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[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
[Politics] BREAKING: Trump just put the lawsuit against Obamacare on SPEED Looks like the Obamacare lawsuit could reach the Supreme Court by early next year and be decided well before the 2020 elections take place. According to CNN, the Trump administration successfully got . . . Published:4/11/2019 6:29:06 PM
[Politics] BREAKING: Trump just put the lawsuit against Obamacare on SPEED Looks like the Obamacare lawsuit could reach the Supreme Court by early next year and be decided well before the 2020 elections take place. According to CNN, the Trump administration successfully got . . . Published:4/11/2019 6:29:06 PM
[Markets] "Payroll Tsunami": Small Businesses Layoff Workers To Comply With Minimum Wage Law

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

In what has become just one more example of government intervention going the exact opposite of what socialists intend, minimum wage laws are driving a “payroll tsunami.” 

Small businesses are being forced to lay off workers in order to comply with a law demanding an increase in wages.

This isn’t all that surprising. Economists, small business owners, and other analysts have said that the net result of higher wages is a loss of jobs. And small businesses, who don’t have the capital or return that large corporations do, are feeling the proverbial pinch. According to Fox News, several mom-and-pop coffee shops and restaurants, are responding by cutting hours, eliminating jobs or closing down entirely because they can’t keep up with rising wages under the law.

Similar effects were seen after employers were dictated to comply with the Obamacare law.  Instead of giving full-time employees health insurance paid for by the company, many workers were simply cut to part-time.

Texas Health Care Costs Skyrocket 60% in 2017: Obamacare At “Unaffordable Levels For Everyone”

Government intervention in the market has proven disastrous in just the past several years, and yet people still believe there isn’t enough totalitarianism. Complying with laws such a minimum wage increase also has the horrible effect of seeing jobs sent overseas – something people hate to hear, but the fact is, no one goes into business to lose money and the United States has become rather effective at driving out businesses as those businesses will always seek more hospitable environments.

This is the ugly side to the highly touted wage hikes, economists say.  The side of the issue socialists disregards in order to pat their own backs because they had “feelings” that they are entitled to more money without actually providing the business with more value.  Economists added that these “bumps in the road” can unleash a “payroll tsunami” for smaller businesses already stretched thin from rising rents and soaring health care costs.

“For some of these businesses, the minimum wage hikes tip the balance between staying in business and going out of business,” Panos Mourdoukoutasprofessor of economics at LIU Post in New York, wrote in Forbes.

After winning her House race last year, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., “swung by” to say goodbye to the Coffee Shop in Union Square where she used to work.

She tweeted: “The restaurant I used to work at is closing its doors. I swung by today to say hi one last time, and kid around with friends like old times.”

What the Communist failed to mention to her ignorant followers, is that that popular coffee shop was shuttering its doors permanently because it couldn’t afford the $15 minimum pay raise that Ocasio-Cortez has gone on to strongly support.  There is no need for logic when it comes to socialism or communism, however, and the fact that this woman was somehow elected proves Americans are lacking.

“The times have changed in our industry,” co-owner Charles Milite told The New York Post.

 “The rents are very high and now the minimum wage is going up and we have a huge number of employees.” It simply costs too much to employee people, and provide jobs anymore.

The American Action Forum calculates that minimum wage hikes will kill 261,000 jobs. Most of the losses concentrated in New York and California, where the tax burden and housing costs are already quickly eliminating the middle class with forceHomelessness is already a problem and it’s going to continue to worsen.

Silicon Valley’s ‘Working Homeless’ Shows How Hard Life Is In “Democrat’s Paradise”

California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York all have approved a $15 minimum wage, as has the District of Columbia. Phoenix, Arizona employees are on track for the hourly pay bump on May 1, along with the job losses that will come with it. In all, there are 20 states that have or will move toward a $15 wage.

It seems like no matter how much evidence is out there that increased totalitarianism doesn’t help in the labor market, the masses cannot possibly be bothered to do anything else but beg the government to write laws for their own salvation.  We live in a nation full of bleating sheep.

Published:4/9/2019 1:38:52 PM
[Markets] Ron Paul Reflects On Obamacare's Unhappy Anniversary

Authored by Ron Paul via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,

Last month marked nine years since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (popularly known as Obamacare) became law. Obamacare’s proponents promised that the law would reduce costs, expand access, and allow us to keep our doctors if we liked our doctors. The reality has been quite different.

Since Obamacare was enacted, individual health insurance premiums have more than doubled while small businesses have been discouraged from providing health insurance benefits. The increased costs of, and decreased access to, health care are a direct result of Obamacare’s mandates - particularly the guaranteed issue and pre-existing condition mandates. Another costly mandate forces most plans to cover “essential health benefits.” This mandate is why postmenopausal women must pay for contraceptive coverage.

The increase in health insurance premiums has not helped those who like their doctors keep their doctors. Instead, patients’ choices of providers are restricted to ever-narrower networks. As leading health care scholar John C. Goodman observed, the result is that a cancer patient from my hometown of Lake Jackson, Texas who obtains insurance through Obamacare’s exchanges cannot get treatment at nearby MD Anderson, one of the country’s top cancer treatment centers. If health care were a true free market, insurance companies would compete for the business of cancer patients and others with chronic conditions by developing innovative ways to give them the best care at an affordable price.

Sadly, few in Congress support free-market health care. The Democrats are divided between progressives who want to repeal and replace Obamacare with “Medicare for all,” the latest euphemism for single-payer healthcare, and establishment Democrats who want to save Obamacare by spending more money on subsidies for individuals and insurance companies.

President Trump has made some regulatory changes that make it easier for individuals to find affordable insurance. He has also recently called on Republicans to renew efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. Most Republicans reacted to the president’s call the way Dracula reacts to a crucifix. These Republicans are terrified of the issue because they believe their half-hearted attempts to enact phony repeal bills cost them control of the House of Representatives in 2018.

President Trump himself does not actually want to repeal all of Obamacare. He just wants to repeal the “unpopular” parts. However, because the popular parts include many of Obamacare’s most destructive mandates, even if President Trump gets his way, Americans will continue to suffer with low-qualify, high-cost health care.

Any system combing subsidies that artificially increase demand with regulations and mandates that, by raising costs, artificially limit supply inevitably results in shortages, rationing, and lower quality. Therefore, no matter how much Democrats spend or how many “reforms” Republicans enact, Obamacare and other types of government-controlled health care will never “work.”

Instead of ignoring the issue, trying to prop up Obamacare, or implementing a single-payer plan, Congress should restore individuals’ control over health care dollars by expanding health care tax deductions and credits, as well as Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Expanded charitable deductions could help ensure those who need assistance can obtain privately-funded charitable care instead of relying on inefficient government programs. Before Medicaid and Medicare, doctors routinely provided charitable care, while churches and private charities ran hospitals that served the poor. Individuals are more than capable of meeting their health care needs, and providing for the needs of the less fortunate, if the government gets out of the way.

Published:4/8/2019 5:31:30 PM
[Health Care] Nationalized Healthcare in Britain Forcing Thousands to Go Blind Due to Care Rationing and Cost-Cutting

The following article, Nationalized Healthcare in Britain Forcing Thousands to Go Blind Due to Care Rationing and Cost-Cutting, was first published on Godfather Politics.

Thousands of Britons are going blind because their version of Obamacare won't allow them to have eye surgery.

Continue reading: Nationalized Healthcare in Britain Forcing Thousands to Go Blind Due to Care Rationing and Cost-Cutting ...

Published:4/8/2019 2:30:19 PM
[Health Care] Nationalized Healthcare in Britain Forcing Thousands to Go Blind Due to Care Rationing and Cost-Cutting

The following article, Nationalized Healthcare in Britain Forcing Thousands to Go Blind Due to Care Rationing and Cost-Cutting, was first published on Godfather Politics.

Thousands of Britons are going blind because their version of Obamacare won't allow them to have eye surgery.

Continue reading: Nationalized Healthcare in Britain Forcing Thousands to Go Blind Due to Care Rationing and Cost-Cutting ...

Published:4/8/2019 2:30:19 PM
[07fde6d7-7063-56d7-8361-6595e034716a] Judge Andrew Napolitano: Is the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional? Here we go again. The legal battle over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act – ObamaCare – will soon be back in court due to the largely unexpected consequences of a series of recent events. Published:4/3/2019 11:31:17 PM
[US News] Bernie demands an explanation from those who oppose Medicare for All, Rep. Dan Crenshaw delivers

Why would we need Medicare for All after Obamacare fixed everything wrong with health insurance?

The post Bernie demands an explanation from those who oppose Medicare for All, Rep. Dan Crenshaw delivers appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:4/3/2019 7:00:39 PM
[Markets] Americans Had To Borrow 88 Billion Dollars To Cover Their Medical Bills Last Year

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

I know that the headline sounds outrageous, but it is actually true.  According to a brand new report that was just released, Americans had to borrow 88 billion dollars to cover their medical bills last year.  That is a truly astounding number, and it shows just how dramatically our current health care system has failed.  And even though the vast majority of Americans are covered by “health insurance”, millions of us are deathly afraid to go to the hospital because of what it might cost.  Today, two-thirds of all personal bankruptcies in the United States are caused by medical bills, and most of the people going bankrupt actually had health insurance.  Overall, more than half a million American families are financially ruined by medical bills each year, and meanwhile our “representatives” in Washington are doing absolutely nothing to fix the problem.

Surveys have shown that up to two-thirds of the country is living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time, and an unexpected medical bill can be absolutely devastating for those that are just barely scraping by.

Without much of a financial cushion to fall back on, many families must borrow money when confronted with a large medical expense, and the scale at which this is happening is absolutely stunning

Health care costs in the United States are generally measured as the highest in the world. Last year, many Americans could not afford their health care costs and so borrowed $88 billion to pay for that portion they could not afford.

According to a new West Health and Gallup poll, in a new report titled “The U.S. Healthcare Cost Crisis,” the $88 billion was borrowed in the year before the survey, which was done from January 14 to February 20. The poll was conducted via a random group of 3,537 adults over 18 living in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

How in the world is this possible?

After all, more than 90 percent of all Americans have some form of health coverage.  So why did Americans need to borrow 88 billion dollars to cover their unpaid medical bills last year alone?

Well, first of all it is important to remember that health insurance deductibles have gotten obscenely huge.  The following numbers come from a CNN article about Obamacare

The law sets a ceiling on how much consumers have to spend on health care. In 2019, it’s $7,900 for a single person and double that for a family. Some bronze plans peg their deductibles to those levels.

The average deductible for a 2019 bronze policy — which have higher deductibles, but lower premiums than other tiers of Obamacare plans — is nearly $5,900, while the average maximum of out-of-pocket limit is just under $7,000, according to Health Pocket, an online health insurance shopping tool. Family bronze plans have an average deductible of just under $12,200 and an average out-of-pocket maximum of nearly $14,000.

Secondly, even if you have surpassed your deductible, there is still no guarantee that your health insurance company will cover your medical bills.  If you do not jump through every single little hoop they want you to jump through, in many instances they will leave you high and dry.  When I was running for Congress I had personal conversations with so many people that had been screwed over by the health insurance companies.  The more claims they deny, the more money they make, and they have become masters at finding even the smallest loophole that will enable them to wiggle off the hook.

Of course there are some health insurance companies out there that are doing a good job, but the bad apples give the entire industry a very bad name.

We have a system that is deeply broken, and it greatly frustrates me that both political parties seem so uninterested in getting a solution through Congress.

Here are some more numbers that show the current state of the U.S. health care system…

3.7 trillion dollars was spent on health care in the United States in 2018.  That breaks down to $10,739 per person.

-If our health care system was a country, it would have the fifth largest GDP on the entire planet.

76 percent of Americans believe that they pay too much for the quality of health care that they receive.

-Out of the 36 counties in the OECD, the U.S. ranks 31st in infant mortality.

-Prescription drugs are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States today.

-Pharmaceutical companies spend approximately 30 billion dollars a year to market their drugs to all of us.

Nearly half of all U.S. doctors are considering leaving the field of medicine, and health insurance companies are the primary reason.

-The median charge for visiting an emergency room in the United States is well over a thousand dollars.

When I was growing up, my mother took me and my siblings to the doctor constantly.  But I don’t know anyone that does that today, because it would be ridiculously expensive in most cases.

And one recent survey actually found that 41 percent of all Americans decided against an emergency room visit last year “due to cost”

Another major personal financial concern among Americans is that 45% worry that a “major health care event” would leave them bankrupt, the West Health-Gallup survey found. Additionally, in the past year, 41% said they did not visit an emergency room due to cost.

Fifteen million Americans “deferred” purchasing prescription drugs in the past year because of costs as well. Finally, 76% believe the problem will become worse because health care costs will rise more over the next two years.

Fixing our horribly broken health care system needs to be a top national priority, but earlier today Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it abundantly clearthat nothing will be done about Obamacare in the Senate until the 2020 election.  And of course the Democrats are not going to make any major moves on health care until the 2020 election either.

Unfortunately, we are stuck with what we have got for the moment.

Our health care crisis is a national nightmare that never seems to end, and it gets worse with each passing year.

So for now, just hope that nobody in your family becomes seriously ill, because if that happens there is a good chance you might go bankrupt.

Published:4/3/2019 6:34:22 PM
[Politics] House Condemns Trump's Courtroom Efforts to End Obamacare Calling it an effort to take away Americans' healthcare, the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to condemn the Trump administration's courtroom bid to eliminate Obamacare. Published:4/3/2019 2:28:55 PM
[Health Care] Why the Left Is Desperate to Sabotage Trump’s Health Care Plans

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., is coming out guns blazing against what he calls the Trump administration’s “sabotage” of Obamacare. Hoyer recently declared, “The... Read More

The post Why the Left Is Desperate to Sabotage Trump’s Health Care Plans appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:4/3/2019 11:32:24 AM
[Politics] Trump fires back at false claims by the NY Times about his new healthcare plan… With his first tweets of the day, Trump is defending himself this morning against claims by the NY Times that he backed off his Obamacare replacement after McConnell told him to do . . . Published:4/3/2019 9:28:48 AM
[Politics] Trump fires back at false claims by the NY Times about his new healthcare plan… With his first tweets of the day, Trump is defending himself this morning against claims by the NY Times that he backed off his Obamacare replacement after McConnell told him to do . . . Published:4/3/2019 8:58:08 AM
[Politics] TRUMP: Republicans have a great Obamacare replacement, but the vote will have to wait… Late last night Trump announced a new health care plan by Republicans to replace Obamacare. He started by ripping into Obamacare, which he says everyone agrees doesn’t work because of its high . . . Published:4/2/2019 10:23:36 AM
[Politics] TRUMP: Republicans have a great Obamacare replacement, but the vote will have to wait… Late last night Trump announced a new health care plan by Republicans to replace Obamacare. He started by ripping into Obamacare, which he says everyone agrees doesn’t work because of its high . . . Published:4/2/2019 10:23:36 AM
[Markets] Trump Backs Off: Vote To End ObamaCare Will Wait Until After 2020 Election

Though there's no stopping a lawsuit brought by the administration and more than 20 state AGs seeking to finally declare ObamaCare unconstitutional, the Republican Party's latest push to throw out ObamaCare and replace it with something better and affordable has officially been cancelled by President Trump.

After a pair of pundits lashed out at Trump acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and accused Republicans of jeopardizing the health coverage of more than 20 million people without a clear plan to replace ObamaCare, Trump tweeted late Monday night that Republicans will wait until after the 2020 election to try and pass a still-ill-defined Republican plan that will feature "far lower premiums (costs) and deductibles" and "always support Pre-Existing Conditions" - in the latest example of him setting policy via Twitter.

Trump

Though it’s possible that the Texas lawsuit seeking to invalidate parts of the law after US District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that it should be scrapped in its entirety could result in the rest of ObamaCare (Republicans have already done away with the hated individual mandate) being thrown out long before 2020, for now at least, Republicans will put their legislative push to come up with an alternative health-care plan, which Mulvaney said over the weekend would likely fall to lawmakers to sort out, on hold.

Whatever the details of the 2020 plan might be, "it will be truly great HealthCare that will work for America," Trump said, and "the party will be known as the Party of Great HealthCare". The vote will take place "right after the Election when Republicans hold the Senate & win back the House."

