all Americans must purchase and maintain government-approved health insurance or pay a penalty to the IRS. Touted as a plan to provide all Americans with access to medical care, in reality, this compulsory shakedown commands everyone to purchase insurance that for many will be too expensive, even with government subsidies – or unaffordable to use – or both.

The ACA was not selflessly designed with the intent of providing affordable and equitable medical services to those in need, but rather to acquire taxpayer money for the private insurance companies under the seemingly helpful guise of health care and the ideological excuse of personal responsibility. It takes money from ordinary people and gives it to a medical insurance industry that profits handsomely from this legally-enforced corporate welfare – all while keeping Americans locked in the same broken system that puts profit before patients. The law was essentially written by business executives from the industry so that special interests would not be upset and profits assured.

There’s a lot to digest about how the ACA works and much is buried in a complex, convoluted maze of regulations and procedures. A few websites contain explanations, but very important details have either been left out or glossed over. These details are well worth understanding so you will know what’s at stake for you and your family. This lesson is not meant to convey a political opinion. This is how the ACA works and under this law, there are no sacred cows.

In today’s lesson, you will learn why 2013 is an important year for many of you with regard to your income and the ACA. We will discuss 1) use of Modified Adjusted Gross Income, 2) tax credits (help paying for insurance), 3) your share of the premium, 4) paying back the tax credits to the IRS, 5) expansion of Medicaid and estate recovery which could affect you if you are put into that plan, 6) inadequate coverage in most subsidized plans, 7) penalties, 8) exemptions and 9) a few tidbits. We’ll also take a look at the agenda of Enroll America and the Health Insurance Exchanges, and what you can expect to hear in the very near future.

Here we go. Fasten your seat belts.

1. HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE BASICS

In 2014, each state will have an Affordable Insurance Exchange where qualified individuals and families with incomes between 138 and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) can shop for commercial insurance policies. Most individuals and families with incomes at or below 138 percent FPL will be put into Medicaid. You may be eligible for help paying for your insurance in the form of a tax credit. In most states, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will continue to cover children in families with incomes up to at least 200 percent FPL. Some states may offer a Basic Health Plan for those who earn up to 200 percent FPL and are not eligible for Medicaid. Under limited circumstances, you may also be eligible for a cost-sharing credit.

Eligibility to receive a tax credit, the amount of your tax credit and your out-of-pocket share for the insurance will be determined by your income and where you fall in the Federal Poverty Level Guidelines (FPL). This is easy to understand.

Your annual gross income determines which FPL you’re in. For example, based on 2012 FPL Guidelines, an individual with an annual income of $33,510 is at 300 percent FPL; a family of 4 with an annual income of $69,150 is at 300 percent FPL. To see where you’re at, try the handy calculator at this link. FPL Guidelines are revised every January, so the 2013 edition should be up soon.

The ACA requires use of MODIFIED ADJUSTED GROSS INCOME (MAGI) instead of Adjusted Gross Income for all determinations made by an Exchange including eligibility for Medicaid except in certain cases. So, in this lesson, we’ll refer to annual income as MAGI.

Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) is defined as Adjusted Gross Income PLUS

a) all tax exempt interest accrued or received in the taxable year;

b) the non-taxable portion of Social Security benefits provided under Title II of the Social Security Act which includes old-age benefits, disability benefits, spousal benefits, child benefits, survivor benefits and parental benefits;

c) tier 1 Railroad Retirement benefits that are not includible in gross income; and

d) the exclusion from gross income for citizens or residents living abroad.

The adoption of MAGI, created by the ACA, is defined in a new section of the IRS code.

2. DETERMINING ELIGIBILITY FOR A TAX CREDIT

The tax credit is to help you pay for insurance. The ACA says it must be based on annual income for the tax year it’s received, but since you will need help paying for your plan during that year, the ACA allows for advance payment of the tax credit.

Here’s an example of what that means: Let’s say you apply for insurance at an Exchange in 2014. Therefore, 2014 is the tax year you will receive your tax credit, and per the ACA, the amount you receive must be based on that year’s MAGI. But, that year’s MAGI won’t be available until 2015 when you file your 2014 tax return and you need help paying for your insurance plan when you buy it in 2014. So, the amount of your tax credit has to be determined on information that is available such as your prior-year (2013) tax return. Thus, the tax credit morphs into an ‘advance payment of the tax credit’ (also referred to as an advance premium assistance credit). Now you see why 2013 is an important year for many of you.

The ACA allows for limited disclosure of tax return info in order for an Exchange employee to verify your citizenship status and MAGI, and, not only to let you know how much your advance tax credit will be, but also to see if you are eligible to receive this in the first place. An Exchange can also consider using your real-time income by looking at your state’s most current quarterly wage database, or it may agree to accept paper verification (pay stubs, etc.) as a last resort or an attestation of your income with no verification. Creation of a federal ‘data services hub’ is in the works so your income information will be more readily accessible. But, no matter how this plays out, you’ll still receive an advance payment of the tax credit because your actual MAGI for 2014 will not be known by you nor can it be verified by an Exchange until you file your 2014 tax return in 2015.

Ultimately, no matter which method is used – prior year or partial current year – this advance payment of the tax credit carries with it some heavy-duty consequences which are discussed in topic 4 of this lesson.

3. TAX CREDITS AND YOUR SHARE OF THE PREMIUM

The amount of your tax credit will be based on the second lowest-cost Silver plan in the area where you live and your MAGI. Here’s how this works – it’s quite simple:

a) First, the amount you will pay out of your pocket for that Silver plan – copays and deductibles not included – will be a specific percentage of your MAGI, and you will pay this to the insurer on a monthly basis. The way this percentage will be calculated is described a few lines down.

b) Next, your share will be deducted from the cost of that Silver plan and the difference will be your tax credit which the government will pay directly to the insurer on a monthly basis when you purchase a plan.

The specific percentage you will have to pay for the second lowest-cost Silver plan will be based on your FPL using a well-greased sliding scale. As your FPL increases little by little, the percentage you will pay increases. The same percentage applies to an individual or a family. Here’s how much of your MAGI you will pay for that Silver plan:

— up to 138 % FPL: 2% for people legally present less than 5 full years and residents of states that do not expand Medicaid

— 138-150% FPL: 3 to 4%

— 150-200% FPL: 4 to 6.3%

— 200-250% FPL: 6.3 to 8.05%

— 250-300% FPL: 8.05 to 9.5%

— 300-400% FPL: 9.5% – there’s no range, but the dollar amount of your share will change because 9.5% of a lower MAGI is less than 9.5% of a higher MAGI.

Here are two examples in dollars using 2012 FPL Guidelines and an estimate for a second lowest-cost Silver plan which will vary depending where you live – actual costs are not yet available:

a) You are 35 years old and the price of the second lowest-cost Silver plan for an individual in the area where you live is $4,750 with no tax credit. If your MAGI is $33,510 ($2,792.50 per month) putting you at 300 percent FPL, your share for that Silver plan, per the chart above, would be 9.5 percent of your MAGI which comes to $3,183 ($265.25 per month). Your tax credit would be $1,567 which is the difference between the unsubsidized cost of that Silver plan and your share.

b) You are 35 years old and your MAGI is $27,925 ($2,327 per month) putting you at 250 percent FPL, so, your share of that Silver plan would be 8.05 percent of your MAGI which comes to $2,247.96 ($187.33 per month) and your tax credit would be $2,502.

If the second lowest-cost Silver plan is too expensive, you can apply your tax credit to a Bronze plan which will be cheaper but less comprehensive. If you want a better plan than the Silver, you will have to pay the full difference in the premium.

Don’t forget that your share of the monthly premium will be figured on your MAGI which is pre-tax income. So, after you deduct your income taxes and your share of an insurance plan, will you be able to cover your monthly basic living costs including paying off debt you may owe and still have some cash left to pay for medical care if you have to use your insurance? Check out topic 6 in this lesson for a rundown of plans and coverage you can expect to find at an Exchange. Hope you don’t faint.

Once you purchase a plan, your share and your tax credit won’t change until the next enrollment period unless, before that time, your income goes up or down enough to bump you into a different FPL or you get a job with insurance. You can let your Exchange know by phone or via your online account, or, your Exchange might notice while cruising the data services hub you learned about in topic 2 and notify you that you must ‘up’ your coverage or that you’ve been tossed into Medicaid if your MAGI has decreased enough to make you eligible for that plan. Exchanges will be encouraged to use as many different avenues as possible including private databases to keep tabs on your income.

Thus, you could end up bouncing from Medicaid to a subsidized plan or vice versa. By the same token, you could take some extra work to help pay the bills or to save for a vacation, and, oops, you went over 400 percent FPL and are no longer eligible for a tax credit. The Exchange may not find out about this unless you spill the beans, but, no matter how it all plays out, income changes will catch up with you when you file your tax return.

To be eligible for a tax credit you must file your tax return no later than April 15. Married taxpayers must file a joint return. Individuals who are listed as dependents on a return are ineligible for a tax credit.

