Speaking Truth to Power

Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson states the case brightly: The Obama administration has co-opted free-market terms (“choice” and “competition) to sell a government health plan.

“The promise of the public plan is a mirage. Its political brilliance is to use free-market rhetoric (more “choice” and “competition”) to expand government power. But why would a plan tied to Medicare control health spending, when Medicare hasn’t? From 1970 to 2007, Medicare spending per beneficiary rose 9.2 percent annually compared to the 10.4 percent of private insurers — and the small difference partly reflects cost shifting. Congress periodically improves Medicare benefits, and there’s a limit to how much squeezing reimbursement rates can check costs. Doctors and hospitals already complain that low payments limit services or discourage physicians from taking Medicare patients.”


How To Follow the Bouncing Political Ball

For those who treat politics like a ballgame and like to keep score, the website realclearpolitics.com keeps a daily running analysis of the various polls, of how candidates are doing in Governor, House and Senate races.


As Detroit Goes, So Goes the Nation?

There is an interesting Reuters report on a multi-day auction of vacant land and homes seized by the tax collector – in 2006! The homes seized as a result of the GM and Chrysler bankruptcy, are still years from the auction block!

But even the older seizures represent land and homes in Detroit is larger than New York’s Central Park, and although there were many potential bidders with the $500 cash necessary to bid, few properties sold.

Reading between the lines, homes in pretty nice neighborhoods sold for $15,000, but local bidders were pitted against investors from California and New York with deep pockets and making multiple purchases (as few purchases as were made)…I suppose betting on the future.

If there is a future for Detroit. The homes and land seized in 2007, 2008 and 2009 are still to be reckoned with.

Nationally, 2010 will be worse – not just in Detroit but nationally because 2005 was a good year for home purchases with balloon payments or interest-only with conversion coming due in 2010.

Anyone who thinks this recession has run its course is whistling past the graveyard.