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Peggy Noonan: High Anxiety Over Health-Care Reform 

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People need simplicity and clarity. They deserve it. They’ll pay for it as best they can, a lot if they have to. But they need not to be jerked around anymore. And that is what Congress doesn’t know.

Peggy Noonan writes: What politicians, those hardy folk, don’t understand about health care is how anxious it makes their constituents. Not suspicious, not obstinate, but anxious. Because unlike such policy questions as tax reform, health care can be an immediate life-or-death issue for you. It has to do with whether, when, and where you can get the chemo if you’re sick, and how long they’ll let you stay in the hospital when you have nobody, or nobody reliable and nearby, to care for you. To make it worse, the issue is all hopelessly complicated and complex and pits you as an individual against huge institutions—the insurance company that doesn’t answer the phone, the hospital that says “I’m afraid that’s not covered”—and you have to make the right decisions.

It’s all on you.

Politicians don’t understand all this, in part because they and their families are well-covered on a government insurance policy, and they have staff to put in the claim and argue with the insurance company, which, when it’s a congressman calling, answers the phone in one quick hurry. They don’t know it’s not easy for everyone else. Or rather they know on some abstract level but forget in the day-to-day, as one does with abstractions.

But I want to speak of how it’s all on you: You don’t want to be seen—by others, by yourself—as someone who couldn’t make the right decisions for yourself and your family. “She didn’t know she needed Part B.” “She got the supplement that says she can’t be treated in Jersey.” You don’t want to be humiliated. “What a dope.” “What fatal lack of sophistication.”

“Seven years ago it’s Democrats: “Wow, we’re so supercompetent, we’ll make it better!” And suddenly you lose your doctor or your coverage, or your premiums spike, and it’s a mess. They can’t even make the website work. And you’re anxious, and you have to renavigate an entire opaque empire of rules and passive-aggressive clerks. It’s a shadow on your life.”

And then these jokers in Congress come along. Seven years ago it’s Democrats: “Wow, we’re so supercompetent, we’ll make it better!” And suddenly you lose your doctor or your coverage, or your premiums spike, and it’s a mess. They can’t even make the website work. And you’re anxious, and you have to renavigate an entire opaque empire of rules and passive-aggressive clerks. It’s a shadow on your life.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

And then it settles down, as things do after seven years. You hate the system, but it is what it is and you’re used to it. And now these new jokers come along and say, “We’ll make it nice, trust us!” And it’s all big and complicated—so complicated the president negotiating it appears to have no idea what he’s saying yes or no to. But the effects and implications of his decisions will all be left on you. And you watch from the corner of your eye as you pass the TV, and suddenly your blood pressure’s spiking again. For you it’s all more anxiety and dishevelment and confusion, but in a new package, this time delivered by Republicans.

When all you want is the card in the wallet so when you’re strapped to the gurney in the emergency room, they’ll see it and they’ll say the word you want to hear: “Covered.” Then you can happily pass out.

People need simplicity and clarity. They deserve it. They’ll pay for it as best they can, a lot if they have to. But they need not to be jerked around anymore.

And that is what Congress doesn’t know.

We go now to the failure of the ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill.

Politically it’s all obvious. For the new administration it is a loss and a significant one. It has damaged the new president’s prestige. Every president until he fails has the aura of unused power. Boy, when I use it, you’re gonna see muscle. He used it. No muscle. Fatal? No. Damaging and diminishing? Yes. It is an embarrassment too for Speaker Paul Ryan. Together they could not get a win on the board after they threw everything they have into it. This does not speak well for everything they have. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] Big Government Kills Small Businesses

Small businesses employ over 57 million Americans. And yet, the government’s taxes and regulations overwhelmingly favor big businesses at the expense of small ones. Why? Find out in this short video.This video is part of a collaborative business and economics project with Job Creators Network and Information Station. To learn more, visit informationstation.org.

Source: PragerU


[VIDEO] The Morality of Profit

The free market needs and deserves a moral defense.

Source: Libertarianism.org


[VIDEO] Charles Krauthammer on Trump Budget Proposal: Cuts Dead on Arrival, Entitlements Are What Matter 

Charles Krauthammer dismissed Trump’s budget as “dead on arrival” and pointed out that entitlements are what matter, even if proposed cuts focus on domestic discretionary spending such as public broadcasting:

“This is a budget, like every other one I’ve seen in decades that I’ve been here, it is dead on arrival at Capitol Hill. Capitol Hill is a huge morgue of presidential budgets. There is not one that actually croaked into life. They all come in dead. They are wish lists. They are expressions of one’s interests, and a way to respond to promises. The beginning of this, the premise of this is defense. In the eight years under Obama, we had a real destruction of the defense budget. Obama came in, it was about 4.6 percent of GDP. When he left, it was 3.2 percent. To put it in context, under the sainted John Kennedy it was around 10 percent. We are at the lowest ebb since about Pearl Harbor, and you can see it in the readiness, so that had to be done.”

“All the real stuff, where the money is — the Willie Sutton bank money — is in entitlements, which isn’t even in here. The problem is it’s not in here because we’ve got a president who promised in the campaign, unlike just about every other Republican opponent, he wasn’t going to touch a hair on the head of entitlements. So if you don’t, it all has to come out of the domestic discretionary spending, and when you do that, you end up with these cuts which are never going to happen, and you get the old perennials. Big Bird is going to get roasted again, or at least proposed to be. I guarantee you, he will or she will — I’m not sure which it is these days — it is going to escape unscathed.”

Source: National Review


[VIDEO] Krauthammer: Schumer Throwing the Kitchen Sink at Trump Discredits Valid Criticism of Him 

Charles Krauthammer said that Trump’s tax-return reveal was only favorable for him, and went on to argue that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer hurt his own cause by stridently criticizing the president.

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[VIDEO] Dana Perino Joins Mercy Ships’ Humanitarian Mission in Africa

Floating hospital docked in the Republic of Benin; for more information visit mercyships.org

Dana first visited our ship in 2013 during Mercy Ships’ field service in the Republic of the Congo. She will return on March 8 for four days while we’re docked in Cotonou to witness firsthand the hope and healing our crew is bringing to the people of Benin. On board theAfrica Mercy, Dana plans to shadow volunteer surgeon Dr. Mark Shrime, visit a local community, meet with patients to learn their stories, and much more.

Photo Credit: Michelle Murrey; Dana PERINO (USA), guest of Don STEPHENS, waits with a child in the Communications Room on Selection Day in Pointe Noire, Congo
Photo Credit: Michelle Murrey; Dana PERINO (USA), guest of Don STEPHENS, waits with a child in the Communications Room on Selection Day in Pointe Noire, Congo africa mercy ship dock africa mercy ship port

Many people in developing nations have little or no access to healthcare, causing children, teens and adults to suffer every day from treatable medical conditions. That’s why we use a hospital ship to bring care to those directly in need. Since our founding in 1978, Mercy Ships has delivered free services impacting more than 2.5 million children and families. Dana will experience a small taste of this during her visit.

