April 09, 2010

It's hard out there for a pimp

PhotobucketWednesday, during a press conference at the Capitol, reporters got to see Texas Association of Business President Bill Hammond as more than just a bloviating fat ass, they got to see him in his true form... Republican Pimp.

For ages, it's been obvious to everyone that Bill's a typical political hack playing the part of the President of a pro-business group in Texas. The press though, got to see it full tilt on Wednesday...

Calling HCR "the corrupt product of a corrupt process", Texas Association of Business President Bill Hammond told the assembled press that Obamacare (as he insisted on calling it) will cause financial rack and ruin for small businesses. "Employers are going to be put in a position where they will simply give up and not give this benefit to their employees," he said. Employers with more than 50 employees will have to meet new standards ("established in Washington, D.C.," he rumbled) or face a $2,000 per employee tax.

Just so we're clear, we can now add 'liar' to the list of derogatory adjectives that describe Bill Hammond. The current list includes (but is not limited to) 'Republican shill', 'hyperbolic exaggerator' and 'fat'. The process was nothing but cooperative, it's just that Bills peeps chose not to, you know, COOPERATE. So the Democrats did what Democrats always do in the face of Republican failure and intransigence, they fixed the problem. As for that crap about employers dropping health insurance, I think that's about as stupid as Cynthia Dunbar's crazy from the 08 cycle. It ain't gonna happen and Bill knows it.

Fortunately, Bill wasn't the only shitbox at the presser, some idiot from the US Chamber of Commerce was also there representing the energy and health insurance industries. Funny how the CoC now has about as much cred as the AEI and the CEI.

The issue, he suggested, is people waiting to get sick before they buy insurance. He went on, "What I'm getting at is, in a market place, creating a situation where you may be creating disincentives to purchase insurance and can get care either way."

Hammond chimed in on the same meme, and added, "What you're doing is allowing someone to pay a small amount of money and in return receive tens of thousands of dollars in benefits that will being paid for by other policy holders."

So, having shown a poor grasp of both what pre-existing conditions really mean and the basic shared risk principles behind insurance, the event became a Q&A. Unfortunately for them, the questioning took a tougher turn, with the three spokespeople being pushed hard on questions of the mitigating effect of tax credits and basic issues of whether they had really consulted their membership.

Goddamn, if ever there was a stupid Bill Hammond Quote and if ever there were a time to nail it, this was it. Thank you, Richard Whittaker. The press, strangely, seems to be catching on and calling bullshit more often with these touts. Another example...

Hasn't Texas, the state with the weakest legal restraints on businesses and the smallest, ended up with amongst the nation's highest insurance premiums, lowest rates of coverage and worst stats for under-insurance? As Layelin Copelin from the Statesman (welcome back to the press corps, sir) so adroitly put it, "For ten years, we've been in a free market state, by and large, and y'all praise it as being low-regulatory and so on so forth. So why hasn't the free market solved the problems?"

Hammond's response to the general issue was that Texas is still over-regulated and that every decision should be be between "the employer, the employee and the health insurance company."

Jesus, Bill, about the only thing a corporation can't do in this state is buy a human being. They can pollute water if they want, but they just can't buy folks off the street or harvest organs from bums, though we're sure that's coming. Never mind the failure of deregulation in the energy markets, something even the Cato Institute now admits was a colossal mistake (on par with giving Jay Leno that show in prime time). Of course, what you really gotta love is Bill's response to all this... just like an old commie defending their beloved ideology by saying that what existed in the Soviet Union wasn't really communism, Bill's steadfast in believing that we just haven't freed up things enough for Adam Smith's Invisible Hand to step in and bitchslap all us socialists. Never mind the fact that Adam Smith (the same founder of modern capitalism) believed in government regulation as a necessary means of keeping private enterprise from growing too powerful and abusing consumers.

I'd also like to mention that Adam Smith believed in a progressive tax system in the hope that Bill, when he reads this, will explode and make a HOOOOOOGE mess (get it?) over a sizable (so phoning it in) portion of Austin. But enough with the BILL HAMMOND IS FAT jokes, back to the details of the amazingly awful press conference of derelicts (sorry, Laura, love you but WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING WITHIN 50 YARDS OF THESE WALKING, TALKING COLOSTOMY BAGS?!?!?)...

But Hammond left his most remarkable statement for near the end.

If Ken Lay were alive today, he'd say, 'My god, what have they done?' Or maybe he's looking down from heaven saying, 'If I were alive today, they would have sent me to prison for what I did?'

Yes, according to Hammond, expanding health care is dreadful because it will increase the deficit (sorry, Bill, gonna weigh in on hyper-inflated military spending any time soon?) But bringing in the Enron fraudster as the voice of moral reason? Really?

Speaking of the deficit, Hammond probably doesn't realize that ex the stimulus, the deficit itself (even leaving in place the Bush tax cuts) will cure itself with increased tax receipts as employment ticks up. But explaining economic reality to someone like Bill Hammond is like explaining efficient market theory to a 6 year old. Well, that's not right... the 6 year old would probably have a more open mind. As for Ken Lay, I have a special place in my heart for Kenny Boy and the crooks at Enron. Because of them, American business has to deal with Sarbanes-Oxley which, for me, means dealing with 5 different logins for different protected systems. Every single motherfucking day and the passwords have to be changed every 10 days. How awesome is that?

Ken Lay defined an era in that he stood out as a crook and a fraud even in an age of IPOs for companies that had no revenue, let alone profits. And Bill Hammond still thinks he's someone to admire. I bet he also thinks Bernie Madoff got a raw deal and Alan Stanford is being persecuted.

Oh, and did I mention he was fat?

(For more, check out Kuff and BOR's piece on how good HCR is for small businesses in Texas)

Posted by mcblogger at April 9, 2010 09:28 AM

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Unless you've been trapped under Bill Hammond's ample ass (IT JUST NEVER GETS OLD), you're aware that the state is facing a massive budgetary shortfall in the next biennium because of incompetence on the part of the Lt. Governor, Governor... [Read More]

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