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Illegal Alien Children eating up Health and Human Service’s agency budgets

You’ve probably all seen this news about the Department of Health and Services scrambling to re-direct money from other areas of the agency budget to take care of the largest number of ‘children’ (ever!) entering the U.S. illegally.

train-map

Where the wall needs to be…

I’m posting this so that as we move ahead in the coming days with news on the budget for FY17 and the Continuing Resolution, you have some background understanding of the dilemma the refugee program is in during the waning days of the Obama Administration.  The ‘kids’ (who are NOT refugees) are gobbling up limited funds putting their needs in direct competition with the refugees entering the US from all over the world. (In addition to depriving US citizens of other needed programs.)

For new readers, the Office of Refugee Resettlement is an agency at HHS which has been given the duty of taking care of the illegal alien kids.

Here is Jessica Vaughan at the Center for Immigration Studies:

An average of 255 illegal alien youths were taken into the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) every day this month, according to the latest figures the agency provided to Congress. This is the largest number of illegal alien children ever in the care of the federal government. To pay for it, the agency says it will need an additional one or two billion dollars for the next year – above and beyond the $1.2 billion spent in 2016 and proposed for 2017 – depending on how many more arrive. For now, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), where ORR resides, is diverting $167 million from other programs to cover the cost of services for these new illegal arrivals through December 9, when the current continuing resolution expires.

An email to congressional staff from Barbara Clark of the HHS legislative liaison office, dated November 28, 2016, stated:

Daily referrals of unaccompanied children averaged 247 over the last seven days, and 255 so far in November. For comparison, referrals averaged 185 per day in November of FY 2016 and 64 per day in November of FY 2015. As of November 27, 2016, the number of children in ORR care is approximately 11,200.

A separate email informed congressional offices of HHS Secretary Burwell’s intent to transfer money from other programs to ORR to pay for shelters, health care, schooling, recreation, and other services for the new illegal arrivals, who typically were brought to the border by smugglers paid by their parents, who often are living in the United States illegally.

Continue reading here and see which programs are being robbed to pay for the ‘kids.’

About the map: I was searching for a graph to show how many ‘kids’ (mostly Central American teenage boys, see here) had come in to the U.S. in the most recent years, but every graph I found only went to 2014. So what is up with that!  I figured the map would be a nice addition to the post instead.

By the way, this post is tagged ‘Unaccompanied minors’ because many years ago they were called that and that is how I first tagged the topic.

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Democrats Express Solidarity with Islamic Extremists in Wake of Election by John Rossomando – IPT News

America’s Success Story: From Hamilton to Trump

First two months of FY2017, 98% of Syrians entering the U.S. are Muslims

Refugee Industry lobbyists want to talk to Trump transition team

UK: 96% of Muslims do not believe al Qaeda was behind 9/11 jihad attacks

Video: Christine Williams on the ignoring of the genocide of Christians in the Middle East

If Continuing Budget Resolution (as is) extends to late March, ORR will run out of money

Fun to watch the Left eat its own: ACLU sues Catholic Charities

How many more Ohio States before House Republicans move Rep. Babin’s bill?

The Concorde Coalition says it’s the Budget Stupid!

WASHINGTON, D.C. /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Sobering 30-year projections that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released today underscore the need for the 2016 presidential and congressional candidates to provide voters with credible plans to put the federal budget on a more responsible course, according to The Concord Coalition.

cbo long term spending revenues

“If current laws remained generally unchanged, the United States would face steadily increasing federal budget deficits and debt over the next 30 years—reaching the highest level of debt relative to GDP ever experienced in this country” – Congressional Budget Office.

“Americans like to think we put a high priority on strengthening the country and looking out for the next generation, but the CBO’s latest long-term projections show once again that we are falling far short on both counts,” said Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director. “Those who aspire to national leadership should take a good look at these projections and explain to the public how they intend to avoid the intense budget pressures and grave economic consequences toward which current policies are leading us.”

Bixby added:

“If candidates for federal office over the next few months ignore the CBO’s warnings of severe trouble ahead, whoever wins in November will not have a clear mandate for the reform measures needed to rein in the federal debt, strengthen the economy and protect our children’s future.”

The federal deficit has been dropping in recent years, creating a sense of complacency in Washington about the need for such reforms. Yet under current law the deficit is rising again this year and the debt will continually grow more quickly than the economy — a trend that is ultimately unsustainable.

Today’s CBO report looks out over the next three decades and projects even greater government debt and fiscal pressures after 2026.