Mercy Ships is tirelessly motivated to bringing hope and healing to the world’s forgotten poor, but we cannot do so without help from people like you. Mercy Ships operates via funding from private donors, foundations and socially responsible corporations. Our entire crew — from surgeons and nurses to chefs and electricians — is made up of volunteers who pay to serve on the ship. Read the rest of this entry »


ObamaCare Satisfaction Craters To 22% As Law Continues To Collapse

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Health Reform: The need for an overhaul of ObamaCare just got more acute, as a new survey shows that satisfaction rates among those enrolled in ObamaCare plans has taken a steep nose-dive this year amid premium hikes and reduced choices.

The new coverage of ObamaCare these days has been all about protests against repeal and the alleged increase in public support for the law.

But a survey of actual ObamaCare customers released this week paints an entirely different picture.

It found that just 22% of the 44,200 ObamaCare enrollees polled rate their health plan as good to excellent. That’s down from 77% who gave their ObamaCare plans high marks last year.

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The reason for the sharp decline was higher premiums, worse service and lack of choice. The survey, conducted by Black Book Market Research, found that 96% reported a decline in customer service support, 90% noted premium increases, 80% said their plans had narrower provider networks, and 77% said their plans’ benefits had been trimmed. Nearly two-thirds (61%) complained about lack of competitors in their market.

In other words, the collapse of competition in the ObamaCare exchanges — which left five states and a third of U.S. counties with only one ObamaCare insurer — has led to the rapid deterioration in quality.

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Black Book managing partner Douglas Brown says that the remaining plans “failed to congruently ramp up member services support to process claims, respond to enrollment issues, answer provider questions, denials, authorizations, and payment.” Read the rest of this entry »


Obama-linked Activists Have a ‘Training Manual’ for Protesting Trump 

As Donald Trump Wins Presidency, Country Reacts

Organizing for Action, a group founded by Obama and featured prominently on his new post-presidency website, is distributing a training manual to anti-Trump activists that advises them to bully GOP lawmakers into backing off support for repealing ObamaCare, curbing immigration from high-risk Islamic nations, and building a border wall.

Paul Sperry reports: An Obama-tied activist group training tens of thousands of agitators to protest President Trump’s policies plans to hit Republican lawmakers supporting those policies even harder this week, when they return home for the congressional recess and hold town hall meetings and other functions.

“A script advises callers to complain: ‘I’m honestly scared that a known racist and anti-Semite will be working just feet from the Oval Office … It is everyone’s business if a man who promoted white supremacy is serving as an adviser to the president.’”

Organizing for Action, a group founded by Obama and featured prominently on his new post-presidency website, is distributing a training manual to anti-Trump activists that advises them to bully GOP lawmakers into backing off support for repealing ObamaCare, curbing immigration from high-risk Islamic nations, and building a border wall.

“The goal is to make Republicans, even from safe districts, second-guess their support for the Trump agenda.”

In a new Facebook post, OFA calls on activists to mobilize against Republicans from now until Feb. 26, when “representatives are going to be in their home districts.”

The protesters disrupted town halls earlier this month, including one held in Utah by House Oversight Chairman Jasonobama_in_limo_pd_12913 Chaffetz, who was confronted by hundreds of angry demonstrators claiming to be his constituents.

The manual, published with OFA partner “Indivisible,” advises protesters to go into halls quietly so as not to raise alarms, and “grab seats at the front of the room but do not all sit together.” Rather, spread out in pairs to make it seem like the whole room opposes the Republican host’s positions. “This will help reinforce the impression of broad consensus.” It also urges them to ask “hostile” questions — while keeping “a firm hold on the mic” — and loudly boo the the GOP politician if he isn’t “giving you real answers.”

[Read the full story here, at New York Post]

“Express your concern [to the event’s hosts] they are giving a platform to pro-Trump authoritarianism, racism, and corruption,” it says.

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“The manual, published with OFA partner ‘Indivisible,’ advises protesters to go into halls quietly so as not to raise alarms, and “grab seats at the front of the room but do not all sit together.’ Rather, spread out in pairs to make it seem like the whole room opposes the Republican host’s positions. ‘This will help reinforce the impression of broad consensus.’”

The goal is to make Republicans, even from safe districts, second-guess their support for the Trump agenda, and to prime “the ground for the 2018 midterms when Democrats retake power.”

“It also urges them to ask ‘hostile’ questions — while keeping ‘a firm hold on the mic’ — and loudly boo the the GOP politician if he isn’t ‘giving you real answers.’”

“Even the safest [Republican] will be deeply alarmed by signs of organized opposition,” the document states, “because these actions create the impression that they’re not connected to their district and not listening to their constituents.”

After the event, protesters are advised to feed video footage to local and national media. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama’s Parting Gift: Trillion-Dollar Deficits As Far As The Eye Can See

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Legacy:  Barack Obama came into the White House in 2009 promising a “new era of responsibility.” What he’s left President Trump is a government careening toward fiscal ruin.That’s what the latest report from the Congressional Budget Office shows.

The CBO report looks at what federal spending and revenues will look like over the next decade if the government is left on autopilot. The picture is grim.

(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

Deficits this year are expected to be $559 billion. By 2023, the government will once again be running trillion-dollar annual deficits that will quickly climb in the following years.

Left unchanged, the national debt will worsen by an additional $10 trillion in a decade, equaling almost 90% of the economy.

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And that’s despite the fact that, thanks to Obama’s multiple tax increases, revenues are on track to consume more than 18% of the nation’s economy, which is a full percentage point above the average since 1967.

Spending, however, is completely out of control. It’s set to climb from 20.5% of GDP next year to 23.4% by 2027. The post-1967 average was 20%.

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ObamaCare subsidies alone will, according to the CBO, climb 22% this year and 20% the next — thanks to the massive increase in premiums. This cost explosion is in addition to the vast increase in Medicaid spending ObamaCare already generated. And it’s all on top of fast-growing Social Security and Medicare, both of which are rapidly headed toward insolvency.

Perhaps the biggest driver of future deficits, however, is the incredibly sluggish economy the CBO expects current economic policies to produce. Read the rest of this entry »


President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho Trump is In the House

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Katherine Rodriguez reports: The Oval Office was redecorated with gold drapes just in time for President Trump’s arrival at the White House Friday.

The drapes were a change from the crimson drapes former President Obama had in his Oval Office, the Hill reported.

The change was first spotted as Trump signed executive orders on Obamacare and other things as his initial major acts as President. Read the rest of this entry »


The Hostile Takeover Rolls On

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THE BIG IDEA: President Trump completed his hostile takeover of the Republican Party last July, and on Friday he completed his hostile, if temporary, takeover of Washington.

In some significant ways, Trump is more like a corporate raider of the 1980s, when he came of age, than a typical politician of 2017. Thirty years ago, Gordon Gekko might have been more likely to deliver the speech that the billionaire businessman did today than Ronald Reagan.

No president has ever before referred to “the establishment” in his inaugural address nor declared that every country in the world ought to pursue its own self-interest. But the guy who ended the Bush dynasty and then vanquished the Clinton machine, in a period of 17 months, put “the establishment” of both parties on notice once more.

“For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost,” he said, as leaders from each side of the aisle looked on stoically. “The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. … What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Krauthammer: Trump’s Presidency Will Apparently ‘Be Nothing Like Previous Presidencies’

“His presidency, if the path is any indication, it is going to be nothing like previous presidencies. The direct communication with the public through Twitter, the lack of political correctness, the idea that he would make new foreign policy off the cuff in a transition period. The transition was the most remarkable I have ever seen. I mean, he became essentially the president and was acting like one. He made the dollar slip just a couple days ago with a single tweet.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Washington Post Catalogues the Biggest Lies Obama Ever Told

Barack Obama

 reports: The Washington Post marked the end of the Obama administration with a list Thursday that likely didn’t please the outgoing president’s supporters.

