Monday, December 02, 2019

Democrats lurching leftward exemplified with new labor bill

In many ways the Democratic Party has become increasingly radical. A majority of the party now supports socialist policies on everything from health care to the environment. This radicalism unfortunately extends to labor issues as well.

The House will soon be voting on the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. This legislation is a liberal wish list that represents a draconian overhaul of our nation’s labor laws at the expense of employers, workers and economic growth while strengthening the authoritarian power of big labor.

Despite the fact that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the U.S. Supreme Court have recognized that there should be ample time for “uninhibited, robust, and wide-open debate in labor disputes”, the PRO Act deliberately speeds up union election processes so employees don’t have time to learn about the potential downsides of joining a union. Specifically, the bill codifies provisions of an NLRB regulation called the “ambush election rule” which significantly shortens the time span in election processes. Democrats purposely inserted this provision because they know union bosses are more likely to win elections when employees are uninformed about the downsides of union membership.

Second, the PRO Act increases liability for businesses by dramatically expanding the definition of “joint employer” to also include indirect control and unexercised potential control over employees. These terms are incredibly broad and ambiguous, meaning businesses could find themselves held liable for labor violations committed by another business when they might not have even been aware they were considered a joint employer in the first place. Even worse, the risk of increased liability incentivizes large businesses to stop contracting out jobs to small businesses. This would force large businesses to keep more jobs in house, which ultimately raises prices for both businesses and consumers.

The expanded definition of joint employer is also detrimental for franchise businesses. A study conducted by the International Franchise Association showed that the definition change has led to a 93 percent increase in lawsuits against franchise businesses, costing them over $33 billion annually, and leading to a loss of 376,000 jobs. The study also showed that the majority of franchise businesses have been offering less services in order to avoid lawsuits. This chilling effect hurts both consumers and workers alike.

The PRO Act also compels private sector employees to either join a union or risk being fired. Specifically, the bill abolishes state Right to Work laws which allow workers the freedom to choose whether or not they want to pay fees to a union.

If Right to Work laws are repealed, not only will unions gain unprecedented new power, but economic growth and employment will suffer. A 2018 study by the National Economic Research Associates found that between 2001 and 2016, states with Right to Work laws saw private sector employment grow by 27 percent, while states without Right to Work only saw a 15 percent increase.

To top it off, the PRO Act strips workers of their right to cast anonymous ballots in union elections. Under current law, workers are able to anonymously oppose joining a union by casting “secret,” unpublicized ballots. However, the PRO Act abolishes this practice and forces employees to make their choice public about unionizing, which makes it easier for unions to intimidate and threaten workers who do not wish to sign up.

As former George W. Bush staffer Vincent Vernuccio said: “The secret ballot is a bedrock principle of democracy. It allows people to vote the way they feel without fear of reprisal. Without it, those who hold the elections would hold all the power.”

Bills like the PRO Act represent another unfortunate symptom of the Democratic Party’s leftward lurch. This bill should be opposed by anyone who is concerned with worker freedom and continuing our country’s economic boom. The PRO Act needs to be permanently benched.



Warren tells another lie about her personal biography

File another story under the Tall Tales of Elizabeth Warren’s Phony Biography. This time, she says her son went to public school when in fact he attended private school.

“The 2020 Democratic candidate last week appeared to deny that she sent either of her two children to a private school,” writes the Washington Examiner’s Becket Adams. “The problem is that Warren did indeed send her son, Alex, to a private school in Texas starting at about 5th grade.”

Warren, like most Democrats, opposes school choice because she’s backed by teachers’ unions. But Warren also wants blacks to vote for her, and school choice is popular among the black community because it is their kids who suffer most in failing urban schools. A black school-choice proponent confronted Warren, saying, “We are going to have the same choice that you had for your kids, because I read that your children went to private schools.” Warren replied simply, “My children went to public schools.”

The lie was one of omission. Her son did attend public school … until he didn’t. Yet, like her handmaid’s tale of being let go from a teaching job because she was pregnant, this lie was meant to bolster her “street cred” with the desired constituency group.

Warren’s lies about her supposed Cherokee ancestry advanced her academic career. She’s now fibbing about her biography in other ways for political gain. But we’re supposed to trust her to manage our healthcare and our taxes and our schools and our entitlements and every other thing under the sun for which she has “a plan”? Hard pass.



Warren Relies on Rationing in Medicare for All Plan

Cost-cutting measures would likely lead to long wait-times, limited care
Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D., Mass.) Medicare for All plan has been widely criticized for taking what many consider an unrealistic approach to raising revenue, but one expert told the Washington Free Beacon the bigger problem is that it pushes health care rationing to keep costs low.

Warren, a Democratic presidential frontrunner, relies on aggressive cost-cutting measures, including tightly restricted reimbursements and global budgeting. Health care policy expert Christopher Pope said her approach would effectively amount to a rationing scheme. This, in turn, would likely curtail Americans' access to care, replacing a "fee for service" system with long wait times and mandatory caps on spending.

"The more radical part of [Warren's plan] is the very, very bold rationing scheme for health care," Pope, a scholar at the right-leaning Manhattan Institute, told the Free Beacon. "A big part of how she tries to make the numbers work is really very tightly restricting access to care and funding of health care services."

Warren's campaign, which did not respond to request for comment, has avoided using the word "rationing," likely because it believes the idea would be unpopular. But, as the Massachusetts senator pushes towards the presidency, other Democratic contenders and the public at large may force her to answer hard questions about what single-payer health care requires.

