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Economy

Obamacare could be fully repealed if political considerations were erased

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In 2015, President Obama had a bill placed on his desk that fully repealed Obamacare. There was no replacement. Had he signed it, we’d be well on our way to the completely privatized health care system the nation deserves. He didn’t, of course, and the vast majority of GOP politicians pointed fingers and blamed the President for the failures that were developing in the legislation that was supposed to be his legacy.

In 2017, President Trump has not and likely will not see the same bill. In fact, he won’t see anything even close to it. Why? Because now that the GOP has complete control, they can’t bluff anymore. They are in a position to somehow not admit that they never wanted to fully repeal Obamacare in the first place. The result so far is the AHCA from the House and some variation the Senate can muster.

Whatever finally reaches President Trump’s desk will not be a repeal. It won’t even be a “repeal and replace” as they’ve been calling it since taking power. It will be a “tweak and rebrand” effort that leaves the damaging core of Obamacare fully intact, redirects how the mandates are delivered, redistributes penalties for citizens who do not comply, and throws in some easy-to-consume “conservative meat” like defunding Planned Parenthood to try to keep as many right-wing critics as possible at bay.

In the end, we will take one humongous government-run health care system and replace it with another humongous government-run health care system.

To those who believe that it’s not technically “government-run” because some autonomy is afforded to health insurance companies, health care providers, and even states, let’s be clear: if a program lays out guidelines for providers and consumers as both ACA and AHCA do, then it’s a government-run program.

Why would the GOP break their promise?

There are times when a party and the politicians representing them will do their best to “sell” an idea to the American people. They will go on news shows, perhaps speak at town halls, and even invest in television commercials to present their case to Americans in an effort to get them to help pressure the opposition into support. We’ve seen this since the birth of our nation. In fact, the reason for the Federalist Papers was to convince people that ratifying the United States Constitution was in the best interests of the nation and its citizens.

In recent years, we’ve seen it with welfare reform, Gang of 8, and even with Obamacare itself. In all of these cases, the group supporting pieces of legislation made their pitch to Americans because they believed they could convince enough people their ideas represented the right course for the nation. More importantly, they wanted to use the victory as a launching pad to expand their political standing and ensure future victories. This technique of selling an idea and then riding the wave of victory once it’s sold is only effective if you believe in what you’re selling.

It’s quite conspicuous that the GOP has not taken this approach with the AHCA. On the contrary, they want as little attention paid to the machinations of the bill as possible. It’s not that they don’t believe it’s a better solution than Obamacare. They simply don’t want more people pointing out that it’s not very different. They’d like to get it passed and signed quickly so they can then start focusing on midterm elections.

This is an important point. Their fear of losing in the midterms is the second biggest reason they’re unwilling to simply repeal Obamacare with either no replacement at all or one that pushes for privatization over time. They know there will be repercussions if they repeal Obamacare; if one person dies as a result of losing health care, Republican strategists believe the Democrats will have a chance of taking the House and the Senate in 2018.

It’s not necessarily true, of course. Both parties still embrace the old concept that Americans are too simple-minded to be shown the truth. They think that we’re only interested in what affects us directly and any attempt by the government to act responsibly will result in major losses. They can’t accept that Americans have more access to information than ever before. They play the news cycle and pull the heart strings. If they were correct, there’s no way Ted Cruz should have won Iowa after declaring that he wanted to end ethanol subsidies. There’s no way Bernie Sanders should have won Oklahoma after being on the wrong side of many liberal issues near and dear to Sooners.

People may be misinformed by mainstream media and fake news outlets, but we’re not stupid. If they lay out the facts and put together a compelling case, the GOP could repeal Obamacare. All they’d have to do is inform the people about why things will be much better in the not-too-long-term. Unfortunately, they’ve calculated that the benefits of repealing Obamacare would not be realized before the 2018 election and they’re unwilling to take the risk.

Instead, they’re hoping to insert Trumpcare and hope for the best. It’s a disgusting strategy for two reasons. First, it’s a lie. Presenting it as a repeal and replace is false as I mentioned above. Second, it won’t work. They will be blamed for health care failures regardless of whether it comes from the AHCA or from a full repeal. Taking this “safe” approach is still a losing effort.

The other reason

As I previously mentioned, the second biggest reason they don’t want to repeal Obamacare is fear of losing in the midterms. The biggest reason is because they like what government-run health care gives them. It’s not across the board; there are a handful of Senators and a small group of Congressman who truly want government out of the system. However, they are a tiny minority compared to the bulk of GOP lawmakers who see ACA and AHCA as a boon for big government and big budgets.

The more money that’s in the federal government’s pot, the easier it is to redistribute it based upon political considerations. More money muddles our economic system. As strange as it may sound, many in the federal government thrive in chaos. The more there is to draw the attention of the people, the easier it is for them to operate corruptly in other areas. This may seem like some conspiracy theory, but it’s not. This is really how the government operates in DC.

A better way

A blog post is not the right venue to lay out a comprehensive and detailed plan, but it’s a great place to give a 30,000-foot view of how things should be. Put simply, we need to privatize health care once again.