Last week, Trump told a group of reporters that "We are going to be the Republicans, the party of great health care"...and that "the Democrats, they let you down. They came up with Obamacare and it is terrible.” In his tweets, he once again denounced Democratic plans for "Medicare for All", which he said would "cause 180 million Americans to lose their beloved Private health insurance." Despite its high costs, polls show that ObamaCare has gradually become more popular with voters, and some pundits cited it as a key factor in the Democratic takeover of the House last fall.

But by punting on the ObamaCare debate, Trump has given Republicans to avoid upsetting the status quo, while running on their opposition to Medicare for All.

Published:4/2/2019 5:52:53 AM
[Politics] Trump Teases Vote on GOP's Next Obamacare Replacement Republicans are working on new healthcare legislation designed to replace the current Obamacare law, and President Donald Trump said Congress will vote on it after the 2020 election. Published:4/1/2019 10:50:29 PM
[World] [Jonathan H. Adler] Another Round of Strange Bedfellows on Severability in Texas v. U.S.

Another amicus brief on severability and the Affordable Care Act.

Earlier today, I joined three other academics -- Nicholas Bagley, Abbe Gluck, and the VC's own Ilya Somin -- in submitting an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Texas v. U.S. explaining how Judge Reed O'Connor bungled the severability analysis when concluded that the alleged unconstitutionality of an uneforced individual mandate requires invalidation of the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA). To the contrary, under existing severability doctrine, Judge O'Connor should have left the rest of the law completely intact.

Our brief largely recapitulates the arguments we made in a prior amicus brief below (then joined by Kevin Walsh, who is now on a separate brief focusing on a major jurisdictional problem the plaintiffs' case). Here is the introduction:

Amici's goal in filing this brief is limited. This brief takes no position on whether plaintiffs have a justiciable claim or on whether they are correct that the minimum coverage provision (commonly called the individual mandate) is unconstitutional in light of Congress's reduction to zero of the penalties associated with it. Instead, the brief assumes the answer to both questions is yes in order to reach the question of severability. That question is not debatable under established doctrine—the mandate is severable from the rest of the ACA.

Yet according to the district court, the plaintiffs, and (now) the United States, the entire ACA must fall if the individual mandate is unconstitutional. In their view, a mandate with no enforcement mechanism—eliminated by Congress itself—is somehow essential to the law as a whole. The United States takes that stunning position even though it said just the opposite before the district court, emphasizing that Congress provided "proof of its intent that the bulk of the ACA would remain in place" without the individual mandate. Federal Defendants' Memorandum in Response to Plaintiffs' Application for Preliminary Injunction 18, Dkt. No. 92 (N.D. Tex. June 7, 2018) ("U.S. D. Ct. Br."). Before the district court, the United States had contended that the statute's guaranteed-issue and community-rating provisions alone are inseverable from the individual mandate. In Amici's view, both of the United States' inseverability positions are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of severability.

The cornerstone of severability doctrine is congressional intent. Under current Supreme Court doctrine, when part of a statute becomes unenforceable, a court must ask whether Congress would have preferred what remains of the statute to no statute at all. Typically, it is a court that renders a provision unenforceable. In hypothesizing what Congress would have intended in that scenario, courts will sometimes assess the statute's functionality without the provision as a proxy for discerning legislative intent.

But this case is unusual in all of these respects. It presents no need for those difficult inquiries because Congress itself—not a court—eliminated enforcement of the provision in question and left the rest of the statute standing. So congressional intent is clear; it is embodied in the text and substance of the statutory amendment itself. In these circumstances, a guessing-game inquiry is not only unnecessary—it is unlawful. A court's insistence on nonetheless substituting its own judgment for that of Congress usurps congressional power and violates black-letter principles of severability. Yet that is what the district court did here. Its severability decision should be reversed.

The four of us do not agree on much, particularly where the Affordable Care Act is concerned, but we all agree that the decision below is unmoored from law or contemporary doctrine.

We are not the only amici critical of Judge O'Connor's decision. The Attorneys General of Ohio and Montana -- Dave Yost and Timothy Fox -- submitted a particularly powerful brief explaining how neither existing severability doctrine nor the original understanding of the Article III judicial power can justify Judge O'Connor's analysis. This brief does a particularly good job of explaining why self-described judicial conservatives should object to the decision below.

From the introduction:

The Supreme Court first considered the Affordable Care Act in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius ("NFIB"), 567 U.S. 519 (2012). It did so again in King v. Burwell, 135 S. Ct. 2480 (2015). Both decisions had their critics. Among them, Justice Scalia, who faulted the majorities in NFIB and King for "chang[ing] the usual rules" to protect the Affordable Care Act. King, 135 S. Ct. at 2506 (Scalia, J., dissenting). Each case, he wrote, stood for "the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites." Id. at 2507.

Some agree with these criticisms. Others do not. But no one can disagree that courts should adhere to neutral principles, even in cases involving the Affordable Care Act. Whether those principles support the Act or undermine it is, or at least should be, of no concern. That is what it means to have a government of laws, and not of men.

The District Court below committed the very sin that Justice Scalia decried in King: throwing out all the usual rules in a -case about the Affordable Care Act. See 135 S. Ct. at 2506. The Act's individual mandate—the provision that orders most Americans to buy health insurance—is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court upheld the mandate as a tax in NFIB, reasoning that nothing else in Article I would empower Congress to pass such a law. See 567 U.S. at 561–74. But Congress amended the Act in 2017, eliminating the penalty for refusing to buy health insurance. As a result, the mandate cannot raise any revenue, and therefore cannot be upheld as an exercise of Congress's taxing power.

This raises the question of what to do with the remainder of the Act. Does the mandate's unconstitutionality require striking down the entire law, or is the mandate "severable"? The District Court invalidated the whole thing. That part of its decision cannot be squared with the Constitution's original meaning or binding Supreme Court precedent. As an original matter, the federal courts have no power to "strike down" entire laws; "when early American courts determined that a statute was unconstitutional, they would simply decline to enforce it in the case before them." Murphy v. NCAA, 138 S. Ct. 1461, 1486 (2018) (Thomas, J., concurring). The power to go any further is an invention of the courts, not the Framers.

As a matter of binding doctrine, courts can strike down entire laws based on the unconstitutionality of a single provision. But they may do so only if the remainder of the law is "incapable of functioning independently," or if it is otherwise "evident" that Congress would have preferred no law at all to a law without the unconstitutional provision. Free Enter. Fund v. Pub. Co. Accounting Oversight Bd., 561 U.S. 477, 509 (2010) (citations omitted). This severability analysis usually entails asking about the hypothetical intent of a hypothetical Congress. Not here. Congress's 2017 amendment effectively repealed the individual mandate by reducing the penalty for non-compliance to $0. That effective repeal objectively establishes that the law is capable of functioning without the mandate (it already does), and that Congress would have preferred such a law to no law at all. The mandate is therefore severable, and its unconstitutionality has no bearing on the rest of the Act.

The District Court erred in coming out the other way. It failed to ask whether the now-inoperative mandate is essential to the Affordable Care Act as currently codified. (How could it be?) Instead, it asked whether the original version of the individual mandate—the one that Congress made enforceable with a penalty—was central to the original version of the Affordable Care Act. The Court thus invalidated the current version of the Affordable Care Act by assessing the importance of an earlier version of the mandate to an earlier version of the Act. To describe the approach is to refute it. . . .

This is the rare case that involves constitutional overreach by two separate branches. Congress acted unconstitutionally by enacting the individual mandate and the court below exceeded its power by striking down the Affordable Care Act in full. Assuming anyone has standing to bring this suit—a topic this brief leaves to others—this Court should hold the individual mandate unconstitutional but leave the rest of the Affordable Care Act in place.

As the Yost-Fox brief notes, there are serious standing questions in this case (in addition to the jurisdictional question raised by the Bray-McConnell-Walsh brief). While our brief did not go into the standing issues, I have addressed them previously on this blog here and here, and Nicholas Bagley addressed them for The Atlantic.

The bottom line is that the district court lacked jurisdiction to hear the plaintiff states' claims against the ACA, and once it asserted jurisdiction, the court bollixed the severabiity analysis. It's no wonder even the ACA's most ardent critics refuse to defend Judge O'Connor's decision. Here's hoping the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit cleans up this mess.

Published:4/1/2019 10:19:36 PM
[Health Care] Trump Really Does Have a Plan That’s Better Than Obamacare

“If the Supreme Court rules that Obamacare is out,” President Donald Trump said last week, “we’ll have a plan that is far better than Obamacare.”... Read More

The post Trump Really Does Have a Plan That’s Better Than Obamacare appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:4/1/2019 4:17:09 PM
[Politics] Trump: Cost of Obamacare 'Far Too High' President Donald Trump tweeted a rebuke that "the cost of Obamacare is far too high," defending his administration's court battle to invalidate the Affordable Care Act. Published:4/1/2019 10:46:09 AM
[Politics] GOP Privately Hope Trump Loses Case to Invalidate Obamacare Senate Republicans are privately hoping President Donald Trump will lose his fight in court to strike down the Affordable Care Act, because if he wins then Congress won’t be able to pass something to replace Obamacare, which will hurt the GOP in the next election . . . Published:4/1/2019 9:15:12 AM
[da916057-b20d-5e11-aec6-08792893b984] New York Post: How Republicans should replace ObamaCare “If the Supreme Court rules that ObamaCare is out, we’ll have a plan that is far better than ObamaCare,” President Trump pledged Wednesday. Democrats and their media toadies attacked, claiming Trump will sucker-punch consumers with “junk” plans, abandon people with pre-existing conditions and cause “around 20 million Americans” to lose coverage, as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman warns. These claims are lies. Published:4/1/2019 8:45:41 AM
[US News] She’s got a point! Kellyanne Conways says Dem candidates are showing that they really think Obamacare stinks

Their actions show their real feelings.

The post She’s got a point! Kellyanne Conways says Dem candidates are showing that they really think Obamacare stinks appeared first on twitchy.com.

Published:3/31/2019 2:43:45 PM
[Healthcare] John Kasich’s Obamacare Roadshow Returns

The show must go on

The post John Kasich’s Obamacare Roadshow Returns appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:3/30/2019 3:03:20 PM
[fcc39d10-4992-507b-a100-edfb859962df] Capri Cafaro: If Democrats want to win in 2020 they should stop investigating Trump and focus on health care Health care is back in the spotlight thanks to a controversial decision by the Trump administration to side with a Fifth Circuit court ruling that deemed ObamaCare unconstitutional. Published:3/29/2019 4:24:45 AM
[Politics] Sen. Michael Bennet 'Very Inclined' to Run for President Running on a platform to reform American healthcare through fixes and not replacement of Obamacare, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said he "is very inclined" to enter the Democratic primary for the 2020 presidential election. Published:3/28/2019 11:20:01 AM
[In The News] Collins Says She’s ‘Appalled’ By Trump’s Plan to Dismantle Obamacare

By Grace Carr -

Republican Maine Senator Susan Collins called President Donald Trump’s health care plan appalling Tuesday, saying that he shouldn’t use the court as a means to strike down the country’s existing health care plan. “I think the Justice Department has a duty to defend the duly enacted laws,” Collins told Axios, ...

Collins Says She’s ‘Appalled’ By Trump’s Plan to Dismantle Obamacare 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:3/27/2019 8:47:32 PM
[Health Care] Trump Says Republicans Will Become ‘Party of Great Health Care’

President Donald Trump on Wednesday predicted the demise of Obamacare and that Republicans would become “the party of great health care.” Trump spoke to reporters... Read More

The post Trump Says Republicans Will Become ‘Party of Great Health Care’ appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:3/27/2019 5:48:41 PM
[The Blog] Report: Kevin McCarthy warns Trump that new court push to overturn ObamaCare is a terrible idea

Vacuum.

The post Report: Kevin McCarthy warns Trump that new court push to overturn ObamaCare is a terrible idea appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:3/27/2019 3:45:37 PM
[Politics] Trump: We'll Have a Better Plan Than Obamacare President Donald Trump is vowing to have a plan “far better than Obamacare” if the Supreme Court eventually sides with his administration and tosses out the Affordable Care Act. Published:3/27/2019 1:44:18 PM
[2019 News] Justice Department sides with court ruling ObamaCare invalid Justice Department sides with court ruling ObamaCare invalid. It’s about time someone got a clue. The DOJ previously argued in court that the law’s pre-existing condition protections should be struck down. Now, the administration argues the entire law should be invalidated. Published:3/27/2019 11:46:26 AM
[Markets] WellCare's stock jumps 23% after Centene announces merger valued at $17.3 billion Health-care company Centene Corp. on Wednesday announced plans to purchase managed-care provider WellCare Health Plans Inc. . St. Louis-based Centene said it would buy WellCare, based in Tampa, Florida, for $305.39 per share, with the deal valued at $17.3 billion. Bloomberg News on Tuesday reported that the health-care companies were in merger talks. Centene, a health insurer focused on Medicaid and Affordable Care Act markets, has about 14 million members, while WellCare has about 5.5 million Medicaid and Medicare-oriented members. The deal comes as the Justice Department mounted a fresh challenge to ACA, known as Obamacare. Shares of Centene were down 4.5% in premarket trade, while those for WellCare were up about 23% after the announcement. The two companies were set to hold a news conference to discuss the combination at 8 a.m. Eastern Time. Published:3/27/2019 5:42:32 AM
[Politics] Trump surprises Republicans — and pleases Democrats — with push to revive health-care battle In the wake of the Trump administration’s move to strike down Obamacare, neither the White House nor Republicans in Congress have offered new replacement plans. Published:3/26/2019 6:17:58 PM
[ObamaCare] Dept. of Justice, Federal Court Agree: Obamacare is Unconstitutional

In a new move, after a U.S. District judge has ruled that Obamacare is unconstitutional, now the U.S. Department of Justice has sided with the court on the ruling. The move by the DOJ is part of an escalation to break down Obamacare by the Trump administration. The DOJ has now officially sided with U.S. ...

The post Dept. of Justice, Federal Court Agree: Obamacare is Unconstitutional appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:3/26/2019 4:14:46 PM
[ObamaCare] Dept. of Justice, Federal Court Agree: Obamacare is Unconstitutional

In a new move, after a U.S. District judge has ruled that Obamacare is unconstitutional, now the U.S. Department of Justice has sided with the court on the ruling. The move by the DOJ is part of an escalation to break down Obamacare by the Trump administration. The DOJ has now officially sided with U.S. ...

The post Dept. of Justice, Federal Court Agree: Obamacare is Unconstitutional appeared first on Godfather Politics.

Published:3/26/2019 4:14:44 PM
[Markets] Trump Today: Trump Today: President touts Republicans as ‘party of health care’ as administration targets Affordable Care Act President Donald Trump on Tuesday said the Republicans would be known as “the party of health care,” a day after his administration called the whole of the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional in a legal filing that threw the future of Obamacare into doubt.
Published:3/26/2019 2:40:11 PM
[Health Care] Justice Department Says It Agrees With Judge Who Ruled Obamacare Unconstitutional

The Department of Justice sided with a district court ruling Monday that found the Affordable Care Act violated the Constitution. U.S. District Court Judge Reed... Read More

The post Justice Department Says It Agrees With Judge Who Ruled Obamacare Unconstitutional appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:3/26/2019 12:39:52 PM
[Politics] Clyburn: Fight Shifting From Mueller to Defending Obamacare Now that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is concluded, it represents a "closed chapter," while the fight for Obamacare is a "new chapter," House Majority Whip James Clyburn said Tuesday. Published:3/26/2019 10:37:26 AM
[Politics] Trump’s new position in the courts could spell DOOM for Obamacare! Last December a federal judge in Texas ruled that Obamacare was unconstitutional. At the time the Trump administration wasn’t arguing that the entire law should be scrapped, but only the mandate and . . . Published:3/26/2019 9:36:59 AM
[Politics] Trump’s new position in the courts could spell DOOM for Obamacare! Last December a federal judge in Texas ruled that Obamacare was unconstitutional. At the time the Trump administration wasn’t arguing that the entire law should be scrapped, but only the mandate and . . . Published:3/26/2019 9:36:59 AM
[The Blog] DOJ siding with Fifth Circuit in striking down all of Obamacare

I thought we were done with this

The post DOJ siding with Fifth Circuit in striking down all of Obamacare appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:3/26/2019 8:38:02 AM
[World] Democrats' far-left lurch a loser for all America

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi used to be a powerhouse, a political brawler and bruiser of respectable weight, the one who ramrodded through Obamacare on the blithe wings of "we have to pass it to see what's in it" rhetoric.