If you are eligible for Medicaid, you will not be allowed to receive a tax credit or a cost-sharing credit although some states impose premium and cost-sharing charges on certain Medicaid enrollees per the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) and clarified in the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006.

On January 22, 2013, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed allowing states to further increase Medicaid premiums and out-of-pocket costs by 5 percent. The most egregious part of this proposed rule says that states may allow providers to deny services for failure to pay the required cost-sharing in certain circumstances. The Obama administration is behind this proposed rule hoping to persuade states to expand Medicaid since many have refused and others are still undecided – the expansion of Medicaid is an integral part of the ACA. Allowing states to further increase premiums and cost-sharing for the poorest segment of the population underscores the existing political bias toward low-income Americans despite rhetoric which claims otherwise.

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/01/22/2013-00659/medicaid-childrens-health-insurance-programs-and-exchanges-essen- tial-health-benefits-in-alternative#h-186 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/23/health/medicaid-patients-could-face-higher-fees-under-a-proposed-federal-policy.html

Affordability rates (the percentage of your MAGI the government has decided you can afford to pay for insurance) are based on boardroom formulas which don’t take particular individual needs into account such as housing costs, property taxes, debt, education, transportation, retirement savings, etc. Also, FPL Guidelines are standard across the country and do not take into consideration those who reside in a more expensive region or vice versa. They are one-size-fits-all with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii. See topic 8 in this lesson to learn about exemptions.

Check out what self-proclaimed health care expert Jonathan Gruber says about affordability and get a load of all the “formulas.” According to Mr. Gruber, you may be having too much fun in life and need to get serious, buy health insurance and live under a rock in order to pay for it. He was involved with Romneycare in Massachusetts and was also Mr. Obama’s go to man under a no-bid contract. Per a bar graph on page 6 of a report prepared by Stan Dom for the Urban Institute, subsidized plans under the ACA are estimated to cost 2 to 3 times more (give or take) than the subsidized plans under Romneycare. Per several surveys during the years that Romneycare has been in effect, many low and modest income MA residents have had difficulty paying for those plans and the out-of-pocket costs to use the insurance, particularly chronically-ill residents.

http://ebookbrowse.com/1493-gruber-will-affordable-care-act-make-hlt-ins-affordable-reform-brief-v2-pdf-d124754327
http://www.statecoverage.org/files/TheBasicHealthProgramOptionUnderHealthReform.pdf

4. PAYBACK OF TAX CREDITS TO THE IRS

Perhaps you recall hearing politicians including Mr. Obama say if you can’t afford to pay for health insurance, the government will help you. That was one of the key talking points repeated non stop. We just went over the help part – the tax credits. Now we’ll look at what Mr. Obama et al didn’t tell you which is important to understand because it could cause you some serious financial distress.

Remember the “advance payment of the tax credit” in topic 2 of this lesson? Well, essentially, that was a loan from the government which was paid in advance to the insurer on your behalf when you purchased your plan, and, as you know, loans have to be paid back. So, when you file your tax return for the year you received your “advance tax credit” (your loan), if your income has changed, you have to settle this with the IRS. Here’s the deal:

a) If your MAGI is higher and the increase puts you into a higher FPL, you may have to pay back a portion or all of the tax credit because it was based on a lower MAGI. In other words, you could have an additional tax liability on top of the income taxes you already paid (or still owe) because you received a higher tax credit than you were entitled to.

b) If your MAGI is lower and the decrease puts you into a lower FPL, a refund could be coming to you because you were eligible for a larger tax credit than the government paid to the insurer. In other words, you overpaid for your portion of the insurance premium.

c) If you earned a bit more or less, but your extra earnings or loss didn’t bump you into another FPL, you’re home free.

To figure out your payback, you will have to enter the relevant figures on the reconciliation page of the tax return. Changes in filing status such as the number of people in your household will also have an impact. For those of you who marry or divorce, the rules for the payback amount as well as the amount of the tax credit you are eligible to receive will make your head spin – the computation includes pre- and post-marriage FPL and uses the highest FPL of the two people involved. Ditto for divorce.

Here is one of the reconciliation explanations in IRS-speak: Your liability for an excess tax credit you received must be reflected on your current year income tax return subject to a limitation on the amount of such liability.

Oh! Limitation on the amount of such liability. That sounds good.

Let’s take a peek at the payback limitations on record at the time of this writing. “At the time of this writing” are the operative words because the cap has been increased twice since the ACA was signed into law. The original payback was capped at $400 for families under 400 percent FPL and $200 for individuals. We’ll skip over the first increase. The story behind the second one is that a particular revenue stream was removed from the original law, so something had to be done to compensate for this lost money. Thus, an amendment was passed that increased the cap using a sliding scale, thereby putting a huge financial burden on the backs of the very people the ACA claims to help. In other words, tag, you’re it. You are the cash cow.

Here are the current sliding-scale caps:

If the household income (expressed as a percent of poverty line) is:

less than 200 percent, the applicable dollar amount is $600

at least 200 percent but less than 300 percent, the applicable dollar amount is $1,500

at least 300 percent but less than 400 percent, the applicable dollar amount is $2,500

Effective date: the amendment made by this topic shall apply to taxable years ending after December 31, 2013. Very truly yours, House Ways and Means Committee

The name of this bloodsucker is The Comprehensive 1099 Taxpayer Protection and Repayment of Exchange Subsidy Overpayments Act of 2011.

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-112publ9/html/PLAW-112publ9.htm

But wait, there’s more!

a) Update: Today (Feb. 17) (2011) the House Ways and Means Committee approved the 1099 repeal bill which requires consumers earning more than 400 percent of the poverty line to pay back the [entire] subsidy.

http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/health-reform-implementation/144847-1099-repeal-gets-trickier-with-house-bill

b) Also, per IRS final regulations: for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2014, the payback caps may be adjusted to reflect changes in the consumer price index.

Payback amounts are reduced to one-half for unmarried individuals who are not surviving spouses or filing as heads of households. There is no help if you get hit with a payback and many of you will have difficulty paying this liability.

Chances that you may have received an incorrect tax credit are not exactly slim because this poorly thought-out scheme does not take into account the unpredictable and complex financial situations that confront the low and modest income population.

Keep in mind that by ending up in a higher FPL, you may also have to pay more out of your pocket for an insurance premium. You learned how that works in topic 3. If you can’t afford a higher premium and drop your insurance, you may still owe a payback plus a penalty for being uninsured which is also MAGI-based. Penalties are discussed in topic 7. If your MAGI puts you over 400 percent FPL, you just knocked yourself into left field and are on your own paying for an insurance plan on the open market. And, you may also be required to payback the entire tax credit.

If you get a job during the current year that offers health insurance which is not more than 9.5 percent of your total salary and the coverage is not less than 60 percent, you must take that insurance or pay a penalty for being uninsured. But, you may owe a payback for the months you received a tax credit before you landed the job. How large that payback is will depend on your MAGI for the entire tax year, not just on your income during the months you received the tax credit. Or, you may lose a job during the year and have a significantly reduced income even though the amount reported on your tax return is high because you had a job for part of the year. In this case as well, your payback will be based on your MAGI for the entire tax year.

More interest income from taxable and tax-exempt savings or a year-end bonus could also contribute to an increased MAGI and the possibility of a payback as well as taking extra work to help pay the monthly bills, house and car repairs, educational aspirations or a vacation. So, whether or not you end up in payback land will depend on how close you are teetering on the edge of an FPL. Ditto for your share of the premium and the amount of your tax credit.

The payback may stop many of you from purchasing insurance at the Exchange because you know in advance you will not have the money to pay it. If this is the case, you may be allowed to negotiate a lesser tax credit by paying more out of your pocket for your monthly insurance premium in order to avoid or decrease the payback. It’s a crap shoot. Considering what you’ve learned so far in today’s lesson, many of you will find yourselves between a rock and a hard place under the ACA, and you will be forced to make untenable choices. Given the skyrocketing costs of food, heat and other basics, how will you even tread water under this set-up, never mind get ahead?

Being told you will receive help from the government if you can’t afford to purchase insurance and finding out at tax time this was really a loan and you owe the IRS a substantial debt on top of your income taxes is outright shameful. But most politicians have no shame – which brings us to the next topic.

5. MEDICAID EXPANSION AND ESTATE RECOVERY

In order to expand Medicaid, several Medicaid regulations were changed:

a) the income limit for eligibility was increased to 133 percent FPL, but since states must apply a 5 percent disregard, this effectively raises the eligibility to 138 percent FPL

b) Modified Adjusted Gross Income will be used in most cases to determine eligibility (also applies to certain CHIP applicants)

c) the age limit was increased to 64, childless adults will be eligible; and

d) the asset test was dropped except for certain groups such as the elderly and people on Social Security Disability – BINGO!

