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[Markets] Medical Debt Is Crushing Many Americans. Is The Health Care System On The Verge Of Collapse? Medical Debt Is Crushing Many Americans. Is The Health Care System On The Verge Of Collapse?

Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

Health care expenses are a massive burden for many Americans, and for some, they can be financially devastating.

A new report from Kaiser Health News revealed some shocking examples of just how bad things can get for some people.

‘UVA Has Ruined Us’: Health System Sues Thousands Of Patients, Seizing Paychecks And Claiming Homes covers the cases of individuals who are dealing with serious financial hardship due to the University of Virginia Health System’s aggressive collection practices.

The article begins with the story of Heather Waldron, who required emergency surgery in 2017. She believed she had insurance at the time – it wasn’t until after her hospitalization that she learned a computer error involving the HealthCare.gov website caused a lapse in her coverage.

The UVA health system slapped Waldron with a lawsuit and a lien on her home to recoup the $164,000 in charges, leading to serious financial hardship for her family:

She is now on food stamps and talking to bankruptcy lawyers. A bank began foreclosure proceedings in August on the Blacksburg house she shared with her family. The home will be sold to pay off the mortgage.

She expects UVA to take whatever is left.

The $164,000 billed to Heather Waldron for intestinal surgery was more than twice what a commercial insurer would have paid for her care, according to benefits firm WellRithms, which analyzed bills for Kaiser Health News using cost reports UVA files with the government. Charges on her bill included $2,000 for a $20 feeding tube. (source)

Waldron is not alone. There are many stories similar to hers – and some are much worse.

The UVA Health System aggressively pursued patients for medical bills for years.

The Kaiser Health News (KHN) analysis found that during a six-year period ending in June 2018, “the UVA health system and its doctors filed 36,000 lawsuits against patients seeking a total of more than $106 million, seizing wages and bank accounts, putting liens on property and homes and forcing families into bankruptcy.”

People who have received treatment in the UVA system are facing a particularly formidable opponent. “UVA stands out for the scope of its collection efforts and how persistently it seeks payment, pursuing poor as well as middle-class patients for almost all they’re worth,” the KHN report explains. Court records, documents, and interviews with hospital officials and dozens of patients revealed that UVA has sued people for as much as $1 million and as little as $13.91.

The system has garnished thousands of paychecks, seized $22 million over six years in state tax refunds owed to people with outstanding bills, sued about 100 patients every year who were their own system’s employees, filed thousands of property liens, and hit some patients with legal fees and interest that added up to more than the original bill. UVA has the most restrictive eligibility guidelines for financial assistance of any hospital system in Virginia. “Savings of only $4,000 in a retirement account can disqualify a family from aid, even if its income is barely above the poverty level,” KHN reports.

UVA Health System spokesman Eric Swensen told KHN that UVA gave $322 million in financial assistance and charity care in fiscal 2018. But legal and finance experts said that’s not a reliable estimate:

The $322 million “merely indicates the amount they would have charged arbitrarily” before negotiated insurer discounts, said Ge Bai, an accounting and health policy associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.

The figure is “based on customary reporting standards used by hospitals across the U.S.,” Swensen said.

Insurers would have paid UVA only $88 million for that care, according to an accounting of unpaid bills presented in September 2018 to the UVA Health board. Even that unpaid figure did not come out of UVA’s purse since federal and state governments provided “funding earmarked to cover indigent care” for almost all of it — $83.7 million, according to Bai.

The real, “unfunded” cost of UVA indigent care: $4.3 million, or 1.3% of what it claims, according to the document.

“That’s nothing,” given how much money UVA makes, Bai said. “Nonprofit hospitals advance their charitable mission primarily through providing indigent care.” (source)

Perhaps the most surprising detail about the UVA Health System is that it is not a for-profit system and does not have shareholders making demands. It is funded with taxpayer and state money (also taxpayer money, of course):

Like other nonprofit hospitals, it pays no federal, state or local taxes on the presumption it offers charity care and other community benefits worth at least as much as those breaks. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, a pediatric neurologist, oversees its board.

UVA Medical Center, the flagship of UVA Health System, earned $554 million in profit over the six years ending in June 2018 and holds stocks, bonds and other investments worth $1 billion, according to financial statements. CEO Sutton-Wallace earns a salary of $750,000, with bonus incentives that could push her annual pay close to $1 million, according to a copy of her employment contract, obtained under public information law. (source)

Other hospitals in the US are suing patients too.

Recently, journalists and academics have exposed hospital collections practices in BaltimoreMemphisNew Mexico, North CarolinaNebraska, and Ohio. In 2014, NPR and ProPublica published stories about a hospital in Missouri that sued 6,000 patients over a four-year period.

NPR recently reported on collection practices at Mary Washington, another Virginia hospital. According to their report, Mary Washington sues so many patients that the court reserves a morning every month for its cases.

Since KHN and NPR exposed the collection practices at the two Virginia hospitals, both have stated they are going to change their ways.

“Gov. Ralph Northam and the president of the University of Virginia committed to changing UVA Health System’s collections practices a day after Kaiser Health News detailed its aggressive and widespread pursuit of former patients for unpaid medical bills,” KHN reported.

NPR added an Editor’s note to its June 25 article about Mary Washington that states:

The day after this story published, Mary Washington Healthcare announced it will suspend its practice of suing patients for unpaid bills, stating: “We are committed to a complete re-evaluation of our entire payment process to ensure that all patients know they have access to care.” When asked what they will do about any patient whose wages are currently being garnished, Eric Fletcher, Mary Washington’s senior vice president, said in a statement to NPR: “We are happy to try to work with that patient and the courts and their employer to try to eliminate the garnishment.” (source)

According to a study published in the American Medical Association’s journal, JAMA in June, an estimated 20% of US consumers had medical debt in collections in 2014. Medical debt has been increasing with direct patient billing, rising insurance deductibles, and more out-of-network care being delivered, even at in-network facilities.

For the JAMA study, researchers looked at Virginia court records from 2017 and found that in the state, 36% of hospitals sued patients and garnished their wages in 2017. They identified 20,054 warrant-in-debt lawsuits and 9232 garnishment cases. Garnishments were MORE common in non-profit hospitals (71%).

“If you’re a nonprofit hospital and you have this mission to serve your community, [lawsuits] should really be an absolute last resort,” says Jenifer Bosco, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, told NPR:

Bosco explains that IRS rules require nonprofit hospitals to have financial assistance programs and prohibit them from taking “extraordinary collection actions” on unpaid medical bills without first attempting to determine patients’ eligibility for financial assistance.

Nonprofit hospitals, Bosco says, “have to provide some sort of financial help for lower-income people, but the federal rules don’t say how much help, and they don’t say how poor you have to be to qualify [or] if you have to be insured or uninsured.” (source)

“Hospitals were built — mostly by churches — to be a safe haven for people regardless of one’s race, creed or ability to pay. Hospitals have a nonprofit status — most of them — for a reason. They’re supposed to be community institutions,” Dr. Martin Makary, one of the JAMA study’s authors and a surgeon and researcher at Johns Hopkins Medicine, told NPR.

Unpaid hospital bills are a leading cause of personal debt and bankruptcy in the US.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health earlier this year, 66.5 percent of all bankruptcies in the US are tied to medical issues, either because of high costs for care or time out of work. An estimated 530,000 families turn to bankruptcy each year because of medical issues and bills, the researchers found.

The study, titled Medical Bankruptcy: Still Common Despite the Affordable Care Act, states, “Despite gains in coverage and access to care from the ACA, our findings suggest that it did not change the proportion of bankruptcies with medical causes.”

Prior to the ACA’s implementation in 2014, 65.5 percent of debtors reported medical reasons for filing bankruptcy. After the Act was implemented, 67.5 percent cited medical expenses as their reason. In 2007, an estimated 62.1 percent cited medical bills as contributors to their bankruptcy, and 40.3% cited income loss due to illness.

Other studies have found that at least 25 percent and as many as 50 percent of bankruptcies include significant medical debt, according to a recent report from The Balance.

One study found that the insured were a bit more likely to declare bankruptcy (3 percent) than the uninsured (1 percent), The Balance reports:

Most probably thought their insurance protected them from medical costs. They weren’t prepared to pay for unexpected deductible and coinsurance costs. Almost a third weren’t aware that a particular hospital or service wasn’t part of their plan. One-in-four found that the insurance denied their claims.

How did those with insurance wind up with so many bills? After high deductibles, co-insurance payments, and annual/lifetime limits, the insurance ran out. Other companies denied claims or just canceled the insurance. (source)

According to GoFundMe CEO Rob Solomon, one-third of the donations made through the site help people pay for medical care. Roughly 250,000 campaigns for assistance with medical bills and healthcare costs are set up on the crowdfunding site annually, raising total contributions of $650 million per year.

Millions of Americans are struggling to pay healthcare-related costs.

Even Americans who have insurance coverage are struggling to afford medical bills. As the research shows, health insurance won’t completely protect you. Many people have been bankrupted by high deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. This is why you should try to have at least the amount of your deductible in savings.

Rising healthcare costs have serious implications for many Americans. According to a recent report from The Balance, many people cannot afford groceries, rent, and clothing due to medical costs. Many have burned through their savings, and others have taken on extra work to pay medical bills. Some cut back on or skip prescription medications and follow-up care, and many rack up credit card debt and use loans to pay for healthcare expenses.

Here are some more troubling facts from The Balance report:

In 2015, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that there were 1 million adults who declared medical bankruptcy. That is more than those going bankrupt for unpaid credit card debt or mortgage defaults. A 2013 Nerdwallet study found that almost 30 percent maxed out their credit cards, while 8 percent were forced into bankruptcy because the illness cost them their jobs.

Even more disturbing was that 78 percent of them had health insurance that failed to cover all their bills. Sixty percent were let down by private insurance, not Medicare or Medicaid. Ten million of them will incur medical costs they can’t pay off each year, thanks to high-deductible plans.

How did those with insurance wind up with so many bills? Before the ACA, many were sunk by annual and lifetime limits. Others were stuck when insurance companies denied claims or just canceled the policy once they got sick.

