Category Archives: federal deficit

The Case For Extending Unemployment Benefits Beyond 26 Weeks

Unemployment insurance was designed to provide a safety net by offering weekly benefits to employees who have lost their job  to enable them to modify their job skills and seek alternative employment. It is funded by payments by employers based on a percentage of payroll that is rated based on experience. During the emergency caused by the Great Recession the maximum period of eligibility to receive unemployment benefits was extended from 26 weeks to 99 weeks. The funding for such extended benefits is provided by the federal government and as a result of repeated extensions threatens to become another welfare benefit.

The extended benefits were sun-setted and expired as the end of 2013 as part of the sequester legislation. Naturally, President Obama and other liberals, who sense an opportunity to distract from the failures of Obamacare and an opportunity to buy votes, are loudly demanding that the extended benefits be reinstated. Most Republicans, who were blamed for the government shutdown, do not want to be hammered by President Obama and the liberal press for any failure to reinstate the extended benefits. However, most of them favor austerity and are looking for ways to cut the explosive growth in welfare benefits. They know that the American public is concerned with the size of the deficit and are insisting on an offsetting cut in government spending to fund the extended unemployment benefits. Do not be surprised in President Obama refuses to discuss any compromise and attempts to play the blame game for political reasons just as he did to encourage and maximize the harm from the government shutdown. 

Instead of allowing President Obama to treat the extension of benefits as a political football, Republicans should be talking about the pros and cons of extending unemployment benefits. They should argue that because of President Obama’s encouragement of welfare and failed stimulus plans, 75% of the jobs created during the recovery are part-time jobs and there are millions of people seeking jobs, a number that is far in excess of full-time, tax-paying job openings. They should acknowledge that unless we greatly expand our economy, the real level of unemployment (after adjusting for people who have given up looking for a job) may remain above historic levels for the indefinite future.

The sudden end to the program, that has previously been extended, will cause immediate hardship to many of the beneficiaries. On the other hand, every case is different. Many of the beneficiaries may have been satisfied with the benefit and were turning down less than desired employment opportunities. Others may have been cheating the system because they have left the labor market and stopped looking for work or may have accepted off-the-books employment or are earning unreported income. We should extend the term of unemployment benefits, but we should modify the unemployment laws so that extended benefits are phased out over time. We might consider gradually reducing benefits to zero over a defined period beginning after 26 weeks. This will eliminate the need for further extensions except in the event of another emergency 

There is validity to arguments that unemployment benefits provide a stimulus that supports the economic recovery. On the other hand the unemployment benefits are not the most desirable form of economic stimulus. They increase the deficit because they are spent in large part on necessities like food and clothing that increase the GDP, but do not create or sustain tax-paying jobs that generate significant tax revenues. Spending on transportation ifrastructure construction is a better way to stimulate the economy because it creates immediate tax-paying jobs and stimulates the creation of additional tax-paying jobs.

The most important reason for extending unemployment benefits is to prevent immediate hardship for those who have diligently sought employment and did not want to be forced to accept a part-time or dead-end job. However, no-one should be entitled to half-pay forever, without working. 

 

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ENTITLEMENTISM

I define “entitlementism” as a political process by which voters in a democracy, motivated by greed, need, fear, or a desire to promote the comfort and well-being of others, elect presidents, governors and legislators who favor the retention or expansion of welfare benefits and other economic entitlements mainly for the poor and the elderly. Entitlementists are people who promote entitlementism. Entitlementists generally believe that wealthy and high income individuals and the entities that they control should pay higher taxes, fees and other payments to pay for the entitlements.

The grave danger that entitlementism poses to American democracy is that voters will vote for candidates who support and maximize entitlements and that political candidates who seek to control excessive entitlement spending may become un-electable in many areas of the country. If entitlementists get control of the presidency and both houses of Congress, they may, though a combination of taxes, mandates and penalties on individuals and businesses, turn American free market capitalism into an undesirable form of socialism that may over time erode into communism.

Entitlementists adopted Obamacare to offer new types of welfare benefits, including premium subsidies to many millions of individuals with incomes up to $46,000 and families of four with incomes up to $94,000 expecting them to become entitlements. It mandates the purchase, by businesses and individuals, of over-priced insurance that many of them do not want or need, to pay for new entitlements for others.

Although President Obama and his Democrat supporters refuse to acknowledge it, healthy young people with middle class tax-paying jobs are targeted victims selected to pay for the increased healthcare costs mandated by Obamacare. They are being asked to pay excessive premiums, deductibles and co-pays to (i) finance the expanded Obamacare mandated benefits, (ii) to substantially reduce the premiums payable by people with pre-existing conditions and (iii) to limit the premium increases of the elderly. They will also have to bear the brunt of tax increases that will be required to pay for the multi-billion dollar subsidies for the poor and lower middle class and for the expansion of Medicaid coverage. President Obama and other Obamacare supporters are also concealing the fact that most of the elderly, unless they qualify for premium subsidies, are subject to increased premium rates (even though their premiums are unrealistically limited under Obamacare rules (in disregard of actuarial statistics) to no more than 3 times the premium rates of young people). Most of them do not need the mandated Obamacare benefits.

Right wing conservatives, many of whom claim to be Tea Party members, are taking a political stance that enabled Democrat entitlementists to win a number of contested Congressional elections in 2012. They assess the voting record and statements of Republican candidates and, if they fail to meet pre-determined standards, they call them RINOS (Republicans in name only) and oppose their nomination. As a result Republicans often nominate a right-wing candidate who loses an election the Republicans would in all likelihood have won. Alternately, if a moderate Republican they oppose wins the nomination, they refuse financial support or to vote for him or her and he or she often loses a close election to a Democrat entitlementist. Such actions have been instrumental in enabling Democrats to retain control of the Senate. All Republicans, even moderates, opposed the passage of Obamacare. If Republicans are going to stop the march toward entitlementism, that will gain momentum if entitlements are not brought under control, they must harness their idealism and recognize the importance of winning control of both the House and the Senate in the 2014 elections.

An economic entitlement is a financial benefit that large numbers of people believe they are entitled to receive, generally from the government. Entitlements were adopted in the US over time for various commendable purposes to improve the lives of Americans. They have evolved into a broad range of benefits to provide safety net payments. They are designed to prevent hunger, provide shelter and basic needs, including medical care. Entitlements include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, housing supplements and other welfare benefits, negative income taxes, unemployment and disability insurance, flood insurance, financial relief following national disasters and now Obamacare. All of these programs are financed in large part by the US government. The costs of providing each of the entitlements are growing rapidly and are out of control. Entitlement costs are increased significantly by payments to beneficiaries and others cheating the system based on fraudulent claims under entitlement programs that now exceed hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Yet, we do almost nothing to prevent or punish the wrongdoers. Entitlementists don’t seem to care.

When adopting legislation authorizing various of the entitlement programs Congress chose different ways to determine eligibility for benefits and to fund the costs. Unfortunately our Congressmen ignored or misjudged the costs of providing certain of the entitlements and we are now facing $60 to $90 trillion of estimated unfunded entitlement liabilities that we cannot afford even if we achieve an annual two or three percent rate of growth of the GDP. We might be able to manage the unfunded entitlement problem if we grow the GDP at 7 to 10% annually for the next ten years, but because our leadership is inept, that is unlikely to be achieved. Therefore, we must find a way to scale back a significant portion of the unfunded entitlement liabilities. As a result of the Great Recession and skyrocketing entitlement payments the National Debt is approaching $17 trillion. It doesn’t seem to be currently affecting anyone. Most people seem to think that the rising National Debt will present a burden for our children and grandchildren, but few people think that our wealthy country can’t handle a National Debt of $20 trillion, $25 trillion or more. Low interest rates have masked the problem. Entitlementists like President Obama have for years been stonewalling any attempts to modify entitlements to reduce rising current entitlement costs or the unfunded liabilities in the out years. To the contrary they have magnified the entitlement problem by adopting Obamacare. In all likelihood, we will not know that the National Debt is too high until interest rates rise and we discover that we are no longer the world’s most powerful country financially or militarily. We will then be faced with a choice of reducing entitlements or other government spending, raising taxes, or printing money and enduring inflation. Moreover, if entitlementists are in control of the presidency and both houses of Congress, it may ultimately lead to confiscation of property from the wealthy.

