Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Julie Boonstra Says That Because Obama Lied to Her, She’s Entitled to Lie to Others. [UPDATED]

Julie Boonstra is a Michigan mother currently battling leukemia. Her medical coverage has been adversely affected by the onset of Obamacare. She’s had the courage to let people know about her struggle by speaking truth to power in an ad sponsored by Americans for Prosperity’s chapter in her state.

Julie tells John that she blames Congressman Peters for trying to quiet her & President Obama for lying to her and the American public about Obamacare. (Boldface in original.)

“The President Lied to me” Cancer Patient Julie Boonstra tells Gibson she will not stay quiet, Fox News Radio, Feb. 25

Apparently, this woman continues to claim, falsely, that her medical coverage has been adversely affected by the onset of Obamacare.  She also claims that Peters, who requested documentation from AFP, which sponsored the ad featuring her, supporting her claims was an attempt to silence her from saying that Obama said falsely that everyone who wanted to keep their health care plan could do so.  

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Michigan Republican Senate Candidate Terri Lynn Land Comes Out For Single-Payer Healthcare Insurance! Seriously!*

As far as Julie Boonstra being taken advantage of, I don’t think it’s just AFP that’s involved. She owns a home in Dexter with the former chair of the Washtenaw County Republican Party Mark Boonstra.

Eclectablog, this morning

Hmm.  Okay, so it’s not just Ms. Boonstra who can’t perform simple math, it’s also former Washtenaw County Republican Party chair Mark Boonstra who can’t, at least if he communicates regularly with the person with whom he owns a home in Dexter, Mich.  Or maybe he can, but just didn’t.

In any event, the Americans for Prosperity ad featuring Ms. Boonstra has been targeting Rep. Gary Peters, the Dem candidate to replace retiring Sen. Carl Levin. Peters’ opponent is Terri Lynn Land, a former Michigan secretary of state, who earlier came out for full repeal of Obamacare.  Michigan is one of the few states with Republican governors to adopt the ACA’s Medicare expansion, which will begin this spring and, as Greg Sargent points out, will provide healthcare coverage to about 400,000 Michigan residents.

Given Land’s repeal-Obamacare stance, Sargent asked her campaign whether she wants the Medicaid expansion repealed along with the rest of the law.  Sargent published the campaign’s response to him yesterday:

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China’s struggling capacity utilization is signal of effective demand limit

As output increases, there is an effective demand limit which slows down the utilization of capital and labor. Utilization of capital typically slows down before labor.

cap ut emp

The circled areas show times in the US when capacity utilization (blue) declined as employment (red) was rising or holding steady. This pattern normally happens before a contraction in the economy. We did not see this pattern before the recession at the end of 2007. Employment actually started to fall before capacity utilization.

So what has been happening with capacity utilization in China? Here are some excerpts in an article yesterday from Xinhuanet.com. (Bold is my emphasis)

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Emilie Lamb was subsidized by her doctor’s largesse and by federal taxpayers and full-coverage-insurance policyholders. She still will be. She should acknowledge that, publicly.

“I was diagnosed with lupus when I was 27. Lupus is an autoimmune disorder. It’s dramatically affected my life. I voted for Barack Obama for president. I thought that Obamacare was going to be a good thing. Instead of helping me, Obamacare has made my life almost impossible. Barack Obama told us we could keep our health insurance if we liked it. And we can’t. I got a letter in the mail saying that my health insurance was over, that it was gone.  It was canceled because of Obamacare. My premiums went from $52 a month to $373 a month. I’m having to work a second job to pay for Obamacare. For somebody with lupus, that’s not an easy thing. If I can’t afford to continue to pay for Obamacare, I don’t get my medicine; I don’t get to see my doctors. I am very disappointed in Barack Obama as a president. He made promises he didn’t keep. And that’s disheartening.”

–Tennessee resident Emilie Lamb, 40, in an ad sponsored by Americans for Prosperity

The Facts

Lamb’s old plan was provided through a public-private program aimed at lower-income workers called CoverTN, which split the premium costs between an employee, the employer and the state. That’s a big reason why Lamb’s premium was only $52 a month, but in an interview she said she would have gladly paid and could have afforded the full $156 a month.

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Medical bills and bankruptcy

Wendell Potter points to a study on medical debt as a major component of bankruptcies:

One of the great hopes of health care reform is that it will reduce the number of Americans who file for bankruptcy because of medical debt. A new study in Massachusetts is providing evidence that the reform law passed in that state in 2006, and which served as the model for the Affordable Care Act, is indeed making a significant dent in bankruptcy filings.

The study, conducted by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, found that the Massachusetts reform law, often called RomneyCare after then GOP Gov. Mitt Romney, has reduced personal bankruptcies in the state by 20 percent.

In no other country in the developed world is medical debt a leading cause of personal bankruptcy. But in the U.S. it is the leading cause, a phenomenon even FOXBusiness News highlighted in a report last week.

Citing a 2013 study by NerdWallet Health, an online service that helps people make more informed health care decisions, FOX reported that unpaid medical bills were the number one cause of bankruptcy filings in this country, surpassing both credit card and mortgage debt.

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Julie Boonstra, Americans for Prosperity, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Trial

The Tea Party group Americans for Prosperity has now released its factual documentation for its misleading ad featuring Julie Boonstra, a Michigan woman stricken with Leukemia who suggests Obamacare forced her to take on a new plan that is now “unaffordable.” The ad has been widely pilloried ever since Glenn Kessler discovered that her premiums had come down, likely making her overall costs a wash or even cheaper. Gary Peters, the Dem candidate for Senate in Michigan, had written to TV stations insisting on documentation.

The documentation provided by AFP, which was passed along from TV stations by the Peters campaign, doesn’t actually back up the ad’s key claim. But it tells us something interesting about how the AFP campaign — and by extension, the broader GOP strategy against Obamacare — really work.

To buttress the ad’s charge that Boonstra’s “out of pocket charges are so high, it’s unaffordable,” AFP cites a single Politico article reporting that “consumers may have to dig a little deeper into their wallets to pay for health care in the Obamacare insurance exchanges,” because the law could mean additional out of pocket expenses. Needless to say, that doesn’t shed light on Boonstra’s individual situation. And on that front, AFP’s documentation offers this (emphasis mine):

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Half of What’s Wrong With the Recovery in One Chart

Simple national income and product accounting tells us that the current US recover (I can barely manage to type that without scare quotes and I *hate* scare quotes) has been horrible for two reasons: low government purchases of goods and services (G) and low housing investment. Consumption, fixed non residential investment, and inventory investment have recovered normally. Net exports didn’t fall.

The two possible (non exclusive) explanations of the extraordinary decline in real G during the recovery is that Republicans are stupid and that they are evil saboteurs. To be fair, Democrats and (especially) nonpartisan centrists too have flirted with austerity.

Before I go on (and on) the key graph explaining the slow recovery of housing investment shows the low and declining expected rate of house price appreciation. In addition to their well known house price index Case and Shiller survey the expected rate of increase of housing over the next ten years. The average over the random sample of 2000 is shown in the graph I steal below (via DINA ELBOGHDADY)

csexpect

The dramatic decline in expected medium term house price appreciation is greater than the decline in the mortgage interest rate (about 3% from the business cycle peak to the low point of mortgage interest rates in 2013) so the expected cost of owner occupied housing services is extraordinarily high (meaning it is positive given maintenance and property taxes). The decline is 9% from the peak mania and about 5% from the business cycle peak. This is a sufficient explanation for low housing investment.

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