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Politicians Do Not Deserve Privacy

June 13, 2014, 11:18 AM

The right to privacy is enshrined in constitutions and law around the world. But does it have limits? The United States Constitution does not provide for any general right to privacy, though it is a right recognized with varying degrees of power in federal and state laws. Politicians frequently claim this right, contending that the public has no right to know about their private affairs. Is that a fair request?

Given their proclivity for diminishing the rights of citizens generally, as well as the peculiar power and trust placed in them, there is a strong case to be made that politicians should not be free of personal scrutiny.

Stepping into the Spotlight

When an individual seeks elevation to public office, he or she must accept that the role is a special one in society. As the representative of the people, the politician is more than just the holder of a job appointed by the people, but is the elected servant, whose duty is to lead.

Leadership includes leading by example as well as simply directing policy. It is a strange relationship, and it is one that demands the utmost confidence in the holder. But confidence can only be developed through increased scrutiny and transparency. This means understanding the private life of the politician, since it so often informs their public life. Thus, when citizens place their political power in the hands of an elected representative, they gain the reciprocal right over that representative to have his or her life and character laid bare for their approval. This is the only way true representativeness may be achieved.

The Right to Know

It is also important to understand the nature of representatives as stand-ins for the citizens who elect them. Politicians are basically surrogates. Their duty is to represent the people in public life across all issues and policies. Yet it is impossible to ascertain the desires of the citizens on all issues in the course of an election campaign.

Even harder is to understand political decision-making in a context that had not existed at the time of the election. For example, if a war was to begin suddenly in a country that had not expected any conflict and had not elected representatives on the basis of how they stood on fighting this war. But that is exactly why politicians are elected as much for who they are as for what their avowed policy aims are.

We elect politicians who we believe will act best under such changing conditions; the ‘3 am phone call’, how a candidate will react in a crisis, is often a major issue in U.S. presidential elections and temperament is often the only way to judge this. Understanding the personal lives of politicians allows voters to elect one who best represents them in the sense of being able to act in their name in a changing world. Thus it is critical for the good electoral decision-making that the right to privacy of politicians be overruled.

The Boons of Scrutiny

When politicians see themselves constantly under the lens of public scrutiny, they are essentially forced to dedicate themselves wholesale to their duties as representatives. They are disincentivized in the extreme to pursue any transgressive or hypocritical activities behind closed doors, resulting in more energy dedicated to legislating, and less to lining their pockets or chasing interns, since the added risk of being discovered increases the cost of trying to conceal their foibles.

Having a culture of scrutiny of politicians’ private lives will mean those who most see their work as a public service and so will be dedicated to it will be the ones who seek to become politicians. Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s lurid sex life, for example, threw light on the sexual misconduct rife in French politics and has actually sparked a major effort to reform the system and a change to a more demanding culture towards politicians. Politicians are human, after all, and susceptible to the base human urges that power unchecked is wont to accommodate.

A powerful probe into politicians’ private lives can only serve the cause of better governance.

Categories: On the Blog

Yes, Eric Cantor, There is a Virginia

June 13, 2014, 11:12 AM

It seems fitting that after such a momentous political evening, the Washington, D.C. area woke early this morning to the thundercrack of a summer storm, with a furious arrival and just as quickly faded and gone. The crushing and unexpected defeat of Eric Cantor – the first defeat of a sitting House Majority leader since 1899, which also happens to be the creation of the position – is sending ripples through a Republican Party which will have ramifications for this cycle and beyond.

In media terms, Cantor’s loss wrecks the established narrative about the nature of this cycle (the establishment either crushes or learns to live with the remnants of the Tea Party); in policy terms, it wrecks the likelihood of immigration reform as anything taken up by Republicans under the Obama presidency; and in political terms, it wrecks the longstanding work of many in the business and donor community who have spent years cultivating relationships with Cantor as the presumptive next Speaker of the House, opening up a new contest for leadership in the party which will serve as a proxy battle over the speakership and the most prominent role on Capitol Hill.

I wish that as a Virginian I could have shared some particular advance insight on the nature of this loss – and indeed, there had been rumblings late last week that Cantor’s challenger, Randolph-Macon economics professor and Princeton Seminary grad David Brat, was keeping things close – but you dismiss such things as noise when contemplating the possibilities of such an historic upset. He has since the beginning of his career been a man motivated by sheer ambition, and it is this double-edged sword which best explains his loss yesterday.

The narrative today was supposed to be amazement at how Lindsey Graham, one of the most patient political survivors in Washington – who worked hard to get where he is, and dedicated his days over the past several years to undermining or compromising his potential challengers – prevailed easily over weak opposition in South Carolina. Instead, Graham’s victory and Cantor’s loss provide a good contrast in the crippling danger of complacency in politics. And that’s becoming the real lesson of the 2014 primary season: good candidates win, bad candidates lose – and the difference is often as simple as recognizing who you represent is not the collection of interests inside the beltway but the people who actually pull the lever back at home.

While Cantor has been gunning for the speakership now for several years, his ladder-climbing ambition leading him to attempt to position himself as all things to all people, he lost sight of the frustrations back home in his “real Virginia” district. Rob Tracinski, who has lived in Virginia’s 7th for two decades, relates this story:

At the Republican Convention in 2008, I approached Cantor after an event, introduced myself as a constituent, and told him where I lived. It’s a tiny place, more of a wide spot in the road than an actual town, so this was partly a test to see how well Cantor knew his own district. I turns out that he did recognize the town, and to prove it, he started to tell me about how he had worked on getting us an earmark for a local Civil War battlefield park. An earmark, mind you, just after Republicans had officially renounced earmarks in an attempt to appease small-government types. Cantor suddenly realized this and literally stopped himself in mid-sentence. Then he hastily added: “But we don’t do that any more.”

The insulating power of money or incumbency is still significant – but Cantor outspent Brat to the tune of more than five million to less than 200k, and it still wasn’t enough. You can see why when you see what Cantor was doing with it – money for consultants, pollsters, travel, steakhouses, and ads like this:

Of course, most people inside the Beltway will view this outcome through the lens of the policy scrum over immigration, where advocates on both sides have done themselves no favors, even to the end:

In the room of downcast Cantor allies, a new energy suddenly erupted — but not the kind they wanted on election night. A group of immigration activists stormed the ballroom, screaming and waving a flag. “What do we want? Immigration reform! When do we want it? Now!” A few Cantor supporters tried to block the protesters’ entrance into the ballroom, and pushing and shoving ensued. And before they reached the microphone, one Cantor supporter threw his glass of wine at a female protester. She swore at him in return.

