Archive for November, 2016
This Miami Herald editorial is a fantastic example of the Agenda Media pretending to be thoughtful journalists and policy experts. I’ll be blunt. The Miami Herald is neither. They’re a pro-Obamacare cheerleader.
That was obvious when they said “On the one hand, Republicans in Congress want to scrap Obamacare, simple as that. On the other, Mr. Trump now says he wants to keep the part of the law that prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions. And he also likes the provision that allows parents to keep grown children on their policies until the age of 26.” It doesn’t require a rocket scientist to figure it out that some parts of the ACA are popular, even worthwhile. Likewise, it doesn’t require a rocket scientist to figure out that some provisions in the ACA are counterproductive.
For instance, the provision that provided for annual bailouts of insurance companies should’ve been a giant red flag that the ACA would bankrupt the insurance companies without that provision. Another provision eliminates risk as a factor for determining premiums. What idiot thinks it’s possible for insurance companies to sell health insurance to the 60-year-old guy who’s had 3 heart attacks at the same price as the 30-year-old guy whose biggest medical bill came when he scraped his knee on the playground when he was in fifth grade?
Here’s additional proof that the Miami Herald is pro-Democrat cheerleading mouthpiece:
Salvaging this and other essential provisions while scrapping Obamacare would be the legislative equivalent of squaring the circle. There is no clear path to “repeal and replace” because Republicans have never bothered to sit down with Democrats to figure out how to improve the law that everyone, including President Obama himself, concedes is far from perfect.
Actually, this isn’t that complicated. Here in Minnesota, we had a fantastic system until the ACA shredded that system. To keep premiums low and insured rates high while making sure that people with pre-existing conditions got insurance, Minnesota set up a high-risk pool. People with pre-existing conditions bought insurance that was subsidized on a sliding scale. The less you made, the more the insurance was subsidized.
In 2007, Minnesota’s effective insured rate was 96.5%. Because these high-risk people were separated from the healthier people, the healthier people’s health insurance premiums were significantly lower than they are today.
Then there’s this:
Its essential functions are working as intended. More than 16 million Americans have gained health insurance.
That’s true but misleading:
A new study by Jonathan Gruber, one of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) chief economic architects, suggests that roughly two-thirds of new Medicaid enrollees in 2014 were eligible for the program under previous state eligibility criteria—meaning that they were not made eligible by the ACA. If accurate, then a much smaller share of new Medicaid enrollees were made eligible for the program by the ACA than Washington experts commonly believe.
More people signed up because the application process got streamlined prior to the ACA’s passage. That’s proof that the Democrats’ fearmongering has already started. Republicans just need to do what’s right and things will work out fine for them.
Rep. Tim Ryan, (D-OH), has run an aggressive campaign against Nancy Pelosi. Whether he wins (odds are against him winning) or not, Rep. Ryan has highlighted what political analysts have known for eight years: that the Democratic Party isn’t a healthy, thriving national party.
Thanks to the Democrats’ humiliating defeats in 2010, 2014 and 2016, the Democrats’ bench is thinner than the Vikings offensive line. Put differently, the list of rising stars in the Democratic Party is virtually non-existent. This WSJ article highlights what’s gone wrong with the Democratic Party. It opens by saying “Nancy Pelosi has led Democrats to four straight defeats in elections to control the U.S. House, which explains why Republicans are endorsing her to stay as Minority Leader. She finally has a challenger in Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan in a secret-ballot vote on Wednesday, but the party’s weakness in Congress runs deeper than its leadership.”
Democrats are making the mistake of thinking their problems are identity-based. They aren’t. Their problems started multiplying when they went exotic. First, it was the anti-war protests. Next, it was Occupy Wall Street, aka OWS. After that, they worshipped at the altar of Black Lives Matter. Periodically throughout their demise, Democrats told the American people that climate change was a bigger threat to national security than al-Qa’ida, then ISIS.
It isn’t surprising that people in America’s heartland took one look at Democrats and determined that Democrats are nuts. Nancy Pelosi is the perfect leader for such a political party.
This patronage system has helped Mrs. Pelosi build support among the Congressional Black and Hispanic caucuses, which will make up an estimated 70 of the 194 Democrats seats next year. Democrats also don’t have term limits for committee chairs, which has frozen young members out of influence. All of this has magnified the caucus’s insularity and its swing to the political left.
Democrats won the House in 2006 by recruiting moderates to run in competitive districts. Mrs. Pelosi then forced them to walk the plank on the stimulus, cap and trade and ObamaCare. The centrist Blue Dog coalition has lost three-fourths of its Members since 2010.
This morning on CNN’s New Day, Rep. Debbie Dingell sang Pelosi’s praises, insisting that she’s a great listener and that she’s helped unify the Democratic Party. The Democrats are unified in the sense that the only ones left are the Black Lives Matter wing of the Democratic Party and wholly-owned subsidiaries of the environmental activist wing of the Democratic Party.
We’ll know that the Republicans’ winning streak has continued if these are the faces of the Democratic Party:
Dr. Jill Stein’s campaign suffered a significant defeat in court Tuesday when a judge ruled that counties didn’t need to do a hand recount. Stein suffered that defeat when “Dane County Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn said the effort to force the hand recount” hadn’t met “the state’s legal standard for prohibiting the use of machines in the recount, saying that the two campaigns did not show a hand recount, though more thorough, was necessary or show there was a clear and convincing evidence of fraud or other problems.”
The lawsuit was destined to fail because it was based virtually entirely on hypothetical possibilities, not verifiable proof. According to the USA Today article, “Stein campaign brought forward a series of experts in statistics and computer science who argued for a hand recount by describing a series of hypothetical ways that computer hackers might reprogram voting machines.”
Stein’s attorneys tried putting their best spin on the ruling:
Debbie Greenberger, an attorney for the Stein campaign, said she was uncertain whether their side would appeal but said she hoped county clerks would heed the judge’s praise for a hand recount.
Fat chance with that. A hand recount would be lengthy. A machine recount would be significantly faster.
The Stein recount ‘machine’ just broke down.
Donald Trump’s cabinet keeps getting more impressive. This morning, President-Elect Trump officially announced that he’s picked Rep. Tom Price to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services. According to this WSJ article, “Mr. Trump on Tuesday also named Seema Verma, a consultant who helped Vice President-Elect Mike Pence negotiate a groundbreaking Medicaid deal with the Obama administration, as the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.”
Price brings instant credibility to Republicans’ efforts to repeal and replace the ACA. “Mr. Price, a 62-year-old former orthopedic surgeon, is one of several GOP physicians who sought to carve out a leading role in shaping the party’s health policy and, in particular, the party’s alternative vision to Democrats’ Affordable Care Act.”
This past summer, Price told an interviewer “We think it’s important that Washington not be in charge of health care. The problem that I have with Obamacare is that its premise is that Washington knows best.”
Price likely will get lots of criticism from Democrats during his confirmation hearing because he’s written legislation that would repeal and replace Obamacare. Dr. Price won’t have a problem with these criticisms and will likely have some sharp responses to the Democrats’ criticism.
It’s difficult to see Price not getting confirmed. He’s the chairman of the House Budget Committee. He’s the former chair of the House Study Committee, too. In announcing the pick, Donald Trump issued this statement:
“Chairman Price, a renowned physician, has earned a reputation for being a tireless problem solver and the go-to expert on healthcare policy, making him the ideal choice to serve in this capacity,” Trump said in making the announcement official early Tuesday. He added that Price “is exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare and bring affordable and accessible healthcare to every American.”
Technorati: Tom Price, Orthopedic Surgeon, Health and Human Services, Seema Verma, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Mike Pence, Vice President-Elect, Repeal and Replace, Confirmation Hearings, Republicans
One thing that can’t be disputed is the fact that militant environmentalists don’t think through the tactics they’ll use to pipelines from getting built. For instance, this Mother Jones article includes a quote from Debbie Sease, the senior lobbying and advocacy director at the Sierra Club about the things they’ll do to stop legal, permitted pipelines from getting built. She said that “her organization’s strategy lies in playing defense by filing legal challenges, galvanizing the public, and using the marketplace. If a coal field is going to be developed, for example, activists can make it as expensive as possible to comply with existing regulations and force the developer to deal with a public backlash, she says. Additional tools environmentalists can use include citizen lawsuits, grassroots organizing, and ballot measures at the state and local level focusing on everything from renewable energy standards to green transportation initiatives.”
It’s important to note that that’s just part of the Sierra Club’s tactics. This article isn’t about the Sierra Club. Still, it’s another organization working to prevent pipelines from getting built:
PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, Man. – A Manitoba indigenous chief says there’s a desire for action – which could include blockades of Canadian pipelines and railways – in support of a protest against a North Dakota pipeline project.
Grand Chief Terry Nelson of the Southern Chiefs Organization says chiefs and others attended a meeting Saturday at the Dakota Tipi First Nation near Portage la Prairie to discuss how to react if the U.S. government clears demonstrators from a camp occupied by the Dakota Access pipeline protesters.
Nelson says one option includes blocking access to pumping stations along a pipeline operated by Enbridge, which has plans to acquire a stake in the U.S. pipeline project. After the meeting, Dakota Tipi members held a pipe ceremony on the Trans-Canada Highway near Portage la Prairie, Man., temporarily blocking a lane of traffic.
The thing to keep in mind about these protests is that they aren’t about stopping global warming or the environment. The DAPL got all of its permits before starting construction. They did what the government required them to do.
These protesters are part anarchist, part fascist, part authoritarian. Their respect for the rule of law is virtually nonexistent. That’s clear considering the fact that the company that’s building the DAPL has been attacked daily. These anarchists are violent, too.
It’s time to tighten up laws, too. Environmentalists convicted of committing violence should be imprisoned for a mandatory 5 years and fined $10,000 if they’re caught protesting on pipeline property. Let them know that there’s a price they’ll have to pay for disrupting legally permitted things.
Jill Stein insists that her petition for a recount in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin is being done for the noblest of reasons. In this article, Stein is quoted as saying “We need peace of mind about our voting system in this election and going forward.” She reportedly said this with a straight face. It isn’t that we don’t “need peace of mind about our voting system in this election and going forward.” It’s that Stein’s requests are based on assumptions, hunches, a little incompetence and tons of litigation.
The tons of litigation comes partly from Dr. Stein’s missing Pennsylvania’s recount deadline. Part of the litigation comes from the fact that Stein didn’t get her way in Wisconsin. The litigation is also partly because of her campaign’s incompetence.
Dr. Stein’s incompetence is highlighted by the fact that she didn’t follow Pennsylvania’s recount laws. Whether she thought the laws didn’t apply to her or whether they just missed the deadline, the indisputable truth is that Dr. Stein missed Pennsylvania’s deadline. That’s the least of Dr. Stein’s problems.
According to this article, the fundraising is the easy part. Specifically, the article says “when it comes to the Keystone State, it turns out raising the money might have been the easiest step. As Stein points out herself in a video posted on Sunday, initiating a statewide recount of Pennsylvania’s vote is ‘especially complicated.'”
Speculation increases as to why Mrs. Clinton would join such a haphazard recount operation. Whatever her reasons are for joining, though, they aren’t helping her image. She’s acting like a spoiled brat who doesn’t like losing.
In Part I, I wrote that Jonathan Gruber was fearmongering by insisting that 20,000,000 Americans would lose their health insurance if the ACA was repealed. Specifically, Dr. Gruber said “Twenty million Americans have gained insurance coverage, and millions more would be covered if recalcitrant states had fully embraced the law rather than resisting out of pure partisan politics.”
Betsy McCaughey disputes the notion that 20,000,000 people would lose their health insurance if the ACA was repealed in this op-ed. She explained “Sixteen million of those who gained coverage are enrolled in Medicaid, the public program for low-income residents. Obamacare allowed states to expand who could sign up for Medicaid, with the federal government covering the tab. Repeal could result in less federal funding. But no one is pushing to abolish the nation’s health safety net. And states that just expanded Medicaid are unlikely to do a 180 and shrink it. The 16 million are likely safe.”
Now that that myth is debunked, it’s time to disprove other claims Dr. Gruber made. For instance, he said this:
Republicans would like to pretend that they can therefore preserve the first leg while getting rid of the other two, as witnessed by Trump’s recent statements praising the insurance protections in the law. But this cannot be done. If you tell insurance companies that they can’t discriminate and allow individuals to wait until they are sick to buy insurance, then insurance companies will lose money. Insurers will rightly be afraid that individuals will wait until they are sick to show up to buy insurance, and as a result insurers will either exit the market or charge very high prices to protect themselves.
Actually, Republicans don’t have to go that direction. Minnesota’s high risk pool prevented Dr. Gruber’s scenario. Rather than implementing a mandate, Minnesota simply subsidized people with pre-existing conditions when they bought health insurance. The insurance companies got paid and they didn’t have to worry about Dr. Gruber’s scenario.
McCaughey asks and answers another important question:
Will people with pre-existing conditions lose out?
No. All the GOP replacement plans protect them but not through the cynical, coercive scheme that Obamacare used.
Obama forced two groups of people into the same insurance pool: the healthy and the chronically ill. Healthy people would pay premiums but never meet their sky high deductibles. Instead, their premiums would foot huge medical bills for the chronically ill, who consume 10 times as much medical care. Healthy people saw it was a scam. They refused to sign up, despite the penalty.
Obamacare architect Ezekiel Emanuel says forcing the healthy to enroll is essential.
Sorry. There’s a fairer way. Trump would allow insurers to charge ill people more then subsidize these ‘high risk’ customers with taxpayer dollars. That spreads the cost fairly over the whole population, instead of burdening people in the individual market.
Voilà, premiums and deductibles will drop fast for people in the individual market.
This is the key:
Healthy people would pay premiums but never meet their sky high deductibles. Instead, their premiums would foot huge medical bills for the chronically ill, who consume 10 times as much medical care. Healthy people saw it was a scam. They refused to sign up, despite the penalty.
The architects of the ACA are scrambling to protect their ‘accomplishment’ rather than considering doing what’s right. The important point in this is asking a simple question: why should we trust the people who told us that we could keep our plans and our doctors if we liked them? They’ve lied before. It’s foolish to think that they suddenly became honest now that they’re leaving office.
Technorati: Jonathan Gruber, Barack Obama, Ezekiel Emanuel, Affordable Care Act, Individual Mandate, Medicaid Expansion, Pre-existing Conditions, Democrats, Betsy McCaughey, High-Risk Pool, Federal Subsidies, Repeal and Replace, Donald Trump, Republicans
After Donald Trump’s victory, there’s been a noticeable outbreak of bipartisanship from red-state Democratic senators.
For instance, “North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) is ready to work with Republicans on legislation to invest in ‘clean coal’ technologies. More broadly, she says she’s willing to work across the aisle on regulatory reform. ‘My priority is standing up for North Dakota, not party politics. The reason I’m in the U.S. Senate is to work with Republicans and Democrats to get things done,’ she told The Hill in a statement.”
Meanwhile, “Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) hopes to work with Republicans to reduce the deficit, clean up Washington by stopping former lawmakers from becoming lobbyists and passing legislation to improve service at the Department of Veterans Affairs, a major Trump talking point during the campaign.”
Before you think the Democratic Party has changed into a principled political party, don’t. There’s an explanation for their sudden ‘appreciation’ for bipartisanship:
While outgoing Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) didn’t want Democrats to work with vulnerable Republicans ahead of the 2016 elections, his heir apparent Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is signaling a willingness to let his members do what they need to do to survive in the next Congress.
TRANSLATION: Sen. Schumer has seen the 2018 electoral map. It frightens him. He’s willing to momentarily retreat if it’ll prevent a bloodbath for Senate Democrats.
The thing for Republicans to highlight is whether this cooperation leads to bills getting to President Trump’s desk for his signature. If Sen. Tester works with President Trump on the deficit but doesn’t work with Sen. Heitkamp on regulatory reform and on repealing Obamacare, then we know that Democrats are playing procedural games.
The litmus test for Republicans should be whether Democrats will work with President Trump on Obamacare’s replacement. If there aren’t blocks of Democrats willing to repeal and replace the ACA, then it’ll be clear that Democrats aren’t really interested in productive bipartisanship.
Technorati: Chuck Schumer, Joe Manchin, Claire McCaskill, Heidi Heitkamp, Jon Tester, Democrats, Repeal and Replace, Obamacare, Litmus Test, Regulatory Reform, Clean Coal Technology, Pipelines, Infrastructure Projects, Republicans, Election 2018
The minute that Donald Trump and the Republicans set their sights on repealing the ACA, the Democratic fearmongering machine jumped into operation. This morning, the NY Daily News published this op-ed written by ACA architect Jonathan Gruber.
The opening paragraph of Dr. Gruber’s op-ed says “The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, has provided security for millions of Americans who used to live in fear of being unable to cover their medical expenses. Twenty million Americans have gained insurance coverage, and millions more would be covered if recalcitrant states had fully embraced the law rather than resisting out of pure partisan politics.”
It’s time to explode that myth.
Here in Minnesota, families are considering the option of not buying health insurance because their premiums plus deductibles would exceed $50,000 this year. They’re considering this option because their premiums alone will be $40,000 in 2017. The myth that Dr. Gruber is propagating is that the Affordable Care Act is affordable. It isn’t affordable. It’s anything but affordable. It’s a rip-off.
Betsy McCaughey’s article explains why the 20,000,000 figure is the crown jewel of the left’s fearmongering. In her op-ed, she wrote “Will 20 million lose coverage? Not even close. Sixteen million of those who gained coverage are enrolled in Medicaid, the public program for low-income residents. Obamacare allowed states to expand who could sign up for Medicaid, with the federal government covering the tab. Repeal could result in less federal funding. But no one is pushing to abolish the nation’s health safety net. And states that just expanded Medicaid are unlikely to do a 180 and shrink it. The 16 million are likely safe.”
Now that that myth has been exploded, it’s time to understand that replacing the ACA gives people the opportunity to replace it with something better. Minnesota’s high risk pool helped people with pre-existing conditions get affordable health care. There’s no reason for states not to implement high risk pools.
Then Dr. Gruber’s demagoguery shined through:
To do so, the ACA set up a “three legged stool”: banning discrimination by insurance companies; creating an individual mandate to bring the healthy into the insurance pool; and providing subsidies to make health insurance affordable.
The problem Republicans face is that the first leg is highly popular, the second leg is unpopular, and the third leg involves federal spending which the Republicans would rather direct to tax cuts for the wealthy.
High risk pools essentially end insurance companies denying people with pre-existing conditions coverage, thus eliminating that part of Dr. Gruber’s argument. The individual mandate hasn’t worked. Young people are paying the penalty rather than buying insurance policies they can’t afford. As for the part about “Republicans would rather direct to tax cuts for the wealthy”, that isn’t worth responding to other than saying that it’s a contemptible statement that isn’t based in anything other than fearmongering.
There’s more myth-busting to come in Part II. Check back for that later today. Think of it as McCaughey vs. Gruber, Round 2:
On Saturday, I wrote this post about this Mother Jones article. The MJ article quotes Debbie Sease, the senior lobbying and advocacy director at the Sierra Club. Ms. Sease was polite enough to explain how Democrats kill mining and construction jobs. She said that “her organization’s strategy lies in playing defense by filing legal challenges, galvanizing the public, and using the marketplace. If a coal field is going to be developed, for example, activists can make it as expensive as possible to comply with existing regulations and force the developer to deal with a public backlash.”
Ms. Sease apparently didn’t pay attention to the election. In battleground state after battleground state, voters rejected environmental activists. They turned the formerly blue states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania into purple states. The only backlash in sight is against the Sierra Club and other like-minded organizations. Thoughts that there will be a pro-Sierra Club backlash is wishful thinking.
Ms. Pease then noted that there were other weapons available to environmental activists:
Additional tools environmentalists can use include citizen lawsuits, grassroots organizing, and ballot measures at the state and local level focusing on everything from renewable energy standards to green transportation initiatives.
If you’re thinking that this sound like the DFL’s script for killing PolyMet and the Sandpiper Pipeline project, that’s because it’s the script that the DFL followed in attempting to kill PolyMet and the Sandpiper Pipeline project. That’s why the DFL constantly fights for additional layers of bureaucracy. They use those additional layers to petition government to kill projects with 1,000 paper cuts.
you think I’m exaggerating, I’m not. Paul Aasen admitted it in an op-ed published 8 years ago. I wrote this post to highlight the quotes from Paul Aasen:
Along with our allies at the Izaak Walton League of America, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Wind on the Wires, the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and Fresh Energy argued, first in South Dakota, then before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), that the new plant was a bad idea. Our message was simple: The utilities had not proven the need for the energy, and what energy they did need could be acquired less expensively through energy efficiency and wind.
We kept losing, but a funny thing happened. With each passing year, it became clearer that we were right. In 2007, two of the Minnesota utilities dropped out, citing some of the same points we had been making. The remaining utilities had to go through the process again with a scaled-down 580-megawatt plant.
This time around, the administrative law judge ruled in our favor, saying the utilities had proven the need for, at most, 160 megawatts and had failed to prove that coal would be the least expensive way of providing the electricity. The Minnesota PUC approved the transmission lines into Minnesota, and we filed an appeal that is pending with the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
That’s what attrition looks like. That’s why I titled the post “Attrition, not litigation.” At the time that this op-ed was written, Aasen was the executive director of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. MCEA’s goal was to force investors to spend millions of dollars in court. That’s how they make cheap energy sources expensive. That’s why everyone’s electric bills keep getting bigger.
Technorati: Sierra Club, Environmental Extremists, Environmental Activists, Debbie Sease, Lobbyists, Paul Aasen, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Sandpiper Pipeline Project, PolyMet, Big Stone II, Litigation, Regulations, Izaak Walton League of America, Wind on the Wires DFL, Donald Trump, Construction, Republicans, Election 2016