In 2015, President Obama had a bill placed on his desk that fully repealed Obamacare.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.
Fed survey cites rising concerns about trade tariffs
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that the U.S. economy was growing in the fall, but there were concerns about higher tariffs from a widening trade war, rising interest rates and tight labor markets.
In its latest report on economic conditions around the country, the Fed said that most of its 12 regions saw moderate growth through late November. Dallas and Philadelphia said growth had slowed, while St. Louis and Kansas City depicted growth as slight.
The report, known as the beige book, found that optimism about the future had waned somewhat, with business contacts citing “increased uncertainty.”
The survey will used at the Fed’s next meeting on Dec. 18-19. The central bank is widely expected to boost its benchmark rate for a fourth time this year at that meeting.
The beige book report noted problems the higher tariffs from Trump’s get-tough approach to trade were causing: rising costs for manufacturers, weaker sales at companies and farmers hurt by retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and other nations.
Even with the tariff concerns, the beige book said most districts continued to report moderate growth in manufacturing.
The impact of rising interest rates affected interest-rate sensitive sectors such as housing, with the beige book noting that new home construction and sales of existing homes were either holding steady or experiencing slight declines.
The Fed survey said that labor markets had tightened further across a broad range of occupations.
“Over half of the districts cited firms for which employment, production and sometimes capacity expansion had been constrained by an inability to attract and retain qualified workers,” the report said.
Unemployment fell in October to a 49-year low of 3.7 percent with economists forecasting further declines in the coming months. A key reason the Fed has been raising interest rates is to slow the economy to ensure that tight labor markets don’t unleash unwanted inflation pressures.
With labor markets already so tight, the Fed said that many districts were seeing examples of firms enhancing their nonwage benefits, including health benefits, profit-sharing, bonuses and paid vacation days.
Despite the wage pressures, the report said that prices continued to increase at a modest pace in most districts although reports of tariff-inducted cost increases have spread more broadly in such areas as manufacturing, retailing and restaurants.
White House intensifies confusion and fear on US-China deal
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration raised doubts Tuesday about the substance of a U.S.-China trade cease-fire, contributing to a broad stock market plunge and intensifying fears of a global economic slowdown.
Investors had initially welcomed the truce that the administration said was reached over the weekend in Argentina between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping — and sent stocks up Monday. But on Tuesday, after a series of confusing and conflicting words from Trump and some senior officials, stocks tumbled, with the Dow Jones shedding about 800 points, or 3.1 percent.
White House aides have struggled to explain the details of what the two countries actually agreed on. And China has not confirmed that it made most of the concessions that the Trump administration has claimed.
“The sense is that there’s less and less agreement between the two sides about what actually took place,” said Willie Delwiche, an investment strategist at Baird. “There was a rally in the expectation that something had happened. The problem is that something turned out to be nothing.”
Other concerns contributed to the stock sell-off, including falling long-term bond yields. Those lower rates suggested that investors expect the U.S. economy to slow, along with global growth, and possibly fall into recession in the coming year or two.
John Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, also unnerved investors by telling reporters Tuesday that he supports further Fed rate hikes. His remarks renewed fears that the Fed may miscalculate and raise rates so high or so fast as to depress growth.
The disarray surrounding the China deal coincides with a global economy that faces other challenges: Britain is struggling to negotiate its exit from the European Union. Italy’s government is seeking to spend and borrow more, which could elevate interest rates and stifle growth.
And in the United States, home sales have fallen sharply in the past year as mortgage rates have jumped.
Trump and White House aides have promoted the apparent U.S.-China agreement in Buenos Aires as a historic breakthrough that would ease trade tensions and potentially reduce tariffs. They announced that China had agreed to buy many more American products and to negotiate over the administration’s assertions that Beijing steals American technology. But by Tuesday morning, Trump was renewing his tariff threats in a series of tweets.
“President Xi and I want this deal to happen, and it probably will,” Trump tweeted. “But if not remember, I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so.”
Trump added that a 90-day timetable for negotiators to reach a deeper agreement had begun and that his aides would see “whether or not a REAL deal with China is actually possible.”
He revisited the issue later Tuesday with a tweet that said: “We are either going to have a REAL DEAL with China, or no deal at all – at which point we will be charging major Tariffs against Chinese product being shipped into the United States. Ultimately, I believe, we will be making a deal – either now or into the future. China does not want Tariffs!”
The president’s words had the effect of making the weekend agreement, already a vague and uncertain one, seem even less likely to produce a long-lasting trade accord.
“We expect the relationship between the world’s two largest economies to remain contentious,” Moody’s Investors Service said in a report. “Narrow agreements and modest concessions in their ongoing trade dispute will not bridge the wide gulf in their respective economic, political and strategic interests.”
Among the conflicting assertions that White House officials made was over whether China had actually agreed to drop its 40 percent tariffs on U.S. autos.
