Friday, June 30, 2017

Pay Your Own Bills


A long time ago, I used to go to lunch periodically with a bunch of coworkers. Some would say “Let’s make it easy and divide up the bill evenly.” That was back in ancient times before restaurant technology could easily split the bill for the table, so it definitely was easier.

From another perspective, though, I was a young guy with a growing family and a sense of frugality. I didn’t need or want a big, expensive lunch every day. I had other, much better uses for my money. Others in the group were not so inclined. I was faced a number of times with a food bill that was much higher than it would have been on my own. After the decision was made to split the bill evenly, some in the group decided they wanted a big lunch with appetizers and drinks. Those people made out pretty well, because the average cost was significantly lower than the cost they actually incurred. I and a few others were paying for their hearty appetites and good times.

People certainly have different interests and priorities, and that is a good thing. That is what makes an advanced society function at a high level. What is bad is the distortion of incentives when people are not held responsible for the costs they incur or the actions they take. When someone else is paying for it, the tendency is for people to want more, to want better, or even the best, especially when there is a sense of entitlement or a presumed “right” to it, whatever “it” is.

Many scenarios come to mind, from school district financing and construction to health-care spending. Over the last decade and a half, many school districts in New York State significantly increased the size of facilities at a time when student enrollment was stagnating or declining. They have periodic massive improvement projects at a time when property taxes are maxed out or close to it. Why would the people in a school district vote for such incredibly expensive projects? Simply because they are not paying for much or most of it. Taxpayers from other school districts pay up to ninety-five percent of the costs. Those other taxpayers also pay for a large portion of the annual operating budget. So it plays out that, if someone else is paying for it, why not get the best and the most you can.

The problem with that thinking is that, if every school district does the same, the overall burden of education costs increases for everyone. In 2016, New York State average education costs per pupil were eighty seven percent higher than the national average. Local voting for local benefits with external funding is the formula for distorted incentives that balloon costs. “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”

The same holds true for health care, higher education, and in fact, any area of the economy with such distorted incentives. Most of the money paid for health care comes from third-party payers, whether it be insurance companies or from government programs. Because they are part of a program that pays for it, the patients believe that they have a right to first-class care and facilities. Political and social pressure is put on insurers to cover costs that neither they nor the patient would be willing to pay for otherwise.

The answer in all cases is to let the markets actually work by de-socializing these industries, by scrapping burdensome, counterproductive regulations, and by allowing competition to engage on an even playing field, without government giving artificial advantage to any party.

Originally published on Daniel-McLaughlin.

Solution for Healthcare

Dick Morris video

Let the States Opt Out. Nothing in the US Constitution allows the federal government to run healthcare, but the 10th Amendment would send it to the States to decide if they want to deal with it.  A clever solution.

A Way Out Of Health Care Impasse: Leave It Up To States

Published on on on June 29, 2017

Senator Mitch McConnell's inability to cobble together a bill that 50 Republicans can support replacing ObamaCare reflects the diversity of health care needs, demographics, economic levels, and opinions on government's role in the nation itself.  One size does not fit all, particularly where health care is concerned.

The key to making this work is to let each state tailor the program to its own needs.

President Trump, Speaker Ryan, and Senator McConnell should unite on a four-part solution to the current imbroglio:

1.  Leave it up to each state to decide its level of participation in the new health care system.  Use the federal legislation to create a menu of options.  Then pay the states the cash equivalent of the services and subsidies it is opting not to take under the federal program.

The need for a state-by-state approach is evidenced by how about half of the country opted to participate in the Medicaid expansion while the other stayed out (even with no federal payment of the cash equivalent).

2.  Curb Medicaid Spending Through Co-Payments

The Medicaid program was conceived for poor people and any question of co- payments or deductibles was ruled out at the outset because of the poverty of the population being served.  But now as Obama has expanded it into a lower- middle class entitlement (with people with incomes up to $85,000 eligible in some states), co-payments become feasible.

The use of emergency rooms has swelled under the Medicaid expansion, often rising by 50 percent or more.  The ER has become the new community center where people can congregate out of the rain.  Charging a $10 copayment at the door should reduce the utilization significantly, lowering the cost substantially with no social injustice.