Love her or hate her, she was once, and ... Published:3/16/2019 5:39:35 PM

[Markets] One Thing Congress Gets Right: Funding Their Own Pensions...

Authored by Simon Black via SovereignMan.com,

Turns out Congressmen make a lot of money...

A study found that while the average American’s net worth increased 3.7% per year between 2004-2012, members of Congress averaged 15.4% annual gains.

That high level of pay means half the members of Congress are millionaires today… and continue to collect their $174,000 annual salary.

Of course it’s you, the taxpayer, paying that cushy salary.

But did you know the taxpayer also foots the bill for insane retirement benefits for Congress?

Each retired member can start collecting a pension at age 62 if they’ve spent just five years in Congress.

And they’ll collect 80% of their $174,000 annual salary.

That’s almost $140,000 a year, for the rest of their lives… for five years of service.

Where can I sign up?

Meanwhile, 40% of Americans can’t cover an unexpected $400 emergency expense… 57% have less than $1,000 in savings.

And a third of baby boomers—the generation currently retiring—have NOTHING put away for retirement.

While Congress’ pension is secured by your tax dollars, only 13% of regular Americans have pensions today. And even if you were promised one, collecting it is another story...

A recent Boston College report estimates 25% of private US pension funds—the pools of capital that pay out retirement benefits—will go bankrupt in the next decade. Public local, state, and federal pension funds are in even worse shape: $7 TRILLION short on what they promised to pay retired government workers.

But most Americans are relying on a different broken retirement fund… Social Security.

The Social Security Administration admits it is $50 trillion underfunded, and will run out of money by 2034.

That means cutting payouts, raising the retirement age, or both. And even that is only a short term solution…

There are, however, at least two Senators who see the injustice in all of this. They introduced legislation to eliminate pensions for members of Congress.

They say it’s not fair that while the poor get poorer, Congress gets richer.

The median American household net worth declined .94% per year from 2004 to 2012. And over the same period, 100 members of Congress watched their net worth gain 114% per year.

Members of Congress added $316.5 million to their net worth during this time period.

(But it wasn’t the Socialists in Congress who introduced the bill to address this wealth gap. They’re happy to ignore this prime example of the rich literally stealing from the poor.)

Getting rich at the taxpayers’ expense, collecting a salary 3x the median household income, and getting a six-figure lifetime pension…

That’s Congress’ reward for sinking the US government $22 trillion in debt… for creating debt bubbles in housing and student loans… for utterly failing to address a broken Social Security system… for wasting billions on things like a broken Obamacare websitedefending Congressmen from sexual assaultlawsuits… and fighting like children during a government shutdown while millions of Americans were out of work.

But whatever happens next with the economy, whatever destruction their actions cause, rest assured, they’ll take their money and run…

Just like they did in 2008 before the big financial crash. Strange how 34 different members of Congress rearranged their investment portfolios within two days of talking to top Treasury and Federal Reserve officials.

One Senator even sold up to half a million dollars’ worth of Lehman Brothers stock the day after he met with the Treasury Secretary… just months before the firm declared the largest bankruptcy in history.

These politicians suffer no consequences for the policies they force on the entire nation. On the contrary, they personally gain tremendously from the turmoil they cause.

Even if their pensions are cut — I’m not holding my breath — it is largely a symbolic move. It won’t make a dent in the dire debt and liabilities of the US government.

Unlike members of Congress, you’re on your own for retirement.

One option is, if you can’t beat them, join them. Run for Congress and watch your net worth skyrocket. Even without their golden pensions you’ll be all set for retirement.

But a more realistic (and ethical) solution is to plan your retirement assuming the government promises will not be fulfilled.

One solution is to take matters into your own hands by using self directed structures for your IRA or 401(k).

But perhaps a better solution is to become a better investor. Saving an extra couple grand a year, and putting it into the right places can make a huge difference over the course of a couple of decades.

Sovereign Man’s Chief Investment Strategist Tim Staermose was on our Podcast last week explaining two different targeted investment strategies with proven track records. You can listen here.

Worst case scenario is we are wrong—the government by some miracle saves Social Security, pays off the debt, funds its pensions, doesn’t tank the economy and avoids another recession…

And you’ll still be better off having prepared for the worst.

And to continue learning how to ensure you thrive no matter what happens next in the world, I encourage you to download our free Perfect Plan B Guide.

Published:3/14/2019 11:23:14 AM
[Markets] "Medicare For All": A Great Slogan But An Expensive Wrecking Ball

Authored by Marc Siegel, op-ed via The Hill,

"Medicare for all" sounds good and may make good electioneering slogan sense for presidential candidates like Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). It is a sales pitch to younger voters and will likely remain popular — at least until the public really understands what an expensive wrecking ball it is.

Our health-care system is still based mostly on private health insurance, with 67.2 percent having private coverage in 2017

Private insurance pays hospitals and doctors much more per patient than government-run health insurance (Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP) does. Charles Blahous, economist of the Mercatus Institute, calculates that under a system of "Medicare for all," providers will be paid 40 percent less on average than private insurance pays them now.

Keep in mind that no matter how many grants for research a medical center gets, it is really the surgeries and procedures that help pay for the academic side. Patients may not consider this factor until the heart surgeon or plastic surgeon they choose to perform their operation decides to leave for another country or a medical center’s latest new biochemical or promising genetic modulation can’t get sufficient funding for the research to be completed.

"Medicare for all" is also popular among more than half of doctors by some surveys. But I’m sure these doctors aren’t considering the difficulty with approvals, and the excess waiting times for specialists and procedures. These painful processes are all too common and getting worse in our single payer neighbor to the north

Rationing care and several weeks wait to obtain specialized care is sure to dampen innovation at a time of tremendous advances in robotics, genetic and immunotherapies. 

If "Medicare for all" ever takes over here, personalized treatments will be difficult to obtain via a health-care system that will actually be closer to Medicaid than to Medicare in terms of quality. Keep in mind that 30 percent of today’s doctors already don’t take on new Medicaid patients because of lower reimbursements and rigid regulations.

It’s also no wonder that less than half of those surveyed favor "Medicare for all" once they discover the price tag — more than $30 trillion to transition to this new system over 10 years.

This exorbitant price tag is going to have to be accompanied by a large tax hike.

Millions of jobs would be lost due to the collapse of the private health sector. And millions more, who obtain their health insurance from their employer (more than 170 million people), would not want to keep working their marginal jobs if they could get their health insurance “free” from the government. Keep in mind that 70 percent of those surveyed report being happy with the health insurance they receive from their employer. So there is in fact no pressing need to rip this away from them and force them to accept something else. 

One of the most shocking pillars of the "Medicare for all" proposals being touted is the demolition of all private insurance. The resulting upheaval and displacement of health-care access across the board is the main reason that "Medicare for all" doesn’t have a chance of passing.

It is one thing to promote a basic government administered health insurance to reach the have nots; it is quite another to demolish all private insurance to paste up a prefabricated government one-size-fits-all product. The time and place to consider a massive socialized medicine program like "Medicare for all" is in a more primitive society without a well formed health-care system. 

The destruction of the existing system and replacing it with a rigid government-run system with fewer choices might ultimately be cheaper in the long run but it would certainly be lower quality. Socialized health care across the board is not a good fit for America’s way of life. You may not be able to keep your doctor under ObamaCare, but at least you get to keep your health-care system. Not so with "Medicare for all."

Of course, if "Medicare for all" ever passes, the senators and congressmen and congresswomen promoting it will quickly put together a plan to get their own high frills health coverage another way.

Published:3/12/2019 12:41:07 PM
[Politics] Washington State to Churches: ‘Pay for Abortions or SUE!’ A church is now suing the state of Washington for trying to force churches to pay for elective abortions coverage in their health plans. It’s Obamacare all over again. Here’s more from . . . Published:3/11/2019 6:38:35 PM
[Politics] Washington State to Churches: ‘Pay for Abortions or SUE!’ A church is now suing the state of Washington for trying to force churches to pay for elective abortions coverage in their health plans. It’s Obamacare all over again. Here’s more from . . . Published:3/11/2019 6:07:59 PM
[Markets] Baby Boom To Baby Bust - Martin Armstrong Exposes The Crisis In Socialism

Authored by Martin Armstrong via ArmstrongEconomics.com,

There is a real crisis in the fertility rate which has fallen to such a low level that all the socialism going forward will simply collapse.

What used to be the Baby Boom is now being called the “Baby Bust,” which means that in all first-world countries there is a real crisis for they have insufficient children to maintain their population size.

This has been one excuse for allowing the refugees into Europe.

As the population dwindles, all the social programs are collapsing for they were NEVER designed properly from the outset. They are based on a Ponzi scheme where they rely on taxing a growing younger population to service the benefits of the older generation. This was the entire scheme behind Obamacare. Force the youth to buy insurance they do not need to reduce the cost for the elderly.

These findings were a huge surprise to those in government. They did not think it was even possible.

The joke is that we will have more grandparents than grandchildren. A study published in the Lancet followed trends in every country from 1950 to 2017. During 1950, women were having an average of 4.7 children in their lifetime. The fertility rate all but halved to 2.4 children per woman by last year. They compared countries in Africa, such as Niger, where the fertility rate was 7:1 compared to countries like Cyprus where couples had just one child meaning that would be a 50% decline in population.

Even in Britain, the fertility rate has dropped to 1.7, which is similar to most Western European countries. Anything below 2 children per couple means a net population decline.

This data clearly warns that the Ponzi scheme set up first in the New Deal of the Great Depression is no longer sustainable. The cost of childcare has skyrocketed and the rise in taxation has forced women to work, making childcare mandatory, but not affordable for 2 or more children.

This creates an unsustainable future for taxation.

Published:3/11/2019 12:09:18 PM
[Health Care] These 3 Doctors in Congress Diagnose the Problems With Medicare for All

Few issues have animated conservatives as much as Obamacare. But there’s a new threat on the horizon. It’s called Medicare for All—and it would be... Read More

The post These 3 Doctors in Congress Diagnose the Problems With Medicare for All appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:3/11/2019 2:03:49 AM
[Markets] Obama Wants To Train "A Million Baracks And Michelles" To Create Progressive Utopia

Former President Barack Obama said this week that despite the "challenging times" we face, he remains hopeful that the future will be OK thanks to an army of young activists that will create a progressive utopia, reports the Washington Examiner

"If we could form a network of those young leaders, not just in the United States, but around the world, then we got something," said Obama, adding: "if we can train a million Baracks and Michelles who are running around thinking they can change the world," they will fulfill the 'hope and change' agenda, said Obama - echoing a similar statement he made in Japan last year.

Speaking at a packed arena at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg, Canada on Monday, Obama explained how he plans to create a "university for social change" that will act as a jumpoff for young people in the US and around the world who don't believe in the "old institutions." 

"If we train them — if we give them skills, support, financing, media training, spotlights, then they're the ones that are going to carry forward the solutions that we so desperately need," he said. 

Obama also spoke about his two terms as president and his relationship with Canada and its leaders during hour-long-plus discussion with moderator Michael Burns, the former CEO of the Invictus Games.

He didn't talk directly about his successor in the White House, President Trump, or the 2020 election, but he did take a jab at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., provided a clue about how soon he might complete his first book since leaving office, and shared his admiration of Joe Biden, who was his vice president and is now looking at a bid for president. -Washington Examiner

Obama's training center sure sounds a lot like the embattled Obama Presidential Center - a sprawling complex slated for construction in a park beside Lake Michigan, which is currently being sued for an illegal transfer of park land to The Obama Foundation. 

Published:3/7/2019 8:40:03 AM
[932b9990-0584-5b3a-9db7-cc46bd17199f] Dr. Marc Siegel: 'Medicare-for-all' is a wrecking ball to employer-based private health insurance Last week I was scheduled to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference not as a physician but as a health policy analyst who is concerned that coverage doesn’t equal access to actual care, that ObamaCare’s high deductibles and narrow networks interfere with this access and that the innovative personalized technologies of the future may not be obtainable with a clunky highly regulated government insurance built on an outdated model for reimbursement.  Published:3/6/2019 9:05:12 AM
[Markets] Ben Bernanke - The Father Of Extreme US Socialism

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk,

Looking for a reason for the upsurge in radical socialism, don't blame Trump, blame the Fed.

Writer David McWilliams penned an excellent article in the Financial Times:Quantitative Easing was the Father of Millennial Socialism.

McWilliams notes that Fed chairman Ben Bernanke's "cash for trash" QE scheme drove up asset prices and bailed out the baby boomers. The cost of course, was pricing millennials out of the housing market.

Unorthodox policy penalizes the asset poor.

What assets do millennials have? Hardly any. Instead they are saddled with mountains of student debt which, thanks to president George W. Bush, could no longer be discharged in bankruptcy.

The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 would have better been called the Debt Slave Act of 2005.

Then, when the Great Financial Crisis hit, the Fed came along bailed out the banks, bailed out the bondholders, bailed out Fannie Mae, and bailed out the asset holders in general, leaving millennials mired in debt unable to afford a house.

Simmering Stew of Anger

The irony in this simmering stew of anger is people blame Trump, not the Fed.

But socialism, even AOC's radical socialism is not about Trump, at least directly.

Peak Trump

I had a lengthy phone conversation with David Stockman after I finished reading his new book, "Peak Trump".

The first thing I said to him was "This really isn't about Trump, is it?"

He laughed, then responded along the lines of, "You are correct. Trump is a symptom of the problem. He wanted to drain the swamp but failed to do so. He never really had a good chance of doing that, but he failed to make the most of the chance he had. We are where we are because of decades of Congressional and monetary mismanagement."

I gave his book two thumbs up in "Peak Trump" by David Stockman: Book Review

Trump Won the Election Because

  1. Obama promised change and failed to deliver. Wars continued so did drone policy. Obamacare was a disaster. In his first term, Obama bailed out the banks.

  2. The millennials wanted Bernie Sanders and the Democrat leadership rigged the primary for Hillary. Many disillusioned millennials then sat the election out.

  3. Trump's message appealed to union workers in the rust belt states who believe China was stealing our jobs.

  4. Many believe Hillary is a bigger warmonger than Trump.

  5. People genuinely cannot stand Hillary, for many good reasons.

It took all of those things for Trump to win, and then just barely.

Rise of the Radicals

Now, instead of drifting towards the middle, the radical Left, epitomized by AOC and her Green New Deal, have an open battle to win the heart and soul of the Democratic Party.

?For example, AOC's Green New Deal Pricetag of $51 to $93 Trillion vs. Cost of Doing Nothing.

But why should she care?

Also note that the socialist don't like tax breaks for Amazon. The result was Hooray! No Jobs for New York.

But why should socialists care when the Stunningly Absurd "New Green Deal"guarantees living wages no natter what you do or what your skills are?

And let's not forget Progressive Lies Like "Free College" and "Medicare For All".

Pompous Twit

Today ZeroHedge noted Greenpeace Co-Founder Rips "Pompous Little Twit" Ocasio-Cortez As "Garden-Variety Hypocrite" On Climate.

Yes, AOC is an economically illiterate pompous twit, obvious even to a the Greenpeace co-founder.

I have a socialist friend who knows full well how nonsensical her plan is.

But he is so irritated by bailouts, Trump, tax cuts on the rich that he doesn't give a damn. He is rooting for AOC to "balance things out".

So, here we are.

Yet the irony is that independents will not vote for extreme nut cases with $80 trillion plans, nor will they vote for the likes of Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris with their preposterous Slave Reparation Proposals.

You don't right wrongs by being stupid, no matter how irritated you might be at the current politics.

Published:3/4/2019 10:54:51 AM
[The Blog] Do you suppose Congress could investigate how health insurance got so expensive?

Or nah?

The post Do you suppose Congress could investigate how health insurance got so expensive? appeared first on Hot Air.

