And So I Go: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

To my Readers,  I am sorry to have been so very lax these past months in keeping up with my blog, but it just seemed that the news was so very depressing.  More and more scandals which our President and his cohorts refused to do anything about or even to investigate.  Remember the Presidents words that “there is not even a smidgen of evidence” of wrong doing by anyone in the IRS!  when all know that Americans rights were being trampled and denied and the President and all involved were lying.   Remember Benghazi and  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s outburst of “what dopes it matter?”  when 4 people died while everyone who could have possibly come to their aid had orders from on high to stand down!   And it goes on and on!     Those of you who follow FOX NEWS know what is going on and my comments would not have added anything.    I would sincerely suggested  that if you do not subscribe to  Heritage Online  you do so as an added source of  in-depth information.   Here is the latest issue.

 

I hope and believe that the American people have finally awakened to the evil monster that Obama is and will vote in a Republican Senate this year so that we may begin to undo some of the great damage he and his appointees have done to our country.  It will of course take decades to rec0ver from this assault on our nation and values, and in some areas we may never become the America that we once were .  I do have hope however.    First we must vote in a Republican Senate and then in 2016 a Republican President.  Then we MUST begin to replace the old dogs in both the House and the Senate who have grown lazy, complacent and greedy with power with younger Americans who are trying to remember what our country stood for when formed: a government by the people and for the people.  Yours sincerely, Brenda Bowers

 

 

 


Updated daily, InsiderOnline (
insideronline.org) is a compilation of publication abstracts, how-to essays, events, news, and analysis from around the conservative movement. The current edition of The INSIDER quarterly magazine is also on the site.

May 31, 2014

Latest Studies: 28 studies, including a report from the John Locke Foundation on what helps schools succeed, and a report from the Fraser Institute on the deadly consequences of rationing health care via wait times

Notes on the Week: Over 1 million restrictions in federal regulations, reasons an Article V convention wouldn’t work, The Insider looks at Obama’s disastrous foreign policy, and more

To Do: Remember the victims of Tiananmen Square, examine China’s human rights practices

Latest Studies

Budget & Taxation
Four Myths about American Taxes – Independent Women’s Forum
A U-Turn on the Road to Serfdom – Institute of Economic Affairs

Crime, Justice & the Law
New York’s Next Public Safety Revolution – Manhattan Institute

Economic and Political Thought
Catholic Social Teaching and the Market Economy (Revised Second Edition) – Institute of Economic Affairs

Economic Growth
Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed – Encounter Books
Patent Trolls: Predatory Litigation and the Smothering of Innovation – Independent Institute
Machines v. Lawyers – Manhattan Institute
The Economic Situation, June 1, 2014 – Mercatus Center

Education
Educational Freedom Works – John Locke Foundation
Blended Learning: Leveraging Teachers and Technology to Improve Student Outcomes – Maine Heritage Policy Center
How to Address Common Core’s Reading Standards: Licensure Tests for K-6 Teachers – Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research

Elections, Transparency, & Accountability
Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment – Encounter Books

Foreign Policy/International Affairs
Al Qaeda Isn’t ‘On Its Heels’ – American Enterprise Institute

Health Care
The Effect of Wait Times on Mortality in Canada – Fraser Institute
How to Sustain Sound Dietary Guidelines for Americans – Hudson Institute
The Political Roots of Health Insurance Benefit Mandates – Mercatus Center
Specialty Drugs and Pharmacies – National Center for Policy Analysis
The Biggest Myths of ObamaCare – National Center for Policy Analysis
The VA Health System Is a Tragic Warning Against Government-Run Health Care – Reason Foundation

Immigration
The ENLIST Act: A Back Door to Instant Citizenship – Heritage Foundation

Labor
Why the Earned Income Tax Credit Beats the Minimum Wage – Independent Women’s Forum

National Security
From Black Boots to Desert Boots: The All-Volunteer Army Experiment Continues – Foreign Policy Research Institute
Reforming DHS Through the Appropriations Process – Heritage Foundation

Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
Ending Ex–Im Would Remove Wasteful Energy Subsidies – Heritage Foundation
Property Rights Save the Environment – Hoover Institution
Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, Cheaper: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong – PublicAffairs

Regulation & Deregulation
Evaluating Regulatory Reforms: Lessons for Future Reforms – Mercatus Center

The Constitution/Civil Liberties
The Case Against Reparations for Slavery – Hoover Institution

 

Notes on the Week

Image of the week: Federal regulations now contain over 1 million restrictions.

How many of those regulations are beneficial on net? How would anybody know? As Patrick McLaughlin and Richard Williams point out: “The American regulatory system has no working, systematic process for reviewing regulations for obsolescence or poor performance […] .” [Mercatus Center, May 27]

Maybe the federal government should take a cue from Minnesota and hold an “unsession”:

It’s no longer a crime in Minnesota to carry fruit in an illegally sized container. The state’s telegraph regulations are gone. And it’s now legal to drive a car in neutral – if you can figure out how to do it.

Those were among the 1,175 obsolete, unnecessary and incomprehensible laws that Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature repealed this year as part of the governor’s “unsession” initiative. His goal was to make state government work better, faster and smarter.

“I think we’re off to a very good start,” Dayton said Tuesday at a Capitol news conference.

In addition to getting rid of outdated laws, the project made taxes simpler, cut bureaucratic red tape, speeded up business permits and required state agencies to communicate in plain language. [St. Paul Pioneer-Press, May 27]

As the governor said: A very good start.