Most of the entitlement underfunding comes from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid obligations. Social Security is a fabulous mandated retirement program. The amount a retiree can expect to collect is calculated by taking into account the withholding tax payments made into the system over a life-time. Social Security payments are the principal source of income for a large percentage of elderly Americans. Most people over age 65 in reasonably good health, who are entitled to Social Security and Medicare, can be financially self-reliant.

Although Social Security benefits vary based on the amount of one’s contributions, benefit levels offer a favorable return to our senior citizens. Years ago we recognized the under-funding of Social Security resulting from increased life expectancy and raised the age of eligibility to begin receiving benefits. We have known throughout the Obama presidency that we should again raise the age for commencement of Social Security benefits or change the manner in which inflation adjustments are calculated. Yet, despite the soaring National Debt, because entitlementists are in control of the presidency and the Senate, no action has been taken to make Social Security payments more affordable. Social Security cash flow needs present an additional problem as the number of workers contributing into the system per retiree declines. No trust fund was set aside out of the funds withheld from employee salaries to pay retiree benefits. Our government became obligated for future benefits, but spent the withholding taxes it received.

The other entitlements consist mostly of welfare payments. By design low-income individuals pay little or nothing for their entitlement benefits other than Social Security. Half of our population pays no income tax. They pay sales taxes and withholding taxes (often offset by negative income taxes) in amounts that are insignificant when compared to the benefits they receive. Democrat entitlementists have learned that they can buy votes by expanding entitlements.

Medicare was designed to ensure that healthcare would be available for the elderly. We have Medicare withholding taxes, annual premium payments and co-pays that can be covered in large part by the purchase of supplemental insurance, but the Medicare benefits dwarf the amounts collected. Low income people pay little into the system, yet they are eligible for full benefits. We have known for years that Medicare was an ill-conceived program which our government will not be able to afford as our population ages. Entitlementists rave about the success of Medicare but ignore its funding problem. The elderly and their children, who are relieved of a potential burden, love the benefits. It would be politically suicidal to try to reduce any Medicare benefits currently payable for the elderly. They vote in large numbers and feel entitled to Medicare benefits regardless of the cost. We have known for years that we must raise the age of eligibility for future Medicare beneficiaries (as we did for Social Security) and take other steps to control Medicare costs. President Obama knows this, but, except to state, every once in a while, that he knows we must deal with controlling future entitlements and that he will consider the way in which inflationary increases are calculated, he has not made any meaningful proposal to deal with the problem. The problem becomes greater with each passing year. Congressmen who propose ways to control Medicare payments in the out years are taking a political risk. Anyone who even brings up the subject of reducing entitlement benefits is immediately bashed by the liberal press and entitlementists seeking to gain political advantage.

Various individuals have proposed alternatives to the current form of Medicare. One way to reign in future Medicare liabilities is to modify the system for people currently under a designated age, such as 55, to a voucher system with co-pays and annual or lifetime limits. Each person would be entitled to an amount available to be spent during the remainder of their lifetime after becoming eligible for Medicare. By introducing aggregate spending limits (with higher limits for designated catastrophic injuries and illnesses) we can get the beneficiaries involved in controlling costs. We can even provide a death benefit for unused life-time benefits. Unfortunately, some people might spend their allocated benefits and be unable to afford all of their additional healthcare needs for various reasons. They might include their own negligence, and might be forced into bankruptcy. Our government will have to offer supplemental healthcare coverage, like Medicaid, and welfare assistance for such individuals. As we are learning from the harm being caused by Obamacare, that alternative is preferential to the destruction of the healthcare system and the middle class and the slowing of economic growth.

The SNAP (food-stamps) welfare program evolved to provide food for the poor in a dignified and efficient manner (though subject to abuse) through the use of a debit card. Welfare has been expanded to include housing and transportation subsidies, Medicaid, cell phones, baby sitters, home care and negative income taxes. A growing number of individuals, single mothers (often teenagers and sometimes with the unidentified father of their children moving in and out of the home to avoid the mother losing her welfare eligibility) and two parent families are relying on food stamps and other welfare benefits as their primary source of income. Some of them live comfortably by working part-time at low-paying jobs (which entitle them to negative income taxes) or off the books to supplement their welfare payments. Encouraged to apply for welfare benefits by navigators under programs initiated by entitlementists, more than 45 million people are now receiving food stamps. Most of them of working age are not attempting to further their education or job skills or looking for a job that would improve their standard of living and reduce or eliminate their welfare benefits. Instead they concentrate their efforts on maximizing welfare benefits. They lack the motivation and drive that has made American capitalism revered throughout the world. The increase in the number of welfare recipients has been fueled by an executive order issued by President Obama in violation of the 1996 welfare law, that makes it easier to satisfy the work requirement and gives states the authority to ignore such requirement.

Flood insurance is sold by the US Government at a fraction of its market cost. When flood insurance payments are added to disaster relief it encourages beneficiaries to rebuild in flood zones leading to large government payments when the next flood occurs in the same area.

It is becoming clear that Obamacare was rushed through Congress by President Obama and entitlementist Democrat Congressmen not only to give government control of all aspects of healthcare from birth to grave, but also to create a number of new entitlements for millions of individuals.

Many of the benefits of Obamacare became effective immediately, while most of the funding provisions were delayed for years until January 1, 2014. This was done so that President Obama could claim credit during the 2012 election campaign for all the benefits of Obamacare while concealing the disastrous aspects of Obamacare from the voters. The public heard repeatedly that 30 million people without insurance were going to be covered, pre-existing conditions were being eliminated from consideration, children under age 26 could remain on their parents coverage and a variety of benefits would be required to be covered, including preventive care, birth control, abortion and other women’s healthcare services.

Until recently, few people understood the funding or other provisions and regulations of Obamacare (many of which had not been written) or the secondary effects they would have on jobs, the healthcare industry or previously existing insurance policies. Since the adverse consequences of Obamacare were relatively unknown President Obama was able during the 2012 re-election campaign to time and again repeat a list of deliberately untrue promises (the now infamous President Obama lies), namely, (i) insurance premiums would decline for everyone, (ii) if you liked your insurance you could keep it and (iii) if you liked your doctor or hospital you could keep them. President Obama and the Democrat entitlementists didn’t tell anyone that the Obamacare insurance policies would provide for increased premiums in most states and large deductibles and co-pays which might make the insurance worthless. Nor did they tell voters they might lose their coverage, their doctor or their full-time job. They didn’t tell college students that Obamacare might harm the economy and prevent them from finding a job. They wanted President Obama and other Democrats to be elected and anticipated that the liberal press, most of whom are entitlementists, would let them outrageously stonewall the lies when they were exposed.