For the last five years, the Post has made its political Fact Checker a staple of the publication. Ranked by “Pinocchios,” contenders receive one Pinocchio for a little lie and can earn up to four Pinocchios for the most outrageous of fibs.

Though the Post ran its trademark Fact Checker during President Barack Obama’s first campaign, it wasn’t until 2011 that it became a fixture there, so admittedly the publication missed some blatant dishonesty.

But the newspaper has fact-checked more than 250 statements made by the current president. On his last full day in office, the Post published a catalogue of Obama’s 10 biggest lies.

[Read the full story here, at TheBlaze]

Included on the list, unsurprisingly, was Obama’s statement to the American public while rallying for Congress to pass his signature health-care legislation, Obamacare: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”

“If you like your health-care plan, you can keep it”
This memorable promise by Obama backfired on him in 2013 when the Affordable Care Act went into effect and at least 2 million Americans started receiving cancellation notices. As we explained, part of the reason for so many cancellations is because of an unusually early (March 23, 2010) cutoff date for grandfathering plans — and because of tight regulations written by the administration. So the uproar could be pinned directly on the administration’s own actions.

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Another whopper was Obama’s claim that all but 10 percent of the federal deficit was due to former President George W. Bush’s policies. Pushing back against criticisms of running up the deficit at an unparalleled rate with stimulus packages and bailouts, Obama made this claim during his 2012 campaign.

“90 percent of the budget deficit is due to George W. Bush’s policies”
During the 2012 campaign, Obama repeatedly reminded voters that he became president during a grim economic crisis. But he went too far when he claimed that only 10 percent of the federal deficit was due to his own policies. About half of the deficit stemmed from the recession and forecasting errors, but a large chunk (44 percent in 2011) were the result of Obama’s actions. At another point, Obama also falsely suggested that the Bush tax cuts led to the Great Recession.

President Obama and his successors in the Oval Office are not obligated to make public the names of individuals visiting the White House, according to a decision of the federal Circuit Court for the District of Columbia made public Friday. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

And throughout Obama’s two terms in office, he has been quick to dismiss clear acts of terrorism — using phrases like “workplace violence” or blaming a YouTube video for an attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The Post also included his categorization of the Benghazi attack as “an act of terror” and his reference to ISIS as a “JV team.”

“The day after Benghazi happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism”
Obama did refer to an “act of terror” in the immediate aftermath of the 2012 Benghazi attacks, but in vague terms, wrapped in a patriotic fervor. He never affirmatively stated that the American ambassador died because of an “act of terror.” Then, over a period of two weeks, given three opportunities in interviews to affirmatively agree that the Benghazi attack was a terrorist attack, the president obfuscated or ducked the question. So this was a case of taking revisionist history too far for political reasons. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Charles Krauthammer: Obama is Deluding Himself ‘Into Believing He was a Great Historic Success’ 

It’s pretty satisfying to see that Obama was completely done in by his own hubris – when he wasn’t able to get any bipartisan support for his far left schemes, he just pushed them through by abusing the power of the executive branch.

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But without a successor to secure those gains, he has built his legacy “on sand,” as perfectly stated by Krauthammer…(more)

Read the rest of this entry »


Schumer Accidentally Tweets ‘Don’t Make America Great Again’ 

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Caitlin Yilek reports: Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accidentally tweeted “Don’t Make America Great Again” on Monday.

[Read more at the Washington Examiner]

The New York senator was promoting the Democrats’ fight to protect Obamacare, calling on his followers to add the Senate Democrats account on Snapchat to follow along.

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“Starting tonight, @SenateDems are on @Snapchat. Add to hear more on our fight to protect healthcare & tell GOP: Don’t #MakeAmericaGreatAgain,” Schumer tweeted, then deleted.

Joe Perticone, a congressional reporter for the Independent Journal Review, made a screenshot of the tweet before it was deleted. Read the rest of this entry »


Winston Churchill Bust Set for Oval Office Return by Incoming President Donald Trump

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Donald Trump has made no secret of the fact that he intends to rip up Barack Obama’s legacy when he takes office – ending the Trans-Pacific Partnership, redrawing Obamacare and loading up Guantanamo with “some bad dudes”.

However, one expected action is likely to be less controversial, certainly in Britain: that of restoring the bust of Winston Churchill to the Oval Office.

Mr Trump, who has frequently professed his admiration for Britain’s wartime leader, was asked earlier this week whether he was considering returning the bust, sculpted by Jacob Epstein, to the White House.

“I am, indeed, I am,” he said, during an interview at the New York Times, at which he was sitting in front of a picture of Churchill.

Mr Obama replaced the Churchill bust with one of Martin Luther King in the Oval Office in 2009, soon after he took over the presidency, causing outrage on both sides of the Atlantic.

Boris Johnson controversially wrote earlier this year, while he was Mayor of London, that Mr Obama’s decision to send the bust back to the British embassy in Washington had been a “snub to Britain”.

Winston-Churchill

Mr Johnson, who is now Foreign Secretary, suggested it might have been linked to Mr Obama’s “ancestral dislike of the British Empire”.

However, Mr Obama later explained that he had a second sculpture of Churchill, who had an American mother and was the only person ever granted an honourary US passport, in his private quarters.

Read the rest of this entry »


Guy Benson: How Could Anyone Have Possibly ‘Misunderstood’?

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Lies of the Year.

Guy Benson writes: President Obama huddled with Congressional Democrats on Wednesday to discuss best practices for fending off Republican efforts to repeal and replace his failingsignature domestic legislation once Donald Trump is sworn into office. Mike Pence, meanwhile, has met with Republicans on the Hill to plot the path forward to repeal. Both discussions were closed-door, but details quickly leaked out — and this one made me literally laugh out loud:

Heavens, how could anyone have possibly “misunderstood” the degree to which there would be unwelcome changes to the healthcare system under Obamacare? Might it have anything to do with this very same president repeatedly and brazenly lying, assuring everyone that their satisfactory arrangements wouldn’t change at all, and that all other conceivable changes for everyone else would be universally positive?  Virtually every single promise he made, and certainly all the big ones, have been violated.

[Read the full story here, at TownHall.com]

Perhaps the most egregious (tied with lower costs and “affordability“) was Obama’s infamous “keep your plan and doctor” whopper, which was rated by left-leaning Politifact as the 2013 Lie of the Year.  And wouldn’t you know it?  Obama is still lying about Obamacare, which remains unpopular.   Read the rest of this entry »


The Survival of the Left

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Thomas Sowell writes: Biologists explain how organisms adapt to their physical environment, but ideologues also adapt to their social environment. The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive.

“The academic world is the natural habitat of half-baked ideas, except for those fields in which there are decisive tests, such as science, mathematics, engineering, medicine;and athletics. In all these fields, in their differing ways, there comes a time when you must either put up or shut up. It should not be surprising that all of these fields are notable exceptions to the complete domination by the left on campuses across the country.”