 

 

The dose of Rachel Carson makes the poison. May 27 was the 107th birthday of Rachel Carson, and Google decided to devote a doodle to celebrating the environmentalist on its homepage. Carson is most famous for her 1962 book Silent Spring, which warned of the detrimental effects of pesticides on the environment. Carson’s warnings were particularly influential in curbing the use of DDT, an insecticide that had been widely used in agriculture and to control mosquito-spread malaria and typhus. The book is not without its critics, including Henry I. Miller of the Hoover Institute. In 2012, on the 50th anniversary of the publication of Silent Spring, Miller wrote that the book was “an emotionally charged but deeply flawed denunciation of the widespread spraying of chemical pesticides for the control of insects.” Miller continued:

In the words of Professor Robert H. White-Stevens, an agriculturist and biology professor at Rutgers University, “If man were to follow the teachings of Miss Carson, we would return to the Dark Ages, and the insects and diseases and vermin would once again inherit the earth.”

In 1992, San Jose State University entomologist J. Gordon Edwards, a long-time member of the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society and a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, offered a persuasive and comprehensive rebuttal of “Silent Spring.” As he explained in “The Lies of Rachel Carson,” a stunning, point by point refutation, “it simply dawned on me that that Rachel Carson was not interested in the truth about [pesticides] and that I was being duped along with millions of other Americans.” He demolished Carson’s arguments and assertions, calling attention to critical omissions, faulty assumptions, and outright fabrications.

Consider, for example, this passage from Edwards’ article: “This implication that DDT is horribly deadly is completely false. Human volunteers have ingested as much as 35 milligrams of it a day for nearly two years and suffered no adverse effects. Millions of people have lived with DDT intimately during the mosquito spray programs and nobody even got sick as a result. The National Academy of Sciences concluded in 1965 that ‘in a little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million [human] deaths that would otherwise have been inevitable.’ The World Health Organization stated that DDT had ‘killed more insects and saved more people than any other substance.’”

In addition, DDT was used with dramatic effect to shorten and prevent typhus epidemics during and after WWII when people were dusted with large amounts of it but suffered no ill effects, which is perhaps the most persuasive evidence that the chemical is harmless to humans. The product was such a boon to public health that in 1948 the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Dr. Paul Müller for his discovery of the “contact insecticidal action” of DDT. [Forbes, September 5, 2012]

Also in 2012, Roger Meiners and Andrew Morris examined the book in some detail, highlighting the book’s impact on the mindset of the environmental movement. They noted that Carson was inconsistent in claiming on the one hand that she was against only the overzealous application of pesticides while also suggesting that policy should strive to reduce chemical residues to zero. Meiners and Morris:

The problem is that a “no-residue” policy is tantamount to a no-use policy. As Larry Katzenstein explains‚ Carson’s rhetorical question is an articulation of the present-day environmentalists’ version of the precautionary principle. Carson’s view that policy regarding synthetic chemicals should be “no risk” was not uncommon in her time‚ as exemplified in the Delaney Amendment. The policy is not only unrealistic but poses significant harm […] .

The contradiction could be reconciled by striving to balance the risks and benefits of not using pesticides against those of using them. Many of Carson’s disciples‚ however‚ do not favor such balancing of the risks of using DDT versus the risk of abandoning its use. This is evident from their support of a global ban on all DDT uses prior to the signing of the Stockholm Convention’s ban on persistent organic pesticides and the continuing efforts to phase out DDT despite its public health benefits. [“Silent Spring at 50: Reflections on an Environmental Classic,” by Roger Meiners and Andrew Morris, Property and Environment Research Center, April 2012]

See also: “Rachel Was Wrong: Agrochemicals’ Benefit to Human Health and the Environment,” by Angela Logomasini, Competitive Enterprise Institute, November 2012.

 

 

The Insider: Why the Obama foreign policy has been a disaster: Making the world safe for classical liberal values like individual liberty, free trade, and constitutionally constrained government requires a foreign policy that does more than just not start wars. Our cover story for the Spring 2014 issue takes up that theme. The editor’s note:

If you follow the news, you probably know that a Select Committee of the House of Representatives is investigating whether the Obama administration has been sufficiently forthcoming about the security situation in Benghazi in the fall of 2012 and about how it responded to terrorist attacks on U.S. government facilities there on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. In particular, investigators are trying to determine why the administration downplayed terrorism and insisted that the attack had been merely a spontaneous protest against an Internet video that got out of hand.

Indeed, there are unanswered questions about Benghazi, but one thing we do know is that Islamist terrorism has not gone away. That was clear enough when we learned that the supposed spontaneous demonstration in Benghazi consisted entirely of men bearing rocket launchers driving trucks displaying Ansar al-Sharia logos. Two years later, foreign policy failures abound. Russia is in the Crimea, democratic reformers have been marginalized in the Middle East, and nobody takes our “red lines” seriously, to name just a few.

The problem, as Mackubin Thomas Owens explains, is that the Obama administration thinks peace and order are the natural conditions of world affairs, and that military force is only an alternative to diplomacy not an integral part of an overall diplomatic strategy. These confusions leave the administration unable to meet the challenges of maintaining a world order based on liberal democracy and open trade. And that is a tragedy for the whole world, not merely the United States.

Also in this issue, we have Bob Moffit and Nina Owcharenko reminding us that fixing health care doesn’t mean just repealing ObamaCare; it means implementing the consumer-oriented reforms that conservatives have been championing for decades. Nathaniel Ward and Tim McGovern show how a culture of testing can help you improve your marketing. Mike Gonzalez reveals the Left’s complaints about partisan commentary to be rather, well, partisan. And finally, if you’ve ever wondered what studies actually show about which policies lead to economic growth, then you should read John Hood’s summary of the literature.

