By Jeffrey I. Barke • The Hill
As ObamaCare’s troubles mount, I’ve heard my patients and my peers in healthcare ask: How could the law’s authors not have seen this coming?
For my part, I think a different question needs to be asked: What if they did? What if ObamaCare was purposely designed to fail?
Every day, it seems like there are a dozen new headlines about the crisis facing ObamaCare. Premiums are rising faster than ever. Meanwhile, health insurance companies are abandoning the law’s exchanges left and right, unable to compete in the top-down, regulation-driven environment created by the law. Less than three years into its implementation, the law has never looked so precarious. Continue reading
by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
The Obama administration could bail out Obamacare insurers through its risk-corridor program, according to an expert from the Mercatus Center.
The risk-corridor program was designed to constrain risk for health insurers who had uncertainty in pricing premiums for new plans they offered through Obamacare. The program was established and administered in years 2014, 2015, and 2016 and transferred funds from profitable insurers to insurers with losses.
In 2014, the risk-corridor program experienced a shortfall of more than $2.5 billion. Poorly performing insurers requested $2.87 billion in that year, while profitable insurers could only make up about $362 million, leaving a deficit of about $2.5 billion. Continue reading
by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
Obamacare enrollees had trouble affording and accessing health care as well as understanding how to use their plans, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.
The top factors that Obamacare enrollees considered when selecting a plan in 2015 were the cost of premiums, deductibles, and copayments.
The auditors talked to stakeholders including policy experts, state departments of insurance, and exchange officials, and found that some Obamacare enrollees said the out-of-pocket expenses were too expensive before reaching their deductible. Continue reading
Instead of attempting an outright repeal of Obamacare, some in Congress are abdicating conservative principles and throwing the private sector under the bus in a reckless effort to kill the ACA.
The tool of choice in this instance is the so-called “transitional reinsurance” program (“reinsurance”) established by Section 1341 of Obamacare. It was designed as a temporary program to spread out the financial risk associated with providing health insurance to sicker patients in the individual market and exchanges.
Under its terms, health insurers, not the government, were required to pay into a fund that was to be distributed to those insurance plans that had risky patients with medical claims above a certain level.
Now that we’re approaching the end of this temporary program, in place from 2014-2016, some in Congress want to steal the money in this program (in order to precipitate a collapse in the overall ACA program) and instead give it to the U.S. Treasury – but for what? It’ll just be more federal largesse to spent by Obama and big spenders in Congress. Continue reading
New Hampshire residents will have even fewer choices for health insurance next year as Community Health Options announced last week that it is dumping the Granite State to concentrate on its core business in Maine.
One insurance company after another has decided that it can’t operate under the Affordable Care Act, especially after Congress shut down the “risk corridors” they had hoped to use to defray losses.
The entire Obamacare scheme was set up on faulty premises. You can’t force people to buy health insurance they don’t want, subsidize mediocre insurance plans people can’t afford, and still claim to hold down rising medical expenses. Continue reading
Returning to a system of taxation without representation where a European power taxes Americans is unacceptable.
The European Union (EU) has ruled that Apple, one of the world’s top technology companies, must pay $14.5 billion in taxes to Ireland, despite the fact that Ireland has determined that Apple has paid all the taxes it owes.
You read that right.
The nation of Ireland has reviewed Apple’s tax filings and has determined that Apple has paid 100% of the taxes it owes under Ireland’s tax code. But the EU has stepped-in and said that Ireland doesn’t understand its own tax laws, that Ireland’s review of Apple’s taxes is incorrect, and that only EU bureaucrats in Brussels can understand Irish tax law and Apple’s tax filings.
Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, described this EU ruling as “total political crap.” Tim Cook is quite frankly being very kind in his characterization. The truth is — this is far worse than that. Aside from the hubris of a bunch of pointy headed bureaucrats in Brussels telling Irish tax authorities that they don’t understand their own tax code, this is actually an attempt to legalize grand theft robbery. At the very least, the EU is now officially in the shakedown racket.
No wonder Brexit was a success! What sane individual would want to belong to this group of lawless gangsters pretending to be an overarching cooperative governmental entity?
Some Americans might privately say that while this is unfortunate for Apple, it isn’t my problem. But the truth is — this is our problem because the EU is effectively reaching into your pocket to grab this taxes.
You might think that Apple will pay this taxes, not you. But this overlooks the fact that if Apple is forced to pay extra taxes by the EU, it can legally and properly record that paid taxes elsewhere on its US tax returns — because no business is required to pay taxes on its profits multiple times. Once is enough. So in the end, the EU is actually reaching into our pockets and taking money from us.
As U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said yesterday, “I have been concerned that [the EU’s decision] reflected an attempt to reach into the U.S. tax base to tax income that ought to be taxed in the United States.” Secretary Lew is being very diplomatic. The more frank way of saying that is the EU is trying to steal from US taxpayers.
Here is the truth — the EU sees a successful American company and wants to reach into its bank account. It isn’t a lot different than when a thief spots a businessman in a nice suit and targets him for a mugging. The EU’s avarice knows no bounds and so it will use any pretext — even claiming that Ireland does not understand its own tax law — to impose additional taxes. In the process, the EU in effect robs Americans of $14.5 billion.
