RUSH: Here’s Rick in Tuckerton, New Jersey. Back to the phones. Open Line Friday. Great to have you, sir. Hi.
CALLER: Hey, Rush. How you doing? Mega dittos.
RUSH: Thank you, sir.
CALLER: Hey, I’ve been with you since the beginning. I’m really happy and glad I finally got through to you. I was wondering, with this health care talk that’s going on now, I mean, I thought that Trump wanted to get rid of Obamacare. Apparently that’s not what they want to do right away. But if the government was so good at running the health care or dictating health care, why isn’t the VA or the American Indian plan a shining example of what government can do?
RUSH: Great question. They can’t.
CALLER: How long is it gonna take before somebody either asks Paul Ryan that or the American people just say, “Why isn’t the VA a shining example?” I mean there is government health care right there staring you in the face. I don’t understand it. I don’t get it.
RUSH: Your curiosity is such here that you have to have been able to come up with some answers to your question. Let’s set it a different way and let me turn it back at you. You have just demonstrated that when the government administers health care institutions, they’re a disaster, okay?
RUSH: So why do you think they want to continue to exercise that kind of control and power over health care when every example of them doing it is pretty bad?
CALLER: Because I don’t think it really has anything to do with health care. I think it’s just the redistribution of wealth, the power. That’s all I can think of. I don’t understand how they — if they can’t handle the limited amount of veterans that are in the VA system — and I realize that’s a lot of people, but it’s a limited amount compared to the population of the country, how are they gonna get 300 million people?
RUSH: Well, but you don’t have to focus just on the VA.
RUSH: You can look at Medicare and Medicaid. Does anybody want them expanded as the American health care? Well, yes, some people do! They’re the exact people you’re talking about.
CALLER: I mean, I was listening to Fox & Friends this morning, Geraldo was on, and he was talking about how everybody should have a plan like Medicare and Medicaid. And I’m saying, “Geraldo, what planet are you living on?” And then I realized that he’s the elite. And he doesn’t talk to people like me he just —
RUSH: Geraldo’s not on a planet, he’s in orbit, he’s in perpetual orbit, and that’s just a typical. When Geraldo says that, it makes himself feel so good. And he walks off the set of that show, boy, I feel so good, I sounded so good, and everybody could see what a big heart that I’ve got, so mission accomplished.
CALLER: Oh, my God.
RUSH: Well, what do you think liberalism is, in part? About making these people feel good about the messes that they’ve made, all because they care and they have great compassion. And they’re great at using other people’s money, which is what Medicaid and Medicare are, to take care of people and keep ’em away from you. If put everyone on Medicaid and Medicare then you can assume they’re gonna have health care, problem solved. You don’t have to hear them complain anymore, you don’t see ’em, you don’t run into ’em.
CALLER: Yes. They mean well.
RUSH: What doesn’t seem to be front and center to me in this, as I have constantly stated, is any trust in the free market. That’s what I don’t see. Now, trying to figure Trump out in all of this, I think we’re gonna need to give Trump time. The thing we have to understand, folks, Donald Trump is not — he may be a political neophyte in terms of experience, but he’s not stupid, and he’s not dumb. And he has a track regard of getting done what he wants done more often than not.
What he’s up against is a world he’s the never lived in before. Well, he’s been in it on the periphery as a donor and so forth. But now he’s inside the sausage factory, and just like you or me, anybody else outside it looking in, it seems simple to fix this. Just use a little common sense, trust the free market, get the players that have made the mess out of the way — that would be the government — then you get in there, and Trump is probably finding out just how deeply intertwined the tentacles of this are throughout our society.
And what happens when you remove one tentacle? Yeah. And then you find six more pop up that you didn’t know were there. That nobody knew were there, is how deeply embedded some of this stuff is. My only point to you is, give Trump a little time to figure this out. He knows full well — don’t doubt me — he knows full well people like you are not happy with the way this is going. And he probably isn’t, either.
And he knows there’s no benefit to him by telling everybody “I reformed health care. We got rid of Obamacare, we’ve replaced it and it’s great” when it isn’t. If it’s close, he might be able to get away with touting it as such. But, folks, there’s a huge obstacle still remaining in this, and until this thing is dealt with, I don’t know how you fix this. And that is this preexisting condition business. We’re talking about reforming health insurance, and when we get to that, we’re not even talking insurance.