 

 

There’s no theory in that theory. There’s something missing from Thomas Piketty’s argument (contained in his bestseller Capital in the Twenty-First Century) that year-in and year-out the returns to capital exceed the growth rate of the economy as a whole. As Don Boudreaux points out, Piketty offers no explanation for why that must be so:

The entire tenor of Piketty’s volume suggests that he thinks capital reproduces itself, both from the perspective of its individual owners and from the perspective of society at large.

The creativity and fortitude of entrepreneurs, the skillful risk-taking by investors and the insight and effort of managers are all strangely absent throughout Piketty’s performance. These very fonts of modern prosperity are at best assumed to play uninterestingly routine and unseen roles backstage. Onstage, capital—the stuff that is in fact created and skillfully steered by flesh-and-blood entrepreneurs, investors and managers—appears to grow spontaneously, without human involvement. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 27]

Of course, when you attempt to explain economic conditions—like inequality—you run the risk of discovering that capitalism might not be the problem. For example, here is this point from Robert Murphy:

[…] Mother Jones loved this chart showing income inequality soaring in the late 1920s and in the mid-2000s: Look everyone, if we let the 1% earn too much, it sets the world up for a giant financial crash! But actually what happened is that loose monetary policy drove down interest rates, thereby fueling asset price booms, which showed up as huge income (in the form of capital gains) accruing disproportionately in the hands of the wealthy. It’s not surprising that these Fed-fueled asset bubbles eventually collapsed, leading to the Great Depression and Great Recession. To prevent a repeat, the government doesn’t need to confiscate property from the super-rich; instead the Fed needs to stop inflating asset bubbles. [Rare, May 29]

 

 

Beth March, scarlet fever, and Thomas Piketty: One secret to Thomas Piketty’s success in selling Americans his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century is his embrace of great literature. Piketty retells key moments in Honore de Balzac’s Pere Goriot to illustrate the importance of inheritance in the 19th century and draws on Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park when he discusses the value and the vexation of overseas investments. Piketty’s insight is that books capture the sense and flavor of their era—and occasionally report typical prices and incomes.

The writers of the past are equally valuable for illuminating the astounding progress of economic growth in the past two hundred years, a fact Piketty acknowledges but to which he devotes little ink. Reading Capital, one comes away with the impression that the distribution of wealth and income is the central fact of each era: He reports most statistics as percentages of national income. But when per-person national income was doubling every generation, it was surely a more noticeable phenomenon than a few percentage points of national wealth more or less in the portfolios of the top centile.

Long-term comparisons of income levels are tricky: How many buggy whips is an iPhone worth? Stories of human life under different conditions can help us appreciate the immensity of growth.

In One Thousand and One Nights, hilarity ensues when characters meet in the dark and fail to recognize one another. Artificial light was expensive. Roger Fouquet and Peter J. G. Pearson estimate that a dollar’s worth of lighting in the year 2000 would have cost $3,000 two centuries before. Like all long-term economic growth, the cheapness of modern light comes from applying free enterprise to technological innovation. At times, the British government stood athwart history, taxing windows and Dutch whale oil. [“Seven Centuries of Energy Services: The Price and Use of Light in the United Kingdom (1300-2000)“ by Roger Fouquet and Peter J.G. Pearson, The Energy Journal, Vol. 27, No. 1 (2006)]

In Little Women, Beth March dies of strep throat (scarlet fever) despite being an affluent New Englander. Today, an antibiotic would have cured her quickly, and the entire episode might warrant a few Facebook status updates. Oliver Twist is thrown into a life of poverty and loneliness by the death of his mother in childbirth, a common occurrence in 19th-century London. The advances in medicine alone make the era of enterprise and innovation a success.

Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days celebrates the breakneck speed of an era of dynamic growth and technological progress. Steam, rail, and telegraphy remade the world in a generation.

Although Piketty has introduced some new data on the distribution of income and wealth in different eras, we should not lose sight of the great progress that has lifted all standards of living since the times of Charles Dickens and Jules Verne. —Salim Furth

 

 

A note from Martin Feldstein: A couple of weeks ago, we pointed to some analysis by Martin Feldstein on the inequality argument put forth by Thomas Piketty in his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Feldstein had pointed out that Piketty was looking at U.S. income tax return data, which is misleading because the tax reforms of 1986 encouraged high earners to increase the amount of income reported on individual income tax returns. The income didn’t change so much as how it was counted on tax forms.

Dr. Feldstein has let us know that his article, originally published behind a paywall at Wall Street Journal, is now available ungated at www.nber.org/feldstein/wsj05152014.pdf.

Piketty’s book, we see, is still in the news—perhaps more so this week than in previous weeks—because of some questions about his data. Those who are following the argument should be sure to read Dr. Feldstein’s contribution.

 

 

The contradictions of European union: A report on Greece, from Alexander Skouras:

Golden Dawn’s rise from a tiny group of radical Hitler-sympathizers to the third largest party in Greece occurred when the Greek economy was collapsing. The origins of this crisis are well-known and well-documented: excessive borrowing, low productivity, corruption, and a profligate welfare state. At the height of the crisis the entire nation was angry; the people felt betrayed by their political elites. The Nazi party arose from the need to blame outsiders and to feel special. […]

In this political climate Golden Dawn rose from 0.3 percent of the vote in 2009 to approximately 7 percent in the 2012 national elections. For the last year many analysts thought that the prosecution of Golden Dawn members on charges of organized crime and the imprisonment of many of its elected leaders, including General Secretary Nikos Michaloliakos, would keep the party from further electoral success. But the May 18 municipal and gubernatorial elections and the May 25 European ones told a different story. Golden Dawn received 9.4 percent of the European parliamentary vote, enough to elect three members. Among them there are two former high-ranking army officers. The week before that, in Athens, the country’s capital and largest city, Golden Dawn’s municipal candidate and MP, Ilias Kassidiaris, who made global headlines when he slapped a female communist MP on live television, gathered 16 percent of the vote, securing him fourth place in a close election. Ilias Panagiotaros, Golden Dawn’s gubernatorial candidate in Attica, the region that includes Athens and its suburbs, won 11 percent and also finished fourth.