If this stands, the EU will be reaching into American pocketbooks and wallets every year in greater and greater amounts to pay for their excesses and their failed top-heavy, oppressive regulatory regime model of government. This is precisely why Brexit was a success despite the lies used to defeat it. If Europeans like this system, they can have it. But we must stop them from forcing Americans to fund their choices.
American leaders need to stand up and be crystal clear that this will not stand. This is not Apple’s problem. It is our problem. The EU has found a way to make Americans foot the bill for the EU’s extravagant waste. We must put a stop to this now. There can be no compromise. This is an act of bare and raw criminality and theft hidden behind fancy European accents and official EU letterhead. But if it is allowed to stand, soon Americans will be heavily taxed by foreign powers simply because we allowed it to happen.
Being taxed by a European power across the Atlantic with whom we have no representation takes us backward to before 1776. Let’s not sit by and let that happen.
by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
Outstanding federal debt is projected to hit $28.2 trillion over the next decade, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office.
At the end of this year, outstanding federal debt is expected to climb to $19.4 trillion and to rise by $8.8 trillion in the next ten years.
The federal government’s budget deficit, which is the difference between how much money the government spends and how much money it takes in through tax collection, will be $590 billion by the end of 2016, $152 billion more than the previous year. Continue reading
by Bill McMorris • Washington Free Beacon
Restaurants in the nation’s capital experienced their worst hiring period in 15 years, fueling speculation that wage hikes are reducing employment opportunities.
Employment in the food service industry fell in Washington, D.C. even as it continued to increase in the region. Restaurants shed 1,400 jobs in the first six months of 2016, a three percent decrease and the largest loss of jobs since the 2001 recession, according to an analysis from American Enterprise Institute scholar Mark Perry.
The steep drop was isolated to D.C. Neighboring suburbs in Virginia and Maryland added nearly 3,000 jobs over the same period, a 1.6 percent increase in hiring. Continue reading
by Abigail Stevenson • CNBC
If politicians don’t fix the Affordable Care Act, then the vulnerable Blue Cross and local HMO plans — which serve as the backbone of Obamacare — must exit, said Robert Laszewski, the President of Health Policy and Strategy Associates.
“What the politicians need to do is to understand they have got about a year to fix this,” he said in an interview with CNBC’s “Closing Bell.”
Republicans do not want to fix the existing flaws for Obamacare, Laszewski said. Instead, they want to repeal and replace it. He added that Democrats are now stating that they would rather go to a single-payer insurance plan or a public option within a government-run plan. Continue reading
Aetna’s decision to abandon its ObamaCare expansion plans and rethink its participation altogether came as a surprise to many. It shouldn’t have. Everything that’s happened now was predicted by the law’s critics years ago.
Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said that this was supposed to be a break-even year for its ObamaCare business. Instead, the company has already lost $200 million, which it expect that to hit $320 million before the year it out. He said the company was abandoning plans to expand into five other states and is reviewing whether to stay in the 15 states where Aetna (AET) current sells ObamaCare plans.
Aetna’s announcement follows UnitedHealth Group’s (UNH) decision to leave most ObamaCare markets, Humana’s (HUM) decision to drop out of some, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s announcement that it was quitting the individual market in Minnesota, Continue reading
Hillary Clinton vowed to create 200,000 new jobs in Upstate New York during her time as a senator representing the state, but a new report published Monday found that the Democratic nominee’s efforts fell far below projections.
While upstate jobs rose 0.2 percent overall during Clinton’s tenure in the Senate, manufacturing jobs fell nearly 25 percent, the Washington Post reported, citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Analysis of Clinton’s first Senate term revealed that Upstate New York actually lost jobs. The Public Policy Institute in Albany studied BLS data and found that between October 2001 and December 2006, Upstate New York lost more than 31,000 payroll jobs.
The Clinton campaign did not comment on how man jobs were created during Clinton’s tenure but directed the Washington Post to statistics from the New York State Department of Labor showing that Upstate New York had gained 117,000 jobs during the former first lady’s first term. The Post reported it was unable to confirm the number, saying that the state agency doesn’t “use Upstate New York as a specific regional area to measure employment.”
Clinton was reelected for her second term in November 2006 before leaving the Senate in January 2009 to become secretary of state.
The Washington Post reported:
The former first lady was unable to pass the big-ticket legislation she introduced to benefit the upstate economy. She turned to smaller-scale projects, but some of those fell flat after initial glowing headlines … Many promised jobs never materialized and others migrated to other states as she turned to her first presidential run, said former officials who worked with her in New York … In March 2001, she introduced seven bills to stimulate the upstate economy–“part of a larger partnership to spur job creation across our country,’’ Clinton said. None of the measures passed, records show.
Clinton has promised repeatedly on the campaign trail that she would “make the biggest investment in new, good-paying jobs since World War II.”
The new report from the Post could cast a shadow over the Clinton campaign’s focus on her time in the Senate, when she vowed to revive a depressed Upstate New York.