The more hackish journalists will deploy this as a harbinger of GOP doom in 2016. But I’m unconvinced that in a field without a single prominent immigration hardliner (Ted Cruz, perhaps?) that this is the case.

And immigration policy is just one aspect of this. For years, the impression has been forming in Virginia that Cantor’s priorities were with K Street and the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable – not with the people who actually elect him:

The central theme of Brat’s campaign is that Cantor is beholden to business — specifically the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable.

“If you’re in big business, Eric’s been very good to you, and he gets a lot of donations because of that, right?” Brat said at the meeting. “Very powerful. Very good at fundraising because he favors big business. But when you’re favoring artificially big business, someone’s paying the tab for that. Someone’s paying the price for that, and guess who that is? You.”

Cantor’s allies say that is exactly the type of rhetoric that has left the state party struggling for cash.

So immigration mattered, yes – but it was just one piece of that broader narrative, a narrative which painted Cantor as a two-faced power broker whose priorities were elsewhere:

It’s true that Cantor enjoyed a strong relationship with business, especially with Wall Street. The industry that gave him the most campaign contributions was the securities and investment sector. Individuals from the private equity firm Blackstone were his biggest financial supporters. Cantor went to bat for the industry repeatedly over politically unpopular issues, including the taxation of income at private equity firms at the lower capital gains rate.

That’s no surprise: for decades, the GOP and big business have worked closely together to build a political alliance that until recently appeared airtight. But now with Tea Party activist groups charging the traditional wing of the GOP with “crony capitalism”—and Cantor’s loss—the balance of power is creeping away from the pro-business faction of the Republican Party.

After spending so many years framing himself as the all things to all people future of the party, Cantor now serves as a walking cautionary tale for the dangers of ambition which becomes out of touch with the priorities of the people back home. Cantor has used his YG Network in recent months to recast himself as a reform conservative. Along with Mitch McConnell, he’s nodded in the right direction toward Main Street priorities and the like, but the sincerity of such interest was always a question among those who viewed Cantor as an unctuous faux conservative climber. Now it’s a moot point – you can’t chart an agenda if you can’t get re-elected – and Cantor risks becoming the American version of Michael Portillo.

This race was not about the Tea Party – Dave Brat may have been backed by voters sympathetic to the Tea Party, but not by any significant organization, money, or groups. It was instead about the question of whether a politician can serve two masters – big business and the people – and get away with it. The answer is yes, but only if you are very good at politics. Lindsey Graham is. Eric Cantor wasn’t. And that made all the difference.

Subscribe to Ben’s daily newsletter, The Transom.

[Originally published at The Federalist]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Activists Try to Take the Joy out of Summer for Children and Adults

June 13, 2014, 10:05 AM

 National Center for Public Policy Research Risk Analysis Director Jeff Stier is responding this week to a range of stories bubbling up in the news and in social media recently that have one common denominator, according to Stier: “ideologically-driven scares.”

Stier warns that as we begin the summer, “we should remember that it is important not only to stay safe while having fun, but to not let agenda-driven scares interfere with how we spend the warmer months.”

Stier believes that “narrow-interest activists are using the onset of summer to make former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg look like a libertarian by comparison.”

A school district in Texas won’t allow children to bring in sunscreen without a doctor’s note. ABC affiliate KSAT in Austin reports this month that North East Independent School District spokeswoman Aubrey Chancellor said that, “Typically, sunscreen is a toxic substance, and we can’t allow toxic things in to be in our schools.”

The news item continued, “Chancellor said if parents know their child may be outdoors, they should come to school fully covered in sunscreen. At this time, she said, sunscreen can’t be brought by students to school campuses.”

Of course, Stier reminds us, sunscreens should be reapplied at least every two hours, longer than the school day, according to the Food and Drug Administration, so rules of government-run schools are conflicting with the government’s own advice.

As children finish school for the summer, and they may again be allowed to use sunscreen, others warn parents about letting the kids have too much fun, at least in “bounce houses.” Time magazine says the inflatable activity-boosters are causing an “epidemic” of injuries. “‘Epidemics’” almost always precede another phenomenon,” says Stier, “regulations.”

“Activists aren’t only trying to regulate us to protect children,” says Stier. “Adults who consume beer are also the subject of consumer warnings.” Going Viral on Facebook is an article titled “8 Beers That You Should Stop Drinking Immediately.” Stier says, “The Buzzfeed-worthy headline shouldn’t cause you to put down your brew, but rather to raise your level of skepticism.”

“Indeed,” says Stier, “the story is a click-generating piece meant to advance big government agendas including anti- genetically modified food warning label campaigns, chemical bans (BPA), and ingredient restrictions (caramel colorings).

Stier has a warning of his own: “Buy into these warm-weather scares at the risk of helping the left expand the regulatory chokehold on not only businesses, but consumers.”

National Center Chairman Amy Ridenour, a mom, says some warnings do make sense; for example, advice to put purses or briefcases on the backseat with the baby so you don’t accidentally forget to drop the baby off at daycare on your way to work. “But unfortunately,” she said, “there are so many unnecessary warnings out there, the good advice parents can actually use gets drowned out by pointless warnings about everything from feeding kids genetically-modified foods or letting them bounce. Really. Kids are going to bounce.”

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, three percent from foundations, and three percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.

Contributions are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.

[Originally published at Jeffstier.org]

Categories: On the Blog

A Lawless Administration: Andrew McCarthy at the Heartland Institute

June 12, 2014, 3:44 PM

Author and former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy joined the Heartland Institute on June 12th to talk about his new book, Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment, with a packed and lively crowd of Heartland supporters. McCarthy was incisive and exceptionally convincing.

McCarthy began his talk by bemoaning the fact that an author must eventually stop writing and submit a book for publication, which means that events occurring between the final draft’s submission and the actual publication cannot be included in the text. This fact means that his book is “two or three impeachable offenses behind.” Even still, the list he presents in Faithless Execution is enthralling and terrifying.