The federal debt held by the public, which was only 39 percent of GDP at the end of Fiscal 2008, has climbed to 75 percent. That is already high by historical standards. The budget office projects that under current law, that debt would rise to 86 percent of GDP in 2026 and to 141 percent in 2046 — far exceeding the historical peak of 106 percent shortly after World War II.

As the CBO points out, such high levels of public debt would reduce national savings and income, increase interest costs that would put more pressure on the rest of the budget, limit the nation’s ability to respond to unforeseen problems and increase the likelihood of a fiscal crisis in which investors would demand extremely high interest rates on further loans to the government.

“The changes needed to bring about a sustainable fiscal policy are substantial and the costs of delay are profound, yet so far the 2016 presidential candidates have said nothing that comes close to addressing the challenges identified in CBO’s report,” Bixby said.

According to CBO, simply keeping the debt-to-GDP ratio from rising above its current level, would require spending cuts and/or tax increases totaling 1.7 percent of GDP in every year through 2046. That would amount to $330 billion in 2017.

Waiting until 2022 would require annual changes totaling 2.1 percent of GDP, and procrastinating until 2027 would require annual changes totaling 2.7 percent of GDP.

The choice about when to make policy decisions also has different generational impacts. As CBO says: “Reducing deficits sooner would probably require today’s older workers and retirees to sacrifice more and would benefit today’s younger workers and future generations. By contrast, reducing deficits later would require smaller sacrifices by older people and greater sacrifices by younger workers and future generations.”

An aging population and rising health care costs are key factors in the government’s growing financial problems. As more people retire, the government must spend more just to maintain current levels of service. Health care costs rise as more treatments become available and demand for them increases.

CBO says federal spending on Social Security, the government’s major health problems and other “mandatory” programs would rise from 13.2 percent of GDP today to nearly 16.9 percent in the decade starting in 2037.

The budget office also warns that interest payments on the federal debt are expected to rise rapidly as government borrowing continues and low interest rates return to normal levels. Net interest costs now amount to only 1.4 percent of GDP but that figure is expected to rise to 5.1 percent after 2037.

The CBO report shows other areas in the federal budget — even those that may prove critical to the nation’s future — being squeezed harder and harder in the coming years. CBO projects that over the next 30 years spending on national defense, infrastructure, research and development,  and everything else other than health care, Social Security and interest payments would drop to 5.2 percent of GDP, down from 6.5 percent today.

In addition to more thoughtful spending decisions in Washington, reasonable reforms in the federal tax system could help boost the economy and reduce federal borrowing.

“As in past years, CBO’s long-term projections are a valuable reminder that the federal budget is not on a sustainable course,” Bixby said. “Interest payments and a few spending programs, no matter how important, cannot be allowed to squeeze other national priorities out of existence. Voters this year would do well to look for candidates who understand this and are prepared to do something about it.”

ABOUT THE CONCORD COALITION

The Concord Coalition is a nationwide, non-partisan, grassroots organization advocating generationally responsible fiscal policy. The Concord Coalition was founded in 1992 by the late former Senator Paul Tsongas (D-Mass.), late former Senator Warren Rudman (R-N.H.), and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Peter Peterson. Former Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA) serves as co-chair of the Concord Coalition.

RELATED ARTICLE: The 15th Obamacare Co-Op Has Collapsed. Here’s How Much Each Failed Co-Op Got in Taxpayer-Funded Loans.

‘Le Grand Guignol’ Comes to Town – Political Corruption

By Wallace Bruschweiler and William Palumbo

Grand_Guignol_poster

Promotional poster for a Grand Guignol performance. Courtesy of Wikipedia.com.

Over the last several years, the American people have witnessed one perplexing political shenanigan after another – a never-ending story.  Instead of standing up for principles, for democracy itself, our elected leaders routinely sell-out the same country to which they swore an oath to protect.

The most recent enormous sell-out was the passage of a budget that served only the government, not the country.  It began with the election of a new Speaker, whom many hoped would serve the country better than his predecessor.  Instead of a political savior, we got yet another total political loser.

Once in power, the Speaker raised the curtain on a most appalling political horror, a true grand guignol: a budget that funds a government which is already standing on financial quicksand, and that has an abysmal, out-proportion debt.  So much for “we won’t get fooled again.”

Indeed, many of the men and women whom we once considered true patriots have, in recent years, months, and weeks, shown that their own personal agenda and banks accounts take priority over the safeguarding and destiny of our nation.  Their treachery – their betrayal­ – of the American people is forcing a major geopolitical realignment.  Under rule of the current political establishment, the United States is a leading contender in whatever Oscar equivalent is awarded to banana republics.

