Sunday, March 11, 2018

Trump to Meet With Kim Jong-un; Says ‘Sanctions Will Remain Until an Agreement Is Reached’

This is a Great Leap Forward and a huge victory for Trump's tough approach.  It's inconceivable that Kim will completely give up his toys but in return for a guarantee of safety for his regime he could well become unthreatening.  He may in fact want to be left alone to modernize in his own way.  In the last year  or so he has opened up a number of small supermarkets in North Korea.  The superior wealth generation of the capitalist system cannot be lost on him.  He was at a dead end with his grandfather's "Juche" policy

President Trump has accepted an invitation to meet with Kim Jong-un “at a place and time to be determined,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed on Thursday night.

The president meanwhile tweeted that a meeting was “being planned,” and stressed that “sanctions will remain” in place until a denuclearization agreement has been reached.

South Korean national security advisor Chung Eui-yong told reporters after briefing Trump at the White House earlier that during talks in Pyongyang this week, Kim Jong-un had “expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible.”

“President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong-un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization,” Chung added.

The South Korean official attributed the evident breakthrough to Trump’s leadership and his policy of bringing “maximum pressure” to bear on the regime, along with “international solidarity.”



Trump Imposes Foreign Steel, Aluminum Tariffs in Defense of National Security

The reaction of almost everyone on this has had me falling about with laughter.  They have all been popping blood-vessels  attacking the policy.  None of them considered that in Trump they have an expert negotiator -- one who does "deals". In this case he was negotiating with almost the whole world.  And in any deal you start off big in your demands and then gradually retreat to a compromise position.  And, true to form, Trump has done just that.  And he has made big concessions.  Just exempting Canada is a huge concession.  Around 50% of the imported steel sold in the USA comes from Canada!  So his tariffs have already lost half their bite.  So we will probably end up with a modest measure that protects American steel-makers from further closures but not much more

President Donald Trump made good on a campaign promise by formally announcing Thursday that he is imposing tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, saying American industries have been targeted for decades by unfair foreign trade practices - something that’s not only an “economic disaster” but a “security disaster.”

“Our industries have been targeted for years and years and decades in fact by unfair foreign trade practices leading to the shuttered plants and mills, the laying off of millions of workers and the decimation of entire communities, and that’s going to stop,” he said. “This is not merely an economic disaster, but it’s a security disaster.

“We want to build our ships. We want to build our planes. We want to build our military equipment with steel, with aluminum from our country. And now we’re finally taking action to correct this long overdue problem. It’s a travesty. Today I’m defending America’s national security by placing tariffs on foreign imports of steel and aluminum,” the president said.



155,215,000: Record Number of Americans Employed

This is the important figure

The number of employed Americans has now broken eight records, most recently in February, since President Donald Trump took office.

155,215,000 Americans were employed in February, 785,000 more than last month’s record 154,430,000, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday.

The number of employed Black Americans hit a record high of 19,087,000 last month, and a record 72,530,000 women 16 and older were counted as employed.

The labor force participation rate increased three-tenths of a point, and the nation’s unemployment rate remained at a low 4.1 percent for a fifth straight month.



The Rapid 'Progress' of Progressivism.  They always want more

Victor Davis Hanson
Not long ago I waited for a flight to board. The plane took off 45 minutes late. There were only two attendants to accommodate 11 passengers who had requested wheelchair assistance.

Such growing efforts to ensure that the physically challenged can easily fly are certainly welcome. But when our plane landed — late and in danger of causing many passengers to miss their connecting flights — most of the 11 wheelchair-bound passengers left their seats unassisted and hurried out. It was almost as if newfound concerns about making connections had somehow improved their health during the flight.

Two passengers had boarded with two dogs each. No doubt the airlines’ policy of allowing an occasional dog on a flight is understandable. But now planes are starting to sound and smell like kennels.

Special blue parking placards were initially a long-overdue effort to help the disabled. But these days, the definition of “disabled” has so expanded that a large percentage of the population can qualify for special parking privileges — or cheat in order to qualify.

In California, 26,000 disabled parking placards are currently issued to people over 100 years of age, even though state records list only about 8,000 living centenarians.

Current crises such as homelessness and illegal immigration did not start out as much of a public concern.

Originally, progressive politicians felt that cities should bend their vagrancy laws a bit to allow some of the poor to camp on the sidewalks. Bathroom and public health issues were considered minor, given the relatively small pool of so-called “street people.”

Few objected to illegal immigration in the 1960s and 1970s. Foreign nationals came unlawfully across the border in relatively small numbers — thousands, not millions. Fifty years ago, America was eager to assimilate even the few arrivals who arrived illegally. Not now. The melting pot gave way to the identity politics of the tribe that asks little integration of the newcomers.

Whether out of guilt or out of fear of being perceived as exclusionary by harder leftists, progressives cannot, or will not, draw realistic limits to illegal immigration or homelessness. Yet both cost the law-abiding public billions of dollars in social services, often at the expense of American poor.

This rapid spread of progressivism leads to an endless race for absolute equality and an erosion of prior rules. It also makes once-liberal positions seem passe, recasting those positions as dangerously reactionary.

In 2008, Barack Obama ran for president on a number of Bill Clinton’s centrist Democratic policies. Obama opposed gay marriage as contrary to his own Christian beliefs.

Obama supported increased security along the border with Mexico. As a senator, he had voted for a 2006 measure to create 700 miles of new fencing along the Mexican border.

But by the time Obama sought re-election in 2012, progressives were routinely labeling Obama’s positions on gay marriage and immigration as homophobic and nativist, respectively.