There are those who will point to challenges that existed before Obamacare. These challenges will return if Obamacare is repealed, but they won’t return in the same form. Things have changed. Now that we’ve experienced rising premiums that yield higher deductibles while delivering worse results, we have empirical data behind which we can rebuild the privatized market.

The sticking point for many Americans who might fear a full repeal is care for those with pre-existing conditions. As Michael Nolan noted on DailyWire:

One argument against privatized health care (and for Universal Health Care) is that insurance companies will continue to discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions. What the argument fails to take into account is that 90 percent of health care policies cover pre-existing conditions, as shown by health care expert Avik Roy. The free market has created a system by which those with employer-based coverage don’t need screening because the insurance is purchased in bulk by the employer. For those with employment-based coverage (currently roughly 50 percent of those with insurance), pre-existing condition exclusions can only be triggered if the client has had health insurance for less than 12 months. This encourages and rewards those who buy long-term medical coverage (which promotes good life choices and planning) as opposed to those that only purchase insurance when they get ill.

The other big advantage of having seen Obamacare is that we now have a better idea of what needs to be changed in order to make privatized health care work from economic, accessibility, and innovation perspectives. Daniel Horowitz came up with a cheat sheet at Conservative Review that gives us a great starting point to attack this beast. One of my favorites is his take on competition across state lines:

If insurance is enough of an interstate commerce issue to regulate people into oblivion at a federal level, then the federal government should be able to invoke the Commerce Clause to tear down the barriers to purchasing insurance across state lines. Indeed the Supreme Court has said as much [United States v. South-Eastern Underwriters Association, 1944]. This will foster massive competition, make insurance portable, and together with individualizing insurance through equal tax treatment and expanded HSAs, will save many individuals who get sick later in life after moving to different states from the problem of pre-existing conditions.

Not only will this reform create a more competitive national market, but it will induce states with a costly regulatory burden to get with the program and relax their regulations to compete with the more pro-consumer states. It will also create momentum for states to ease regulations on tele-medicine from out-of-state providers.

If we systematically repeal Obamacare, we can have privatized health care once again. A replacement plan that tries to predict what will happen is foolish. Instead, we should repeal, then monitor and analyze the market. Over time, we’ll find the holes that need to be plugged. States, charities, and other organizations can fill most of these holes. Whatever is left, if anything, can fall to the federal government. This way, DC becomes the final safety net instead of being the first line of defense. That’s the way it should be in health care and a plethora of other areas.

Christian, husband, father. EIC, NOQ Report. Co-Founder, the Federalist Party. Just a normal guy who will no longer sit around while the country heads in the wrong direction.

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Economy

House bill will rein in Trump’s abuse of trade powers

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As much of the nation focused yesterday on the Supreme Court and who Trump would nominate to fill the seat being vacated by Anthony Kennedy’s retirement, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) was busy working on a bill that would limit Trump’s authority to levy tariffs.

Under Gallagher’s bill, Congress would reclaim its constitutional authority by requiring the president to obtain congressional approval before levying tariffs “in the interest of national security.” This bill is in response to Trump abusing his power to levy tariffs under a provision in the law that allows him to do so on an emergency basis when national security is threatened.

Gallagher’s measure is a companion bill to a Senate measure co-sponsored by Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Mike Lee (R-UT) designed to “rein in the executive branch’s power to impose (tariffs)” and to empower Congress to “assert its Constitutional responsibility and lead on trade policy.”

The recessionary/depressionary consequences of Trump’s self-declared trade war are beginning to take their toll. US companies in various industries are making plans to move operations overseas to avoid the financial impact of tariffs while others are laying off employees due to skyrocketing prices on steel.

To be fair, tariffs haven’t been all bad, especially if your name is Trump.

Trump managed to leverage his tariff threats against China to haul in over $500 million to finance Trump golf courses and hotels in Indonesia and secure trademarks for his and Ivanka’s business interests in China. And Ivanka’s questionably ethical payday has continued as we have just learned that her clothing empire—exclusively manufactured in various Asian countries because MAGA™–is exempt from Daddy’s recent 25 percent tariff on $34 billion worth of imported Chinese goods.

It looks like Trump won’t be backing down anytime soon. It was last week that we learned that Trump is working on a bill he hopes Congress will consider that would shift ALL tariff power from the legislative branch to the executive branch. Known as the U.S. Fair and Reciprocal Trade Act (FART Act), Trump’s proposal would give him Emperor-like power to levy tariffs anywhere anytime and for any reason.

Would Congress ever pass such a law? Who knows?

A few weeks ago, the Senate Finance Committee grilled Commerce Secretary Wilber Ross over Trump’s trade-war strategy in light of the administration’s kid-gloves handling of China and of retaliatory tariffs against the US by Canada, China, Mexico, and the EU. It’s tempting to get excited when Republicans get fired up and appear to be doing their job, unfortunately Mitch McConnell always shows up to throw water on the flames, turning the excitement into ashes.