The academic world is the natural habitat of half-baked ideas, except for those fields in which there are decisive tests, such as science, mathematics, engineering, medicine;and athletics. In all these fields, in their differing ways, there comes a time when you must either put up or shut up. It should not be surprising that all of these fields are notable exceptions to the complete domination by the left on campuses across the country.

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“You might think that the collapse of communism throughout Eastern Europe would be considered a decisive failure for Marxism, but academic Marxists in America are utterly undaunted. Their paychecks and their tenure are unaffected. Their theories continue to flourish in the classrooms and their journals continue to litter the library shelves.”

In the humanities, for example, the test of deconstructionism is not whether it can produce any tangible results but whether it remains in vogue. So long as it does, professors skilled in its verbal sleight-of-hand can expect to continue to receive six-figure salaries.

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“Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it. Even countries that were once more prosperous than their neighbors have found themselves much poorer than their neighbors after just one generation of socialistic policies. Whether these neighboring countries were Ghana and the Ivory Coast or Burma and Thailand, it has been the same story around the world.”

You might think that the collapse of communism throughout Eastern Europe would be considered a decisive failure for Marxism, but academic Marxists in America are utterly undaunted. Their paychecks and their tenure are unaffected. Their theories continue to flourish in the classrooms and their journals continue to litter the library shelves.

Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it. Even countries that were once more prosperous than their neighbors have found themselves much poorer than their neighbors after just one generation of socialistic policies. Whether these neighboring countries were Ghana and the Ivory Coast or Burma and Thailand, it has been the same story around the world.

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Discredited elsewhere, the nostrums of the left live on in public television. 

Nor is economic failure the worst of it. The millions slaughtered by Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot for political reasons are an even grimmer reality.

People who live and work in a world where there is a business bottom line, an athletic scoreboard, a military battlefield or life-and-death surgery may find it hard to fully Marx-TVappreciate the difference between that kind of world and one in which the only decisive test is whether your colleagues like what you are saying.

“These endowed and insulated institutions, often full of contempt for the values of American society and Western civilization, are not the only bastions of the left counter-culture. So are Hollywood and Broadway.”

Academia is only one of the places where wholly subjective criteria rule;and where leftists predominate. Endowed institutions such as foundations and museums likewise often face no test other than what like-minded people find “exciting” and what enables those who run these institutions to get the heady feeling that they are “making a difference.” The same is true of cultural institutions supported involuntarily by the taxpayers, such as the Smithsonian or the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities.

Taxpayer-supported “public” radio and television are similarly insulated from reality and similarly dominated by the left, not only in the United States but in other countries as well. All the nostrums of the left that have brought hunger to millions in countries which used to have surplus food to export, all the pretty words and ugly realities that have caused millions more to flee the lands of their birth, these nostrums live on in public television;much like old classic movies with familiar lines that the audience of aficionados can recite along with the characters on the screen.

These endowed and insulated institutions, often full of contempt for the values of American society and Western civilization, are not the only bastions of the left counter-culture. So are Hollywood and Broadway. Although show biz faces the financial need to get an audience, the truth of what they portray is hardly crucial. Read the rest of this entry »


Did Obamacare Really Insure 20 Million?

obamacare_signing_AP-linear

Jared Hatch and Alyene Senger report: One of the most frequently heard claims from the Obama administration is that Obamacare is responsible for insuring 20 million adults who were previously uninsured. But Heritage Foundation research shows the administration’s figure is off by a few million.

The Department of Health and Human Services claims that 20 million people have gained health coverage since the enactment of Obamacare in 2010 through early 2016.

Of those people, 2.3 million are said to be young adults (ages 19 to 25) that gained coverage between 2010 and 2013 as a result of the Obamacare provision allowing them to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26.

The remaining 17.7 million people gained health insurance from Obamacare’s first open enrollment period between October 2013 and early 2016.

 obamacare

However, it is important to note that the administration’s coverage estimates are based on survey data rather than calculating the actual change in coverage in different markets. Though surveys can provide useful information, they are not as precise as using enrollment data taken directly from insurance companies.

[Read the full story here, at dailydignal.com]

A recent analysis by The Heritage Foundation’s Edmund Haislmaier and Drew Gonshorowski uses the more accurate method, taking actual enrollment data from Medicaid and private insurance companies to assess the impact Obamacare has had on coverage. Read the rest of this entry »


Donald Trump Chooses Tom Price as Health Secretary

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Price has led efforts to craft a GOP alternative to the spectacularly unpopular Affordable Care Act.

WASHINGTON— Louise Radnofsky and Peter Nicholas report: President-elect Donald Trump has chosen House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R., Ga.) as his nominee for secretary of the Health and Human Services Department, according to a transition team adviser, putting the six-term congressman in charge of the sprawling agency that will likely dismantle Democrats’ 2010 health-care overhaul.

“We think it’s important that Washington not be in charge of health care. The problem that I have with Obamacare is that its premise is that Washington knows best.”

Mr. Price, a 62-year-old former orthopedic surgeon, is one of several GOP physicians who sought to carve out a leading role in shaping the party’s health policy and, in particular, the party’s alternative vision to Democrats’ Affordable Care Act. Much of his criticism of the law has centered on the authority it gives to the federal government, and to the agency that he may now head.

tom-price

“There’s a genuine desire to have us coalesce around a single plan so that the American people can see who’s trying to solve these challenges. I wouldn’t draw any lines in the sand other than that the path that we’re on doesn’t work.”

“We think it’s important that Washington not be in charge of health care,” he said in an interview this summer. “The problem that I have with Obamacare is that its premise is that Washington knows best.”

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

He has championed his own legislation, the Empowering Patients First Act, since 2009, taking a position on a number of hot-button issues for conservative health policy thinkers. In its latest iteration, the proposal includes refundable, age-adjusted tax credits for people to buy insurance if they don’t have access to coverage through an employer or government program. People in a government program, such as Medicare, Medicaid or Tricare, would also be allowed to opt out of it and get tax credits toward the cost of private coverage instead.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius attends an event held in observance of World AIDS Day at the White House in Washington December 2, 2013. U.S. President Barack Obama and his HealthCare.gov website face another critical test starting this week, as Americans who have been unable to enroll in health coverage under Obamacare rush to a site that continues to face challenges. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius attends an event held in observance of World AIDS Day at the White House in Washington December 2, 2013. U.S. President Barack Obama and his HealthCare.gov website face another critical test starting this week, as Americans who have been unable to enroll in health coverage under Obamacare rush to a site that continues to face challenges. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Mr. Price had previously included tax deductions in his plans, a tool typically favored by harder-line conservative health policy thinkers, but said he had “moved towards credits because we felt it was cleaner.”

The plan offers a one-time credit aimed at boosting health savings accounts, long described by supporters as a way of bringing down medical spending, and derives part of its funding from capping how much employers can spend on providing employee health care before being taxed. The plan seeks to make health insurance available to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions by helping states set up new “high-risk” pools or other programs for such enrollees, and sets new rules allowing insurers to sell policies across state lines.