3.  Delete the List of Required Services

The reason CBO thinks so many people will be unable to afford insurance under the new bill is that it keeps the list of required services that must be offered under insurance plans to qualify for subsidy.  60-year-old men will still have to have maternity benefits.  We will all have to have addiction treatment and mental health coverage.  Again, one size has to fit all.  Get rid of this requirement and let the states design individual packages that they feel best suit the needs of their citizens.

4.  Expand the Number of Doctors

The fundamental problem with health care is that we are seeking to expand the utilization of medical and health services with no concomitant rise in the number of professionals who must deliver them.  In fact, legal limits on the number of residencies nationally hold down the number of doctors at a time when we face a looming shortage of primary care physicians that will only get worse.

In short, use the Tenth Amendment to deal with this problem, like the Founders intended.

Dick Morris, 6/29/17

Refugee Money Pit

IRC sucks down over $115 MILLION tax dollars since Trump arrives in Washington, by Ann Corcoran, 6/29/17

Don’t miss the expose’ from Charles Johnson at GotNews from last week on one of the nine fake non-profit groups*** responsible for placing refugees in your cities and towns.

As I said in my previous post, the first and foremost requirement for any reform of the UN/US Refugee Admissions Program is to bar these supposedly ‘charitable’ groups from receiving tax dollars which they can then use to work against us and this White House.

We have extensive archives on the International Rescue Committee and its present leader David MilibandDon’t miss my January post—Trump could save millions by cutting off the IRC!

From GotNews (hat tip Richard at Blue Ridge Forum@highblueridge):

Deep state agents within the Department of Health and Human Services, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development have paid over $115 million to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) nonprofit that is fighting President Donald J. Trump’s America-first ban on immigration from countries with huge populations seeking to do citizens harm.

The International Rescue Committee led by former U.K. Labour politician David Miliband has come under fire since the organization’s Tuesday release on World Refugee Day of an anti-sovereignty self-promotional video calling for greater Muslim immigration to Western countries.

Go here to see the video and the proof about how much of your money they are sucking down.

About the photo:  On the left is CNN’s Clarissa Ward.  She has been hosting the early a.m. show with Chris Cuomo this week.  Watch sometime and see if you agree with me that Ward looks like she is constantly sucking on a lemon!

These are the fake non-profits largely funded by US taxpayers to place refugees in cities and towns (and which use their financial power to propagandize against the Trump White House)!
·       International Rescue Committee (IRC) (secular)

Sweden Out of Control

5,000 criminals in Sweden's vulnerable areas: police, by Emma Löfgren, 6/21/17,

Sweden's national police chief has presented a new report about the country's problem areas, increasing the number of districts classified as vulnerable or especially vulnerable.

The report, which is likely to grab headlines in Sweden and abroad, follows another high-profile report from 2015 which listed 53 so-called vulnerable areas, including 15 considered especially vulnerable.

In the new report, 61 areas are now on the list, of which 23 are considered especially vulnerable, 6 are risk areas (areas that are at high risk of becoming especially vulnerable) and 32 are vulnerable.

Some of these were revealed last week, but the full version was presented today.

The term "no-go zone" famously caught on in some international media back in 2015 after it was used by a Swedish newspaper columnist to label these areas, but it has been strongly rejected by police and emergency services themselves.

The police definition describe these districts as socio-economically vulnerable areas with a generally high crime rate. In an especially vulnerable area there are also often parallel societal structures, religious extremism and police regularly have to adapt their methods to the volatile situation. Residents also often do not report crimes, either out of fear of retaliation or because they think it will not lead to anything.

In an opinion piece published by the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper ahead of the presentation of the report on Wednesday, national police chiefs Dan Eliasson and Mats Löfving write that around 5,000 criminals and 200 criminal networks are believed to be based in these 61 vulnerable areas.

But the number of criminals risks increasing, they write. “Sweden needs national and long-term efforts to turn things around. We will now intensify our dialogue with relevant social actors and ensure that we together create action plans for all these 61 areas. The police cannot solve the situation in the vulnerable areas alone, but together with the joint efforts of society we can make a big difference.”