From these results it is safe to assume that Golden Dawn is no longer merely the beneficiary of a protest vote. The Greek electorate has been fully informed of the party’s Nazi affiliation, Holocaust denial, anti-immigrant slurs, and raw violence in the streets of Athens. We can now safely conclude that Greece has a viable, robust, and dangerous national socialist political force. [AtlasOne, May 28]

Wasn’t preventing a rebirth of nationalist parties the point of a united Europe?

 

 

Video of the week: Reasons an Article V convention would not give conservatives what they want: The main problem with the country’s constitutional set-up, says Trent England, is not the words of the Constitution but a lack of fidelity to what those words mean. Amending the Constitution will just give liberals different words to ignore. England is the Executive Vice President of the Freedom Foundation, Washington State’s free-market think tank. Talking with the Daily Caller’s Ginny Thomas, England outlines some other reasons conservatives should be wary of an Article V constitutional convention.

For one thing, says England, the convention would not necessarily work the way conservatives imagine it would work. Convention delegates would have their own constitutional standing, and their work could not simply be constrained by an act of Congress. Furthermore, says England, sitting federal judges—most of whom are not conservatives—would likely play a bigger role than Congress in shaping any convention.

Also, it’s not easy to amend the Constitution and conservatives might be wiser to invest their resources pushing other levers of change (e.g., the Senate). And England notes that it’s probably a good thing that the Constitution is hard to amend because the Left has bigger dreams of changing the Constitution that conservatives do; there’s a lot of freedom that could be lost at an Article V convention, too.

 

 

The point of federalism is to protect the rights of the people, not the rights of states. Noting the rash of stories about new federal requirements for school lunches, David Corbin and Matt Parks point out how inadequate is the Republican waiver-based defense of federalism, which they say “simply shovels a little less dirt on [federalism’s] grave”:

Approximately one out of every fourteen Americans is a government employee today, compared to one in twenty-two Americans in 1955. The greatest part of the total increase of government employees amounts to the enlargement of state and local government employment. It matters little if the lunch lady pouring chocolate milk down the sink and serving fruits and vegetables is a local government employee if her job ultimately depends on monies slopped out by federal bureaucrats wielding carrot sticks.

Which brings us to the third part of Madison’s argument as to why the proposed federal republic was a great improvement over the earlier confederation; namely, its powers would be “few,” “defined,” and “exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce.” Madison likely never could have imagined the Federal government adding management of sodium intake to this list as the American people sat listless on the political sidelines.

As troubling as the death of federalism is, we need more fundamental reform, as the Republican response to the school lunch mandates makes clear. There is, after all, an even more important third leg to the governing stool, implicit in Madison’s argument, but made explicit in the 10th Amendment: the people. Often conservatives read that Amendment as if it is meant to protect the rights of the states. But it is much better understood, both textually and historically, as an attempt to protect the people’s distribution of powers among themselves, the states and the national government. If we really want to restore 10th Amendment government, we’ll need to work much harder at removing power from both state and federal hands than at replacing the divine right of the Washington King with the divine right of state Barons. [The Federalist, May 26]

Michael Greve made a similar argument in a recent issue of The Insider:

The balance question isn’t just beside the point; it is an assault on the foundations of the republic. To quote Madison’s impassioned language in Federalist 45:

Was … the American revolution effected, was the American Confederacy formed, was the precious blood of thousands spilt, and the hard-earned substance of millions lavished, not that the people of America should enjoy peace, liberty, and safety, but that the government of the individual states, that particular municipal establishments, might enjoy a certain extent of power, and be arrayed with certain dignities and attributes of sovereignty?

The answer he is trying to evoke is: Hell, no. […]

States are Purely Instrumental. If they can advance the “real welfare of the great body of the people,” good for them. If they stand as a hindrance, ignore them or get rid of them. That is the fundamental calculus and the irreducible premise of the United States Constitution. The cartel federalism we have is profoundly state-friendly: It serves the interests of the political class. The constitutional, competitive federalism we need is citizen-friendly: It would discipline government, not help it grow. [“But What Kind of Federalism?“ by Michael S. Greve, The Insider, Winter 2013.]

 

 

And speaking of states doing the wrong things … Low-income people in Arkansas used to be able to get their teeth cleaned cheaply, thanks to Dr. Ben Burris. Now, instead of paying $99 (or $69 for children), they have to pay hundreds of dollars for a cleaning. Burris, who is a dentist, had to stop offering the cleanings because the state board of dental examiners told him that he couldn’t offer basic dental services.

According to the board, Arkansas law says dentists can’t offer dental services if they are also licensed as a specialist. Burris is a licensed orthodontist. Orthodontists, by the way, normally employ dental hygienists who clean teeth, and that’s all perfectly legal as long as the teeth getting cleaned also get fitted for braces later.

Of course, the restriction on specialists offering services outside their specialty has nothing to do with protecting consumers and everything to do with limiting competition in basic dental services—so that dentists can charge more. No patients had complained about Burris’s service. At a hearing of the dental board, notes the Institute for Justice, “Board members and general dentists condemned Ben for offering the cleanings. There was no allegation that Ben had endangered, much less harmed, anyone.”

On behalf of Burris and his colleague Elizabeth Grohl, IJ filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the board of dental examiners. The lawsuit contends that the restriction against specialists offering basic dental services serves no purpose except to protect general dentists from competition, and that the restriction thus violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection, Due Process and Privileges or Immunities Clauses.