Published:3/1/2019 2:05:29 PM
[Congressional Hall Monitor] Obamacare Is Approaching 10th Birthday. This GOP Rep Has A Plan To Lean Into Its ‘Free Market’ Aspects

By Evie Fordham -

Healthcare.gov obamacare signup

The Affordable Care Act will mark 10 years in 2020. Republican Arkansas Rep. Bruce Westerman plans to introduce legislation to increase access to health care and give states more freedom within the framework of the ACA Monday night. Westerman said his wide-ranging bill leans into the “free market” aspects of ...

Obamacare Is Approaching 10th Birthday. This GOP Rep Has A Plan To Lean Into Its ‘Free Market’ Aspects 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:2/25/2019 9:44:35 PM
[World] [Ilya Somin] Why Trump's Emergency Declaration is Illegal

The strongest legal argument against Trump's attempt to use emergency powers to build the wall is that declaring an emergency does not authorize him to spend money and condemn property for that purpose. But he also lacks grounds to declare an emergency in the first place.

The strongest legal argument raised in the various lawsuits against President Trump's attempt to use emergency powers to build his border wall is that declaring an emergency does not authorize him to spend money and condemn private property to build the wall. That's the conventional wisdom among most legal scholars and commentators. But it is also important to recognize that it is illegal to for Trump to declare a "national emergency" over this issue in the first place. That point is important for reasons that go far beyond the the specific case of the border wall. If the president can declare an emergency and tap a vast range of special emergency powers anytime he wants for any reason he wants, that makes a hash of the whole concept of an emergency, raises serious constitutional problems, and creates a dangerous concentration of power in the hands of a single person.

It makes much more sense to interpret the National Emergencies Act as only allowing an emergency declaration in a situation where an emergency actually exists - defined as some sudden crisis that cannot be addressed swiftly enough through ordinary political processes. By that interpretation, the situation at the border doesn't even come close to qualifying.

Why the President Cannot Just Declare a "National Emergency" Whenever he Wants

The relevant section of the NEA, 50 USC Section 1621, says that "With respect to Acts of Congress authorizing the exercise, during the period of a national emergency, of any special or extraordinary power, the President is authorized to declare such national emergency." The Act does not define what counts as a "national emergency." But the fact that president is authorized to declare one does not mean he can do so at any time for any reason. It makes much more sense to interpret the Act as allowing the president to declare a legal state of emergency only in situations where an emergency actually exists.

The whole point of emergency powers is to enable the government to respond to a sudden crisis that cannot be addressed fast enough by ordinary political processes, not to give the president a blank check to use that authority whenever it might be politically convenient. One of the most basic rules of legal interpretation is that words used in laws must be understood in terms of their "ordinary meaning." The ordinary meaning of "emergency" is a sudden crisis of some sort, not just any issue of any kind.

If the term "national emergency" is interpreted broadly enough to allow the president to declare one anytime he wants, that would make Section 1621 unconstitutional. Declaring a national emergency allows the president to exercise a wide range of powers that normally belong to Congress, including spending money and imposing regulations on private parties. The "nondelegation" doctrine restricts Congress' ability to delegate its powers to another branch of government. For many years, the Supreme Court has taken a very permissive approach to delegation. All the Court requires is for the delegation to be constrained by an "intelligible principle." But allowing the president to tap congressional powers by declaring an emergency for any reason he wants runs afoul of even that weak restriction. There can be no "intelligible principle" when the whole question is entirely left up to executive discretion.

At the very least, interpreting "national emergency" to give total discretion to the president raises serious constitutional problems. And the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that judges must try hard to avoid interpreting statutes in ways that risk rendering them unconstitutional. The most famous recent example is NFIB v. Sebelius, where Chief Justice John Roberts famously reinterpreted the Obamacare individual health insurance mandate as a tax in order to save it from unconstitutionality, even though he admitted that was not the "most natural reading" of the law. He concluded that courts must adopt any available "reasonable" interpretation of a statute that would make it constitutional, even if it is not actually the best interpretation.

I am no great fan of this "avoidance canon." But as long as the Supreme Court requires federal judges to follow it, they must interpret "national emergency" in a way that doesn't give the president unconstrained discretion to declare one anytime he wants. Interpreting "emergency" to mean something like "sudden crisis" is at least a "reasonable" interpretation of the word, and it neatly avoids any possible constitutional problems.

Ironically, conservatives and libertarians are the ones who have long argued for stronger enforcement of the nondelegation doctrine, while most liberals have generally been hostile to the idea. Trump's national emergency declaration might perhaps lead the latter to reconsider their position.

Judges may face difficult decisions in situations where it is hard to tell whether the problem at hand really is a suddenly emerging crisis or not. But difficult borderline questions are common in judicial decision-making, particularly when interpreting imprecise terms like "emergency." When it comes to laws intended to trigger dangerous powers that circumvent the normal political process, it makes sense to put the burden of proof on the executive to show that a genuine emergency actually exists.

But even if courts should defer to the president's judgment in relatively close cases, that does not mean they should give him a blank check to declare an emergency anytime he wants. The current situation is not a close case at all.

The Situation at the Border is Not a Sudden Crisis - and therefore Cannot be Declared a National Emergency

If a "national emergency" can only be declared in the event of a sudden crisis, Trump's declaration clearly doesn't qualify. Quite simply, there is no crisis at the border. To the contrary, crime and terrorism risks in the border area are very low, and the number of illegal border crossings has been dropping. The vast majority of undocumented immigration is a result of visa overstays, not illegal border crossings at all. Trump also cites the flow of illegal drugs as a justification for the declaration. But 80 to 90 percent such drugs are brought in through legal ports of entry that would not be affected by his proposed wall.

Moreover, it is implausible to claim that the president had declare an emergency because there is no time for ordinary legislative processes to work. To the contrary, Congress has been considering Trump's demand for a wall for over two years now. The issue is not that they haven't had time to authorize one, but that they simply disagree with Trump about the need for it. Disagreement between the legislature and the executive is not an emergency. It's a normal part of our system of separation of powers. If the president can't get Congress to pass the laws he wants, that doesn't justify circumventing it by declaring an "emergency."

The above assumes that current immigration restrictions and the War on Drugs are beneficial rather than harmful. I myself oppose both. Most of the real problems at the border arise from the grave injustices caused by these policies. But even observers more sympathetic to status quo policies than I am should be able to recognize that Trump's emergency declaration does not address any sudden crisis. Even Trump himself seems to understand that. He admits he "didn't need to do this" and only declared a national emergency because he'd "rather" build the wall "much faster" than Congress is willing to authorize.

The claim that the border situation is an emergency is also belied by the nature of Trump's proposed remedy for the supposed problem. Even setting aside delays likely to be caused legal challenges, the wall will probably take years to build. Any problem for which the wall is a plausible solution is by definition not an emergency. To claim otherwise is much like saying that we can put out a raging fire by building a new fire station over the course of several years.

The administration can argue that there is an emergency because illegal border crossings and drug flows still persist and are unlikely to be completely eliminated anytime soon, if ever. But by that standard, there is an emergency any time any federal law is not perfectly enforced and some violations continue to occur. And that's true of almost every law on the books.

For example, surveys show that over 50 percent of adult Americans admit to violating federal laws banning possession of marijuana. Only a small fraction of them have ever been caught or prosecuted. Can the president declare a national emergency and start spending unauthorized money and condemning property to go after pot smokers?

If Trump's desire to build a wall qualifies as an emergency, then pretty much anything does. The president would have unlimited power to declare any real or imagined problem an emergency, and thereby tap a wide range of emergency powers.

The Perils of Setting a Dangerous Precedent

If courts conclude that the president can declare any emergency for virtually any reason he wants, it would set a dangerous precedent that goes far beyond wall-building. The National Emergencies Act allows the president to use an emergency declaration to trigger a wide range of powers, including such extremely dangerous ones as shutting down electronic media (potentially including the internet), and even testing chemical and biological weapons on unwilling human subjects.

Even the wall-building situation is itself deeply problematic. After all, Trump is claiming not just the authority to spend money on the wall, but also the power to use eminent domain to seize the property of thousands of people. If he can do that to build a border wall, other presidents can do the same thing to take property for a wide range of other purposes.

No one person - especially a politician - can be trusted with such vast, nearly unconstrained power. Conservatives who may be comfortable trusting Trump with it are unlikely to be so happy when the next liberal Democratic president inherits the same authority and uses it to promote left-wing causes.

Some suggest we need not worry too much about setting a precedent, because there have already been numerous questionable emergency declarations, including some that have lasted for many years.

I won't try to go through all of the previous 58 emergency declarations issued since the NEA was enacted in 1976. But virtually all of them did in fact involve crises that emerged suddenly and at least plausibly required a swift response that did not leave time for ordinary political processes to react quickly enough. All or nearly all were also invoked to take measures to address the problem quickly, not ones like Trump's wall, that would take years to have any effect. And none involved the president appropriating and seizing private property for a project Congress had repeatedly refused to support on the scale the president wanted, as is the case with the wall.

It is admittedly problematic that many previous emergencies have lasted for years, without any additional congressional authorization. The NEA does not impose any time limit on an emergency declaration. So one can potentially go on indefinitely, if the president wants it to.

The NEA states that a declaration can be ended by Congress if it passes a resolution disapproving it, as congressional Democrats are now attempting to do. But any such resolution is subject to veto by the president. And he can almost always count on sufficient support from his own party to prevent his veto from being overridden by the necessary two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress.

But the failure of the NEA to effectively limit the duration of emergency declarations does not mean it also imposes no constraints on their initation. The difficulty of terminating an emergency once it has been declared makes it all the more important to enforce legal constraints on declaring one in the first place, to ensure these powers cannot be used unless there is an actual emergency.

It is certainly possible that some previous emergency declarations were legally dubious. Trump is far from the first president to abuse his authority. But the fact that some of his predecessors may have acted illegally is no reason to let Trump get away with it, too. To the contrary, it is all the more reason to crack down on such abuses of power, so they will not be repeated.

Published:2/23/2019 5:30:00 PM
[Health Care] 9 Years After Obamacare Passed, Agency Finds Numbers Were Wildly Off

Democrats defeated Republicans in the Obamacare repeal fight by warning that 22 million Americans would be thrown off their health insurance. They pointed to data... Read More

The post 9 Years After Obamacare Passed, Agency Finds Numbers Were Wildly Off appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Published:2/22/2019 4:54:29 PM
[Markets] Breaking Down Elizabeth Warren's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Math Behind "Childcare For All"

This week Elizabeth Warren proposed a fantastical entitlement program to provide free or affordable childcare to every single American family with a young child - suggesting that the program would cost $70 billion a year

As Breitbart's John Carney notes - the whole plan is absurd; not because the price tag is so expensive, but because it's way too cheap

Start with the basics. There are around four million babies born in the U.S. every year. That means there are approximately 20 million children under school age who could be enrolled in a national childcare program. Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi and Sophia Koropeckyj, the economists behind Warren’s figures, estimate that the cost of each child in the Warren Centers—or Baby Warrens, as we would inevitably call them–would be $14,500. -Breitbart

At $14,500 times 20 million children, a national childcare program could cost up to $290 billion per year - or an extra 2 trillion per decade over her original estimate. That said, not every family qualifies, nor would every family take advantage of such a program as some people prefer to raise their own children or place them in the care of relatives. 

That said, Warren's proposal promises free childcare to any family with an income under 200% of the poverty line - or around $51,000 for a family of four. All other families would pay no more than 7% of their income on childcare.

Zandi and Koropeckyj estimate that 1/3 of American households will choose to forego professional childcare; around the same percentage as today. This is magical thinking, suggests Carney - as it assumes that stay-at-home parents won't change their preferences in light of a massive government program. 

Warren's plan assumes that the number of children in childcare centers would rise from 6.8 million to 12 million - however due to shifting preferences, that number would likely be much higher

That said - the math behind Warren's plan is still wrong at 12 million children. At $14,500 per head, the program would cost approximately $174 billion per year, not $90 billion

How they shave that $100 billion off the cost is partly redistribution and mostly voodoo economics, magical thinking disguised as macroeconomics. Because families earning more than 200 percent of the federal poverty level would have to pay for some of their childcare–but never really more than half–the cost would be reduced. But the size of the subsidy for even very wealthy families is large enough that this doesn’t shave much off the total cost.

The heavy lifting here is in the rosy economic forecasts Zandi and Koropeckyj produce. They predict that the childcare for all program will “quickly lift economic growth” by transferring wealth from the rich—Warren wants to pay for the program with a tax on ultra-millionaires. In the longer term, they see it boosting economic  growth because they foresee it boosting workforce participation and the number of hours worked. -Breitbart

In short, the plan only works if economic growth is "quickly lifted" because of a massive wealth transfer from ultra-millionaires, and if the free childcare results in more parents leaving the home in search of jobs amid already-low unemployment. The analysis fails to consider that a flood of additional workers who aren't at home raising their own kids would put downward pressure on wages. 

"Cheapening labor costs while raising taxes on wealth would also diminish the return on capital investment, which would be a drag on productivity—the best driver of economic growth," notes Carney.

"In the end, we may end up with a diminished economy, families working more hours than before and spending less time with children, and an entitlement program that is much more expensive than anticipated (as entitlement programs tend to be)."

That said, encouraging Americans to have more children by making it more affordable is not a bad idea, concludes Carney. It should just be done in a way that doesn't require magical math - such as a much larger, fully refundable child tax credit, and allowing families to pay less in entitlement taxes when they have more than two children. After all, they will be supplying the next generation of workers who will pay for Social Security and Medicare, should it still exist by then.

"Childcare Deserts"

While Carney points out the crappy assumptions behind Warren's plan, there may be another major problem; accessibility. According to the Center for American Progress, more than half of American households live in what are known as "childcare deserts" - places where there are up to 3 children for every available childcare slot, or no childcare options at all

Warren addresses this in a blog post, suggesting that her plan would "establish and support a network of locally-run Child Care and Early Learning Centers and Family Child Care Homes so that every family, regardless of their income or employment, can access high-quality, affordable child care options."

The problem, as New Republic reports, "There are simply not enough providers in operation, either in formal centers or in informal home settings, with enough openings to meet current demand."

That demand is only likely to increase if Warren’s plan makes childcare far more affordable and better quality than it is today. Significantly increasing the funding available to provide care and compensate providers adequately will certainly entice more people to jump into the business. But there is nothing in the plan that absolutely ensures that enough providers open up shop and create new slots so that all families can take advantage of it. -New Republic

In short, the federal government would need to become directly involved in solving the infrastructure problem - vastly expanding child development centers, which would add an entirely new set of costs to the proposal. 

The Week's Ryan Cooper points out four flaws in Warren's plan. 

The limitations of Warren's proposal are clearly driven in part by the desire to keep the headline price down, but somebody, in this case middle- and upper-class parents, will still have to make up the difference. Designing it in this way could easily increase the total cost (that is, including both state and private spending) of child care. The government could counter this problem by fixing prices, but there are no such controls mentioned in the proposal outline.

Second is wasteful bureaucracy. Giving out subsidies based on income will require an administrative/surveillance apparatus to calculate payments and make sure that people aren't cheating the system. That's a lot of paperwork and very likely a lot of mistakes and headaches.

Third is lower political durability. Families only eligible for smaller subsidies will be naturally resentful of the downscale families paying nothing, so there will be less resistance to a future Republican administration attempting to roll back the program. (Witness the last GOP Congress coming within a hair's breadth of repealing ObamaCare, but largely leaving Medicare alone.)

A fourth problem is that families in the phase-out zone of the subsidy will potentially face a high effective marginal tax rate, as a large portion of any additional income will be eaten up by reduced subsidies — especially when combined with other proposals for means-tested tax credits that would phase out in a similar way, like Kamala Harris's LIFT Act.

Any way you cut it, Warren's plan - like so many before them, appears to be nothing more than a great sounding promise that would end up like California's ill-fated bullet train.

Published:2/21/2019 10:51:23 PM
[Markets] An Obituary For California's Bullet Train

California's ill-fated statewide bullet train project - which has been reduced to a "train to nowhere" between Merced and Bakersfield so the state doesn't have to return $3.5 billion in federal funds - took residents of the Golden State on a ride for over a decade.