How and why did all this happen?  Without access to personal records, such as bank accounts domestically and on an international level, including tax shelters, it is impossible to say with certainty.  But, if past is prologue, then bribery facilitated by a government-entrenched mafia is what greases this political machinery.

Welcome to Our Real World: Today’s Ugly Reality

It is not pleasant at all to think that a mafia-type government runs Washington, D.C.   Yet it exactly explains why, despite widespread disapproval of Barack Hussein Obama and Congress, both parties continue working shamelessly against the interests and well-being of the American electorate.

Take, for example, the so-called Iranian nuclear deal.  By legitimizing Iran, the world’s preeminent sponsor of terrorism, Obama has opened the Iranian markets (especially oil and natural gas) to the western world.  In the long run, this deal has the potential to generate trillions of dollars in international trade.  Companies represented by extremely well-financed and influential lobbyists see Iran as the mother-of-all potential markets.

Despite the overwhelming dangers that emanate from enriching a brutal regime with not-so-veiled nuclear ambitions and a proven worldwide terrorist network, the Republican-led Congress refused to try anything which would have effectively postponed and/or killed the deal.

Again, how and why could this have happened?  The answer is unfortunately obvious: money (and, in the case of the Iranian nuclear deal, close family connections between the negotiating members from both sides).

There are other examples that come to mind: a multi-trillion dollar “stimulus” package, a $700 billion dollar bank bailout, countless “green” energy loans that have ended in bankruptcy, etc.

How likely is it that some of this money has been used to line pockets for political favors on both sides of the aisle?  All of this was paid and financed by the people’s tax dollars.

“A government of the mafia, by the mafia, and for the mafia” – that seems to be today’s motto

Mafia is non-ideological: it does not embrace political ideals.  It cynically espouses ideals from time to time, but ultimately it will not uphold virtues that interfere with the strict pursuit of money and power.  So, when (not if) necessary, ideals and decency are conveniently forgotten.

The public at large calls this process “a bipartisan compromise.”  However, in reality, there is only one party.  It is a political animal which puts your God-given rights on the auction block, to be sold to the highest willing and able bidder.

It’s also indisputably true that politicians, on both sides of the aisle, are taking bribes.  Wherever power accumulates, corruption immediately follows. Widespread corruption is the defining trait of Washington’s establishment today.  There is no principled leader among them.

Politicians, like everyone else, have a price.

11 Outrageous Failures in the GOP’s Trillion Dollar Bill by James Bovard

Republican congressional leaders are like a football coach who believes the secret to winning is to punt early and often. House Speaker Paul Ryan and others are claiming victory over the 2,000-plus page appropriations bill, but this is a “no boondoggle left behind” $1.1 trillion nightmare.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers’ press release claims that the omnibus bill “helps to stop waste and administrative overreach.” Instead, the bill ravages both paychecks and freedom. No wonder White House spokesman Josh Earnest gushed Wednesday: “We feel good about the outcome.”

Here’s the tip of the iceberg of the bill’s outrages:

