Morning Must Reads -- Now that's what I call health-care misinformation 

New York Times -- Report Cited by Obama on Hospitals Is Criticized

Now they tell us!

The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care has been the bible of the liberal health reform movement – highlighting savings through more spending on preventative care and controls on end-of-life expenditures.

The ideas, as told in a New Yorker article, were the basis for the administration’s arguments that cutting Medicare by a half-trillion dollars would improve care and that you duplicate the success of outfits like the Mayo Clinic in poor urban and rural areas.

After months of hearing smart doctors grumble about the Dartmouth Atlas being impractical poppycock, the debunking is in effect as part of the autopsy of Obamacare.

“Dr. Elliott S. Fisher, director of the Center for Health Policy Research at the Dartmouth Institute, said the larger issue was that just because a hospital charges a lot does not mean that it delivers good care. But Dr. Fisher agreed that the current Atlas measures should not be use to set hospital payment rates, and that looking at the care of patients at the end of life provides only limited insight into the quality of care provided to those patients. He said he and his colleagues should not be held responsible for the misinterpretation of their data.

A White House spokesman declined to comment on the academic argument.”


Washington Post -- White House crafts jobs bill, a year into stimulus effort

The president did not expect to have to observe the one-year anniversary of the $867 stimulus spending package by asking for another round of stimulus.

Obama will likely get some other kind of “jobs bill,” but the new political realities will mean the package will be very different than the one he championed a year ago – less Keynes more Laffer.

The messaging battle that raged in Washington Wednesday proved one thing – the administration’s credibility on big issues has reached a new, low ebb.

The administration, with the help of writers Neil Irwin, Lori Montgomery and Alec MacGillis, promises that the months ahead will bring the real jolt of the stimulus.

“Of the $20 billion for health technology upgrades, only $1 billion has been allocated, and none has been spent. Most of the $4.5 billion for "smart grid" upgrades has been allocated, but none has been spent. Similarly, virtually none of the $8 billion for high-speed rail and $7.2 billion for broadband expansion has been spent, though the administration recently announced which areas would be getting the money.”


New York Times -- Agreement Is Near on New Overseer of Banking Risks

Sens. Chris Dodd, Bob Corker and Richard Shelby have slipped away to Central America where they are ostensibly on a Foreign Relations Committee fact-finding trip but are presumably putting the finishing touches on the bipartisan deal to create a new regulator for the American banking system.

Cold guaro and pungent cigars should help them ease into the idea of a fake solution to the persistent problem of the elimination of negative consequences for the largest financial institutions. If you’re to big to fail, why worry?

Dodd, who seems to be loving the idea of retirement, seems to have Shelby and Corker on board for a new committee that would be lead by Tim Geithner that would act as an early warning system when banks the government would rescue are heading for trouble. How much oversight and authority the committee would have is being worked out now, but writer Sewell Chan tells us that there is broad agreement.

It’s not what the Obama administration proposed – which was a beefy regulatory agency – and it’s not what conservatives wanted – which is a promise that no one is too big to fail with lines of credit available for survivors of economic trauma.

It is, however, pretty close to what Dodd’s old friends in the banking industry want – free money, no consequences, and a twerpy committee with no teeth.

“James Bullard, president of the St. Louis Fed, said in an interview that Mr. Bernanke had been ‘too kind’ in accepting blame for regulatory failings, given the failings of other regulators, from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

‘If he’s giving up, it’s because he’s somehow making some calculations about what the realities are,’ Mr. Bullard said.

‘But I’m telling you, this business of how we’re going to give this to a committee and we’re going to have an effective response to the next crisis. That is a joke.’”


New York Times -- Snipers Imperil U.S.-Led Forces in Afghan Offensive

A superbly written battlefield narrative from writer C.J. Chivers, who goes sprinting for cover with the Marines trying to pacify the Marja region of the Helmand Province.

The problem is that Talibani, normally content to spray bullets from their Kalashnikovs, are learning some sniper skills. They killed one Marine and wounded several others trying to help the Afghan government make a show of force amid the mud huts of Marja.

“Almost every American and Afghan infantryman present has had frightening close calls. Some of the shooting has apparently been from Kalashnikov machine guns, the Marines say, mixed with sniper fire.

The near misses have included lone bullets striking doorjambs beside their faces as Marines peeked around corners, single rounds cracking by just overhead as Marines looked over mud walls, and bullets slamming into the dirt beside them as they ran across the many unavoidable open spaces in the area they have been assigned to clear.”


Wall Street Journal -- U.S. Expected to Press China on Yuan

We’ve now reached the point of economic servitude to China that our president declines to appear publicly with dissident leaders and we apologize for selling arms to our allies.

The idea that we would be able to pressure the Chinese to start reeling in their fake currency in order to stabilize our economy is laughable. On human rights, carbon emissions, North Korea, Iran and everything else, China seems quite content to nod at our demands and then go on about its business.

Writers Kathy Chen and Jason Dean show us that rather than demanding, the U.S. will have to make the argument that the cheap Yuan will actually hurt our ability to buy all of the junk that China sells us.

But even that may not work, as China looks to exclude the West from its expanding markets.

“U.S. multinationals, meanwhile, have been complaining to the Obama administration about proposed rules issued by Beijing late last year that would set a list of preferred suppliers for the multibillion-dollar government procurement market and give preferred treatment to companies whose products are deemed to include adequate levels of local innovation. U.S. and other foreign companies fear this could put them at a disadvantage to Chinese players, and compel them to shift intellectual property to China.”


--My column on the lessons of the health care bust is here.


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About The Author

Chris Stirewalt


Washington Examiner Political Editor Chris Stirewalt, who coordinates political coverage for the newspaper and in addition to writing a twice-weekly column and
regular blog posts.

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