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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Obamacare could be fully repealed if political considerations were erased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In 2015, President Obama had a bill placed on his desk that fully repealed Obamacare.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.

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Economy

Why we won’t see Medicare-for-All legislation until after 2020

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Why we wont see Medicare-for-All legislation until after 2020

We won’t see Medicare-for-All legislation presented to the public or brought to the floor of the House for one politically expedient reason.

Here’s a spoiler for those who don’t want to read the whole thing. In its current state of ambiguity it’s growing more and more popular with the general public. Once the details are brought to light, even moderate Democrats will acknowledge it would implode the economy in a couple of years at best.

In a perfect world, all basic needs would be covered. Of course, that perfect world, often referred to as communism, could only work in the minds of fiction writers and hardcore leftists. In the real world, it’s not only impossible, but has proven to be counterproductive with its stated goals. This is a basic fact that has been demonstrated throughout modern history.

Facts don’t stop leftists. Anything that gets in the way of the leftist agenda or narrative is pushed aside in favor of new “facts.” My least favorite one that’s floating around lately is that socialized medicine has been a tremendous success in many nations around the world. This is questionable at best and when viewed on a longer scale than the last few years, it’s clearly impossible to sustain.

That’s the biggest problem with socialist ideas. They often DO work, but only until the money runs out. Leftists will say it’s unfair to point to Venezuela, a nation that should be the most prosperous in South America but that lies in economic ruins today. Any time Venezuela is brought up, proponents of socialism will say that they were practicing an invalid form of the failed political and economic system.

It’s through the pathways of reality surrounding socialism that Democrats do not want to travel. Not yet. They can’t risk heading into the 2020 elections allowing voters to have a clear understanding of what Medicare-for-All would mean to them. The more facts and figures are revealed about the proposals, the harder it will be to sell it to the people. Instead, they chant about Republicans not believing healthcare is a human right. Or something.

Take soon-to-be-Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example. For proposal for Medicare-for-All has a $32 trillion price tag over the next decade. Paying for it would require extreme tax increases, which is okay to most of her supporters. Why? Because the bulk of the cost would be paid by the “rich,” according to AOC. Or, as she puts it, “You just pay for it.”

When actual math is applied, it becomes clear it would be impossible to stick even most of the price tag on the “rich,” but that’s based on our definitions. If her definition of “rich” means anyone making middle-class incomes or above, then she MIGHT be able to pay for it by more than doubling current taxes.

There’d be no fiscal repercussions from that, right.

It’s imperative for Democrats to keep details surrounding Medicare-for-All hidden. The surface notion is appealing to some. If the details were examined, their base support would fall off. I’ll invoke a leftist tactic by saying Medicare-for-All would literally kill people.

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Economy

To those who don’t care about the national debt, consider this

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To those who dont care about the national debt consider this

The national debt has been growing dramatically for decades. It’s so great that most Americans seem to dismiss it altogether; if we haven’t been harmed by it already, it obviously can’t hurt us, right? This sort of “head in the sand” thinking is why lawmakers refuse to tackle it. As long as the people don’t seem to care, why should they?

It’s time to care. It’s been time to care for a while but the collective ignoring of it has brought it to the level that now, in 2018, we are nearing the point of no return.

Why? Because the astronomical interest is now going to noticeably affect how the government operates. We’ve spent years pretending like the interest isn’t a big deal even though it was growing to unsustainable levels during the Clinton administration. Now, we’re seeing it reach levels that are tangible. Why? Because the cost to cover it is now great enough that other areas are going to need to be cut.

In 2017, the interest on our debt was $263 billion. That’s 6.6% of federal government spending. We’re on track to spend more on interest than Medicaid in 2020 and more on interest than defense by 2023. Let me repeat that:

By 2023, we will spend more in interest on the national debt than we spend on national defense.

Normally, we can take CBO predictions with a grain of salt because they’re usually off (see Obamacare predictions for CBO’s epic failures) but this one relies on simple math. Even in a humming economy with the best case scenarios in play, you can’t overcome interest without paying down the debt.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans have any intention of paying off the debt. This is why candidate Trump went from promising to pay off the national debt in eight years, then ten years, then paying part of it off, then finally proclaiming himself the “king of debt” – all within the period of one month on the campaign trail.

To get the national debt in line will require an ironclad commitment backed by irrevocable legislation that spans two- to four-decades. It means entitlement reform, budget limits, cutting entire agencies and possibly even departments, and commitments to rein in all forms of discretionary spending.

In other words, the only way to get the national debt to a manageable level – not even getting it to zero but somewhere much lower than it is – would require commitments by politicians that none of them are willing to make. Oh, there might be a couple of Senators and a handful of Congressmen who would embrace such measures, but even those ones won’t buck the system to the point that they’d push hard for it without a mandate by voters.

We are the only hope for the very near future. If Americans don’t care that our tax dollars are being used to pay interest on the mountainous debt that has been accumulated in recent years, let alone the debt that preceded it, then we shouldn’t expect politicians to care, either. This can has been kicked down the road for decades, but the road is coming to a very abrupt end soon. It’s beyond unsustainable. We’re on the verge of collapsing under the weight of our own mistakes.

As long as voters ignore the national debt, neither party will pay attention to it, either. We will drown in our own ignorance if we don’t act soon. In the past, they said the debt will affect our children and grandchildren. Now, the debt is starting to affect us.

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Economy

Pacific Rim summit highlights strained China-US relations

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Pacific Rim summit highlights strained China-US relations

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (AP) — A meeting of world leaders in Papua New Guinea has highlighted divisions between global powers the U.S. and China and a growing competition for influence in the usually neglected South Pacific.

The 21 nations at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Port Moresby struggled to bridge differences on issues such as trade protectionism and reforming the World Trade Organization, making it likely their final statement Sunday will be an anodyne document.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and China’s President Xi Jinping traded barbs in speeches on Saturday. Pence professed respect for Xi and China but also harshly criticized the world’s No. 2 economy for intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and unfair trading practices.

In Port Moresby, the impact of China’s aid and loans is highly visible. But the U.S. and allies are countering with efforts to finance infrastructure in Papua New Guinea and other island states. The U.S. has also said it will be involved in ally Australia’s plan to develop a naval base with Papua New Guinea.

On Sunday, the U.S., New Zealand, Japan and Australia said they’d work with Papua New Guinea’s government to bring electricity to 70 percent of its people by 2030. Less than 20 percent have a reliable electricity supply.

“The commitment of the United States of America to this region of the world has never been stronger,” said Pence at a signing ceremony. A separate statement from his office said other countries are welcome to join the electrification initiative provided they support the U.S. vision of a free and open Pacific.

China, meanwhile, has promised $4 billion of finance to build the the first national road network in Papua New Guinea, among the least urbanised countries in the world.

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