But even after Obamacare, many weren’t prepared for high deductibles and co-insurance payments. In 2017, 31 percent of the insured found it difficult to afford copays. That’s up from 24 percent in 2015, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study. Similarly, 43 percent found deductibles too high, compared to 34 percent in 2015. (source)

What are the causes of rising health care costs?

A recent report from The Balance answered this question. Here are some shocking statistics from that report:

In 2017, U.S. health care costs were $3.5 trillion. That makes health care one of the country’s largest industries. It equals 17.9 percent of gross domestic product. In comparison, health care cost $27.2 billion in 1960, just 5 percent of GDP. That translates to an annual health care cost of $10,739 per person in 2017 versus just $146 per person in 1960. Health care costs have risen faster than the average annual income. (source)

There are two causes of this massive increase – government policy and lifestyle changes, the report goes on to explain:

First, the United States relies on company-sponsored private health insurance. The government created programs like Medicare and Medicaid to help those without insurance. These programs spurred demand for health care services. That gave providers the ability to raise prices. A Princeton University study found that Americans use the same amount of health care as residents of other nations. They just pay more for them. For example, U.S. hospital prices are 60 percent higher than those in Europe. Government efforts to reform health care and cut costs raised them instead.

Second, chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease, have increased. They are responsible for 85 percent of health care costs. Almost half of all Americans have at least one of them. They are expensive and difficult to treat. As a result, the sickest 5 percent of the population consume 50 percent of total health care costs. The healthiest 50 percent only consume 3 percent of the nation’s health care costs. Most of these patients are Medicare patients. The U.S. medical profession does a heroic job of saving lives. But it comes at a cost. Medicare spending for patients in the last year of life is six times greater than the average. Care for these patients costs one-fourth of the Medicare budget. In their last six months of life, these patients go to the doctor’s office 29 times on average. In their last month of life, half go to the emergency room. One-third wind up in the intensive care unit. One fifth undergo surgery. (source)

The best way to avoid medical debt is by taking care of yourself.

Accidents are often not preventable, and neither are some health conditions.

But many of the health issues that lead to massive medical debt are preventable, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

A 2014 study published in The Lancet revealed that

…chronic diseases are the main causes of poor health, disability, and death, and account for most of health-care expenditures. The chronic disease burden in the USA largely results from a short list of risk factors—including tobacco use, poor diet and physical inactivity (both strongly associated with obesity), excessive alcohol consumption, uncontrolled high blood pressure, and hyperlipidaemia—that can be effectively addressed for individuals and populations. (source)

If you’d like to improve your health (and hopefully reduce your risk of accruing medical debt), here are some resources that may help.

45 Ways To Add More Physical Activity to Your Day

Quit Smoking program

Bug Out Boot Camp

99 Healthy No-Cook Meals and Snacks

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/12/2019 - 18:25
Published:9/12/2019 5:38:35 PM
[Health Care] Obamacare Caused Premiums to Spike. Here’s How States Are Lowering Them Again.

Throughout much of last year, critics of the White House darkly warned that “Trump sabotage” of Obamacare would result in steep increases in premiums for... Read More

The post Obamacare Caused Premiums to Spike. Here’s How States Are Lowering Them Again. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:9/10/2019 12:31:11 PM
[Markets] Trump SCOTUS Pick Neil Gorsuch Says US Is In "Civility Crisis" Trump SCOTUS Pick Neil Gorsuch Says US Is In "Civility Crisis"

In his first book since being appointed to the Supreme Court to fill the seat vacated by Antonin Scalia, Neil Gorsuch writes that the US is facing a "civility crisis" and that the president and Congress are both guilty of violating the separation of powers laid out in the Constitution.

The book, "A Republic, If You Can Keep It", has a title that reflects Benjamin Franklin's reported reply as he left the Constitutional Convention in 1787. In it, Gorsuch describes his vision for the Supreme Court's proper role: That judges should interpret the constitution according to its original meaning, and therefor overturn ObamaCare, slash abortion rights and bolster gun rights, according to Bloomberg.

Gorsuch also describes the run-up to his nomination. For example, he and his wife caught their flight to Washington after a neighbor drove them down a bumpy farm track so they wouldn't be spotted by reporters staking out the family house in Colorado.

The Justice said the drive left a lasting impression on him.

"That drive threw me face first into the topsy-turvy world of modern-day Supreme Court confirmation battles," Gorsuch writes in the 323-page book, officially released Tuesday. He was confirmed on a 54-45 vote, with only three Democrats voting in favor.

Notably, Gorsuch's book makes only passing reference to President Trump, even though the president is often blamed for "coarsening" the public discourse.

But he does point to surveys showing that "incivility" is broadly deterring Americans from dedicating themselves to public service.

"Without civility, the bonds of friendship in our communities dissolve, tolerance dissipates, and the pressure to impose order and uniformity through public and private coercion mounts," Gorsuch, 52, writes.

Gorsuch also lamented the fact that the executive branch and legislative branch had grown beyond their proper spheres.

"The framers firmly believed that the rule of law depends on keeping all three governmental powers in their proper spheres," Gorsuch writes.

Gorsuch also complains about more "niche" issues, like the rising cost and complexity of the US legal system.

"Our civil justice system is too expensive for most to afford; our criminal code is too long for most to comprehend; and our legal education system is too monolithic to allow lawyers to serve clients as affordably and well as we might," he writes.

The rest of the book, which was co-authored by two of the justice's former law clerks, is a compilation of the Justice's speeches and court opinions. But the book also includes newly written original sections.

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/10/2019 - 05:47
Published:9/10/2019 5:02:32 AM
[World] Addressing unexpected medical bills

Closing in on a decade since the passage of the grand health care reform better known as Obamacare, lawmakers are under increasing pressure to deal with both issues it created, and others that it merely exacerbated. One of the latter that has been quickly gaining attention, for good reason, is ... Published:9/4/2019 2:19:38 PM

[Politics] Biden Touts Obamacare in New Ad Former Vice President Joe Biden defends Obamacare in a new minute-long ad in Iowa, The Hill is reporting. Published:8/27/2019 10:00:09 AM
[Politics] Dem Complains About Her Taxpayer-Subsidized Obamacare Plan

A congressional Democrat is unhappy with the taxpayer-subsidized health insurance she receives from Obamacare.

The post Dem Complains About Her Taxpayer-Subsidized Obamacare Plan appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:8/26/2019 5:27:36 PM
[Politics] Column: Trump is proposing to reduce the employer health insurance system to utter chaos

Trump's position on the notorious Texas-led attack on Obamacare would be disastrous for employer-sponsored health plans

Published:8/23/2019 12:36:47 PM
[The Blog] Democrats at a crossroads over push for Medicare for all

"The Democrats want to repeal and replace ObamaCare with socialized medicine."

The post Democrats at a crossroads over push for Medicare for all appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:8/8/2019 2:10:34 PM
[Markets] 2020 Candidates Offer New Government Ponzi Schemes

Authored by Gary Galles via The Mises Institute,

Seeing the Democrat debates has reminded Americans just how much of campaigning is promising something-for-next-to-nothing in attempts to buy electoral support. But when you think about historic Democrat bragging points, like Social Security and Medicare, that is not surprising. They have long been “something for you today partly at someone else’s expense tomorrow” programs. In other words, they have been partial Ponzi schemes from the beginning.

While there have been many attempts to deny and confuse voters about the Ponzi-ness of those Democratic signature programs, the reason they are partly Ponzi schemes is very simple. After Social Security’s creation, those in or near retirement at the time got benefits far exceeding their “contributions,” which lasted for very few years. Giving those “excess” benefits over costs to the start-up generation meant that those resources would have to come from later generations of “players,” just like Ponzi schemes.

Every time the program expanded, another partial Ponzi scheme of excess benefits over costs was created for the initial group of beneficiaries, again inevitably at the expense of later generations. Another started when Social Security benefit levels doubled between 1950 and 52, and when they were raised 15 percent in 1970, 10 percent more in 1971, and 20 percent more in 1972. Another started when disability and dependents’ benefits were added in 1960. Still more were started when Medicare was added in 1966, and each time its benefits have been expanded (e.g., Medicare Part B, only one-quarter funded by recipients and Part D’s prescription drug benefit, only one-eighth funded by recipients).

So how has the modern Democrat party built on its proud legacy of such Ponzi schemes? By adding new ones.

Obamacare was also a partial Ponzi scheme, with a slightly different mechanism. Its policy to “limit premium variation based on age” forced insurance companies to under-charge those older, requiring them in turn to over-charge those younger. That bad actuarial deal was why younger people had to be forced to buy coverage (or were bought off by extending how long they could stay on their parent’s coverage). The consequence was that the coerced subsidy from the young allowed older recipients to get more than they paid for, which necessarily imposed an added burden on the next generation. Those near retirement age would also escape most of the future tax increases that would be part of funding it, adding to the inter-generational redistribution.

This January 30, over 200 Democratic co-sponsors returned to the older style of Medicare Ponzi scheme when they introduced the Social Security 2100 Act. It would increase all retirees’ benefits (including current retirees who would pay nothing toward the boost) and increase the inflation (over)adjustment for benefits, picking future high-income earners’ pockets to pay for the vast majority of it.

“Medicare for all” is also a partial Ponzi scheme. People are to get free medical benefits. But they must be paid for by income or other taxes. So what happens to those currently older? They get benefits for the rest of their lives while paying little in income taxes, since they are generally beyond or near retirement age. That excess of their benefits over their costs will again require imposing greater burdens on the earnings of those in the future.

That makes it important to remember that Democrats who are now promising a new something-for-next-to-nothing deal at the expense of later generations are from the same Ponzi party that in earlier years, promised those then older a great deal by sticking you with that tab and now defend those policies as their greatest hits.

However, while Democrats have historically led the charge in creating and doubling down on Social Security and Medicare Ponzi schemes (and scaring senior citizens into voting for them out of fear Republicans might put a stop to them), do Republicans offer serious hope for improvement? Some do, since many of who have publicly objected to such expanding Ponzi schemes have come from the libertarian leaning wing of the Republican party. But that subset doesn’t dictate Republican policy. And political history is not very encouraging when it comes to preventing the pillage of future generations. For instance, Social Security passed the House, 372 yeas to 33 nays, and the Senate, 77 yeas to 6 nays, before the conference report was passed on a plausible deniability preserving voice vote, which hardly shows either unified or effective opposition by Republicans. The benefit increases in the early 1970s resulted from a bidding war between Richard Nixon and Legislative Democrats to buy senior citizen votes. George W. Bush was the ramrod for the Medicare, Part D, expansion of unfunded liabilities. And when have you heard President Trump propose anything that would confront the unsustainable status quo in either Social Security or Medicare?