The talk then turned briefly to the subject of Bowe Bergdahl, whose release has stirred up tremendous controversy in Washington and across the nation. McCarthy explained that the focus in Congress was all wrong, and that the issue was not really about the violation of the statute requiring the president to talk to Congress 30 days before the release of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. Rather, the issue of concern is the fact that releasing five Taliban leaders represents a clear case of replenishing an enemy that is still fighting the United States, which is an “irresponsible dereliction of duty of a commander-in-chief.”

McCarthy explained that, despite the focus going awry, the Bergdahl case has had two positive effects. First, it was perfectly timed to publicize his book. Second, it had finally led mainstream politicians to start using a word they have constantly avoided: impeachment.

Impeachment has ceased to be muttered behind closed doors alone and is now being spoken openly. “Even Lindsey Graham is comfortable uttering it,” McCarthy said.

The Obama administration has been, according to McCarthy, deliberately “overloading the system,” engaging in a cascade of scandals that takes advantage of ordinary people’s finite ability to deal with crises. McCarthy gave the example of how the new EPA regulations that may have profound impacts on the health of the economy have barely been discussed, sandwiched as they are between the Bergdahl and VA hospital scandals.

It is because of these scandals and persistent abrogation of duty that McCarthy proposes the process of impeachment. McCarthy explained to the audience that, “Impeachment is a political remedy, not a legal one.” In other words, despite the trappings of the courtroom, impeachment proceedings are not about assessing criminal liability. Rather, the “high crimes and misdemeanors” to which the Constitution refers are concerned with breaches of fiduciary duty and violations of the public trust. McCarthy stated that he could identify many such breaches committed during Obama’s tenure.

Chief among the president’s impeachable offenses, McCarthy explained, is his failure to execute laws faithfully. The president is the only federal official under the Constitution required to take an oath to execute the laws faithfully and to defend the Constitution. McCarthy cited Obama’s unilateral amendments of Obamacare and his selective and arbitrary enforcement of certain laws to benefit his allies and harm his opponents as evidence of unfaithful execution.

Another offense McCarthy identified was Obama’s dereliction of duty. He identified the atrocities committed to Americans in Benghazi and the previous unauthorized military actions in Libya as clear examples of this offense.

After outlining these offenses, McCarthy turned the discussion to the political climate and the prospects for impeachment. McCarthy was adamant that impeachment must not be a frivolous exercise. After all, it takes a two-thirds majority in the Senate to convict, which is only possible if there is wide bipartisan support for the proceedings both among legislators and in the public.

McCarthy then pointed out that there is no appetite in the American people for impeachment. He pointed to Bill Clinton’s impeachment as a clear example of the dangers of impeachment when there is no popular will for it. When an impeachment fails, the media can paint it as an endorsement of the very actions under censure.

What McCarthy proposed, in his book and during the talk, is a concerted effort to change the political environment so that the issue of lawlessness is front-and-center in the public discourse. Changing that environment would likely push Obama to actually execute the laws faithfully and to act within the bounds of the Constitution.

Failure to change the discourse could have serious negative effects for the future of the American republic, as McCarthy deftly explained. He described how the accretion of presidential power erodes citizens’ liberty, and that this is “not a conservative issue, not a Republican issue, it is an American issue.” Unless something is done about it, the powers Obama takes for himself will belong to his successors, of whatever party.

McCarthy explained that he was still hopeful for the republic’s future, a hopefulness he expanded upon during the Q&A session after his talk. When asked about what people can do if impeachment is not yet possible, he said, “Let’s make a big issue out of lawlessness.”

It is that issue that must be won before the imperial presidency can be stopped. Andrew McCarthy’s magisterial book will go a long way to winning it.

Categories: On the Blog

Should the Government Define the American Dream?

June 12, 2014, 10:27 AM

I have not written anything of significance about the YG Network’s Room to Grow agenda, but Ross Douthat writes a piece here about an aspect of it, the child tax credit expansion, which I have criticized in the past, along with Scott Lincicome. It also provides a glimpse of an interesting underlying question about the motivations of reform on the right.

The politics of dramatically expanding the child tax credit entitlement (and yes, it is an entitlement) just don’t make all that much sense to me. Consider the landscape of America today, where more people are staying single longer and having fewer kids of their own volition, as they pretty much always do all over the world as cultures become more highly educated. These are not recent developments:

“Between 1970 and 2012, the share of households that were married couples with children under 18 halved from 40 percent to 20 percent. The proportion of one-person households increased by 10 percentage points between 1970 and 2012, from 17 percent to 27 percent. Between 1970 and 2012, the average number of people per household declined from 3.1 to 2.6.”

I understand that the people behind this agenda think this is a bad thing, and I largely agree (from a more libertarian perspective, intact families are the greatest hedge we have against the expansion of government, as it rushes in to do the things that intact families do). But why is it conservative or even an example of limited government to use tax policy to essentially reject that steady decision-making over the course of decades? Is it because there are too many young people voting for Republicans? Isn’t there something better that could be offered to single people 18-34 – a disturbing portion of whom are still living with their parents – without suggesting that they’re pursuing the wrong American dream if they’re unmarried or don’t have children?

How about instead cutting taxes for working Americans broadly by getting rid of the payroll tax entirely? You could even create big tax advantaged savings accounts attractive for families and for single people who don’t have retirement accounts through work – like Canada did, but perhaps with a large HSA component. If you assume that people still want to get married and have children, but are simply too burdened financially to do it… shouldn’t the obvious limited government policy solution here be about removing government-imposed burdens, not expanding an entitlement that subsidizes one portion of society and alienating those outside of it?

What is good for society may be good for the soul, but government policy ought to set that aside and instead focus on the idea that what is good for your wallet is good for society. This is something that Wall Street recognizes, where smart people are increasingly concerned about the consumer expenditure side of stagnant wages and slow family formation:

“The problem is that new jobs often pay less than the ones destroyed in the recession, said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank, which manages $66 billion in Chicago. “New jobs are coming through at lower wages. Collectively, people have fewer dollars in their wallets even though they have jobs again,” he said. That helps explain why consumer spending fell in April for the first time in a year, according to a May 30 Commerce Department report. Weak wage gains also are making it hard for the housing market to return to normal, Mr. Ablin said. He calculates that new single-family home construction is running at less than 500,000 a month. Demographics say it should be twice that, he said. “People are waiting longer to get married and they are having fewer kids,” Mr. Ablin said. That is making them delay home purchases. “It is certainly making us a little more cautious on the economy.”

The answer to this challenge is that we ought to reform the tax code just as we would seek to reform regulations and redistributive subsidies: to lower burdens on everyone so that they can make choices for themselves absent the market-warping force of government, not to merely reform to help people who live a certain way. Eliminate the ability to offer the carrot and the stick and just see what people do.

If you do this, people have the flexibility to pursue their own path – and many of these people who want families and homes but just can’t afford to go down that path (from their risk averse perspective) will start them and purchase them. Using the alternative approach amounts to slapping Band-aids over existing problems, and future administrations can always warp policies to help people who live the way they prefer (such as buying houses and college educations even if they can’t afford them or don’t need them). And back and forth and back and forth … and that’s how we got here in the first place.

This argument reminds me of a George Will quote cited in a little disagreement concerning Will’s evolution away from his book Statecraft As Soulcraft. Pete Wehner at the time wrote in defense of laws which more aggressively “shape the dispositions and habits of the polity”, which is just a nice way of saying it forced them to do or not do things that Wehner believes improved the country. By comparison, Will today is making the case for a different view, one which Jonah Goldberg found to be a positive development:

“And these [natural] rights are the foundation of limited government – government defined by the limited goal of securing those rights so that individuals may flourish in their free and responsible exercise of those rights. A government thus limited is not in the business of imposing its opinions about what happiness or excellence the citizens should choose to pursue. Having such opinions is the business of other institutions – private and voluntary ones, especially religious ones – that supply the conditions for liberty.”

Between the old Will and the newer, the latter seems like the better approach to reform in general, but particularly in the arena of taxation. And in the tug of war between those who favor an approach which “shapes the dispositions and habits of the polity” and one which does not impose its opinions about what happiness or excellence the citizens should choose to pursue, I suspect the limited side is winning the argument.

Subscribe to Ben’s daily newsletter, The Transom.

[Originally published at The Federalist]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Evidence Trumps the Phony Consensus

June 12, 2014, 9:27 AM

 

zpolitics.com

We are lectured monotonously about the “consensus” that carbon dioxide produced by human activities is “highly likely to cause dangerous global warming”. The alarmist computer models are all based on this assumption, with predicted warming multiplied by also assuming strong positive feedbacks.

A consensus of opinion never determines a scientific question – real proof depends on evidence and logic. Consensus is a tool of politics and a guidepost for lemmings.

The so-called “Greenhouse Effect” depends entirely on the known property of carbon dioxide gas to intercept radiant heat in certain wavelengths. This process starts operating as soon as the extra gas enters the atmosphere.

If this influence is strong enough to drive “dangerous global warming”, its effect should be noticeable even in the short term, with Earth’s surface temperature increasing in step with increasing carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been steadily increasing for over a century, but global temperatures have fluctuated in broad cycles decades long, and there has been no warming for the last 17 years.

This evidence suggests that increasing carbon dioxide is not a major driver for dangerous global warming, no matter what the consensus says – even if a million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.

We may still get natural global warming, as the vast restless oceans roll over or the solar cycles change, but man-made carbon dioxide is not driving these processes. Moreover, a bit of warming is not our greatest risk – history shows that ice ages extinguish more species and habitats than warm eras.

The consensus of alarmists is trying to lynch an innocent party.

Categories: On the Blog

President Obama’s Plan To “De-develop” America Shifts Into High Gear

June 12, 2014, 9:16 AM

President Obama’s own Administration officially reports that the U.S. economy DECLINED by 1% in the first quarter of this year. That follows 1.9% reported total annual growth for all of 2013.

The U.S. economy sustained a real rate of economic growth of 3.3% from 1945 to 1973, and achieved the same 3.3% sustained real growth from 1982 to 2007. Before President Obama, it was only during the stagflation decade of 1973 to 1982, reflecting the deeply misguided reigning intellectual leadership of the time, that real growth fell to only half long term trends.

This 3.3% long term economic growth trend line is the minimum standard by which to judge President Obama’s economic performance. That sustained 3.3% real economic growth was the foundation for America’s world leading, post World War II, economic and military dominance, not battlefield victories 70 years ago (ok, those did help for a while too). As Brian Domitrovic explained in Econoclasts: The Rebels Who Sparked the Supply Side Revolution and Restored American Prosperity, “The unique ability of the United States to maintain a historic rate of economic growth over the long term is what has rendered this nation the world’s lone ‘hyperpower.’”

But President Obama should have done better than that, precisely because the economy was in recession when he entered office! That is because the American historical record is the deeper the recession the stronger the recovery, as the economy grows faster than average to catch back up to the long term trendline. That observation originally stemmed from Milton Friedman, the greatest economist of the 20th century. So it comes by way of a top pedigree.

It certainly worked that way under President Reagan. After the 1981-1982 recession that greeted him soon after entering office, the economy took off on a boom that lasted 92 months without a recession, until July, 1990, when the tax increases of the 1990 budget deal killed it. That set a new record for the longest peacetime expansion ever, the previous high in peacetime being 58 months.

During those 7 years, the economy grew by almost one-third, the equivalent of adding the entire economy of West Germany, the third largest in the world at the time, to the U.S. economy. In 1984 alone, real economic growth boomed by 6.8%, the highest in 50 years. President Obama has not had a year of economic growth even half that large.

Indeed, in the 11 post-Depression recessions before President Obama, the economy recovered all the GDP lost during the recession within an average of about a year (4.5 quarters) after the recession started. But it took Obama’s recovery 16 quarters, or 4 years, to reach that point. And the economy has bumbled along in slow growth stagnation since then. By sharp contrast, at this point in the Reagan recovery, the economy had boomed by over a fifth.

Great Depression Food Line (Photo credit: Kevin Burkett)

In fact, that Reagan recovery grew into a 25 year boom, from late 1982 until the end of 2007, with just slight interruptions by shallow, short recessions in 1990 and 2001. As Art Laffer and Steve Moore wrote in their book, The End of Prosperity,

“We call this period, 1982-2007, the twenty-five year boom – the greatest period of wealth creation in the history of the planet. In 1980, the net worth – assets minus liabilities – of all U.S. households and business…was $25 trillion in today’s dollars. By 2007.…net worth was just shy of $57 trillion. Adjusting for inflation, more wealth was created in America in the twenty-five year boom than in the previous two hundred years.”