The fact that the asset test was dropped is very important, but before we look at why, you must first understand that if an Exchange determines you are eligible for Medicaid, you have no other choice. Code for Exchanges specifies, “an applicant is not eligible for advance payment of the premium tax credit (a subsidized plan) or cost-sharing reductions to the extent that he or she is eligible for other minimum essential coverage, including coverage under Medicaid and CHIP.” Therefore, you will be tossed into Medicaid unless there are specific rules as to why you would not be eligible. If you are enrolled in a private plan through an Exchange and have been receiving a tax credit, and your income decreases making you eligible for Medicaid, in you go. If you are allowed to opt out because you don’t want Medicaid, you will have to pay a penalty for being uninsured unless you can afford to purchase insurance in the open market.

Just so you’re clear on this: the ACA stipulates that the system will ensure that if any individual applying to an Exchange is found to be eligible for Medicaid or a state children’s health insurance program (CHIP), the individual will be enrolled in such a plan.

Furthermore, to increase enrollment in health coverage without requiring people to complete an application on their own, states are advised to automate enrollment whenever possible by using existing databases for social services programs such as SNAP (food stamps) to enroll people who appear eligible for Medicaid but are not currently enrolled. Therefore, you could find yourself auto-enrolled in Medicaid against your will if your state acts on this advice.

Many times over Mr. Obama et al told you that all Americans would have choice. Choice was another big talking point. Are poor and low-income Americans undeserving of choice? Is the ACA a class-based system? Maybe they meant that for this segment of the population, the choice would be between Medicaid or a penalty for remaining uninsured. This is blatant discrimination.

Here’s why dropping the asset test got the BINGO – Estate Recovery! You won’t find the following info in the ACA. It’s in the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1993 (OBRA 1993) – a federal statute which applies to Medicaid, and, if you are enrolled in Medicaid, it will apply to you depending on your age.

a) OBRA 1993 requires all states that receive Medicaid funding to seek recovery from the estates of deceased individuals who used Medicaid benefits at age 55 or older. It allows recovery for any items or services under the state Medicaid plan going beyond nursing homes and other long-term care institutions. In fact, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) site says that states have the option of recovering payments for all Medicaid services provided. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) site says at state option, recovery can be pursued for any items covered by the Medicaid state plan.

b) The HHS site has an overview of the Medicaid estate recovery mandate which also says that at a minimum, states must pursue recoveries from the “probate estate,” which includes property that passes to the heirs under state probate law, but states can expand the definition of estate to allow recovery from property that bypasses probate. This means states can use procedures for direct recovery from bank accounts and other funds.

c) Some states use recovery for RX and hospital only as required by OBRA 1993; some recover for a few additional benefits and some recover for all benefits under the state plan. Recovery provides revenue for cash-strapped states and it’s a big business.

Your estate is what you own when you die – your home and what’s in it, other real estate you may own, your bank account, annuities and so on. And even if you have a will, your heirs are chopped liver. Low-income people often have only one major asset – the home in which they live and, in some cases, this has been the family home through several generations.

So what this boils down to is: if you are put into Medicaid – congratulations – you just got a mandated collateral loan if you use Medicaid benefits at age 55 or older! States keep a running tally.

Estate recovery can be exempted or deferred in certain situations after your death, but the regulations for this are limited and complicated with multitudes of conditions. You may not have an attorney on speed dial, but with regard to this hundred pound gorilla, it sure would be handy.

Should you decide to ask your congresscritter about estate recovery, be prepared for responses such as:

— “Estate recovery doesn’t apply to you.” (Great news. Please overnight a copy of the amendment to OBRA 1993 that stipulates estate recovery is no longer required and no longer allowed. Here’s my address.)

— “Oh, estate recovery is state, I’m federal.” (Wrong – estate recovery is federally mandated although the estate recovery program itself is administered by each state.)

— “I don’t know anything about this.” (Highly unlikely because the expansion of Medicaid is an integral part of the ACA and estate recovery is not a secret.)

— “The ACA wasn’t about revamping Medicaid.” (As explained above, Medicaid regs were revised in order to expand Medicaid.)

— “I’ll look into that and get back to you.” (Don’t hold your breath – they don’t want to go there.)

If you ask about estate recovery when you contact an Exchange or speak with an outreach agency, you’ll probably run into a brick wall or be told it doesn’t apply to you – whatever. But, it doesn’t matter because what you are told is not legally binding. What is legally binding is your signature on the Medicaid application which indicates that you agree to the terms of the contract – which brings us to another item in OBRA 1993. Read on.

OBRA 1993 also contains procedural rules intended to ensure that individuals are informed about Medicaid program requirements including disclosure of estate recovery before they complete the application process and also during the annual re-determination process. Notification of estate recovery should be on the signature page of your state’s Medicaid application and is usually a one-liner: I understand that if I am aged 55 or older, (name of your state’s Medicaid plan) may be able to get back money from my estate after I die. (Use of the word ‘may’ doesn’t mean if the state feels like it – it means recovery will take place unless there are specific circumstances for exemption or deferment as mentioned above.) There are also strict recovery/repayment clauses for injury-related settlements disclosed on the signature page and a few other ditties that apply to you or a family member who is enrolled in Medicaid. All of these items must also be disclosed in your state’s Medicaid handbook.

Under the ACA and proposed federal rules for implementation, states will be required to provide a single, simple application to apply for and enroll in Exchange plans, Medicaid and CHIP, and consumers must be able to apply by phone, in person or online. The Secretary (HHS) is charged with this task and it’s in the works. This begs an answer to the following questions:

— Will Medicaid applicants be diligently informed about estate recovery and other rules that apply to Medicaid enrollees on this single application?
Failure to do so would be in non compliance with OBRA 1993 and would also be deceptive.

— Will applicants be provided with a signature page that contains appropriate disclosure of these rules so they can be reviewed before signing on the dotted line?

— How will appropriate disclosure and obtaining a signature work for those who are bumped into Medicaid due to a decrease in income or who might be auto-enrolled because they were presumed eligible through a database.

If an applicant or someone who has been bumped or auto-enrolled in Medicaid is not satisfied with the terms of the Medicaid contract, lack of another health insurance option that is in the best interest of low-income earners represents undue and unconscionable advantage being taken of this segment of the population under a law that mandates health insurance or a penalty.

Do the health insurance policies enjoyed by lawmakers on Capitol Hill and paid for by taxpayers include an estate recovery program?

Medicaid is poor, underfunded, overstretched and constantly bombarded by state budget cuts – even before an ACA expansion. It offers a low quality of care in many states, and, in general, represents inequities in care. Office-based doctors typically refuse to accept Medicaid patients, thus, millions thrust into this plan will have difficulty finding a primary-care doctor or a specialist.

A perfect example is the December 2012 federal appeals court decision that allowed California to cut reimbursements by 10 percent to doctors, pharmacies and others who serve low-income residents under the state’s Medi-Cal plan (a version of Medicaid) due to state budget issues. California was already at the bottom of the rate-reimbursement heap which made finding doctors difficult for residents in Medi-Cal. This decision will further reduce the number of health care providers willing to take new Medi-Cal patients, thus jeopardizing their access to primary and specialized care. Under the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid, state budget crises across the nation will exacerbate the ongoing problems regarding access to care for Medicaid patients, particularly in states that have a high low-income population.

http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Medi-Cal-cuts-upheld-by-appellate-court-4116971.php

6. INSURANCE PLANS AT THE EXCHANGES

Below are the 4 plan levels that will be offered at Exchanges for people between 138 and 400 percent FPL. Each one has government- approved benefits including prescription coverage. You will be entitled to one free preventive visit each year. Per the most recent study commissioned by the Kaiser Family Foundation, several cost-sharing options were estimated for non-group (individual and family) Bronze and Silver plans. Cost-sharing is the amount you must pay to use your insurance. Your share of the premium is not part of cost-sharing.

http://www.kff.org/healthreform/upload/8303.pdf

The way this works is you will pay for all your medical care until you reach the annual deductible. Then you’ll pay the applicable percentage of coinsurance until you reach the annual out-of-pocket spending cap which will be set on a sliding scale. Annual means these amounts start again the following year, and if they change, you will find out when you re-apply for insurance. There will also be copays – an amount you will pay to the doctor for an office visit.

Here are the current estimates:

Bronze: cheapest and dry as dust with 60/40 coverage – a win-win for insurers

a) annual deductible of $4,375 for an individual (double for a family) with 20 percent coinsurance, b) annual deductible of $3,475 for an individual (double for a family) with 40 percent coinsurance

Silver: next cheapest – offers an illusion of coverage at 70/30

a) annual deductible of $2,050 for an individual (double for a family) with 20 percent coinsurance, b) annual deductible of $650 for an individual (double for a family) with 40 percent coinsurance

Gold: expensive – 80/20 – better coverage

Platinum: most expensive – 90/10 – most comprehensive coverage

A fifth plan will be available for the under-30 crowd and people who have been granted a hardship exemption. See topic 8 in this lesson. Coverage in this plan will be less comprehensive than the Bronze – it is primarily for major-medical expenses except that it has a free preventive visit. Cost-sharing for people at 138 to 200 percent FPL is estimated to be a bit less than the Bronze and Silver estimates mentioned above.

The high deductibles in all but the two most expensive plans could saddle you with mounting bills for routine care and may stop you from seeking necessary treatment for illness or injuries. Many of you will find that the promise of access to affordable health care really means access to inadequate coverage at a price the government has decided you can afford to pay.

