Raising concern “about the direction the health care policy debate is moving” – particularly among conservative lawmakers – the National Center for Public Policy Research has joined with more than 70 other conservative and free-market organizations to warn Congress about the dangers of price fixing.
In trying to remedy the issue of surprise medical bills for out-of-network emergency treatment, and insurers balking at covering all of such costs, some typically conservative politicians are favoring proposals to essentially enact price controls on these health care services. This would prohibit doctors and hospitals from setting their own rates and potentially make them operate at a loss.
Senator Rand Paul has explained that this could compromise the quality of American health care by driving people out of the medical field. “If you fix the price that ER doctors work at,” he said, “you will get a shortage.” He suggested that what has happened to the economy in Venezuela could happen in the United States as a result of such changes to the marketplace.
In a letter to conservative lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the National Center and others note:
[W]hat is troubling is how often otherwise right-of-center policymakers are resorting to one of the key pillars of the Medicare for All playbook – government imposed price controls. Whether it is called price fixing, rate setting, subsidy capping or inflation capping, government price controls have wormed their way into the healthcare reform plans of too many of our friends in Washington.
The National Center is joined on the letter by organizations including Americans for Tax Reform, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Frontiers of Freedom, the Discovery Institute, the Institute for Policy Innovation and Eagle Forum.
The coalition letter concludes:
This was a bad idea a half century ago with gasoline line rationing, and it’s a bad idea today in health care. Something can only be affordable if it’s available to buy in the first place.
To read the entire letter and see all of its signers, click here.
Last week, the California Senate passed a new bill that will cause somewhere between one million to two million workers, perhaps even more, to lose their status as independent contractors. If California governor Gavin Newsom signs the bill, an independent contractor will have to satisfy the following legally binding criteria:
The first of these three requirements highlight just how difficult it will be to qualify as an independent contractor in California. And all three requirements taken together will make it nearly impossible to be classified as an independent contractor. The obvious intent of this worker reclassification bill is to force workers who presently work as independent contractors into old-school employer-employee contracts.
Are you looking to hire a gardener, housekeeper, handyman? Be careful, because according to this new bill, all these people may be required to be treated as your formal employees.
This is an incredibly dangerous bill, and not just for gig-economy companies such as Uber and Lyft. Following the bill’s passing in the state senate, media headlines trumpeted “Big Win for Labor,” but this is about as misleading as can be. Rather, this bill is likely to be a big loss for most everyone other than unions, politicians who are supported by unions, and the state’s unemployment and disability reserves. And the biggest losers will be those whom the bill’s “winners” claim to support: immigrants, workers without advanced education, lower-income households, and women, who often require much more flexible schedules than men.
Sharply curtailing the use of independent contractors will raise business costs, which in turn will raise prices, reduce demand, increase business failures, and depress economic activity. When analyzing economic policies, there is no more of an inconvenient truth than the laws of supply and demand, which tell us that this bill will be a huge negative for the State. But the bill’s supporters are turning a blind eye to this.
Higher business costs will not be due to businesses that previously were “exploiting workers and shirking their social responsibilities,” as has been frequently argued by supporters of the bill, including Newsom. Rather, app-based businesses will have to completely change their organizational structure and create entirely different business plans.
App-based businesses such as Uber and Lyft are rightly concerned, because forcing them to hire their independent contractors as formal employees requires them to depart sharply from what they currently do, which is to create proprietary software that matches drivers with riders, and manage how that software is used.
Instead, Uber and Lyft will now become taxi companies, in which they will need a much larger human resources department, as well as a scheduling and strategy department to figure out where to send drivers and when. They would need to deal with the myriad issues that arise when managing employees, including determining which drivers get peak-demand schedules, such as Friday nights, and which get low-demand schedules, such as Sunday mornings.
Not surprisingly, Uber and other app-based companies have pledged $90 million to fight this bill should it become law.
There is no doubt that the costs of complying with this bill will be much higher for gig-economy businesses such as Uber. An important reason this bill is so dangerous is that much of our recent economic growth is from these gig-economy businesses. Forbes estimates that roughly 36 percent of today’s workers are in the gig economy, accounting for about 57 million US jobs.