Twenty years ago, there was honest debate over global warming. Ten years ago, there was still honest debate over the effects of human-induced climate change. Five years ago, there was still honest debate over the cost-benefit analysis of dealing with the problem.

Not now. Anyone who doubts that there is an existential man-caused threat to the planet — requiring the radical and costly reconstruction of the global economy and society — is considered a “denier,” deserving of professional ostracism or worse.

In the eternal search for perfect justice and equality, what starts out as liberal can quickly end up as progressively absurd. The logic of equality of result, rather than equality of opportunity, demands that there is always one more group, one more grievance, one more complaint against the shrinking and overwhelmed majority.

The conservative ancient Athenian philosopher Plato once made his megaphone Socrates lament that in ancient Athens’ nonstop search for perfect equality, soon even the horses would have to be accorded the same privileges as humans.

Socrates’ fantasy was an exaggeration intended as a reminder about the craziness of always-creeping mandated equality. Now it seems not far from the mainstream positions of animal-rights groups.

If we insist that the human experience is not tragic and cyclical but instead must always bend on some predetermined arc to absolute equality and fairness, then unfortunate results must follow.

One, what is welcomed as progressive on Monday is derided as intolerable on Tuesday. The French and Russian revolutions went through several such cycles. After reformers had removed absolute rulers, the reformers were soon derided as too timid. Then came far more radical revolutionaries, who were in turn beheaded or shot as dangerous counter-revolutionaries.

Second, when rules and regulations are always watered down as too exclusionary, the descent to no rules is quite short. The ultimate destination is nihilism and chaos. We see that now in Venezuela and Cuba — and increasingly in California as well.



Medicaid work requirements will make us healthy, wealthy, and wise

For many years, government reports have said spending on entitlement programs, such as Medicaid, are unsustainable. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services actuary projects that by 2023, annual Medicaid expenditures will total $850.1 billion, of which $521.8 billion will be federal expenditures and $328.3 will be covered by the states.

On Nov. 7, 2017, CMS Administrator Seema Verma spoke before the National Association of Medicaid Directors and announced steps the Trump administration was taking to modernize and improve the Medicaid program through Section 1115 Demonstration Waivers. Administrator Verma pointed out that in 1985, Medicaid only consumed 10 percent of states’ budgets; by 2016, it increased to 29 percent. She also said, “One of the things that states have told us time and time again is that they want more flexibility to engage their working-age, able-bodied citizens on Medicaid. They want to develop programs that will help them break the chains of poverty and live up to their fullest potential. We support this.”

 Contrary to the hysterical claims that these waivers will be devastating and punish Medicaid beneficiaries, exemptions from the work requirements include the medically frail and disabled, pregnant women, former foster-care youth, primary caregivers, and full-time students. The waiver is primarily aimed at able-bodied adult beneficiaries between the ages of 19 and 64 that obtained health insurance through Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

CMS issued guidance on Jan. 11 to help states incentivize work and community engagement requirements. Gov. Matt Bevin, R-Ky., already had a work-requirement waiver pending before CMS, but it was denied during the Obama administration. On Jan. 12, Kentucky became the first state to receive federal approval to impose work requirements as a condition of Medicaid coverage.

Although Bevin campaigned in 2015 to reverse the Medicaid expansion that was implemented through an executive order by his predecessor, he instead submitted the waiver request in August 2016 and has taken a lot of heat ever since. He believes the reforms will not only help individuals climb out of poverty, promote self-sufficiency, and improve their health, they will also save the state and federal taxpayers $2 billion during the five-year demonstration period. Medicaid expansion is costing Kentucky far more than anticipated and Bevin has said its cost is unsustainable. In 2012, spending on Medicaid was $5.8 billion; in 2016 spending on Medicaid was $9.9 billion, an increase of 71 percent.

Starting in July 2018, able-bodied adult beneficiaries will be required to complete 80 hours per month of community engagement such as working, education, job skills training, or community service. The waiver will also allow the state to charge minimal monthly premiums between $1 - $15 depending on income, and to suspend some individuals from the program if they fall behind in payments.

Eight other states — Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin — have applied for similar work-requirement or community service waivers. On Feb. 12, 2017, Indiana became the second state to receive permission to impose work requirements.

Within 12 days of Kentucky obtaining the waiver, three big-government aficionados, The Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Health Law Program, and the Kentucky Equal Justice Center, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, arguing that only Congress can approve these changes. Their objective is to stop any changes to Medicaid, which desperately needs to be reformed. The lawsuit endangers other enacted changes, such as requiring beneficiary premiums.

Bevin expected there would be a legal challenge to stop any attempts to reform Medicaid. Almost immediately after receiving CMS approval for the waiver, the governor filed his own executive order, ordering state officials to terminate Obamacare Medicaid expansion because the commonwealth will not be able to afford the program without the changes.

Verma is correct when she said it is time to move away from a “Washington knows best” policy and pointed out that CMS has long believed that people living with disabilities need to have meaningful work because it was essential for their economic self-sufficiency, self-esteem, well-being, and improving their health. “Why would we not believe that the same is true for working-age, able-bodied Medicaid enrollees?” she asked.

Bevin, the nine other governors, and Administrator Verma should be commended for wanting to reform Medicaid. Apparently, the public agrees with them. A June 2017 Kaiser Family Foundation poll believes 70 percent of Americans favored allowing states to impose work requirements on non-disabled adults who receive Medicaid. Taxpayers know that this sort of Medicaid reform will go a long way to averting a future fiscal calamity.

Elizabeth Wright is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is director of health and science policy for Citizens Against Government Waste.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


No comments: