Well ho hum, it looks like the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies’ stocks went up after President Obama signed the new healthcare reform bill into law. Of course, this isn’t even slightly surprising since the bill was basically a giant corporate handout.
What is a bit surprising is how many IRS agents are going to be hired to enforce the new codes: 16,500! Now this is based on a release by Republican Congressmen Kevin Brady, so that does make me skeptical. But the release gets the 16,500 number from an analysis by the Joint Economic Committee and the House Ways & Means Committee minority staff. So we’ll have to wait and see. But if Brady is anywhere close to accurate, it would seem to cast doubt on the idea that Obamacare will reduce the tax burden and amount of red tape.
Questionable Accounting from Whitehouse
Now about those claims that, on the whole, the new healthcare bill will lower the deficit. Given the government’s track record on cost prediction, this is doubtful. But regardless of history, it appears the Obama Administration is using some sloppy accounting to do this as well, including having a separate vote on the so-called “doc fix” that will cost $208 billion. As Peter Suderman at Reason Magazine pointed out, if some of the more “fanciful” predictions are thrown out, the CBO estimates “that two decades out… the [healthcare] deficit will spike at $600 billion.”
Again, nothing surprising. It is certainly tough to imagine that a bill which is very similar to the one passed in Massachusetts will save money. Massachusetts, after all, has seen its healthcare costs skyrocket.
Federal Reserve to Eliminate the Reserve Requirement?
In footnote 9 of Ben Bernanke’s testimony to Congress on February 10th, it has some very interesting language about the reserve requirement:
“The Federal Reserve believes it is possible that, ultimately, its operating framework will allow the elimination of minimum reserve requirements, which impose costs and distortions on the banking system.”
While I sincerely doubt they would ever try this, just the fact they would consider removing the reserve requirement (the cash banks are required to keep on hand, currently around 10%) is absolute lunacy. Apparently, the best way to solve the problem of being overleveraged, is to become infinitely more overleveraged. Hopefully this is just a joke and Bernanke doesn’t actually have 0% banking on the mind.
Google to Stop Censoring for Chinese Government
Is Google standing up to the communist Chinese government? It appears so. According to CNN, Google has announced it will stop censoring content and begin routing Chinese users to their uncensored Hong Kong version.
While this is certainly good, the Chinese government is no fan. It seems they have already tried to censor sites on Google’s Hong Kong network. It will be interesting to see how this develops.
An Oregon middle school principle has decided to lay the hammer down and ban hugging (you know, since hugging is well known to lead to sex, drugs, murder, genocide, etc.). Wow. In the world of insane bans, this one is right near the top. You can see the story here.