There are several reasons behind why the number of areas has gone up since the last report. In some areas, the situation has deteriorated, but the main reason is that the police have refined their data collection methods and have a better picture of the situation today, write Eliasson and Löfving.

In some areas, they add, the police have managed to improve the situation, by allocating extra officers to those areas and installing surveillance cameras to crack down on open drug and weapon trade.

"In one area it may have got worse, in another better, even though it's not visible in the statistics," Eliasson said at a press conference on Wednesday.

He repeated that the police would not be able to solve the situation on their own.

"Other societal actors, help us, help us," he said.

One of the areas that may be on the right path is Seved in Malmö, with a local police officer telling The Local earlier this month that it could potentially be removed from the list in a couple of years.

"The criminal network is still there, but they are becoming fewer and fewer and we are very happy that we're not seeing any new recruitment. There are no younger members connected to this network, so they are getting older and older and fewer and fewer," the police's municipal liaison officer Jonatan Örstrand told The Local's Sweden in Focus series, adding that it “all depends on the course of the future”.

'A question of education': What Rinkeby residents think about the riots, by Lee Roden, 2/22/17,

Rinkeby in Stockholm made global headlines in February after riots broke out involving car fires just days after Donald Trump thrust the spotlight on Sweden. But what do the people who actually live and work in the suburb think about it? The Local spoke to them to find out.
Rinkeby's issues will not be news to anyone living in Sweden. In 2015 police included it in a list of 15 areas judged to be “particularly vulnerable”, while two years prior it was one of several areas in Stockholm which saw violent unrest.

The area's challenges have been given renewed, global attention this week however, as the riot on February 20th coincided with US president Trump's factually inaccurate comments about crime and immigration in Sweden.

When The Local arrived in Rinkeby on Wednesday the atmosphere was calm, and there were few signs of the trouble from two nights before, with the exception of the occasional patched up window on shop fronts. But residents there still have plenty to say about the problems in the area.

"There were a few cars burning in the car park behind here – five or six of them. Then some kids broke the glass in the subway followed by shops and a restaurant," Haider, who works in the Rinkeby Livs store and saw the riot taking place, told The Local.

"The problem, you know, is that the police did nothing. And not for the first time. If they arrest someone who does something wrong, within a few days they're free. It doesn’t make a difference – there’s no punishment," he claimed.

Haider's complaint is in line with those made by other residents who have spoken to Swedish media outlets in the last few days, criticizing police for waiting too long before clamping down on the rioters. No arrests were made following Monday's riot, and the shop worker thinks that shows more needs to be done to prevent repeat incidents.

"It's not so many people causing trouble. Maybe 30, 40. Arrest the whole bunch. There are other solutions too. Split them up, move them all to different cities, for example, and leave the normal people in peace," he suggested.

"The people doing this stuff are known. It’s not the first time," his friend added. "If someone has an argument with their partner and the police are called, they're here straight away. But when this happens, they aren't."

Preliminary figures from Sweden's National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå) show that the Rinkeby-Kista municipality which Rinkeby is a part of was the municipality in Stockholm with the second highest rate of violent crimes reported in the city in 2016.

Its 2,405 reported violent crimes per 100,000 residents was lower than only Norrmalm in the city centre (3,679 per 100,000 residents). The lowest rate, by comparison, was found in Bromma (709 violent crimes per 100,000).

For global context on crime in Sweden, the overall rate of deadly violence in Sweden is about 1 per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 5 per 100,000 in the US, according to the FBI.

Speaking to Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter on Tuesday about the riot the night before, police commissioner Jan Evensson conceded that "zero arrests in a situation like this is not a pass", and promised that improvements will be made if it emerges that officers did take too long to intervene.

Not everyone The Local spoke to was as critical of the police however. A shop owner in the area who wished to remain anonymous, said the officers "do exactly what is required of them by the law, nothing more, nothing less".

"Everyday normal people here have a good relationship with the police and like having them around. You can speak with the police, have a laugh with them. The problem is between the criminals and the police," he explained.

