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  • We are proud to announce that the 2014 Ronald Reagan Gala will honor Gary Sinise. For over thirty … [more]

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Cutting Healthcare Costs Without Harming Patients

by Peter Roff     •     The Hill

obamacare pay less for healthcareA debate has raged for more than 20 years now over the best way to bend the U.S. healthcare cost curve downward. So far, no one is winning – least of all patients and healthcare providers. And no one will as long as “bending the curve” (which is just a fancy way of saying we need to find ways to make the delivery of healthcare cheaper) remains the primary objective regardless of the impact on patient care.

Up to now the debate has focused largely on what government can proactively do to ease costs. This led to the passage by the narrowest of margins of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – which is really nothing more than a complex series of new regulations and taxes, fines and fees that have forced insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, and patients all to make changes in the way they provide and receive care as well as coverage.

People don’t like the new system very much but they weren’t exactly fans of the old one either. And no matter what the United States Supreme Court determines in the pending King vs. Burwell suit over the questionable use of tax dollars to subsidize health insurance bought through the federal exchange by people living in states that do not have exchanges of their own, things can probably only get worse. [Read more...]

Elephants Can Remember

by Peter Roff     •     The Washington Examiner

elephants_endangered species_PETAAn era of show business is about to come to an end.

At the conclusion of the 2018 season, Feld Entertainment — parent company of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus — has announced that the 13 Asian elephants that are part of its touring units would retire, living out their lives in comfort and ease at the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida alongside more than 40 others of their kind.

Activists who have long complained that the elephants, indeed that almost all performing animals held in confinement are subjected to mistreatment, were quick to claim victory. One of them, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal’s Ingrid Newkirk, took credit for the decision on behalf of her organization while continuing to heap criticism on the circus. [Read more...]

China’s Secret Strategy Exposed

Beijing Plots to Surpass U.S. in Coming Decades

by Bill Gertz     •     The Washington Free Beacon

ChinaChina launched a secret 100-year modernization program that deceived successive U.S. administrations into unknowingly promoting Beijing’s strategy of replacing the U.S.-led world order with a Chinese communist-dominated economic and political system, according to a new book by a longtime Pentagon China specialist.

For more than four decades, Chinese leaders lulled presidents, cabinet secretaries, and other government analysts and policymakers into falsely assessing China as a benign power deserving of U.S. support, says Michael Pillsbury, the Mandarin-speaking analyst who has worked on China policy and intelligence issues for every U.S. administration since Richard Nixon.

The secret strategy, based on ancient Chinese statecraft, produced a large-scale transfer of cash, technology, and expertise that bolstered military and Communist Party “superhawks” in China who are now taking steps to catch up to and ultimately surpass the United States, Pillsbury concludes in a book published this week. [Read more...]

Barack Obama, Corporate Liberal

And secret friend of the one percent.

by Jay Cost     •     The Weekly Standard

Obama-smugIn last week’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama came across as the ultimate class warrior. His domestic agenda consists of more spending on roads and infrastructure, new entitlement programs for community college and preschool, and tax preferences targeted to low- and middle-income earners. All of this he would pay for with new inheritance taxes on the wealthy, a hike in the capital gains tax, and a special levy on the biggest financial institutions.

But don’t be fooled. Obama may seem like the newest member of Occupy Wall Street—chanting “We are the 99 percent!”—but his record shows him to be a corporate liberal, and a closer look at last week’s proposals confirms it. [Read more...]

Obama’s Illusory Economic Recovery

Official statistics ignore the real hardships families face.

By Stephen Moore     •     The Washington Times

Jobless RecoveryThe big news from this week’s State of the Union address is that the economic “crisis is over.” Apparently, we’ve been rescued from a second Great Depression and everything this president has done to fix the economy has worked. All that was missing from Mr. Obama’s celebration was the old “Icky Shuffle” end zone dance.

This no doubt came as a bit of a shock to voters since the economy has been sickly for a long, long time. As recently as this fall, half of Americans were saying that the country is still in recession.

Conditions have improved in the last six months for sure, with growth accelerating, inflation low and stable, hiring picking up and gas prices tumbling.

Still, if things are as good as the White House says they are, why do we feel so bad? Why are we collectively so worried about the fragile future of our nation? [Read more...]

