Pelosi Wants Another 'Stimulus'

As Democrats consider another round of so-called stimulus spending, Republicans on the House Committee on Ways and Means have compiled a stark assessment of the job losses since the first one began, measured by President Obama’s own set of rosy predictions of jobs “created or saved” in the earlier stages of his spending spree.

Back in February, while framing the argument in favor of passage of the “stimulus” bill, the White House released its state-by-state estimates (pdf) on the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act a.k.a. the “stimulus” spending bill.  The report promised 3.5 million jobs “saved or created” — 90 percent in the private sector.

Yet the Department of Labor’s own payroll employment data through August 2009 (the latest available) reflects that America continues to bleed jobs at a colossal rate. Only one area of the country has actually come close to surpassing only half of the estimate put forth by the president: Washington, D.C.  

The nation’s capitol has gained +6,700 of the White House projected +12,000 jobs since the stimulus was passed.  The only two states to gain jobs (though neither came close to White House estimates) are Montana (estimated jobs gained +11,000/actual jobs gained +2,100) and North Dakota (estimated jobs gained +8,000/actual jobs gained +2,800).

Every other state has lost a staggering number of jobs.

For example, the State of California was assured a gain of 396,000 in the White House estimate if the Democrats’ trillion-dollar stimulus spending spree passed.  Yet since the “stimulus” spending bill was crammed through Congress without members or the public being afforded the opportunity to read it before the vote, California has lost 302,200 jobs.  The White House estimated Florida would experience an uptick of 206,000 jobs yet they’re down 150,000 jobs since the jobs “stimulus” passed.

Michigan?  White House estimate: 109,000 gained;  actual 142,000 jobs lost.  Ohio?  White House estimate 133,000 gained/actual 97,400 jobs lost.  Texas?  White House estimate 269,000 gained/actual 178,600 jobs lost.

America has lost a total of 2,209,300 jobs since the “stimulus” passed.  Unemployment is a whopping 9.8 percent, the highest in nearly three decades.

For a complete listing of the state-by-state White House estimates as compared to actual jobs lost, the Ways and Means Committee Republicans have made a chart available on their website.

If this is an example of Obama-Pelosi-Reid’s stimulus plan “working better than expected,” the country can’t stand much more of their success.

Sebelius Responds on CMS Gag Order

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has responded to Republican demands for accountability on the issuance of a gag order by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. CMS — part of the huge HHS bureaucracy – issued a gag order which prohibits all Medicare plan providers from imparting accurate and constitutionally protected information to their customers that pertains to massive cuts in Medicare and Medicare Advantage (MA) plans proposed in the Democrats’ various health care bills.  

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the over $500 billion in cuts are included in all of the various Democrat proposals as a means to try to pay for the leviathan government health care takeover.

Sebelius said in her letter, “HHS believes that contracted organizations that sponsor MA and prescription drug plans may communicate their views on pending legislation with no interference from CMS or others in the Department, assuming compliance with the provisions” laid out in her letter.  

Despite this admission, the gag order remains in place.  From the letter:

We wholeheartedly agree with this statement and finding critical of CMS’ blanket gag order.  Your position is consistent with long-standing policy dating back to the Clinton Administration governing plan communications to enrollees.

In suppressing all communications from Medicare plans regardless of content, CMS’ gag order fails to meet any of the criteria for action laid out in your letter.  While CMS may have the right to investigate Humana, particularly disturbing is CMS’ determination that all Medicare plans were guilty by association.  There are hundreds of Medicare plan sponsors that represent millions of seniors which have committed no violation and yet have had revoked their lawful and constitutional ability to communicate facts with senior enrollees.  The gag order was an overreaction by CMS and violation of HHS policy and the First Amendment.

We also appreciate the fact that, unlike CMS, you are not making the absurd claim that Humana’s statement that “millions of seniors and disabled individuals could lose many of the important benefits and services that make Medicare Advantage health plans so valuable” is “inaccurate” or “misleading.”  As you may know, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and independent Medicare Payment Advisory Committee have affirmed those facts.  

You stated that “the timing and content of this messaging was particularly concerning to [CMS].”  The timing is indeed concerning.  With each passing day, CMS’ indefensible gag order prevents millions of seniors from rightfully learning about how the $500 billion in Medicare cuts being proposed by Congressional Democrats will impact their health benefits.  As such, we respectfully urge you to abide by your finding and repeal CMS’ gag order immediately.

Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, pointed out the gravity and hypocrisy of the situation on Friday.

“It’s clear from the gag order and the photo-op at the White House this week that if you agree with the President and Congressional Democrats you are free to speak your mind, but if you don’t you better be ready to battle the full force of the federal government,” Camp said.  “This issue would be laughable if we weren’t dealing with the health of our nation’s seniors and their constitutional right to know what may happen to their Medicare benefits under the Democrats’ bill.”

Every Republican on the Ways and Means committee signed the response letter again demanding Sebelius rescind the gag order.

The full text of the letter from Sebelius can be found on the Republican Ways and Means website (pdf).