As experts have noted, Warren's plan relies on optimistic assumptions about the cost of implementing Medicare for All. Her campaign predicts the proposal will add about $20.5 trillion in federal spending over 10 years, which is about $14 trillion short of the liberal-leaning Urban Institute's estimate.

To shave that $14 trillion off, the plan must drastically curtail spending. Warren's stated goal is to bring national health care spending growth in line with GDP growth, cutting it down from about 18 percent to about 4 percent over the next decade.

The two economists Warren asked to evaluate her plan—former Obama official Donald Berwick and MIT professor Simon Johnson—concluded that the "new payment models including global budgets for health care systems and full-risk population-based payment models," suggested in the Warren plan "can achieve better care for patients and much lower costs of care." They also said "Urban did not attribute savings to those effects of Medicare for All" to account for the disparity between their estimate and the Urban Institute's.

The first of these "new payment models" is what the Warren campaign calls "comprehensive payment reform": a government-run system that will "reimburse hospitals at an average of 110% of current Medicare rates." Current rates pay hospitals 87 to 89 cents for each dollar of medical spending, meaning that a 10 percent bump in spending would still fall short of full reimbursement. Hospitals are able to sustain those losses with an average reimbursement of $1.45 per dollar of spending from private insurers—the same entities that Warren seeks to eliminate.

The Warren campaign expects to offset low revenue by reducing administrative bloat and compensation of "overpaid specialties." But it is equally likely that some hospitals will close, while others will be forced to curtail the services they provide, forcing patients to pay for care with time rather than money.

"If hospitals are expected to make do with much less money than they would currently, but expected to care for more people, they're going to have to really tightly restrict the access to services that people are able to get," Pope said.

Comprehensive payment reform is just the start, however. Warren has promised that "if growth rates exceed [GDP growth], I will use available policy tools, which include global budgets, population-based budgets, and automatic rate reductions, to bring it back into line." Although it only receives a line or two from the campaign, global budgeting may be the most radical feature of the Warren proposal.

"Global budget" may be an unfamiliar term, but the idea behind it is not complicated. Currently, the U.S. health care system is "fee for service": Doctors provide a service and get paid a fee. A global budget switches from that model to a "budget" approach, giving hospitals a fixed amount of funding to spend over a fixed amount of time, usually a year.

There are benefits to a global budget approach, most obviously that it can radically constrain costs. But global budgets limit hospitals' ability to account for health care costs that exceed their allotment. In practice, this means that patients end up paying for services with time rather than money, as the Urban Institute notes.

"She's basically proposing to cap the amount of health care spending as a total of what she will commit to, but especially the amount of money that hospitals will get," Pope said. "In practice, it's going to mean waiting lists.… it's going to mean that people aren't going to be able to access care, especially high-quality care to the extent that they have been able to."

Global budgets are in use in countries such as Canada, where the median wait time for specialists is nearly five months. This is why France, the Netherlands, and Norway have all moved away from a global budgeting approach, according to a recent op-ed from Pope.

Of course, Americans may decide that they prefer a rationing approach to current, high health care costs. But history suggests rationing may be a hard pill for the general electorate to swallow. During the fight over passage of the Affordable Care Act, conservatives targeted the bill with charges that it would also implement a de facto rationing scheme, an angle of attack which galvanized many—in particular the elderly—against the bill.



Trump Flips Another Federal Court to Majority GOP Appointees

As House Democrats continued their impeachment push, President Donald Trump scored yet another victory toward reshaping the federal judiciary—flipping a third appeals court to a majority of Republican-president nominees.

Moreover, as the House engaged in partisan bickering, the Senate voted to confirm Barbara Lagoa to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta on a bipartisan vote of 80-to-15 on Wednesday. The circuit—which handles cases out of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia—now has a 7-to-5 majority of Republican appointees.

Trump nominated Lagoa, then a Florida Supreme Court justice, in September.

Since taking office in January 2017, Trump also has been able to change the makeup of the Manhattan, New York-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit to a 7-to-6 Republican-appointee majority and the Philadelphia-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit to an 8-to-6 majority of appointees of Republican presidents.

“With the confirmation of Judge Barbara Lagoa to the [11th] Circuit, President Trump has now transformed three of the nation’s federal appellate courts from Democrat-appointed majorities to Republican-appointed majorities. This is a major achievement for his presidency,” Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director for the Judicial Crisis Network, tweeted after the confirmation.

With the confirmation of Judge Barbara Lagoa to the Eleventh Circuit, President Trump has now transformed three of the nation's federal appellate courts from Democrat-appointed majorities to Republican-appointed majorities. This is a major achievement for his presidency.

Trump has won 46 appeals court confirmations by the Senate, according to The Heritage Foundation Judicial Tracker, in just under three years in office. That’s double that of his predecessor, President Barack Obama, who had 23 appeals court judges confirmed during his eight years in office. 

Since appeals courts decide the overwhelming majority of court cases, because the Supreme Court can only handle a limited number of cases each year, these confirmations are highly important.

That’s no guarantee of outcomes in cases, but Democratic presidents’ judicial appointees tend to make more liberal decisions, while Republican presidents’ court picks tend to make more conservative legal rulings.

Though Trump has been prolific in securing judicial nominees, federal appeals courts are still lopsided in favor of Democratic appointees. When Trump took office, only four of the 13 appeals courts had a majority of Republican appointees. Now seven have majority-Republican appointees.



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