While initially projected to cost $33.6 billion in 2008, former Gov. Jerry Brown's "special legacy project" ballooned in estimated size to nearly $100 billion in 2018, with service beginning from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 2033. 

Opining on the demise of the bullet train in an "I told ya so" Op-Ed, the WSJ editorial board provides a post-mortem on yet another failed attempt towards a progressive utopia using taxpayer dollars.

***

Via the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board

Death of a California Dream
Gavin Newsom gives up on Jerry Brown’s bullet-train fiasco.

Like Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War, California Gov. Gavin Newsom inherited a quagmire in the state’s bullet train with no good options. Rather than attempt a full-out retreat, the Governor announced Tuesday that he would cut taxpayer losses by completing a segment in the sparsely populated San Joaquin Valley. But please don’t call it a train to nowhere.

A decade ago California voters approved a $10 billion bond measure to build a 520-mile high-speed train that would supposedly take riders from San Francisco to Los Angeles in two hours and 40 minutes. The choo-choo’s supporters vowed that the federal government and private investors would foot most of the estimated $33 billion bill, and the referendum explicitly stated there would be no subsidy. President Trump’s promise to make Mexico pay for a border wall was more believable.

The Obama Administration chipped in $3.5 billion on the condition the first 160-mile segment be built in the San Joaquin Valley district of Democratic Rep. Jim Costa, a longtime bullet-train supporter who provided a critical vote for ObamaCare. Former Gov. Jerry Brown made the train his special legacy project, his contribution at taxpayer expense to the illusion of stopping climate change. His people sent letter after letter claiming that our editorials were mistaken.

Our criticisms have now been validated by none other than Mr. Newsom. Cost projections for the train have soared to around $80 billion amid litigation, engineering challenges and ordinary government morass. Private investors have run the other way. The state rail authority has spent more than $5 billion acquiring and destroying hundreds of properties but not yet laid tracks. Taxpayers have lost patience, and Mr. Newsom stated the obvious on Tuesday that “there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to LA.”

The new Governor is thus proposing to finish the initial planned route from Merced to Bakersfield, now with the stated goal of revitalizing rural areas that have been parched due to water rationing. Lo, high-speed rail is “about economic transformation and unlocking the enormous potential of the Valley,” which is “hungry for investment” and “good jobs.” Mr. Newsom in his speech also pared back a project championed by Mr. Brown to deliver more water to farmers.

Liberals envision that the bullet train will someday turn Fresno and Merced into Silicon Valley suburbs and ease the Bay Area’s housing shortage. But this too is a dream. As economic consultants William Grindley and Bill Warren document in a recent study, a worker who lives in Fresno would spend 10 hours and 20 minutes each day commuting to San Jose at a cost of $154 round trip—assuming no subsidies.

California’s bullet train provides a miniature model of the Green New Deal. Alas, the main reason liberals like Mr. Newsom are likely turning against it is they are eager to redirect taxpayer money to entitlements and other green largesse.

Published:2/19/2019 7:02:26 AM
[Markets] Howard Marks: The Most Dangerous Thing The Fed Ever Did Was Convince Investors That "It's Different This Time"

As the infamous quote from the movie "the Usual Suspects" goes: "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." Similarly, as the billionaire investor and Oaktree Capital Management founder Howard Marks explained during a recent interview with RealVision's Grant Williams, the most dangerous trick the Federal Reserve ever pulled was to convince investors that "it's different this time".

That in the post-crisis era, the central bank has discovered an elixir to eliminate the business cycle, installing in its place an everlasting bull market, abetted by a "goldilocks" economy, where every dip presents an immediate buying opportunity.

Williams described Marks in their interview as "a great student of [market] cycles" before questioning whether old-school thinking about the boom-bust nature of the markets was even still relevant in the post-crisis brave new world that QE and negative interest rates have brought us.

Marks

But Marks quickly dismissed this, affirming that he is still believes in the value of analyzing and timing the market cycle. Perhaps that's why his fund, Oaktree Management, seized the opportunity to deploy capital during Q4, when nothing was working (2018 will go down in history as one of the worst years for financial markets on record, given the breadth of losses across asset classes), and everybody seemed to be selling in a panic.

Negative

Elaborating further Marks explained his view on where we are in the cycle. Until Trump's arrival in the West Wing, the recovery had been chugging along slowly (while asset prices had been moving in a nearly uninterrupted diagonal line from left to right). Setting aside the direct impact of central bank liquidity, Marks explained that after the crisis, people and businesses were left traumatized, which was one reason why growth was so tepid, even once this immense monetary assistance had been factored in. But the fiscal stimulus unleashed by the Trump administration, in the form of tax cuts and increased federal spending, was like administering a "shot of adrenaline to an already healthy patient."

For this reason, Marks doesn't think the highs are in - at least not yet. But ultimately, he believes we will get to new "highs that lead to lows."

GRANT WILLIAMS: There must come a point where things get out of hand. Going back to the original question of 2005, 2006, do you see any similarities in what you're seeing and what's starting to make your spidey sense tingle?

HOWARD MARKS: Not similarities in the sense of specific things repeating. But I have felt that because people were traumatized by the great recession, the recovery has been the slowest one since World War II. And that has kept things moderate, which meant that we would certainly have a recession one of these days. But it would be moderate. When you don't have a boom, you don't have to have a bust in my belief.

But now between the tax bill, which was a shot of adrenaline into, in my opinion, an already healthy patient, and then the possibility that we're going to see a Powell put in action, I think that we may get to highs that lead to lows.

I'm a believer in cycles. I believe they always have occurred, I think I understand why. And I think they always will occur and I try to study them. And then when I kind of got to the end of writing the book I said, well why do we have cycles? If the market goes up 10% a year on average, why doesn't just go 10% every year? And in fact, it almost never goes up between 8 and 12. So the average is not the norm. Why not?

And the answer, I think, is excesses and corrections. So you have a trend line and most trend lines are upward sloping, but then you deviate from the trend line on the upside because of some combination of optimism and greed and wishful thinking. And then you have to have a correction to the downside. So now I'm thinking we may have more of an excess, which leads to more of a correction.

And the longer the Fed and the federal government forestall a recession by artificial means, the worse the fallout will be when one finally arrives. Offering an extremely apt analogy, Marks contrasted the Fed's machinations with the "good forest management" policies needed to prevent out-of-control wildfires like those that have erupted in California over the past two years (see here for an example of what we're talking about).

Marks reasoning goes, the best way to avoid an out-of-control blaze is to permit moderate fires to burn from time to time. That way, they clear out the underbrush. But if we extinguish every blaze before it has a chance to burn, then we put ourselves at risk for a "big one" that could quickly accelerate beyond our control.

GRANT WILLIAMS: When did we get to the point where a recession is something that has to be avoided at all costs?

HOWARD MARKS: Yeah, well it's a big mistake. In one of my memos - postmortem for the global financial crisis -  I talked about forest fires. Good forest management, you permit there to be fires once in a while. And if there are fires of moderate size, occasionally it burns out the fuel and then you don't get the one big one. Same thing, in my opinion.

And the fluctuations of the economy are natural, in my opinion. And should be permitted to occur. And if you try to forestall them, then when they happen - I don't think you can forestall forever. And when they happen, they're bigger.

Over the past 20 years, the whims of the financial markets have grown to outweigh the influence of the economic cycle. The financial crisis, for example, had almost nothing to do with the real economy, Marks explained. Which is why tacit Fed policies like the "Powell Put" could be far more destabilizing than many investors might suspect.

GRANT WILLIAMS: Yeah sure. Well you mentioned cycles, I know you're a great student of cycles. And they used to be so important in markets - everywhere you look. Whether it was the human cycle, whether it was a market cycle, credit cycles - everything seemed to have a rhythm.

And it made investing a lot easier because you could at least have some sense of how these cycles would turn. That seems to have changed significantly in the last 15, 20 years. You're shaking your head there.

HOWARD MARKS: I don't agree with that. If you talk about 20 years, if you came in this business 20 years ago, you have seen two profound cycles. You had the TMT bubble and crash and then you had the mortgage bubble and crash. And I think that maybe they weren't predictable, but I'm not sure they ever were.

GRANT WILLIAMS: I wouldn't classify those cycles. I kind of look at them and think they were both attempts at cycle turns that happened quickly in kind of short order in small corners of the market. And then got squashed quickly by Fed policy.

HOWARD MARKS: Well, they were market cycles - bubble and crash.

GRANT WILLIAMS: Yeah.

HOWARD MARKS: They weren't economic cycles in the traditional sense. And in the last 20 years, I think that developments in the financial world have taken over in importance from developments in the rest of the business world.

Ultimately, Marks still believes in the importance of understanding market cycles because, fundamentally, human nature hasn't changed. Which is why it's dangerous to believe that, in an increasingly unstable world, that stability has become the norm.

HOWARD MARKS: ...And the big theme of the book is Mark Twain - history does not repeat, but it does rhyme. And the world is just too unstable a place to believe that stability is the norm.

And you know if you think about it, in the economy a great year is up four, and a bad year is down two. So the economy has an upward trend and it kind of goes like this. Then companies have leverage - financial leverage and operating leverage. So their profits go like this. And then the market goes like this. And why? Because of people.

The risk in the market does not come from stock certificates, companies, exchanges, it comes from people. But people are prone to excess and I don't see how it can be argued otherwise.

And by the way, when people say, I don't think we're going to have cycles in the future because the astute Fed has it under control - or whatever it is - what they're saying is what I consider the four worst words in the world - it's different this time. OK until now we've had cycles, but we're not going to have anymore.

One risk that markets are probably failing to truly understand is the rise of the radical left, and their support for "confiscatory" taxation policies.

GRANT WILLIAMS: I mean, it certainly seems that way. When you look at the traction Ocasio- Cortez is getting - and Liz Warren - and it's clear that they both realize that this is how we're going to create that traction - by going against the elite.

But some of the things they're proposing are the 70% tax. Liz Warren was on MSNBC looking straight down the camera at everybody else saying, we're going to find your wealth and we're going to come and get it. These are things that I'm sure a lot of people in America never thought they'd hear in this country.

HOWARD MARKS: I think the thing in the memo that I got heated about the most, and I was trying to put it out and then Friday Elizabeth Warren came out with her wealth tax idea. But what got me was that - she tweeted it out of course - the way she did it.

She said something like - don't quote me - the rich and powerful run America and look at what they have arranged for themselves. They are allowed to keep their accumulated wealth. Well, guess what? We're all allowed to keep our accumulated wealth.

And she makes it sound like - through some skullduggery - they have exempted themselves from the wealth tax. You can't exempt yourself from something that doesn't exist. But she makes it sound nefarious. And that's populism - they, they. And it's not constructive.

I would lay a strong bet that five years from now, my tax rate will be higher than it is today. But it should be, as I said in the memo, it should be progressive, but not punitive. And not confiscatory. Among other things, people don't have to sit still and pay it.

I wrote a memo back in 2016 called "Economic Reality" and I talked about a guy I know who was the biggest taxpayer in New Jersey. They raised the rates to a point where he moved to Florida where there is no tax.

So the point is, the people who want to confiscate seemed to think that there's nothing that the confiscatees can do about it.

Marks believes the growing divisiveness in Washington will lead to increasingly counterproductive policymaking, as Democrats and Republicans focus more on spiting one another by passing major policy initiatives without any participation from the minority party (Obamacare and Trump's tax bill are both examples of this). But shifting his focus back to his investing strategy, Marks explained that he recently realized that cyclical extremes offer probably the best chances of trades with high returns. "When you are at an extreme high or an extreme low, the logic is compelling and the probability of being right is high."

But the problem is, these opportunities don't come around very often. Marks most successful market calls occurred about once a decade - 5 times in 50 years.

But another inflection point where valuations are obviously overstretched could be just around the corner.

Watch a clip from the RealVision interview below:

Published:2/16/2019 9:19:47 PM
[Markets] "We'll End Up In The Supreme Court": Trump Emergency Declaration To Face Firestorm Of Litigation

After unveiling his intention to declare a national emergency that would allow him to redirect some $7 billion in additional funding for his border wall, President Trump said Friday that "we will be sued...and we will possibly get a bad ruling...and then we will get another bad ruling...and then we will end up in the Supreme Court" over the controversial plan, which even some Republican Senators (and former campaign-era rivals) have denounced as potentially unconstitutional. Of course, Trump is used to legal challenges to his policies. And he's also used to winning, as he ultimately prevailed during the battle over his travel ban (though the final measure approved by the Supreme Court was notably watered-down).

After Trump launched into a lengthy digression about the lengthy legal process upon which he was about to embark, several commentators noted, the challenges will offer Trump the opportunity to utter one of his favorite phrases: "See you in court."

But while the battle over Trump's travel ban only took a few months to resolve, Politico speculated on Friday that the battle over Trump's national emergency declaration could take months or even years, as the step of trying to block a presidential emergency declaration would represent something totally unprecedented in the history of American politics.

Trump

Rather than solely worrying about a challenge from Congressional Democrats, Politico warned that a number of interest groups could try to kill the national emergency declaration. These include - but are not limited to - immigrant rights advocates, property rights activists, environmentalists, Democratic lawmakers and state officials.

Already, Reuters reported on Friday that New York’s state attorney general has threatened legal action against over the emergency declaration.

"We will not stand for this abuse of power and will fight back with every legal tool at our disposal," New York’s Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.

And California Gov. Gavin Newsom has already declared that the State of California "will see Trump in court." And the state's attorney general vowed before Trump's announcement that, if the president moves ahead with his plans, he "will be held accountable."

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has filed dozens of suits against Trump administration policy moves, added: "There is no national emergency. If Trump oversteps his authority and abandons negotiations with Congress by declaring a fabricated national emergency, we won’t only call his bluff, we will do what we must to hold him accountable. No one is above the law."

As Politico explains, while judges have sometimes tried to block Congressionally authorized spending, historically it has been almost unthinkable for judges to interfere with a national emergency declaration. However, given "Trump’s history of erratic and inflammatory statements, his frequent rhetorical disconnects with senior officials in his administration and his tendency to see crises that others view as completely contrived" legal experts believe the challenges could make some headway...and that the issue could ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court after a lengthy meandering through the lower courts. Because the chances that challengers can find a circuit court willing to hold up the emergency declaration are seen as very high.

"Normally, any other time, you’d say it’s a no-brainer that the president wins," at least with respect to the decision to declare an emergency, said Bobby Chesney, a University of Texas law professor. "But with this particular president, no bets are safe in assuming the courts will completely defer to him...Presidents traditionally get tremendous deference, but Trump is not going to get the same level of deference."

"That really strips away the core rationale...and creates much more chance than normal that even at that initial step there’s a non-negligible chance that [Trump’s plan] could be rejected," Chesney said.

But politics aside, legal experts who spoke with Politico said property owners along the planned rout of the wall might have the best standing for a successful legal challenge.

Legal experts said affected property owners would have the clearest legal standing, but just what property is in most jeopardy of seizure by eminent domain may be unclear at the outset if the administration is vague about its construction plans.

On the other hand, the House may be well positioned to file suit almost immediately on a theory that it is being unconstitutionally bypassed. Lawyers say the House’s legal authority to sue on that basis is shakier than that of a private landowner who has his or her land seized. However, in 2015 a federal judge ruled than the then-GOP-led House had legal standing to sue over purportedly unauthorized cost-sharing payments to insurance companies under Obamacare.

But as with all of Trump's previous legal challenges, Trump will likely be able to frame the resistance to his plans as grist for his reelection campaign.

Analysts also noted that even setbacks for Trump in the legal battle may amount to political victories for him, as he paints himself as fighting hard against a variety of legal and political forces trying to frustrate him at every turn.

"He’ll be able to campaign against the backdrop of what the courts are doing to stop him," predicted Chesney, the University of Texas law professor.

But while it's tempting to view conservative dominance on the Supreme Court as indicating that a political victory by Trump is virtually assured, Politico pointed out that an Obama appointee whom Trump had repeatedly attacked as biased over his Mexican heritage recently handed Trump a big legal win over his wall prototype and replacement projects, which Trump heralded as a "big win".

There's no guarantee that the Supreme Court might offer a similarly surprising ruling.