  1. The bill fails to block President Obama from delivering up to $3 billion to the United Nations Green Climate Fund, a partial product of the Paris climate summit. Republicans initially planned to block such funding unless the Senate was permitted to vote on the U.N. climate treaty. But since the omnibus bill failed to prohibit such payments, Obama will soon deliver $500 million in U.S. tax money to the fund — despite the legendary record of U.N. programs for corruption worse than Chicago.
  2. The bill fails to block perhaps the Environmental Protection Agency’s greatest land grab — its “waters of the United States” decree that seizes federal jurisdiction over 20 million acres that are sometimes wet. The EPA’s wetland crackdowns have been trounced by numerous judges. Republicans faltered even though the Government Accountability Office reported Monday that EPA had engaged in illegal “covert propaganda” to promote this policy.
  3. It provides more than $3.7 billion for economic and military aid to Afghanistan, though an Agency for International Development study recently warned that some projects “actually had the perverse effect of increasing support for the Taliban.” Afghan relief continues to be a hopeless mess; the AID inspector general reported last week that the agency’s highly touted new monitoring system was used for less than 1% of grants and contracts.
  4. It fails to block the imminent proclamation of Food and Drug Administration regulations that could severely impact the sale of most of the cigars now marketed in the U.S., as well as ravaging the burgeoning e-cigarette industry (which experts say provides a healthier alternative to cigarettes).
  5. The omnibus bill failed to include a provision to end Operation Choke Point, a Justice Department-Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s crackdown that pressured banks to cancel the accounts of gun stores, coin dealers, payday lenders and other disfavored industries in what Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., derided as “weaponizing government to meet their ideological beliefs.”
  6. The average federal worker is already paid more than $100,000 a year in total compensation, but the budget deal failed to block Obama from giving them a 1.3% raise — though many, if not most, taxpayers received zilch raise this year.
  7. The bill extends the earned income tax credit without reforming it — though the IRS estimates that up to 25% of all handouts under the law are fraudulent or otherwise improper.
  8. The omnibus bill dropped a House provision that would have required stronger evidence for federally proclaimed Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Earlier official guidelines have been widely discredited and are often blamed for contributing to the nation’s obesity crisis, but the same dubious evidence standard can be used in the future.
  9. The bill provides almost $27 billion for public housing and Section 8. That includes an almost half a billion dollar increase for subsidized rental vouchers, despite the long record of havoc in neighborhoods where recipients cluster. The omnibus bill also dropped provisions to curb the Department of Housing and Urban Development from bankrolling fair housing entrapment-like operations or enforcing new regulations to bludgeon localities with a lower percentage of minorities than the national averages.
  10. Some provisions of the bill seem harebrained even by Beltway standards. Republicans were justifiably outraged by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ “Fast and Furious” operation, which authorized sending more than a thousand guns to Mexican drug cartels.
    Section 276 of the omnibus bill prohibits federal agents from providing guns to anyone he “knows or suspects … is an agent of a drug cartel, unless law enforcement personnel of the United States continuously monitor or control the firearm at all times.”
    So the G-man is supposed to keep his finger on the suspect’s trigger at all times, or what? Perhaps it would be too easy to cease giving weapons to drug dealers.
  11. Perhaps the most appalling part of the omnibus are the provisions that authorize tech and communication companies to secretly provide your personal data to federal agencies — no search warrant required.
    The American Civil Liberties Union warns that this information “can be used for criminal prosecutions unrelated to cyber security, including the targeting of whistle-blowers under the Espionage Act.”
    Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., rightly warns that a vote for the omnibus bill is a “vote to support unconstitutional surveillance on law-abiding Americans.”

While Congress made scant effort to protect average Americans from rampaging regulators, it hustled to include a provision requesting the Capitol Police to permit sledding on Capitol Hill. The “sled free or die” provision was a “bipartisan win,” according to the Washington Post. It is regrettable that there was little or no bipartisan interest in curbing federal power beyond spitting distance from the Capitol Dome.

House Freedom Caucus member Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., summarized the GOP leadership’s wacky reasoning: “Give the Democrats what they want now so next time they won’t want as much.”

Republicans have been thunderously promising for decades to protect Americans against federal waste, fraud and abuse. At this rate, Republicans’ credibility gap will soon rival the $18 trillion federal debt.

Reprinted with permission from USA Today.

James Bovard

James Bovard

James Bovard is the author of ten books, includingPublic Policy Hooligan, Attention Deficit Democracy, and Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty. Find him on Twitter @JimBovard.

Powerful Video: Future of New York State Education Exposed

On March 31, 2015, the New York State Assembly proved that budgeting well takes a back seat to “budgeting badly but on time.”

rotten apple

Even before the official vote was taken, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie knew that the budget would pass the Democrat-controlled Assembly because “the people of this state want an on-time budget.”

So, according to Heastie,  it’s “the people” who “want” politicians to tell New York schools how to evaluate teachers– just so long as the screwy budget that also relieves New York’s wealthiest from sales tax on yachts is Approved. On. Time.

Due to that Democrat-induced, “on time” approval, New York now has a similar teacher evaluation stupidity that passed in Louisiana in 2012 (with student test scores counting for 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation unless the teacher is rated “ineffective,” in which case the test scores override all else). Moreover, New York has an extra layer of idiocy, even outdoing Louisiana: the “independent evaluator” nonsense that promises to introduce unprecedented disruption in the running of already-pressured schools as their administrators could be required to travel to other schools to evaluate teachers in unfamiliar contexts.

Did I mention that all of this “admin swap” means nothing in the face of the “ineffective test scores” trump card?

And “ineffective,” well, that is To Be Determined by the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

Ahh, yes. The bottom line is that all New York career teachers are now at the mercy of whatever test score “growth” NYSED concocts in its effort to please a governor who is decidedly and openly hostile to the “public school monopoly” he vowed to “bust” upon reelection.

There you have it, People of New York: A casualty of the “budgeting on time” that Heastie says you demand.

Therefore, don’t blame the “heavy-hearted” Democrats captured in short order in the brief, powerful video below. And certainly don’t blame those clueless legislators who voted for a budget without fully comprehending its ramifications.

The politicians are innocent… right?