 

 

To Do: Remember the Victims of Tiananmen Square, Examine China’s Human Rights Practices

Learn about the human rights situation in China on the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng will talk with American Enterprise Institute president Arthur C. Brooks. The conversation will begin at 1:45 p.m. at the American Enterprise Institute on June 3.

Examine the connection between liberty and character. The Beacon Center of Tennessee will host a talk by Lawrence Reed, President of the Foundation for Economic Education. Reed will speak at the Nashville City Club on June 3 at 6 p.m.

Show what a great communicator for liberty you are by entering Think Freely’s Great Communicators Tournament. All you have to do is make a one- to three-minute video in which you take the moral high ground while making an argument for liberty. Submissions are due by July 15. Twelve finalists will be selected to compete in the Great Communicators Tournament at the State Policy Network’s Annual Meeting in Denver in September.

Discover whether administrative law is even lawful. Philip Hamburger, Professor of Law at Columbia University, thinks it is not, and he’ll explain why at the Cato Institute at noon on June 5.

Find out how sex education courses have become caught in the crosshairs of the “war on women” debate. Valerie Huber, President of the National Abstinence Education Association, will speak at the Family Research Council at noon on June 4.

Learn how the Left want to amend the First Amendment so they can stifle criticism of elected officials. The Heritage Foundation will host a panel discussion featuring Bobby Burchfield, who argued the recent and important McCutcheon case before the Supreme Court; Don McGahn, former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission; and Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. The discussion will begin at 2 p.m. on June 2.

Cartoonists, get your submissions in for the Center for International Private Enterprise’s 2014 Global Editorial Cartoon Competition. Hurry—the submission deadline is June 2.

• Check out The Daily Signal, The Heritage Foundation’s new media platform, launching June 3.

(Want more stuff to do? Check out InsiderOnline’s Conservative Calendar.)

Have a tip for InsiderOnline? Send us an e-mail at insider@heritage.org with “For Insider” in the subject line.

Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/InsiderOnline.

Looking for an expert? Visit PolicyExperts.org.

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The best that can be said for the  budget deal Congress is now considering is that it appears to be a bit of cooperation between the Republicans and the Democrats, the House and the Senate for the first time in years.   Other than that it is no “deal” for the American people.   Read the following report from Heritage and decide for yourself.   For myself I don’t like it but rather have this than nothing at all because nothing at all but “continuing resolution” puts Obama in charge of spending what he wants with no input or control  from the Congress or the people.  BB

The Budget Deal’s Sneaky Tax Increases

The Heritage Foundation

The Budget Deal’s Sneaky Tax Increases

12/13/2013

The congressional budget deal includes some “user fees.”

For the Washington establishment, that’s apparently the politically correct way of telling Americans they’ll be paying more to the federal government. For the rest of us, it’s a tax increase.

The Ryan-Murray budget deal, which passed the House on a 332-94 vote, includes a number of “fee” increases. One would make flying more expensive. Travelers are currently charged $2.50 per flight under the Transportation Security Administration’s airline security “fee.” Under the budget deal, that would increase to $5.60 per flight or $11.20 for a round-trip ticket.

Supporters of the deal are claiming this isn’t a tax increase—but take a look at your airline receipt. The airline security charge is just one of the taxes you’ll see. According to Delta Airlines, there’s also the Domestic Transportation Tax (7.5 percent), Travel Facilities Tax ($8.40), and U.S. International Transportation Tax ($17.20). These are all considered taxes.

When asked if the “user fees” were a code name for a tax increase, Representative Tom McClintock (R-CA) http://links.heritage.org/ct/16404994:18066827961:m:1:348519099:779EB473BBAB19B343CA8EC17FE7C637:r” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>explained it this way: “I happen to believe once government spends a dollar they have decided to tax that dollar. The only question is when and by what means.”

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And in the case of this airline security fee increase, the money isn’t even going back to the TSA to fund or improve security. Instead, as Heritage’s Cassandra Lucaccioni explained, “it will be deposited annually into a general fund of the Treasury.”

Not all government user fees are problematic. If they’re used to provide services to distinct groups of individuals or specific businesses or industries, they might make sense. That’s not what’s happening here.

“If a higher fee does not directly cover the cost of a government service and instead goes to pay for more spending, then it is akin to a tax increase,” said Curtis Dubay, Heritage’s senior tax policy analyst. “The budget deal uses the higher fees to cover the cost of more spending; hence it is essentially a tax hike.”

Taxpayers are tired of Washington’s gimmicks and games—and conservatives on Capitol Hill shouldn’t fall for this sneaky wordplay. The $63 billion spending hike in the Ryan-Murray budget has to come from somewhere.

Only in Washington could something like this fly. The American people shouldn’t buy it—or, in this case, pay for it.

Read the Morning Bell and more en español every day at Heritage Libertad.

Quick Hits:

 

I am a fan of Daniel Hannan and can’t wait to read his new book.  Thought you might like to learn a bit about him too so passing this newsletter from Heritage on to my readers.  BB

VIDEO: Daniel Hannan Explains Why the English-Speaking World Is the Most Committed to Individual Liberty

In his new book, Inventing Freedom, Daniel Hannan explains how liberty originated from the Anglosphere and why the English-speaking people of the world have created and fostered liberty throughout the world.

Speaking at a recent Heritage event, Hannan, member of the European Parliament representing South East England, said he believes the Anglosphere is, in fact, liberty’s strongest friend.

In 1968, Hannan and almost all of the Anglo-Peruvian community—amid mob attacks, seizures, and confiscations—fled the grasp of the leftist regime of Peruvian General Juan Velasco Alvarado.

