Category Archives: Big Govt

Medicaid for All!

How did you do in math?
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Even Doubling Taxes Wouldn’t Pay for ‘Medicare for All’

By Charles Blahous WSJ 8/4/2018

The idea of “Medicare for All” has energized progressives ahead of November’s midterm elections. Across the country, candidates like New York congressional hopeful Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have rallied to the slogan. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced the Medicare for All Act last year and has so far rounded up 16 co-sponsors. Last month, 70 House members formed a Medicare for All Caucus.

But there is an enormous gulf between the appealing idea of Medicare for All and the incredibly expensive reality. According to my calculations, paying for every American’s health-care expenses would increase federal spending by $32.6 trillion over the first decade of Medicare for All. Even if Congress were to double what it collects in individual and corporate income taxes, there still wouldn’t be enough money added to the federal coffers to finance the costs of this plan.

While such large amounts of money are difficult to comprehend, my cost estimate is essentially a lower bound. Medicare for All’s actual price tag would likely be even higher. My projection generously assumes the plan would succeed in lowering prescription-drug costs and that administrative costs would somehow be less than half what they are among private insurers.

Most important, it assumes Medicare for All would successfully cut all health-care provider payments down to Medicare’s reimbursement rates, which are more than 40% lower than private insurance rates— and even below providers’ costs of delivering services. Moreover, it assumes that Medicare for All will somehow do all this without disrupting the availability and quality of health care.

Medicare for All would require an unprecedented rise in already unaffordable federal health-care subsidies, which are currently equal to about 6.6% of gross domestic product. The plan would expand federal taxpayers’ obligations by 10.7% of GDP right away. That would rise to 12.7% of GDP and beyond within 10 years of full implementation—over and above taxpayer obligations under current law. This would be even more expensive than tripling all future federal appropriations spending, including national defense and domestic discretionary appropriations.

Part of the cost increase from Medicare for All would naturally come from covering those who are currently uninsured. But the proposed legislation would also expand coverage of specific benefits such as dental, vision and

hearing, and greatly increase demand for health services that are already insured, through its stipulation that “no cost-sharing, including deductibles, coinsurance, copayments, or similar charges, be imposed on an individual for any benefits.”

The more of a person’s health care is paid by insurance rather than out of pocket, the more health-care services he tends to buy, regardless of quality and effectiveness. Providing first-dollar coverage for a range of health-care services would therefore be a powerful force driving additional health-care spending. Although Medicare for All proponents believe the administrative efficiencies of single-payer insurance would reduce national health-care costs, my research found the opposite— specifically, that the added costs associated with increased coverage far surpass not only the savings attainable from lower administrative costs, but also the savings potentially gained from swapping brand name drugs for generics.

Some have seized on a scenario in my estimates showing a slight decline in projected total public and private health expenditures under Medicare for All. But that decline, relative to current projections, relies on an assumption that Medicare for All would immediately and dramatically cut provider payment rates by roughly 40%. Without such cuts, Medicare for All would drive national health costs further upward, and the federal price tag would be $38 trillion during its first 10 years.

Mine isn’t the first study to show that Medicare for All’s price tag would be enormous. Independent estimates from the Urban Institute, the Center for Health and Economy, and Emory scholar Kenneth Thorpe have reached similar conclusions.

Medicare for All would place more than 15 times as much pressure on federal finances as did last year’s tax reforms. Before too many Americans become invested in the rhetorical vision of Medicare for All, there needs to be a serious national discussion about whether shouldering its vast cost is even remotely within the realm of practical possibility.

Mr. Blahous holds a chair at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and served as a public trustee for Social Security and Medicare from 2010-15. His new study is “The Costs of a Single-Payer Healthcare System.”

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Governments Steal Money

You are not surprised, are you?
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WSJ 5/3/2018

Progressives might get more Americans to trust them with health care or education if Democratic state politicians could do the government basics of enforcing public safety and picking up the garbage. Witness how states are diverting fees that fund 911 emergency services into other priorities.

Commissioner Michael O’Rielly of the Federal Communications Commission has been sounding an alarm about 911 fees collected by states and towns. These charges are small, maybe a buck, on monthly phone bills. Yet some states are using the money for purposes other than safety, according to an annual FCC report.

You can guess the usual suspects. New Jersey diverted more than $108 million of $122 million collected in 2016, or 89%. Rhode Island stuffed more than $8 million of $14 million into the state’s general fund. Illinois apparently had a burst of lapsed ambition and shuffled around only $2.5 million. Right-leaning West Virginia has also diverted funds.

The FCC says New York “has not filed a response to this year’s data collection,” but the Empire State has been a diverter every year since the first FCC report in 2009. The state imposes a $1.20 monthly fee on mobile devices, which

is higher than most, the report notes. Yet New York law allows about 40% to be thrown into the general fund. Mr. O’Rielly has noted that based on state tax records New York collected more than $185 million in 2016. But only $10 million went to the 911 call centers known as public service answering points.