The 2012 election debates over Obamacare focused on birth control, abortion and other women’s rights issues that proved harmful to the Romney campaign and would have been of lesser importance had voters known the truth about how Obamacare would affect their jobs, the loss of their existing insurance coverage, their increased premium costs and the large deductibles and co-pays that were being imposed to enable insurance companies to provide expanded Obamacare mandated benefits and to offer health insurance policies at below free market rates for the sick, the disabled and the elderly. Postponing the harm of the employer mandate until 2015 was clearly intended to and may have a similar effect of deceiving the voters in the 2014 elections except to the extent that voters learn that many employers are taking steps to protect themselves against Obamacare mandates in advance of its effectiveness. To attempt to keep control of the Senate in the 2014 elections, President Obama will do everything possible to focus on women’s rights issues and criticize the stance of the Tea Party on such issues to divert attention from the harm to the middle class being caused by Obamacare.

Few people understand the enormous amount by which eliminating pre-existing conditions will increase insurance premiums. The healthcare costs of people born with special needs, or who become ill or injured may be 10 or 20 or more times more costly than those of a person in good health. Prior to the adoption of Obamacare, individual insurance policies generally had a one year term. Coverage for catastrophic injuries and illness were covered during the term. However, insurance companies would renew the policies of people who became ill or injured during the term only at greatly increased rates. People with pre-existing conditions were generally unable to purchase health insurance at affordable rates. They became cost conscious and limited their demands for treatments and procedures or spent their personal funds. Now, individuals and families burdened with the costs of pre-existing conditions will, if they haven’t already done so, purchase Obamacare qualified policies as soon as HHS gets its Obamacare website to function. We can expect them to make substantially increased demands for healthcare services. Some are rich and getting an undeserved windfall being paid for by the increases in the premiums, deductibles and co-pays of Obamacare mandated policies. Some of them who had lost their job and their coverage have sympathetic arguments for assistance and we should have found ways to help them independently of the adoption of Obamacare using high risk pools that were available in some states.

Healthcare needs for people of all ages are in large part based on discretionary decisions made by a patient and his or her doctor. Elective treatments or procedures can be delayed or avoided. Some people are willing to endure physical difficulties or high thresholds of pain rather than face the risk or cost of surgery. The high deductibles and co-pays under Obamacare will encourage more people to avoid elective procedures.

Unlike Medicare and Medicaid, under Obamacare, federal and state governments are not paying for all of the benefits. The entitlementists, who designed it, believe that they have found a way for insurance companies to (i) provide healthcare benefits mandated by Obamacare, (ii) cover the enormous costs of disregarding pre-existing conditions when determining premiums and (iii) limiting insurance premium increases for the elderly, by overcharging businesses and healthy young and middle-class workers.

In addition, the US government is subsidizing premium costs for low-income people and some small businesses, and expanding free Medicaid coverage for the poor. Almost all part-time workers will receive substantial premium subsidies. As a result, millions of voters will benefit from the new entitlements moving our country closer to entitlementism. Despite the myriad of new taxes imposed by Obamacare, if not modified or repealed the Obamacare premium subsidies will add hundreds of billions each year to federal spending that will have to be paid for by tax increases (to be paid in large part by the same middle class workers who are being overcharged for their health insurance) or by increasing the National Debt. President Obama and the Democratic entitlementists apparently believe that the Obamacare subsidies will gain Democrats more votes than they lose.

Most of the low-income people who purchase highly subsidized insurance policies on the Obamacare exchanges will still be faced with substantial deductibles and co-pays. As a result they receive will have little or no value to them. They will continue to satisfy a significant portion of their families’ medical care needs at hospital emergency rooms. Existing laws provide that they must be treated even if they do not pay the amount due. In all likelihood doctors, hospitals and other providers will be unable to collect a substantial portion of the deductibles and co-pays from such people. Hospitals, facing revenue shortages, will whenever possible increase the rates they charge for patients not covered by Obamacare, Medicare or Medicaid. The insurance companies will pay and, in turn, raise their premium rates on policies not being offered on an exchange. In the event that a patient shows up at a hospital or other healthcare provider without any insurance coverage, the healthcare provider may, if permitted by law, offer to pay the patient’s Obamacare insurance premium in excess of the subsidy, in an attempt to limit is losses to the amount of such premium payments plus the uncollectible deductibles and co-pays.

Over time, an increasing number of doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers are likely to refuse to treat Obamacare, Medicare and Medicaid patients unless they receive adequate fees from the Obamacare exchange insurers or the US Government. Unless we adequately compensate healthcare providers we can expect the quality and availability of healthcare to decline.

President Obama has made it clear that despite its faults he will veto any attempt to repeal Obamacare. He will continue to use his executive powers to grant exemptions principally for groups that favor Democrats. It is difficult to predict what other steps President Obama may take to try to prevent Obamacare from failing regardless of the cost to the middle class or the US government. Since deductibles and co-pays are already causing serious problems for both insurance policy purchasers and healthcare providers, we can expect that President Obama will propose further additional government subsidies, regardless of cost, to cover the deductibles and co-pays payable by the poor and lower-income people. If Republicans refuse to approve his proposed changes because of costs, he will brand them as unfair obstructionists.

One of the favorable features of Obamacare is that it will create significant healthcare cost savings by creating clinics and expanding nursing care, but that could have been accomplished independently of Obamacare. Hospitals should be given the choice of treating patients unable or unwilling to pay either at emergency rooms or at clinics created at or near the hospital.

Employer provided health insurance has been a major source of funding for employee healthcare and has represented a significant portion of employee compensation for years. Many businesses have been offsetting healthcare cost increases by increasing deductibles and co-pays and reducing middle-class cash compensation. Some are reacting to Obamacare by reducing full-time head count and hiring part-time employees to limit healthcare costs. Some businesses have delayed expansion plans. Other businesses are going to use Obamacare mandated requirements as an excuse to cease providing healthcare benefits to employees in order to reduce costs. Instead many of them will pay the applicable penalty and offer a taxable salary increase and advise employees how to purchase insurance on Obamacare exchanges. Many of the employees will be unable to purchase an exchange offered policy with the after-tax dollars received or will decline to purchase insurance when they realize that it is of little value because of the high premiums (even if reduced by a subsidy), deductibles and co-pays. They will pay the penalty and take the risk of living without insurance. If they later need catastrophic coverage they will acquire it during the following eligibility period. The result will be that the poor and those with pre-existing conditions will have insurance or Medicaid and millions of people who had jobs and insurance coverage will lose their job or their coverage. We are learning that Obamacare is not promoting the common good as claimed by the entitlementists. Instead it is destroying the American way of life. We can nevertheless expect that President Obama and the Democrats will ignore the detrimental affects of the dropped employer coverage and claim credit for pre-tax amount of the cash compensation increases. They will also claim that Obamacare enrollment is improving as anticipated by including individuals who lose their employer coverage and purchase insurance on the exchanges. A portion of the cost of providing health insurance for low-income workers will pass from the employer to the US Government which will subsidize the premiums for such workers’ policies purchased on the Obamacare exchanges.

Congress should take immediate steps to modify Obamacare to encourage employers to continue to provide health insurance for their employees. This might entail elimination of the employer mandate or limiting the required benefits to be offered under employer plans. President Obama may, in an attempt to help Democrat candidates in the 2014 elections, again postpone the employer mandate by fiat, even if he does not have authority to do so.

Giving free Medicaid or health insurance with greatly expanded mandated coverage to 30 million additional people and eliminating pre-existing conditions had to substantially increase the cost of healthcare insurance for everyone except for those who were going to receive underpriced or highly subsidized policies. The designers of Obamacare didn’t tell voters that their plan was to reduce healthcare costs for the sick, the poor and low-income workers by sticking a large part of the new entitlement costs on businesses, the rich, the healthy middle-class and young people. They also relied on unjustifiable expectations that fees to providers for treatments and procedures could be reduced, without harming the quality and availability of healthcare, because providers would be treating large numbers of additional patients.