“I am someone who has moved from the Hispanosphere to the Anglosphere,” Hannan said. “I can’t help noticing that the movement has been overwhelmingly one-way. It’s worth standing back and asking why that is.”

Hannan asked, “What made the Anglosphere miracle possible? That’s the question that I set out to answer in Inventing Freedom.”

Perhaps the most striking characteristic Hannan noted was “the miracle of common law.”

“The law came up from the people, not down from the regime,” he said. “It was an ally of freedom, not an instrument of state control. … That beautiful, anomalous system that John Adams recognized as the foundation of all Anglosphere freedoms [is] almost without precedent in the world.”

Hannan noted that visitors to North America and Great Britain found these countries to be remarkable. Voltaire, Montesquieu, Tocqueville, and others observed the emphasis on individual freedom, religious freedom, the plurality of religions, and free-market enterprise.

Heritage hosted Hannan on November 22. His discussion and the question-and-answer session run about 55 minutes.

The post VIDEO: Daniel Hannan Explains Why the English-Speaking World Is the Most Committed to Individual Liberty appeared first on The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation.

I imagine my Readers have been watching the circus going on in Washington as Obamacare does its predicted  nose dive  dropping  the  nasty  little factoids as it goes.   Everyday wqe learn another way this law will hurt Americans.  Here is just a couple more for you all to consider.

You may also want to check out some of the “Quick Hits” at the bottom of the page.  Like who is paying for all those “Obamaphones” being passed out all over the country?  How good is that CANADIAN company whom our government paid to build the Obamacare website and are paying to fix it now? BB

From Heritage:

How Obamacare Discourages Work and Marriage

While President Obama and his fellow liberals may have held the best of intentions while ramming Obamacare through Congress, the law’s policies are far from compassionate toward the uninsured and Americans with low and modest incomes.

In fact, the law perpetuates some of the country’s worst trends that trap people in poverty. It includes disincentives for individuals to marry and for Americans of low and modest incomes to work. Discouraging work and marriage will only perpetuate poverty and income inequality, not alleviate them.

Discouraging Work

The way Obamacare calculates federal premium subsidies and cost-sharing subsidies includes several “cliffs.” A person might qualify for a hefty subsidy at his current income, but if he gets a raise and makes a little more, that Obamacare subsidy disappears.

At these cliffs, individuals and families will actually benefit more by working less because additional earnings could cause them to lose thousands of dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies.

Families facing these kinds of poverty traps may ask the obvious question: If I will lose so much in government benefits by earning additional income, why work?

Rather than encouraging hard work, initiative, and entrepreneurship, Obamacare instead undermines these essential American values.

Discouraging Marriage

Obamacare contains not one, but two penalties on marriage—one for families with low and moderate incomes and another for families with higher incomes. By continuing failed policies that undermine the institution of marriage, Obamacare will accelerate a root cause of income inequality in the United States.

Here’s an example. A 50-year-old non-smoker making $35,000 per year would qualify for a sizable insurance subsidy, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s insurance subsidy calculator. The individual’s premium would be capped at 9.5 percent of income, resulting in an insurance subsidy of $2,065 paid by the federal government.

However, if this 50-year-old is married to another 50-year-old who also makes $35,000 per year, the couple would receive no insurance subsidy at all. This couple would incur a marriage penalty of $4,130 in one year—equal to the $2,065 that each individual could have received if they were not married.

As Urban Institute fellow Gene Steuerle has said: “Our tax and welfare system thus favors those who consider marriage an option—to be avoided when there are penalties and engaged when there are bonuses. The losers tend to be those who consider marriage to be sacred.”

Obamacare sends a clear message that reliance on government is preferable to these traditional American values—work and marriage.

Our health care policy should not be undermining these foundations of society. For a more commonsense approach to health care reform, check this out.

obamacare-alternative

Read the Morning Bell and more en español every day at Heritage Libertad.

Quick Hits:

Congress still at their games with the American people.  I am a conservative with no apologies and have voted Republican most of my life altho I vote for the person and NOT the party so I put a pox on both their houses.  Republicans and Democrats alike are responsible for taking care of their own bums before they give a thought to the people who elected them.  Now that Obamacare seems to be blowing up in their faces the Congress is still taking care of their personal business first.

As for the farce now playing out with Obamacare all I can say is:  there is a God!  because apparently no one else can control this President.  BB

The following article from Heritage is interesting.:

Congress and Obamacare: A Big Double Standard

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) (KEVIN DIETSCH/UPI/Newscom)

Are lawmakers and  their personal staffs “exempt” from Obamacare, as some conservative critics are saying?

Well, not exactly. Members of Congress and their staffs  must be enrolled in the Obamacare exchange plans effective January 1, 2014.   Under Section 1312 (D) of the Affordable Care Act,   they can no longer get their health coverage  through the  Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), the largest group health insurance program in the world. Because they lost their FEHBP coverage, they also lost their generous FEHBP subsidy,   amounting to roughly $5,000 for individual coverage, and more than $10,000 for family coverage. Just like ordinary Americans who lose their employer–based health insurance, Congress and staff  would only be eligible for the exchanges’ income –related subsidies.

How did this happen? During the 2010 debate on the Senate version of Obamacare,  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid inserted language  that Congress and staff would henceforth have to get their insurance in the Obamacare exchanges and would thus be ineligible to purchase coverage through the FEHBP.  The language was  an early committee amendment  authored by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who argued that Congress should not treat itself differently from other Americans.

After passing Obamacare, Congressmen soon realized  they all faced higher premiums and out-of- pocket costs, just like millions of their fellow citizens.  While a lower-paid staffer who makes less than $46,000 annually would qualify for the new exchange subsidies, senior staff and Members of Congress (who make $174,000 annually) would not. Just like many private-sector employers, Congressmen also worried about Obamacare’s impact on attracting and retaining  employees.