What happens to these dollars varies and can include “non-public safety or unspecified uses,” the FCC says. One certainty: People think they’re paying for 911 services, not more income redistribution for the political class. A telecom executive who allowed such pilfering would be in jail.

The FCC’s report exists mainly to shame states, though New Jersey and New York politicians seem impervious to embarrassment. By federal law these delinquents aren’t allowed to receive some grants for, say, technology updates, but that stick is unlikely to change behavior. Perhaps the feds can do more on enforcement. But a better outcome would be for an enterprising state legislator to make fixing the problem a campaign issue and dare incumbents to defend the practice.

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Coffee Won’t Kill You, But CAFE Might

Very interesting. I guess half the truth is better than no truth at all.
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WSJ 4/5/2018
By Sam Kazman

The federal government’s auto fuel economy standards have for decades posed a simple problem: They kill people. Worse, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has covered this up. The Environmental Protection Agency, which since 2009 has helped manage the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, known as CAFE, also played a role in burying their deleterious effects. But change finally is coming.

On Monday EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced he is re-examining the stringent standards set by the Obama administration in 2012. This might finally bring some honesty to the issue of CAFE’s lethal effects and push the safety issue to the forefront of the debate over government efficiency mandates. Or it might not.

To call it a coverup isn’t hyperbole. CAFE kills people by causing cars to be made smaller and lighter. While these downsized cars are more fuel-efficient, they are also less crashworthy. In 1992 in Competitive Enterprise Institute v. NHTSA , a lawsuit my organization brought with Consumer Alert, a federal appeals court ruled that the agency had “obscured the safety problem” through a combination of “fudged analysis,” “statistical legerdemain” and “bureaucratic mumbojumbo.” In the court’s view, nothing in the record “appears to undermine the inference that the 27.5 mpg standard kills people.”

How many people? A 1989 Harvard- Brookings study estimated the death toll at between 2,200 and 3,900 a year. Similarly, a 2002 National Academy of Sciences study estimated that CAFE had contributed to up to 2,600 fatalities in 1993. This was at a relatively

lenient CAFE level of 27.5 miles per gallon. Under what the Obama administration had in store, CAFE would soon approach levels twice as stringent.

These inconvenient truths should have led the government to change its approach to CAFE. At least the standards didn’t get worse for about a decade throughout the 1990s, despite environmentalist demands for a stricter—and therefore more lethal—approach. But then CAFE was swept up in climatechange politics. Advocates of stringent standards claim that automotive technologies have advanced since that 1992 court ruling, making vehicle mass less significant. But the basic relationship between size and safety has not changed. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which closely monitors crashworthiness, still provides the same advice it has been giving for years: “Bigger, heavier vehicles are safer.”

CAFE advocates like Consumer Reports treat lighter cars as merely a question of comfort, not crashworthiness. Car makers and dealers may express concerns about safety in the abstract, but considerations of politics and marketing make them hesitant to discuss hard numbers.

In his announcement, Mr. Pruitt proved admirably blunt in characterizing the Obama CAFE standards as based on “politically charged expediency” and assumptions “that didn’t comport with reality.” Let’s hope he’ll be similarly candid about CAFE’s risks. A lethal program that’s been in effect for decades deserves one thing above all—an accounting.

Mr. Kazman is general counsel of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

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Who is Really to Blame?

I thought this “update, request” was informative enough to post. Especially with all the “gun control” hype that is going on.
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As I have pointed out to you before, controlling the public narrative is the most important tool of propaganda. And after the horrendous Florida school massacre, the public narrative in the mainstream media and “correct” political circles has been to portray guns as the villain, and to call for more restrictive gun-control laws. It is all so predictable.

And so tragically wrong-headed. From what we already know about the situation, the gun-control laws under consideration would not have stopped this massacre. What we have here is the total failure of government at all levels, as well as associated agencies that work with them, to protect the students. Instead of guns, look at the failures of the FBI, the Obama Justice Department, state and local laws governing education, local school officials, local law enforcement, and local juvenile rehabilitation agencies. Some of these failures were due to deep corruption, others to unintended consequences of well-meaning but deficient “reforms.” This is what Congress at the national level, legislatures at the state level, and local governmental, police, and civic entities should be investigating. Elected conservatives and grass-roots conservatives-you-must be part of this conversation.

Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who has confessed to killing 14 students and 3 faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Florida, was no stranger to any of the local authorities. Excellent reporting by the Miami Herald (see here and here), which managed to obtain school disciplinary reports, reveals that Cruz engaged in disrupting class, unruly behavior, insulting or profane language, fighting, and an assault on January 19, 2017, that resulted in a referral for a “threat assessment.” He brought a backpack with bullets to school, which got him banned from bringing a backpack to school in the future. He told a fellow student “I’m going to go there [the high school] and shoot it up.” Local police made at least 18 visits to the Cruz home because of his actions, including holding a gun to a relative’s head. Last November the police got a tip that Cruz “could be a school shooter in the making,” but deputies did not even write up a report on that warning. And the FBI has admitted that it received at least two tips, one warning that Cruz was a possible violent threat. But the Florida Department of Children and Families determined that Cruz was not a threat to himself or others at the time of their investigation because he was in therapy.

