Tuesday, September 07, 2004

President Bush continues battle with the English language

For those of you who haven't seen/heard the latest Bushism (uttered at a rally that was not the traditional Labor Day talk with unions), you can either read about it in an article of the above title, or you can watch the video. Yes he really did say that.

Not only does that send my WTF meter off the charts, but it it also sends my irony detector way up as well. In a speech clearly designed to take a solid swipe at Edwards while bringing in the female fear factor (yes, ladies, without me protecting your OB from John Edwards, you'll have to give birth by yourself in the woods while chomping on birch tree leaves to deaden the pain), he sympathizes with OB-GYNs who will have to go out of business because of malpractice insurance costs, and who then won't be able to do something that I believe is illegal in all fifty states, and would get them sued for malpractice.

WTF? And please, I am looking for entries on what exactly was the word he was supposed to say? Then doctors won't be able to practice their.... golf?

But as long as one of Karl Rove's pet causes is being raised over and over and over, (oh that Rovie!) we might as well take a look-see. Since it is clearly a 'campaingn issue', the fact that some doctors have gotten out of the doctoring business (OB-GYNs in particular, so whatever confusion our War President has over exactly what all that gynocology stuff is all about, he is right that malpractice insurance is coming down particularly hard on this group) is an interesting and important point. But linking it to personal injury lawsuits (the kind of lawsuits that Edwards was very successful at) would only be interesting were a) these things at all linked; b) if protecting businesses (like the abestos industry which has known since the 1930s that their product was giving their employees cancer) in which they are involved from personal injury cases; c) this wasn't being offered in lieu of a universal health care plan that didn't involve all of us having to save for our health care (see posting below) and d) this weren't a cheap and deceptive shot at their opponent.

So here's the skinny. Malpractice lawsuits and malpractice insurance:

"Reducing malpractice premiums would have little effect on rising health care costs and health insurance premiums. Malpractice premiums account for less than one percent of national health care expenditures. In analyzing malpractice legislation passed by the House last year, H.R. 4600, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that health insurance premiums would decrease by less than half of one percent."

and

"
The recent rise in malpractice premiums is primarily caused by an unfortunately predictable insurance cycle, not the legal system....Insurers have begun to increase malpractice premiums again to compensate for the low premiums in the 1990s and to adjust to lower investment returns (from lower interest rates and the drop in the stock market)."

and

"
There has not been an excessive amount of malpractice litigation in recent years. According to data collected by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the number of new malpractice claims decreased from 90,212 in 1995 to 86,480 in 2000."

Hmmm. So insurance rates aren't going up because of medical malpractice lawsuits, they are going up because of 'the market' (interest rates & the stock market). The free market at work: insurance companies are letting 'the market' 'balance itself' by raising rates. So if you want to know why malpractice insurance is rising don't ask a litigation lawyer, ask your favorite supply-sider!

These stats all came from a government website run by Senator Byron Dorgan, and the stats named in the initial quote is from the bi-partisan CBO. So this info is, you know, available at the White House. I know Senator Dorgan is a Democrat and all, but still- couldn't someone from the CBO have slipped the pres a little "love" in the form of an info packet?

But wait! When you've got such a multi-tasking straw man, you might as well roll it out for everything! Sue-happy Senator Edwards isn't just raising health insurance costs, he's apparently the cause of job losses as well! I'm starting to see a pattern here... a world of mis-blaming! Saddam is responsible for 9/11 despite all evidence to the contrary, and lawsuits are what caused this administration to be the first since Hoover to not create a single job. Wait a second- is Dubya being sued? Did I miss something?

By the way, for those among us who thought the whole not-so-swift veterans for yachts and lies had a vaguely familiar ring (like Swift-boat-vets rhymes with either Willie Horton or Lee Atwater), you're right. WP has an interesting article on the topic. Just don't let Kerry near a tank.

On a final note, Bob Graham (the Florida senator and former head of the Sentate Intellegence Committee) states in his newly released book that he was informed by Tommy Franks that crucial support for the war in Afghanistan was pulled out in mid-February 2002 in order to prep for invading the other country that was not harboring the guy who orchestrated 9/11.

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