Friday, October 25, 2019

Elizabeth Warren needs some serious policy repairs

On an issue as significant as health care, vague assurances aren’t enough

Elizabeth Warren didn’t spend long leading the Democratic presidential race before being forced to pull in for a policy pit stop. The serious problem that needs attention: Her adopted health care plan. That is, the single-payer scheme that Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders has offered up.

For Warren, the policy issue right now is, how do you pay for a plan credibly estimated to cost $34 trillion over 10 years? As Sanders himself has acknowledged, that’s exceedingly difficult to do without hitting some members of the middle class with higher taxes.

Warren has tried to steer around that blazing hazard by saying that she won’t sign into law a government-run health care plan that doesn’t lower overall costs for middle class families. That’s another way of saying, yes, your federal taxes may go up, but because you will no longer pay insurance premiums or out-of-pocket health-care expenses, your total costs will be lower.

But on something this significant, vague assurances aren’t enough. So why doesn’t the woman with the plenitude of plans already have a financing framework? Because it’s hard to develop one that doesn’t put an “I’ll-tax-the-middle-class” bullseye on her back.

That’s hardly the only problem with single-payer, or “Medicare for All,” by its folksier name. Another: Voters’ natural preference to choose for themselves rather than be forced off their private insurance and into a government-dictated plan. Running on the latter approach is akin to dressing up as a piñata — and handing the GOP a general election club.

“The Republicans will run ads warning the voters that the Democrats are going to take away their health insurance,” says Phil Johnston, former New England regional administrator of Health and Human Services and a fervent Warren supporter. “We have seen that movie before.”

Johnston is talking about the insurance-industry-funded attack on the health care plan Hillary Clinton designed back during husband Bill’s first term; the Clintons’ effort eventually foundered. We also saw the damage Democrats suffered with President Obama’s assurance that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” which didn’t prove to be true for those whose plans failed to meet the Affordable Care Act’s minimum standards.

Political optimists expect voters to sort through the health care financing debate and conclude single-payer will be a better deal overall. Hmm. Remember the poll from 2017 showing that, almost seven years after it became law, 35 percent of Americans didn’t realize Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act were the same thing?

Which is to say, health care policy and politics are complex, and many voters don’t do complexity well.

Now consider some Kaiser Family Foundation polling. Adding a Medicare-like public option for the Affordable Care Act is supported by three-quarters of Americans. Medicare for All earns a bare majority of 51 percent — and when people learn it would mean eliminating private insurance, 58 percent then say they would oppose such a plan.

There’s another poorly understood policy matter lurking here. In arguing that single-payer would allow the United States to reduce its health care spending to a European-like percentage of gross domestic product, its advocates are assuming the government would compel doctors and hospitals to accept payments significantly lower than they would otherwise get.

Problem: The prices private insurers pay in effect cross-subsidize Medicare (and Medicaid), whose rates are at least 10 percent lower than provider costs. Using Medicare rates would push some marginal hospitals into financial jeopardy.

And put a squeeze on physicians’ income. No one will weep for highly paid specialists, but primary care physicians aren’t making a killing. Expect single-payer to incur fierce opposition from those who went into serious debt to earn a medical degree.

“Nobody is more lefty than I am, but I think a public option should be the Democrats’ position,” says Johnston. Another highly credentialed lefty, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, is essentially arguing the same thing.



Acting OMB Director Russ Vought: Trump keeps promise to tame bureaucracy that runs roughshod over Americans

White House Budget Office acting director Russ Vought breaks down President Trump's spending plan

When President Trump took office in 2017, he promised the American people that he would clean up Washington’s regulatory overreach. He pledged to make government accountable to the people. And he has made good on his promises by driving the largest deregulation effort since President Reagan took office over 30 years ago.

This has supported an unprecedented economic comeback—with over 6.4 million jobs created since President Trump’s election, the lowest unemployment rate in half of a century, and nearly 2.5 million people raising themselves out of poverty since 2016.

This week, the president will build on his success by signing two Executive Orders that will level the playing field for American families and small businesses and shine a light on the Federal bureaucracy that runs roughshod over American citizens.

President Trump’s “Transparency and Fairness” Executive Order protects Americans against secret or unlawful bureaucratic interpretations of rules and guards against unfair or unexpected penalties for non-compliance. American families and entrepreneurs are not the enemy, and it is long past time D.C. stopped treating them as such.

Take this example: After one family started construction on a home in a subdivision in Idaho, the Environmental Protection Agency declared their property a federally protected wetland. The government ordered the family to restore the land or face a daily fine of up to $75,000. The family’s request for a hearing was rejected and the agency claimed its order could not even be challenged in court.

They were denied due process and threatened with fines of millions of dollars. This is not only un-American; it just does not make sense. American families and small businesses should not need law degrees to live their daily lives. They should be afforded the opportunity to understand and comply with a rule, and to have their side of the story considered by the agency, not get hauled into court with a costly surprise lawsuit.

Americans should expect that government of, by, and for the people will respect those very same people. This administration is committed to making government agencies transparent and accountable to the taxpayers. It is not only the right thing to do—it is a big boost to the economy, too.