The number of drugs in each plan at an Exchange will vary from state to state. In some states, plans will offer up to 99 percent of available drugs and others only 45 percent which means you may not have access to the specific drugs you need. Perhaps Big Pharma will change its stance on this before 2014.

The cost of plans at an Exchange will vary from state to state based on where you live and your age. The ACA allows insurers to charge older customers up to three times more for a plan, even if they are in good health, as long as the state in which an Exchange is located doesn’t have a law that caps age-rating. Some Exchanges will tuck an administrative fee of 2 to 4 percent into premiums to help cover operating expenses.

Cost-sharing tax credits will be available if you are below 250 percent FPL to protect you from high deductibles and copays – but only if you purchase a Silver plan. If you buy the cheaper Bronze plan, you won’t be eligible for these credits, which are, by the way, direct federal payouts to private health insurance companies.

Obamacare has no cost controls. There is nothing stopping the insurance companies from increasing their rates, and Washington has already estimated higher premium costs at the Exchange for 2016 which doesn’t mean that 2015 won’t have an increase. Sounds like 2014 prices will be an Introductory Offer. Get ‘em while their hot!

7. PENALTY FOR BEING UNINSURED

The ACA requires that people who have been deemed able to purchase health insurance but decide not to buy it starting in 2014 will owe a penalty (a tax) to the IRS. Here’s what this looks like:

a) In 2014, the annual penalty will be $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, up to a family maximum of $285 or 1 percent of family income, whichever is greater.

b) In 2015, the penalty will be $325 per adult and $162.50 per child, up to a family maximum of $975 or 2 percent of family income, whichever is greater.

c) In 2016, the penalty will be $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, up to a family maximum of $2,085 or 2.5 percent of family income, whichever is greater.

The IRS collects the penalty, but the ACA stipulates that taxpayers shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty, tax liens, seizure of bank accounts or garnishment of wages for failure to pay it and no accumulation of interest on the unpaid balance. So, it appears that all the IRS can do is deduct the penalty from a refund it owes you, and if you’re not due a refund, then you’ll have an outstanding tax obligation.

Keep in mind that the penalty is described in annual amounts but is really monthly. So, if you are uninsured for only part of the year, you will accrue only 1/12 of the total for each month you are uninsured unless you qualify for an exemption.

8. EXEMPTIONS FROM THE PENALTY

You may be eligible for official permission that excuses you from having to pay the penalty for being uninsured. The requirements are:

a) If the cheapest health care plan available costs more than 8 percent of your MAGI after subtracting the tax credit or employer contribution, whichever is applicable.

b) Your income is so low that you aren’t required to file federal income taxes.

c) You are between jobs and without insurance for up to three months.

d) You have a sincerely-held religious belief that prevents you from seeking and obtaining medical care.

e) You are in jail.

f) You are an undocumented immigrant.

g) You are a member of an Indian tribe or a religious group currently exempt from paying Social Security tax.

If item d) is the case, you must file a sworn statement as part of your tax return, and should you obtain care during the tax year, the exemption will no longer apply and you will have to pay a penalty for being uninsured. Per H.R. 6597, medical care is defined as acute care at a hospital emergency room, walk-in clinic or similar facilities. Medical care excludes treatment not administered or supervised by a medical doctor such as chiropractic, dental, midwifery, personal care assistance, optometry, physical exams or treatment where required by law or third parties such as an employer, and vaccinations.

If you think you can’t afford the amount the government has decided you can afford to pay for your insurance plan, and you don’t fit into any of the categories described above, you can apply for a Hardship Waiver. Details have not yet been provided regarding hardship eligibility requirements under the ACA, but, for an idea of what they might look like, let’s check out what the deal is in Massachusetts which already has a mandated health insurance law – Romneycare! In fact, Romneycare was the model for Obamacare. That’s why some people call Obamacare, Obamneycare.

To qualify for a Certificate of Exemption under Romneycare, a Massachusetts resident must demonstrate that health insurance is not affordable due to one of the following: 1) homelessness; 2) eviction or foreclosure notice; 3) domestic violence-related medical trauma; 4) major long-term illness of a child; 5) death of your spouse; 6) your house burned down; or 7) “you can establish that the expense of purchasing health insurance would cause you to experience serious deprivation of food, shelter, clothing or other necessities.”

Ya gotta luv number 7. And in Massachusetts, exemptions come with an expiration date, so you have to clean up your act in short order. Under the ACA, the Secretary of Health and Human Services will determine if, indeed, you have suffered a hardship that keeps you from being able to pay for coverage.

9. OTHER TIDBITS

There is much more in the ACA including all kinds of rules and penalties for employers, employees and the self employed as well as the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) model which will be mandated starting in 2014. The latter works as follows: under the simplest option available, a small group of doctors and hospitals – an ACO – will manage your care and be graded and paid based on the outcome of all patients who seek treatment with that ACO. The ACO will also be rewarded with a share of the savings in health costs it achieves by following best treatment practices and reaching specific benchmarks set by CMS. The second option, “shared savings plus risk,” is for larger ACOs. Providers will receive a lump-sum payment to treat their patients and assume a portion of the risk for above target spending but are eligible to keep a greater portion of the savings.

Either of these options reduce patient care to numbers and paperwork because doctors are essentially controlled and incentivized by an administrator in some far-flung office. The ACO model is the insurance industry’s version of “budgeting” the cost of health care which ultimately benefits insurers at the expense of doctors and their patients.

Doctors say that basing their pay on treatment outcomes creates an incentive for them to avoid tough cases whose outcomes could “kill my numbers.” “Paradoxically,” writes Dr. G. Keith Smith, “doctors who are doing sham surgery will be the ones with the best outcomes, as their patients, many of whom don’t need surgery in the first place, will exhibit great, basically perfect outcomes. Physicians who don’t do unnecessary surgery will be pushed to do so to improve their ‘scores.’ ‘Pay for performance’ trends in medicine are not a good idea in my opinion. Paying based on patient outcomes will have perverse effects, not the least of which will be the complete denial of care to the very sick.”

http://www.medibid.com/blog/2012/10/your-disease-can-kill-you-in-more-than-one-way/?utm_source=Registered+Physicians&utm_campaign=8f9028ddaf-October_Physician_Newsletter11_17_2012&utm_medium=email

The ACA also requires Health Insurance Exchanges to establish a navigator program to inform the uninsured about the availability of government-approved subsidized plans at an Exchange and to facilitate enrollment in these plans, but it leaves the design of the program up to each Exchange.

Depending how an Exchange sets up its program, some Navigators will sell plans offered by an Exchange while others will be responsible for maintaining the existing market but may also be allowed to sell Exchange plans. All seller Navigators will be compensated either by Exchanges or insurance carriers for the plans they sell. Many options are being considered by Exchanges including using insurance agents. Hopefully, Navigators and insurance agents will not be knocking on your door or contacting you by phone. That would be over the top. Here’s a link to read what the California Exchange is pondering with regard to its Navigation program.

http://www.healthexchange.ca.gov/StakeHolders/Documents/CHBE,DHCS,MRMIB_StatewideAssistersProgramDesignOptionsRecommendationsandWorkPlan_6-26-12.pdf

10. ENROLL AMERICA, HERNDON ALLIANCE & THE EXCHANGES – MASTERS OF SPIN

Since many Americans don’t know about the ACA, somehow the word has to get out and people must be encouraged to purchase health insurance either in the open market or at an Exchange. And who better to do this?

Enter “Enroll America” – a nonprofit 501(c)3, financially backed by Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, UnitedHealth, America’s Health Insurance Plans, hospitals, associations that represent drug manufacturers and nonprofits with vested interests. For insurers and pharma, the ACA is manna from heaven – scratch that – manna from Capitol Hill – and the dollar signs in their eyes are on fire! These profit seekers and connected nonprofits will be using every avenue possible to maximize their bottom lines.

The mission of Enroll America per its website is to “ensure that all Americans are enrolled in and retain health coverage.” It’s Board of Directors and Advisory Council reads like a Who’s Who in the Medical Industry Cartel – CEOs, presidents, vice presidents and directors of such entities as the American Hospital Association, Express Scripts, Medicaid Health Plans of America, Kaiser Permanente and many others – the list is long. If you would like to donate to these mega-profit vultures, you can do so on the Enroll America home- page. The goal is $100 million by 2014.

http://www.enrollamerica.org

In its publication, “Ten Ways to Make Health Coverage Enrollment and Renewal Easy,” Enroll America has recommended availability of web-based applications to increase the places where people can enroll in coverage: at home, at grocery stores, community health centers, state fairs, sporting events, places of worship, and more. Gee, you can apply for insurance while you pray. How thoughtful.

http://www.enrollamerica.org/best-practices-institute

The strategy for insurers and state Exchanges to persuade you to purchase insurance and warn you about the penalties includes using ads, social media, blogs, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, hospitals, health centers, McDonald’s, in-store radio announcements, ballparks, county fairs, libraries, laundromats, community events, libraries, county fairs and drugstores – you name it. Blue Cross Blue Shield has partnered with H & R Block. Health insurers are already setting up shop inside some supermarkets so they can answer your questions and sign you up for coverage while you do your grocery shopping. They will likely be showing up in shopping malls – maybe even in parking lots, on street corners and at church fairs. And, their aim is to recreate themselves from the bloodsucking leeches that they are to your new, cool-dude friends.