Anxious about  the consequences of Obamacare for themselves, Congressional leaders  were nonetheless afraid to go to the House or Senate floor and vote themselves the equivalent of their previous employer-based insurance subsidy.

So, in August 2013, President Obama came to their rescue. The White House pressured the U.S Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the agency that runs the FEHBP, to give Congressmen and their staffers the same employer’s subsidy in the exchanges for next year that they would otherwise get if they had remained in the FEHBP in 2014.

This is curious. Politico reported, on  Oct. 1, 2013, that OPM had concluded – before the White House intervention- that Congress could not get FEHBP subsidies for  coverage in the  Obamacare exchange..

In an August. 2, 2013 paper for The Heritage Foundation (Backgrounder 2831), my colleagues, including former OPM General Counsel Joseph A. Morris, published the same conclusion. The statute did not even mention OPM or grant OPM regulatory authority to implement it; nor did it provide for any additional subsidy for members of Congress and staff enrolled in the exchanges. Under the FEHBP, law, Heritage argued, OPM simply has no authority to transfer funds outside of the FEHBP program, or to make government payments to any plan other than a participating FEHBP plan.

Heritage also anticipated – correctly — that OPM might try to pull a fast one, and offer Congress administrative relief. This would spare House and Senate members a politically embarrassing floor vote to get special treatment for themselves. But OPM could only do so, Heritage warned,  by ignoring the plain language of the statute.

That’s exactly what happened. Under pressure from the White House, on Aug. 7, 2013, OPM gave Congress and staffers the special taxpayer subsidies anyway. They are, in fact, “special”- since there is no Congressional authorization for the Obama Administration to provide them.

In response, Sen. David Vitter (R- LA.) is proposing  an amendment that would require the president, cabinet officials and all administration political appointees,  as well as Congress and  staff, to enroll in the Obamacare exchanges on the same terms and conditions as millions of other Americans.

In other words, Washington’s ruling class would not get any special taxpayer subsidies. President Obama has indicated that he will veto the Vitter amendment if it gets to his desk.

Sen. Vitter’s amendment simply requires those who make and enforce the laws to live under the same rules that they impose on other Americans. President Obama, the Democratic congressional leadership and many staffers, regardless of party affiliation, and their many allies in academia and the media, strongly disagree. They think the  OPM process is legal and legitimate.

That’s perfectly fine. They can argue that case in the court of public opinion. And maybe the federal courts, too.

Originally appeared in Human Events

The post Congress and Obamacare: A Big Double Standard appeared first on The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation.

A Conservative solution to our health care problems is what is needed now I have heard people say.  Well there has been this Conservative solution since before Obamacare was forced thru the Congress by the Democrats who were in control of both houses and the Presidency.  These same Democrats who refused to allow any  Republican input at all during the drafting of this bill.  the same Democrats who refused to be bothered reading the 2000+ page bill that they passed without one Republican vote for it. If you check back on this blog site you will see the Republican plans and proposals that were submitted in both the House and the Senate that were never allowed by the Democrat leaders to see the light of day.  They were trash canned.  What we got stuck with is a so-called  Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare) that we are now finding out is not at all affordable  for  the few people who have been able to get a look  at  the available plans on a web site set up to show these plans to people and allow them to enroll in and purchase insurance.   There  were,  we are now being told,  all of 6 people in the entire country who managed to enroll in Obamacare and purchase an insurance policy the first day before the site crashed and burned.  The same web site that cost $6 billion  and three years to get up and running but isn’t running at all.  The web site that was built by a Canadian company  but is now being fixed by what the President assures us are experts, or this same Canadian company.  Funny I thought the “experts” on the Internet and building programs for the Internet would be the very Americans who built the Internet in the first place.  Guess none of these people had a friend in the White House.  Or maybe they were willing to take less time and cost less money to build a web site that  probably would have worked almost as well as the Internet they built in the first place.  Ya think??  But no “friend” in the WH gets no contract.

The following letter is from Jim DeMint who outlines the Republicans and Conservatives Healthcare Plan that is affordable and available and more important, Constitutional.  Please check it out.  BB

The Conservative Alternative to Obamacare11/01/13Dear friends,We’ve been very critical of Obamacare because it’s hurting Americans. But that has caused some to ask, “What’s your alternative?”

The truth is, we’ve always had alternatives, but our critics weren’t ready to listen. Now, the disastrous rollout of Obamacare has a lot of people asking for alternatives to government-run health care. And conservatives are ready.

demintmbthumb

With each passing day, it becomes clearer that Obamacare will not reduce premiums for average American families, bring down health care spending, or truly improve health care in this country. Instead, people are receiving notices from their insurance companies that their policies are being canceled or their premiums are skyrocketing.

At The Heritage Foundation, we are envisioning a health care system where you and your family come first.

What if you could choose and control your own health insurance? What if you could buy the insurance and health care services you want and need? What if your health insurance didn’t go away when you changed jobs?

The good news is, all of these things are possible. There can be life after Obamacare—and it doesn’t mean going back to the status quo that we had before. We can move ahead, taking the best health care system in the world and making it even better.

Our experts in the Center for Health Policy Studies have put together a new paper that explains how these conservative ideas work. It includes:

  • How we will help people with pre-existing conditions
  • How we will help you keep your health insurance when you change jobs
  • How we can lower costs and improve health care quality—no matter what your income is
  • How we can honor people’s faith and protect the right of conscience in health care

We are excited to share this set of commonsense solutions with you—not just because they are good public policy solutions, but because they bring hope. We have hope for life after Obamacare, and these policies would give you back control over your own health care.