Similarly, Steve Forbes wrote in Forbes in 2008,

“Between the early 1980s and 2007 we lived in an economic Golden Age. Never before have so many people advanced so far economically in so short a period of time as they have during the last 25 years. Until the credit crisis, 70 million people a year [worldwide] were joining the middle class. The U.S. kicked off this long boom with the economic reforms of Ronald Reagan, particularly his enormous income tax cuts. We burst from the economic stagnation of the 1970s into a dynamic, innovative, high tech-oriented economy. Even in recent years the much maligned U.S. did well. Between year-end 2002 and year-end 2007 U.S. growth exceeded the entire size of China’s economy.”

In other words, the growth in the U.S. economy from 2002 to 2007 was the equivalent of adding the entire economy of China at the time to the U.S. economy.

The Hopeless President

So what is President Obama doing to inspire a real, booming recovery for the American economy at long last, now in the sixth year of his Presidency? On June 2, the EPA unveiled a new blanket of regulations (645 pages) that will only further smother economic growth and opportunity in America. The regulations would require the states to adopt policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) by 30% by 2030 from 2005 levels.

The states could each choose the policies to achieve that goal, such as a new tax on “carbon,” or “cap and trade” which means paying for limited permits for CO2 emissions, which come from burning fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, coal, and gasoline. This is what Obama meant when he privately told supporters at the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board in 2008, “Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity costs would necessarily skyrocket.”

These regulatory burdens would be like a new tax further squelching the economy with additional, artificial costs. In the 1970s, the Washington Establishment told us the bad economy was due to the oil price spikes caused by Arab oil embargoes. Now the Washington Establishment, which wildly supports shutting down the American economy, because the vast riches it can produce morally embarrass them, is telling us we have to do the same thing to ourselves.

David Rothbard, President of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, correctly explained the ultimate results of such regulatory madness in his column on June 3, writing, “Millions of Americans will endure lower quality of life and be unable to heat or cool their homes properly, pay their rent or mortgage, or save for college and retirement….As Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) points out, ‘A lot of people on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum are going to die.’” Manchin should be preparing to run for Senate Majority Leader next year, as a Republican.

The Wall Street Journal further explained on June 3, “Consumers may not realize how these regulations will affect their daily lives. Groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Brookings Institution support a policy known as ‘direct load control’ that would manage when you are allowed to run the air conditioner or washing machine.” Big Brother is here, watching you. Check out Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism.

Rothbard cites President Obama saying, “the costly regulations are needed to reduce ‘carbon pollution’ that he claims is making ‘extreme weather events’ like Superstorm Sandy ‘more common and more devastating.” But no honest, educated person can use the term “pollution” to refer to carbon dioxide emissions. For the easily manipulated, low information voters out there, carbon dioxide is not some toxic industrial gas. It is a natural substance essential for the survival of all life on the planet. Plants need CO2 to grow and conduct photosynthesis, which is the natural process that creates food for animals and fish at the bottom of the food chain.

Moreover, there is no demonstrated connection anywhere in what passes for “science” these days between CO2 emissions and Super Storm Sandy. As Rothbard accurately explains in regard to this whole global warming scare behind the regulations,

“[A]verage global temperatures have not risen in almost 18 years. We have now gone over eight years without a category 3-5 hurricane hitting the United States – the longest such period in over a century. Tornadoes are at a multi-decade low. Droughts are no more frequent or intense than since 1900. There were fewer than half as many forest fires last year as during the 1960s and 1970s. Sea levels rose just eight inches over the last 130 years and are currently rising at barely seven inches per century. There’s still ice on Lake Superior – in June.”

Sea levels have been rising, in fact, since the end of the last ice age, 12,000 years ago! But there has been no acceleration in the rate of that sea level rise for at least 200 years. There also is exactly zero real science to back up wildly manipulative claims that CO2 emissions cause asthma attacks or even heart attacks.

The Journal also correctly explained, “The irony is that all this [economic] damage will do nothing for climate change. Based on the EPA’s own carbon accounting, shutting down every coal-fired plant tomorrow and replacing them with zero carbon sources would reduce the Earth’s temperature by about one-twentieth of a degree Fahrenheit in a hundred years.”

Green v. Blue

Politically, all of this involves an historic, dramatic change of course for the Democrat Party, as the Journal further observed on June 4: “The [EPA’s] mammoth rule is an important political moment because it shows that national Democrats have come down decisively on the side of modern environmentalists over the working class voters who were once their base. The richer coasts dominated by gentry liberals now trump the union jobs of the Midwest.” In other words, Democrats have chosen green over blue. This opens up the same huge opportunities Reagan so successfully exploited to win over millions of Reagan Democrats. As Reagan used to say so often, “I didn’t leave the Democrat Party. The Democrat Party left me.”

When I began studying the concern over potentially catastrophic global warming years ago, I was shocked at how weak the argument for it was. It is basically broad theory which does not specify how much warming and when. And it is 73 climate models collected by the U.N. projecting catastrophic warming on our current course long term. But these models, which have never been validated, meaning they cannot even predict the past, are diverging farther and farther from real world temperatures. Global temperature records do not remotely track anywhere near rising carbon dioxide emissions over time, especially throughout the 20th century to today. The cyclical up and down temperature patterns track much more closely instead with the natural cycles of ocean churning currents, as cold water from the deep cycles up to slightly cool the planet for a couple of decades at a time, and cycles of sunspots and other solar activity.

The argument for ultimately catastrophic, man caused global warming has been corrupted by political correctness, political ideology, the special interest of governments in expanded power and authority, and billions in overwhelming government money paying to get the results desired. Bottom line: there is zero chance that the possibility of ultimately catastrophic, man caused global warming is greater than zero. The real world cannot bear trillions in artificial costs to satisfy the scientific equivalent of Lysenkoism.

Yes, you can cite scientific societies that have disgracefully sold out to this Lysenkoism. But in not one instance have the politically correct bureaucracies running those societies reached that conclusion by canvassing their members. Instead, in at least one instance a rebellion among the rank and file has forced the leadership to reevaluate by appointing worthy competing rival committees of alarmists versus skeptics to conduct an investigation of the issue. Following the results of that real debate will be highly illuminating.

