Top Of My Head

Thoughts on everything from Politics to Video Games

Category: Facts

Fact Check and Insurance Rebates

I’m going to start this by saying that I trust FactCheck.org.  It is at the top of my list of places to check when I receive emails where I’m not believing or I doubt what I’m seeing.  What I like about Fact Check is that I don’t always agree with them.  I am human and I don’t like it when facts mean I have to reconfigure my beliefs.  You can make this statement about a lot of humans – you know who you are.  People do not like to be proven wrong and they especially don’t like being proven wrong with numbers and facts.  Anyway, if they agreed with me 100% of the time, I would think they are biased and if they disagreed with me 100% of the time, I would believe that they were biased.

Anyway, Fact Check recently wrote an article about President Obama’s July 18th speech touting the savings of the Affordable Care Act (which is more commonly known as Obamacare).  Fact Check called the article “Obama Overhypes Health Savings“.  I’m not going to disagree with Fact Check that President Obama made the health savings sound wonderful, he did.  Unfortunately, his hype is needed to overshadow the hype on the other side, which claims no savings and total financial ruin for all if we continue on the Affordable Care Act path.  I just think Fact Check is overhyping the overhyping.

Case in point the following quote from President Obama

Last year, millions of Americans opened letters from their insurance companies — but instead of the usual dread that comes from getting a bill — (laughter) — they were pleasantly surprised with a check. In 2012, 13 million rebates went out, in all 50 states. Another 8.5 [million] rebates are being sent out this summer, averaging around 100 bucks each.

Fact Check takes issue with this because ” The average rebate is about $100 per family — not per person. It’s not 8.5 million rebates “averaging around 100 bucks each,” as the president said. Instead, it’s 8.5 million consumers who will benefit, with an average rebate of $100 per family.”

I’m not really sure what the issue is here.  Fact Check admits that the rebates average $100 each.  When millions of Americans open the letters, I’m sure that the letter opener most likely be either the male or female head of a family.  I’m sure that the rebates for single people will be less than the rebates for families.  No, President Obama didn’t say millions of American families opened letters, but I don’t think what he did say was too much hype.  — This is a matter of opinion, not an actual fact.

The fact is that millions of rebates will be sent out this summer and that the average of these rebates is around $100.

But wait…there’s more!

Fact Check, also, takes issue with the fact that President Obama didn’t mention that a lot of these rebates are going to businesses.  In fact they say just that:  “But the more glaring omission is an acknowledgment that a lot of this money goes to businesses, not individuals.”  I don’t see the problem in this, either.  Even if the employer gets the rebate, it has to be used to benefit the employee.  In fact, Fact Check even quotes the  Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as saying such, ” if you bought your insurance through your employer, your employer must use the rebate for your benefit.”  I don’t really understand their problem with the hype in this case.

I think the main point in all of this is that the Affordable Care Act is to some extent causing people and businesses to save money on their health care insurance premiums.  Second to this is that it didn’t cause premiums to go up, as the opposition claimed it would.

 

U.S. Constitution and the Individual Mandate…

Oh, come on, the Republicans are getting a bit ridiculous!

I’m reading this story on Huffington Post about the upcoming Supreme Court decision on the Individual Mandate in the Health care law.  The article supports the notion that there are a lot of things the government mandates that everyone must do.  The example used is Medicare.  If you work, you pay into Medicare – you have no choice.

But, here’s what really got to me:  Mark Hayes – “former chief health counsel for the Republican staff of the Senate Finance Committee” states:

“Congress used more clearly defined constitutional powers when it created Medicare. “The power to tax and the power to spend…” “‘Here, with the individual mandate, it’s a different question – regulating interstate commerce. This is a novel question from a legal standpoint.'”

How is that novel?  Article I Section 8 Clause 3 states:

“To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;”

Novel question? Um, I don’t think so. The word Novel, when used as an adjective and not as a noun means:

  1. new and not resembling something formerly known or used
  2. original or striking especially in conception or style

Um, if the Commerce Clause has existed in the Constitution since the beginning, how is Congress being able to use it now a “Novel” question?