At every turn, he is confronted by the irrationalities and inconveniences of his own health-care law

At every turn, he is confronted by the irrationalities and inconveniences of his own health-care law

But Mr. Price, whose rise in the congressional ranks began at the conservative Republican Study Committee and then steadily climbed, has already said he is open to compromise with fellow GOP lawmakers on many points. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] OH YES THEY CAN: How Republicans Could Dismantle Dodd-Frank

President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to dismantle Dodd-Frank, but a full repeal of the financial regulation law is unlikely without 60 votes in the Senate. Instead, the GOP might weaken the law without tearing it up. WSJ‘s Shelby Holliday reports.

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Obama: ‘The Election Wasn’t About Me’

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President Barack Obama rejected the idea of a bigger meaning in the election results.

Sarah Wheaton writes: Sure, the Democrats suffered crushing losses last week, President Barack Obama acknowledged Monday.Obama-shrug But, he argued, it wasn’t any sort of repudiation of his party leadership or presidency.

If Obama has done any second-guessing since President-elect Donald Trump’s shocking victory last week, he didn’t betray any of it during his most extensive set of comments since the election.

In a press conference and in two separate conference calls with supporters, Obama rejected the idea of a bigger meaning in the election results. His policies? Helped millions and maybe even billions. His personal popularity? Still sky-high. His party? Well, he was busy with Syria and the economy – you can’t expect him to do everything.

“We are indisputably in a stronger position today than we were when I came in eight years ago. Jobs have been growing for 73 straight months. Incomes are rising. Poverty is falling. The uninsured rate is at the lowest level on record. Carbon emissions have come down without impinging on our growth,” Obama said during Monday’s press conference, his first since Election Day.

“We’ve helped millions of people in this country and probably billions of people around the world,” he added on another call with donors, elected officials and other supporters organized by the Democratic National Committee.

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During the campaign, as Trump threatened to undo much of what Obama is most proud of — whether it was tearing up his landmark executive order on carbon limits, reneging on the Iran deal or repealing Obamacare — Obama saw justification to argue repeatedly that “our progress is on the ballot.”

But on Monday, Obama shot down the idea that rhetoric like what he used on the campaign trail should be taken seriously.

obama-G20

“This notion that somehow all the work we did suddenly gets stripped away,” Obama said on the DNC call. “Let me tell you something: We got more done than any administration in the last who-knows-how-many decades and if they roll back 15 or 20 percent of that, we’re still 80 percent ahead.”

He added, “And that’s not going to be as easy as I think some people feel, particularly if we continue to make the case and mobilize.” Read the rest of this entry »


Obamacare Is Being Repealed by Consumers, Providers and Insurers

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When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, nearly every stakeholder involved has voted with their feet. Consumers, providers, and even the insurers who helped create Obamacare to profit from a government mandate have all begun to flee from it.

 writes: The 2016 election cycle will come to a close on Tuesday, and its conclusion will probably have little significance on the issues that face the nation. The three months in which Republicans and Democrats (and others) fought for the presidency focused almost entirely on personalities and personal qualities rather than substantive policy.

[Related: The Simple Reason So Many Americans Are Opting Out of Obamacare]

Republicans want people to vote to keep Hillary Clinton and vast corruption out of the White House, while Democrats argue that voters have to block a temperamentally unsuited and unprepared Donald Trump from having his finger on the nuclear button. Independent candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein want voters to protest against the two-party system by supporting their campaigns.

That will be America’s misfortune because we do face serious choices in the next four years – and this election will tell us nothing about the direction voters want about any of them. The stakes of this election cycle will only determine which candidate turned out to be least unfavorable on personal qualities.

Obamacare-spike

On issues such as the war on ISIS, the economy, and national debt, both major-party nominees offered nothing but vague ambiguities while focusing almost all of their time and attention on each other’s peccadilloes. No matter the result, the winner will have no claim on a mandate from the electorate on almost any policy direction.

[Read the full story here, at The Fiscal Times]

Rather than look to the election results for policy direction on one key issue, perhaps the next president should look to the voters themselves. When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, nearly every stakeholder involved has voted with their feet. Consumers, providers, and even the insurers who helped create Obamacare to profit from a government mandate have all begun to flee from it.

obamacare-horror-approved

Late last week, earnings reports from major health insurers Aetna and UnitedHealth showed a greater-than-expected decline in enrollments from an already disappointing 2016 result. Jed Graham reported at Investors Business Daily  that over 113,000 enrollees had stopped paying their premiums in the third quarter, a 6.6 percent drop that left a combined enrollment of 1.6 million consumers. The two companies account for a sixth of all ACA exchange enrollees, and the trend indicates that national Obamacare enrollment has dropped below 10 million – again.
Read the rest of this entry »


AMERICANS: An Unruly Bunch, Aren’t They?

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WASHINGTON — The architects of the Affordable Care Act thought they had a blunt instrument to force people — even young and healthy ones — to buy insurance through the law’s online marketplaces: a tax penalty for those who remain uninsured.

It has not worked all that well, and that is at least partly to blame for soaring premiums next year on some of the health law’s insurance exchanges.

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The full weight of the penalty will not be felt until April, when those who have avoided buying insurance will face penalties of around $700 a person or more. But even then that might not be enough: For the young and healthy who are badly needed to make the exchanges work, it is sometimes cheaper to pay the Internal Revenue Service than an insurance company charging large premiums, with huge deductibles.

[Read the full story here, at The New York Times]

“In my experience, the penalty has not been large enough to motivate people to sign up for insurance,” said Christine Speidel, a tax lawyer at Vermont Legal Aid.

Some people do sign up, especially those with low incomes who receive the most generous subsidies, Ms. Speidel said. But others, she said, find that they cannot afford insurance, even with subsidies, so “they grudgingly take the penalty.”

The I.R.S. says that 8.1 million returns included penalty payments for people who went without insurance in 2014, the first year in which most people were required to have coverage. A preliminary report on the latest tax-filing season, tabulating data through April, said that 5.6 million returns included penalties averaging $442 a return for people uninsured in 2015. Read the rest of this entry »


Senate Ethics Committee Dismisses Allegations of Falsified Congressional Obamacare Enrollments 

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Official response to @GovWaste ethics complaint about Senate calling itself a small business to dodge Obamacare.

(Washington, D.C.) – The Senate Ethics Committee has cavalierly dismissed a June 25, 2015 complaint from the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) and nine other signatories alleging that senators or Senate employees committed fraud and broke federal laws when they submitted applications to the Washington, D.C. Small Business Exchange, claiming status as a “small business.”  As a result, rather than being subjected to the Obamacare healthcare exchange as individuals, senators and their staff were able to buy insurance and qualify for taxpayer-funded subsidies as employer and employees.  The September 21, 2016 response from the committee stated that the allegations had been “carefully evaluated” and “that there had been no violation of Senate Rules.”  The committee made clear that it would not reconsider its decision or take any further action.

“The Senate and Senate offices are plainly not small businesses.  The falsified documents were a blatant attempt by senators to shield themselves from the harmful effects of Obamacare.  This committee’s arbitrary and capricious decision is another sad example of why taxpayers have such contempt for their elected officials.”

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as ObamaCare, required members of Congress and their staff to enroll in individual plans through the new healthcare exchanges.  As open enrollment approached in 2014, members and staff realized that by enrolling as individuals, they would no longer receive generous taxpayer-funded contributions to help pay their insurance premiums as they had for decades under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.  They would instead only qualify for subsidies if their household income was less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, just like tens of millions of other Americans who had to purchase insurance in the individual market.

