by Bill McMorris • Washington Free Beacon
A federal judge in Texas could strike down another of the Obama administration’s most controversial labor rules.
Judge Amos L. Mazzant from the Eastern District of Texas will rule Tuesday on the Department of Labor’s new overtime regulations. Those regulations would force employers to pay overtime to any white collar worker making less than $913 per week–about $47,000 per year—double the previous threshold of $455. The rule also includes an escalator provision that automatically raises the threshold every three years, similar to how some minimum wage provisions are designed to adjust for inflation.
More than 20 states and dozens of companies and industry trade groups have filed suit to block the regulations from taking effect. 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
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
After-tax income has declined for some demographic groups since 2009
by Ali Meyer • Washington Free Beacon
The CBO uses a comprehensive measure of income, referred to as average household market income, that includes labor income, business income, capital income, capital gains, and retirement income. It combines this with government transfers to calculate before-tax income.
The budget office then subtracts individual income taxes, payroll or social insurance taxes, corporate income taxes and excise taxes to calculate average after-tax income. Continue reading
By Eric Peterson • The Federalist
Last month, when President Obama’s Department of Labor released its long-awaited “overtime rule,” the mainstream media headlines were predictable: “Obama administration announces final overtime rule boosting pay for millions,” said the Los Angeles Times. “New overtime rules a boon for middle class workers,” added Newsweek. With claims from the Obama camp that the new mandate will boost pay by $12 billion over the next decade, the majority of the coverage has been overwhelmingly positive.
But here are a few headlines we might have seen if media outlets made an honest assessment of the rule: “Overtime rule to cause more than 4,000 cleft lip surgeries to not be performed for children in need”; “At-risk youth could see fewer programs because of costly DOL rule”; “Domestic abuse nonprofit faces cuts because of Obama’s overtime rule.”
Those may not have been headlines atop major newspapers, but they are real concerns nonprofit organizations submitted to the Department of Labor while the overtime rule was undergoing consideration over the past year. Continue reading
By Michael J. Coren • Quartz
We’re supposedly living in the age of startups when people can create new businesses, enrich themselves, and employ their fellow Americans. That narrative, like much economic optimism these days, is now mostly a tale for coastal cities, and a tenuous one at best.
Fewer new businesses were created in the last five years in the US than any period since at least 1980, according to a new analysis (pdf) by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG), a bipartisan advocacy group founded by the Silicon Valley entrepreneur Sean Parker and others. Businesses that did form are also far more concentrated than ever before: just 20 counties accounted for half of the country’s total new businesses. All of them were in large metro areas.
“I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last.” That was President Obama in a speech before Congress back in Sept. 2009, pitching the health reform plan he’d sign six months later.
It doesn’t look like he’s going to get his wish.
In the three-plus years since the ObamaCare exchanges opened, the law is teetering on the edge of the abyss. Enrollment is well below expectations, not enough young people are signing up, insurers are failing or dropping out of the program, and, by all appearances, premiums are set to spike even higher than last year.
Now a Kaiser Family Foundation survey released late last week shows that the public is far from satisfied with what Obama claimed was the be-all and end-all of reform. Continue reading
by Victor Davis Hanson • PJ Media
His hard-left politics have insidiously eroded the Democratic Party, which has lost both houses of Congress and the vast majority of the state legislatures, state elected offices, and governorships. Obama has redefined the black vote, as a necessary, no-margin-of-error 95% bloc majority to offset his similar creation of an increasingly monolithic 65% bloc white vote. We are no longer individual voters, but, in Chicago-politics style, merely faceless “Latinos,” “Asians,” “African-Americans,” “gays,” “women,” and now “whites.”