For decision-makers in government and business who need to be sure and make responsible decisions, the full truth of the issue is completely and thoroughly discussed in the thousands of pages of Climate Change Reconsidered II, authored by dozens of serious, top scientists serving on the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), and published this year in ultimately 3 volumes of thousands of pages each by the Heartland Institute. Those volumes are “double peer reviewed,” in that they discusses thousands of peer reviewed articles published in scientific journals, and are themselves peer reviewed. Last year, the Cato Institute published a thorough, comprehensive refutation of the publicly released draft of the National Climate Assessment, The Missing Science from the Draft National Assessment on Climate Change, by Patrick J. Michaels, et. al. You can learn more by attending the Ninth International Conference on Climate Change, to be held at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, July 7-9, with more than 1,000 scientists from around the world (where I will be speaking).

The scientific truth of the matter will be determined not by counting how many scientists or their professional societies take on side or another, but by counting the real world data on the issue, which intelligent laymen can judge by reading the sources above.

The bottom line is that when June, 2016 rolls around, when states are supposed to submit “compliance” plans to the EPA for approval, Governors should send letters explaining that they and their legislatures decided not to trash the economies of their states with unjustified “carbon taxes” or cap and trade burdens designed to ensure that their “electricity costs would necessarily skyrocket.” And if the EPA thinks that is not acceptable, the state will see them in court. Because under the Constitution, neither the EPA, nor the entire federal government, nor his majesty Barack Obama, have any authority to impose any penalty on any state if the state does not adopt some tax or costly, crippling regulatory burden.

This issue should be affecting now state political races between Democrats and Republicans for Governor, the legislature, and all other state offices. Let Democrats say vote for us and we will impose on you carbon taxes and cap and trade burdens under which your electricity costs will necessarily skyrocket. And let Republicans say vote for us and we will tell the Feds they can go to Hades.

Obamanomics: The De-development of America

It should be no surprise to anyone that President Obama’s economic policies have all but terminated any economic growth and opportunity in America. Because every one of those policies has been decisively anti- growth.

Obama has led increases in the top tax rates of virtually every major federal tax — income taxes, capital gains taxes, taxes on corporate dividends, death taxes, even payroll taxes. The only marginal tax rate he has not increased, the federal corporate tax rate, is already the highest in the world.

Obama has led massive increases in regulatory costs, burdens and barriers, from health care to finance to energy to see above.

Obama and his Administration have cheerled the Fed to pursue wild, zero interest rate monetary policies, buying up most national debt, for years now, laying the foundation for the future return of inflation.

The only pro-growth policy has been the sequester, and other cuts in spending, imposed on him, by the Republican House majority. But Obama is working mightily to reverse that, proposing to restore wild-eyed spending in every budget, and speech relating to the subject.

Some commenters have asserted that President Obama has failed to produce economic growth because Congressional Republicans refuse any compromise with him. But name any policy President Obama has proposed that would lead to more economic growth and jobs that Congressional Republicans have refused to support. You can’t, because there isn’t one. Some of you are so easy for professional politicians to fool.

The real explanation for what is going on here with Obamanomics was actually revealed years ago by the President’s Science advisor, John Holdren. Holdren said, “A massive campaign must be launched to…de-develop the United States…bringing our economic system (especially patterns of consumption) into line with the realities of ecology and the global resource situation….We must design a stable, low consumption economy in which there is a much more equitable distribution of wealth.”

And that is what you have with the President’s economic policies, a massive campaign to de-develop the United States. Even I have to say, if that is what the President’s plan is, it’s working.

For any other President engaged in this, we would have to impeach him for pursuing such a war on his own people. But in this case, Obama just represents the true heart and soul of his own party, which protects and enables him in this foolish endeavor. So the conclusion to take away: don’t blame President Obama, blame the Democrat Party, which you have a clear chance to do this fall.

Categories: On the Blog

Why is the U.S. Government in the Mortgage Loan Business?

June 11, 2014, 3:50 PM

It is often truly astonishing to me the harm done by the way the federal government was expanded well beyond its constitutional limits during the 1930’s New Deal era. One dramatic example is the government’s role in the housing mortgage loan marketplace.

I recently read a commentary by Steve Stanck, a research fellow at The Heartland Institute, a free market think tank, whose title was “Don’t Replace Fannie and Freddie; End Them.” He began by pointing out that “For every 100 mortgages being sold in the United States these days, at least 94% of them have government backing.”

Fannie is shorthand for the Federal National Mortgage Association and Freddie is short for the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. Both are referred to as “government sponsored enterprises” and Stanck points out that “The housing market was nearly ruined several years ago, and the government’s involvement is a big reason” because, before the 2008 financial crisis, both “were bundling mortgages into mortgage-backed securities and selling them to investors”, primarily banks.

Still largely unknown to the public, the financial crisis was triggered on September 15, 2008 when the Federal Reserve noticed a tremendous drawdown of money market accounts in the U.S. amounting to $550 billion dollars in the matter of an hour or two. This was revealed in a 2008 congressional closed door session and later reported by Rep. Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania. Had the Federal Reserve not closed down the accounts by 2 PM that day, the entire economy would have collapsed, followed by the world economy a day later.

To this day, the identity of those who initiated the withdrawal has not been revealed, but the banks that were heavily invested in Fannie and Freddie’s bundled mortgage-backed securities were most at risk. Those securities were regarded as a safe investment precisely because both are, as noted, “government-sponsored enterprises”, implying that they were backed by the government—taxpayers.

When the housing bubble burst in 2008, the federal government put Fannie and Freddie into conservatorship “and handed them $188 billion to stay afloat. The actions of both entities had artificially lowered mortgage interest rates in order to increase home buying and required lenders—banks—to loan money to riskier borrowers.

As Brian M. Carney noted in a July 26, 2010 Wall Street Journal editorial opinion, “The official version of the housing boom and bust, and subsequent panic and recession, tells us that greedy bankers took unacceptable risks, assumed too much leverage, made irresponsible loans, and left the government to clean up the mess. The causes of the crisis, in this version, include banker bonuses, deregulation ideology and predatory lending. Most of this is nonsense.”

Carney noted that “There’s simply no room in this story for two giant government-sponsored enterprises that distorted the housing and credit markets…” Those would be Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Stanck notes that there is a bill in Congress to “wind down Fannie and Freddie. This is good. But they want to replace those organizations with private mortgage bond issuers who would each have government guarantees back by a new entity called the Federal Mortgage Insurance Corporation. This is bad.”

It is bad for the same reason that Fannie and Freddie are bad. The government needs to get out of the mortgage loan business. The bill barely squeaked through the Senate Banking Committee on May 15 with minimal support.