We’ll be living in Occupied Territory.

Let’s connect some dots. The executive director of Enroll America is Ron Pollack, also president of Families USA – a nonprofit and friend of the industry. On its website, Families USA bills itself as “a national non-partisan organization dedicated to the achievement of high quality, affordable health care for all Americans.” Philippe Villers and Robert Crittenden, M.D. are on Families USA Board of Directors. Mr. Villers is also on the BOD of Herndon Alliance, Bob Crittenden is a Herndon staff member and Ron Pollack is a Herndon founder.

http://www.familiesusa.org

Herndon Alliance is an influential health care spinmeister creating messaging to change public opinion and tweaking each message to reach particular groups.

Herndon has close ties to Capitol Hill and helped market the ACA providing words politicians and supporters should use to promote the bill. For example, during the national health care debacle a few years ago, you heard Mr. Obama et al continually talk about ‘choice,’ ‘we need a uniquely American solution,’ ‘fair rules,’ ‘investing in America’s future’ and ‘high-quality, affordable healthcare.’ That last one is used in Families USA mission statement. The Council for Affordable Health Insurance, a frontgroup for the industry, gets right to the point – its name. Ron Pollack worked with the Obama administration to help reshape public opinion of Mr. Obama’s unpopular health care bill. Leading up to 2014 when the Exchanges are scheduled to open, there will most likely be a blitz of TV ads in which you will hear many of these same nebulous, feel-good words. And, you’ll undoubtedly read or hear plenty of Herndon spin from your Exchange and throughout your state in the immediate future.

In the interest of coming up with messaging, Enroll America held a few focus groups and commissioned a nationwide survey in fall 2012. Research was provided by Celinda Lake from Lake Research Partners, a national public opinion and political strategy research firm. One takeaway was when a monthly premium cost was given, the majority of people polled thought that it was too expensive and the ACA would not provide affordable and comprehensive coverage even with the government tax credits (subsidies). So, Lake Research Partners advised Enroll America not to mention specific costs but to use the phrase ‘free or low-cost plans.’

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/20/us/officials-confront-skepticism-over-health-law.html?ref=us&_r=0&pagewanted=all

Herndon has been working on messaging various parts of the ACA that will be used by outreach partners, insurers and state Exchanges. Its messaging is not based on truth or evidence – Herndon actually stays away from any mention of facts as you read above regarding the cost of plans. Instead, its messaging is designed to mislead an uninformed public.

A few of Herndon’s target populations include voters, people of color, red states, skeptical audiences, and you’ll love this one – Elevator Language with a list of succinct scripts to use based on the person you’re speaking to during the ride. You must check out Herndon’s website and read the many instructions of what to say and what not to say. You’ll either get very annoyed or laugh yourself silly.

http://herndonalliance.org/resources/research/communications-tips-exchange-talking-with-voters.html
http://herndonalliance.org/resources/implementation-basics/communications-tips-to-use-with-skeptical-audiences.html

Here are some examples of Herndon spin regarding the ACA:

— Use “family values” when talking to the public about the expansion of Medicaid. Is estate recovery a family value?

http://herndonalliance.org/resources/what-s-new/talking-about-medicaid-connecting-with-the-public.html

— When talking about the ACA’s required Accountable Care Organization (ACO) model that will pay doctors according to patient outcomes and reward them for savings they achieve, Herndon says to call this “Coordinated Patient Care” and “do not connect pricing with rewards or incentives for doctors” or “with lump-sum payments for medical care” and do not mention “payment based on positive patient outcomes.” Why not? The three do-nots are how ACOs work. (ACOs are described in topic 9.)

http://herndonalliance.org/resources/system-change/payment-reform-quality-care-pricing.html http://herndonalliance.org/resources/system-change/coordinated-patient-care.html

— Here’s an award winner: “Members of Congress will purchase their insurance at the Exchange. If members of Congress are part of the marketplace then it’s got to offer quality plans and protections.”

http://herndonalliance.org/resources/research/communications-tips-exchange-talking-with-voters.html

— Stressing that under the ACA insurers won’t be able to deny coverage for pre-existing diseases is a Herndon biggie. In fact, you heard this many times over from Mr. Obama and other politicians. But a loophole in the law allows insurers to rescind (cancel) your policy if you intentionally put false or incomplete information on your application. The ACA says you must be given at least 30 days’ notice before your coverage can be rescinded, giving you time to appeal the decision or find new coverage. So, if your care becomes costly for the insurer and you didn’t mention you had a rash on your arm when you were 15, that will work. How can you prove if leaving this out was intentional or not? It’s them against you.

Enroll America’s Best Practices Institute is publishing a series of briefs on the best way to write and design websites and marketing materials, no doubt, using Herndon messaging. PR and marketing firms are helping various state Exchanges come up with appealing branding such as using a name everyone will like and spiffy logos with cool type styles in colors that will appeal to all audiences. Branding lessons include advising Exchanges which words to ‘embrace’ such as emphasizing choice, control, transparency and competition. Other messaging includes, “the Exchange should be viewed as an educator, not an enforcer” and using the word ‘marketplace’ instead of Exchange is a must. Tennessee Health Care Campaign will be telling potential customers “. . . the exchange offers us more choices, greater control over our health care, and more competition to control costs.” It’s all Herndon’s handywork in one form or another.

http://dhmh.maryland.gov/exchange/pdf/Brand_Recommd_may182012_final.pdf http://www.thcc2.org/PDFs/rtm_exchange_talking_point.pdf

More choice means choice of insurance companies, not choice of doctors and hospitals. In rural areas, there may be only one insurer offering plans which means one network and doctors may not be taking new patients. This happened in MA under Romneycare, and on top of that, many doctors would not accept people in the subsidized plans because of time-consuming red tape and low reimbursement rates. Under the ACA, insurers are planning to limit networks in the cheaper plans at the Exchanges. Having too few doctors in a network is a means of suppressing the use of health care which increases an insurer’s profits. Further on in this lesson, you’ll learn that the Maryland Exchange has been advised to ignore negative problems such as not enough doctors to serve the newly insured.

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2013/January/23/HMO-limited-networks-comeback-in-exchanges.aspx

Choice is definitely a non starter for people found eligible for Medicaid – the ACA allows no other choice for this segment of the population and many doctors do not accept Medicaid. As for giving you greater control, considering all the rules about income and FPL, not to mention the data-mining to monitor your income during the year and those nasty tax credit paybacks, it’s you who is being controlled. And competition? Read this stunning op-ed by Nomi Prins: “Real Danger of “Obamacare” Insurance Company Takeover of Health Care.”

http://www.nationofchange.org/real-danger-obamacare-insurance-company-takeover-health-care-1352648027

In Enroll America’s January 15, 2013 press release, Executive Director Rachel Klein says the ACA offers the promise of “access to comprehensive, affordable health coverage.” That is a false promise. As you learned in this lesson, coverage in the plans that will be offered at the Exchanges, with the exception of the two most expensive, is anything but comprehensive – the cheaper plans are unaffordable to use. Furthermore, how can she claim that the cost of the plans are affordable? Ms. Klein should be well aware of the nationwide survey Enroll America commissioned in which the majority of people polled said that the plans are too expensive.

http://files.www.enrollamerica.org/news-room/press-releases/Enroll_America_Plans_Major_Affordable_Care_Act_Enrollment_Campaign_1-15-13.pdf
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/20/us/officials-confront-skepticism-over-health-law.html?ref=us&_r=0&pagewanted=all

Currently PR firms are working with some state Exchanges to develop effective communications plans and advertising campaigns. Names include Mintz & Hoke, Hill & Company Communications and Weber Shandwick just to name a few. Ask the Massachusetts Health Insurance Connector – the prototype of an Exchange in the land of Romneycare – how much it spent on PR contracts over the years. In 2007, board members signed off on a two-year contract with Weber Shandwick for $1.85 million the first year with nearly $3 million for advertising – commission on media buys not included. And, by the way, the MA Connector upper management boasts six-figure salaries. Former MA Connector Executive Director Jon Kingsdale’s salary in 2007 was $225,000 and increased in 2008 to $231,750. In 2007, Deputy Director Rosemary Day alternated between a four-day and five-day work week to the tune of $175,000. These are only two examples of the many high-flying salaries at the MA Connector, an operation run by politicians and unelected political appointees and influenced by executives from the private insurance industry,

http://www.wickedlocal.com/cambridge/news/x497793387/Connector-re-ups-contract-with-Cambridge-based-Weber-Shandwick http://www.boston.com/yourlife/health/other/articles/2007/01/27/6_figure_pay_for_care_plan_overseers/?page=full http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-166773095.html

Add up pay scales like that for every Exchange in the country, throw in some bennies, a PR contract for each Exchange, campaign costs and compensation paid by Exchanges to Navigators for plans they sell – a grand and costly effort to push more people into America’s for-profit health care system. Your tax dollars at work and mega bucks that could be used for actual hands-on medical care.