To get around this problem, senators from both sides of the aisle worked with the White House and the Office of Personnel Management to convince the agency to issue special guidance permitting them and their staff to enroll in the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), which was also created under Obamacare.  The applications that were submitted to the D.C. Small Business Exchange farcically claimed that the Senate and/or each Senate office is a small business with fewer than 50 employees.  The employer was identified as “Twenty Congress,” and the statements were sworn to be true. Read the rest of this entry »


Why Government Doubles Down on Policy Mistakes

Lawmakers, press and the public need to understand the strength of this “doubling down” phenomenon of and guard against it when adopting policy positions.

In simplified form, the dynamic runs as follows:

1)  Government, in response to a perceived need, takes action to meet that need in a manner that distorts economic behavior and produces predictable adverse effects.

2)  The public consequently experiences problems and expresses concern.

3)  The problems themselves become justification for additional government actions that worsen the distortions and the resultant problems.

4)  As problems worsen, the public more urgently demands corrective actions.

5)  Steps #3 and #4 are repeated ad infinitum.

We have seen and continue to see this dynamic operate in many areas of economic policy. To cite but a few:

Worker Health Benefits

With the best of intentions the federal government has long exempted worker compensation in the form of health benefits from income taxation. Lawmakers aren’t scaling back the flawed policy that fuels these problems.There is wide consensus among economists that the results of this policy have been highly deleterious. As I have written previously, this tax exclusion “depresses wages, it drives up health spending, it’s regressive, and it makes it harder for people with enduring health conditions to change jobs or enter the individual insurance market.” Lawmakers have reacted not by scaling back the flawed policy that fuels these problems, but rather by trying to shield Americans from the resulting health care cost increases. This has been done through the enactment of additional health programs and policies that further distort health markets and which themselves drive personal and government health spending still higher.

Federal Health Programs

The federal government has enacted programs such as Medicare and Medicaid to protect vulnerable seniors and poor Americans from ruinous health care costs.
The positive benefits of these programs co-exist with well-documented adverse effects. For example, it is firmly established that creating these programs pushed up national health spending, driving health costs higher for Americans as a whole. Consumer displeasure over these health cost increases subsequently became a rationale for still more government health spending, rather than reducing government’s contribution to the problem. Examples of this doubling down include the health exchange subsidies established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as its further expansion of Medicaid. As the problem of high health care costs remains, proposals have proliferated to expand government’s role still further; for example, some have proposed making Medicare available to the entire US population. Though intended to provide relief, such legislation inevitably adds to national health spending growth. Read the rest of this entry »


THE PANTSUIT REPORT: Clinton Calls Skyrocketing ObamaCare Premiums ‘Glitches’

glitch

[See the VIDEO here]

RADDATZ: What’s broken in Obamacare that needs to be fixed right now, and what would you do to fix it?

CLINTON: Well, I would certainly build on the successes of the Affordable Care Act and work to fix some of the glitches that you just referenced. Number one, we do have more people who have access to health care. We have ended the terrible situation that people with pre-existing conditions were faced with where they couldn’t find at any
1208_angry-doctor_400x400-300x300affordable price health care. Women are not charged more than men any longer for our health insurance. And we keep young people on our policies until they turn 26. Those are all really positive developments. But, out-of-pocket costs have gone up too much and prescription drug costs have gone through the roof. And so what I have proposed, number one, is a $5,000 tax credit to help people who have very large out-of-pocket costs be able to afford those. Number two, I want Medicare to be able to negotiate for lower drug prices just like they negotiate with other countries’ health systems. We end up paying the highest prices in the world. And I want us to be absolutely clear about making sure the insurance companies in the private employer policy arena as well as in the affordable care exchanges are properly regulated so that we are not being gamed. And I think that’s an important point to make because I’m going through and analyzing the points you were making, Martha. We don’t have enough competition and we don’t have enough oversight of what the insurance companies are charging everybody right now.PANTSUIT-REPORT

RADDATZ: But you did say those were glitches.

CLINTON: Yes.

RADDATZ: Just glitches?

CLINTON: — Well, they’re glitches because —

RADDATZ: –Twenty-seven percent in the last five years, deductibles up 67 percent?–

CLINTON: It is. Because part of this is the startup challenges that this system is facing. We have fought as Democrats for decades to get a health care plan. I know. I’ve got the scars to show from the effort back in the early ‘90s. We want to build on it and fix it. And I’m confident we can do that. And it will have effects in the private market. And one of the reasons in some states why the percentage cost has gone up so much is because governors there would not extend Medicaid. And so people are still going to get health care, thankfully, in emergency rooms, in hospitals. Those costs are then added to the overall cost, which does increase the insurance premiums.

(read more)

Source: National Review Online

 


ObamaCare’s death Spiral, Stage One: Denial 

millen-anguish

Enrollment is falling short. The Obama administration projects that it will have roughly 10 million people on the state and federal exchanges by the end of next year, a staggering climb-down from prior expectations.

lowryRich Lowry writes: For the press, the debate over ObamaCare is over. There may be a few proverbial Japanese soldiers wandering on isolated islands yammering on about the failure of ObamaCare, but word will eventually filter down to them, too. This assumption is so deeply embedded that it is impervious to new evidence that ObamaCare is an unwieldy contraption that is sputtering badly.

“ObamaCare is a monopoly. It gives money to people to buy its product and through the individual mandate punishes those who don’t. And yet it’s still having trouble making the sale.”

Yes, ObamaCare has covered more people and has especially benefited those with pre-existing conditions (to be credible, Republican replacement plans have to do these things, as well), but the program is so poorly designed that, surely, even a new Democratic president will want to revisit it to try to make it more workable.

baby-crying-in-crib

“Premiums are rising. Not everywhere, but steeply in some states. Indiana is down 12 percent, but Minnesota is up 50 percent.”

Enrollment is falling short. The Obama administration projects that it will have roughly 10 million people on the state and federal exchanges by the end of next year, a staggering climb-down from prior expectations. The Congressional Budget Office had predicted that there would be roughly 20 million enrollees.

[Also see – Giving Voters Exactly What They Deserve: Health Insurance Premium to Spike Again]

[More – Broke U.S. Government Needs Millions of New Obamacare Enrollees to Prevent Program Collapse]

If the administration is to be believed, enrollment will only increase about another million next year from its current 9 million and only sign up about a quarter of the eligible uninsured.

[Read the full story here, at the New York Post]

Premiums are rising. Not everywhere, but steeply in some states. Indiana is down 12 percent, but Minnesota is up 50 percent. Health care expert Robert Laszewski points out that it’s the insurers with the highest enrollment and therefore the best information about actual enrollees that have tended to request the biggest increases — a sign that they don’t like what they’re seeing in their data. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama Presidency to End with $20 Trillion National Debt 

Dave Boyer reports: When President Obama signs into law the new two-year budget deal Monday, his action will bring into sharper focus a part of his legacy that he doesn’t like to talk about: He is the $20 trillion man.

“The Boehner-Obama spending agreement would allow for unlimited borrowing by the Treasury until March 2017. This deal piles on billions of dollars to the national debt by increasing spending over the next three years and then not paying for it for a decade — with half of the offsets not occurring until 2025.”

