And So I Go: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

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.

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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.

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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).

 

Good newsletter from Heritage on the monsters that Washington can not ignore but are ignoring and the impact is bad for the American people.  Also a good article on Dr. Ben Carson whom I personally like a lot.  BB

Two Things Washington Cannot Ignore10/14/2013Members of Congress are still at an impasse—they cannot agree on the debt limit, spending cuts, Obamacare, or funding the government.

The House has passed a variety of bills that would have reopened portions of the federal government, but the Senate has rejected them all. As they volley proposals back and forth, there are two things they cannot ignore.

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1. Obamacare

Obamacare is not even fully implemented, but it is negatively impacting people today. Just look at these responses we received when we asked readers about their health insurance costs. Premiums are going up—by hundreds of dollars per month for many. (Read here about how to send us your cost increases.)

It’s negatively impacting the practice of medicine. See what neurosurgeon and author Dr. Ben Carson told us about Obamacare getting between doctors and patients.

Conservatives across the country have made their voices heard—Obamacare must be stopped. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) told the activists at the Values Voter Summit on Friday that it is your voices that have helped House Members stand strong against Obamacare. And it’s not time to quit.

2. Spending Cuts

Obamacare creates new entitlement programs—which is the last thing the country needs as the existing entitlement programs are driving our spending and debt crisis. Even in the face of these huge problems, though, many Members of Congress are trying to go back and haggle over the 2.5 percent spending cuts agreed to in the sequestration deal that hails from 2011.

This is not only unproductive; it is absurd.

What Romina Boccia, Heritage’s Grover M. Hermann Fellow, wrote in August remains every bit as true today:

It is irresponsible for lawmakers to spend valuable negotiating time on how they can spend more of taxpayers’ money on discretionary programs when they should be pushing for an agreement to resolve the spending and debt crisis brought about by entitlement programs. Defunding Obamacare should be their first priority. Congress should cut spending and fix the real debt crisis—out-of-control entitlement spending—before or as part of any increase in the debt ceiling.

Obamacare and out-of-control government spending are holding back our economy and keeping people from jobs. These are two monsters Congress and the President cannot wish away.

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

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