Providing health care for people with preexisting conditions is the equivalent of selling somebody a homeowner’s policy for a hundred dollars while the fire is burning their house down. It just doesn’t happen, yet in health care we’re doing it. And it screws up all of the actuarials. It screws up all the calculations, it screws up all the numbers, it screws everything up. And they’ve gotta find a way to separate that out. Then of course there’s another thing with the Medicaid/Medicare extension. And then, “What do we do about the mandate, because the mandate is the money generator for this. The mandate –”
Before the campaign the mandate had to go. That was one of the biggest Obama boondoggles ever. Get it outta there. Now they’re faced with refinancing it, all of a sudden the mandate, well, we might need to sunset that over time, we might not be able to take that all out of there. This is just an illustration of how screwed up the whole system is and what it looks like when a bunch of bureaucrats think they can do it better than the private sector can do it.
Remember, the American health care system, Obamacare is built on top of it, and the American health care system has been in the process of being corrupted since 1965. We have 50 years of stuff embedded in there that — you might be repealing Obamacare, but you’re not gonna repeal 55 years of stuff. I’m telling you the way they’re looking at it, not the way you and I are.
But these are people that think government has to have a hand in everything. These are people think, well, the government’s got a hand in here, it’s gotta stay in. People think the government knows better in some instances, the government’s gonna police and cover fairness and all these other things. And Trump is getting a load of this now.
I think if there’s anybody who can come along and — remember a story earlier about how he’s mounting this charm offensive to get what he wants out of this. And keep in mind, too, what you think you know about this is what you’re reading in the media. So we’ll see.
RUSH: Nope. Nope. I’m just saying that once you include people with preexisting conditions in the pool with everybody else and then you go get premiums based on that, it’s not gonna work. You just can’t do it because you’re not talking insurance on preexisting conditions; you’re talking welfare. And nobody in Washington has the guts to eliminate coverage for preexisting conditions. But the Democrats don’t want to. That’s exactly the kind of thing they want health care to be.
They want health care to be a gigantic entitlement program. They don’t want any market forces in it whatsoever. And that happens to be what most of the Washington establishment wants. I guarantee you every time on the campaign trail Trump promised to repeal Obamacare, there have to be tens of thousands of people in Washington who said, “Oh, yeah? Over our dead body.”
And they’ve been meeting for months on trying to come up with ways to thwart Trump from doing that. And everything else he promised to do during the campaign, such as cut taxes, such as build a wall, such as deport illegal immigrants who shouldn’t be here. They are mounting a defense on offense, and they have been since the campaign. But they really ratcheted the whole thing up since he won.
RUSH: I have here in my formerly nicotine-stained fingers a news story that I just printed out, and it is from Trumpbart. Well, Breitbart. Now, would you all agree with me that Breitbart as a website and as an institution was all-in for Donald Trump during the campaign? You would agree with that? Well, they are not happy with the Obamacare repeal and replace. They are not happy with this at all.
So what I thought I would do is share with you various elements of their report here, because they make it sound horrible. (laughing) If this is true, it is a disaster. And if this is true, it will make you wonder, why is anybody on the Republican side doing any of this?
Now, I’m not vouching for it because, my friends, I’m gonna shoot you straight here: I don’t know what I know on this yet. You see, my health care fix, do you know what it is? I’m so simple-minded in these things. I’m not complex at all. I have no desire to run anybody else’s life. I don’t care whether somebody can run theirs or not; that’s their responsibility and their problem. I’m not interested in making sure you don’t screw up other than what I do here, but I do not live under any illusions that I should tell everybody how to live.
So when I come up with solutions to problems or start thinking about solutions for the nation at large, I tend to run toward what I think is the simplest and most effective. My health care reform plan is real simple. For everybody who can, and we would have to have a very, very honest assessment of that, you buy your own. You can either get it from your employer as part of your deal there, or you don’t and you go out and make your own deal. You’ll be able to make your own deal because the government’s not involved and there are insurance companies all over this country selling health insurance, and they’re competing with one another, and you buy what you need.