"Part of the problem is that some people move here from countries with serious problems and it’s difficult for them to enter Swedish society. They look for the shortest route as a result, and that's crime," the man, who moved to Sweden 35 years ago, insisted.

"Sweden is one of the best countries in the world and has done its best, but some decisions it has taken have been weak. We have been hit by some bad decisions on immigration, so Trump is right in that regard. That's why I think the Sweden Democrats will win the next election here," he predicted.

Healthcare Bill Poll

Fox News Poll: 27 percent favor Senate GOP health care plan, as vote gets delayed, by Dana Blanton, 6/28/17 Fox News

By two-to-one, American voters oppose the Senate health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act -- even as a majority wants to repeal at least some of the existing law.
That’s according to the latest Fox News Poll, conducted Sunday through Tuesday evenings. 

Among Republicans, 51 percent favor the Senate bill.  That’s in contrast to 75 percent support for the House bill last month. 

Overall, 27 percent of voters favor the Senate proposal, 54 percent oppose it, and 18 percent are unsure.  For comparison, in polling conducted after the House health care bill passed, 40 percent favored it and 54 percent were opposed (May 2017).  That’s the plan President Trump has called “mean.” 

“It seems likely that voters are increasingly anxious about another significant change to their health insurance,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the Fox News Poll along with Democrat Chris Anderson. “I doubt they know much about the substantive differences between the House and Senate bills.”

Senate Republicans released their health care bill Thursday.  After failing to gain enough support to pass it, GOP Senate leaders Tuesday delayed the health care vote until after their July recess.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated Monday that the plan would cut the federal deficit by more than $320 billion in the next decade and 22 million more people would be uninsured by 2026 under the plan compared with ObamaCare. 

Meanwhile, a record number of voters, 52 percent, view the Affordable Care Act positively.  That’s up from 50 percent in March, and 41 percent in August 2015.  Forty-six percent currently view ObamaCare negatively. 

Lower-income voters (55 percent), women (58 percent), urban voters (63 percent), non-whites (77 percent), and Democrats (89 percent) give ObamaCare some of its highest favorable ratings.

When asked what should happen to President Obama’s signature health care law, a majority wants to repeal all (28 percent) or parts of the law (33 percent).  Some 25 percent say expand it, while 12 percent would leave it as is.

One-third of those who have a favorable view of ObamaCare want to repeal at least some of the law (33 percent).
Yet even those who want to repeal all or some of the Affordable Care Act are skeptical of the Senate bill:  38 percent favor it, and 38 percent are opposed.

President Trump receives his worst job ratings on health care: 36 percent approve vs. 55 percent disapprove.  That puts him underwater by 19 points. 

President Donald Trump speaks during an energy roundtable with tribal, state, and local leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Wednesday, June 28, 2017, in Washington. He gets positive ratings on the economy (48-43 percent) and terrorism (48-45 percent).

In general, voters think Republicans would do a better job handling terrorism (+19 points), the federal deficit (+15), the economy (+8), cyberattacks (+8), and taxes (+4).  They think Democrats would do a better job on health care (+12 points) and give the Democrats a huge edge on climate change (+37).  It’s mostly a draw on immigration (Democrats +2 points). 

How likely is it that Congress will act on these issues?  That depends on where you stand politically.  Twice as many Republicans (40 percent) as Democrats (19 percent) think it’s extremely or very likely ObamaCare will be repealed this year.

Among all voters, there are modest expectations repeal, or much of anything of substance, will happen in 2017.  On repeal, 28 percent think it’s extremely or very likely.  That’s about the same as believe tax reform legislation will pass and Congress will approve funding for major infrastructure projects.  Fewer, 13 percent, expect funding for a border wall to receive Congressional approval. 

There isn’t much love for Washington these days.  Almost every leader has a net negative rating (favorable minus unfavorable).

House Speaker Paul Ryan (37 percent) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (33 percent) garner higher favorable ratings than their counterparts Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (26 percent) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (25 percent). 

More voters have a positive view of Vice President Mike Pence (47 percent) and President Donald Trump (47 percent) than the folks at the opposite end of Pennsylvania Avenue.  However, First Lady Melania Trump is even more popular, as 51 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of her.  That’s up from 37 percent in December. 

Among Republicans, positive views hit 88 percent for the president and 82 percent for the first lady.

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cellphone interviews with 1,017 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from June 25-27, 2017.  The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters.

Reorganization Input Jars Refugee Crowd

State Dept. leaking like sieve to CNN, reveals WH thinking of moving refugee program to DHS, by Ann Corcoran 6/29/17

I know, I know, it is a CNN story with Jake Tapper on the byline, but there is very likely truth to it. I’m not weighing in on the merits (or demerits) of such a move, my purpose here is to once again show you that the Obama shadow government, in this case Anne Richard, FORMER Asst. Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration has a pipeline in to the career bureaucrats running the refugee program in the Department of State and she is carrying their news to the likes of CNN.

Anne Richard came to her former post at the Department of State from the federal contractor the INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE. Prior to her job at the IRC, she was at the State Department! The system is incestuous!

The primary reason that the Deep State would not support the move of the program to the Dept. of Homeland Security is that they (in State) have a decades-long cushy relationship with the refugee contractors that I keep yelling about (here and here just this morning). They are all on the same page—more, more, more refugees for America!

First, get the contractors (yelling and propagandizing) out of the system completely and reform of the program could be accomplished. (This depends on the lazy lunks in Congress!)
And, second! Trump must get his loyalists placed in positions above the bureaucrats to get this under control.
Career people can’t be fired unless, and until, they are caught in insubordination to a boss. Right now Trump is at fault for not picking their bosses!

Here is CNN quoting Anne Richard extensively so she must be the one carrying the tales….Washington (CNN)The White House is considering a proposal to move both the State Department bureau of Consular Affairs and its bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration to the Department of Homeland Security, a senior White House official tells CNN.

The move, which the White House official cautioned was far from becoming official policy, would likely be controversial among diplomats and experts in State Department matters.
“It would be a huge mistake,” said Anne Richard, who led the bureau of Population Refugees, and Migration during President Barack Obama’s second term.

The proposals were written in a memo submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget from the White House Domestic Policy Council as part of President Trump’s March executive order pushing for ideas for Government Reorganization. A State Department spokesperson referred CNN to the White House for comment.

The extremely complicated admissions process now starts with the UNITED NATIONS making the first cut as we have reported ad nauseam.

The White House did not explain the reasoning behind the recommendations, but perhaps the idea is rooted in a desire to streamline the refugee vetting process. As it stands currently, the United Nations High Commission of Refugees refers applicants to the State Department for vetting. This vetting is carried out by nine International Resettlement Support Centers (RSC) with American interests***; all of which are managed by the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. Approved applicants are then sent to the Department of Homeland Security for final vetting. After final vetting at DHS, the State Department then resumes supervision of the process with its Reception and Placement Program.

Richard, the former Obama State Department official, pinned the proposal on an “imperfect understanding” of the bureau’s function. It’s not mainly a law enforcement body, Richard said, rather, it works with nongovernmental organizations and the UN to assist refugees around the world. [And that is the problem—the NGOs and the UN—ed] More here. Are there other interests operating Resettlement Support Centers???  See here.

Nine Department of State-funded Resettlement Support Centers (RSCs) not to be confused with the nine major refugee contractors (except that there is some overlap because some contractors work at these RSCs). Look at these locations. Can you say opportunity for fraud!
·       Amman, Jordan with sub-offices in Baghdad, Iraq and Cairo, Egypt;
• Bangkok, Thailand with a sub-office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia;
• Damak, Nepal;
• Havana, Cuba;
• Istanbul, Turkey with a sub-office in Beirut, Lebanon;
• Moscow, Russia with a sub-office in Kyiv, Ukraine;
• Nairobi, Kenya with a sub-office in Johannesburg, South Africa;
• Vienna, Austria; and
• Quito, Ecuador with small sub-offices in San Salvador, El Salvador and Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

The nine federal resettlement contractors who are fighting tooth and nail to let nothing rock their cushy relationship with the DOS:
·       International Rescue Committee (IRC) (secular)