They also created the fiction, that if enough healthy people were forced to over-pay for health insurance, it would pay for the enhanced benefits of a Obamacare policy and the extra costs for reducing the premium costs for those with pre-existing conditions and the elderly. They knew or should have known that they significantly underestimated the costs to be incurred by the exchange qualified insurance companies in paying for the mandated Obamacare benefits and the requirement that they provide coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and the elderly at below actuarially calculated rates and that not enough young or healthy people existed even if all of them bought the overpriced Obamacare qualified policies. Although the facts relating to the percentage of healthy young people buying Obamacare exchange policies are being concealed for political reasons and ignored by the liberal press, the truth will eventually be learned. President Obama and the Democrats also deliberately underestimated the government costs of providing the premium subsidies by underestimating the number of employees who would lose their full-time jobs or their employer coverage.

Obamacare was adopted at the depth of the Great Recession. President Obama and the Democrats ignored the risk of further damaging the economy or slowing the hoped for recovery. It’s adoption coincided with the adoption of what turned out to be a failed stimulus plan that led to an unprecedented expansion of welfare benefits and squandered funds on other liberal causes (that included excessive payments to Obama supporters) and pork spending while creating few tax-paying jobs. However, they anticipated that Obamacare would be disruptive to business and the healthcare industry and therefore postponed the effectiveness of many of the provisions of Obamacare until after the 2012 presidential elections. They wrote the law and regulations so that almost all individual insurance policies would be cancelled and the individuals would have to purchase replacement policies on the exchanges. They also knew that, despite the employer mandate and the penalties they imposed, millions of employees would ultimately lose their existing employer paid coverage because businesses would do everything possible to increase short-term profits and would attempt to avoid increases in or reduce healthcare costs. They were relying on the better health status of the individuals who were losing their employer paid coverage to improve the quality of the pool of exchange policy purchasers to help pay for the extra costs the insurance companies would have to pay to meet Obamacare requirements.

Obamacare mandates are leading to the loss of full-time jobs, the increase in part-time jobs, the loss of existing healthcare coverages and the continuance of an upward spiral of insurance costs in most states. These factors have caused a slowdown in the economic recovery that was predictable when Obamacare was passed. President Obama was fortunate that events he had nothing to do with, like actions taken by the Fed, amazing oil and gas fracking successes, the rapidly expanding use of social media and new internet devices and software and business and growth in the developing world, helped the US economy make a modest recovery from the Great Recession.

President Obama and the Democrats are changing their tune. They ignore the lies about being able to keep your insurance and claim that Obamacare requires better benefits. They now argue that requiring young and healthy people and businesses to purchase insurance policies, subject to high deductibles and co-pays, they don’t want or need, or pay a penalty, to pay to help the poor and those people with pre-existing conditions, serves the common good. They are claiming that more people will be helped that hurt by Obamacare. Even if it turns out to be true because of the enormous government subsidies, that claim does not justify the great harm it is causing. The outrageous taking of property and damage being inflicted by entitlementists on the quality and availability of healthcare, businesses, millions of individuals and the US economy, is unjustifiable. They are trying to trick young and healthy people into purchasing insurance policies on the exchanges using government paid advertising and navigators to convince them it is their patriotic duty to do so while misleading them as to the aggregate costs.

Obamacare is furthering the destruction of the middle class. An individual or family whose income slightly exceeds the maximum amount that qualifies for a Obamacare subsidy will find that the portion of their income remaining after paying taxes and excessive healthcare costs may be negligibly higher (or in some case lower) than the disposable funds available to those who work part-time, collect negative income taxes and maximize their welfare benefits including healthcare subsidies. What incentive will young people have to incur college loans in a country that is more interested in expanding entitlements for the poor and low-income workers than in creating full-time high-quality job opportunities?

Like all entitlements, once people are getting the benefits of Obamacare, it will be difficult or impossible to take them away. We will never know the extent of middle-class job or wage losses or the negative impact on the US GDP caused by Obamacare. President Obama and other Democrats will try to shift the blame for Obamacare failures to the Republicans. They will resurrect outrageous claims for political purposes that Republicans who have criticized Obamacare and President Obama’s lies about it are extortionists and obstructionists. It is all but forgotten that President Obama refused to negotiate with Republicans relating to their concerns about Obamacare or unfunded entitlement obligations. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and other conservative Republicans may have made tactical mistakes by failing to anticipate that they would be fiercely attacked by President Obama and the liberal press and that the American public would blame them for the government shutdown. They were not trying to harm the US economy. They were trying to prevent the upcoming Obamacare disaster that they anticipated. Although President Obama acts like he has dictatorial powers, the US Constitution gives Congress control over government spending.

The actions and statements of President Obama and his appointees during the partial government shutdown, like causing barricades to be placed at monuments and parks, were obviously intended to inflict as much pain as possible on the American people that he could blame on the Republicans. They are indicative of the fact that President Obama wanted a much publicized short, but painful, government shutdown for his own political gain. His obvious goal was to shift the blame for his economic failures to the Republicans to enable entitlementists to retain a majority in the Senate and gain control of the House in the 2014 elections. Although it was ignored by the liberal press, President Obama and his cabinet appointees, seeking to maximize the criticism against Tea Party conservatives, shamefully played politics by exaggerating the risk of default and failing to assure financial markets around the world that President Obama would use his Presidential powers to ensure that the US would not default on its debts. They knew that more than adequate monthly incoming tax receipts would be available to be used to meet the interest and principal payments on US debt as they became due. President Obama’s political gamesmanship, and not the short-term partial government shutdown, is responsible for any long-term damage to our credit in world financial markets.

Entitlements do not care if the entitlements they propose promote the common-good as long as they result in additional voters becoming dependent upon them. Obamacare is reducing the quality and availability of healthcare. Encouraging insurance companies to limit their extra costs by reducing payments to doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers is going to backfire. Healthcare providers are going to suffer great financial harm with the result that they will refuse to participate in Obamacare exchange insurance provider networks. Doctors are leaving private practice in large part because of reduced Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare fees, excessive record keeping requirements, difficulties in getting paid and excessive malpractice insurance costs. Low-income people with newly issued insurance policies can be expected to greatly increase the number of malpractice claims that will speed the doctor exodus.

Some doctors will perform services only for individuals and families willing to pay them directly. Concierge healthcare plans with limited benefit are being offered by groups of doctors, outside of Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare. They will become more popular as the quality and availability of healthcare provided under government programs further declines.

The initial failure of the federal government’s Obamacare website is a “red-herring”. It is merely a sign of the HHS’ incompetence in running a business. They will eventually get it to work. The website failure is merely delaying the distress which is going to be suffered by millions of Americans when they discover they are facing job and insurance coverage losses, large premium cost increases and large deductibles and co-pays. We can expect that the government will investigate and fail to disclose how the contractor to build the website was selected, how the website requirements were determined and who failed in monitoring the installation.

Look for President Obama to use the website failure as an excuse to postpone the penalties for failing to comply with the individual mandate so that people will not have to pay or leave themselves subject to the penalty if they decide not to purchase insurance. He will claim that registration is growing each month and that it will take a few years to get the kinks out and reach satisfactory enrollment levels. We know that if they do not get a large percentage of healthy people to pay for coverage (and even 100% may be insufficient), the insurance companies will lose money and will raise the premiums as soon as they can unless they are subsidized by the government. Obamacare anticipated the problem and provides for declining subsidies for the insurance companies over the next few years. We can anticipate that if premiums go up or the quality and availability of healthcare decline the entitlementists will then blame the insurance companies for operating inefficiently and demand single payer healthcare.