And if you’re 25 and you don’t want to buy the kind of health insurance where you go to the doctor 15 times a year, you don’t. If all you want to buy is insurance for when you have a car crash or some other calamity, that’s what you buy, and you’re not responsible for anybody else. And everybody else does the same thing. You buy what you want. And then what you can’t buy, you insure. And that would be catastrophic, terminal diseases, long-term care. If you want to invest when you are 25 years old in a retirement home that has health care, you buy it then and start making payments on it. Your responsibility, you do it.
“But Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Limbaugh, what about the people that can’t afford it?” That’s where we are a compassionate country. And people who can’t, we have a plan, but we’re not gonna assume nobody can pay for it on their own anymore! And I’m not saying decide whether you want an iPhone or health care. And I’m not saying that. I don’t think that’s what Jason Chaffetz was saying, either, but he’s been raked over the phones and still is being, by the way, by Republicans. Breitbart does it here.
To me, there ought be no guarantee, just like no hotel is the same, health care, where is it written that no matter where you go to get health care it’s just as good as where anybody else goes? You know that’s not the case already. You know there are places that specialize in treating cancer that are better at it by reputation than other places, but not everybody gets to go to those places. It’s just the way it is.
And even now, with government running it, we don’t even promise people that they’ll get the best. And how do you know what the best is anyway until there’s competition and the best is determined by who has the most customers and who sells the most service and who does the best job by virtue of the market telling everybody that?
Now, I imagine to some people this sounds very, what would you say, Mr. Snerdley? Harsh? Cold? Well, it isn’t at all. It’s just an acknowledgment that health care is anything else you buy, but I think in my technique, in my plan, the prices would — because they would have to — would start plummeting left and right. My plan would be introducing market competition. If people are in the health care business, you think doctors are doing what they do just for the service? You think people that run hospitals don’t want to make money? Everybody wants to make money in everything they do. And competition is one of the greatest ways of weeding out the good and the bad, and it’s a way of making everybody better.
See, it sounds so simplistic that it can’t be done, and of course measured against what we have now, it is too drastic. But how many of you would sit by knowing what you know that has happened to health care, how many of you would sit by and let the government come in and start determining automobile sales? Why did it happen in health care? Well, many answers to that. Prices started skyrocketing here or there, quickly zoomed past what normal people could afford on a normal basis.
People do this a lot, and I often reject it but I’m gonna do it anyway. When I was a kid, I went to the dentist when necessary, left the dentist’s office, he sent a bill. Parents paid the bill, that was it. Same thing with the pediatrician. There were house calls, although I’m not making a stink about that. The point is, you could afford it. If it was something catastrophic, then of course there was insurance available or you made a deal with the hospital to pay it off over time, what have you. People are understanding. If you can’t pay for it, you pay for it in installments or what have you. But why did that system fade away?
It’s easy to go back, “Well, yeah, Rush, but that’s a different time than what we have today.” Well, what’s made it different today than the way it was then? And I would argue it’s a bunch of people dipping their hands in it and being involved in it who are not in the business. Trying to buy votes with it, trying to insure and secure power with it and trying to basically tell people, “You know what? You don’t have to be responsible. We’ll do that for you. Just vote for us.”
Well, here’s the Breitbart piece, ladies and gentlemen. And measured against my plan, this is hieroglyphics. Measured against my plan, this is like trying to learn a foreign language. And not just learn the language, but then learn all of the dialects and all the hidden meaning with the use of slang and so forth. It’s impossible.
“Seven Reasons Why Obamacare 2.0 Is All But Guaranteed to Impose Crushing Costs on Voters, Hurt Trump’s Base, and Hand Power Back to the Democrats.” Okay, that’s the headline of the Breitbart piece. Let me ask you a question. I mean, the way I react when I see a headline like this, if it’s this bad, how in the world can the people in charge of it not know it’s this bad? If it is this bad, then why do the Republicans want to hand power back to the Democrats? Why do the Republicans want to hurt Trump’s base?
Now, that I can answer. Why do Republicans want to impose crushing costs on voters? Does any of this make sense? And why do Republicans want to hand power back to the Democrats? And why does Trump want to do that? Trump supposedly signed on to this. Okay, so let’s take this incrementally. Now, at the bottom of this piece is perhaps the most important aspect of story with nothing to do with health care.