Obama Blows Smoke

by Fred Barnes     •     The Weekly Standard

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in WashingtonWe know that supply-side economics emphasizes serious cuts in tax rates and Keynesianism relies on massive amounts of government spending. But how in the world does “middle class economics” work? After President Obama cited it repeatedly in State of the Union speech, I waited and waited for him to explain how it works. He never did.

Instead, he confused a cause with a result. Middle class economics, he said, “is the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.” That’s a nice sentiment, but it’s not an economic policy.by Fred Barnes     •     The Weekly Standard

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in WashingtonWe know that supply-side economics emphasizes serious cuts in tax rates and Keynesianism relies on massive amounts of government spending. But how in the world does “middle class economics” work? After President Obama cited it repeatedly in State of the Union speech, I waited and waited for him to explain how it works. He never did.

Instead, he confused a cause with a result. Middle class economics, he said, “is the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.” That’s a nice sentiment, but it’s not an economic policy. [Read more...]

At 40, the Laffer Curve Still Looks Good

by Stephen Moore     •     The Washington Post

800px-Laffer-Curve.svgIt was 40 years ago this month that two of President Gerald Ford’s top White House advisers, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, gathered for a steak dinner at the Two Continents restaurant in Washington with Wall Street Journal editorial writer Jude Wanniski and Arthur Laffer, former chief economist at the Office of Management and Budget. The United States was in the grip of a gut-wrenching recession, and Laffer lectured to his dinner companions that the federal government’s 70 percent marginal tax rates were an economic toll booth slowing growth to a crawl.

To punctuate his point, he grabbed a pen and a cloth cocktail napkin and drew a chart showing that when tax rates get too high, they penalize work and investment and can actually lead to revenue losses for the government. Four years later, that napkin became immortalized as “the Laffer Curve” in an article Wanniski wrote for the Public Interest magazine. (Wanniski would later grouse only half-jokingly that he should have called it the Wanniski Curve.) [Read more...]

Nobody Is Pushing Thomas Piketty’s Policies to Combat Economic Inequality

By Michael Barone     •     RealClearPolitics

Money Hole TaxLast spring, you may remember, the French economist Thomas Piketty was all the rage in certain enlightened circles. His book “Capital” shot up to the No. 1 spot on bestseller lists, and many economists praised his statistics showing increased income and wealth inequality. Piketty argued that, absent a world war, returns to capital will exceed economic growth, inevitably producing growing inequality in the 21st century.

There are problems with Piketty’s — or anyone else’s — statistics. Reliance on U.S. income tax returns overlooks the fact that tax cuts encourage people to realize income and misses non-taxable income such as welfare and Social Security payments. [Read more...]

Cyberlockers: a business model based on selling stolen property

Internet Piracy Copy Rights Intellectual Property Rights Theftby George Landrith

A recent study conducted by NetNames found that in one month alone more than 430 million unique Internet users sought or downloaded copyright infringing music, movies, book, and other materials. This industrial scale theft chills creativity, innovation and investment by depriving creators of a market based return on their investments.. So how do these cyber-thieves steal music, movies, books, and other materials? One tool that is growing in popularity is the shadowy cyberlocker which is designed to sell, not store stolen content.

With so much attention to the “cloud” in today’s online world, it is important that we distinguish between the legitimate cloud storage services like DropBox, Google Drive and Apple’s iCloud, to name only a few. These services allow consumers to store, share, backup, and access data. The so-called cyberlocker business model is very different. Cyberlockers incent users to upload stolen files that are copyrighted and which they have no right to distribute, and then profit by selling subscriptions and advertising. The fact that they pay nothing for the product they sell allows them to enjoy profit margins approaching 90%.

The cyberlocker model is predicated on theft and distribution of stolen property. [Read more...]

Is Capitalism Environmentally Unsustainable?

The goal must be to find ways for liberty and the environment to flourish together, not to sacrifice one in the vain hope of protecting the other.

Stack of Moneyby Ronald Bailey     •     Reason.com

Human activity is remaking the face of the Earth: transforming and polluting the landscape, warming the atmosphere and oceans, and causing species to go extinct. The orthodox view among ecologists is that human liberty—more specifically economic activity and free markets—is to blame. For example, the prominent biologist-activists Paul and Anne Ehrlich of Stanford University recently argued in a British science journal that the environmental problems we face are driven by “overpopulation, overconsumption of natural resources and the use of unnecessarily environmentally damaging technologies and socio-economic-political arrangements to service Homo sapiens’ aggregate consumption.” The Ehrlichs urge the “reduction of the worship of ‘free’ markets that infests the discipline” of economics. [Read more...]

Mass Obamacare Cancellations, Part 2

By U-T San Diego Editorial Board     •     U-T San Diego

Cancelled Cancellation ObamaCareIn fall 2013, there was a political firestorm after millions of Americans were told their individual 2014 health insurance policies would be canceled because they didn’t provide the full range of coverage mandated by the Affordable Care Act. This prompted President Obama to unilaterally delay by one year the requirement that individual health plans be compliant with Obamacare. Most states — but not California — went along with this decision.

That year is nearly up, and the White House has ruled out another delay. Otherwise, the administration is waiting until after the Nov. 4 elections to say what 2015 holds for the millions of Americans with noncompliant individual health insurance. It won’t even comment on what’s ahead in the 32 states where the federal government runs the insurance exchange programs. (California runs its own.)

Nevertheless, most evidence indicates millions of Americans with individual policies are likely to lose them in coming months — this time for good. Semanticists may claim these policies haven’t been changed, just amended. But Americans facing much higher premiums and co-pays and fewer options on doctors aren’t likely to agree that this is what President Obama meant when he said, “If you like your plan, you can keep it.” [Read more...]

Hillary: Don’t Let Anybody Tell You That Businesses Create Jobs

Breitbart

Appearing at a Boston rally for Democrat gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley on Friday, Hillary Clinton told the crowd gathered at the Park Plaza Hotel not to listen to anybody who says that “businesses create jobs.”

“Don’t let anybody tell you it’s corporations and businesses create jobs,” Clinton said.

“You know that old theory, ‘trickle-down economics,’” she continued. “That has been tried, that has failed. It has failed rather spectacularly.”

“You know, one of the things my husband says when people say ‘Well, what did you bring to Washington,’ he said, ‘Well, I brought arithmetic,’” Clinton said, which elicited loud laughs from the crowd.

There is no sugar-coating the weak economy

Regardless of the President’s claims, the economy is weak and the “recovery” is almost invisible to most Americans. 

Editorial Board   •   Washington Examiner

Sluggish EconomyDuring his 60 Minutes interview late last month, President Obama put an old and familiar rhetorical question to the voters: “Ronald Reagan used to ask the question, ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’…And the answer is, the country is definitely better off than we were when I came into office.”

Most members of the public do not share this view, according to this week’s Washington Post/ABC News poll. Only 22 percent surveyed agreed that they are “better off financially” than they were when Obama was inaugurated in January 2009 — including only 37 percent of Democratic partisans. This says a lot about how people feel, because six years ago, the nation was embroiled in the very financial crisis that Obama still cites to absolve himself from blame for America’s continued economic doldrums.

When pressed in the same interview, Obama had to concede that most Americans aren’t feeling the recovery he has been touting ever since the so-called “Recovery Summer” of 2010. That’s because for workers, there hasn’t been much of a recovery. [Read more...]

The Myth of ObamaCare’s Affordability

The law’s perverse incentives will have the nation working fewer hours, and working those hours less productively.

By Casey B. Mulligan     •     Wall Street Journal

obamacare costsWhether the Affordable Care Act lives up to its name depends on how, or whether, you consider its consequences for the wider economy.

Millions of people pay a significant portion of their income for health insurance so they and their families can get good health care when they need it. The magnitude of their sacrifices demonstrates the importance that people ascribe to health care.

The Affordable Care Act attempts to help low- and middle-income families avoid some of the tough sacrifices that would be necessary to purchase health insurance without assistance. But no program can change the fundamental reality that society itself has to make sacrifices in order to deliver health care to more people. [Read more...]

America’s New Class System

“Clerisy” class does the bidding of tech oligarchs to detriment of the middle class.

by Glenn Harlan Reynolds     •     USAToday

Obama-Class-WarfareWe’ve heard a lot of election-year class warfare talk, from makers vs. takers to the 1% vs. the 99%. But Joel Kotkin’s important new book, The New Class Conflict, suggests that America’s real class problems are deeper, and more damaging, than election rhetoric.

Traditionally, America has been thought of as a place of great mobility — one where anyone can conceivably grow up to be president, regardless of background. This has never been entirely true, of course. Most of our presidents have come from reasonably well-off backgrounds, and even Barack Obama, a barrier-breaker in some ways, came from an affluent background and enjoyed an expensive private-school upbringing. But the problem Kotkin describes goes beyond shots at the White House. [Read more...]