In fact, what seems to have dictated both parties’ policies, though to different degrees, is that present voters are willing to steal from future generations, many of whom do not yet get to vote, or are poorly informed or involved in the political process. That is, so long as the intertemporal redistribution is presented as “really” a noble and reliable political compact. So being clear that Social Security and Medicare are, at least in part, ignoble and unreliable (because they are unsustainable) political compacts of a sort we would put people in jail for if they did it in the private sector, may be the first small step toward any true hope of reform.

Published:8/7/2019 9:11:17 PM
[Health Care] How ‘Medicare for All’ Would Impact Our Lives

Obamacare is old news for the political left. Now, the big item is “Medicare for All”—a single-payer, government-run health care system. But what kind of... Read More

The post How ‘Medicare for All’ Would Impact Our Lives appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:8/7/2019 2:31:40 AM
[Markets] Did Ilhan Omar Have An Affair With A Top Dem Strategist Who Was On Her Campaign's Payroll?

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has been seen getting suspiciously cozy with a political strategist who has been paid more than a quarter of a million dollars by her campaign, according to a Daily Mail report.

Last week, The Mail reported that Omar was spotted dining and holding hands with an unidentified man at a secluded Italian restaurant outside of Los Angeles earlier this year. The paper has now identified that man as Tim Mynett, partner at E Street Group, which bills itself as providing national progressive strategies for candidates, nonprofits and advocacy efforts.

Omar recently split from her husband, and there would be nothing untoward about the two carrying on an affair, if it weren't for the fact that Omar's campaign has paid Mynett's firm more than $250,000 in consulting fees and travel expenses between August and June 11, per FEC records.

Word of the intimate dinner spread just days after the Daily Mail reported that Omar had recently split with her husband, Ahmed Hirsi, the father of her three children. 

Mynett, it appears, is still married to a Washington DC-area doctor who is 17 years his senior. But the two are no longer living together.

In a video taken by the Daily Mail, Mynett can be heard asking the reporter to turn his camera off.

Reps for both Omar and Mynett declined to comment to the Daily Mail about whether the two are having an affair. But the paper trail of payments is enough to raise questions about whether Omar was having an affair with one of her campaign's top consultants while paying him thousands of dollars.

Federal Election Commission records show Omar's team began paying Mynett's company in August of 2018, splashing out $62,500 by the end of 2018.

Payments continued into 2019, with $5,000, $10,000 and $12,000 chunks being shelled out every month, totaling just over $253,000 in a single year.

In January, Mynett posted an image on his Instagram of Omar's name plaque outside of her congressional office, writing: 'It’s been one hell of a journey. Incredibly proud of this fearless woman.'

Mynett and fellow veteran Democratic strategist William Hailer run E Street from a shared WeWork office space in DC. According to a profile on the E Street site that has since been removed, Mynett has served as lead fundraiser for a number of notable dems including Keith Ellison, Omar's predecessor in her House seat, Senator Jeff Merkley, Congresswoman Hilda Solis and Congressman Ron Kind.

He has also worked for several national non-profits and progressive groups, including Angelina Jolie’s Global Action for Children and the SEIU’s Change that Works initiative (which was focused on passing ObamaCare, legislation that Omar herself is now seeking to undo in favor of Medicare for All).

Their website currently has a single accessible page displaying the message: 'Accepting new clients by referral only.' But an archived version accessed by DailyMail.com includes a lengthy 'about us' section where Mynett reels off his career accomplishments and boats of close ties with 'national opinion leaders'.

'Tim Mynett brings over 15 years of experience conducting high-level national fundraising and providing political and strategic advice to our clients at E Street Group,' it says.

'He has continually developed and implemented successful fundraising plans for national nonprofits, progressive advocacy efforts, and Democratic leaders in Congress. Throughout his career he has raised of over $100 million in gifts, grants, and donations.'

Here's a list of all of Omar's disbursements filed under 'operating expenditures' on the FEC's database.

Notably, Mynett was sitting front and center during the infamous speech where Omar described the 9/11 hijackers as "someone doing something."

Omar first married Hirsi in an Islamic ceremony in 2002 when she was 19, but the two divorced six years later. The next year, Omar married British Citizen Ahmed Nur Said Elmi. Media reports have identified him as her brother, though due to poor recordkeeping in her home country of Somalia, that can't be conclusively proven.

Published:8/6/2019 7:03:28 PM
[Health Care] A Health Reform Plan Trump Can Get Behind President Donald Trump says he wants health reform that will be better than Obamacare, better than what we had before Obamacare, and better than the... Read More Published:8/2/2019 10:54:54 AM
[Markets] Joe Scarborough Slams Dems For Attacking Obama's Policies More Than Trump's

MSNBC Host Joe Scarborough of MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' complained in a tweet last night that the Democratic contenders onstage last night for Pt. 2 of the second Democratic debate spent more time attacking President Barack Obama's policies than they spent attacking President Donald Trump.

He added that this is "politically stupid and crazy."

Though Scarborough also inadvertently admitted something important: The Democratic Party of today isn't the same party from 2016. Instead, even candidates who once believed themselves to be part of the mainstream have embraced policies that are much further to the left, largely thanks to the influence of "the Squad" and their fellow progressives, who have been gaining influence in Washington since the mid-terms.

Scarborough is probably also referring to the fact that Biden and Harris, the two front runners who participated in Wednesday night's debate, were lightning rods for criticism.  Bill de Blasio and others got into a huge debate with Biden over health-care reform, even prompting Biden to declare these criticisms of Obamacare "malarky".

Biden was also attacked over the 800,000 deportations that occurred during the Obama Administration, which seemed to support the Trump Administration's argument that Trump's supposedly "draconian" border policies are merely a continuation of the Obama years.

While the "you're playing into Republicans' hands!" argument is certainly compelling to some, they should probably tell Scarborough not to say the quiet part out loud.

Published:8/1/2019 7:55:16 AM
[Markets] Senator Harris "Wins" The 'Free Stuff' Contest... Taxpayers Lose

Authored by John Stossel, op-ed vbia Townhall.com,

Never before have presidential candidates offered voters so much “free” stuff.

Kamala Harris wants you to “collect up to $500 a month.”

Elizabeth Warren says, “We need to go tenfold in our research and development in green energy.”

No one has tracked the cost of all of the promises. So my video team did!

Who will spend the most?

Here are the new spending proposals from the five most popular (according to ElectionBettingOdds.com) candidates.

In my latest video, we break it down by category, education spending first:

Joe Biden wants to “triple the amount of money we spend for Title I schools” ($32 billion) create “universal pre-K” ($26 billion), provide “free community college” ($6 billion per year) and double the number of psychologists and social workers in schools ($14 billion) — $78 billion total. 

That’s a lot, but much less than what Kamala Harris would spend.

She too wants to “make community college free” ($6 billion), but she’d add debt-free “four-year public college” ($80.1 billion), “increase government’s investment in childcare” dramatically ($60 billion) and “give the average public school teacher a $13,000 raise” ($31.5 billion) for a total of $177 billion.

Pete Buttigieg rarely says what his proposals would cost, but he at least seems to want to spend less than Harris.

He touts “free college for low- and middle-income students” and would give teachers more money. Assuming his plan is like Harris’, that brings his education total to $87 billion.

Elizabeth Warren would spend much more.

“You’ll be debt-free!” she tells students. Taxpayers, unfortunately, will be deeper in debt, since she would “forgive” most existing student debt and make public college tuition-free ($125 billion).

She also wants a “Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act” ($70 billion).

These big-ticket items put her in the first place so far.

But wait! Bernie Sanders would spend even more.

He’d completely “eliminate student debt,” “make public colleges and universities tuition-free” and provide universal daycare and pre-K. That totals $280 billion, so Sanders “wins” in education spending.

I assumed the self-described socialist would be the biggest spender, but he’s got lots of competition!

Let’s look at health care spending.

Harris, Sanders and Warren all propose “Medicare for All,” including for people here illegally.

Sanders goes further, saying, “Under our plan, people go to any doctor they want.” He admits it will cost between $3 trillion and $4 trillion per year, about what the government now spends on everything. How will he pay for that? Well, somehow the rich will pay. Or Martians. Somebody.

Sanders, Harris, and Warren all said they’d ban private health insurance — although Harris now says she’d let private companies sell “Medicare plans” that “adhere to strict Medicare requirements on costs and benefits.” She also claims her “Medicare for All” will be cheaper than Sanders’ version, but as of now, there is no independently calculated cost.

When it comes to the environment, all Democratic candidates but Biden say they support the Green New Deal, which Republicans say would cost $93 trillion. For our ranking, I went with the lowest estimate we could find: An economist who likes the idea says it will cost around $500 billion a year.

Welfare? Harris would increase benefits and have the government pay your rent if it’s over 30% of your income ($94 billion), and Friday she offered $75 billion to black colleges and minority entrepreneurs.

Warren wants to spend more ($50 billion) on housing.

Sanders would increase food stamps for kids ($10.8 billion), boost Social Security benefits ($19 billion) and guarantee everyone a government job ($158 billion), for a total of $187.8 billion.

President Donald Trump, who says America will never be a socialist country, hasn’t been a responsible spender either.

Since he took office, spending increased about $500 billion per year. Trump did propose some cuts, but when Congress ignored his cuts and increased spending, he signed the bills anyway.

Now he says he’d spend even more: $200 billion a year for infrastructure, $8.6 billion for the border wall construction, $1.6 billion for more NASA funding and on and on, for a total of $267 billion.

We can’t afford it! The federal government is already $22 trillion in debt -- $150,000 per taxpayer.

While Trump’s $267 billion is bad, the Democrats’ plans are worse. We counted $297 billion proposed by Biden, $690 billion from Buttigieg, $3.8 trillion from Warren, $4 trillion from Sanders and $4.3 trillion from Harris. That would double what the entire federal government spends now.