“Sixty percent of adults are ‘hopeful and optimistic’ about America’s future.” As asserted in this story, that’s from polling data. Sixty percent of adults are hopeful and optimistic? Now, as the Breitbart writer, Katie McHugh is her name, writer of the story. She says, “That’s a precious opportunity, one that shouldn’t be wasted. ‘The issue now is about Americans looking to not get f–ed over. If we deliver, we’ll get 60 percent of the white vote, and 40 percent of the black and Hispanic vote and we’ll govern for 50 years,’ White House Chief strategist Steve Bannon said during a November interview. ‘That’s what the Democrats missed… They lost sight of what the world is about.'” Bannon, chief strategist for Trump.
So Breitbart is basing this story on Bannon, who used to be their executive chairman. Yes, he still is on leave — about how the American people are tired of being screwed over; and if the Trump team delivers, they’re just gonna clean up, and they’re gonna end up politically controlling this country for the next 50 years away from the Democrats.
Okay. “Seven Reasons Why Obamacare 2.0 Is All But Guaranteed to Impose Crushing Costs on Voters, Hurt Trump’s Base, and Hand Power Back to the Democrats.”
Number 1. “The bill’s provisions increase healthcare costs for Trump voters in critical states.”
Okay. How is that? “As an analysis conducted by the Washington Post shows, voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin will see their tax credits decrease under Obamacare 2.0. ‘If you’re a 40-year-old making $75,000 a year, you’re going to get a 75 percent or higher increase to your tax credits, a beneficial situation for you,’ the Post explains. ‘If, however, you’re a 60-year-old making $30,000 a year, you’re going to see a reduction in those tax credits (unless you live in Upstate New York or Massachusetts or parts of central Texas).’
“In other words, senior citizens — who vote regularly in mid-term elections — will see their healthcare costs increase under the Republicans’ bill. Plus, Obamacare 2.0 phases out credits for people who start earning more than $75,000. Why? Because screw the voters and they’re on their own? What a great message to send to the middle class!”
So Breitbart claims here that this Obamacare repeal and replacement bill actually targets senior citizens in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin and makes their tax credits less effective and raises their health care costs. Those are three blue states that Trump won. Why would the Republicans do that? Do you believe that they have? Do you think that’s in the bill? The Washington Post says it is, and Breitbart’s accepting it.
Number 2. “Meanwhile, the bill is ‘a gift to illegal aliens,’ as conservative author Daniel Horowitz writes.” He is at the ConservativeReview.com. And I’ve read his analysis of it and they’re not happy with it over there. At Conservative Review they very much oppose this version of Obamacare repeal and replace. Horowitz says that the bill is a gift to illegal aliens. Why and how? Well, he says that “Illegals can get health care through identity theft and fraud, because Obamacare 2.0 makes it impossible to check enrollees’ immigration status.”
So if this is right, it means this version of Obamacare will be available to illegal immigrants as well as everybody else while it portends to be made available only for citizens, but this bill makes it illegal to check an enrollee’s immigration status. You ask why would they do that? Well, well, we’re talking about the open borders crowd. We’re talking about a party that’s been telling us for the last 10 years they don’t think they will ever become a political majority without paying homage to Hispanics. Even though they just had their theory shoved where the sun don’t shine with Trump’s victory.
Do you think the Republican Party still believes this business that if they don’t do something about shoring up their support from the Hispanic community, they’re political toast? I think they still believe it, no matter what happened here with Trump. And so can you see them putting in an Obamacare replacement bill a little provision that nobody may find that says illegals do not have to prove immigration status in order to enroll in health care? Do you think them capable of this? The Republicans, I’m asking. And would Trump sign off on this? I’m just asking.
Number 3. “Obamacare 2.0 will be labeled as ‘Trumpcare,’ and Democrats and their media allies will highlight every hard case” they can. After this thing’s enacted, they’re gonna run around the country and they’re gonna be doing story after story after story, person after person after person denied treatment and blame it on Trump and the Republicans for hurting the poor and the elderly. Well, they’re gonna do that no matter what. They’re gonna do that no matter what’s passed. They’ll make it up if they have to. They’ll hire actors to portray these old people and indigents who’ve been left behind. That’s just what they do.