President Trump’s “Bringing Guidance out of the Darkness” Executive Order stops agencies from skirting the laws that let the American public provide input on government rules that can limit their freedom. Too many agencies have found it easier to impose costly and excessive mandates through informal interpretations buried on their websites instead of going through the regular public review process Congress requires for agency rules.

Put simply, large government agencies often allow political agendas to improperly influence their interpretation of the law and how it applies to you. Worse still, they deny you a seat at the table when they do it.

These “guidance” documents and materials bypass the basic rights of Americans to have input into rules that impact their livelihoods. Rogue agencies have for too long used innocuous-sounding “guidance documents” to curtail the freedoms of American farmers, homeowners, and small businesses, to name only a few impacted groups.

In 2015, for example, the Department of Labor issued a blog post that reclassified many independent contractors as employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

This so-called guidance created confusion, raised costs, and drastically multiplied legal liability for businesses. But the agency did not give businesses or the independent contractors with whom they work the opportunity to provide comment. The agency forced them to comply or face serious reprisal. Thankfully, this ill-conceived guidance was rescinded by the Trump Administration in June 2017.

The Trump administration wants to prevent such abuses of authority from happening again. Americans should expect that government of, by, and for the people will respect those very same people. This administration is committed to making government agencies transparent and accountable to the taxpayers. It is not only the right thing to do—it is a big boost to the economy, too.

Deregulation has real-dollar consequences for American families. Government-wide regulatory reform actions will save the average American household $3,100 in coming years. And benefits are already being felt across the economy—the Trump administration reduced regulatory costs by $33 billion in its first two years alone. In stark contrast, the Obama-Biden administration *increased* regulatory costs by more than $245 billion during its first two years.

This is money that entrepreneurs and small businesses can use to create jobs, raise wages, and invest in important capital improvements. It is money that families can use on their priorities, whether that is buying a first home or saving for their children’s education.

Thanks to President Trump’s vision and leadership, this administration has been laser-focused on rolling back the abuses and high cost of the regulatory deep state.

From his first week in office, President Trump challenged the government to roll back two old regulations for every new one. In Fiscal Year 2017, we far surpassed his goal and rolled back 22 regulations for every new one. In FY 2018, we rolled back 12 rules for every new rule.

The impact of these two new Executive Orders will massively multiply the work President Trump has already done to drain the D.C. swamp.

President Trump is not only returning control over the government to the people and state and local governments, he is revitalizing the economy so Americans from all walks of life, and from every state, have the opportunity to prosper. He is making the federal government work for Americans again.




IRAQ REBUFFS: Iraq says U.S. forces withdrawing from Syria have no approval to stay (Reuters)

TRUDEAU'S POTPOURRI: Canada's Justin Trudeau wins second term but loses majority (Associated Press)

NETANYAHU YIELDS: Israel's long-standing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has said he cannot form a government, handing the opportunity to his political rival (BBC News)

DOUBLE STANDARDS: Democrat congresswoman allegedly has affair with young female staffer. Media completely ignores. (The Daily Wire)

HIGH-COURT SHOWDOWN: Manhattan DA, Trump lawyers strike deal to speed fight over Trump tax returns to Supreme Court (NBC News)

PARKLAND SHOOTING FALLOUT: Florida Senate committee upholds Sheriff Scott Israel suspension (The Daily Caller)

POLICY: Why LBJ's Great Society gets a failing grade in improving education (The Daily Signal)

POLICY: A tuition-free, purpose-driven, coat-and-tie trade school (American Enterprise Institute)

MIDDLE EAST PUZZLEMENT: The Associated Press reports that "Defense Secretary Mark Esper says he is discussing an option that would keep a small residual U.S. military force in northeast Syria." Furthermore, "While Trump has insisted he's bringing home Americans from 'endless wars' in the Mideast, Esper said all U.S. troops leaving Syria will go to western Iraq."

HILLARY'S MALFEASANCE: State Department concludes Clinton email review, says it found nearly 600 security violations (The Daily Wire)

ILLEGAL-IMMIGRANT PROSECUTIONS: Record 110,000 illegal border crossers and smugglers prosecuted in 2019 fiscal year (Washington Examiner)

BOEING'S IMBROGLIO WORSENS: FAA asks Boeing why it hid test pilot's discovery of "egregious" 737 Max issues (USA Today)

WICKED BEDFELLOWS: "Russia and Turkey have agreed to ensure Kurdish forces withdraw from areas close to Syria's border with Turkey and to launch joint patrols, in a deal hailed as 'historic' by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan." (Agence France-Presse)

COLLUSION DELUSION: "Do-nothing Congress": Pelosi, Democrats produce more subpoenas than laws (The Washington Times)

NINTH CIRCUS: Ninth Circuit upholds block on birth-control exemption for religious employers (National Review)

NURTURING COMPETITION: Senate Republican Josh Hawley introduces bipartisan bill empowering users to withdraw their data from social-media giants (National Review)

MEANWHILE... For the first time, there are fewer wealthy Americans than Chinese (CBS News)

HOT AIR: California governor who wanted higher gas prices wants investigation of high gas prices (Associated Press)

CONCESSION: "The Hong Kong government on Wednesday withdrew the controversial extradition bill that sparked months of violent protests, but that is only one of the five demands that continue to drive protesters to the streets." (Fox News)


AOC on the Turkey problem


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.

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