17 Oct 2009

"Which is what happens when you call the Feds!"

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One of my favorite scenes in Firefly–a show that was taken from us much too soon–is from the episode “Ariel” when Jayne tries to collect the reward on the fugitives traveling with them, and the official with whom he had the deal ends up arresting Jayne and trying to collect the bounty himself.

Now I am not 100% sure this is what went down, but I think this is the chronology:

(1) Obama cut a deal with the insurance industry in the spring, where he agreed the government wouldn’t try to limit prescription payments etc., and would have a high fine of non-insured in order to funnel a bunch of new “customers” onto the insurance rolls, in exchange for the insurers running a favorable ad campaign. (Recall that hardcore progressive activists called Obama a “charming liar” after he cut the deal.)

(2) When Wolf Blitzer was amazing (for a CNN reporter) and kept pressing David Axelrod on why the federal government doesn’t break down barriers to interstate competition–if all the government wants is more choices and lower prices for consumers–Axelrod shucks and jives but ultimately offers the reason that the feds don’t want to interfere with state legislation.

(3) For some reason, the deal broke down. This lefty writer blames the insurers for overreaching, though they weren’t crafting the legislative details so that seems a bit weird to me. (I.e. if they were happy at one point with what they thought the deal was going to be, and then as the legislation emerged they were unhappy, I’m thinking it’s because the politicians reneged on the deal.)

(4) The insurers switched gears and instead of funding pro-“reform” commercials, they fund a study saying government involvement will drive up costs. (I haven’t read the study, but I think it could have been one sentence: “Government involvement will drive up costs.” And then there would be a footnote to that one sentence which reads, “See: U.S. history.”)

(5) In response to the scurrilous study based on lies and scare tactics, members of Congress and now Obama himself are threatening to remove the insurance industry’s anti-trust exemption–which means overriding state regulations of insurers. (BTW Tyler Cowen has been doing a great job highlighting the sheer outrageousness of this–changing federal law to punish people who publicly disagree with proposed legislation. Read the comments at Tyler’s initial post and see how many “progressives” don’t even get what Tyler is complaining about. Seriously, how can someone not even see the potential problem when the government decides to revisit a regulation after the businesses it holds life and death over, decide to oppose the government? It doesn’t matter if this particular bunch of progressives is sincere or not; they are clueless when it comes to assessing the dangers posed by various sections of our culture, i.e. corporations versus the government.)

Conclusion: As Stewie from Family Guy would say to the insurers: What did you learn?

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