RUSH: All right. I’m gonna jump back here to item number 1 in the Trumpbart piece, the Breitbart piece about how the costs for Trump voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin will increase. It’s based on a Washington Post analysis which is wrong. I went and checked this, and the writer of that Washington Post piece is a guy named Philip Bump, and he conflated tax credits with subsidies.
Now, you might think, what’s the difference? It is gobbledygook and it is complicated, but it does matter because a tax credit ends up as more money in your pocket. A subsidy is somebody else helping you pay for something but you don’t see any increase in your disposable income. A tax credit gets you more money. And where this is confusing, the Washington Post article compares subsidies to tax credits in claiming that Trump voters in these three states are gonna get creamed.
The Washington Post says that people in their sixties will lose money because their subsidies are higher than the tax credits would be. But it’s misleading because the subsidies are going to be so high because premiums are so high. And premiums come out of your pocket.
So you get a subsidy for it, but it’s only to help you pay for a specific thing. Tax credits, however — you can’t compare subsidies and tax credits because tax credits end up with more money in your pocket — they ideally lead to additional discretionary spending. But in the context of health care, tax credits end up in the back pocket of the person who gets them theoretically providing an opportunity for more competition, because with tax credits people are more able to shop around for health care, which theoretically drives costs down.
And that’s why, to compare subsidies and tax credits is purposefully misleading, and you can’t compare the value. They each have different political values and so forth, but tax credits end up — that’s money you get a credit for on your tax, you don’t pay as much, so that leaves you with more money to spend theoretically shopping for a better deal on health care. Subsidies just help you pay for something. You never see the subsidy, somebody else writes the check or sends the money or what have you. This is all such gobbledygook, though.
RUSH: Here’s what I think is going on, at least in point number 1 of the Breitbart piece. I think the Breitbart writer, Katie McHugh, is complaining that government subsidies are gonna be reduced among elderly Trump voters in these states and that that’s targeting Trump voters, gonna cause ’em more pain, and it’s designed to get these people mad at Trump, end up voting for say Elizabeth Warren in 2020 or what have you.
Here’s the thing about this. When you start talking subsidies and tax credits, people tune out. I can remember back when this program started, if you talked about the budget you would create a graveyard in your audience. This is how things have changed here. So subsidies versus tax credits, let me tell you something that maybe some of you don’t know. I don’t mean that as an insult. It’s impossible to know this stuff, by design. They want as few people as possible actually knowing what all this is and means and so forth.
But know this. As long as there has been employer-provided health insurance, the employers have gotten tax credits for that cost. They’ve been able to write those costs off. Now, it got to the point where even with that ability, it was becoming prohibitive because even though you can write it off you still have to have the money to pay for it.
And remember when one of the new CEOs, it was either General Motors or Ford took over and after about six weeks this guy said, “I thought I was getting in the business to make and sell cars. I didn’t know I was getting into the health care business.” Because his job, the number one cost at his automobile manufacturing company was health care for his employees. And whether he can write it off or not, he still had to pay for it, he still had to pay the insurance companies. And it’s a hell of a lot of money.
You can remember back in those days employers complaining about it, and they couldn’t wait to off-load that. Here came Obamacare with an opportunity to do just that and let the government take over. Now, the premise behind Obamacare should have been, how do we just reduce costs? But that’s not what Obama wanted. Obama wanted to move the whole system to the federal government, eventually make it single payer, where nobody worries about cost except they theoretically do as they ration and deny certain people, but in reality they don’t.
Nobody in the federal government worries about the cost of anything. If they did, there wouldn’t be a 20 freaking trillion-dollar national debt. But I digress. If employers are going to be given tax credits for the health insurance they buy for their employees, why shouldn’t individuals get it? Why shouldn’t it become a deductible item? It isn’t now. Do you realize to deduct medical expenses from your tax return it has to add up to being a certain amount of what you’ve spent? It’s an amount that you’ll never reach because you’ve got insurance.
Do you deduct medical on your tax return? How much? What percentage? What do you mean, you don’t know? How do you know you deduct it, then? You think you’re doing it? You turn in the receipts and that’s it. So you think the deduction — I used to do that, too, back when I was a kid, I’d give my dad’s secretary every one of my credit card receipts thinking every damn one of them would be deducted. And I found out after five years of that, well, no, you can’t deduct anything. You’re not even in business, what in the hell do you think you’re doing?