Published:2/15/2019 12:42:04 PM
[Markets] Why Does Inflation Remain So Low: Goldman Asnwers

Last week, when discussing the trajectory of the market, Nomura's Charlie McElligott said that the fate of the rally, or lack thereof, depends on two main things: where the dollar goes from here, and what happens to inflation.

And while the dollar persistently refuses to drop despite - or rather in spite of - Wall Street's top consensus trade for 2019 being a lower dollar now that the Fed has reversed dovishly, the bigger question is with the unemployment rate now below most estimates of full employment for a couple of years, why is inflation still below target?

Needless to say, with the FOMC now highlighting “muted inflation pressures” as a reason to remain patient, this question has taken on renewed importance, especially since asset prices have shown a heightened sensitivity to inflationary spikes.

However, according to Goldman, the main answer is that "there just isn’t that much of a puzzle to begin with" and in a note from the bank's chief economist, Jan Hatzius writes that "The Phillips curve has flattened over the decades to the point where an unemployment rate 1pp below the full employment rate tends to raise inflation by just 0.1-0.2pp. With the unemployment rate about ½pp below our estimate of full employment, the state of the labor market alone implies inflation should be at most a tenth above the 2% target, or two-tenths above the current 1.9% rate of core PCE inflation."

As the bank then shows in the chart below, the health care services category — which accounts for roughly 19% of the core — is the main reason that inflation has run a bit softer than the pre-recession average. The left panel shows that health care services inflation was in line with broader core services inflation before the recession but is now much softer, at least according to the BLS' hedonically adjusted measurement and whether or not heathcare inflation is indeed that low in the "real world" is an entirely different matter, while other core services and core goods prices have grown at roughly normal rates.

Assuming the BLS' measure is accurate, Goldman then notes that much of the prolonged softness in health care services inflation in recent years reflects the direct and indirect effects of legislation and sector-specific trends. And while at this point, the direct effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on public-payer healthcare costs are likely behind us - which allegedly depresses healthcare service costs, even if many Americans have a diametrically different take of what Obamacare has done to their healthcare spending - the after-effects have lingered in a couple of ways.

And since the Fed only cares about what the the BEA reports in its core PCE, and any "real world" anecdotes are promptly dismissed, the fact that according to "empirical" analysis the culprit for sticky low inflation is Obamacare, it has significant bearing on both readings of inflation and the Fed's monetary policy, which is why Goldman's take actually matters.

And speaking of Goldman's take, Hatzius writes that in the bank's estimates, ACA-mandated Medicare cuts continue to have sizeable disinflationary spillover effects on private-sector prices, as shown in the next chart below.

In addition, Goldman claims that ACA and other ongoing cuts to government reimbursement rates have reportedly led to an increased focus on cost discipline and disinflationary efficiency gains, adding that "these effects can’t last forever, but they have been a persistent disinflationary force in recent years and are likely to fade only gradually." Needless to say, we find this "analysis" to be laughable in light of unprecedented drug price increases observed in recent years, which while a critical political talking point for years now somehow fails to ever trigger any inflation model.

Meanwhile, outside of the health care sector, Goldman claims that the other components of the core PCE index that usually follow a cyclical pattern have accelerated roughly as they should. In fact, according to an analysis by the bank's economists, inflation in these categories is only very slightly below the expected level. Exhibit 3 illustrates this by scaling the chart’s axes in line with the regression results.

So how is it that whereas inflation in asset prices is rampant, with many openly warning of a new asset bubble, price increases in the real economy are so low as to allow the Fed to stay "patient" indefinitely, thus perpetuating the stock bubble?

Here Goldman's findings above reinforce what past inflation research has also found.

  • First, the Phillips curve is alive but flatter, meaning that changes in slack now have more moderate effects on inflation.
  • Second, non-cyclical factors—from health care policy changes and measurement changes on the downside to new taxes or tariffs on the upside—can have relatively large effects on inflation.

But it is Goldman's third observation that is most stunning because according to the bank's economists, the first two findings "reinforce that the inflation puzzle is exaggerated—inflation is simply not that reliable a cyclical indicator. As former Fed Chair Janet Yellen put it, “such ‘surprises’ should not really be surprising."

That, for lack of a better word, is idiotic considering that with unemployment now largely meaningless and only inflation the gating factor to Fed monetary policy, for Goldman to say that "inflation is simply not that reliable a cyclical indicator" when it is the only thing that is greenlighting the Fed recent stunning dovish reversal, is outrageous, and has staggering policy consequences, as it means that the Fed is now relying on an overtly broken indicator to adjust the cost of money, and in the process is blowing even greater asset bubbles, even as the "unreliable" inflation indicator that is inflation continues to be depressed for purely political reasons.

In any case, Goldman concludes that its findings also shed some light on the inflation outlook for 2019, and notes that the "disinflationary pressures on health care inflation that account for much of the remaining softness should diminish somewhat, while the cyclical pressures that appear to be operating fairly normally should intensify somewhat."

This should take core inflation from a bit below 2% to a bit above—not a drastic change, but likely enough to sway policymakers in favor of a rate hike later this year.

Unless of course this does not happen, and "later this year" Goldman is forced to trot out another essay explaining why "inflation is simply not that reliable a cyclical indicator", even though the Fed clearly is delighted to use it as a cyclical indicator if it means continuing to blow the biggest asset bubblein history.

Published:2/10/2019 4:43:33 PM
[World] Trump Pivots From Health Insurance to Health Itself After years of fighting over Obamacare, both parties are taking a closer look at actually curing diseases. Published:2/6/2019 12:17:32 PM
[Markets] Trump SOTU Post-Mortem: "Tonight, I Ask You To Choose Greatness"

Trump started off with a shun. Traditionally, the Speaker of the House introduces the President inside the House Chamber after the House Sergeant at Arms, as Paul Ryan did for Trump last year. But Pelosi didn’t have a chance tonight, as Trump instead launched right into his speech. It’s unclear if Trump’s jumpstart was intentional or not, but he and Pelosi did share a cordial handshake during the first standing ovation.

Trump largely stuck with the talking points that were leaked to the press.

As expected, his tone has been largely conciliatory, despite delivering the speech to a divided Congress for the first time since his inauguration. And the bonhomie could be felt across the aisle, as lawmakers from both parties stood and delivered a standing ovation to the president as he walked up to the House rostrum. For roughly one-third of the lawmakers in attendance, this is the first SOTU they have ever attended.

Trump started his speech by saying he stood ready to work with both parties to fulfill our nation's "unlimited potential", and that he hoped "we can work together not as two parties, but as one nation." As telegraphed ahead of the speech, Trump described his agenda "not as a Republican agenda, or a Democrat agenda, but as an agenda for the American people."

And that agenda is...

  • Reduce the costs of health care and price of prescription drugs.
  • Immigration that is safe lawful and secure
  • And pursue a foreign policy that puts Americans first.

After noting the 75th anniversary of D-Day, which Trump noted was the beginning of what Dwight Eisenhower called "the Great Crusade" to stop the Nazis in Europe, before introducing three WWII veterans.

Trump went on to exhort lawmakers to reject the "politics of revenge" and focus on "cooperation" and "compromise" for the common good.

"Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness."

Moving on to his economic accomplishments, Trump touted the "unprecedented economic boom" ushered in by his policies. As evidence of this, he cited,

  • 5.3 million new jobs
  • 600,000 new manufacturing jobs
  • Wages rising at the fastest pace in decades
  • And wages for blue collar workers growing faster than anybody else thought possible
  • 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps
  • Economy growing twice as fast today as when I took office.
  • Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in over half a century
  • African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment have reached lowest levels ever recorded
  • Unemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low
  • 157 million Americans are working - more than at any time during the history of our country
  • Passed a massive tax cut for working families and doubled the child tax credit
  • We've virtually ended the estate tax for small businesses, ranches and family farms
  • Eliminated "very unpopular" Obamacare individual mandate penalty
  • Gave critically ill patients access to life saving cures with "right to try"

Touting his deregulation push, Trump ntoed his administration has cut more regulations during a shorter period of time than any other administration during its entire tenure, which has helped bring companies back to America in record numbers. And we've unleashed a revolution in US energy, with the US now the No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas, anywhere in the world.

And for the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy.

With America winning "each and every day" - thanks to our unparalleled military strength - the state of our union is "strong", Trump said, to chants of "USA, USA, USA" from Republican lawmakers.

Exhibiting his fondness for economic data, Trump touted Friday's jobs report, noting that the US added 304,000 jobs in January, almost double the number expected. "An economic miracle is taking place in the United States, and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or foolish investigations."

In a shot at House Democrats preparing to let subpoenas fly, Trump warned that they should think twice before following through.

"If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn't work that way." We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad.

And this new era of cooperation can start by confirming the more than 300 highly qualified nominees who are still stuck in the Senate, some of whom have spent "years and years" waiting.

He touted his sweeping legislation to combat the opioid crisis, the farm bill, and a bill calling for VA accountability, to punish those who mistreat "our wonderful veterans." They said it couldn't be done, but just weeks ago, both parties came together to pass criminal justice reform. Trump then brought up the story of Alice Johnson, who was sentenced to life in the 1990s for a non-violent first-offense drug crime. "Alice's story underscores the disparities and unfairness that can exist in criminal sentencing and the need to remedy this total injustice. She served almost that 22 years and had expected to be in prison for the remainder of her life. But in June, I commuted Alice's sentence."

Alice

Alice Johnson

Trump's "First Step Act" gives non-violent offenders a second chance.

Matthew Charles, in Tennessee, Charles was sentenced to 35 years at the age of 30 for non-violent drug offenses. Now, Matthew is the very first person to be released from prison under the first step act.

Matthew

Matthew Charles

Now, Republicans and Democrats must join forces again to confront an urgent national crisis. Congress has 10 days to pass a bill that will fund our government, protect our homeland and pass a bill that will secure our border. Congress must commit to putting "human traffickers, coyotes and drug smugglers out of business," Trump said, adding that "as we speak, large organized caravans are on the march to the Untied States. We have just heard that Mexican cities, in order to remove the illegal immigrants from their communities, are getting trucks and buses to bring them up to areas where there is little border protection, Trump said he ordered another 3,000+ troops to our southern border to prepare for this onslaught. Trump added that we have a "moral obligation" to protect our borders and ensure that those immigrants who came here legally are respected.

"No issue better illustrates the divide between Americans working class and America's political class than illegal immigration. Wealthy politicians push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards," Trump said, a subtle dig at the Obamas, whom he has criticized for building a wall around their homes.

Tolerating illegal immigration leads to overburdened schools and hospitals, while one and three women traveling to the southern border are sexually assaulted during the journey north. Young women are sold into prostitution and sex slavery. Because of this, "open borders" are "actually very cruel."

Meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl pour across the border as well, brought by gangs like MS-13. Trump then cited the gang member who was arrested for a fatal shooting on a subway platform in Queens. And many innocent Americans, like the parents of Debra Bissel, are killed by illegal immigrants. She attended with her daughter and granddaughter.

Bissels

Debra Bissell, Heather Armstrong, and Madison Armstrong

"I will fight for the memory of Gerald and Sharon, and that it should never happen again. Not one more American life should be lost because we failed to control our border. Last year border agents like Elvin Hernandez made 266,000 arrests of criminal aliens, including those convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 killings.

Trump credited Hernandez with rescuing more than 300 girls from sex trafficking, while more than 1,500 traffickers have been arrested.

Hernandez

Elvin Hernandez

Trump pledged that he will "never abolish our heroes from ICE."

Trump then outlined a proposal to Congress for the border including humantiarian aid, sophisticated drug detecting equipment, and funding for a wall to protect vulnerable areas along the border. "In the past, many people in this room voted for a wall, but the proper wall never got built. I will get it built."

"This is a smart, strategic see-through steel barrier, not just a simple concrete wall, it will be deployed in the areas identified by border agents in the areas identified as having the greatest need."

"Where walls go up, illegal border crossings go way, way down."

Trump cited San Diego as an example: A wall along the border "almost completely ended" illegal crossings. A wall also brought down El Paso, Texas's high rates of violent crime.

"Simply put, walls work, and walls save lives."

"So let's work together, compromise and reach a deal that will truly make America safe."

But we must also ensure that our economic resurgence continues apace. Nobody has benefited more than women, who have filled 54% of the newly created jobs last year. "All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before," Trump said.

In a line that will surely make Trump's SWJ critics uneasy, the president noted that "And exactly one century after Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in Congress than at any time before."

Next up: Trade. After years of stealing American jobs, we're making it clear to China that the theft has come to an end. Now we have tariffs on more than $200 billion in goods, and our Treasury is receiving "billions and billions" of dollars.

But Trump doesn't blame China for this. He blames his weak-willed predecessors. He reiterated that he has "great respect" for President Xi, and that the two must work together to make a fair deal.

Another "trade travesty" was Nafta. For years, politicians promised to renegotiate for a better deal, but nobody ever did until now. The USMCA will replace NAFTA and "deliver for American workers like they haven't had delivered to for a long time". With this, Trump urged Congress to work together to pass USMCA and ensure that "more cars are stamped with our four beautiful words: Made in the USA."

Tonight, I am also asking you to pass the US reciprocal trade act, so that if another country puts an unfair tariff on a US product, we can charge the exact same tariff...on products they sell to us.

Finally, nearly an hour into the speech, Trump finally touched on his plans for an infrastructure bill. But offering few details about his infrastructure plan, Trump moved on to what was touted prior to the speech as the highlight of the evening: Prescription drugs.

"This is not an option. This is a necessity. The next major priority for me and for all of us should be to lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs and to protect patients with preexisting conditions. After my election in 2018, drug prices experienced their single largest decline in 46 years. "But we must do more. It's unacceptable that Americans pay more than people in other countries for the exact same drugs made in the exact same place."

He asked Congress to pass a bill that delivers "fairness and price transpare3ncy for American patients and require drug companies and insurers to disclose real prices, which he said would foster competition and "bring costs way down."

And while we have made remarkable progress in the fight against AIDS in recent years, Trump's budget will ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to "eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within ten years." "Together we will defeat AIDS in America and beyond."

In another health-care related announcement, Trump asked all Americans to support his "fight against childhood cancer." Which brings Trump to his next guest: A 10-year-old girl named Grace Eline, a cancer survivor.

Grace

Grace Eline

Even before being diagnosed with brain cancer, Eline had asked friends to donate to cancer research at every birthday since she was four for St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

"Many childhood cancers have not seen new therapies in decades. My new budget will set aside money over the next ten years to help fund this research."

And to help working parents, Trump said, "the time has come to pass school choice" for America's children.

He also announced plans to include a plan for nationwide paid family leave - a top priority of his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and something that probably took many Democrats in the audience by surprise.

On a more somber note, Trump touched on a state law in Virginia where babies can be aborted even minutes before birth. Trump asked Congress to pass a bill banning late-term abortion, for babies "who can feel pain in the mother's womb."

"Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life. And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth. All children, born and unborn, are made in the holy image of god."

Noting that the "final part of his agenda" was to "protect American security" Trump touted the $700 billion allocated to the military and his push to get other nations to "pay their fair share" for their security. Now we have secured over the past couple of years over $100 billion in increased defense spending from NATO allies.

Following the decision to leave the INF, Trump said the US is building a state-of-the-art missile defense system, before blasting Russia for "repeatedly violated" the treaty's terms. "That is why I announced that the United States is officially withdrawing from the...INF treaty."

"We really have no choice. Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement adding China and others. Or perhaps we can't, in which case we will out spend and out innovate all others by far."

Listing all the positive developments involving North Korea, Trump said that if he had not been elected president, we would "right now be in the middle of a major war with North Korea. Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one."

He then confirmed earlier reports that he and Kim would meet on Feb. 27 and 28 in Vietnam.

Moving on to one of the hottest topics of the day, Trump condemned the Maduro regime and reiterated his support gor oppositoin leader Juan Guaido.

As was previewed ahead of the speech, Trump also condemned socialism, much to the chagrin of most of the democrats running for president.

"Here in the United States we are alarmed by the new calls toa dopt socialism. American was founded on liberty and independence and not government coercion and control. We are born free and we will stay free."

"Tonight we confirm our resolve that America will never be a socialist country."