I’m just wondering.

Anyone Seen a Ark Builder?

Throughout the years, right wing religious commentators have blamed everything from hurricanes to 9/11 on homosexuals.

In fact, Jerry Falwell appeared with Pat Robertson just two days after the the 9/11 attack and pretty much blamed everyone who is left of him and Robertson for 9/11.

I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say “you helped this happen.” – Jerry Falwell

Here’s a quote from Cindy Jacobs:

“According to Biblical principles, a marriage is between a man and a woman. So, we have to say what happens when a nation makes a decision that is against God’s principles. Often what happens is that nature itself will begin to talk to us, for instance violent storms, flooding.”

Now, I want you to know, that I’m not using the whole quote here – not yet. She’s actually going to help me make this point.

This morning, when I saw the news that North Dakota is next on the list for severe flooding, I started thinking about how these extremist like to blame gays and it made me wonder.  Why are we having all of the flooding that has hit the nation?  What in the world could be going on?  Is God mad at us?

According to Cindy Jacobs, the answer is yes.  To continue the quote from above, she says:

“There are actually some patterns you can see where a nation will make a decision that is contrary to the principles of God and after that there is some kind of answer that God gives.”

Based on her beliefs, God is most likely punishing us for something. Now, she thinks that God is punishing us for the removal of DADT, but I think she’s way off base. (She, also, was referring to the death of some birds.)

I think these right-wing Christian extremists are right. God has removed his protections from us. God has literally rained down upon us huge floods.  But, if you look at where he has chosen to take out his anger, you’ll see that he’s taking it out on the Red states.  The states who have declared a war on health care for all.  The states that have declared a war on marriage equality.

I thought, perhaps, we should look at what has happened to the states that banned gay marriage.  I’m finding that quite a few of them have had their answer from God.

Nevada passed an anti-gay amendment in 2002.  In 2003, “The Federal Emergency Management Agency has authorized firefighting funds to help Nevada fight the Red Rock fire that began July 10 in Washoe County northwest of Reno. The authorization is only the second granted to the state this year.”  They needed a lot of help in 2003.  Think God was mad at them for something?

Florida passed their anti-gay amendment in 2008.  In 2009, “Nearly 1,300 north Floridians have registered for federal-state disaster assistance following the storms and flooding of late-March through early May and there are still a few days left for others to do the same…Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster assistance was approved for eligible homeowners, renters and businesses in the following counties: Calhoun, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Suwannee, Wakulla, Walton, and Washington.”

I know what you’re thinking, but that’s no proof, Florida is always getting hit by storms and needing Federal Aid. There’s more.

In 2004; Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah banned marriage equality.

In 2005, Huricanne Katrina ripped through Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia and caused millions of dollars of damage. A severe winter storm cause parts of Kentucky to be declared a disaster area by FEMA.

Also in 2005, 26 counties of Oklahoma were declared disaster areas because of the Texas-Oklahoma wildfires.

I think all of this just proves that God isn’t happy with these states for passing bans on marriage equality.  I don’t think He’s really into all the right-wingers.  Think about it.  He’s pulled his protection, but He’s aiming for states that lean the farthest to the right, not the left.

Glad I don’t live in a Red State.

 

 

 

Gay Tax InEquality

I know that I harp on this subject a lot.  The tax inequality between a gay couple and a straight married couple is unfair.  By not allowing gays to get married, you make two people pay more in taxes than a straight married couple.  How can that possibly be fair?  How can people fight against gay marriage when faced with the facts that this means an inequality in taxes?  I truly believe those people who keep insisting on lower taxes and smaller government, yet keep fighting against gay marriage are – quite possibly – the world’s biggest hypocrites.

So, last week, I went and saw my parents and I tried to explain the tax inequality to my mother – who doesn’t get it.  I’m writing this article for her.  Maybe, she’ll get it.  You can do the math, just like I did, by going to the IRS website and filling out the numbers.  It works out the same every time – the gay couple pays more.