Now that’s worth working toward. I hope you’ll join us.

demint_signature

Jim DeMint

I and others have been trying to get the word out to people since the monster was passed by the Democrats that Obamacare will cost much more than the current cost of healthcare insurance but 51% of the voters didn’t listen.  Now the word is finally out and Heritage got the answers for us.  check out what you will pay for health care insurance by checking out the state you live in.  BB

The Heritage Foundation

Issue Brief on Health Care

Issue Brief #4068 | October 16, 2013

How Will You Fare in the Obamacare Exchanges?

By Drew Gonshorowski

 

There are literally no comparisons to current rates. That is, [the Department of Health and Human Services] has chosen to dodge the question of whose rates are going up, and how much. Instead they try to distract with a comparison to a hypothetical number that has nothing to do with the actual experience of real people.

—Douglas Holtz-Eakin
President, American Action Forum[1]

Enrollment in Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges has proven to be a somewhat difficult process amidst technical glitches and delays. Aside from the issues associated with actually purchasing health care, once an individual gets a quote for health insurance on an exchange, is the premium higher or lower than before?

Our research finds that for many states, the insurance on health exchanges will cost more than existing insurance. This study illustrates that the general experience for individuals shopping on the exchange is that of increasing premiums from what was available to them prior to implementation of the exchanges. Many families and individuals will face this reality as they apply for coverage, and the implications of experiencing sticker shock are important to consider if enough people choose not to sign up for coverage for various reasons.

Methodology

The Heritage Health Insurance Microsimulation Model (HHIMM), in concordance with insurer data compiled by Mark Farrah and Associates, is used to create a snapshot of what it looks like to shop for insurance prior to exchange implementation. This data is used to build weighted average premiums within the rating areas, similar to the process described in the most recent release from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).[2]

First, we use expected age distribution in the individual market from the HHIMM. Next, we use census data for the county populations in order to scale up to the state level, creating something that is roughly comparable to the weighted averages presented by HHS.[3] This comparison is different from others in that, rather than comparing specific plans, it is designed to capture the difference in premium levels between the exchange and what could be acquired in the market.

This paper is meant to provide a necessary segue to HHS’s data summary, creating an apples-to-apples comparison of exchange data to what the costs are for individuals. Effectively, we have used the same methods that were employed to provide summary data on the exchange markets to prior insurance data in order to get the closest comparison.

Some state-based exchanges have data releases that are more limited than the 36 federal exchanges. For state exchanges, some premiums must be estimated. As is the case with all studies built to address the changes in exchange premiums, it is important to note that when more data becomes available, results could vary slightly.

This study considers the data as released by HHS. States with little data released are omitted from this study.[4]

Results

Individuals in most states will end up spending more on the exchanges. It is true that in some states, the experience could be the opposite. This is because those states had already over-regulated insurance markets that led to sharply higher premiums through adverse selection, as is the case of New York. Many states, however, double or nearly triple premiums for young adults. Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, and Vermont see some of the largest increases in premiums.[5]

How Will You Fare in the Obamacare Exchanges?

The Obama Administration is desperate for younger people to enroll to prevent an adverse selection death spiral. As pointed out by Sam Cappellanti at the American Action Forum, “The enrollment of these low cost young adults…is essential as they are required to subsidize the costs of insuring the elderly and chronically ill.”[6] However, young adults face a penalty for not enrolling that is projected to be far less than the insurance coverage they could receive.

Our findings confirm that younger populations see larger percentage increases in premiums. A state that exhibits this clearly is Vermont, where the increase for 27-year-olds is 144 percent and the increase for 50-year-olds is still 60 percent, but far less. All states exhibit this relationship.

Many individuals will experience sticker shock when shopping on the exchanges. It is clear that many policies and cross-subsidization within Obamacare will lead to upward shifts in premiums. These policies include the health insurance tax, essential health benefit and actuarial value regulations, less allowed age variability in premiums, community rating, and guaranteed issue.[7] However, real uncertainty, amidst a rocky start, surrounds what enrollment will look like in the exchanges.

Fantasy Savings

Obamacare will leave many people paying more for their health insurance. The healthcare.gov website is learning to crawl, with additional data trickling in. However, based on information already released by HHS, states, and insurance plans, the claims of savings on premiums for the average participant is a fantasy.

—Drew Gonshorowski is a Policy Analyst in the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation.

————————-[1]Quoted in Avik Roy, “Double Down: Obamacare Will Increase Avg Individual Market Insurance Premiums by 99 Percent for Men, 62 Percent for Women,” Forbes, September 25, 2013,http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2013/09/25/double-down-obamacare-will-increase-avg-individual-market-insurance-premiums-by-99-for-men-62-for-women/ (accessed October 11, 2013).

[2]U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Health Insurance Marketplace Premiums for 2014,” September 2013,http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2013/MarketplacePremiums/ib_marketplace_premiums.cfm(accessed October 10, 2013).

[3]HHS’s main exchange dataset can be found here: https://www.healthcare.gov/health-plan-information/ (accessed October 10, 2013).

[4]Massachusetts and Hawaii are omitted. Minnesota, Kentucky, and Maryland have issued small releases.

[5]Virginia’s data likely has data entry errors. Omitting the entries that are likely incorrect suggests that Virginia’s likely premium increases are 115 percent for 27-year-olds, 65 percent for 50-year-olds, and 30 percent for a family of four.

[6]Sam Cappellanti, “Premium Increases for ‘Young Invincibles’ Under the ACA and the Impending Premium Spiral,” American Action Forum, October 2, 2013,http://americanactionforum.org/research/premium-increases-for-young-invincibles-under-the-aca-and-the-impending (accessed October 10, 2013).

 

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