We citizens are admonished, “If you see something, say something.” But what if the authorities then do nothing about our warnings?

Indeed, looking at Cruz’s record, what does it take today to get a student expelled? According to the Miami Herald, “Contrary to early reports, Cruz was never expelled from Broward schools. Legally, he couldn’t be . . . Under federal law, Nikolas Cruz had a right to a ‘free and appropriate’ education at a public school near him . . . . In general, school districts are required to provide kids with physical, emotional or intellectual disabilities a free education in the ‘least restrictive’ setting . . . .”

As a result, the Broward County school district-sixth largest in the nation, with over 265,000 students-expelled only 8 students between 2010 and 2014. And apparently those 8 were expelled only because they refused to go to one of those remedial school programs…

That “least restrictive” setting, in Broward County, consisted of stints lasting 3 to 10 days in an alternative school seeking to modify their behavior in that short period. Obviously it didn’t work with Nikolas Cruz.

This Assault on Discipline Was Planned

You can almost feel sorry for school authorities, hindered from expelling violent students by federal and local laws-until you learn that they were willing and active participants in a scheme to put such a program into being.

The website Conservative Treehouse and its Twitter thread reported how the school district to Broward’s south, Miami/Dade County, learned how to collect federal and state aid (taxpayer funded, of course) by reducing juvenile arrests-instead placing these miscreants in those alternative schools, for example, or just issuing them a citation (compared to “a traffic ticket”). This was a priority program promoted by the Obama Justice Department.

Broward authorities figured they could collect these rewards too, and soon became the Obama Administration’s national poster boy for reducing school arrests. In 2011, Broward had the most juvenile arrests in the state, with 9,034, but by 2015 this was cut to 4,777.

Of course, as noted by Mark Greenwald, director of research at the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, the drop in arrests is not necessarily due to a drop in crime. But it looked good on paper. School superintendent Robert Runcie, who had been imported from the Chicago public school district (surprise!), was a hero. In 2015 he was invited by the Obama White House to address a school discipline conference and explain his success. And the next year he was named Florida’s Superintendent of the Year.

But that was before Nikolas Cruz demonstrated the dark side of a policy of total permissiveness.

Worst of all: The Broward Sheriff’s Department

But if you think the school authorities were derelict in their duties, I’ve saved the worst for last.

The nation is now familiar with how a Broward sheriff’s deputy hid outside the school building while Cruz shot students and teachers for four long minutes, and how three other deputies hid behind their cars rather than rushing inside to confront the shooter. It was a shameful disgrace to good cops in the Broward force and around the nation.

But back to Conservative Treehouse for information they gathered partially through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests:

“Well, it didn’t take long for criminal gangs in Broward and Miami-Dade to realize the benefit of using students for their criminal activities. After all, the kids would be let go…so organized crime became easier to get away with if they enlisted high-school kids.

“As criminals became more adept at the timing within the offices of the officials, they timed their biggest crimes to happen after the monthly maximum arrest quota was made . . . .

“Again, over time, the most corrupt police officers within the system became the police inside the schools. These officers were those who are best skilled at identifying the political objectives and instructions.”

These accusations need to be verified by Congress and/or state and local investigators, of course, but are they up to that task, against certain opposition from the politically correct forces?

Broward County voters have an opportunity this year to bring Sheriff Scott Israel to account, as he is up for reelection. Even before the school massacre, he was under heavy attack for putting political cronies on staff for “outreach” (read: public relations for Israel). According to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, “A log of employees hired by the sheriff shows 10 workers were hired since 2013 into ‘outreach’ roles, their salaries totaling $634,479.”

Israel has cited the issuing of thousands of civil citations – rather than arrests – for juveniles as a sign of his success as sheriff. But that was before Nikolas Cruz.

One of his well-worn sayings of bravado as a candidate is, “Lions don’t care about the opinions of sheep.” But this may be the year the Broward sheep rebel.

The liberal response to all this: blame guns

The horrendous example of the Florida school massacre shows malfeasance by government authorities and agencies from the federal to the local level, all according to the politically correct playbook. Decreasing the juvenile arrest rate is a worthy goal, but not at the expense of common sense and a total abandonment of school discipline, not to mention the police corruption that allowed all this to happen. The crime wasn’t that Nikolas Cruz used a gun (rather than, say, a bomb), but rather that he was not stopped despite dozens of incidents demonstrating that he was a danger to public safety.

The Florida school massacre is a poster board for political correctness run amok.

Once again, the liberals have proven that they are incapable of reason or common sense on this topic. It is up to conservatives-The Trump Administration, the Republican-dominated Congress, and (most important) the grassroots, you-to supply that reason and common sense.

Sincerely,   Richard A. Viguerie,  Chairman, FedUp PAC

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