37 percent of businesses say they would increase the price of goods
Thirty percent of businesses said they would eliminate jobs if the minimum wage were increased to $15 an hour, according to a survey from Express Employment Professionals.
The survey asked 390 businesses in the United States and Canada what effect the increase in the minimum wage would have on their operations.
Thirty-seven percent of businesses said they would increase the price of goods, 30 percent of businesses said they would eliminate positions, and 20 percent of businesses said they would increase other wages in the company.
A majority of the businesses surveyed, 82 percent, said they do not pay the current minimum wage for some positions while 18 percent of respondents said they do.
“A $15 minimum wage has certainly become a political hot topic,” said Bob Funk, CEO of Express Employment Professionals. “There’s no doubt it makes for a good talking point, but the real question is whether it makes good economic sense.”
“While some workers will see a raise, which is good news, this survey shows that there are clear negative consequences for raising the wage to $15,” said Funk, who was also a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. “Policymakers should always keep in mind the unintended consequences of their actions.”
Arizona Republican Senator John McCain has over his decades in government built a reputation based largely on a few key tenets. As a genuine Vietnam War hero, and as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, he is one of the lead defenders and proponents of all things military. He relentlessly champions “good government” – i.e. spending government money more wisely and well. And he has engaged in a relentless pursuit of “campaign finance reform” so as to allegedly remove the undue influence of political donors on policy decisions.
What the Senator is currently doing calls all of these reputational tenets into serious question.
McCain, McCarthy Team Up to Ban Russian Rocket Engines: “Two Republican powerhouses (Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain [Ariz.] and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy [Calif.]) teamed up Wednesday to introduce a bill that would stop U.S. military reliance on Russian-made rocket engines (RD-180) for its national security space launches.”
Except you can’t actually end our reliance on Russian rockets – unless you have a viable alternative ready to go. The United States does not. As McCain’s Senate colleague Richard Shelby (R-AL) points out: “Given the current volatility of our relationship with Russia, our nation needs to develop a reliable, American alternative to the RD-180 as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that may not be for another four to five years at best.”
How important to what we do is the RD-180? “Today, approximately two-thirds of our military, intelligence community, scientific and weather satellites are launched into orbit on the Atlas 5, which uses the Russian RD-180 rocket engine.”
So Senator McCain wanting to immediately ban this vital rocket component is terrible for the military. And it isn’t just me saying it – again, Senator Shelby: “(R)ecklessly restricting the use of the RD-180 in the near-term will undermine both national security and the prospects for real competition in the military launch business.”
What does Senator McCain propose we purchase instead? “Sen. McCain pushed these restrictions in close coordination with SpaceX, which stands much to gain by eliminating competition. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was recently certified for some of these launches by the Air Force, albeit under intense political pressure from the Obama administration….SpaceX has…suffered numerous delays and anomalies. Shortly after the Air Force’s certification of the Falcon 9, a catastrophic failure in June led to the complete loss of both the vehicle and all of its taxpayer-funded cargo, thus grounding the vehicle. The company was already over two years late developing the Falcon 9 and now has a substantial backlog of its current launch schedule, which raises the question of what the launch priorities will be if it does resume flights.”
SpaceX doesn’t sound anywhere near ready for prime time. In fact, it’s actually worse than that: “SpaceX has yet to undertake any form of national security launch. Yet without changes to the restrictions pushed by Senator McCain, virtually all of America’s military space missions will depend on SpaceX’s grounded rocket and its problematic launch history.”
Why on Earth (and beyond) is Senator McCain joining with the Obama Administration in pushing completely inadequate SpaceX as the next thing – when it clearly yet isn’t?
John McCain Bought and Paid For by Elon Musk: “Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and businessman Elon Musk, creator of SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and SolarCity, have enjoyed a long and close business and political relationship that have helped support the senator while enriching Musk at taxpayer expense. Musk and his companies have support McCain and his McCain Institute while the senator has consistently supported and advanced the legislative interests of Musk’s companies in the Senate.”
So Senator McCain is pushing an amendment that is terrible for the military and our national security. That will almost certainly cost us untold additional billions of dollars in failed launches and lost materials – because of unready rockets. All to reward with even more government coin – a man who has given McCain lots and LOTS of political coin.
All of which contradicts every tenet for which Senator McCain claims to stand. The biggest opponent of McCain’s amendment – should be McCain.
Here’s hoping everyone else in Congress will do the wise, prudent and fact-based thing – and oppose what McCain is proposing.
By M. Anthony Mills • RealClearPolitics
In 2016, the joker in the deck may come the first week of November — and it won’t be a surprise, just a shock: Fueled by the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, Americans’ health insurance premiums are likely to spike.
The policy debates that preoccupy Beltway insiders are often far removed from the concerns of most American voters. The Export-Import Bank, the intricacies of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory requirements, quantitative easing, and rules promulgated in obscure administrative agencies — this is not the stuff of middle-class anxiety. While such policy and regulatory decisions do affect citizens nationwide, it’s not always immediately obvious how. Not so jobs, wages, schools, and health care — these issues hit home. Continue reading