I said, “You mean I’ve been giving you these receipts for nothing all these years?”
“Yeah. Yours is a straight, how much do you earn, how much does the government want from it, that’s it. It takes you five minutes to do your tax returns, Rusty,” she said. I said, “Wow.” That really deflated me. And half the reason I wanted the credit card was to play a big guy, start deducting things. That’s all I ever heard about, deductions here, deductions there, turned out I didn’t get any. And you don’t now. They’re all gone. No medical deductions. Zip, zero, nada.
But this bill, the point is that the Obamacare 2.0 wants to extend tax credits to individuals like the businesses, not subsidies. Obamacare is all subsidies. Well, not all, but it’s big subsidies. That means somebody else just paying for it, you’re not. You never see the money, but you’re totally dependent on it. Tax credits end up you having a little bit more money in your back pocket, which, if we’re gonna start applying degrees of conservatism, that’s a pretty conservative thing to do, have a policy where people get to keep more of their money in this.
So what happened, one of the selling points of Obamacare, it freed people of job lock. Remember that? People keeping jobs they didn’t want because of the insurance. Remember Pelosi talking about job lock? This is back in the days when Obamacare was leading unemployment, the Democrats started talking about the wonders and the greatness of unemployment, how you get to spend time with your family and time with your friends. There was even a name for it. Funemployment. Funemployment. Funemployment, right. Because people were losing their jobs. ‘Cause they couldn’t take their health care with them.
So they either had to stay in jobs they didn’t like, and in Pelosi’s world nobody likes their job because everybody works for an evil corporate guy. Did you hear what Pelosi said on Fox? I don’t know when this is. It’s a screen grab of Fox News. It’s a quote of Pelosi’s, and for all I know this could be five years old, but I think it’s current. The odds are it’s made to look to me like it’s today.
Pelosi letter to Speaker Ryan: “The American people and members of Congress have a right to know the full impact of your legislation before any vote in committee or before the whole House.” This is the woman who said we have to pass it, meaning Obamacare, to find out what’s in it. She can do this because she knows nobody is gonna hold her accountable on the hypocrisy side of this. There is no hypocrisy. Democrats are never called on their hypocrisy. Here’s the woman who said, “No, no, you don’t get to know what’s in Obamacare ’til we pass it.” Now she’s demanding that everything in it be made public before they vote on it.
Anyway, the Obamacare job lock business, it freed people of job lock supposedly, people keeping jobs they didn’t want because they needed health insurance. So how can the Democrats complain about tax credits for the self-employed? Poets, painters, and that’s who Pelosi talked about. Free from job lock so you can become a poet, so you could become a painter. Remember all of that gobbledygook garbage?
Folks, I’ve never forgotten the rotgut they used to sell Obamacare and the terms they came up with. Job lock, as though everybody was locked in a job they didn’t want because they needed the health care. So Obamacare was gonna come along and free you from all that. What tax credits do is help restore the market in competition. Subsidies for premiums just lock you into the system because you become dependent on the subsidy.
Government, people like Obama, Hillary, they love subsidies because it makes you dependent. You never see the money. You go fill out the form to sign up and enroll for Obamacare, your income is automatically gonna qualify you for a subsidy ’cause the damn stuff is so expensive, so you qualify for your subsidy, and it’s gotten to the point where if you make less than 75 grand, you can’t have health care in this country without a subsidy.
And who’s subsidizing it? The exchanges, the government. State governments were told they had to bear this expense, and they didn’t have the money. This is the way the government and Obamacare was trying to off-load Medicaid expenses. So now what they’re trying to do is fix all of this, and they’re using more tax credits in places of subsidies because it ends up putting money in people’s pockets.
Now, there’s no guarantee that they’re gonna spend that extra money on health care, but they can. Theoretically it allows them. It’s sort of a short-circuit way of health savings accounts, although health savings accounts are also in the bill. Now, I just spent 45 minutes — let me ask you a question. I’ve spent, well, 43 minutes minus six, 37 minutes talking about this. Do you know any more about it now than you did when I started?