Conn Carroll

Recession? What Recession? The Good Times Are Rolling In The Insulated, Inside-The-Beltway Nation's Capital

No wonder the liberal politicians who control the House, Senate and presidency think the economy is flying: Their immediate surroundings are, in fact, humming. There is no recession in Washington, D.C., and when you stay insulated inside the beltway, and all you see is fat cats living it up from from $3.5 trillion in government spending, no wonder President Obama and Vice President Biden call this the :summer of recovery." Andrew Little, a Richmond investment banker with John B. Levy & Co. recently wrote in a Richmond Times-Dispatch column that the real estate market, which burst and led to the recession and remains in the tank around the country, is booming in Washington.

As one lender put it, "the closer you are to the printing press, the better chance you'll have of getting some business."

Another lender unfortunately described just how exclusive the area is that is attracting capital: "We are focused on Washington, D.C., but only inside the Beltway."

A recent sale of the Evening Star Building at 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington fetched a mind-boggling $790 a square foot, and there is talk that other buildings currently on the market will surpass $900 a square foot.

These numbers indicate a strong desire for investors to put their money into real estate again. But if "frenzied" describes Washington and four other markets, "frail" is more apt for virtually everywhere else.

He adds that interest rates in D.C. are lower than most markets (thus the "printing press" comment). He then notes a Memphis, Tenn., apartment building that sold for a minuscule $2.1 million after costs, or less than $2,500 per unit, even though the average price per unit nationally last year was $72,306. The lender eventually lost $37.3 million on the project. Since this doesn't qualify for pocket change in Washington, we doubt few in the leadership are raising a red flag of concern. But why should they? Not only is real estate booming in D.C., so, too, are salaries (see CNSNews.com).

According to a CBS News report yesterday:

Federal salaries have grown 33 percent faster than inflation. Their pay and benefits averaged $123,049 in 2009, up 36.9 percent since 2000. Private workers averaged $61,051, up just 8.8 percent during the same time.

Even when factoring out education and experience (federal workers have more of each), The Heritage Foundation's James Sherk found that federal employees get paid 22 percent more per hour on average than private-sector workers. The facts get worse. Conn Carroll of Heritage's The Foundry blog cites the Wall Street Journal's findings that personal incomes fell nationally last year except in markets with heavy concentrations of federal employees, as well as a USA Today report that federal salaries average double private sector wages.

Not only that, but Heritage research shows that while private sector jobs have decreased by 6.8 percent since December 2007, federal government jobs have grown 10 percent. Government work at all levels have added 64,000 new jobs in that period while the private sector has lost 7.8 million jobs. I could go on. For example, President Obama is pushing for a 1.4 percent raise for 2 million federal workers who also qualify for seniority raises, not to mention his most recent bailout, this one for the teachers union and rising pay and benefits for local and state employees.

So, the more people suffer, the less Washington liberals know what to do. They seem to care even less. From what they see, all is good.

Britain's Health Care, Model For ObamaCare, Not So "NICE" (Neither Is His New Health Care Czar)

For those in denial about the real consequences of Obamacare — specifically, that it will cause rationing and, therefore, early deaths — it's time to face up to the truth. But don't take our word for it, take the word of people who support Obamacare. Conn Carroll writing yesterday at The Heritage Foundation's The Foundry Blog introduces us to Linda O'Boyle. Ms. Boyle was a British citizen (see where this is going?) diagnosed with bowel cancer. Her doctor told her she could boost her chances of survival by adding the drug cetuximab to her regimen. But . . .

But the rationing body for Britain’s National Health Service, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), had previously ruled that the drug was not cost-effective and therefore would not be paid for by the government. So O’Boyle liquidated her savings and paid for the drug herself. But this is not allowed under NHS rules. When government bureaucrats found out that O’Boyle had purchased the drug with her own money, she was denied NHS treatment and died within months.

Love the irony of a government agency with the acronym "NICE" that lets people die. Carroll continues:

Defenders of Britain’s health care rationing system may try to claim that this tragic death is an outlier in an otherwise acceptable government run health care system. They are wrong. It is the point of the system. As socialized medicine and infanticide advocate Peter Singer has argued in The New York Times, the NICE bureaucrats must ration care or else free government health care would bankrupt the British economy. “NICE had set a general limit of £30,000, or about $49,000, on the cost of extending life for a year,” Singer writes. Following this logic, Singer supported NICE’s decision not to allow British citizens the kidney cancer fighting drug Sutent. As a result of this, and many other rationing decisions, Britain has one of the lowest cancer survival rates in the Western world. While 60.3% of men and 61.7% of women in Sweden survive a cancer diagnosis, in Britain the figure ranges between 40.2% to 48.1% for men and 48% to 54.1% for women. And NICE’s rationing has not just hit cancer patients. Doctors have warned that patients with terminal illnesses are being made to die prematurely under the NHS rationing scheme. And according to the Patients Association, one million NHS patients have been the victims of appalling care in hospitals across Britain.

All of Carroll's research is documented in the links provided, many from British media reports and investigations. One would think these statistics and horror stories would give the Obama administration some pause, and maybe even scale back some of the new law. Instead, it has done the in-your-face-opposite: It bypassed the Senate confirmation process this week and installed Donald Berwick to run the new health care system. Does his name sound familiar? It should. He's the one who told a British audience that they do health care right while the evil U.S. is in the medical stone age, and that health care must include "redistribution of wealth." He's a proud socialist who favors rationing. In 2009, Berwick told Biotechnology Healthcare:

NICE is extremely effective and a conscientious and valuable knowledge-building system. … The decision is not whether or not we will ration care — the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.

While recess appointments are not extraordinary, there are not usual, and are used when the Senate is out of session for months, not days, and after the nominee has at least testified at a confirmation hearing. However, Senate Democrats haven't even scheduled a hearing and Berwick hasn't even returned answers to the nominal written questions submitted to all nominees. No matter how one looks at it, there's nothing nice about the new law, who's now running it, and the way the Obama administration is conducting itself.