Gay Couple Salary 401k Federal Tax
Person #1 $60,000.00 $3,000.00 $7,700.00
Person #2 $40,000.00 $2,000.00 $3,483.00
Total $100,000.00 $5,000.00 $11,183.00
Straight Couple Salary 401k Federal Tax
Person #1 $60,000.00 $3,000.00
Person #2 $40,000.00 $2,000.00 Difference
Total $100,000.00 $5,000.00 $10,644.00 $539.00

That probably doesn’t sound like a lot, but over the course of a lifetime together, that’s quite a bit of money.  Now, if the spouses are evenly split with their salary, the difference works out to the gay couple paying $6.00 more than the straight couple.  Still, not a lot of money, but the amount isn’t really the point – it could just be a penny more – the fact that gay people pay more in taxes is unfair.  Further, I don’t know about your friends, but I don’t know too many couples who are completely and equally matched in salary.  I would say that roughly 90% of the couples I know – when both members work – one spouse consistently out earns the other spouse.  It is certainly true in my household.  I earn almost twice as much as Cheryl does.

One other item regarding taxes:  when a straight couple gets married, each spouse is able to place the other on their employer provided healthcare.  They do not pay any extra on this benefit.  Unmarried, domestic partners have to pay income taxes on the portion of the premium paid for by their employer.  Does that sound fair or even intelligent?  43 million Americans are without healthcare and we make it harder for domestic partners to add their other halves to employer sponsored healthcare.  Does that make sense?  What is wrong with people?

Dumb Animals

Anyone who thinks that animals – both wild and domesticated – cannot show compasion and love won’t think this after viewing this slideshow I found on the TODAY site.

Enjoy!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33612698/displaymode/1247/?beginSlide=1

Moderation of Comments

I used to not moderate comments, but in recent days, I’ve noticed a lot of comments with links to products and that are more generic than actually commenting on the topic at hand.

If you post a comment and add a link to your blog, as long as the comment is relevant, I will allow the comment to post.  In other words, it must actually sound as if you read the post.

I will make every effort to ensure that all comments are posted, especially if I disagree.  If your comment is deleted and you think I made a mistake, contact me.  I’ll put it up.

We all know that people who just want to place a comment that doubles as an ad, won’t contact me.

Check the Facts

Like many people, I receive emails that proclaim complete lies as total truth and I spend time looking up the truth. When I send out a response, I back it up with the facts that I have gathered. Sometimes, I am able to research the email myself. I look at the government site or I check news stories. I usually get a response like, “Who said that?” (that’s what my mother always asks, as she doesn’t believe anything she doesn’t see on Fox News). I’ve even gotten a response that “we all can’t be the Queen of Information.” I chuckled at that one, as we all should be the “Queen of Information” (or, King – if you’re a guy).

Before you forward that email or proclaim a fact to someone that you read somewhere – do your homework.

I have found three sites that are trustworthy.

The first site is Break the Chain.  I’ve been using Break the Chain for quite a few years.  They specialize in those chain emails asking you to help find a lost child or telling you to boycott a store.  My favorite untruth is the email that claims the ACLU is against Marines praying.

The second site is Snopes.com – if you’re forwarding emails without checking them via Snopes, you’re doing a disservice to your friends, family members and the causes that which you support. Snopes checks out the crazy emails and checks if they are true, semi-true or outright falsehoods.  The best example of this is the email that claims Pepsi or Dr. Pepper (in some emails) is removing the words “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance on their cans.

The final site is Fact Check.  Fact Check checks political statements made by just about anybody.  They investigate, call people and get to the bottom of almost any political claim.  They get accused all the time of being too right wing and too left wing.  It all depends on the political stance of the reader.  They were at their best during the 2008 Presidential election when they were checking speeches by Obama, Biden, McCain and Palin daily.  They recently published an article against President Obama’s speech that blamed the GOP for blocking legislation that they didn’t block.  (Not for a lack of trying, however.)

These are three great sites you should have bookmarked.  When you receive an email that you plan on forwarding, take the time to make sure it is true.  Try not to fill up other people’s email boxes with junk.

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