— Paul Winfree, director of economic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation

Mr. Obama’s spending agreement with Congress will suspend the nation’s debt limit and allow the Treasury to borrow another $1.5 trillion or so by the end of his presidency in 2017. Added to the current total national debt of more than $18.15 trillion, the red ink will likely be crowding the $20 trillion mark right around the time Mr. Obama leaves the White House.

“Of this $154 billion, about $78 billion is paid for honestly. The remaining $56 billion of the legislation — mostly the war spending increase and interest costs — is not paid for at all.”

When Mr. Obama took over in January 2009, the total national debt stood at $10.6 trillion. That means the debt will have very nearly doubled during his eight years in office, and there is much more debt ahead with the abandonment of “sequestration” spending caps enacted in 2011.

Joker-billionaire-burning-money

“When Mr. Obama took over in January 2009, the total national debt stood at $10.6 trillion. That means the debt will have very nearly doubled during his eight years in office, and there is much more debt ahead with the abandonment of “sequestration” spending caps enacted in 2011.”

“Congress and the president have just agreed to undo one of the only successful fiscal restraint mechanisms in a generation,” said Pete Sepp, president of the National Taxpayers Union. “The progress on reducing spending and the deficit has just become much more problematic.”

“We will be raising the debt ceiling in an unlimited fashion. We will be giving President Obama a free pass to borrow as much money as he can borrow in the last year of his office. No limit, no dollar limit. Here you go, President Obama. Spend what you want.”

— Sen. Rand Paul

Some budget analysts scoff at the claim made by the administration and by House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, that the budget agreement’s $112 billion in spending increases is fully funded by cuts elsewhere. Mr. Boehner left Congress last week.

[Read the full text here, at the Washington Times]

“The Boehner-Obama spending agreement would allow for unlimited borrowing by the Treasury until March 2017,” said Paul Winfree, director of economic policy studies at The Heritage Foundation. “This deal piles on billions of dollars to the national debt by increasing spending over the next three years and then not paying for it for a decade — with half of the offsets not occurring until 2025.” Read the rest of this entry »


Richard A. Epstein: Is Obamacare Sustainable? 

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The marketplace’s uncertain response to the ACA suggests the program could unravel.

Richard A. Epstein It has been over five years since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed into law on March 23, 2010. Today, the major legal challenges are over. In 2012, the Supreme Court sustained the power of Congress to enact the law in NFIB v. Sebelius. Three years later, it held that the ACA allowed for the payment of subsidies for all applicants who enrolled through either the state or federal exchanges. Chief Justice Roberts wrote both decisions. They will not be overturned.

” The issue here is simple enough. Can the plan, which has weathered the legal challenges, survive in today’s highly dynamic economic market? The prospects are uncertain to say the least. Some clear signposts indicate the answer is no.”

But if the legal battle over Obamacare is over, the economic battle over Obamacare has just begun. The issue here is simple enough. Can the plan, which has weathered the legal challenges, survive in today’s highly dynamic economic market? The prospects are uncertain to say the least. Some clear signposts indicate the answer is no. The ACA cannot succeed simply by securing first-time enrollments in its exchanges. Insurance policies are subject to annual renewals. The first year of operations will give information about how the second year will go.

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“Market rate insurance will always contain differentials that reflect these risk differences.  Liberals may decry the supposed inequity, but in so doing they overlook the decisive advantage of market rate plans.  They are stable in ways that Obamacare is not, because customers will not leave plans from which they derive a net benefit unless they can get a better alternative.”

On the insurer side, it has proved unclear whether the premiums collected have been sufficient to cover the incurred losses. No one yet knows how the various new types of coverage required by the ACA will be priced going forward.  For plans now running a deficit, belts have to be tightened.

On the insured’s side, a year’s experience could lead many customers to think that they pay too much for benefits they would rather not have. The point is especially true of people who are both healthy and young, from whom Obamacare exacts a heavy cross-subsidy that they won’t pay year after year. Market rate insurance will always contain differentials that reflect these risk differences.  Liberals may decry the supposed inequity, but in so doing they overlook the decisive advantage of market rate plans.  They are stable in ways that Obamacare is not, because customers will not leave plans from which they derive a net benefit unless they can get a better alternative.

obamacare-signing

 “The government takes it as an article of faith that private plans are inefficient. But that unfortunate mindset leads to additional government oversight. The upshot is reduced business flexibility coupled with an additional layer of administrative costs.”

These forces are now exerting tectonic pressures in many, but not all states.  Across the country, many insurance companies are increasing their rates between 25 and 35 percent as they adjust to the “shock waves set off by the Affordable Care Act” in the marketplace. But the full story is necessarily far more complicated because a lot more goes into providing an insurance policy than setting the annual premium. Equally critical are the rules on coverage, how high the deductibles and copays are, where the plan facilities are located, and what the options are in the choice of physicians. And, of course, there is the tantalizing question of whether the current round of increases are one-shot adjustments, or whether they represent the onset of a consistent trend that will replicate itself in future years?

Without detailed information, it is not possible to access the peculiarities of the individual plans. But it is possible to predict that the slow death of Obamacare has become more likely. Most obviously, any premium increases within the exchanges can lead potential and current enrollees to direct their healthcare dollars elsewhere, perhaps by doing without any insurance at obamacare-horror-approvedall or by signing up for Medicaid. Ironically, it will be hard to win these defectors back with advertisement or improvements in plan coverage, because these options are tightly constrained by Obamacare, which by design limits competition only to the choice of various care levels. Ordinary markets allow for innovation on all dimensions of service, and thus have a resilience that is all too lacking in Obamacare.

Here are some instructive results. As of early June, some 1.5 million people dropped out of the exchanges by failing to pay premiums, reducing the number covered from a February 2014 high of 11.7 million enrollees to 10.2 million four months later. That figure was still a substantial increase over the 6.3 million people insured at the end of 2014. But in the next three months, the downward trend continued so that by September 2015, the number of enrollees tumbled to 9.9 million, which was still above the administration’s goal of having 9 million on the rolls by the end of this year. But the current negative trend line is all the more striking given that some 8.3 million subscribers receive a subsidy of about $270 per month, which works out to a program wide subsidy of about $224 billion per year.

At this point, most of the gain in coverage, about 71 percent of the total, has come through the expansion of Medicaid, which in general offers inferior care to that provided by private insurance carriers. The decline in enrollees on the exchanges represents a displacement of ordinary people from insurance plans that they chose for those which come with a government stamp of approval. Read the rest of this entry »


Red Tape Rising: Six Years of Escalating Regulation Under Obama

APTOPIX White House Sunrise

The need for regulatory reform has never been greater.

The number and cost of government regulations continued to climb in 2014, intensifying Washington’s control over the economy and Americans’ lives. The addition of 27 new major rules[1] last year pushed the tally for the Obama Administration’s first six years to 184, with scores of other rules in the pipeline. The cost of just these 184 rules is estimated by regulators to be nearly $80 billion annually, although the actual cost of this massive expansion of the administrative state is obscured by the large number of rules for which costs have not been fully quantified. Absent substantial reform, economic growth and individual freedom will continue to suffer….