Next up: The Middle East.

Trump touted his decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem. But after 19 years of fighting, and 7,000 US deaths, and 52,000 badly wounded, we have spent more than $7 trillion in fighting wars in the Middle East. When Trump took office, he pledged to end this, and defeat ISIS. But today, ISIS's former territory has been liberated.

"Great nations do not fight endless wars."

And now, the US is working to destory the remanents of ISIS, it is time to give US troops in Syria a "warm welcome home." In Afghanistan, the Taliban is also "Very happy to be negotiating."

"As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troops presence and focus on counter terrorism. We do not know whether we'll achieve an agreement, but we do know after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace. And the other side would like to do the same thing."

"It's time."

In a headline that seemingly got lost amid the crush of news last month, Trump praised US soldiers for killing one of the orchestrators of the USS Cole Bombing. Trump then turned to Tom Wibberley, whose son was one of the 17 who died during the bombing of the USS Cole.

"We will not avert our eyes from a regime that threatens genocide against the Jewish people."

"We must never ignore the vile poison of anti-semitism and those who spread its venemous creed. Just months ago, 11 Jewish Americans were viciously murdered in an attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Trump then introduced, officer Timothy Matson, a SWAT team member shot seven times while pursuing the shooter.

Matson

Timothy Matson

Trump also invited Judah Samet, a survivor of the shooting last fall, and a Holocaust survivor who narrowly survived the concentration camps. Today is his 81st birthday (which triggered a rendition of "Happy Birthday" sung by the crowd. "They wouldn't do that for me, Judah," Trump quipped.

Samet

Judah Samet

Trump then recounted a story told to him by Samet of his memory of being rescued by American soldiers while his family was on a train to another concentration camp.

Another Holocaust survivor, Joshua Kaufman, recounted watching through a hole in the wall at Dachau as American tanks rolled in to liberate the camp.

kaufman

Circling back to the beginning of his speech, Trump once again brought up D-Day, and credited the "blood, and tears and vision" of the "Americans who came before". This, Trump said, is how America defeated Communism and Facism, and emerged as the world's unparalleled super power.

Ending on an optimsitic note, Trump said that "our biggest victories are still to come. We have not yet begun to dream. We must chose whether we are defined by our differences, or chose to transcend them.

"This is the time to reignite the American imagination. This is the time to search for the tallest summit and set our sights on the brightest star."

"We must keep America first in our hearts, and keep freedom alive in our souls. And we must always keep faith in America's destiny, that one nation under god must be the hope and the promise and light and glory among all the nations of the world."

And with that, Trump wrapped up the speech at 10:30 pm ET on the dot. After speaking for 1 hour and 21 minutes, his speech was ever so slightly longer than last year's, but not quite as long as the 1 hour, 29 minute address delivered by Bill Clinton in 2000.

* * *

It's that time of year again. With Pelosi perched on his shoulder, President Trump will deliver his 2nd State of The Union address tonight (after last year's marathon 80-minute oration). However, Trump's call for cooperation did little to change the atmosphere of bitter partisan acrimony that has only intensified in Washington over the past year.

After a divisive year that featured partisan battles over the confirmation of SCOTUS Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's zero-tolerance border policies and - most recently - the government shutdown, according to Conway, Trump is once again planning to strike a conciliatory tone to try and silence critics who joke that his speech would be more aptly referred to as "the State of Disunion".

"This president is going to call for an end to the politics of resistance, retribution and call for more comity," Conway said, spelling out the last word.

Many of President Trump's recent decisions have been controversial among both Republicans (the trade war, his decision to pull troops from Syria and Afghanistan) and Democrats (immigration, the wall, the shutdown). And as the president seeks to rally support as the 2020 campaign season gets underway, previews of the speech published by the Hill, the New York Times and NBC News suggest that Trump will spend the bulk of his time touting his victories and selling his policies to the public, while calling for Democrats and Republicans to find common ground on issues like passing a sweeping infrastructure bill. The "optimistic" tone will go a long way toward setting out Trump's goals for the coming year.

Some key highlights include:

  • *TRUMP TO SAY HIS AGENDA IS AGENDA OF AMERICAN PEOPLE

  • *TRUMP TO ANNOUNCE 2-DAY MEET WITH KIM IN SOTU SPEECH

  • *TRUMP TO SAY IMMIGRATION SYSTEM NEEDS TO PROTECT LIVES, JOBS

  • *TRUMP: ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION DIVIDES WORKING, POLITICAL CLASSES

  • *TRUMP TO SAY GREAT NATIONS DON'T FIGHT ENDLESS WARS

  • *TRUMP TO REITERATE CALL FOR CHEAPER DRUGS

  • *TRUMP TO URGE BOTH PARTIES TO UNITE FOR INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN

Watch Live, starting at 2100ET...

*  *  *

But, if you find yourself drifting off - like during the Super Bowl - here are some prop bets (courtesy of ActionNetwork.com)

Will Trump say “thanks” or “thank you” first?

  • Thanks +300 (25% chance)

  • Thank You -500 (83.8% chance)

What will be the length of Trump’s speech?

  • One hour or longer -250 (71.4% chance)

  • Less than one hour +140 (37% chance)

What color will Trump’s tie be?

  • Red -120 (54.5% chance)

  • Blue +110 (52.4% chance)

  • Other +450 (18.2% chance)

Will Trump say Caravans?

  • Yes +275 (26.7% chance)

  • No -450 (81.8% chance)

Will Trump say Fake News?

  • Yes +800 (11.1% chance)

  • No -2500 (96.2% chance)

Will Trump say Make America Great Again?

  • Yes -550 (84.6% chance)

  • No +325 (23.5% chance)

Will Trump say National Emergency?

  • Yes +275 (26.7% chance)

  • No -450 (81.8% chance)

Will Trump say Witch Hunt?

  • Yes +1200 (7.7% chance)

  • No -5000 (98% chance)

Which will be said more times during Trump’s Speech?

  • Wall -600 (85.7% chance)

  • Huge +400 (20% chance)

How many times will “Kavanaugh” be mentioned?

  • Over 1.5  -115 (53.5% chance)

  • Under 1.5  -115 (53.5% chance)

Will Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi stand and clap for Trump?

  • Yes +200 (33.3% chance)

  • No -300 (75% chance)

Will Alexandria Ocasio Cortez stand at any point during Trump’s speech?

  • Yes -220 (68.8% chance)

  • No +180 (35.7% chance)

How many times will Trump say “Democrats”?

  • Over 2.5  -300 (75% chance)

  • Under 2.5  +200 (33.3% chance)

How many times will Trump say “Crisis”?

  • Over 3.5  -105 (51.2% chance)

  • Under 3.5  -135 (57.4% chance)

And finally - though we implore responsibility - here is the SOTU drinking game (source)...

*  *  *

And because we are fair and balanced - here is The Democratic Party's response by Stacey Abrams...

  • *ABRAMS TO HIGHLIGHT FREE, FAIR ELECTIONS IN RESPONSE TO TRUMP

  • *ABRAMS SAYS SHUTDOWN WAS A `STUNT' ENGINEERED BY TRUMP

Published:2/6/2019 5:21:15 AM
[World] [Ilya Somin] My Upcoming Speaking Engagements for the Next Several Months

Ilya Somin's upcoming speaking engagements for the next few months, covering topics such as federalism, immigration, "voting with your feet," property rights, and others.

For readers who may be interested, here is a list of my upcoming speaking engagements for the next few months, covering a variety of topics. Unless otherwise noted, all are free and open to the public.

February 7, University of Texas Law School, Austin, TX, 2:45-4:30 PM: "Federalism, Executive Power, and Sanctuary Cities," Panel on "Unilateral Presidential Lawmaking," conference on "Reclaiming - and Restoring - Constitutional Norms" (co-sponsored by the American Constitution Society and the Texas Law Review). A complete program for this conference is available here.

February 15, American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC, Time TBA: "Severability and the New Obamacare Case," panel on severability and the Obamacare case, conference on severability and judicial power. I wrote about this issue here and here.

March 6, New York University School of Law, New York, NY, 1-2:30 PM: "Time to Get Moving on Making it Easier to Move: Zoning Reform and other Strategies to Expand Opportunities for Americans to 'Vote with their Feet'" (with comments by NYU law Prof. Vicki Been, a leading academic expert on zoning). Sponsored by the NYU student chapter of the Federalist Society.

March 21-22, Bagwell Center for the Study of Markets and Economic Opportunity, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA, times TBA: I will do two talks, one on "Democracy and Political Ignorance," and another on a property rights topic. The first will be the evening of March 21, the second the next day around noon or so.

May 3-4, University of San Diego, San Diego, CA, exact time TBA: "Foot Voting and the Future of Democracy," conference on "The Travails of Democracy" (tentative title).

May 23-24, Rome, Italy, conference on "Administrative Limits to Property Rights," sponsored by European Research Council Advanced Grant on The Common Core of European Administrative Laws, exact time TBA: "Eminent Domain and Property Rights in the United States" (tentative title). I am not yet sure to what extent this event will be open to the public. But I will update this post when I have that information.

I will update this post when I get additional information on some of the events for which I do not yet have exact times and the like.

Published:1/30/2019 9:08:45 PM
[Markets] People Love "Medicare For All" - Until They Find Out It Will Raise Taxes

While "Medicare-for-all" is set to become a 2020 Democratic talking point, support for the universal healthcare scheme crumbles when people are asked if they'd be willing to pay higher taxes or put up with delays in treatment to get it, according to the Associated Press.

According to a survey released Wednesday by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, initial support for the "Medicare-for-all" comes in at 56% - increasing to as much as 71% when people are told it would guarantee health insurance as a right, eliminate premiums and reduce out-of-pocket expenses. 

When told that it would increase taxes or lead to delays in service, however, support for the program dropped to 37% and 26% respectively.

"The issue that will really be fundamental would be the tax issue," says Harvard professor Robert Blendon of the T.H. Chan School of Public Health in response to the poll. Blendon noted that single-payer programs in Vermont and Colorado failed due to concerns over tax increases required to fund them. 

There doesn't seem to be much disagreement that a single-payer system would require tax increases, since the government would take over premiums now paid by employers and individuals as it replaces the private health insurance industry. The question is how much.

Several independent studies have estimated that government spending on health care would increase dramatically, in the range of about $25 trillion to $35 trillion or more over a 10-year period. But a recent estimate from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst suggests that it could be much lower. -Associated Press

In the first year of the program, the government would need to come up with around $1.1 trillion to fund the program, even with significant cost savings. 

According to Mollyann Brodie who directed the Kaiser poll, the big swings in approval vs. disapproval suggest that the debate over "Medicare-for-all" will only heat up from here. "You immediately see that opinion is not set in stone on this issue," she said. 

"Any public debate about 'Medicare-for-all' will be a divisive issue for the country at large," added Brodie. 

The poll also reveals that most Democrats want House Democrats to focus on improving the Affordable Care Act (ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare).

Two other Democratic healthcare alternatives received widespread support according to the poll. 

Majorities across the political spectrum backed allowing people ages 50-64 to buy into Medicare, as well as allowing people who don't have health insurance on the job to buy into their state's Medicaid program.

Separately, another private survey out Wednesday finds the uninsured rate among US adults rose to 13.7% in the last three months of 2018. The Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index found an increase of 2.8 percentage points since 2016, the year Trump was elected promising to repeal "Obamacare." That would translate to about 7 million more uninsured adults. -Associated Press

According to government surveys, the rate of uninsured has remained virtually unchanged under Trump.  

Published:1/23/2019 2:53:32 PM
[Markets] A Satirical Dream: Trump's 2019 State Of The Union Address

Authored by Doug “Uncola” Lynn via TheBurningPlatform.com,

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and my fellow Americans:

It’s been another year since your president has stood before you to, once again, deliver yet another State of the Union address.

Tonight, however, will not be the standard fare.  Instead of half-truths and false optimism, I am going to set aside all that in order to say what I believe is true.

Dear citizens, we now stand a crossroads and we must choose.  We must choose if we are to move forward and deal with the real problems facing our nation, or to progress as a country of corruption; whether to return to our roots as an honorable republic – a nation of laws,  or to continue our decline into lawlessness and the abyss.

Slightly more than two years ago, I was elected by patriotic Americans to make our nation great again. Through the votes of those Americans, we defeated a corrupt globalist puppet who has served at the whim of a global banking elite set on world domination.

Former President Dwight Eisenhower warned  of an ever growing military industrial complex and John F. Kennedy identified secret societies operating as asystem which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations” and in ways that were “repugnant in a free and open society”.

There is a quote often attributed to one of our nation’s founders and earliest presidents, Thomas Jefferson, which states:

Banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, banks and corporations will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.

And another quote most commonly attributed to a founding father of international finance, Mayer Amschel Rothschild, who said:

Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws

Now, whether or not these exact quotes were, in fact, said by these men, they still reflect certain truths throughout history.

In our own nation, what began over one century ago, with the establishment of the Federal Reserve in 1913, through the dishonest weights and measures of Fractional Reserve Banking, has decimated the purchasing power of our currency, and through exponentially-grown debt has, indeed, enslaved our nation’s children on the land of our ancestors.

Moreover, by means of banker subsidized wars around the world and a sinister agenda of global conquest through what is known as the Hegelian Dialectic, sovereign nation states are now held hostage by a small but powerful cabal in control of the Bank of International Settlements.

These banking elites are beholden only to themselves as they seek to establish what they have called a New World Order.

Since the assassination of John F. Kennedy and followed by the Nixon Shockthat removed America’s currency from the gold standard, thus began the decline of our nation’s manufacturing base, as military engagements were openly, and covertly, executed around the globe.

Furthermore, over the past four decades, our educational system was subverted in order to dumb down our citizenry, and governmental welfare programs were expanded until now, today, the majority of American citizens have been lulled into a contented slumber via phony prosperity, faux money, fake news and an arbitrarily immoral code of political correctness.

Through the financial acquisition and consolidation of the nation’s media outlets and entertainment venues, and via the steady barrage of consistent and hypnotic electronic programming, the globalists have hypnotized a majority of American voters to abandon their vigilance to our founding principles; and our borders.

Affirmation of rights derived from natural law, honesty, morality, self-reliance, equality of opportunity, fiscal responsibility, and limited government has now, through the degrading indoctrination of Cultural Marxism, been subordinated to counterfeit concerns over bathroom rights, skin color, and genitalia.

Before the globalists can destroy America, they must first eradicate our identity.  And, this, my fellow Americans, goes to the very heart of our current gridlock in our nation’s capital which has resulted in our longest government shutdown in history.

Can a nation exist without borders?  The answer to that question is, of course, “no”; because borders are necessary to geographically separate ideologically disparate countries of separate peoples and from each respective nation’s code of laws, economic system, and currency.

But you see, this is not in the best interest of the global financial elite who desire one world order.  If one looks to history they will see how slavery is rooted in economics, and this, dear citizens, is what they, who would be our rulers, desire.

Whether delivered by crony capitalism, communism, collectivism, leftism, socialism, or by any other name, it’s always the same:  An elite few who deceive the useful idiots within any population with promises of utopia and equality; yet always resulting in a short-lived wicked paradise for those select few and, invariably, delivered by means of poverty, death, and despair.

I stand before you tonight, not as a politician, but as your president; a former international businessman envisioning a multilateral world of sovereign nations cooperating through fair trade and mutual respect for law and order. I seek to reestablish American liberty, her traditions of innovation and excellence; a beautiful city, shining.

But, my political opponents – those who favor globalism, seek only power and control through centralization, regulations, and unjust laws designed to stifle individual achievement, autonomy, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Today, my fellow Americans, the wall on our southern border is a line in the sand between those who stand with me and those who desire global hegemony.  For, you see, out of the chaos of a world in turmoil, the international elite seek to establish order.

One world under them. A world without borders.

Senator Chuck Schumer has recently stated that a wall won’t work while lamenting my proposed $5.7 billion of taxpayer funds.  He also called me a liar because I have said Mexico will pay for the wall.  So I ask you, my fellow Americans, do you believe Chuck actually cares about your money?

If he did, he would realize that Mexico will pay for the wall by keeping their citizens in their own country instead of on America’s welfare rolls.