Senator Harris “wins” the free stuff contest.

Taxpayers lose.

Published:7/31/2019 1:53:53 PM
[US News] Joe Biden goes after Medicare for All, gets an assist from Paul Krugman

In a preview of what’s to come at tonight’s debate, 2020 Dem frontrunner went directly at Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker for their support of Medicare for all as a replacement for Obamacare: Let's clear up the confusion about Medicare for All. We have the facts: ?Costs 30x more than @JoeBiden’s […]

The post Joe Biden goes after Medicare for All, gets an assist from Paul Krugman appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:7/31/2019 10:50:26 AM
[Volokh Conspiracy] [Eugene Volokh] Welcome to Our New Coblogger, Josh Blackman I'm delighted to report that Prof. Josh Blackman of the South Texas College of Law will be joining our blog. Josh teaches, writes, and litigates about constitutional law; he has been extensively involved in debates about Obamacare, the Emoluments Clause, 3D-printed guns, DAPA, the proposed ABA speech code for lawyers (Rule 8.4(g)), and much more. He has written many law review articles and four books, two of them with our own Randy Barnett: Constitutional Law: Cases in Context (3d ed.) and An Introduction to Constitutional Law: 100 Supreme Court Cases Everyone Should Know. He has also guest-blogged often with us here, as well as writing his own blog, JoshBlackman.com, so many of you may know him from that. We very much look forward to having him with us! Published:7/21/2019 10:41:41 PM
[Politics] Federal judge gives Trump a VICTORY over Obamacare A federal judge has upheld an order by Trump from last year that allow insurers to sell non-Obamacare-compliant healthcare plans to healthy people for a cheaper rate: BLOOMBERG – The Trump administration . . . Published:7/19/2019 10:29:23 PM
[Politics] Federal judge gives Trump a VICTORY over Obamacare A federal judge has upheld an order by Trump from last year that allow insurers to sell non-Obamacare-compliant healthcare plans to healthy people for a cheaper rate: BLOOMBERG – The Trump administration . . . Published:7/19/2019 10:29:23 PM
[The Blog] Biden ad: I’m for keeping ObamaCare — and I’m surprised that so many of my Dem rivals aren’t

"I believe we have to protect and build on ObamaCare."

The post Biden ad: I’m for keeping ObamaCare — and I’m surprised that so many of my Dem rivals aren’t appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:7/15/2019 11:05:12 AM
[Politics] Biden Surprised So Many Democrats Want to Get Rid of Obamacare

Former vice president Joe Biden released his campaign's healthcare plan Monday morning in a short video in which Biden criticized some of his presidential primary contenders who want to get rid of Obamacare and private insurance entirely. 

The post Biden Surprised So Many Democrats Want to Get Rid of Obamacare appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:7/15/2019 10:31:26 AM
[Health Care] A Conservative Vision for Health Care

Top Democrats have moved way beyond Obamacare and are now pushing Medicare for All—a single-payer, government-run program. Surveys show that Americans like the sound of... Read More

The post A Conservative Vision for Health Care appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:7/12/2019 2:10:22 AM
[ObamaCare] Federal Appeals Court About to Rule Obamacare Unconstitutional

The following article, Federal Appeals Court About to Rule Obamacare Unconstitutional, was first published on Godfather Politics.

A federal appeals court seems to be on the verge of ruling that Obamacare is unconstitutional, court watchers say.

Continue reading: Federal Appeals Court About to Rule Obamacare Unconstitutional ...

Published:7/11/2019 10:15:25 AM
[Markets] Frustrated Judges Slam "Complicated" Obamacare Mess

When John McCain stymied a Republican-controlled Congress from gutting Obamacare back in the summer of 2017, he infuriated President Trump and sent pundit tongues wagging about how Republicans might never manage to kill the law.

Two years later, the Trump Administration is backing 19 Republican-controlled states, including Texas, in a lawsuit that they hope will eventually prompt the Supreme Court to invalidate the entire law - something it declined to do back in 2012, when Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court's liberals to preserve the law.

Medical

But first, the complicated legal mess must wind its way through the appeals courts, where a panel of judges is apparently having a hard time untangling the Trump administration's position, which is constantly in flux. As Bloomberg reports...

While the red states and the Trump administration are technically adversaries in this challenge, their lawyers sat at the same table during the hearing and told the judges they both think Obamacare is unlawful. However, Hawkins took pains to highlight inconsistencies that have developed in the Trump administration’s position, which left Flentje, the Justice Department lawyer, occasionally struggling to explain himself.

When the challenge was in the lower court, the Justice Department said it didn’t need a specific judicial order halting the ACA because the federal government would treat the judge’s decision as a nationwide injunction. Later, the Trump administration shifted gears and said it will keep enforcing Obamacare until a court orders it to stop. And last week, the administration shifted positions again to insist that lower-judge’s order only blocks Obamacare in states that sued to overturn it.

At a hearing this week before a panel of appeals-court judges, a DoJ lawyer effectively begged the court to resolve the issue, much like the Supreme Court did when it legalized gay marriage nation-wide.

Several times, Flentje seemed to almost beg the judges to resolve the impasse between the White House and Congress, as the Supreme Court did when Obama refused to defend the federal law denying recognition to same-sex marriages.

"The courts then said this was a reasonable way to let the judicial branch have the final say," Flentje sai. "The Supreme Court discussed this conundrum and said it’s a reasonable way, especially when we have a complicated statute that covers a lot of ground."

A gang of attorneys appeared before the panel during the hearing, including a lawyer representing the White House, a lawyer representing Congress, and a hodge podge of attorneys representing the red states (who are challenging the law) and the blue states (who are defending it).

But the judges at times sounded confused about the administration's position to invalidate the law in states that are challenging the federal legislation, but let it stand in the blue states that want it.

"Why does Congress want the judiciary to be a taxidermist for every big-game legislative accomplishment it achieves?" the rookie on the panel, Kurt Engelhardt, an appointee of President Donald Trump, asked the lawyer representing the U.S. House of Representatives during a lively hearing in New Orleans.

Another judge didn’t understand how the federal government thinks it can administer a law it believes is completely unconstitutional in just parts of the country.

"You want to strike it down, only in certain states, in its entirety?" U.S. Circuit Judge Jennifer Elrod, appointed by President George W. Bush, asked a lawyer for the Justice Department.

"A lot of this stuff has to be sorted out, and it’s complicated," replied the attorney, August Flentje, as he shifted uncomfortably. "We haven’t gone down that road yet."

Whatever happens, most expect the Supreme Court to have the final say. And with President Trump's appointment of two very conservative judges (Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch), it's likely that the court might be more predisposed to issue a bold ruling that invalidates the law in its entirety, potentially ending health coverage for 20 million people just as the 2020 campaign is heating up.

Published:7/10/2019 5:19:25 AM
[a720c00c-2923-56ed-b974-89b360bb37fd] Ken Paxton: It's time to bury ObamaCare once and for all and deliver REAL health care reform Obamacare may be the best thing that Washington bureaucrats could hope for, but it's time the courts return control over healthcare to the states. Published:7/9/2019 11:43:57 AM
[Volokh Conspiracy] [Randy Barnett] Are Con Law Professors Wrong Again About the Individual Mandate? [The state AG's current challenge to Obamacare is stronger than they say] In late 2009, as Congress debated the Affordable... Published:7/5/2019 10:15:54 AM
[Markets] Obama DHS Chief Says 2020 Democrats Have "Unworkable" And "Unwise" Immigration Positions

Democratic presidential candidates have "unworkable" and "unwise" immigration policies, according to Obama administration Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson.

"That is tantamount to declaring publicly that we have open borders," Johnson told the Washington Post on Tuesday, referring to a push to decriminalize illegal immigration. "That is unworkable, unwise and does not have the support of a majority of American people or the Congress, and if we had such a policy, instead of 100,000 apprehensions a month, it will be multiples of that."

Johnson's comments follow sharp criticism of the 2020 Democratic contenders, who all raised their hands during the second night of debates when asked if illegal immigrants should receive taxpayer-funded health insurance (let's not forget that Obamacare penalized American citizens who weren't covered). 

On Tuesday, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said he would “virtually eliminate immigration detention” by executive order. During last week’s debate, presidential candidate Julián Castro proposed decriminalizing illegal border crossings — a position other Democrats in the race rapidly adopted. -Washington Post

Meanwhile, Johnson on Friday pointed out that the "cages" housing detained migrants weren't built by President Trump, noting "Chain link barriers, partitions, fences, cages, whatever you want to call them, were not invented on January 20, 2017, OK?" 

Jeh Johnson touring detention facility during Obama administration

"But during that 72 hour period, when you have something that is a multiple, like four times of what you’re accustomed to in the existing infrastructure, you’ve got to find places quickly to put kids. You cant just dump 7-year-old kids on the streets of McAllen or El Paso. And so these facilities were erected …they put those chain link partitions up so you could segregate young women from young men, kids from adults, until they were either released or transferred to HHS." (via Daily Caller). 

 

Published:7/4/2019 3:10:28 PM
[Politics] GOP Lawmakers Ask HHS to Eliminate Abortion Charges

More than 120 members of Congress are asking the Department of Health and Human Services to finalize a new rule that would prevent Obamacare providers from hiding surcharges for elective abortions covered by government health plans. 

The post GOP Lawmakers Ask HHS to Eliminate Abortion Charges appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Published:7/3/2019 4:09:38 PM
[In the Courts] Red States Request Delay In Big Obamacare Case

By Evie Fordham -

A coalition of red states led by Texas requested Monday that they receive 20 extra days to file a supplemental brief and a delay of opening arguments in a case they hope will overturn Obamacare in front of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. “As of today, it appears ...

Red States Request Delay In Big Obamacare Case is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:7/2/2019 12:59:13 PM
[Opinion] Medicare For All = Obamacare Redux

By Jim Clayton -

Its’ gonna be a big heart Breaker/ Grandma needs a new pacemaker/ And the doctor says I realize she’s ill/ But there’s been some legislation on all our medications/And All I can do is put her on a pain pill.—-Singer, songwriter and satirist, Ray Stevens on his song about Obamacare. ...

Medicare For All = Obamacare Redux is original content from Conservative Daily News - Where Americans go for news, current events and commentary they can trust - Conservative News Website for U.S. News, Political Cartoons and more.