As the election draws near and with the GOP officially rebranded as the Party of Trump, I find little reason to hope that efforts to rein in Trump’s abuse of power will succeed.

Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

 


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

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Economy

Emperor Palpatine would love Trump’s U.S. FART Act

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Ever since Trump officially launched his self-declared trade war earlier this year, countries around the world have been lining up to retaliate against his arbitrary use of tariffs—the Senate Finance Committee recently called it “knee-jerk impulses”—in his pursuit to advance his anti-free trade, protectionist agenda.

In January, Trump lobbed the first economy-killing grenade when he imposed tariffs on imported solar panels and residential washing machines. Weeks later Trump launched a second round of attacks with across-the-board tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum.

Following the second round of attacks, Trump’s trade advisor Peter Navarro appeared on FOX Business Network to assure America that Trump knew what he was doing and that fears of a trade war were misplaced because no country would dare retaliate for Trump’s tariffs.

Obviously, with retaliatory tariffs being leveled by Canada, China, Mexico, and the EU, Navarro was not only wrong in his conclusion, but we now find ourselves in the throes of a trade war, with casualties here at home such as we witnessed recently with Harley Davidson’s announcement to move some production overseas to avoid tariffs.

Additionally, the price of steel has doubled, causing layoffs and possible business closures for smaller businesses. For example, last week Mid-Continent Nail announced layoffs for 60 of its 500 employees and may be forced to relocate to Mexico to survive Trump’s trade war.

But don’t worry. Trade wars are “good” and “easy to win.”

Already guilty of abusing his authority to level tariffs—he can only do so as a matter of national security—and in true “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” fashion, Trump is working on a bill he hopes Congress will consider that would shift tariff powers from the legislative branch to the executive branch.

The U.S. Fair and Reciprocal Trade Act would give the president power to level tariffs anywhere, anytime, and for any reason. Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci refers to Trump’s proposal acrostically, calling it the U.S. FART Act because it “stinks.”

Personally, I think a better nickname for it is the Emperor Palpatine Act because it gives Trump…

I would like to believe, as the editorial board of National Review does, that Congress would never consider surrendering its Article 1, Section 8 power to “lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imports, and Excises” to any president, especially Trump. But when you consider that they already allow Trump to abuse his authority to impose tariffs—national security, remember?—not to mention that efforts to rein him in have been shot down by Mitch McConnell and other Republicans sold out to Trumpism, I’m not so sure FART wouldn’t fly if given its wings.

Case in point: We need only remember how Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) successfully led the charge to surrender the Senate’s Constitutional authority to approve treaties to Obama during the Iran deal to know just how feckless Republicans can be when dealing with unpopular issues.

Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

 


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and FacebookSubscribe to receive podcasts of radio commentaries: iTunes | Stitcher | Tune In | RSS

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Economy

What do Democrats and Obamacare have in common with Republicans and tax cuts?

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During the Obama administration, the most obvious example of the disastrous consequences of making laws in this fashion is Obamacare—legislation negotiated behind closed doors and so full of special interests that Nancy Pelosi famously stated that Congress had to pass the bill before we could find out what was in it. Obama also provided cover for Obamacare before and after its passage with his now-famous repeated lie: “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.”

Trump and the GOP have created an Obamacare moment of their own with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

Like Obamacare, TCJA was so massive and contained so many special interest considerations—mostly to corporations and donors—that it was hammered out behind closed doors, and under McConnell’s Pelosi-inspired instructions, TCJA could not be read by Senators until after it passed the Senate. And just like Obama before him with Obamacare, Trump kept the details of the tax cut plan hidden while spreading the lie that it would provide “the biggest tax cuts in history.”

The folks at InfoWars.com said that Trump’s promise had an Obama-esque “if you like your money, you can keep your money” ring to it.

The similarities between Obamacare the Trump tax cuts don’t end there. In the same way that much of the damage from Obamacare wasn’t known until after it became law, the damage from Trump’s tax cuts are now being revealed.

A previously unnoticed change to the tax code included in the TCJA has been discovered that imposes newly created taxes on churches, synagogues, and other non-profit organizations of 21 percent on employee benefits like meals and parking, forcing these organizations, regardless of size, to pay taxes for the first time ever. This is a costly burden when you consider that many nonprofit organizations operate with small and/or volunteer staff.

Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX), who is apparently one of those who didn’t read TCJA before voting for it, is trying to fix this “oops” moment, but House Ways and Means Chairman and Trump loyalist Kevin Brady (R-TX) is defending the stealth-like tax grab because it will provide “parity”—GOP-speak for fairness—regarding taxing employee compensation.

Parity has nothing to do with it. From day one, Republicans targeted charitable deductions as a source of income to offset the massive tax breaks they were giving big business and special interests. Failing to get as much as they had hoped from adjusting deductions, the GOP went after the recipients of those donations.

This is why the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was created behind closed doors, why nobody could read it before voting, and why Trump lied to protect it. It’s also a sign that our great Republic is quickly approaching its end.

Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

 


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and FacebookSubscribe to receive podcasts of radio commentaries: iTunes | Stitcher | Tune In | RSS

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