Make no mistake, the principal purposes of Obamacare is to give a new welfare entitlement to the poor and low-income individuals and to give the government control of healthcare. It promotes entitlementism and enlarges the Democrat base, by offering a new complex welfare entitlement benefit to a very large group of low-income people. It furthers the plan of liberal Democrats to take from those who have and give to those who have not. It also enables Democrats to demonize Republicans who want to control the costs of entitlements and preserve American capitalism. Entitlementists will seek to make Obamacare a pillar of entitlementism.

Even if Republicans gain control of both the Senate and the House in the 2014 elections it will be extremely difficult to reverse the damage already caused by Obamacare. However, it will give them the opportunity to seek changes in Obamacare, to limit future damage and reduce unfunded entitlement obligations.

They are talking about the unfair increase in insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays to finance the costs of eliminating pre-existing conditions from consideration and reinstating high risk pools to help alleviate the healthcare costs for those with pre-existing conditions. They also propose the sale of health insurance beyond state lines to create competition among providers.

OBAMACARE IS A WELFARE PROGRAM THAT IS REDUCING THE QUALITY AND AVAILABILIITY OF HEALTHCARE AND HARMING BUSINESS AND THE MIDDLE-CLASS

Obamacare is a multi-trillion dollar welfare program that makes health insurance available to 30 million previously uninsured Americans. It requires insurance companies to disregard pre-existing conditions. The inevitable affect is to raise the rates of required Obamacare policies. Most importantly, it makes Medicaid available for free to the poor and offers large premium subsidies to lower income individuals. It also offers other benefits to selected individuals, such as, allowing students to stay on their parents healthcare plan until age 26 and elimination of the doughnut hole in Medicare drug plans.

Why do Americans not like Obamacare if it helps so many people? Americans are discovering what the draftsmen of Obamacare knew, or should have known, that businesses, middle-class and healthy individuals are going to have to pay, directly or indirectly, for a substantial portion of the increased costs mandated by Obamacare. They will not be paying for improved insurance coverage for themselves, but to provide free coverage for the poor and reduced or subsidized premium costs for people with pre-existing conditions and low income individuals. Obamacare is designed to advance liberal Democrats acknowledged goal of improving the lot of the poor by taking money from the rich individuals and businesses who they think have more income than they need. To make matters worse it is destroying the availability and quality of healthcare and is giving too much responsibility to bureaucrats at the IRS.

Liberal Democrats do not seem to care that it will cost hundreds of billions of dollars a year to make such insurance benefits available. They fraudulently claimed, that when Obamacare was adopted and became effective it would enable everyone with insurance to keep their policy and receive the same benefits from the same doctors and healthcare providers, at reduced costs. We are only beginning to recognize how fraudulent those claims were. The draftsmen hid the true cost of purchasing healthcare under Obamacare by including large deductibles and co-pays that significantly raise aggregate healthcare costs. The availability and quality of care are declining. Doctors are leaving the profession and hospitals are reducing staffs. Medicare benefits are being reduced. President Obama repeated the false claims about Obamacare during the re-election campaign and now unashamedly claims that voters supported his views on Obamacare. The Obamacare discussion during the 2012 campaign focused on women’s rights issues, not the disastrous financial consequences of Obamacare.

Democrats, who rammed through the passage of Obamacare withhout a single Republican vote, knew that because our country was in the midst of the Great Recession, the federal and state governments couldn’t afford to pay for a new gigantic welfare program. They therefore devised an extremely complicated plan relying on a hodge-podge of new taxes and rules and regulations applicable to Medicare, Medicaid and health insurance to provide for funding the costs of Obamacare and to limit benefits and payments to providers. They gave it the misleading name of “The Affordable Care Act”. They didn’t care, or negligently failed to realize, the secondary affects of the new taxes including the negative impact they would have on young people looking for jobs and the middle-class who are losing good full-time, tax-paying jobs and existing insurance coverage.

Businesses seek to maximize profits. They have for years been seeking ways to limit increases in employee healthcare expenses. Outrageous Obamacare requirements encourage businesses to rethink their providing of healthcare benefits for employees. They are modifying business plans in ways to minimize or eliminate their health insurance costs. Some employers will save money by requiring their employees to purchase their own insurance from the state exchanges. Some will pay penalties to avoid paying for expensive Obamacare policies. Aggregate payrolls are being controlled by not hiring or laying off full-time employees and hiring additional part-time employees. Retired employees and spouses are losing healthcare coverage.

Obamacare is based on tens of thousands of pages of laws and regulations which are extremely difficult to understand and interpret. It requires the filling out of forms that make the practice of medicine and the delivery of healthcare more stressful and less profitable. Liberal Democrats who proposed Obamacare deliberately ignored pleas of doctors about the outrageous cost of purchasing malpractice insurance because of out of control claims and excessive jury awards. Why would we expect them to do otherwise? Tort lawyers are major contributors to Democrats. Obamacare was promoted to gain votes for Democrats. It is turning into a train wreck which may cost them votes.

The draftsmen of Obamacare tried to hide the cost of giving the new benefits by adopting a variety of new taxes on the middle-class and the rich and requiring businesses and individuals to purchase insurance. They knew that taxes on medical products and drugs, not only drive business off-shore and reduce research and development efforts to produce new products, but also, are inevitably passed on to the consumer. They knew that, if they told the truth about Obamacare, young people, middle-class workers and their employers would object to paying larger insurance premiums or penalties to pay for the new welfare benefit for the poor and those with pre-existing conditions. That is the reason they adopted penalties for businesses and individuals if they failed to buy insurance. They did not anticipate many of the adverse consequences that have surfaced as businesses and individuals have learned about the requirements of Obamacare. Now they are trying to get people to purchase Obamacare policies by claiming it is the patriotic thing to do to help your fellow Americans. Why should young people, strapped with student loans or working in part-time jobs as a result of Obamacare, do so?

DEMOCRATS WANT A SHORT GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

A federal government shutdown for a few days will do little damage to the US economy, but will inconvenience and scare many Americans. Democrants  want the shutdown to enhance their chances of gaining control of the House in the 2014 elections. They are goading Republicans into a fight over the funding of Obamacare to give President Obama the opportunity to claim Republicans have forced a shutdown. Polls show that any shutdown will cause great political harm to Republicans who are being wrongfully attacked by President Obama as extortionists. 

Regardless of whether it was adopted based on false promises, Obamacare is the law of the land. Like it or not, many of its provisions will become operative on October 1, with, or without, US government funding.  It is irrelevant that Obamacare is a new welfare program that is causing great damage to our economy. The poor and low-income people it is designed to help  will line up to enroll for the free or highly subsidized insurance policies, with no pre-existing conditions. President Obama has committed to spend billions of marketing dollars to convince Americans that they will love Obamacare in a few years after we make some corrections and to get young people to purchase policies.

Republicans, led by Senators Cruz and Lee, are publicizing many of the negative aspects of Obamacare. They should continue to make their case before the Senate over the next few days.  However, it is inevitable that the Senate bill will be passed without the provision to de-fund Obamacare. When it returns to the House, Republicans should permit the Democrats to prevail. The best that Republicans can accomplish is to get an agreement for the appointment of a joint Congressional committee to consider the modification or repeal of Obamacare. Any attempt to de-fund or delay the effectiveness of Obamacare merely runs time off  the clock before the potential government shutdown.  Republicans will have an opportunity to expose the terrible consequences of Obamacare, including the harm to the middle-class, in the 2014 Congressional campaigns.