Published:7/2/2019 7:30:47 AM
[49881f15-c12e-5247-ae3e-315b38f23118] Curt Levey: Supreme Court: On census, Roberts disappoints conservatives (again). Is he new Justice Kennedy? In a repeat performance of his infamous 2012 decision rescuing ObamaCare, Chief Justice John Roberts acutely disappointed conservatives Thursday. Published:6/28/2019 12:42:25 PM
[Markets] "2020 Race Is Over" Post-Mortem Of Second Dem Debate: Kamala Crushes Bernie & Biden

President Trump commented on the second Democratic Party primary debate as his meeting began with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Group of 20 summit in Japan:

"They definitely have plenty of candidates, that's about it," Trump said of the debate while seated next to Merkel.

"I look forward to spending time with you, rather than watching."

The previous night's debate, he added, "wasn't very exciting."

Trump also tweeted about the Democratic health care pledge to undocumented immigrants.

"How about taking care of American Citizens first!?" he tweeted.

"That’s the end of that race!"

And if the extremist perspectives of the primary continue that may well be true.

As Liberty Nation's Graham Noble details, the second night of debate was more feisty, more confrontational, and even more radical.

Night two of the first Democratic Party primary debate, featuring most of the heavy-hitters among the 25-strong field of candidates, promised to be less mundane than the first night. The event lived up to that promise, and most of the ten candidates seemed more feisty than their colleagues who debated on night one. The Democrats may be fatally flawed in their search for a candidate who can defeat President Donald Trump in 2020, though. That flaw is the fundamental misunderstanding of what America is all about.

There was far more confrontation, this time, between the candidates and whereas on the first night President Donald Trump was hardly mentioned, several of the second-night candidates launched hysterical and exaggerated attacks upon the man they aspire to replace.

The Pressure Of Competition

It may have been the lineup itself that spurred a more fierce and passionate exchange: Sens. Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg are all considered leading contenders for the Democratic nomination, and so the pressure was on for each of them to stand out.

For those other candidates who may be considered less likely to make the stage at the 2020 Democratic Party convention, the opportunity to hold their own against the front-runners was too good to pass up.

The Common Theme Of Socialized Healthcare

Following the same format as the previous night’s debate, the first half-hour was devoted to the issue of healthcare. The candidates touted variations of the same policy goal, which is to take the nation into a government-run, single-payer system. Sanders and Harris were the only two candidates who signaled their intention to completely do away with private health insurance.

It is worth noting that, even in European countries operating variations of socialized healthcare systems, private insurance is still an option. Removing even the possibility of a private option is an extreme position even when viewed through a global perspective.

Sanders claimed that, under his system, Americans would be able to choose their doctor and choose which hospital they visit, but the nation has heard that before. In a single-payer system with no private option, this is quite simply a false promise. Interestingly, every candidate pledged that their respective healthcare policies would include coverage for illegal aliens.

As with the first round of this debate, the discussion spanned gun violence, immigration, climate change, and foreign policy. As with the first round, there were all kinds of vague promises to quickly solve all these problems – often “on day one” of the new president’s term. One wonders how these issues have not been long ago resolved if they were all so simple to deal with.

Winners And Losers

Sen. Harris will almost certainly be considered the biggest winner of the night.

[ZH: Certainly judging once again based on Google Search interest, Harris was the clear winner]

Her first opportunity to speak came as several candidates were already talking over each other. When finally the moderators calmed the crosstalk, Harris said “Guys, you know what? America does not want to witness a food fight; they want to know how we’re going to put food on the table.” It was a good line and Harris continued to make an impression – at one point, directly confronting Biden over his recent comments about working with segregationists in the Senate.

Joe Biden

For his part, Biden leaned heavily on his political resume. He began almost every one of his answers to moderators’ question by pointing out that “I’m the only guy” to get this or that done. He also asserted that he would not support any attempt to get rid of Obamacare.

The former VP is currently well ahead in the polls, and he got plenty of speaking time, though he did not put on a stellar performance. His campaign strategy is clear: Portraying himself as the most experienced candidate and trying to outdo his competitors in attacking the president. It is hard to escape the feeling, however, that the party’s base may be more attracted to younger blood and fresher ideas.

Mayor Buttigieg spoke well and held his own but was not remarkable. He did himself no harm in the debate, though, and is likely to remain competitive in the race for the nomination, even though he brings nothing unique to the contest. His plan, like all the others, is to give out free stuff and hope that, somehow, he can tax the wealthy and the corporations in perpetuity to pay for it all.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) did little to boost his campaign and he was not alone in failing to leave an impression. Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY) chimed in frequently and constantly went over her allotted time. It was clear she desperately needed the attention and who can blame her for not seizing the opportunity? Like Swalwell, however, she failed to leave her mark.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders appeared to be fading; his performance in the debate may well give his campaign a new lease on life. The Vermont senator is always the angry, socialist revolutionary, though, who is entirely incapable of speaking to people – instead, he lectures and, although his strident tone may appeal to many young, uninformed idealists, it will not win over a large enough number of Americans to secure him a victory against Trump. He always sounds like the grumpy old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn and constantly telling everyone how terrible things are when, in fact, they are really not that terrible is not a winning strategy.

[ZH: CNN's Brian Stetler summed things up well: "Former NBC exec and debate producer @DeanLuk summed up Thursday's debate in 14 words: "Eric Swalwell asked Joe Biden to pass the torch. Kamala Harris just took it." "]

The Outsiders

Two people on the stage shared the distinction of not being politicians, though they are not at all similar and their respective fortunes in this race will likely be very different. Entrepreneur and philanthropist Andrew Yang has a unique and fairly non-partisan approach to domestic and economic policy. He acquitted himself well in the debate, clearly demonstrating that he has a better head for figures than any other candidate. The question for Yang, though, is whether he can capture the imagination of the party’s primary voters. Given the competition, his chances are slim.

Author Marianne Williamson was given very little opportunity to speak and appeared to have no specific policy ideas, though she did make what was, perhaps, the most perceptive observation of the night. Having listened to the various, vague plans presented to solve all the nation’s ills – real or perceived – Williamson said: “[Trump] didn’t win because he had a plan, he won by simply saying “Make America great again.”

Flawed Thinking And Lack Of Vision

Therein lies the flaw in Democrat thinking: Single-issue candidates and policy wonks do not win presidential elections. The victorious candidate is the man or woman with the biggest and broadest ideas and the most optimistic vision. Reagan, Obama, and Trump are all good examples. Going back further into American political history, Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy were other examples.

Every one of these Democratic candidates is promising a vision of a vast central government administering almost every aspect of American life. They are gambling on persuading the nation that government alone can make life better and that, somehow, only the government is able to create cost-effective and efficient solutions. They are promoting a massive, administrative state when, at no point in history, has such system produced efficiency, economic prosperity, more freedom, and less corruption.

When all is said and done, the Democratic message to the American people is: “Your life sucks and your country is awful, so get your revenge by giving us all the power.” Moreover, Americans traditionally do not get enthusiastic about the idea of the government telling them it knows better than they do how to run their lives.

Even worse for the Democratic Party is that none of these candidates, save one, has the kind of sweeping vision that captures the imagination of the public. For all their proposed solutions and “free” government services, they are not big thinkers. Sanders alone has a big, radical, transformative vision but his would lead, ultimately, to a Soviet-style government and there are still too many voting Americans who are old enough to remember the horrors that regime.

Published:6/28/2019 5:37:39 AM
[Politics] Joe Biden opens up about death of first wife, daughter during debate Joe Biden recalled the 1972 car crash that tragically killed his first wife and one-year-old daughter while speaking at Thursday’s Democratic primary debate. The former vice president was asked about improvements in Obamacare during the debate in Miami when he responded that the question was “very personal to me.” A few weeks after Biden won... Published:6/27/2019 10:03:57 PM
[Politics] Cancer Survivor Hails Trump for ‘Right to Try’ Experimental Drug Law

President Donald Trump on Wednesday promised to roll out soon a health care proposal that “blows away” Obamacare, while receiving credit for another health care... Read More

The post Cancer Survivor Hails Trump for ‘Right to Try’ Experimental Drug Law appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:6/26/2019 9:32:03 PM
[Health Care] The Failure of Obamacare, Bad Politics!

The following article, The Failure of Obamacare, Bad Politics!, was first published on Godfather Politics.

Obamacare was a vote getting ploy and not a solution. As a nation we added another entitlement that causes Americans to reach deeper into their pockets.

Continue reading: The Failure of Obamacare, Bad Politics! ...

Published:5/29/2019 10:21:03 AM
[Markets] Single-Payer Healthcare Is The Worst Kind Of Universal Healthcare

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

In the United States, thanks largely to Bernie Sanders, the term "single-payer health care" has become more or less synonymous with the phrase "universal healthcare."

This stems partially from the fact that "single-payer" is the term most often used to refer to foreign systems of universal healthcare, and also because most Americans know virtually nothing about how foreign healthcare systems work.

Moreover, when it comes to interacting with foreigners, Americans most often encounter the writings and opinion of other English speakers — which mostly means Canadians and British subjects. And it so happens both Canada and the United Kingdom employ single-payer healthcare systems.

Elsewhere in the world, however, it is not uncommon to find other countries that employ "multi-payer" and "multi-tier" healthcare systems that are nonetheless designed to provide universal coverage.

This is also especially important to recognize because single-payer healthcare systems are some of the worst systems in regards to freedom of choice and healthcare quality. This is because the primary benefit of single-payer healthcare — as so often recounted by its supporters — is that it is cheap.

But "cheapness" is not exactly the best criteria for judging a healthcare system, and the shortcomings of single-payer systems make this abundantly clear.

What Is Single-Payer?

So what makes a single-payer system distinct from other systems? As the name implies, a single-payer system is one in which there is only one source of payments or funding for healthcare transactions. This source, of course, is the government.

So, in a single-payer system healthcare services is paid for only through government funding. This can be done through a variety of mechanisms. For example, healthcare facilities can be directly funded and run by government agencies or they can be nominally private providers which receive all their payments from a government agency.

With single-payer systems there is no competition from other "payers" such as private insurance companies, or even cash-for-service firms.