The Maryland Exchange has three campaign funding levels – Basic, Plus and Full-Scale – with a total for year one, two and three. Basic funding for year one is $2,450,000, Plus is $4,000,000 and Full-Scale is $6,300,000. See p.137 at this link for years two and three.

http://www.dhmh.maryland.gov/exchange/pdf/FinalAdvertisingReportWeber.pdf

The following, from the maryland link above, gives you an idea of some of the strategies that will be in play, most likely in all states. The Maryland Exchange has been advised by Weber Shandwick to “establish a system to monitor newspaper, radio, TV and online conversations about the Exchange and the program and to establish procedures and priorities for responding to negative media stories, op-eds, blogs and reports.” You can find this in the Risk Management and Responses section of Maryland’s strategic marketing plan.

In the Earned Media/Public Relations section, advice includes “ . . . putting out stories on the first effective enrollees, enrollment number milestones, and enrollee testimonials. Each of these becomes the focus for positive, brand-reinforcing stories. There will also be the risk of negative stories, including potential topics such as enrollment snafus, delays in issuing insurance cards, the cost of Qualified Health Plans [government-approved plans], claims of ‘shoddy’ Bronze coverage, incidents of physicians refusing to accept enough new patients to serve the uninsured and other negative topics.” “While coverage is bound to include some level of criticism it can be success- fully countered by putting a human face on heatlh reform.”

The Social and Digital Media section advises an invasion of the Internet including social media to market health insurance by “delivering the right messages to the right audience at the right time,” (probably using Herndon spin) to “help drive enrollment in the Exchange,” and also flooding newspapers with op-eds to contradict reported adverse effects of the ACA.

More details can be found at the Maryland pdf link below. It’s worth looking at this presentation to grasp the big business approach of Exchanges which is clearly profit-driven. The Maryland Exchange strategy is just one example. The goal of Exchanges is sell, sell, sell.

http://www.dhmh.maryland.gov/exchange/pdf/FinalAdvertisingReportWeber.pdf

Exchanges certainly have a lofty goal – promote success stories only and be ready to contradict and cover up the bad stuff as quickly as possible. Massachusetts residents have been there. The Connector and state politicians including the governor made sure that anyone being harmed by Romneycare would not be heard in spite of statewide survey reports put together by outreach agencies advising state legislators and power-players that low-income people were not faring well under this law. Various issues were spelled out and testimonials were included, but residents’ concerns about the adverse effects of Romneycare were ignored. MA national legislators also went along with this agenda as did the mainstream media.

When $130 million was needed in 2009 to balance the Massachusetts state budget, the Connector – with the blessing of MA Gov. Deval Patrick and the MA legislature – removed about 28,000 legal immigrants – working people paying taxes – from their insurance plans. Another 8,000 or so were barred from enrolling in insurance plans because the MA legislature voted to cap enrollment in the subsidized plans. This took place at the same time Mr. Obama was trying to sell the ACA to the nation, so, under pressure from Washington, the MA legislature restored some of the money, and the Connector dumped these people, without their consent, into an out-of-state plan with higher copays, less comprehensive coverage and next to no doctors or safety net hospitals in its network.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/iyah-romm/lessons-from-massachusett_b_380718.html

This has huge implications for the ACA. If legal immigrants can be removed from their plans and others denied enrollment when a state budget is squeezed, which vulnerable segment of the population is next in line? The good news is these legal immigrants in MA sued the Connector and its then-Executive Director, Jon Kingsdale, and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously that the state could not violate their right to equal protection under the state and federal constitutions and fiscal considerations alone can not justify a state’s invidious discrimination against them. As a result of this decision, the state had to come up with some bucks, and the Connector was forced to put the plaintiffs back into their original plans.

http://www.healthlawadvocates.org/priority-areas?id=0015

Getting back to Enroll America, Herndon Alliance and some of the less-than-honorable Exchange strategies – it’s one thing to inform Americans about the ACA and Exchanges that offer the possibility of either purchasing high-deductible or catastrophic coverage with a loan from the government to help pay for it or being tossed into expanded Medicaid – but, mounting a costly, massive campaign to purposely deceive and manipulate the public with the unstated goal of more profit for the already extremely lucrative health insurance industry is disgraceful.

———————————————-

Is the ACA a fair law if it helps only one small segment of the population but hurts and exploits a larger number to do so? The way this law works is fundamentally unfair and will not bring medical care to the many, but, instead will progress to greater personal debt for individuals and families who can’t afford the “affordable” insurance as well as those who must keep an eye on their income to avoid the many traps and false ends this law creates. At their expense, the forced purchase of health insurance will bring increased revenue to the industry, not to mention more kickbacks to Congress, and in the very near future, the health insurance industry will be “too big to fail.”

The ACA is most definitely a “uniquely American solution” which has little to do with reforming this country’s barbaric health care system. It merely controls peoples’ finances and choices while leaving insurance companies in charge and does virtually nothing to end their abuses. It will leave many millions of Americans uninsured and millions more underinsured at a staggering cost to taxpayers.

Politicians, health care policy wonks and vested interests will brush aside the ACA’s adverse effects. You’ll hear that some have fallen through the cracks of health care reform but the problems can be easily tweaked. You will also witness the usual dog-and-pony show on Capitol Hill in which the two parties play the blame game. The bought-and-paid-for mainstream media will regurgitate whatever Washington feeds it, and TV talking heads will chime in, inviting their “experts” to analyze the situation while real people in the real world struggle to get by under this law or fall by the wayside.

Good luck everyone and watch out for the folding chairs.

addendum:

Obamacare architect leaves White House for pharmaceutical industry job

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/05/obamacare-fowler-lobbyist-industry1

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal.  His latest book,  Wirtschaft am Abgrund (Economies In Collapse) has just been published.

February 5, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What is ObamaCare?

High-Cost Privatized Medicine that Guarantees Billions of Dollars in Profits to Private Insurance Companies

By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS | CounterPunch | April 11, 2012

Growing up in the post-war era (after the Second World War), I never expected to live in the strange Kafkaesque world that exists today. The US government can assassinate any US citizen that the executive branch thinks could possibly be a “threat” to the US government, or throw the hapless citizen into a dungeon for the rest of his or her life without presenting any evidence to a court or obtaining a conviction of any crime, or send the “threat” to a puppet foreign state to be tortured until the “threat” confesses to a crime that never occurred or dies at the hands of “freedom and democracy” while professing innocence.

It has never been revealed how a single citizen, or any number thereof, could possibly comprise a threat to a government that has a trillion plus dollars to spend each year on security and weapons, the world’s largest navy and air force, 700 plus military bases across the world, large numbers of nuclear weapons, 16 intelligence agencies plus the intelligence agencies of its NATO puppet states and the intelligence service of Israel.

Nevertheless, air travelers are subjected to porno-scanning and sexual groping. Cars traveling on Interstate highways can expect to be stopped, with traffic backed up for miles, while Homeland Security and the federalized state or local police conduct searches.

I witnessed one such warrantless search on Easter Sunday. The south bound lanes of I-185 heading into Columbus, Georgia, were at a standstill while black SUV and police car lights flashed. US citizens were treated by “security” forces that they finance as if they were “terrorists” or “domestic extremists,” another undefined class of Americans devoid of constitutional protections.

These events are Kafkaesque in themselves, but they are ever more so when one considers that these extraordinary violations of the US Constitution fail to be overturned in the Supreme Court. Apparently, American citizens lack standing to defend their civil liberties.

Yet, ObamaCare is before the US Supreme Court. The conservative majority might now utilize the “judicial activism” for which conservatives have criticized liberals. Hypocrisy should no longer surprise us. However, the fight over ObamaCare is not worth five cents.

It is extraordinary that “liberals,” “progressives,” “Democrats,” whatever they are, are defending a “health program” that uses public monies to pay private insurance companies and that raises the cost of health care.

Americans have been brainwashed that “a single-payer system is unaffordable” because it is “socialized medicine.” Despite this propaganda, accepted by many Americans, European countries manage to afford single-payer systems. Health care is not a stress, a trauma, an unaffordable expense for European populations. Among the Western Civilized Nations, only the richest, the US, has no universal health care.

The American health care system is the most expensive of all on earth. The reason for the extraordinary expense is the multiple of entities that must make profits. The private doctors must make profits. The private testing centers must make profits.The private specialists who receive the referrals from general practitioners must make profits. The private hospitals must make profits. The private insurance companies must make profits. The profits are a huge cost of health care.

On top of these profits come the costs of preventing and combatting fraud. Because private insurance companies resist paying and Medicare pays a small fraction of the medical charges, private health care providers charge as much as they possibly can, knowing that the payments will be cut to the bone. But a billing mistake of even $300 can bankrupt a health care provider from legal expenses defending him/her self from fraud accusations.