These 57 million jobs have been created in just the last 10 years. The Great Recession was kept from being much worse because the gig economy developed around the same time and created new and much-needed economic opportunities when jobs across many traditional sectors, including autos, construction, and finance, were plummeting.
Governments should be thanking those who took enormous risks, particularly at the time of the Great Recession, to create these entirely new app-based businesses. They are now a fundamental part of the US economy and are creating substantial new economic opportunities, as well as providing new services that consumers desire.
But instead, California is risking killing the goose that laid those 57 million golden eggs. It is hard to conceive of a worse state-level economic policy that realistically could become law.
So who benefits from this? It is potentially a win for unions, who want the bill because it creates a large new pool of potential union members. I say “a potential win,” because unionization in the private sector is now below six percent, and there is no reason to expect that trying to unionize gig businesses will be any different. And since unions want the bill, it is no surprise that state lawmakers, who are supported by unions, want it.
But this bill can devastate economic opportunities for those who are presently independent contractors and who would be forced to become employees. A recent Los Angeles Times column included interviews with those who presently are independent contractors but who would lose that classification if the bill becomes law.
The interviews predictably show that current independent contractors value schedule flexibility very highly and are extremely concerned about scheduling difficulties should they become employees. One Uber driver noted that his wife was fighting breast cancer, and his ability to determine his own driving schedule meant that he was able to take her to all her medical appointments. He worries about what will happen if he must become an employee and lose his ability to determine his own driving schedule.
Another Uber driver, one who supports the bill, claims that his pay is too low, and hopes that this reclassification will increase his pay. And Uber, which lost $5 billion last year and is currently laying off some of its professional staff, might agree with him that his driving services are undervalued. But what matters is the market value that riders – not rideshare drivers – place on this service. Rideshare drivers who support this bill may very well be in for a negative surprise if this bill becomes law.
Not so long ago, this bill would not have seen the light of day in California. At one time, state political leaders understood that their job was to promote freedom and economic opportunities for all. Sadly, this is no longer the case, and the most vulnerable in the state are the ones who will lose the most if this bill becomes law.
By Christian Barnard • Reason
“Do School Vouchers Only Benefit the Wealthy?” asks an article this month in Governing. Like too many headlines, the implication is that school choice is a scam that disproportionately benefits wealthy students who already live in high-performing districts. The Governing story suggests that Arizona’s education savings accounts (ESAs)––publicly-funded savings accounts that parents can use to pay for private school tuition or other education services for their children––rarely help out those who authentically need assistance, favoring already-privileged children instead.
The article cites a 2017 report from The Arizona Republic which found that 75 percent of the ESA money went to students leaving districts that had an “A” or “B” ranking, and only 4 percent of the money followed students opting out of districts rated “D” or lower.
But these numbers hardly even hint at the full story. Arizona’s ESA program can only be used by specific groups of disadvantaged students. In fact, Arizona Department of Education data from 2017 reveals that 82 percent of ESA recipients were students with special needs, from military families, or students from D/F rated schools. Continue reading
By Jack Crowe • National Review
President Trump announced during a Wednesday press conference that his meeting with European officials yielded key trade concessions, including an increase in American soybean and liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to Europe, and a commitment to work toward eliminating non-auto tariffs entirely.
“We have agreed today to work toward zero tariffs, zero tariff barriers and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods,” Trump said, reciting a joint statement crafted with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. “We will also work to reduce barriers and increase trade in services, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical products, as well as soybeans. The European Union is going to start almost immediately to but a lot of soybeans, they’re a tremendous market, to buy a lot of soybeans from our famers in the midwest primarily.”
“The European Union wants to import more liquefied natural gas from the United States and they’re going to be a very big buyer. We’re going to make it much easier for them but they will be massive buyers, so that they will be able to diversify their energy supply,” he added.
By Adam Mill • The Federalist
Recently, Jesse Kelly wrote a worthy article forecasting the United States’ decline and eventual suffocation in the quicksand of socialism. He correctly notes that as government gets bigger, freedom must get smaller.