In addition, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday on the Fox Business Network that China agreed to buy $1.2 trillion of U.S. products. But Mnuchin added, “If that’s real” — thereby raising some doubt — it would close the U.S. trade deficit with China, and “We have to have a negotiated agreement and have this on paper.”
Many economists have expressed skepticism that very much could be achieved to bridge the vast disagreements between the two countries in just 90 days.
“The actual amount of concrete progress made at this meeting appears to have been quite limited,” Alec Phillips and other economists at Goldman Sachs wrote in a research note.
During the talks in Buenos Aires, Trump agreed to delay a scheduled escalation in U.S. tariffs on many Chinese goods, from 10 percent to 25 percent, that had been set to take effect Jan. 1. Instead, the two sides are to negotiate over U.S. complaints about China’s trade practices, notably that it has used predatory tactics to try to achieve supremacy in technology. These practices, according to the administration and outside analysts, include stealing intellectual property and forcing companies to turn over technology to gain access to China’s market.
In return for the postponement in the higher U.S. tariffs, the White House said China had agreed to step up its purchases of U.S. farm, energy and industrial goods. Most economists noted that the two countries remain far apart on the sharpest areas of disagreement, which include Beijing’s subsidies for strategic Chinese industries, in addition to forced technology transfers and intellectual property theft.
Chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow acknowledged those challenges in remarks Tuesday morning.
“China’s discussed these things with the U.S. many times down through the years and the results have not been very good,” he said. “So this time around, as I said, I’m hopeful, we’re covering more ground than ever … So we’ll see.”
Complicating the challenge, Trump’s complaints strike at the heart of the Communist Party’s state-led economic model and its plans to elevate China to political and cultural leadership by creating global champions in robotics and other fields.
“It’s impossible for China to cancel its industry policies or major industry and technology development plans,” said economist Cui Fan of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.
Trump had tweeted Sunday that China agreed to “reduce and remove” its 40 percent tariff on cars imported from the U.S. Mnuchin said Monday that there was a “specific agreement” on the auto tariffs.
Yet Kudlow said later that there was no “specific agreement” regarding auto trade, though he added, “We expect those tariffs to go to zero.”
Associated Press writer Joe McDonald in Beijing contributed to this report.
Medicare-for-All would cost more than every penny we’ve spent on defense in the country’s history
Math is hard for many Americans. It isn’t just the sad state of our public school system that keeps the people down. It’s politicians like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who push lies and pipe dreams that keep many Americans thinking the government has unlimited money and there’s no real difference between millions, billions, and trillions.
There’s a big difference, of course, but leftists will never let the number of zeroes get in the way of promoting their ideological goals. As I posted earlier, even left-leaning news outlets like the Washington Post are calling out Ocasio-Cortez for her false statements about Medicare-for-All.
Ocasio-Cortez must have realized when she Tweeted the article that there’s no way “66% of Medicare for All could have been funded already by the Pentagon.” She was certainly playing down to her base in hopes they’d ignore reality and embrace her false notions just because she said it. The Tweet was either a bald-faced lie or she’s an absolute moron. Or both.
Washington Post, which normally supports socialist initiatives recommended by their Democratic puppetmasters, had to call this particular claim out. They gave the claim “4 Pinocchios,” a designation they save for some of the most egregious lies in politics.
It isn’t just about being completely wrong on the Pentagon’s accounting errors. This goes deeper. While fact-checking her claims, PolitiFact decided to do some math of their own. They gathered defense spending data as far back as they could – 1940 – and tallied the totals. Those who understand the difference between millions, billions, and trillions probably won’t be surprised to learn the total spent in that time is under $18 trillion, well short of the $21 trillion Ocasio-Cortez claimed she could have used to pay 2/3 of Medicare-for-All.
The also stipulated that since defense spending was much lower in the past, it’s very likely the total spent since the nation’s inception still couldn’t hit Ocasio-Cortez’ number.
One tip-off is the amount of Ocasio-Cortez’s “accounting errors” is far bigger than the actual Pentagon spending from 1998 to 2015, which was $8.5 trillion. In fact, it’s also far bigger than the amount the government has spent on national security since 1940 and, in all likelihood, in the nation’s history.
Here’s a chart we assembled showing national-security spending by the federal government from 1940 to today. Ocasio-Cortez’s $21 trillion estimate exceeds the entirety of national-security spending since 1940, which checks in around $17.8 trillion. And while full data back to 1776 doesn’t exist, prorating backwards for another 164 years would almost certainly not add enough to make the total $21 trillion.
Medicare-for-All is projected to cost $32 trillion over its first 10 years alone.
Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and all their mathematically challenged supporters need to hear this information now. If you could somehow take back every dollar spent on defense from the time the nation was formed until today, it still wouldn’t be enough to pay for Medicare-for-All. This isn’t a right-wing conspiracy. This is left-leaning Politifact crunching the numbers.
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