Exceptions can be found in those services that are not deemed to be "essential" healthcare services. In Canada, for example, private health services are allowed in services legally defined as non-essential such as mental health, pharmaceuticals, some types of eye care, and long-term care.

Thus, strictly speaking, no system is a "pure" single-payer system that encompasses every conceivable type of care. Consequently, in both the UK and Canada, one will still encounter activists who think that the state-run healthcare systems are too laissez-faire. These critics claim coverage should be expanded to exclude private competition even more, and to expand the definition of "essential" services. It is not uncommon to hear claims that these systems are becoming "two-tier systems" (meant pejoratively) in which the implication is that there is one low-quality tier for ordinary people, and a high-quality tier for everyone else.

In practice, however, there is a reason most of the world points to the United Kingdom and Canada as examples of single-payer systems: they offer very few private-sector options for core services. While there are always some areas where private-sector activity allowed, these systems are fundamentally built on the idea of excluding private competition and private payments in favor of directly controlling healthcare prices and services.

What Are the Multi-Payer Systems?

In contrast to a single-payer system, numerous countries with universal healthcare systems employ multi-payer systems.1

In the case of Germany, there are multiple statutory tiers of healthcare. Most Germans below a certain income level are covered by a main tier of heavily-subsidized health care. But service providers are not government owned, and they compete for customers at all income levels, including those who use private insurance.

Switzerland, meanwhile, employs a private-sector-based insurance mandate similar in some ways to Obamacare in the US. That is, the Swiss are required by law to purchase health insurance or face legal penalties. Low-income Swiss receive subsidies to purchase insurance. The Swiss system also allows for small fees to be paid by patients at each doctor visit, up to an annual maximum.

A key difference between US and Swiss insurance mandates, however, is that Swiss health insurance is purchased at the individual level, and not through employers.

These multi-tier systems — which also include France and the Netherlands, among others — are not free-market systems, of course. In all cases, markets are heavily regulated in terms of mandates that providers cover pre-existing conditions. Other regulations are used in attempts to control costs.

Single-Payer: Bad for Both Freedom and Quality

Indeed, the drive to control costs is a central reason for the single-payer healthcare system. By outlawing competition for many procedures, and by making healthcare providers dependent on a single governmental payer, it becomes easy for governments to force down prices by limiting payments to providers, and by dictating what sorts of treatments will be allowed.

But the ability to force down costs is not necessarily a great measure of a healthcare system's desirability.

A "cheap" healthcare system can certainly be achieved by imposing price controls, and cutting out pricey treatments deemed un-economical by state bureaucrats. But this often results in long waiting times and loss of quality. Not surprisingly, wait times for treatment have been shown to be significantly longer in Canada than in Germany, Switzerland, and France.

Moreover, by prohibiting competition in core services, providers lack an economic incentive to improve the quality of care. As noted by the UK's Civitas organization, competition among providers — even in a heavily regulated and subsidized systems — is important to encouraging quality services. Referring to the German system, the Civitas researchers note:

Competing providers usually treat all patients but have an incentive to attract the high paying privately insured.This has a ‘levelling up’ effect on the quality of care available to all.

Similar dynamics are true in Switzerland, and even in Denmark where the state encourages competition between hospitals. In the UK, on the other hand, the state controlled National Health Service has no reason to improve or innovate outside of public outrage. As George Pickering has noted, quality in the UK has become an increasing concern with honest observers of the British healthcare system. One recent open letter from British physicians to the Prime Minister

further noted that it had become “routine” for patients to be left on gurneys in corridors for as long as 12 hours before being offered proper beds, with many of them eventually being put into makeshift wards hastily constructed in side-rooms. In addition to this, it was revealed that around 120 patients per day are being attended to in corridors and waiting rooms, with many being made to undergo humiliating treatments in the public areas of hospitals.

Yet, apparently unaware of how other systems function, many British voters continue to support the British single-payer system uncritically. Pickering continues:

the characteristics of the NHS [i.e., universal coverage] which Britons mistakenly believe to be a unique source of pride, are actually present in almost every other healthcare system in the developed world; yet these other systems lack the NHS’s hostility to innovation in medicines and practices. Furthermore, the high number of avoidable infant deaths in some of its trusts led to the NHS being brought under government investigation in April for standards of maternal care which regulators described as “truly shocking.”

The High Cost of Government Price Controls

By allowing providers to compete, it's harder for governments to control costs. Thus, it's not surprising that when it comes to government spending on healthcare subsidies, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Denmark are among the big spenders. In both Denmark and the Netherlands, about one third of the population chooses to buy private insurance.2 (In Switzerland, of course, the system is based on mandatory private insurance.) Prices are thus bid up as a result, for both government and the private sector.

But, taxpayers and healthcare consumers also get what they pay for.

While multi-payer systems often tolerate higher prices in the name of better choice and higher quality, single-payer outlaw choice in the name of "savings."

Defenders of single-payer systems will justify these roadblocks to high-quality service as essential for maintaining "fairness." As Canadian historian Ronald Hamowy has noted, there has been opposition in Canada to allowing even small clinics performing diagnostic services like MRI scans. This, it was argued, would allow rich people to "jump the queue."

The message is thus this: either you get healthcare services on the government's terms, or you don't get it at all.

Comparisons with the US System

Politicians in the US are increasingly willing to force markets toward some sort of universal health system. This certainly has its downsides, but the most alarming aspect of the current drive is the fact many of the loudest voices for universal healthcare are insisting on single-payer healthcare as the only alternative.

But, if US policymakers are going to continue to move the US healthcare system even further away from functioning markets, less damage would be done by avoiding a single-payer system and instead embracing a multi-payer system.

After all, the US is already a non-universal multi-payer system, and the US already has a system that heavily subsidizes healthcare through programs like Medicaid and Medicare. In fact, nearly one-half of all healthcare spending in the US is already paid by governments. And one-third of Americans already receive healthcare through some sort of government program.

Transitioning to a universal healthcare system is going to be costly — in terms of dollars — no matter what. But by adopting a single-payer system, Americans would be forced to endure high costs that aren't calculated in dollars: long wait times, rationed care, and few choices beyond the government-controlled system.

The innovation, quality improvements, and timely care offered by competing private firms would be largely destroyed by adopting a single-payer system. Although these advantages have been only partially preserved by multi-payer systems that allow some of the advantages of a free marketplace, those now clamoring for a single-payer system would have us believe this all must be abolished in favor of near-total government control.

Published:5/18/2019 3:57:06 PM
[The Blog] Why is AARP opposing Trump’s efforts to lower prescription drug prices?

Wasn't Obamacare supposed to lower prices?

The post Why is AARP opposing Trump’s efforts to lower prescription drug prices? appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:5/15/2019 5:41:48 PM
[Markets] The 3 Big Questions That Are Not Being Asked About "Medicare For All"

Authored by Laurence Vance via The Future of Freedom Foundation,

Congress recently held its first hearing on “Medicare for All” legislation that would eliminate most private insurance, phase out Medicare and Medicaid, and institute universal socialized medicine.

The House Rules Committee heard six hours of testimony on the Medicare for All Act of 2019 (H.R.1384). Introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) on February 27, the legislation now has 108 co-sponsors, all Democrats. A number of Democratic presidential contenders have also expressed support for the proposal.

The Medicare for All Act “establishes a national health-insurance program that is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).” The program must

(1) cover all U.S. residents;

(2) provide for automatic enrollment of individuals upon birth or residency in the United States; and

(3) cover items and services that are medically necessary or appropriate to maintain health or to diagnose, treat, or rehabilitate a health condition, including hospital services, prescription drugs, mental health and substance-abuse treatment, dental and vision services, and long-term care.

The bill “prohibits cost-sharing (e.g., deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments) and other charges for covered services.” Private health insurers and employers “may only offer coverage that is supplemental to, and not duplicative of, benefits provided under the program.” Health insurance exchanges and federal health programs (except coverage provided through the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Indian Health Service) “terminate upon program implementation,” which “must be fully implemented two years after enactment.”

Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), the House Rules Committee chairman and a co-sponsor of the bill, remarked about the legislation, “We need to expand the definition of national security to include more than just the number of bombs we have. It should also mean quality health care.” He argued that it shouldn’t be “too much to expect the federal government to protect us against illnesses here at home.” Echoing Barack Obama, McGovern maintained, “People are not going to lose their health care: you can keep your doctors, go to your hospitals that you currently have. The only difference is you wouldn’t have to deal with your insurance companies.”

Among those testifying at the hearing was Ady Barkan, a 35-year-old progressive activist for single-payer health care who has ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease). Sitting in a wheelchair and speaking with the aid of a computer, Barkan emotionally insisted, “Health care is not treated as a human right in the United States of America. This fact is outrageous and it’s far past time we change it. Health care is a human right.” This “right” is something that most Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have pushed for many years.

But House Republicans at the hearing pushed back. Ranking member Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) likened the Medicare for All Act to socialism: “This bill is a socialist proposal that threatens freedom of choice and would allow Washington to pose one-size-fits-all plans on the American people.” Charles Blahous, a senior researcher at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, who was invited to testify by the Republicans, estimated that the bill “would cost up to $38.8 trillion in additional government spending over 10 years.”

Liberal media outlets were eagerly anticipating the “Medicare for All” hearing. HuffPost used the occasion to raise “3 Big Questions Now That ‘Medicare for All’ Is Getting a Hearing”:

  1. What does Medicare for All actually mean?

  2. How should government control health-care spending?

  3. What are the consequences of doing nothing?

The writer describes two possible meanings of “Medicare for All”: A government program that covers everything “with essentially no out-of-pocket expenses” (like the Jayapal bill) and a system “in which everybody has insurance, the government plays a much larger role in controlling health-care spending, and the profit motive doesn’t interfere with people’s ability to get care.” To make sure that everyone has “generous health insurance,” and that “spending will be no more and maybe even less than Americans spend on health care today,” the government “would have to get a lot more involved in controlling the price of health care, either by fixing prices or setting overall budgets.” This would, admittedly, “affect every part of the health-care industry ? not just drug companies and insurers, but also doctors and hospitals.” The consequences of doing nothing are dire: “As private insurance gets more expensive, people who buy insurance on their own and aren’t eligible for the Affordable Care Act’s tax credits face premiums that are more and more unaffordable.”

The problem with these three questions is that they never get to the root of the issue. Libertarians maintain that there are 3 big questions that are not being asked about “Medicare for All”:

  1. Is it constitutional?

  2. Is it the proper role of government?

  3. Who should pay for health care?

The answers to these questions are really quite simple.

1. Not only is there nothing in the Constitution that authorizes the federal government to have a Medicare for All program, there is nothing in the Constitution that authorizes the federal government to have a Medicare program for anyone. Just as there is nothing in the Constitution that authorizes the federal government to have Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS), the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare), the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (the Republican version of Obamacare), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), federal laboratories, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

2. It is an illegitimate purpose of government to provide or pay for all or part of anyone’s health care or health insurance. Just as it is an illegitimate purpose of government to maintain or fund medical research, insurance exchanges, community health centers, clinical trials, family planning, HIV/AIDS prevention initiatives, databases of Americans’ medical records, or vaccination programs; issue nutrition guidelines, regulate the sale of mandate insurance coverages, have medical-licensing laws, restrict the sale of bodily organs, or have medical-record requirements; issue mandates or regulations regarding physicians, dentists, nurses, midwives, psychiatrists, psychologists, hospitals, medical devices, pharmacists, insurance companies, medical schools, nursing homes, drugs, or drug companies; or make health care and health insurance more affordable or institute a safety net to ensure that the poor have adequate health care.

3. No American is entitled to health care provided at the expense of another American. No American should be forced to pay for the health care or health insurance of any other American — regardless of how poor, old, sick, disabled, or needy that other American is. All charity should be private and voluntary. Health care is not a right; it is a service that can and should be provided on the free market just like any other service.

Don’t look for liberal media outlets to ever raise these three fundamental questions. And as for conservatives, they have no real answers to them when it comes to health care and health insurance because they can’t answer them without equivocating and making exception after exception.

Published:5/14/2019 5:09:28 PM
[Markets] Ron Paul Warns Losing Income Tax Privacy Is A Real Danger

Authored by Ron Paul via The Unz Review,

Last week the New York Times published some of President Trump’s 1980s and 1990s tax returns information. The information detailed President Trump’s financial difficulties during that time. While you would not know it from reading some media reports, this is old news. In fact, President Trump openly discussed his financial difficulties on his popular reality television show.

What should be of great concern is the possibility that the person who leaked the returns - who the paper says has legal access to President Trump’s tax records - is an IRS employee seeking to undermine the president. This would hardly be the first time an IRS employee has leaked confidential information because he disagreed with the taxpayer’s politics. In 2014 the agency had to pay the National Organization for Marriage 50,000 dollars after an IRS employee gave names of the group’s donors to the group’s opponents.

In 2014-2017, my Campaign for Liberty group was repeatedly threatened by the IRS because it refused to give the agency the names of and other information about its top supporters. Fortunately, the IRS rescinded the regulation forcing groups like Campaign for Liberty to violate supporters’ privacy or face legal penalties. However, campaign finance reform legislation that recently passed in the House of Representatives would require the IRS to resume collecting this information, and the New York attorney general is suing the IRS to force the agency to reinstate the regulation.

The right of groups like Campaign for Liberty to protect their supporters’ privacy was upheld by the Supreme Court in NAACP v. Alabama. As Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote, “Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs.”

Traditionally, presidents have used the IRS to harass their political opponents instead of presidents’ opponents using the IRS against them. Franklin Roosevelt audited people critical of the New Deal and supportive of the America First movement. Lyndon Johnson ordered audits of opponents, and John Kennedy shared tax return information with Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee.

During the Obama administration, the IRS targeted groups opposing Obamacare. The agency went after anti-Iraq War groups during the George W. Bush years.

If the Times did obtain Trump’s tax returns information from an IRS employee, that employee is not in the same category as whistleblowers like Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning who exposed government wrongdoing. The leaker or leakers of President Trump’s information are releasing private tax information.

The IRS regularly violates the civil liberties of taxpayers generally. In fact, the income tax system forcing taxpayers to reveal potentially incriminating information on their tax returns violates the principles of a free society. Americans’ liberty and prosperity will never be secure until Congress repeals two great mistakes of 1913: the income tax and the Federal Reserve.

Published:5/14/2019 11:33:06 AM
[Markets] The Crash In US Economic Fundamentals Is Accelerating

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.com,

When looking at the health of an economic system it is impossible to gauge growth or stability by only taking two or three indicators into account. The problem is, this is exactly what central banks and governments tend to do. In fact, governments and central banks wildly and deliberately promote certain indicators as the signals everyone should care about while ignoring a whole host of other fundamentals that do not fit their “recovery” narrative. When these few chosen indicators don't read well either, they rig the numbers in their favor.

The most promoted and and by extension most rigged indicators include GDP, unemployment, and inflation. I would include stock markets to a point in this list, but as I've always said, stocks are a trailing indicator and never tell us accurately when an economic crash is taking place. If anything, stocks are and always have been a placebo for the masses, a psychological crutch meant to lull them to sleep while the crash begins. Other than that, they have no value in determining the health of the system.  As a lagging indicator, we will cover stocks at the end of this analysis.

GDP rigging is mostly a government affair, as much of how GDP is calculated today includes government spending. So, even though the government has to steal your money through taxation in order to then spend money, government spending is still counted as “production”. This includes programs like Obamacare, which despite assumptions among some conservatives, continues to operate today. “Official” establishment estimates of government spending as a percentage of GDP stand at around 20%. More accurate estimates accounting for ALL expenditures show that US government spending accounts for around 35% of GDP. This is an enormous fraud.

Most of my regular readers know full well how unemployment numbers are rigged to show recovery, but to summarize, around 95 million working age Americans who are unemployed are not counted as unemployed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics because they have been jobless for long enough to be removed from welfare benefits roles. Now, to be clear, the BLS does keep track of this statistic, but, they DO NOT treat it as a measure of unemployment when reporting their stats to the public.

To clarify, 102 million WORKING AGE people (counted and not counted as unemployed) are jobless in the US. This is almost 50% of the total 206 million working age people in the country. Yet, the BLS reports the unemployment rate at an astonishing 4%. Recovery indeed...

Inflation rigging is a bit more complicated, but the primary method has been for the government and the Fed to simply change their methods of calculation over the past 4 decades, and to exclude inflation in certain goods like food and energy from the numbers. If you want to see real inflation numbers calculated the way they should be, visit John Williams over at Shadowstats.

Another issue that we must take into account is the Federal Reserve's role as a creator of financial bubbles, and the destroyer of financial bubbles. The Fed can and does act with impunity to influence the system, but they also seek to exploit certain economic indicators as a rationale for their policy decisions. For example, the Fed's QT policies have for the past couple of years relied on positive GDP, unemployment and inflation stats. In the meantime, the Fed has all but ignored the vast array of stagflationary and deflationary warning signs which run contrary to their interest rate hikes and balance sheet cuts.

For at the past ten years, the Fed has refused to acknowledge that there is no recovery. For the past two years, the Fed has been tightening liquidity despite the lack of recovery. And, even in the past four months with all the talk of the Fed “retreating” on QT and going “dovish”, Fed bankers still claim in their public statements that the US economy is enjoying a "solid" recovery.

This creates some serious confusion, as we saw this week when the Jerome Powell finally hinted to the public that the Fed was more hawkish than it had allowed everyone to believe.

I think the message is clear, though. The Fed continues to cut its balance sheet almost weekly, the Fed's benchmark interest rate KEEPS RISING despite all the claims that the Fed is “backing off”, the Fed is still insistent that the US is in recovery, and now GDP numbers are coming in rigged to shocking highs. This tells me that the Fed is NOT backing off of tightening measures, even though they have been feeding dovish rhetoric to the mainstream and alternative media.

But what about all the other fundamentals that are alerting us to an ongoing economic crash? What about all the numbers that the Fed is pretending don't exist when they say that we are enjoying a strong recovery?

How about the recent plunge in earnings forecasts for global companies like Google parent company Alphabet, 3M or Intel? Alphabet saw a 9% drop in earnings growth and the worst day for its stock since 2012.  3M has reported its worst earnings forecast in a decade, and is now planning to cut at least 2000 jobs. Intel also reported earnings expectations well below Wall Street estimates.  It smells like 2008 all over again.

Global banks such as Goldman Sachs and Citigroup earnings have also disappointed estimates, along with oil majors Exxon and Chevron.

This is a trend which is accelerating. Not only in earnings forecasts, but across the board in terms of economic data.  Expect the situation to get much worse as the numbers continue to roll in.

Poor corporate earnings reports are the latest signal that we are entering (or returning to) a recessionary crash. But other signals have been visible for at least the past year. Corporate debt has hit historic highs once again, as companies sink into the red at levels not seen since 2007, just before the last economic disaster. This problem has been mostly dismissed in the mainstream economic media because companies were still reporting healthy profits, but now, as we've seen, profits are staring to falter. So, it is likely you will be hearing a lot more about massive corporate debt levels in the coming months. For now, the globalists at the IMF are preempting the disasterby “warning” about potential outcomes of corporate debt instability, just as they did before the 2008 crash (a little too late).

Consumer credit card debt and household debt has hit all time highs, yet retailers report a multi-month plunge in sales. This tells me that households are likely being forced to take on more and more debt to pay off previous debts. Once again, this is exactly what happened just before the crash of 2008.

US retail numbers continue to fall month after month and have been declining since the last quarter of 2018. Despite a jump in March (primarily due to higher gas prices), the downward trend appears as though it will continue.

US auto sales in almost every category are falling, and rising interest rates are at the core of the decline.

Existing home sales continue to crumble since the end of 2018, while new homes sales finally saw a jump in March. This jump, however, is probably due to the fact that home price growth is beginning to fall back to reality in many markets.  The tenuous nature of the housing market is reaffirmed in the latest numbers on mortgage applications, which have now fallen to six year lowseven in the face of a recent drop in mortgage rates.

In the meantime, US rental costs are skyrocketing, and have been rising exponentially for at least the past year. This is the conundrum of stagflation in play, with value being lost in some goods, while the prices of necessities spike and strangle consumers.

There are a few factors which have been artificially propping up public hopes on economic health in the US - the hope that the trade war with China will soon end with a "huge" deal brokered by Trump, the hope that the Fed will reverse on it's tightening policies and start cutting interest rates again, and the performance of the stock market.  All of these things seem to be tied together in a fantastic mess of false promises.

First, every time the Trump Admin injects the notion of a trade deal with China, it has consistently proven false, or exaggerated.  My position is this - the trade war is an excellent distraction from the sabotage the Federal Reserve is initiating against the US economy as it pops the "Everything Bubble".  This is why the trade war never seems to end.  And, even if a trade deal is finally announced with China, I predict it will also be a farce, a fake deal which will result in no meaningful benefits to the US and one that will eventually fall apart.  Ultimately, as the current crash progresses the trade war will be blamed, rather than the central bankers that created the mess in the first place.

Second, the Fed will not be cutting interest rates anytime soon.  In fact, I continue to believe the Fed will hike rates again this year.  Not that it matters, because the Fed's benchmark interest rate has been climbing anyway, which may indicate the central bank is seeking to tighten liquidity while pretending it is "remaining patient".

Third, global stocks have been propped up for the past four months by a number of factors, as mentioned above, but first and foremost they have been enjoying massive stimulus injections from China. It is China's QE, not the Federal Reserve or the "plunge protection team", which has kept global stocks alive.  I expected China to cut their stimulus efforts much sooner and for stocks to begin dropping back to their December lows, but it appears as though they have opted to continue into May.

I will be covering this issue in an article soon, but it is clear that China is getting diminishing returns from this QE.  Also, Chinese stimulus may be a temporary response to trade war conditions (or trade talks).  We will see how long it lasts if the trade discussions fall apart, or if a trade deal is finalized.  For now, China is hinting that it will soon pull back on QE.

The bottom line is, the next crash has already begun. It started at the end of 2018, and is only becoming more pervasive with each passing month.  This is not "doom and gloom" or "doom porn", this is simply the facts on the ground.  While stock markets are still holding (for now), the rest of the system is breaking down right on schedule. The question now is, when will the mainstream media and the Fed finally acknowledge this is happening?  I suspect, as in 2008, they will openly admit to the danger only when it is far too late for people to prepare for it.

*  *  *

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Published:5/4/2019 11:51:25 AM
[Politics] GOP Lawmakers Keeping Clear of Trump's Obamacare Attacks Congressional Republicans are distancing themselves from President Donald Trump’s attacks on Obamacare, The Hill is reporting. Published:5/3/2019 8:19:59 AM
[Markets] DOJ Lays Out Case For Striking Down Entirety Of ObamaCare

The Trump Administration has laid out its arguments against the constitutionality of ObamaCare as it prepares an all-out assault in the courts that could bring a final Supreme Court ruling during the middle of election season next spring.

Filed with the conservative 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals, Assistant Attorney General Joseph Hunt unfurled the administration's new position, which holds that the entirety of the law is unconstitutional. Previously, the administration had argued that some parts of the law could remain in effect, even if the individual mandate is struck down.

"Upon further consideration and review of the district court’s opinion, it is the position of the United States that the balance of the ACA also is inseverable and must be struck down" and that the fine on the uninsured "works part and parcel with the other health-insurance reforms in the ACA," the administration wrote in the briefing.

Obamacare

The brief is, effectively, a bid to affirm a December decision by US District Judge Reed O'Connor that would have struck down the law if it weren't for the inevitable appeals. The case is widely expected to go all the way to the Supreme Court, what would be ObamaCare's second trip to the highest court in the nation.

In his ruling, O'Connor determined that when Congress struck down the individual mandate last year, it effectively nullified SCOTUS's rationale for deeming the law constitutional in 2012. His decision sided with Republican state officials who had filed the challenge. The decision was swiftly appealed by Democratic attorneys general.

Last month, Trump tweeted that Republicans had been developing a "really great" alternative health care plan with "far lower premiums" than Obamacare and that a vote would take place right after the election.

According to the Washington Examiner, if all of Obamacare were declared unconstitutional, then other provisions in the healthcare law would be undone, like the expansion of Medicaid, cuts to drug prices in Medicaid, and a rule allowing adult children to remain on their parents' plans until the age of 26.

Read the brief below:

DOJ Brief Texas v. US by on Scribd

Published:5/2/2019 1:49:27 PM
[Markets] Pelosi Invokes Obama's Legacy To Kill The 'Green New Deal'

Nancy Pelosi is employing a new weapon in her desperate battle to keep a lid on the restive progressives and "Democratic Socialists" who now represent a sizable voting bloc in the House: Invoking the legacy of President Barack Obama. According to Bloomberg, as the House prepares to vote on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's 'Green New Deal' resolution, Pelosi is using Obama's 'leadership' on climate change - like joining the Paris Climate Accords - to support her reasoning that there might be more moderate ways to deal with climate change short of banning air travel and calling for the reconstruction of nearly every building in New York City.

The report  precedes two climate-change-related votes in the House this week: One on the GND resolution, and another proposal, which has Pelosi's explicit backing, that would seek to stop President Trump from pulling out of the Paris Accord. Pelosi has made it clear that the latter bill both has a better chance of ultimately becoming a law and producing a tangible accomplishment, while the GND would simply hand Trump and his fellow Republicans a cudgel with which to bludgeon the moderate Democrats in swing districts who were responsible for the Democrats' mid-term victory in the House.

Obama

However, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other far-left Dems, who have done a much better job of amplifying their voices on social media, successfully drowning out their more moderate peers, have made it clear that while they wouldn't oppose Pelosi's plan - it's still a good first step, they've said - it falls far short of their goal.

And to be clear, that goal remains: Prevent the imminent climate-change-driven destruction of planet Earth, which - in case you've forgotten - is only 12 years away.

"The idea that we can just reintroduce 2009 policies is not reflective of action that is necessary for now in the world of today," said Ocasio-Cortez. She added that "there is no harm in passing" Pelosi's bill, but ultimately, the GND is what's needed.

Fortunately for Pelosi, her approach is popular with moderates, who still outnumber progressives like AOC. The climate change bill by Florida Democratic Representative Kathy Castor already has 224 Democratic co-sponsors.

"That administration put forward real solutions for the American families," Representative Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, said of Obama’s tenure. "There is no sort of ‘moderate response’ here. It’s just that we are at the beginning of this process."

But  that hasn't stopped progressives from deriding it as "the junior varsity bill".

Yet that won’t do for progressives who are pushing for more aggressive action and are worried that the vote would be a substitute for meaningful legislation.

"Simply put, it’s the junior varsity bill," said RL Miller, the chairman of the California Democratic Party’s environmental caucus and co-founder of the Climate Hawks Vote, a political action committee. "It’s nice but extremely insufficient."

Focusing on the Paris accord allows Democrats to paint Republicans as opposing solutions to global warming and highlight what they say is a lack of leadership on the issue by Trump, who has dismissed climate change as a hoax.

As BBG points out, Pelosi's strategy on climate change mirrors her tactics on health-care, too, as she has opposed Medicare for All and instead pushed for 'improvements' to Obamacare.

But as the progressives have made it clear that they won't stop pushing until they've seized control of the Democratic agenda, all of this might be too little, too late for Pelosi.

Published:5/1/2019 11:00:17 AM
[Markets] Ebola Doctors In Congo Are Threatening A Strike At The Worst Possible Time

The doctors crucial to helping stop Ebola outbreaks in the Congo are threatening to go on strike indefinitely if health workers are attacked again, according to AP.

The threat comes after a Cameroon national that was working for the World Health Organization was killed last week. Dr. Richard Valery Mouzoko Kiboung of Cameroon was killed on Friday during an attack on an Ebola response command center in the eastern Congo.

Dr. Kalima Nzanzu urged authorities to provide greater security for the Ebola response and said that he wanted residents to understand that doctors and other medical staff are there to help fight the outbreak.

Politically, eastern Congo is a volatile area where many armed groups operate. Lack of trust in government has subverted efforts to contain Ebola since the outbreak began late last summer. Some residents falsely accuse foreigners of bringing Ebola to the area.

Just days ago, we reported that the Ebola outbreak in the Congo was close to "becoming a global emergency". Two weeks ago, the World Health Organization issued a statement on the ongoing Ebola outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The recent spike of cases increases the threat that the deadly virus will spread to other countries and efforts must be redoubled to stop it, the WHO said last Friday after a meeting of its expert committee.

On April 12, the WHO claimed that while the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Congo is of “deep concern” the situation does not yet warrant being declared a global emergency.

Here are a few concerning excerpts from the statement:

However, the Committee wished to express their deep concern about the recent increase in transmission in specific areas, and therefore the potential risk of spread to neighbouring countries.

Special emphasis should be placed on addressing the rise in case numbers in the remaining epicentres, notably Butembo, Katwa, Vuhovi, and Mandima.

Because there is a very high risk of regional spread, neighbouring countries should continue to accelerate current preparedness and surveillance efforts, including vaccination of health care workers and front-line workers in surrounding countries.

Cross-border collaboration should continue to be strengthened, including timely sharing of data and alerts, cross-border community engagement and awareness raising. In addition, work should be done to better map population movements and understand social networks bridging national boundaries.

The Committee maintains its previous advice that it is particularly important that no international travel or trade restrictions should be applied. Exit screening, including at airports, ports, and land crossings, is of great importance; however, entry screening, particularly in distant airports, is not considered to be of any public health or cost-benefit value. (source)

The outbreak has become the second-deadliest in history, behind the West African one from 2014-16 that killed more than 11,300 people. As of April 15, the outbreak has claimed 821 lives. The total case number is 1273. Unfortunately, both numbers are soaring, and experts say it is not even close to ending.

Published:4/26/2019 12:28:02 AM
[The Blog] The number of uninsured Americans has gone up by 1.4 million in the last two years

"...experts attributed the decline to rising premiums."

The post The number of uninsured Americans has gone up by 1.4 million in the last two years appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:4/25/2019 4:22:53 PM
[Uncategorized] Video: Top three Obamacare promises, RIP

Behold, the death of three core Obamacare promises, in 74 seconds, using Democrats’ words only.  The trifecta:

The post Video: Top three Obamacare promises, RIP appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:4/24/2019 12:52:26 AM
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