Kelly clearly fears a socialist America will follow the failures of Greece, Venezuela, and every other country that has followed a welfare state model to its logical conclusion. While he is absolutely right that economic failure and socialism are inexorably related, he is not correct that the United States is on an unstoppable path to this oblivion.
Take cheer, Kelly: we have reason to be optimistic as a result of President Trump’s brief but dazzling experiment with cutting taxes and regulation. While government is growing, it’s not growing fast enough to crowd-out all freedom. One byproduct of the Trump boom is that economic growth is actually outpacing growth in government spending. The government’s share of gross domestic product has fallen to Continue reading
The economy is booming. Even the New York Times, no fan of the president, decided that “splendid” and “excellent” were appropriate adjectives to describe Friday’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
These showed the nationwide unemployment rate falling to 3.8 percent. If it improves yet further, it will hit lows not seen since the 1960s. The unemployment rate among black people fell to 5.9 percent, an all-time low, which makes one wonder how many African-American voters might think twice about voting against the incumbent Republicans in the midterm elections. The Hispanic or Latino unemployment rate ticked up a tenth of a point, but remains below 5 percent. Before President Trump took office, that stat could only be said of one month since the statistics bureau began tracking it in the 1970s.
The good news is not confined to the fact that there is an abundance of jobs. Wages are rising, too. For the first time Continue reading
By Stephen Moore • Investor’s Business Daily
T.S. Eliot famously wrote that “April is the cruelest month,” but when it comes to America’s fiscal picture, nothing could be further from the truth about this April. The latest government numbers confirm that last month was a blockbuster for growth, federal revenues, and deficit reduction.
One of the key principles of Trumponomics is that faster economic growth can help solve a multitude of other social and economic problems – from poverty, to inner-city decline, to lowering the national debt.
We’re not quite at a sustained elevated growth rate of 3% yet, but the latest economy snapshot tells us we are knocking on the door. The growth rate over the last four quarters came in at 2.9% — which Continue reading
Economy: Have Donald Trump’s policies had a big impact on the U.S. economy and its competitiveness? The answer, we think, is an obvious yes. Now comes a new report, based mainly on “hard” data, that confirms that.
The report comes from the IMD Competitiveness Center in Switzerland. Each year it ranks countries by 256 different variables to come up with its global competitiveness rankings.
For 2018, there was a surprise: The U.S. leapt three places to take over the top spot in global competitiveness — just ahead of Hong Kong, Singapore, the Netherlands and Switzerland. That jump was based on its “strength in economic performance and infrastructure,” ranking first in both areas.
That this is so shouldn’t shock anyone with any knowledge of what’s going on in the economy.
Since Trump took office, GDP growth has Continue reading
Washington D.C. – This week, the U.S. Postal Service released its financial report for the midway point of the 2018 fiscal year, which detailed yet another distressing loss of $1.3 billion. After monitoring the Postal Service’s financial mismanagement for years, Frontiers of Freedom expressed its continued concern about the agency’s direction.
“The latest losses posted by the USPS offer yet another indicator that the organization and its governing bodies have neglected to offer meaningful solutions to avert a likely taxpayer bailout of the Postal Service,” said George Landrith, president of Frontiers of Freedom.
Landrith further discussed the Trump Administration’s work to address the beleaguered agency: “The new Postal Task Force to be led by Secretary Mnuchin offers a promising step towards implementing structural changes that the USPS needs. It is imperative that the Task Force identify the right path forward. Any serious proposal will ensure that the Postal Service fixes its deteriorating letter mail service for all Americans and becomes a sustainable operation well into the future. But making minor course corrections at this point will not get the job done. The problems at the USPS are serious enough that real and bold reforms are required. There is no time to waste.”
As Frontiers of Freedom notes, the Postal Service’s ability to provide reliable and efficient mail service to all, and especially for those in rural communities, is a significant point of concern. A recent report by the USPS’ regulator found that the Postal Service failed to meet its performance objectives for every single service included within First-Class Mail.
Previous policymaking and management practices have proven insufficient for correcting the Postal Service’s course and the Administration must now seek new drastic changes to ensure a genuinely accountable and sustainable operation.