Am I seeing things? AP takes on “skyrocketing health insurance industry profits” smear

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Somebody apparently didn’t get their DNC talking points:

WASHINGTON (AP) – Quick quiz: What do these enterprises have in common? Farm and construction machinery, Tupperware, the railroads, Hershey sweets, Yum food brands and Yahoo? Answer: They’re all more profitable than the health insurance industry. In the health care debate, Democrats and their allies have gone after insurance companies as rapacious profiteers making “immoral” and “obscene” returns while “the bodies pile up.”

Ledgers tell a different reality. Health insurance profit margins typically run about 6 percent, give or take a point or two. That’s anemic compared with other forms of insurance and a broad array of industries, even some beleaguered ones.

Profits barely exceeded 2 percent of revenues in the latest annual measure. This partly explains why the credit ratings of some of the largest insurers were downgraded to negative from stable heading into this year, as investors were warned of a stagnant if not shrinking market for private plans.

Insurers are an expedient target for leaders who want a government-run plan in the marketplace. Such a public option would force private insurers to trim profits and restrain premiums to compete, the argument goes. This would “keep insurance companies honest,” says President Barack Obama.

The debate is loaded with intimations that insurers are less than straight, when they are not flatly accused of malfeasance.

They may not have helped their case by commissioning a report that looked primarily at the elements of health care legislation that might drive consumer costs up while ignoring elements aimed at bringing costs down. Few in the debate seem interested in a true balance sheet.

But in pillorying insurers over profits, the critics are on shaky ground. A look at some claims, and the numbers:

This isn’t unlike the left’s war against so-called “Big Oil” in which all they talk about is the “massive profits” Big Oil takes in … without mentioning how Big Oil pays double that amount in taxes every year. It’s classic leftist strategy: Come up with an idea to “resolve” a “problem” they’ve inflated to extreme distortion and in the process, demonize the alleged “causes” of that problem to death in order to rally Average Joes around to their way of thinking.

I hate getting into class warfare arguments simply because I get sick of the so-called “rich” – which these days pretty much means anyone who works – being demagogued and maligned while the poor are continuously painted as nothing but “victims” of the “rich,” “victims” who deserve their “fair share.” Like most conservatives, I view America as the land of opportunity and despise the liberal belief that says businesses that make a profit should be punished with higher taxes “for the greater good” of all Americans. On the other hand, I’m also well aware that there are businessmen and women out there who are in it to bilk their employees and their customers every chance they get in order to make a buck, and I understand the need for a degree of regulation and punishment for those who do so.

That said, it disgusts me when an industry is demonized solely for a political party to gain traction with voters by promising “freebies” at the expense of the American taxpayer. Yes, the taxpayer – because no matter how much in taxes the government puts on the “Cadillac” healthcare plans, guess who those taxes are going to be passed on to? You.

For whatever issues people have with the health insurance industry – and I’ll acknowledge there are plenty, alot of us would be dead without it. And for all of the left’s blather about alleged “obscene” profit margins, the truth about those profits is an inconvenient reality that they’d rather stay buried along with Obama’s various empty campaign promises about having an “open and honest” and “ideologically diverse” government, along with his numerous pledges made as a candidate about not raising taxes on anyone who makes “under $250k.”

Yes, let’s work towards resolving the issues present within the health insurance industry – but let’s not do it based on lies, lies that will lead to even more $$ being taken out of Joe the Taxpayer’s pocket to pay for, lies that will help give the government more and more control over your healthcare decisions.

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The State: Sanford’s second term did not focus much on SC

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South Carolina’s “The State” newspaper details how disgraced SC Gov. Mark Sanford’s second term was much different than his first in terms of the focus on his state’s needs – or lack thereof. It’s an interesting story on Sanford’s evolving priorities, and it centers around what appears to be a combination of things – growing frustration with the state legislature, his role as chair of the National Republican Governors Association, his alleged presidential ambitions, various state and national fundraising activities, and, the article implies, his affair with his Argentinian lover. All of these were things that kept his focus less on his role as Governor of the state of South Carolina and more on his national role as a spokesman for the GOP, and his private life – where he admittedly engaged in extramarital activities over the course of the last couple of years.

Normally, I would tip my hat to a news outlet for doing in-depth investigations into local, state, and national politicians because the MSM’s primary role is to keep our government honest by keeping the public informed. But Sanford is a sitting Republican Governor and The State is a division of the liberal McClatchy news outlet, so its scoops on Sanford are to be expected. Sanford’s probably wishing right about now that he were a former Democrat governor in my state – North Carolina – where the state’s leading newspaper, the Charlotte Observer (also a division of McClatchy), doesn’t investigate shady Democrat governors until after they’re out of office.

But I digress …

With The State’s report, the talk of impeachment in SC is going to grow louder and louder. Last week, CNN reported that it is likely an impeachment resolution will be read on the SC House floor tomorrow. For the lastest on that possibility, click here.

Obama plays more golf than Bush – where’s the outrage?

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The Politico reports (via Memeorandum):

President Barack Obama has only been in office for just over nine months, but he’s already hit the links as much as President Bush did in over two years.

CBS’ Mark Knoller — an unofficial documentarian and statistician of all things White House-related — wrote on his Twitter feed that, “Today – Obama ties Pres. Bush in the number of rounds of golf played in office: 24.

Took Bush 2 yrs & 10 months.”

Remember all the whining the left – including numerous members of Congress – did for years about how much “vacation time” President Bush allegedly took while in office, criticizing him on the basis of there being “too much to get done in Washington” for a President to take “so much” vacation? It was a dumb “issue,” considering 1) the fact that we all know that Presidents never really take “vacations” because they are available at all times of the day and night, and 2) the fact that the left didn’t approve of Bush’s agenda anyway and hated the fact that he was in Washington to begin with (no, I haven’t and never will forget the repeated cries of “stolen election!” and how many on the left never stopped believing that he was an illegitimate President). I also will not forget how the Usual Suspects ridiculed Bush for talking about how he had stopped golfing because he came to believe it was inappropriate for the CIC to be doing so during a time of war?

Well, there’s no guessing on how the left will react to the “issue” of Obama’s golfing excursions – in a nutshell, there be nothing but pure spin on this story, and it won’t be an issue for the left because they now apparently understand (ahem) that a President can be a President even when he’s not literally sitting in the Oval Office, although I’m curious to see how liberal Matthew Yglesias, who earlier this month blasted critics who suggested Obama wasn’t making the issue of Afghanistan a priority – and summarily lectured us all on the fact that Obama was a busy guy with a lot of issues on his plate like the “global recession” and cap and trade and that he would essentially get to the debate over Afghanistan when he could make time for it – will spin the number of golfing breaks Obama has taken over the last 9 months in the Oval Office in comparison with that “slacker” W who took nearly three years to reach the “24” number. Hey, if he’s got time to golf 24 times in 9 months – as well as time to schmooze with the Euro elite – surely he’d have been able to meet with Gen. McChrystal more than twice (here and here)? And maybe he can give him more than 25 minutes next time?

Any guesses on how the left will spin this? Make sure to post them in the comments.