The beauty of a single-payer system is that it takes the profits out of the system. No one has to make profits. Wall Street cannot threaten insurance companies and private health care companies with being taken over because their profits are too low. No health-provider in a single-payer system has to worry about being displaced in a takeover organized by Wall Street because the profits are too low.

Because a single-payer system eliminates the profits that drive up the costs, Wall Street, Insurance companies, and “free market economists” hate a “socialized” medical care system. They prefer a socialized “private” health care system in which public monies flow into private insurance companies.

To make the costs as high as possible, conservatives and the private insurance companies devised ObamaCare. The bill was written by conservative think tanks and the private insurance companies. What the “socialistic” ObamaCare bill does is to take income taxes paid by citizens and use the taxes to subsidize the private medical premiums charges by private health care providers in order to provide “private” health care to US citizens who cannot afford it.

The extremely high costs of ObamaCare is not “socialistic medicine.” ObamaCare is high-cost privatized medicine that guarantees billions of dollars in profits to private insurance companies.

It remains to be seen whether such a ridiculous health care scheme, nowhere extant on earth except in Romney’s Massachusetts, will provide health care or just private profits.

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.  His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press.

April 11, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Comments Off on What is ObamaCare?

The “Critics” of 9/11 Truth. Do They Have a Case?

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts | September 13, 2011

The short answer to the question in the title is no.

The 9/11 truth critics have nothing but ad hominem arguments.

Let’s examine the case against “the truthers” presented by Ted Rall, Ann Barnhardt, and Alexander Cockburn.

But first let’s define who “the truthers” are.

The Internet has made it possible for anyone to have a web site and to rant and speculate to their heart’s content. There are a large number of “9/11 conspiracy theorists”.

Many on both sides of the issue are equally ignorant. Neither side has any shame about demonstrating ignorance.

Both sides of the issue have conspiracy theories.

9/11 was a conspiracy whether a person believes that it was an inside job or that a handful of Arabs outwitted the entire intelligence apparatus of the Western world and the operational response of NORAD and the US Air Force.

For one side to call the other conspiracy theorists is the pot calling the kettle black.

The question turns not on name-calling but on evidence.

The 9/11 Truth movement was not created by bloggers ranting on their web sites. It was created by professional architects and engineers some of whom are known for having designed steel high rise buildings.

It was created by distinguished scientists, such as University of Copenhagen nano-Chemist Niels Harrit who has 60 scientific papers to his credit and physicist Steven Jones.

It was created by US Air Force pilots and commercial airline pilots who are expert at flying airplanes.

It was created by firefighters who were in the twin towers and who personally heard and experienced numerous explosions including explosions in the sub-basements. It was created by members of 9/11 families who desire to know how such an improbable event as 9/11 could possibly occur.

The professionals and the scientists are speaking from the basis of years of experience and expert knowledge. Moreover, the scientists are speaking from the basis of careful research into the evidence that exists.

When an international research team of scientists spends 18 months studying the components in the dust from the towers and the fused pieces of concrete and steel, they know what they are doing. When they announce that they have definite evidence of incendiaries and explosives, you can bet your life that that have the evidence.

When a physicist proves that Building 7 (the stories not obscured by other buildings) fell at free fall speed and NIST has to acknowledge that he is correct, you can bet your life that the physicist is correct.

When fire department captains and clean-up teams report molten steel–and their testimony is backed up with photographs–in the debris of the ruins weeks and months after the buildings’ destruction, you can bet your life the molten steel was there.

When the same authorities report pumping fire suppressants and huge quantities of water with no effect on the molten steel, you can bet your life that the temperature long after the buildings’ destruction remained extremely high, far higher than any building fire can reach.

When the architects, engineers, and scientists speak, they offer no theory of who is responsible for 9/11. They state that the known evidence supports neither the NIST reports nor the 9/11 Commission Report. They say that the explanation that the government has provided is demonstrably wrong and that an investigation is required if we are to discover the truth about the event.

It is not a conspiracy theory to examine the evidence and to state that the evidence does not support the explanation that has been given.

That is the position of the 9/11 Truth movement.

What is the position of the movement’s critics? Ted Rall says: “Everything I’ve read and watched on Truther sites is easily dismissed by anyone with a basic knowledge of physics and architecture. (I spent three years in engineering school.)”

Wow! What powerful credentials. Has Rall ever designed a high rise steel building? Could Rall engage in a debate with a professor of nano-chemistry? Could he refute Newton’s laws in a debate with university physicists? Does Rall know anything about maneuvering airplanes? Does he have an explanation why 100 firefighters, janitors, and police report hearing and experiencing explosions that they did not hear or experience?

Clearly, Ted Rall has no qualifications whatsoever to make any judgment about the judgments of experts whose knowledge exceeds his meager understanding by a large amount.

Ann Barnhardt writes: “I gotta tell you, I’ve just about had it with these 9/11 truthers. If there is one phenomenon in our sick, sick culture that sums up how far gone and utterly damaged we are as a people, it is 9/11 trutherism. It pretty much covers everything: self-loathing, antisemitism, zero knowledge of rudimentary physics and a general inability to think logically.” She goes down hill from here.

Amazing, isn’t she? Physics professors have “zero knowledge of rudimentary physics.”

Internationally recognized logicians have “a general inability to think logically.” People trained in the scientific method who use it to seek truth are “self-loathing.” If you doubt the government’s account you are antisemitic. Barnhardt then provides her readers with a lesson in physics, structural architecture and engineering, and the behavior of steel under heat and stress that is the most absolute nonsense imaginable.

Obviously, Barnhardt knows nothing whatsoever about what she is talking about, but overflowing with hubris she dismisses real scientists and professionals with ad hominem arguments. She adds to her luster with a video of herself tearing out pages of the Koran, which she has marked with slices of bacon, and burning the pages.

Now we come to Alexander Cockburn. He is certainly not stupid. I know him. He is pleasant company. He provides interesting intellectual conversation. I like him. Yet, he also arrogantly dismisses highly qualified experts who provide evidence contrary to the official government story of 9/11.

Cockburn avoids evidence presented by credentialed experts and relies on parody. He writes that the conspiracists claim that the twin towers “pancaked because Dick Cheney’s agents–scores of them–methodically planted demolition charges.”

Little doubt but there are bloggers somewhere in the vast Internet world who say this. But this is not what the professionals are saying who have provided evidence that the official account is not correct. The experts are simply saying that the evidence does not support the official explanation. More recently, an international team of scientists has reported finding unequivocal evidence of incendiaries and explosives. They have not said anything about who planted them. Indeed, they have said that other scientists should test their conclusions by repeating the research. After calling experts “conspiracy kooks,” Alex then damns them for not putting forward “a scenario of the alleged conspiracy.”

Moreover, not a single one of the experts believes the towers “pancaked.” This was an early explanation that, I believe, was tentatively put forward by NIST, but it had to be abandoned because of the speed with which the buildings came down and due to other problems.

Unlike Rall and Barnhardt, Cockburn does refer to evidence, but it is second or third-hand hearsay evidence that is nonsensical on its face. For example, Cockburn writes that Chuck Spinney “tells me that ‘there ARE pictures taken of the 757 plane hitting Pentagon–they were taken by the surveillance cameras at Pentagon’s heliport, which was right next to impact point. I have seen them both–stills and moving pictures. I just missed seeing it personally, but the driver of the van I just got out of in South Parking saw it so closely that he could see the terrified faces of passengers in windows.’”

If there were pictures or videos of an airliner hitting the Pentagon, they would have been released years ago. They would have been supplied to the 9/11 Commission. Why would the government refuse for 10 years to release pictures that prove its case? The FBI confiscated all film from all surveillance cameras. No one has seen them, much less a Pentagon critic such as Spinney.

I have to say that the van driver must have better eyes than an eagle if he could see expressions on passenger faces through those small airliner portholes in a plane traveling around 500 mph. Try it sometime. Sit on your front steps and try to discern the expressions of automobile passengers through much larger and clearer windows traveling down your street in a vehicle moving 30 mph. Then kick the speed up 16.7 times to 500 mph and report if you see anything but a blur.

Cockburn’s other evidence that 9/11 truthers are kooks is a letter that Herman Soifer, who claims to be a retired structural engineer, wrote to him summarizing “the collapse of Buildings 1 and 2 succinctly.” This is what Soifer, who “had followed the plans and engineering of the Towers during construction” wrote to Alex: “The towers were basically tubes, essentially hollow.” This canard was disposed of years ago. If Alex had merely googled the plans of the buildings, he would have discovered that there were no thin-walled hollow tubes, but a very large number of massively thick steel beams.

Cockburn’s willingness to dismiss as kooks numerous acknowledged experts on the basis of a claim that a van driver saw terrified faces of passengers moving at 500 mph and a totally erroneous description in a letter from a person who knew nothing whatsoever about the structural integrity of the buildings means that he is a much braver person than I.

Before I call architects kooks whose careers were spent building steel high rises, I would want to know a lot more about the subject than I do. Before I poke fun at nano-chemists and physicists, I would want to at least be able to read their papers and find the scientific flaws in their arguments.