Obama issues a new initiative—and the nation snoozes. He wastes the day on the golf links—and the nation snoozes. He smear his critics, invites a rapper to the White House whose latest album cover has a dead white judge lying in front of the White House—and the nation snoozes. He cozies up to America’s enemies and snubs our friends—and the nation snoozes. For the nth time, he blusters about closing down Guantanamo—and the nation snoozes. He opens the border even wider to welcome in more illegal aliens and future constituents—and the nation snoozes. Lame duckestry means not even being able to wake up your opponents. Continue reading
America’s declining score in the index is closely related to rapidly rising government spending, subsidies, and bailouts.
by Anthony B. Kim • Daily Signal
According to the 2016 Index of Economic Freedom, an annual publication by The Heritage Foundation, America’s economic freedom has tumbled. With losses of economic freedom in eight of the past nine years, the U.S. has tied its worst score ever, wiping out a decade of progress.
The U.S. has fallen from the 6th freest economy in the world, when President Barack Obama took office, to 11th place in 2016. America’s declining score in the index is closely related to rapidly rising government spending, subsidies, and bailouts. Continue reading
by Philip Klein • Washington Examiner
On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that fewer than 13 million individuals signed up for Obamacare plans for 2016. Though the administration is trying to argue that this 12.7 million number beat expectations, nobody is buying it.
HHS officials set an artificially low target of 10 million signups for the year – essentially flat from 2015 – so they would have something to beat.
“While exchange enrollment will meet the Administration’s modest 10 million person goal, it does appear that growth in this market has slowed,” Caroline Pearson, a senior vice president of healthcare advisory firm Avalere said in a statement. Continue reading
by Michael Pento • CNBC
The S&P 500 has begun 2016 with its worst performance ever. This has prompted Wall Street apologists to come out in full force and try to explain why the chaos in global currencies and equities will not be a repeat of 2008. Nor do they want investors to believe this environment is commensurate with the dot-com bubble bursting. They claim the current turmoil in China is not even comparable to the 1997 Asian debt crisis.
Indeed, the unscrupulous individuals that dominate financial institutions and governments seldom predict a down-tick on Wall Street, so don’t expect them to warn of the impending global recession and market mayhem.
But a recession has occurred in the U.S. about every five years, on average, since the end of WWII; and it has been seven years since the last one — we are overdue.
Most importantly, the average market drop during the peak to trough of the last 6 recessions has been 37 percent. That would take the S&P 500 down to 1,300; if this next recession were to be just of the average variety. Continue reading
Families are no longer fooled by ‘hope and change’ happy talk
By Stephen Moore • Washington Times
The stock market closed down for 2015 reversing one of the few positive accomplishments under the Barack Obama presidency. This has been a pretty prosperous time for the top two percent. For most Americans though — not so much.
A new report from Sentier Research based on Census data finds that median household income of $56,700 at the end of 2015 stood exactly where it was adjusted for inflation at the end of 2007.
That’s eight years of virtually zero income gain. And President Obama and his Washington political pundits wonder why voters are in such a cranky mood.
Last week the Joint Economic Committee of Congress issued a report on the Obama recovery loaded with even more dismal news. On almost every measure examined, the 2009-15 recovery since the recovery ended in June of 2009 has been the meekest in more than 50 years. Continue reading
By Edward Morrissey • The Fiscal Times
First, they argued that the United States had too many uninsured people, with estimates ranging from 30 million to 45 million.
Second, the rise in costs for health care outstripped inflation, and the market required an intervention that would bend the cost curve downward.
Third, Democrats claimed that insurance companies made too much profit and shorted most consumers on care, while those with generous health plans – so-called “Cadillac plans” – drove up utilization rates and costs for everyone else. Continue reading
by Betsy McCaughey • New York Post
How dare the Obama administration bail out insurance companies with our money in order to hide ObamaCare’s failures. Thursday, just hours after giant insurer UnitedHealthcare said it’s losing money selling ObamaCare plans and will likely exit the health exchanges next year, the Obama administration quietly promised to bail out insurers for their losses — using your money.
Nearly all insurers are bleeding red ink trying to sell the unworkable plans. Without a bailout, more insurers will abandon ObamaCare, pushing it closer to its demise. A bailout would benefit insurers and the Democratic Party, which is desperate to cover up the health law’s failure. Ironically Democrats (including Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders) bad-mouth bank bailouts but are all for insurance-company bailouts. Truth is, it’s a ripoff for taxpayers, who shouldn’t have to pay for this sleazy coverup. Continue reading