Obamacare, even if further modified, will remain a horrible law and hodge-podge of regulations rammed through Congress, without a Republican vote, during the Great Recession. It changes Medicare, Medicaid and almost every aspect of healthcare. It mandates federally approved insurance to be purchased by or for everyone. The poor and low-income taxpayers get free or highly subsidized coverage. To expand the class of beneficiaries, they threw in benefits for children living at home until age 26 and eliminated the doughnut hole from the Medicare drug plan. Our federal and state governments couldn’t afford to pay for it. They, therefore, adopted all kinds of new taxes and penalties on businesses and individuals to pay for their new welfare program.  Our economy, businesses and the middle-class are suffering from the confusion and increased costs. Obamacare is slowing hiring and capital investment and Is is leading to an increase in undesirable part-time  jobs, while causing the loss of full-time, tax-paying jobs.  It is increasing insurance premiums and causing the loss of coverage for many who had insurance. It is harming doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers and reducing the availability and quality of healthcare. It taxes the gross sales of medical equipment suppliers and drug companies. Such taxes
(unless passed on as increased healthcare costs that will add to the burden being placed on the middle-class) will confiscate the cash needed to support research and development efforts that have placed the US in the forefront of life saving and enhancing equipment and medications. Some of the manufacturers will become unprofitable or will be unable to raise capital, and go out of business. It puts the IRS in control of major healthcare decisions.  Based on recent experience this assures that healthcare subsidies and availability will become politicized and allocated unfairly.  It is so complex that years after its adoption our governments are not prepared for it to become effective.

Why does President Obama like it? It gives the government greater control of our lives and  takes from businesses and individuals who have and gives to those who have not. It adds to his base of people who benefit from handouts. It is unlikely that President Obama and his liberal cronies realized, when it was adopted, how much damage it would do to the economy and the middle-class. As the problems have surfaced, he has made changes in the law and granted waivers without Congressional approval. He talks of further adjustments in the law to work out the kinks. He may not have yet realized that  Obamacare is so conceptually flawed that it is irreparable and should be repealed so that we can go back to a free market solution. Of course that would require taking away or reducing the new welfare benefit. Why should the poor expect to get the same or better healthcare benefits for free than will be available for middle-class people who work to earn the insurance or who may lose their benefits or have to pay for them? Why should we harm business and eliminate or prevent the creation of middle-class jobs, to create another welfare benefit, while the economy remains in a weakened state?

With all the hull-a ballo over Obamacare and the  potential government shutdown, it has gone virtually un-noticed that the disastrous Sequester cuts are retained in the proposed government funding proposal. President Obama and the liberal financial press have been effective in misleading  voters into thinking that the economy is improving  because unemployment is falling and the federal deficit is shrinking. They disregard the large number of people who have left the work-force, the great increase in the number of part-time jobs (largely as the result of Obamacare),  the reduced government spending as a result of the Sequester and the increased revenues from the 2013 tax increases. As a result, and because he refuses to discuss un-funded long-term entitlement (largely Medicare) liabilities, he is in no position to be insisting on necessary increases in defense and infrastructure construction spending to stimulate the economy, provide homeland security  and create full-time, tax-paying jobs. The Obamacare mess makes it highly unlikely that our economy will grow satisfactorily during the remainder of the Obama term. 

Jump Start America Bonds Represent the Perfect Economic Stimulus

My book, “Perpetuating American Greatness After The Fiscal Cliff”, proposes changes in the federal corporate income tax laws that will encourage our international corporations to STEP UP and invest, risk free, a portion of the $2 trillion parked overseas, in state transportation infrastructure construction projects. They will do so by purchasing a new type of tax-exempt bonds offered by our states that will be called Jump Start America Bonds. The sale of such bonds to finance shovel ready state transportation infrastructure construction projects will generate the perfect economic stimulus. Hundreds of thousands of good tax-paying jobs will be created.

Corporations investing in Jump Start America Bonds will be able to repatriate to the US billions of dollars of cash, held offshore for tax reasons, at highly discounted tax rates, and without risk of loss. If they prefer they can treat the investment in Jump Start America Bonds as having been made and remaining offshore and only pay a repatriation tax on the interest received. Five years after issuance the transferable bonds may be repatriated at the discounted tax rates and used at face value plus accrued interest to pay any federal corporate income taxes.

Corporations will alternatively be able to STEP UP and promote the economic stimulus by floating their own bond issues domestically at the currently low rates and investing the proceeds in Jump Start America Bonds. Corporations will profit from the interest rate spread and will be able to use the proceeds from the Jump Start America Bonds to repay their bonds when the principal becomes due.

Wealthy individuals will also be able to STEP UP and purchase Jump Start America Bonds without risk of loss because the bonds will be usable at face value plus accrued interest to pay federal estate taxes (like previously issued “Flower Bonds”).

 A corporation providing the major portion of the funding of a bridge or tunnel might acquire naming rights during the term of the Jump Start America Bonds that finance a project.

The federal government will see a surge in tax revenues from the taxes which will be paid, even at reduced rates, from the repatriation of offshore profits, and from the income taxes payable by the contractors building the construction projects and their employees. Welfare and unemployment benefits will decline. The federal deficit and the rate of growth of the National Debt will be reduced.

The multiplier effect will create tens of thousands of additional jobs and generate billions of additional federal and state income tax revenues. The housing and auto industries will benefit from the creation of middle class jobs.

The US government’s accepting Jump Start America Bonds, if they are tendered in payment of corporate or estate taxes, will act much like QE. The Jump Start America Bonds will ultimately be converted into cash as interest payments are made and when they mature.

The tax law changes recently proposed by President Obama as part of his “grand bargain” are merely a slightly different form of tax and spend legislation he has previously proposed. He would reduce corporate tax rates, but increase net tax revenues by eliminating deductions and adding a tax to confiscate a portion of the $2 trillion held overseas by US corporations to legally avoid the unfair tax upon repatriation. The “grand bargain” is dead on arrival.

By way of contrast, changing the US corporate tax laws to enable the sale of Jump Start America Bonds will encourage our rich corporations to finance transportation infrastructure construction of the type which President Obama has suggested. We would expect that our corporations would choose to invest in projects likely to generate the revenues to fund the carrying costs of the Jump Start America Bonds. On the other hand we would expect President Obama to spend, as he previously did with DOT funds, on projects in states where Democratic candidates would benefit in the upcoming 2014 elections.

We Must Repeal Obamacare Because It Is Destroying The Middle Class

Obamacare is an extremely complex, highly flawed, law that was designed by President Obama’s appointees and Democratic liberals. They claimed that by controlling costs, taxing the rich and healthcare product suppliers, and forcing everyone to have coverage, we could afford to offer healthcare insurance to everyone, including 30 million people previously uninsured, and despite eliminating consideration of pre-existing conditions, without increasing premiums. They knew that middle class Americans would object to Obamacare if they were forced to pay to subsidize the poor or those with pre-existing conditions. They concocted a scenario designed to mislead the public into thinking that everyone would be better off after the passage of Obamacare.

Obamacare was passed based on promises, all of which are proving to be untrue, that included:

* It would be revenue positive for federal and state governments;
* If you liked your insurance policy you could keep it;
* The cost of your insurance would not be increased; and
* If you were on Medicare you could keep your relationship with your own doctor and continue to receive the medical care which your doctor recommended.