The new entity that the bill would create would charge fees to the private mortgage bond issuers—“fees that would be based on how many people in ‘underserved’ demographic groups receive mortgages” leading to “more of the subprime lending that played such a big role in the most recent housing mortgage collapse.” It is nothing more than Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a new name.

Stanck sensibly says “Let borrowers and lenders strike their own deals without government meddling. In that way, mortgage interest rates would better reflect true risk, there’d be almost no way for legislators to inject corruption and cronyism into the system, and taxpayers would not be at risk of shelling out more hundreds of billions of dollars.”

You may read or hear that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are returning to solvency, able to turn a profit in the first quarter of 2014 and this is true. Those profits are going straight into the U.S. Treasury to resolve their debt incurred when they were bailed out. When they pay it back, they should, as Stanck says, be ended, not replaced.

So long as they exist, another housing boom and bust, and another financial collapse will repeat what occurred in 2008.

Categories: On the Blog

Jay Lehr on Fox News

May 27, 2014, 4:46 PM

On May 16th, Jay Lehr, science director at The Heartland Institute went on “Your World with Neil Cavuto” to discuss the issue of living in high risk areas. Lehr argues that the current system requires serious change in order to more justly deal with individuals who choose to live in high risk areas. Lehr explains how the current system allows individuals to live in high risk areas like San Diego with minimal regulations or burdens. Considering the high activity of fire fighters in places like San Diego, Lehr believes that those who choose to live in such locations should pay an increased tax. Instead of placing the tax burden of compensating fire fighters and other public servants on everyone in the area, Lehr calls for a shift of that burden onto those who choose to live in particularly high risk areas.

Cavuto went on to ask Lehr about other risks, such as floods or hurricanes. While he adamantly defends the individual’s freedom to choose their place of residence, Lehr also advises caution. He argues that some regulation is necessary. For example, Lehr references Ohio’s policy that disallows the construction of permanent structures on 100 year flood plains. This regulation exists to combat the risk of serious flooding and avert any potential disaster. Lehr argues for vigilance and flexibility in these regulations as new information continues to come to light about high risk areas.

Lehr and Cavuto go on to discuss the issue of homeowners being grandfathered into new building codes and regulations. Lehr outlines the foolishness of such a system. He contends that all homeowners, regardless of when they move into an area, should be required to abide by the newest codes and regulations. Such a requirement comes at a small price and carries the potential for huge reward.

Categories: On the Blog

Transform The VA Into A Pro-Growth Model For First Rate Health Care

May 27, 2014, 12:23 PM

The VA (Veterans Administration) scandals show why so many people have been so highly motivated for so long to fight against Obamacare. That is because of the perfectly rational fear that Obamacare will end up doing to the entire American health care system what the VA has done to health care for America’s veterans.

Many have already commented that the VA system is actually pure socialized medicine. The government doesn’t just pay for health care or health insurance under the system for our nation’s veterans. The government actually builds and owns the hospitals and their clinics, and hires the doctors and nurses, who serve as government employees. The government then finances the operation of these facilities, actually providing the health care directly itself. Those eligible for VA benefits then go to these government facilities to get their health care.

This is basically how the notorious British National Health Service (NHS) operates. I say notorious because the National Health Service is famous for running a strict rationing system, with the government determining who gets what health care and when, and deciding who gets told when its time to go home and die. In my 2011 book, I suggested that Britain’s National Health Service is probably responsible for the deaths of more British subjects than the Nazis and Adolf Hitler. But a thorough study would be necessary to document that.

The NHS does not do this out of malevolence. It does it because when the government is dispensing free health care, there must be some means to control costs. With no market prices, incentives, or competition to control costs, the only choice is for the government to decide when the money train stops at the station to let some off. Ironically, a system originally adopted supposedly so everyone could get health care becomes an institutionalized means for deciding when some shall be denied health care.

The British people accept the cold, calculating, health care rationing of the NHS because of a social belief that it is necessary for everyone to get health care. That is deluded because market competition and incentives will work in health care the same as for everything else. But when social mores prevent anyone from questioning the status quo, and alternatives from being considered, the people and the society suffer. That is essentially the same social process more generally which left many societies around the world stagnant with no economic growth for centuries going back to the Dark Ages. British health care could ultimately be liberated by starting social experiments with Health Savings Accounts, which would teach eye opening social lessons.

America’s VA, with all market prices, incentives and competition excluded from the system, operates with similar health care rationing. The VA is given a “global budget” each year that it can spend for health care for our nation’s veterans and no more. With no prices or competition for anyone in the system to weigh costs against benefits, the only way total costs for essentially free health care can be kept within that budget is for the VA bureaucracy to deny health care through some form of rationing. That is primarily accomplished within America’s social mores with long wait times for the free VA health care granted to veterans, effectively denying or at least stretching out health costs.

That is why Larry Kudlow is so right when he says in his May 23 column, “The VA problem is not Shinseki, it’s socialism.” That is why America’s VA operates like the socialized medicine systems of Great Britain, Canada, and continental Europe, with long delays for the sick to obtain necessary health care, and other bureaucratic means of reducing access to quality care to control costs (again without consumer choice and market competition to control costs, there must be some means to control costs). These problems are so serious that at dozens of veterans are now documented to have suffered premature deaths due to lack of health care, and the full scope of the problem may involve the same for many more.

The problem is not inadequate spending on the VA, which socialist Democrats are trying to argue. As John Merline reported in Investor’s Business Daily on May 20, from 2000 to 2013, VA spending nearly tripled while the population of veterans declined by 4.3 million. Moreover, as Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute reports, 344,000 veterans’ care claims are now backed up and waiting to be processed. But it takes 160 days, almost half a year, for health benefits approval. For those who have to appeal a decision, the wait is 1,598 days, or more than four years.

Forbes’ own Avik Roy in his thorough May 23 column explains how America fell into the VA experiment with socialized medicine. The roots of the VA go all the way back to 1827, before the modern American health care system had even developed. So the federal government itself had to establish homes for disabled military veterans, and facilities to provide the more rudimentary health care of the time.

By the end of World War II, the VA was responsible for a burgeoning veterans population including aging veterans from World War I as well. This population swamped the available health care at the time. So the VA undertook the burden of sharply expanding the supply of hospitals, clinics, and medical facilities. From 1930 to 1947, the number of VA hospitals more than doubled, from 54 to 120. Today, the VA maintains and operates 153 hospitals, and with 300,000 mostly medical employees, it is the second largest department of the federal government.

But America’s private health care system is all grown up now, and the best in the world, by far in my opinion, in providing critical health care to the sick. Just consider premature babies, and the miracles America’s health care system achieves with those born less than a foot long, and less than a pound in weight. No other country even really tries to save these most vulnerable newborns today. But in America they now almost routinely are saved to grow up and lead normal lives. Or compare the health care and survival and recovery rates of America’s seniors with those of the same age in any other country.

America’s veterans now would do far better participating in this same private health care system, along with everyone else. That can be achieved by dividing up the VA budget in equal shares for every veteran, and freeing them to use those sums to help purchase the private health insurance of their choice. That would include Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), which maximize the freedom of control and choice by patients over their own health care, and their own health care dollars. Such HSAs are also the only health policy innovation that have proven to control health costs in the real world, without a third party empowered to deny health care to the patient.

Similar reforms can and should be extended to liberate the poor on Medicaid to obtain better health coverage and care of their own choice. Block grants of federal Medicaid funds back to the states, which were so successful in reforming the old New Deal, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program in 1996, could be adopted while giving the states broad authority to reform Medicaid to best suit the poor in their state. Each state could then experiment with providing the poor with vouchers that could be used to help pay for the health insurance of their choice, including again HSAs. The voters of each state would then decide how much should be given in assistance at each income level to assure that the poor would be able to buy essential health insurance.

Some states might choose to reform their Medicaid programs primarily focusing on providing the poor on Medicaid with HSAs, like Indiana has recently done. Or they might focus more on covering the poor with managed care programs, like Rhode Island has recently done. Or they might leave the choice completely to each poor family. The important point is that broad opportunities exist for states to assure the poor much better access to essential health care than Medicaid currently does, like both Indiana and Rhode Island have done, even with more efficient control of Medicaid spending.

Such reforms should also be extended to replacing Obamacare, with much broader benefits. Because Obamacare is not only a serious threat to the quality and supply of American health care. It also is a major drag on the American economy, due primarily to the costly regulatory burdens imposed by the program, and the perverse, counterproductive incentives involved.

The employer mandate is the source of much of the problem. The mandate raises the cost of employment, and so results in less of it. This effect is exacerbated by the high cost of the health insurance the Obamacare law requires to satisfy the mandate. That is in the process of raising costs even for employers that already provide health insurance for their workers.

President Obama recognizes this, which is why he has unilaterally and without legal authority delayed implementation of the employer mandate required by the Obamacare law, for years now. He knows, in fact, that the high costs of the Obamacare employer mandate will perversely and counterproductively cause millions to lose the employer provided health insurance they already have.

Because employers and the labor market plan ahead, we have already seen real world effects of this problem. Since the employer mandate only applies to full time employment involving 30 hours a week or more, millions of workers have already seen their hours cut back to part time work below the 30 hours a week threshold. And millions of others have already dropped out of the work force, because they have given up on finding work. This is all documented in the monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. The real world effects can also be seen in the badly lagging U.S. economic growth we have now long suffered under Obama, as the economy never has fully recovered from the recession, which is now years overdue based on the American historical record.

This means that Obamacare can be replaced with reforms that would have major pro-growth effects, spurring the economy to return to the world leading economic growth and prosperity deeply ingrained in America’s heritage. Such reforms are needed as well to prevent Obamacare from deteriorating into single payer, socialized medicine, similar to the VA, regardless of the foolish sentiments favoring precisely that we hear from Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and other “Progressives.” That can be done while more assuredly achieving the original supposed goal of Obamacare of health care for all.

Even the Congressional Budget Office, which we too easily forget is a bastion of the Washington establishment, has always foreseen that Obamacare would not achieve anywhere near universal coverage, estimating that 30 million would still be uninsured 10 years after full implementation! For careful, reasoned observers, it is not even clear whether Obamacare so far is reducing rather than increasing the number of uninsured, as millions have already lost their health insurance, with millions more to come once the employer mandate is implemented, especially apart from just expanding Medicaid, which adds even more to unmanageable, long term entitlement costs.

By extending similar reforms to those proposed above for both the VA and Medicaid to the replacement of Obamacare, we can, in fact, assure health care for all, with no individual mandate, no employer mandate, sharply reduced regulatory burdens more broadly, and trillions in reduced federal spending and taxes over the years. John Goodman, President of the National Center for Policy Analysis, has long advocated a universal health insurance tax credit for all, which everyone could use to help purchase the private health insurance of their choice. That would involve broadening out the tax preference currently provided only for employer provided health insurance to everyone. He is now advocating a credit of $2,500 per person per year, which would not completely finance essential health insurance, but provide help and an incentive for it, just like the tax preference for employer provided health insurance does not completely finance, but does provide help and effective incentive for it.

That credit can be used by those on Medicaid to opt out of it for the private health insurance of their choice, including HSAs. Concomitantly, it can be used to opt into Medicaid, assuring coverage for any pre-existing condition is always available. Those with employer provided coverage can still use the credit for alternative private coverage of their choice if they prefer, again including HSAs. This provides working people with a critical check and balance on their employers, assuring access to the health care of their choice, even when their employer plan does not. For any worker who does not use the credit to purchase private coverage, the $2,500 for the year goes to indigent care facilities in the worker’s local area.

Along with Medicaid block grants to the states, which states could use in part to finance uninsurable risk pools for the uninsured, such reforms would feasibly assure health care for everyone. At the same time, these reforms would be more broadly pro-growth. With no employer mandate requiring the purchase of very costly health insurance for every employee, the cost of employment would be substantially reduced, encouraging more jobs, and higher wages. There would be no longer be any incentive to cut working people back to part time hours. Eliminating the costly Obamacare regulatory requirements on insurance, along with the broader availability of cost reducing HSAs, would reduce unnecessary health costs, further boosting the economy with an effective tax cut for everyone. Reducing taxes and federal spending due to Obamacare by trillions over future years would further enhance economic growth and general prosperity for all.  Republicans in Congress are presently drafting such an alternative to Obamacare.

All of this comprehensive health care liberation, from the VA, to Medicaid, to Obamacare, would mean ultimately better health care for all, along with helping to restore economic growth and prosperity, and the American Dream.

[Originally published at Forbes]

Categories: On the Blog