Besides, if Senator Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats, and their globalist handlers, truly believed a great big, glorious wall on our southern border wouldn’t work, they’d allow me to build it.  Then, if it was ineffective, they could use the failure against me in 2020. But that’s not happening.  Do you know why? It’s because they all know a wall will work in assuring America’s sovereignty.  That’s why.

The Bible’s First book of Kings, in chapter three, tells of two prostitutes who recently birthed children. When one woman’s baby died, she stole the other mother’s child.  When the matter was taken up with King Solomon, he instructed the women to cut the sole surviving baby in half. Of course, the child’s real mother spoke up first to prevent that madness.  In so doing, Solomon knew it was the real mother who spoke first and who had the child’s best interests at heart.

This story speaks to motives and to honor.

I seek to protect America’s borders in order to secure the future of America’s children.  Yet, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, other Democrats, and their globalist handlers, are willing to sacrifice the United States, and her progeny, for the sake of playing politics and power games.

And what do I mean when I say these politicians are serving their globalist “handlers”?  Well, follow the money; and where the money is, there is power.

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, and the passing of the Patriot Act, the Global Technocrats have ceaselessly constructed an online framework of gatedoors and checkpoints ranging from facial recognition software, social media censorship, and a dystopian panopticon of total surveillance.

Even as whistleblowers like Edward Snowden revealed the violations of American’s Fourth Amendment rights as, over the same period of time, law enforcement agencies were militarized all across this land.

Just as technological breakthroughs in computing and the proliferation of “smart” communication and entertainment devices gave rise to government spying, it was not a very large leap of understanding to see how easy it would be too blackmail and control not only citizens, but government administrators, politicians, officials, and even judges around the globe:

Is it any wonder why border laws are not enforced throughout the wealthy “democratic” nations of the world?  Or why U.S. politicians pass legislation against the will of those who voted for them?  Or why Chief Justice John Roberts passed the unconstitutional Obamacare mandate by calling it a tax?

Dear citizens, I now fully understand Senator Chuck Schumer’s warning to me in his MSNBC interview on January 3rd, 2017 when he said:

Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday to get back at you.

Today’s modern manifestation of George Orwell’s INGSOC party, led by loyal uniparty U.S. Democrats and Neocon Republicans, have sought to control private lives, consolidate power, and restrict personal freedoms by weaponizing healthcare, welfare, FISA Courts, illegal immigration, anti-gun initiatives, and they’ve even made Vladimir Putin into a modern day incarnation of Orwell’s imaginary and infamous scapegoat, Emmanuel Goldstein.

Today, the same people who have accused me of being homophobic, zenophobic, and islamophobic – have embraced a fraudulent special counsel investigation by which they now see imaginary Russians hiding in the shadows of every corner.

From the time I announced my candidacy for President of the United States, I was ridiculed by the political establishment, Hollywood, and the Corporate Mainstream Media.  When it appeared that I could win, the U.S. Intelligence Agencies, under President Obama, spied on my campaign and set up members of my team for a grand scheme of entrapment arranged by former CIA Director, and perjurist, John Brennan; even as corrupt high-ranking officials in the FBI, like James Comey, arranged for Hillary Clinton’s crimes to be swept under the political rug.

This phony Russian election hacking narrative then, in turn, provided cover for the Elite Powerbrokers to censor the free internet, allowed Barrack Obama to sign into law a “Countering Disinformation And Propaganda Act”, let former National Security Advisor Susan Rice feloniously unmaskofficials in my administration, and forced my newly –appointed National  Security Advisor, Mike Flynn, to resign; even as my new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, was intimidated into recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

Sessions’ recusal, of course, led to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint his former FBI co-conspirator, Robert Mueller, to investigate me.

Over the last two years of my administration, the Russia investigation has dominated the headlines of media corporations owned by international financial elite, and comprising ninety percent of all news media outlets throughout our nation.

We now know today the phony Russian dossier was fake opposition research paid for by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential Campaign.

Still, two years later, the investigation continues.  And consider what has occurred over the last two years:  Every time news stories broke regarding what has become known as Spygate, Crossfire Hurricane, FISA Abuse, Fusion GPS, or the phony Russian Dossier – Mueller and Rosenstein would, in response, indict innocent Russians who would never see the inside of a courtroom, arrest my private attorney, or indict someone else affiliated with me like Carter Page, Paul Manafort, General Flynn, and others.

On February 16, 2018 Mueller and Rosenstein charged thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian groups for meddling in U.S. elections. In that press conference, Rosenstein said the indictment contained NO allegations of collusion by members of my campaign or my administration.  Rosenstein also assured the nation there was NO “determination that elections were influenced as a result of Russian activities”.

But, two days later, when conservative radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, on February 18, 2018, and conflated the Russian Investigation with President Obama’sspying on my campaign, what happened next?

Two days after that, special counsel Mueller charged the son-in-law of a Russian oligarch who was an acquaintance of someone who once did business with someone who once chaired my campaign for a few months.

Innuendo, accusations, headlines and sound bites. Move, countermove. Punch and counter punch.

On April 3rd, 2018 reports of an August 2017 memo surfaced in the media showing illegal collusion between Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  The violation of special counsel law was in Rosenstein’s intentionally vague court filing with no specifics of facts to be investigated.  In essence, the memo revealed Rosenstein gave Mueller a blank check to investigate me illegally, and endlessly.  At the time, there were those in the media calling for both Rosenstein and Mueller to terminate the investigation.

So what happened next?

Less than a week later, in a manner unprecedented in all of American history, the FBI raided the office and residence a sitting president’s personal attorney.

On June 7th, 2018 a top senate intelligence staffer was charged in a leak case where a New York Times reporter’s records were seized.  The very next day, in another vain attempt to add marginal credibility to his floundering quest, Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed a fresh witness tampering indictment against my former campaign chair Paul Manafort and Russian citizen Konstantin Kilimnik.

Innuendo, accusations, headlines and sound bites. Move, countermove. Punch and counter punch.

That same month, after the release of Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on Hillary Clinton’s e-mail investigation, five FBI officials were revealed to have colluded against me but none of their illicit actions were said to have been politically motivated. This, even though one of the agents exclaimed “viva le resistance”  after my election win. That agent was later hired by special counsel Robert Mueller.

On the same day the Inspector General’s report was released, New York’s attorney general sued the Donald J. Trump Foundation, myself, and others, in order to dissolve the foundation for “persistent illegal conduct” over more than a decade.

Innuendo, accusations, headlines and sound bites. Move, countermove. Punch and counter punch.

Also the very next day after the FBI’s “den of thieves” were revealed in the IG Report, my former Campaign Chair, Paul Manafort, had his house arrest revoked and was sentenced to prison  for alleged witness tampering.

Innuendo, accusations, headlines and sound bites. Move, countermove. Punch and counter punch.

And on it goes; even after it was revealed that U.S. Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, abused the power of his office by threatening to subpoena the calls and texts of Congress in order to obstruct the Legislative Branch’s constitutionally mandated oversight of the DOJ and FBI.

In July of 2018, in an effort to divert publicity away from the Capitol Hill testimony of disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok, and to subvert my efforts toward peace with Russia, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the Mueller Investigation’s single indictment of Twelve Russian intelligence officers for alleged election hacking in 2016.

Innuendo, accusations, headlines and sound bites. Move, countermove. Punch and counter punch.

Even though by August of 2018, it had become clear Obama’s former CIA Director John Brennan was the mastermind behind Spygate and many more media outlets were reporting it was Hillary Clinton and U.S. intelligence officials who colluded with Russians and others to entrap me.

Even though a former FBI agent who “is ashamed of what the FBI has become” found it “absolutely preposterous”  that Deputy Director Rod Rosenstein was still in his position knowing that he signed off on the final FISA application to spy on me; especially in light of my then Attorney General having to recuse himself from the case.

So I ask you tonight, my fellow Americans: 

Why is Hillary Clinton’s payment to Fusion GPS not under investigation by Mueller and Rosenstein?

Why has the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice downplayed, and even covered-up, Mrs. Clinton’s illegal use of private servers when she was President Obama’s Secretary of State, and the obstruction of justice involved with her illegally deleted e-mails?

Why hasn’t former President Obama, former Secretary State Hillary Clinton, former FBI director Robert Mueller and former attorney general Eric Holder been called into account yet regarding the Uranium One scandal Why?  Especially when it involved the sale of a large percentage of America’s uranium deposits to Russia, the same country for which these same criminals have accused me of collusion.

It is because they believe themselves to be above the law.

These same criminals who created ISIS to destabilize the middle-east and create a mass migration crisis designed to destabilize the western nations of the northern hemisphere.  All of these criminals are puppets on strings pulled by those now creating anarchy so as to sift the nations into a New World Order.

The elite bankers have sown seeds of economic chaos, including the subprime mortgage crisis a decade ago, only to be bailed out; which, in effect, transferred their debts onto the backs of the American taxpayers.  Debts, I might add, which were incurred as result of these same banker’s malicious malfeasance and greed.

My dear citizens, it is also these same bankers who plan to become the founding fathers of the new and improved centralized and cashless world system.

This is why we’ve seen eight Federal Reserve interest rate hikes since my election in 2016.

The International Financial elite WANT the American economy to collapse.  In fact, they NEED it to collapse, because out of chaos comes order.

This also explains why the globalists are now lusting after the guns of law-abiding American citizens.

My fellow Americans, the globalists cannot allow you to defend yourselves against the tyranny of the state. It’s because this would inhibit their plans of establishing their New World Technocracy.

In his 1991 book, “Behold a Pale Horse”, former United States Naval Intelligence Briefing Team member William Cooper warned of a secret initiative by our Central Intelligence Agency.  In this sinister plan, described by Cooper near three decades ago, a project called “Orion” was revealed whereby drugs and hypnosis were to be used on mental patients coerced into shooting children in schools. The plan was to inflame the antigun lobby and cause middle class Americans to beg their government “protectors” into obliterating the 2nd Amendment.

– Cooper, Milton William. (1991). “Behold a Pale Horse”, Light Technology Publications, page 225

And, look what’s happened since that time.  So many school shootings; and always occurring in similar ways.

First, there is some sort of an active drill, either scheduled or ongoing, and then shots are fired.

Within hours, the murderer is reported to be extremely troubled, if not insane, under psychiatric care and on psychotropic drugs, as several people claim they all “saw it coming”, or, in some instances, saying they are completely surprised that the person they knew could massacre so many.

Next, prophetic postings placed prior on social media by the shooter are revealed. Of course, these are never discovered until it’s too late.  Most commonly, an AR-type or similar semi-automatic will have been used with the necessary large-capacity magazines.  This is because both semi-automatics and large-capacity magazines are highly coveted targets in the sites of the politicians and globalists hiding behind their own armed security on Capitol Hill and at the United Nations.

And finally, we all know what happens next: The political establishment types like Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and others, all circle like methamphetamine -addled chickens clucking about “doing something” so “it never happens again”.

My fellow Americans, don’t be fooled. This has happened according to plan and right on schedule.

In the aftermath of the Sandyhook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama issued 23 executive actions and proposed 19 legislative actions.  After the Virginia Tech shooting new rules were passed that allowed the Social Security Administration to provide information to the gun background check system of people with “mental disabilities”. After Vegas and Parkland, it was bump-stocks.

Do you see a pattern?

But even more sinister is how the captive media will use these types of crisis events to change the national conversation away from the Democratic Party embarrassments that perform poorly in focus group polling and in the media.

For example, immediately prior to the midterm elections last fall, Brett Kavanuagh’s Supreme Court nomination process revealed the Democrats as lying rats and fools. That was when the captive media quickly switched channels to show the slow-motion Latin American invasion.  But when that backfired as well, what happened next?  An anti-semitic white nationalist shot up a synagogue in Pittsburgh and a Republican, with “Make America Great Again” stickers on his white van, was arrested for mailing explosive devices to my most prominent political opponents.

REALLY, people?  REALLY?

Well, my point is that many Americans today are very gullible.  And predictable too. Or at least the loony liberals who swallow ersatz pretense more vigorously than starving vegans ingurgitating Tofurky on Thanksgiving.

So what happened next?  Of course, the Democrats won the House and here we are now with the longest government shutdown in American history.

Certainly, these insane loons would have had much more difficulty winning if not for the never-ending propaganda spewed forth by the captive media, the bias of Google searches, and the censorship of social media platforms.

But you see, my dear Americans, it’s no different than the way the Russian election-hacking lies have been propagandized over the real collusion of Spygate, Crossfire Hurricane, and FISA abuse.  The captive crony capitalist corporations ceaselessly shill their divisive deception around the world twice while the truth ties its shoes and gets slandered as fake news.

But in spite of all that, I am still here representing those who voted for me; and, even, those who didn’t vote for me.

This is why on Saturday, January 19, 2019 I announced my BRIDGE Act which included two offers to the Democrats in exchange for the $5.7 billion in funds for a border wall. First, I proposed an extension of DACA protections for Dreamers, who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, and, secondly, I offered to extend the legal status of Temporary Protected Status holders.

Dear citizens, as you know, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said this was not a good faith effort on my part.

So, in turn, I ask you, my fellow Americans:  What are they offering? What have they brought to the negotiation table in good faith?

Nothing. Only more of the same.

As I stand before you now, in this majestic chamber, speaking on your behalf, addressing your concerns, your hopes, and your dreams – know that your nation is at a crossroads.

Since becoming your president, we’ve rapidly and radically changed the federal judiciary including two, soon to be three, new Supreme Court justices.  We’ve passed tax reform, repealed the individual mandate, and made progress in deregulation in spite of congressional gridlock.  We’ve cut government waste, defeated ISIS, and withdrew from the horrible and unfair Paris Climate Accord.

Over the last year alone, in 2018, we’ve replaced NAFTA with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Deal, ended Obama’s terrible Iran Nuclear agreement, confronted China, increased minority jobs, raised middle class wages, and achieved record oil production.

I have gone forward with a courageous vision and an honorable mission:  To make America great again for all Americans.

With the help of those in the United States Senate, we’ve appointed judges who’ll interpret the Constitution as it was written, and we’ve added more circuit court judges than anyone believed possible.

I’ve defended our Second Amendment and have acted to protect religious liberties.

I’ve made real efforts toward immigration reform – towards ending chain migration and the visa lottery.  And, now, I’m standing strong against the globalist powerbrokers who seek to deny patriotic Americans their wall; a more-than-symbolic line in the sand against southern invaders seeking to make the Democratic Party, and also Islam, great again.

Yes, ranchers have found Islamic prayer rugs on our southern border. This means while TSA agents are fondling your children at airport security gates, men with backpacks are entering this country unchecked, at the invitation of Democratic Party leaders like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.

We need a wall on our southern border and, yes, it is a matter of national security.

So, my fellow Americans, I stand here, on your behalf, against those escaping their own shithole countries, in order to turn America into a shithole country like the ones they just left behind.

I stand against a Mainstream Media spewing enough shameless propaganda to cause George Orwell to blush in his grave.

I stand against Democrats and Neocon Republicans, alike, who daily lick the boots of their elite globalist masters while governing against the will of liberty-loving Americans.

I stand against those who are coming for your guns.

I stand against those who would kill your children, as well as other children around the world, in order to consign America to the ash heap of history; and for no other reasons than to satisfy their insatiable greed and lust for power.

I stand for the peace and harmony of the world’s sovereign nations.

Winning will not be easy. On the contrary, it will be hard.  Very hard.

To be sure, it will soon become even more difficult because it’s always darkest before the dawn.

Let the sunlight shine into the dark.  Right now, in this very moment, I am authorizing the release to the general public, all FBI and DoJ documentation having to do with the Russian investigation.

Let all of those on earth see how the bankers nearly stole the world.

My Fellow Americans:  It’s not over.  We’re just getting started.

Be assured the globalists will crash America’s economy prior to the next presidential election in 2020.  They will blame my trade policies and tax reforms.  But it will be the result of Fed tightening.  It’s always the Fed.  It’s always the bankers.

America will never be defined by the greed of international financiers, corporate oligarchs, servile politicians, or a slavish media.

You know who you are. Stay proud. Stay in the fight.

We will not lose.

By God almighty, we will not fail.

Thank you, and God bless America.

Published:1/20/2019 2:06:32 PM
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