Providing coverage for everyone including those with pre-existing conditions sounded like a good idea to most people. The poor liked it because they were not going to have to pay for the insurance coverage that would supplement their Medicaid and hospital emergency room benefits they were already getting without having to pay. Most working people with tax-paying jobs believed President Obama when he promised them it wasn’t going to cost them anything. Hospitals liked it because they would be paid by the insurance companies for the emergency room treatment of the poor instead of having to pass on emergency room losses to others. The most likely reason that unions supported Obamacare is they didn’t understand the consequences and support almost everything the Democrats and President Obama propose. They have recently awakened and voiced objections to Obamacare.

How could they have expected Obamacare to be revenue positive without increasing everyone’s insurance policy cost, if they were generously going to provide healthcare insurance coverage to 30 million additional people and ignore pre-existing conditions? The true insurance cost of providing healthcare to individuals under age 65 with pre-existing conditions varies in each case, but can be 50 or 100 times more expensive than providing coverage for people without pre-existing conditions.

Democrats and President Obama claimed it would be cost positive by (i) adopting new sales taxes to be paid by medical equipment manufacturers and drug companies (ii) adding a new tax (which unfairly taxed families) of up to 3.8% of income on taxpayers President Obama called rich, but who were really middle class and above in most large cities, (iii) requiring businesses with 50 or more full-time employees (those working more than 30 hours per week) to provide qualifying insurance, (iv) requiring everyone, who does not otherwise have insurance, to purchase insurance, including young people, who will be required to pay an excessive price for their age, or pay a penalty, and (v) reducing Medicare benefits by $700 billion (which Democrats defended by claiming it was a Republican idea).

Moreover, in an outrageously fraudulent attempt to make Obamacare appear to be cost-effective, they included a provision offering long-term care insurance that they claimed would be highly profitable in the first ten years. In doing so they were ignoring a standard insurance business requirement that they establish reserves from the premiums collected for the very large claims expected in later years as some of the insured became incapacitated. After the fraudulent claim of the long-term care profitability was exposed, the long-term care provisions were repealed, before any policies were sold, but after Obamacare was passed. The ten-year cost of Obamacare has since been recalculated numerous times by the Congressional Budget Office and has gone from a profit to a loss that will exceed $2 trillion.

Even that amount may prove to be much too low. Taxpayers have begun to realize they were being misled and they or their employer will have to pay much more for their insurance coverage in most states to subsidize the poor and those with pre-existing conditions.

One group after another has been requesting relief from the onerous provisions of Obamacare. As was predictable, requiring employers with 50 or more full-time employees to provide insurance coverage is causing disastrous consequences. Some employers will be forced to close their doors. Other employers are laying off full-time employees and hiring part-time employees to avoid Obamacare. The middle class which has been decimated by the Great Recession are losing good tax-paying jobs with healthcare benefits as employers seek to avoid the cost of providing the healthcare coverage required by Obamacare. President Obama recently, without fanfare, on a Friday afternoon, postponed the effective date of the employer mandate until 2015 so as not to effect his attempts to get control of the House of Representatives at the mid-term elections. It is questionable as to whether he had the legal right to change a law passed by Congress. If successful in getting control of the House, he will probably repeal the employer mandate and leave Obamacare with a large revenue shortfall.

Although the business insurance mandate has been postponed for a year until January 2015, businessmen will continue to plan ahead. Millions of individuals forced to accept 30 hours per week jobs will become eligible for welfare benefits.

Obamacare has stirred the pot. Businesses faced with rising insurance costs have studied the law and will weigh their options. Some, particularly those whose employees will qualify for substantial premium subsidies if they purchase their own insurance, will prefer to offer their employees a raise and pay a $2000 per employee penalty. Other businesses, that currently provide healthcare coverage, will be able to eliminate healthcare benefits for part-time employees since most of them will qualify for 100% or substantial subsidies if they purchase their own insurance.

Unless the employer mandate is modified or repealed many businesses will keep their head-count of full-time employees below 50 to avoid the purchase of insurance or paying the penalty. Such actions, coupled with young people electing to pay the small penalty rather than overpay for insurance they don’t need, is going to cause revenues to be received by insurance companies to cover low risk beneficiaries to be much less than anticipated. The penalties are payable to the US Treasury and not the insurance companies. They will be left with a higher risk group that purchases insurance and will have to raise their rates.

Although attempts are being made (including the planned spending of hundreds of millions of dollars) to trick healthy young people to overpay for insurance, it does not make economic sense for them to do so. To reduce the cost of purchasing insurance there are little known co-pays and deductibles if you buy insurance. For example. CA’s insurance exchange silver-level coverage requires a $45 co-payment for each office visit, $250 co-payment for each emergency room visit, and has a $2000 annual deductible. The cheapest plan has a $5000 deductible. Those who receive highly or fully subsidized policies will go to the emergency rooms, as in the past, and claim they are unable to pay the co-pay or deductible.

Many young people, who have jobs, will pay the small penalty (which will increase over a three-year period, but probably not enough to change one’s decision) and get by without coverage. The can buy the insurance when they need it without fear of a pre-existing condition. Many of these young people are saddled with college loans and unable to get good jobs. President Obama is travelling the country trying to convince them that if Obamacare succeeds they will be better off in the long run. His problem is that he is promoting a law which contains unfair and unsound financial provisions. He will try to convince young people that they will be violating the law if they fail to purchase insurance, but the pre-determined penalty makes it look more like an option.

Even the formulas for determining the portion of one’s premium that will be subsidized are carelessly drafted and highly flawed. Like all Obama tax proposals, the subsidies are calculated in a manner which is extremely unfair to families and the middle class. A married couple may pay thousands of dollars more for insurance than if they were unmarried and living together. Obamacare provides reduced subsidies as individual or family income rises. As expected, the poor get a free ride. The subsidies phase out at family income levels around $90,000. The middle class must bear the brunt of the increased premiums of Obamacare insurance so that the poor and those with pre-existing conditions can be subsidized. One commentator points out that, in calculating the subsidy under one exchange’s formula, there is even a point in the subsidy formula, where, if your family income goes up by $1000, your annual insurance cost goes up by more than $8000. You have to refuse a raise or a bonus or your net take home pay will decline.

We cannot be certain of the extent that Obamacare has contributed to President Obama’s failed fiscal policies which have encouraged the Fed to extend QE. Obamacare by inducing the reduced hiring of full-time employees and the hiring of more part-time employees is creating an illusion of job creation. Despite the increase in part-time jobs and reduced participation rate during recent quarters, the top line rate of unemployment has remained around 7.5%. U6, a better measure of unemployment, paints a much worse picture, showing a 14% level of unemployment. We have more than 2 million less full-time jobs than in 2008. Not enough middle class jobs are being created. Nevertheless, we hear repeatedly from the financial press and Obama supporters of the jobs created by the Obama stimulus programs (which created few good jobs, if any) and the reduced rate of unemployment. They cheer the reduced top-line unemployment number each month. There is nothing to cheer about. Full-time employment has stagnated. The middle class is suffering.

Before Obamacare, most large businesses provided health insurance coverage for their employees. If the cost of insurance coverage increases as a result of the requirement that pre-existing conditions be ignored, or if the economy stagnates and profits decline, expect some businesses to begin to eliminate health insurance coverage and to pay the Obamacare penalty. Employees might be given a raise to cover their individual purchase of insurance, but the after tax benefit of such raise may cover only a fraction of the cost of purchasing an individual or family policy. Of course since pre-existing conditions will not pose a risk, the employees may elect to go without coverage and pay the individual penalty. As a result the poor, who had no coverage before Obamacare will have coverage, and many working people, who had coverage, will wind up paying a penalty and having no coverage.