Yet, none of the people who ridicule 9/11 skeptics are capable of this. How, for example, can Rall, Barnhardt, or Cockburn pass judgment on a nano-chemist with 40 years of experience and 60 scientific publications to his credit?

They cannot, but nevertheless do. They don’t hesitate to pass judgment on issues about which they have no knowledge or understanding. This is an interesting psychological phenomenon worthy of study and analysis.

Another interesting phenomenon is the strong emotional reactions that many have to 9/11, an event about which they have little information. Even the lead members of the 9/11 Commission itself have said that information was withheld from them and the commission was set up to fail. People who rush to the defense of NIST do not even know what they are defending as NIST refuses to release the details of the simulation upon which NIST bases its conclusion.

There is no 9/11 debate.

On the one hand there are credentialed experts who demonstrate problems in the official account, and on the other hand there are non-experts who denounce the experts as conspiracy kooks.

The experts are cautious and careful about what they say, and their detractors have thrown caution and care to the wind. That is the state of the debate.

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September 14, 2011 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 9 Comments

America’s Third World Economy

The Great Transformation

By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS | October 8, 2010

For a number of years I reported on the monthly non-farm payroll jobs data. The data did not support the praises economists were singing to the “New Economy.” The “New Economy” consisted, allegedly, of financial services, innovation, and high-tech services.

This economy was taking the place of the old “dirty fingernail” economy of industry and manufacturing. Education would retrain the workforce, and we would move on to a higher level of prosperity.

Time after time I reported that there was no sign of the “New Economy” jobs, but that the old economy jobs were disappearing. The only net new jobs were in lowly paid domestic services such as waitresses and bartenders, retail clerks, health care and social assistance (mainly ambulatory health care services), and, before the bubble burst, construction.

The facts, issued monthly by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, had no impact on the ”New Economy” propaganda. Economists continued to wax eloquently about how globalism was a boon for our future.

The millions of unemployed today are blamed on the popped real estate bubble and the sub-prime derivative financial crisis. However, the US economy has been losing jobs for a decade. As manufacturing, information technology, software engineering, research, development, and tradable professional services have been moved offshore, the American middle class has shriveled. The ladders of upward mobility that made American an “opportunity society” have been dismantled.

The wage and salary cost savings obtained by giving Americans’ jobs to Chinese and Indians have enriched corporate CEOs, shareholders, and Wall Street at the expense of the middle class and America’s consumer economy.

The loss of middle class jobs and incomes was covered up for years by the expansion of consumer debt to substitute for the lack of income growth. Americans refinanced their homes and spent the equity, and they maxed out their credit cards.

Consumer debt expansion has run its course, and there is no possibility of continuing to drive the economy with additions to consumer debt.

Economists and policymakers continue to ignore the fact that all employment in tradable goods and services can be moved offshore (or filled by foreigners brought in on H-1b and L-1 visas). The only replacement jobs are in nontradable domestic services, that is, those jobs that require “hands-on” activity, such as ambulatory health services, barbers, cleaning services, waitresses and bartenders–jobs that describe the labor force of a third world country. Even many of these jobs are now filed with foreigners brought in on R-1 type visas from Russia, Ukraine, Thailand, Romania, and elsewhere.

The loss of American jobs and the compression of consumer income by low wages has removed consumer demand as the driving force of the economy. This is the reason expansionary monetary and fiscal policies are having no effect.

The latest jobs report issued today shows that America’s transformation into a third world economy continues. The economy lost 95,000 jobs in September, mainly due to cuts in local education and federal employment. Part of the loss of 159,000 government jobs was offset by 64,000 new private sector jobs.

Where are the new jobs? They are in nontradable lowly paid domestic services: 32,000 were in health care and social services, and 33,900 were in food services and drinking places.

There you have it. That is America’s “New Economy.”

Paul Craig Roberts was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.  His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com

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October 8, 2010 Posted by | Economics | , | 1 Comment

Is Anyone Telling Us The Truth?

By Paul Craig Roberts | January 7, 2010

What are we to make of the failed Underwear Bomber plot, the Toothpaste, Shampoo, and Bottled Water Bomber plot, and the Shoe Bomber plot? These blundering and implausible plots to bring down an airliner seem far removed from al-Qaida’s expertise in pulling off 9/11.

If we are to believe the U.S. government, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged al-Qaida “mastermind” behind 9/11, outwitted the CIA, the NSA, indeed all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies as well as those of all U.S. allies including Mossad, the National Security Council, NORAD, Air Traffic Control, Airport Security four times on one morning, and Dick Cheney, and with untrained and inexperienced pilots pulled off skilled piloting feats of crashing hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center towers, and the Pentagon, where a battery of state of the art air defenses somehow failed to function.

After such amazing success, al-Qaida would have attracted the best minds in the business, but, instead, it has been reduced to amateur stunts.

The Underwear Bomb plot is being played to the hilt on the TV media and especially on Fox “news.” After reading recently that The Washington Post allowed a lobbyist to write a news story that preached the lobbyist’s interest, I wondered if the manufacturers of full body scanners were behind the heavy coverage of the Underwear Bomber, if not behind the plot itself.  In America, everything is for sale. Integrity is gone with the wind.

Recently I read a column by an author who has a “convenience theory” about the Underwear Bomber being a Nigerian allegedly trained by al-Qaida in Yemen.  As the U.S. is involved in an undeclared war in Yemen, about which neither the American public nor Congress were informed or consulted, the Underwear Bomb plot provided a convenient excuse for Washington’s new war, regardless of whether it was a real attack or a put-up job.

Once you start to ask yourself about whose agenda is served by events and their news spin, other things come to mind.  For example, last July there was a news report that the government in Yemen had disbanded a terrorist cell, which was operating under the supervision of Israeli intelligence services. According to the news report, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh told Saba news agency that a terrorist cell was arrested and that the case was referred to judicial authorities “for its links with the Israeli intelligence services.”

Could the Underwear Bomber have been one of the Israeli terrorist recruits?  Certainly Israel has an interest in keeping the US fully engaged militarily against all potential foes of Israel’s territorial expansion.

The thought brought back memory of my Russian studies at Oxford University where I learned that the Tsar’s secret police set off bombs so that they could blame those whom they wanted to arrest.

I next remembered that Francesco Cossiga, the president of Italy from 1985-1992, revealed the existence of Operation Gladio, a false flag operation under NATO auspices that carried out bombings across Europe in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.  The bombings were blamed on communists and were used to discredit communist parties in elections.

An Italian parliamentary investigation unearthed the fact that the attacks were overseen by the CIA. Gladio agent Vincenzo Vinciguerra stated in sworn testimony that the attacks targeted innocent civilians, including women and children, in order “to force the public to turn to the state to ask for greater security.”

What a coincidence. That is exactly what 9/11 succeeded in accomplishing in the U.S.

Among the well-meaning and the gullible in the West, the supposition still exists that government represents the public interest.  Political parties keep this myth alive by fighting over which party best represents the public’s interest.  In truth, government represents private interests, those of the office holders themselves and those of the lobby groups that finance their political campaigns. The public is in the dark as to the real agendas.

The U.S. and its puppet state allies were led to war in the Middle East and Afghanistan entirely on the basis of lies and deception.  Iraqi weapons of mass destruction did not exist and were known by the U.S. and British governments not to exist.  Forged documents, such as the “yellowcake documents,” were leaked to newspapers in order to create news reporting that would bring the public along with the government’s war agenda.

Now the same thing is happening in regard to the nonexistent Iranian nuclear weapons program.  Forged documents leaked to The Times (London) that indicated Iran was developing a “nuclear trigger” mechanism have been revealed as forgeries.

Who benefits? Clearly, attacking Iran is on the Israeli-U.S. agenda, and someone is creating the “evidence” to support the case, just as the leaked secret “Downing Street Memo” to the British cabinet informed Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government that President Bush had already made the decision to invade Iraq and “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

The willingness of people to believe their rulers and the propaganda ministries that serve the rulers is astonishing.  Many Americans believe Iran has a nuclear weapons program despite the unanimous conclusion of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies to the contrary.

Vice President Dick Cheney and the neoconservatives fought hard with limited success to change the CIA’s role from intelligence agency to a political agency that manufactures facts in support of the neoconservative agenda.  For the Bush Regime creating “new realities” was more important than knowing the facts.

Recently I read a proposal from a person purporting to favor an independent media that stated that we must save the print media from financial failure with government subsidies. Such a subsidy would complete the subservience of the media to government.Even in Stalinist Russia, a totalitarian political system where everyone knew that there was no free press, a gullible or intimidated public and Communist Party enabled Joseph Stalin to put the heroes of the Bolshevik Revolution on show trial and execute them as capitalist spies.

In the U.S. we are developing our own show trials.  Sheikh Mohammed’s will be a big one.  As Chris Hedges recently pointed out, once government uses demonized Muslims to get the new justice (sic) system going, the rest of us will be next.

Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term.  He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal.

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January 10, 2010 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment