Archive for November, 2016

This article should get everyone’s blood boiling. In it, Mother Jones activists highlight how the Sierra Club is sabotaging families and businesses.

Specifically, Debbie Sease, the senior lobbying and advocacy director at the Sierra Club, told Mother Jones 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.”

First, it’s worth questioning the Sierra Club’s belief that there will be a backlash after President-Elect Trump’s decisive victories in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. While there’s no doubt that the rent-a-protesters will protest coal mining projects, that doesn’t qualify as a grassroots anti-coal movement. That’s just the left’s predictable astroturf paid protest agenda.

Next, notice that the Sierra Club’s tactics include destroying good-paying middle class jobs. The Sierra Club was once thought of as a mainstream environmental organization. They clearly aren’t mainstream anymore. They’ve become radicalized.

Then there’s this:

Still, there are some things Trump can do to help kick-start coal production. Earlier this year, Obama put a moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands. Trump could easily reverse this rule through executive action, said Goldston at the NRDC press conference.

Even if environmentalists are ultimately able to block some of Trump’s plans, they will still be faced with a larger problem. Obama’s climate policies were only a good start—they didn’t get us anywhere close to averting catastrophic warming. As Sease pointed out, the accelerating pace of climate change means that the planet can’t afford four years of inaction. “Time is not our friend here,” she said.

I’m perfectly willing to let free markets determine whether coal makes a comeback, though I’m hoping it does. It’s worth highlighting the fact that the Sierra Club opposes natural gas because of fracking.

The point is that environmental activists have an anti-middle class agenda. The Sierra Club and other radical environmental organizations won’t hesitate to use litigation to kill the mining industry. It’s time conservatives wake up to the fact that these environmental activists are waging war against the middle class.

Betsy DeVos has the chance of being one of the best secretaries of Education ever. According to this WSJ article, Mrs. DeVos has gone toe-to-toe with the ‘education establishment’ and lived to tell about it. In fact, she didn’t just live to tell about it, she defeated them. In fact, she didn’t just defeat them, she kicked some serious ass.

According to the WSJ article, “Mrs. DeVos is a philanthropist who has devoted years and much of her fortune to promoting school reform, especially charter schools and vouchers. She chairs the American Federation for Children (AFC).”

This year, “AFC was especially successful … as 108 of the 121 candidates it supported won their elections. AFC candidates in Florida won 20 of 21 targeted races. The group’s biggest coup was ousting a scourge of school choice in a Miami-Dade Senate district where Democrats are a majority. The teachers’ union dumped $1 million into the race but still lost.” [Editor’s note: winning 108 of 121 elections is a winning percentage of 89.25%, which certainly qualifies as kicking ass.

It’s especially heartening to see this many school choice advocates getting elected. They’re the future civil rights leaders of the next 15 years. Even more importantly, being seen as school choice advocates will help Republicans in minority communities irrespective of what Randi Weingarten said in this interview:

In Ms. Weingarten’s over-the-top statement, she said “In nominating DeVos, Trump makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in America. DeVos has no meaningful experience in the classroom or in our schools. The sum total of her involvement has been spending her family’s wealth in an effort to dismantle public education in Michigan. Every American should be concerned that she would impose her reckless and extreme ideology on the nation.”

This is a perfect illustration of the left’s wanting money out of politics … if the money is spent opposing the left’s monopolies. Mrs. DeVos has spent a portion of her wealth trying to increase educational competition in the hopes of forcing the forces of the status quo into providing a better product. The reason why the minority community likes school choice is because public schools have failed their children too often.

Here’s hoping that Mrs. DeVos carries out President-Elect Trump’s school choice agenda when she’s confirmed.

Late Friday night, Raul Castro announced that his brother Fidel Castro had died at age 90. He didn’t disclose the cause of death. Reuters’ article reporting Castro’s death read like a press release from the Cuban government. The opening paragraphs were particularly disgusting, saying “Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary leader who built a communist state on the doorstep of the United States and for five decades defied U.S. efforts to topple him, died on Friday, his younger brother announced to the nation. He was 90. A towering figure of the second half of the 20th Century, Castro had been in poor health since an intestinal ailment nearly killed him in 2006. He formally ceded power to his younger brother two years later.”

Let’s let the history be clear. Fidel Castro was a nasty murderous thug who ruled Cuba with an iron fist. The world is a much better place without him. This article gives us a clear-eyed description of Fidel Castro’s willingness to do whatever it took to maintain his iron-fisted grip on the nation:

The Cuban government maintains nationwide authority by controlling the national media coverage, by banning all forms of public dissidence, and (should all else fail) via aggressive imprisonment strategies to eliminate all persons who represent a threat to the communist state.

Cuba has utilized a systematic program of arbitrary detention and indefinite trials to maintain the second largest prison program in the modern world. The prisons are overcrowded and not meant to support the number of prisoners that they contain. Many of these prisons do not contain the amenities needed for basic human living, and these conditions are used as a form of punishment on the prisoners. Prisoners report being beaten by prison guards, deprived of light and heat, and starved during their prison sentence. Many of these prisoners are being held without a definite release date, and some prisoners do not have a set trial date to receive a proper sentencing.

What type of thug would do that? Rather than finish by saying RIP, I’ll finish by saying ‘Good riddance.’

In this interview, incoming Chair of the Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee, nailed it when she was asked by the AP reporter if there will be a special session. Sen. Benson replied “I am less hopeful today than I was even a couple of days ago. We’re just not hearing anything from the governor that indicates he’s interested in the bigger picture in health care. There needs to be some understanding from the governor’s office that he wants to change things going forward. If we get that, I think we go a long way to opening the door to a special session.”

I wrote this post to highlight Gov. Dayton’s unseriousness in fixing Minnesota’s health care system. It wasn’t that long ago that Minnesota had the best health care and health insurance systems in the United States. That isn’t true anymore. Rather than fixing the problems are having, Gov. Dayton has chosen to criticize Republicans, saying “We’re running out of time. Quit dilly-dallying and get to work, and decide whether you are going to support my proposal, which is ready to go, and is viable, or you don’t want to do it.”

First, Republicans have agreed that there needs to be a rebate system for this year to help people who don’t qualify for the federal subsidies. That’s the entirety of Gov. Dayton’s plan. Gov. Dayton’s plan doesn’t do anything to fix anything for the long-term. If that isn’t fixed, Minnesotans will be faced with a bigger crisis this time next year. This isn’t a matter of Republicans “dilly-dallying around.” It’s a matter of whether Gov. Dayton will stop pretending the ACA is a solid health care system. It isn’t.

Q: How much can the Legislature really do before the changes from the federal level become clear?
A: We have to put some solid things in place. I think we have to look at a reinsurance program (to help insurers pay for high-cost patients). How do we improve choice of competitiveness? I don’t know if we’ve already gone too far. Can the individual market recover?

Thanks to Minnesota’s reinsurance program, Minnesotans with pre-existing conditions could get health insurance at a reasonable price. It isn’t coincidental that health insurance premiums have skyrocketed since it was eliminated.

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Ed Morrissey’s latest column about the “fake news” phenomena offers 2 points worthy of further exploration. In the final paragraph of Morrissey’s column, he writes “That contempt from elites in media and politics may or may not have produced the electoral results seen two weeks ago, but it certainly explains the shock that has resulted from it. That contempt is also reflected in the push to shut down commentary and pressure Facebook into editing their social media network to allow only those sources deemed acceptable by those in power, politically and culturally.”

Predictably, Democrat elitists are in denial. In this instance, the simplest explanation for why so many blue collar voters chose Trump is because the Democratic Party has abandoned them for years. This administration has sided with environmental activists rather than the miners, pipefitters and heavy equipment operators on major projects every time. The Keystone XL Pipeline is just one example of that. The Dakota Access Pipeline is another.

This is a classic case of ‘what have you done for me lately Syndrome’. If Democrats don’t figure out a way to satisfy both environmental activists and miners, they’ll lose miners and construction workers for a generation. It’s that simple.

In his opening paragraph, Morrissey wrote “Rather than acknowledge the obvious and prosaic answer — that voters in swing states chose change rather than the status quo — analysts have sought a Unified Theory of Donald Trump’s Success. Trump couldn’t possibly have won fair and square, the assumption goes, so all that’s left is to identify whatever went wrong and banish it so this never happens again.”

Other explanations are equally valid. First, Hillary Clinton was a terrible candidate who ignored the most animated group of swing voters in this election. Mrs. Clinton didn’t just ignore Michigan and Wisconsin. She ignored voters in rural areas who demanded that they be heard. The other legitimate explanation for her defeat is simple: explosive ACA health insurance premiums caused people to demand a change from the status quo.

The Democratic Party is at a crossroads. They can continue to ignore blue collar workers and drive them into the GOP. If they don’t want that, then they’ll have to show that they aren’t anti-mining. Democrats can pretend that the ACA is a fine piece of legislation. That’s what Chuck Schumer did last Sunday. If that’s their strategy, they should prepare to not be taken seriously.

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I normally don’t talk about the things posted in the comments sections of articles but I’m making an exception in this instance because the comment uses one of the Democrats’ frequent talking points. The subject of the LTE is a bailout of insurance companies by the Obama administration. The comment, though, starts by saying “Most of the world has affordable health care, but not the USA, the wealthiest nation in the world. … Yes, there are issues with the ACA, but it could be fixed, but I guess these same groups have no souls or compassion…just that evil selfishness that cares nothing for anyone else.”

First, the ACA isn’t affordable. That’s why voters rejected Democrats on Nov. 8. It’s a major reason why Mrs. Clinton was defeated. It’s the biggest reason why Democrats didn’t regain their majority in the US Senate. It’s why Republicans flipped the Minnesota Senate. It’s why people are calling for a special session. Next, while there are a few worthwhile features in the ACA, the fundamental principles that it was built on aren’t sustainable. That’s why the ACA was written to include a bailout for insurance companies. The administration anticipated that the insurance companies would lose money. The insurance companies anticipated that, too. That’s why they insisted on writing that provision into the bill before they’d support it.

Third, the US had the best health care system in the world prior to implementing the ACA. A whopping 85% of people who had insurance were happy with their plan. That’s why people were furious when Obama’s promise of keeping their doctor was broken. Some improvements were needed. Specifically, we needed to make sure people with pre-existing conditions could buy reasonably priced health insurance. Minnesota had a fantastic system with MCHA. Minnesota’s effective insured rate prior to Obamacare was 96.5%.

Fourth and most importantly, prior to the ACA, Minnesotans could actually afford to use their health care. What person can afford $3,300 a month premiums, then pay $13,000 in deductibles before the insurance company spends a penny? That’s the system that Democrats gave us. That isn’t affordable health care. That’s expensive, drive-you-to-bankruptcy health care.

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Gov. Dayton’s last day in office can’t come soon enough. Saying that our governor is a spoiled rich brat with a short fuse is understatement. This time, Gov. Dayton says that he’s running out of patience with the GOP over MNsure. This article quotes Gov. Dayton as saying “I’m running out of patience” after accusing “Republicans of dragging their feet about fixing” MNsure.

After watching Gov. Dayton the past 6 years, I’m not convinced that Gov. Dayton ever had patience. Later in the article, Gov. Dayton is quoted as saying “We’re running out of time. Quit dilly-dallying and get to work, and decide whether you are going to support my proposal, which is ready to go, and is viable, or you don’t want to do it.”

Gov. Dayton, stop pretending like you have a plan to fix all of Minnesota’s health care problems. You’ve got a plan to send out rebate checks to people who make too much money to qualify for federal subsidies.

Gov. Dayton’s ‘plan’ doesn’t do a thing to increase access to health care. It certainly doesn’t make health care affordable for anything more than a year. People living in rural Minnesota don’t have a lengthy list of insurers to pick from, either. Here’s the video of Gov. Dayton coming unhinged:

I published this post to highlight Greg Davids’ plan to fix the multiple problems with Minnesota’s health care system. At the time that I published that post, I made these points:

One part of Chairman Davids’ proposal deals with out-of-network expenses:

Create a tax credit to reduce out of-network-costs that arise from seeking care from a long-time primary care physician. Minnesotans were promised that if they liked their doctor they could keep their doctor, but too many are losing their long-time doctors due to narrow networks. Continuity of care needs to be addressed to ensure that we do not lose sight of the importance of actual health care when we look at the problems with health insurance coverage.

Another part of Chairman Davids’ plan deals with expanding choices:

Allow Minnesotans to purchase non-qualified health plans (QHPs), and seek a federal waiver to waive tax penalties for those who purchase a non-QHP insurance plan. If the federal government will not approve the waiver, Minnesota should provide a rebate to cover the cost of the non-QHP penalty.

Since the time I published that post, it’s likely that the Trump administration will grant states waivers that would permit them to ignore parts of the ACA.

Where’s Gov. Dayton’s comprehensive plan to fix the things that he and the DFL broke when they created MNsure? Gov. Dayton and the DFL certainly sang MNsure’s praises at their signing ceremony. Sen. Lourey said “The people won on this bill.” Rep. Joe Atkins said “This truly is a landmark day in Minnesota. This is the most significant reform of health insurance we’ve seen in Minnesota in 50 years.”

The system that the DFL put in place certainly wasn’t a reform and the people lost when MNsure was implemented. If Gov. Dayton and the DFL want to lose big in 2018, all they have to do is keep doing what they’re doing. Gov. Dayton and the DFL are heading for a trainwreck of historic proportions if they don’t get serious about working with Republicans in fixing the DFL’s crisis.

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Considering their liberal leaning, it isn’t surprising that Vanity Fair is running interference for Obamacare. In their opinion, the “pressure will be on Republicans to fix the $3 trillion U.S. health-care system they have derided for years—and they will have no one to blame but themselves if the insurance market is upended and millions of Americans lose coverage.” Don’t pay attention to these ill-informed people.

This article doesn’t paint another sky-is-falling picture of the situation, saying “Nearly half of the coverage gains made during Obama’s presidency had nothing to do with ACA provisions and will survive repeal. Many other newly insured people will keep their coverage—if changes are made to health-care financing, and if two popular ACA provisions President-elect Trump has spoken favorably of are retained.”

Later in the City Journal article, it says “Previously eligible people enrolled in states that did and didn’t expand Medicaid. Gruber claimed that they signed up due to ‘the ACA’s streamlining of the application process for Medicaid, removal of onerous asset tests for determining eligibility for most applicants and increased public awareness about insurance coverage options.’ But improved enrollment procedures are not dependent on the ACA. These previously eligible enrollees will remain insured after the ACA is repealed.”

During a 60 Minutes interview, the New York businessman advocated retaining two of the bill’s more popular provisions: to ensure Americans with pre-existing conditions are guaranteed coverage and to allow young adults to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26. Trump’s pivot might reflect anything from a tenuous understanding of the bill to indifference on the topic. But it might also recognize what a giant, and public, pain in the neck repealing the bill will be. To fully dismantle the Affordable Care Act, Republicans would have to secure 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a Democratic filibuster.

Fully dismantling the ACA will require 60 votes. Eliminating the individual and employer mandates won’t require 60 votes. It’ll only require 51 votes because those parts of the ACA were enacted through reconciliation. Also, the Secretary of HHS can issue waivers to let states ignore the ACA if they have a legitimate plan to replace the ACA. That doesn’t require any congressional action.

Republicans passed a bill last year that would’ve fixed the ACA. Predictably, President Obama vetoed the bill. If Senate Democrats want to march in lockstep to Sen. Schumer’s orders, they’ll be marching into political suicide in 2018. First, the ACA isn’t popular. In fact, that’s understatement. Next, 24 Democrats will be up for re-election in 2018, compared with 9 Republicans. Of those 24 Democrats up for re-election in 2018, 10 are from states that President-Elect Trump won. The question quickly turns into ‘will Democrats march in lockstep to Sen. Schumer if they know that they’re likely heading for defeat’? Third, Democrats know that people are pi$$ed at the skyrocketing premiums and unaffordable deductibles. Will Democrats really fight for a product that’s unpopular?

To be fair, I don’t think the ACA will be fully repealed. It doesn’t need to be. The ACA is already collapsing under its own weight. Making a few strategic changes to the ACA will finish it, at which point people that have been forced into policies they didn’t want will rejoice.

Anyone that thinks that replacing the ACA with another plan will be met with scorn is delusional. Then again, Vanity Fair published the article. They’re definitely known for being a left-leaning publication. How much credibility can a magazine have when they’re publishing this?

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This morning, Donald Trump picked Gov. Nikki Haley, (R-SC), to be the US Ambassador to the UN. This afternoon, President-Elect Trump picked Betsy DeVos to be his Education Secretary. The Washington Post describes Mrs. DeVos as a “billionaire and conservative activist” who “has quietly helped change the education landscape in many states, spending millions of dollars in a successful push to expand voucher programs that give families taxpayer dollars to pay for private and religious schools.”

Of course, the article wouldn’t be complete without quoting Randi Weingarten. Ms. Weingarten is quoted as saying “Trump’s pick makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in America.”

In picking DeVos, President-Elect Trump is telling conservatives that he will push their school choice agenda. This pick, more than any other pick besides Jeff Sessions as Trump’s AG, signals that Trump’s education agenda aligns with Republicans’ education agenda.

After accepting the nomination to be the US ambassador to the US, Mrs. Haley said “When the President believes you have a major contribution to make to the welfare of our nation, and to our nation’s standing in the world, that is a calling that is important to heed,” Haley said, adding that she will “remain as governor until the U.S. Senate acts affirmatively on my nomination.”

DeVos will likely get the most criticism from Democrats because school choice represents an existential threat to the Democrats’ teacher union special interest allies. I’d think that Haley will sail through for confirmation.

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It isn’t a secret that Gov. Dayton will resist attempts to improve Minnesota’s health care system. This article includes a quote from Gov. Dayton that indicates he’s still in denial about Obamacare.

First, it’s worth noting that Gov. Dayton said “The average wait time has been measured in seconds. If they’re going to be attacking MNsure and wanting to abolish it, they should at least do it on the basis of the current situation, not [what happened] three years ago.” Though I’m not the GOP spokesman, I think it’s safe to say that Republicans use the term MNsure to talk about Minnesota’s health care system.

Right now, Minnesota’s health insurance system isn’t affordable. Lot’s of people have health insurance but can’t afford health care because of Minnesota’s high health care premiums and high deductibles. One of the things that was talked about at this press availability was the need to return Minnesota to having a high-risk pool:

Leader-Elect Gazelka highlighted MCHA multiple times during his press availability. Specifically, WCCO’s Pat Kessler asked about whether Republicans could maintain Minnesota’s 96% insured rate. The clear inference was that the Republican plan would kick people off of insurance. Had Kessler done his homework, he’d know that the Republicans’ plan was likely to maintain that 96% insured rate. In 2007, Minnesota’s insured rate was 92.8%. Of those that weren’t insured, half were eligible for taxpayer-subsidized health care. That means that the effective insured rate pre-ACA was 96.5%.

Most importantly, Minnesotans’ health insurance was affordable prior to the Anything But Affordable Care Act. Why would Gov. Dayton and the DFL resist returning to a health insurance system that worked and was affordable? I predict that that’s what Gov. Dayton and the DFL will do. With Dayton’s propensity to shut the government down, I think it’s likely that Gov. Dayton will attempt to shut state government down for the third time in his time in office.

Gov. Dayton’s legacy will be ruined if MNsure is discredited. Gov. Dayton and the DFL were bigtime cheerleaders for the ACA and MNsure. It’s possible that the ACA will get gutted before Trump is sworn in. The individual and employer mandates are guaranteed to be repealed. Shouldn’t Gov. Dayton say yes to keeping the exchange intact but then accepted the major overhaul of Minnesota’s health care system?

Shouldn’t Minnesotans have the option of HSAs and catastrophic policies if that’s the best fit for their situation? Why should government tell families what their policies have to include? Democrats say that “a woman’s right to choose” must always be between her, her doctor and her god because it’s a highly personal decision. Shouldn’t providing health care for their family be a highly personal decision, too?

Families, not bureaucrats, know what’s best for their family. That’s why families, consulting with their doctors, should be given their choice. Gov. Dayton and the DFL insist that they know best. Here’s a hint for Gov. Dayton and the DFL: Any politician that doesn’t remember that the tax bill he negotiated has a sales on farm equipment repairs shouldn’t be trusted with making health insurance decisions for families.

Finally, how can Gov. Dayton and the DFL insist on maintaining a system that’s driving health insurance companies out of the individual market? Apparently, they’re that willing to hurt families rather than admit that they made a colossal mistake.

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