Some of them will purchase annual healthcare plans, with limited coverage, being put forth by groups of physicians. This will give them access to a family doctor who can advise them and treat most of their problems. If a family member develops a serious illness, that is not covered by the plan, they can then purchase a policy which qualifies under Obamacare.

The excess of middle class workers take home pay over that of welfare recipients who work part-time and collect negative income taxes was being reduced prior to the adoption of Obamacare. Since President Obama was elected there has been an unprecedented increase in the number of Americans receiving food stamps and other types of welfare payments. This has resulted in large part from the effects of the Great Recession that resulted in the loss of millions of good tax-paying jobs and from politically motivated federal government efforts to encourage people to seek benefits. There are a growing number of individuals who have decided that receiving a broad range of welfare benefits supplemented by the income from a part-time or low-paying job that is increased by the negative income tax, will give them a better quality of life than if they found and accepted a tax-paying job and lost their eligibility for welfare benefits. Almost 73% of black children are born out-of-wedlock. In many cases the father sneaks in and out of the home so that they can collect maximum welfare benefits.

There has also been a large increase in the number of people on disability many of whom would work if they could find a good job.

Obamacare is going to greatly reduce the incentive for young people to stay in school or to seek full-time tax-paying jobs. It is going to encourage settling for part-time employment and seeking ways to maximize welfare benefits. Teenagers will be further encouraged to have out-of-wedlock babies, and the inner city education and crime problems will be exacerbated. Young people of all races, growing up in inner city areas across the country, will, with the exception of the scholarship student, athlete or performer, have little incentive for self improvement or to seek a good tax-paying job with an opportunity for advancement. They will choose to settle for lives in a ghetto with minimum comforts and little self-esteem. They will vote for candidates who promise to give them greater welfare benefits. Obamacare is accelerating the conversion of American capitalism into a terrible form of socialism.

We should question whether this is the type of America we want or whether American capitalism will be sustainable.

Liberals refuse to acknowledge that Obamacare is fatally flawed and currently unaffordable because of the current weakness in our economy. They argue that the problems that Obamacare is facing are caused by Republicans who want Obamacare to fail. They argue that conservatives predicted doom and gloom for Medicare when it was adopted and now almost everyone likes it. They ignore Medicare’s unfunded liabilities. They argue that when Obamacare is fully in force it will accomplish its objectives.

However, Obamacare is not funded like Medicare is. Medicare is funded by a payroll tax paid by all working people prior to retirement and an annual supplemental payment for the coverage after reaching age 65. Unless you become disabled, you must work and pay taxes for years before you get benefits. Obamacare is funded by a variety of new taxes (a portion of which will be passed on to consumers) and the mandatory purchase of insurance coverage by corporations and individuals. Obamacare is in large part a welfare benefit for the sick and the poor to be paid for, in large part, by middle class working people.

There is talk about means testing Medicare. This means that those considered rich, who pay the most in Medicare withholding taxes and the new Obamacare tax based on income, will lose some or all of their benefits. Their payments will effectively become additional income tax payments.

We are the world’s richest nation and have the best healthcare system. We can afford to and should provide a reasonable level of healthcare to all of our citizens, regardless of their ability to pay. Every child needs pre-natal care, required preventive shots and antibiotics from time-to-time. We can afford to treat those who acquire leukemia and can cure or ameliorate most children’s cancers and many other inherited or acquired diseases. Prior to Obamacare we were doing all these things under existing insurance coverages and without cost to those who did not have insurance and couldn’t afford to pay. We needed to control costs (particularly, those at health insurance companies) and were working on it. A significant portion of family care can be provided more cost effectively at a clinic by a technician or nurse.

We cannot afford to give each person every high cost heart, liver, kidney, bone, retina, hip, knee or shoulder transplant or replacement they want, without a charge, whether or not they have insurance. We must have life-time limits, co-pays or deductibles for these expensive procedures.

Since most of these procedures are needed by people after reaching age 65, they were creating Medicare cost problems as our population aged and new expensive procedures became available before Obamacare was introduced. We needed to bring aggregate Medicare costs under control. Obamacare’s expanded healthcare benefits, that are provided for free for the poor under Medicaid, are exacerbating the problem of affordability.

Even though one has contributed to the cost of obtaining Medicare benefits in the form of withholding taxes for years and pays to purchase Medicare coverage, the benefits to be received by Medicaid beneficiaries, who will pay nothing, may be the same. This makes no economic sense. Either the Medicare benefits, or the payments to healthcare providers will be reduced or someone is going to have to pay for our generosity.

The onerous reporting provisions and limited fees payable by Medicare and Medicaid under Obamacare, when added to excessive malpractice costs, are driving doctors out of private practice and reducing the availability and quality of care.

The IRS, which is under investigation for unfairly targeting conservative groups for political purposes, is going to decide what healthcare benefits and premium subsidies you will be eligible for under Obamacare. They will be acting as death panels when determining who is eligible for and in what order a patient receives a transplant or treatment. Because President Obama has politicized the IRS, people paying for insurance may find that they receive lesser benefits than others whose vote is being sought or rewarded. We have heard it before. To the victor will belong the spoils.

Health insurance companies are required by Obamacare to offer benefits through qualifying policies. In an attempt to keep premium costs down our governments may use their insurance exchanges being established under Obamacare to undercut price. If insurance companies are driven out of business by Obamacare, we may end up with a one party payor system run by our inefficient federal and state governments that can be expected to further squeeze healthcare providers and reduce or delay service to limit the cost of providing coverage.

 

 

It’s Graduation Time And The Economic Recovery Gets a Failing Grade

As we reach the middle of 2013 our colleges are conducting graduation ceremonies and our in debt seniors are looking for jobs. Too many of our graduates are having a difficult time. The US economy is growing slowly, but this recovery is different from previous recoveries. Top line unemployment has fallen because of the substantial growth in low-income and part-time jobs. However, such low paying jobs are not the type of entry-level positions our college graduates seek and are qualified for.

Many of the new jobs have compensation so low that the employees become entitled to negative income taxes. Twenty-four million people are either unemployed, have given up looking for work or have accepted part-time employment. These are the unemployment ranks which our graduates are joining. The number of people collecting welfare is growing.

There is a serious risk that American capitalism is being converted under President Obama into a new form of socialism which is eerily similar to European socialism. Because of the failure to stimulate the economy and create tax-paying jobs, the National Debt is growing at a faster rate than the GDP. Non-income-tax-paying jobs, that offer negative income taxes, grow the GDP, but they also grow the National Debt.

Our transportation infrastructure is decaying because a large number of our cities and states are insolvent and Congress is not supplying adequate assistance. The author of this article in his book, “Perpetuating American Greatness After The Fiscal Cliff”, has proposed federal tax law changes to permit the sale of Jump Start America Bonds to enable and encourage our international corporations and wealthy individuals to invest in infrastructure spending.

Few members of the decimated middle class are participating in the recovery. Many of them have lost their jobs and their homes. Obamacare is encouraging part-time employment and many employees have or are going to lose their health care coverage. The IRS, which will have major responsibilities under Obamacare, has become politicized and too few Americans are outraged. The acknowledged wrong-doing has been permitted by the Obama administration to continue for years. Housing prices have seen a small increase because of purchases by investors, while young families remain in large part as renters. 

Austerity being fostered by the Sequester is the wrong remedy and is harming the economy. The Obama administration has lost control over its ability to stimulate the economy because it refuses to deal with our out-of-control entitlements which are becoming worse under Obamacare and because it has failed to deal with the scandals which have caused a decline in President Obama’s approval ratings.