At The Corner, Veronique de Rugy writes:

In a new paper titled “Red Tape Rising: Six Years of Escalating Regulation Under Obama,” the Heritage Foundation’s Diane Katz and James Gattuso write that in 2014, the government issued 2,400 new regulations, including 27 major rules that may cost $80 billion or more annually. These rules range from forcing restaurants to list calorie counts — even though past experiments have revealed that such measures fail to change consumers’ behavior — to reducing consumer choices and increasing energy prices by imposing tighter energy-efficiency mandates on the plugs that we use to charge cell phones, laptops, and even electric toothbrushes.

Washington regulatory bureaucrats’ control over the economy and Americans’ lives is intensifying. According to Katz and Gattuso, during the first six years of the Obama administration, the number of new major rules reached 184, including 13 regulations of the financial system that saw the light of day in 2014. Another 126 are in the pipeline. That’s more than twice the number imposed by President George W. Bush, who himself wasn’t shy about regulating the economy.

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Official regulatory costs are vastly underestimated because of the large number of rules for which costs have not been fully quantified. More importantly, official costs never appropriately account for the businesses, innovations, and economic growth that will never exist because of the continued accumulation of regulations. Needless to say, the need for reform of the regulatory system has never been greater….(read more)

National Review Online

…President Barack Obama has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to act by regulatory fiat instead of executing laws as passed by Congress. But regulatory overreach by the executive branch is only part of the problem. A great deal of the excessive regulation in the past six years is the result of Congress granting broad powers to agencies through passage of vast and vaguely worded legislation. The misnamed Affordable Care Act and the Dodd–Frank financial-regulation law top the list.

Many more regulations are on the way, with another 126 economically significant rules on the Administration’s agenda, such as directives to farmers for growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables; strict limits on credit access for service members; and, yet another redesign of light bulbs.

In many respects, the need for reform of the regulatory system has never been greater. The White House, Congress, and federal agencies routinely ignore regulatory costs, exaggerate benefits, and breach legislative and constitutional boundaries. They also increasingly dictate lifestyle choices rather than focusing on public health and safety.

Immediate reforms should include requiring legislation to undergo an analysis of regulatory impacts before a floor vote in Congress, and requiring every major regulation to obtain congressional approval before taking effect. Sunset deadlines should be set in law for all major rules, and independent agencies should be subject—as are executive branch agencies—to the White House regulatory review process.[2]

Measuring the Red Tape 

The federal government does not officially track total regulatory costs, as it does with taxation and spending. Estimates of these costs from various independent sources range from hundreds of billions of dollars to over $2 trillion annually.[3] However, the number and cost of new regulations can be tracked, and both have grown relentlessly.

The most comprehensive source of data on new regulations is the Federal Rules Database maintained by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). According to this GAO database, federal regulators issued 2,400 new rules during the 2014 “presidential year” (January 21, 2014, to January 20, 2015). Of these, 77 were classified as “major.”

Forty-eight of the 77 major rules were budgetary or administrative in nature, such as Medicare payment rates and hunting limits on migratory birds. A total of 27 were “prescriptive” regulations, meaning that they increase burdens on individual or private-sector activity. (Two others were “deregulatory,” as explained below.) Altogether, during the six years of the Obama Administration, 184 prescriptive rules have been imposed. That compares to 76 such rules issued during the same period of the George W. Bush Administration.

Regulators reported new annual costs of $7.6 billion for the 2014 prescriptive rules based on the limited number of analyses performed by the agencies.[4] This total cost is 15 percent less than the $8.9 billion in costs imposed during the sixth year of the Bush Administration. However, cost calculations were incomplete for 12 of the 27 Obama rules issued last year.

There was also $1.8 billion in reported one-time implementation costs for the 2014 rules, bringing the Administration’s six-year total for such costs to about $17 billion.

Only two of the 2014 rules decreased regulatory burdens, bringing the Administration’s six-year “deregulatory” total to just 17—despite a widely touted “retrospective review” initiative that President Obama claimed would take outdated rules off the books. This compares to four deregulatory actions during President Bush’s sixth year, and his Administration’s six-year total of 23.

Overall, the cost of new mandates and restrictions imposed by the Obama Administration now totals $78.9 billion annually. This is more than double the $30.7 billion in annual costs imposed at the same point in the George W. Bush Administration.[5]

These figures are consistent with other measures of a growing regulatory burden. For instance, according to economists Susan Dudley and Melinda Warren, spending on federal regulatory agencies has increased from $20.7 billion in 1990, and $50.9 billion in 2009, to more than $53.6 billion in 2014 (in constant 2009 dollars). Similarly, total staffing at regulatory agencies has grown nearly 6.6 percent since 2009.[6]

Dodd–Frank Dominates in 2014 

Regulation of securities and the banking system dominated rulemaking in 2014, accounting for 13 of the 27 major rules issued during the Obama Administration’s sixth year. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) imposed the largest number of rules (seven), while the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency jointly promulgated five rules, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission issued one. Read the rest of this entry »


Voters Are Rejecting the Last Seven Years

obama-nixon

Michael BaroneBarone-3 writes: in this presidential cycle, voters in both parties, to the surprise of the punditocracy, are rejecting experienced political leaders. They’re willfully suspending disbelief in challengers who would have been considered laughable in earlier years.

“In our system the widespread rejection of experienced leaders ultimately comes from dismay at the leader in the White House. In 1960 Richard Nixon, after eight years as vice president and six in Congress, campaigned on the slogan ‘Experience counts.’ No one is running on that theme this year.”

Polls show more Republicans preferring three candidates who have never held elective office over 14 candidates who have served a combined total of 150 years as governors or in Congress. Most Democrats are declining to favor a candidate who spent eight years in the White House and the Senate and four as secretary of state.

Psephologists of varying stripes attribute this discontent to varying causes. Conservatives blame insufficiently aggressive Republican congressional leaders. Liberals blame Hillary Clinton’s closeness to plutocrats and her home email system.

But in our system the widespread rejection of experienced leaders ultimately comes from dismay at the leader in the White House. In 1960 Richard Nixon, after eight years as vice president and six in Congress, campaigned on the slogan “Experience counts.” No one is running on that theme this year.

[Read the full text of Michael Barone‘s article here, at RealClearPolitics]

Nixon could, because over the preceding quarter-century the majority of Americans mostly approved of the performance of incumbent presidents. Presidents Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower still look pretty good more than 50 years later.

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Barack Obama doesn’t. His deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes recently said that the president’s nuclear weapons deal with Iran was as important an achievement of his second term as Obamacare was of the first. Historians may well agree.

These two policy achievements have many things in common. Read the rest of this entry »


Celebrating 50 Years of Medicaid & Medicare

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 writes: This week marks the fiftieth anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, the healthcare entitlement programs that together cover 125 million Americans and last year cost nearly a trillion dollars.

When these programs were created back in 1965, no one ever thought they would get this big or cost this much. Congressional budgeters at the time thought Medicare, the healthcare program for the elderly, would cost about $12 billion by 1990. The actual cost that year was $90 billion.

We should have seen it coming. After all, it didn’t take decades for actual Medicare and Medicaid costs to overrun projections. That pretty much happened right away. In 1965, the House Ways and Means Committee estimated that Medicaid, the jointly funded federal-state program originally meant to cover the poor, would cost $238 million in its first year. It actually cost more than $1 billion. By 1971, Medicaid spending had reached about $6.5 billion, blowing away all previous estimates….(read more)

TheFederalist.com