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Bulls & Bears
House Democrats Rushing Vote on New $1 Trillion Health Care Bill; Can We Afford It?
Eric Bolling, Fox Business Network: There are about 400,000 words in this bill, which comes out to $2.6 million per word. It's ridiculous. The Democrats have a significant problem here. The Congressional Budget Office came out and said the Senate health care bill was going to cost less than expected, and all the Democrats celebrated. Now the CBO says the House version of the health care bill is going to cost more than expected. Pelosi can't backtrack and say the CBO was right with the Senate bill's cost and not the House's version. Either way, we can't afford this bill—it's going to drive us right into bankruptcy.
Julia Piscitelli, Democratic strategist: We can't afford not to pass this legislation. A lot of Democrats and Republicans want to get this done. Health care reform is going to lower the overall costs for everyone. People aren't going to have to go to the emergency room for relatively minor health ailments because they don't have insurance. Instead, emergency rooms will be freed up to take people with real emergencies.
Tobin Smith, ChangeWave Research: The math doesn't add up here. Every time Congress tries to cut waste or excessive spending from Medicare, doctors complain that they aren't going to get paid, and Congress decides not to pass the reforms. The closest thing to what the Democrats are proposing here is the state health plan in Massachusetts. People choose not to enroll, and pay a fine. But when they get sick, they sign up with the state health plan when costs for care are astronomically higher. This just doesn't make sense.
Gary B. Smith, TheChartman.com: We all know this legislation, if passed, will make the health care sector more inefficient. Think of it like merging your local hospital with the DMV. Down the line this plan is going to drive private insurance companies out of business. One of the proposed mandates in the legislation is that private insurance companies cannot negate coverage based on a person's preexisting condition. As a result, we're going to see premiums skyrocket. This will not be a $1 trillion plan. Long term, this is the sort of program that ends up costing $10 trillion. It will explode in cost, exactly like Medicare.
Pat Dorsey: I think we've missed a giant opportunity to actually reform our nation's health care system. The issue here isn't the cost of the legislation—it's a heck of a lot of money no matter which way you slice it. The health care system is broken. We spend too much and get too little in return. Costs are growing far faster than the country's GDP or inflation. The proposed legislation will not bend the health care cost curve. Reducing costs should have been our main focus.
$173K per Stimulus Job; Good Use or Waste of Tax Dollars?
Tobin Smith: What a waste. The anecdotes coming out of this are incredible. For example, a government agency in Georgia got $28 million. They say they created 4,000 jobs—but they were only five-week jobs! Not to mention there are question about the agency counting the numbers twice. I think when you actually discount these job creation numbers from reality, the cost per job is much higher.
Eric Bolling: Eighty-thousand of these jobs were for construction workers. What's the average construction worker make? $45,000. So it cost the government $173,000 to create a job that pays $45,000. About 325,000 education jobs were saved or created. The average salary is $54,000, and again the government spent $173,000 just to create one of those jobs. Overall, the amount of waste here is in the tens of billions of dollars. And this is the case across the board with jobs supposedly saved and created by the stimulus.
Julia Piscitelli: This was a good investment. If we didn't have the stimulus, we'd be looking at jobs lost, not created or saved. Unemployment would be significantly higher. We all know that some of the stimulus money was not used specifically to create jobs. It went into other projects not specifically designated for job creation.
Gary B. Smith: I guess this was a good use of taxpayer money for the road construction crew that got a government contract. But what happens in three or four months when this adrenaline shot from the government goes away and these guys don't have jobs anymore? Government always allocates funds like this inefficiently. Another example I found is Brook Haven Science Associates. It got a $258 million stimulus check and created 25 jobs with it. The White House's predictions of unemployment topping out at 7.9 percent from the stimulus were obviously way off. You can't believe anything they say—and that extends to this saved or created job number.
Pat Dorsey: I'm not going to defend the size of the stimulus, and there's little doubt there is wasteful spending going on. But there is a good side to the stimulus. We can't forget how low business confidence was early this year. If you're a private investor or business owner, you spend money based on what your confidence is for the future. To a degree, the stimulus helped investors believe the economy wasn't going to go into a death spiral. Was this worth the huge cost of the stimulus? I don't think we know yet.
Paying to "Rat Out" Biz Tax Cheats; Bad for Business?
Eric Bolling: This pits neighbor against neighbor. Why doesn't the IRS just do what it's supposed to do and enforce tax laws? This will be bad for businesses and neighbors.
Tobin Smith: Think about the guy who's running a cash business, not paying his taxes, maybe even sending his earnings outside of the country. Behavior like this is unacceptable. It's time for people to buck up, and if you're a tax cheat, you have to pay up. Amnesty programs don't really work—creating a program for people to alert authorities and keep a piece of the money collected could help. Why allow people breaking the law to get away with it when there are plenty of people doing the right thing and paying their taxes?
Gary B. Smith: I don't like the idea of a program like this. The real problem here isn't tax cheats. The problem is how unbelievably complicated the tax code is in the United States. No one can figure it out. It's too easy to cheat on your taxes. Reforming the tax code is the real way to get rid of tax cheats.
Pat Dorsey: If a business is dodging taxes, they have a competitive and unfair advantage over businesses that are abiding by the law. That alone is enough reason to crack down on businesses that cheat on tax payments. It makes a lot of sense to me.