Future of NYS Education, by Stronger Together (ST) Caucus

TEA Party Hero refuses to cave on GOP’s Omnibus Funding Bill [Video]

An elected Combat Veterans For Congress, Congressman James Bridenstine, Lcdr-USNR (R-OK-1), is one of the principled members of Congress who votes his conscious against very bad legislation, in support of the US Constitution, and regardless of the consequence.

Regardless of the possibility of retribution, Congressman Bridenstine voted his conscious against the Omnibus Funding Bill that provided funding for the budget thru September 2015 for the Obama administration illegal Executive Order that will effectively give Work Permits and Social Security Numbers to 5 million Illegal Aliens.  Cong Bridenstine also voted against re-electing the Speaker of the House of Representatives because the Speaker sought Pelosi’s help in getting her Democrat members to help the Speaker pass the Omnibus Spending Bill against the votes and will of the majority of Republican Congressmen.  Following his votes of conscious, Congressman Bridenstine was removed from the House Rules Committee by the Republican leadership.  That action was uncalled for and we oppose that type of vindictive retribution against a Patriotic Congressman who votes to protect and defend the US Constitution..

Please read the below article about Congressman Bridenstine, listen to his interview with Joe Miller on the Joe Miller Show. In the interview, Congressman Bridenstine refuses to back down from his principled stands and his votes to protect and support the US Constitution, regardless of future consequences.  We and all Americans are fortunate to have a Representative in the House with integrity like Congressman Bridenstine representing the voters.  We wish more Congressmen were as principled as Congressman Bridenstine; we will continue to support him in any way we can, and encourage all American citizens to financially support Cong Bridenstine’s re-election campaign in 2016.


Congressman Bridenstine: Tea Party Hero Refuses to Back Down from GOP Leadership

In an exclusive interview with Joe Miller Show, Congressman Bridenstine talked about his stand against the GOP Leadership and the critical need to fight Obama’s unconstitutional power grab. Listen to this patriot discuss his modern day fight against the Tories of our time:

Congressman Jim Bridenstine was endorsed by the Combat Veterans for Congress and was elected in 2012 to represent Oklahoma’s First District, which covers Washington, Tulsa, Wagoner Counties plus portions of Rogers & Creek Counties. Bridenstine serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

From the start, Cong Bridenstine has been widely recognized in the House for his integrity, commitment to principles, and willingness to uphold the rule of law. He has become an effective member of Congress by focusing on three specific areas: National Security, Economic Freedom, and Constitutional Integrity. Jim supports moving toward a balanced budget through spending control, tax reform, and financial measures and policies promoting free markets.

Bridenstine has focused on the elimination of Obamacare and reform of laws and regulations that present a huge burden on the economy. He has introduced legislation and supported a strong national defense, religious freedom, protection of life, free speech and restoration of the balance of power within the branches of the federal government consistent with the Constitution.

On April 1st, Bridenstine achieved a remarkable accomplishment and became the first freshman on the Science, Space and Technology Committee to author and pass legislation this session. The Weather Forecasting Improvement Act (HR2413) will enable technology development to save lives and protect property from severe weather, including tornadoes, without adding to the budget or debt. The measure received tremendous bipartisan support and passed on a voice vote.

Bridenstine’s background includes a triple major at Rice University, an MBA from Cornell University, 9 years of active duty in the United States Navy, and he is an Eagle Scout. Cong Bridenstine began his Naval aviation career flying the E-2C Hawkeye off the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. It was there that he flew combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and gathered most of his 1,900 flight hours and 333 carrier arrested landings. While on active duty, he transitioned to the F-18 Hornet and flew at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, the parent command to TOPGUN. He is currently a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve where he flew the E-2C Hawkeye in America’s war on drugs before becoming a member of Congress. He and his wife Michelle live in Tulsa with their three children, ages 7, 5, and 2.

Read more.

EDITORS NOTE: Click here to learn more about Combat Veterans for Congress: http://www.CombatVeteransForCongress.org

Let the Budget Battles Begin

The announcement of a new fiscal budget for the U.S. government always sets the stage for struggles between the spenders and those trying to put some limits on the spending. The spenders usually win because politicians—particularly progressive ones—love to tap the national treasury in order to reward their supporters.

As the Speaker of the House John Boehner said on the occasion of the March 17 announcement, “For 53 of the last 60 years, the federal government has spent more than it has taken in. It is unacceptable.” Not so unacceptable that one Congress after another has not seen fit to ignore common sense and fiscal prudence.

Capitol with DollarsThe sheer enormity of the budget tends to overwhelm and I suspect that most voters pay little attention to it and the issues it represents except to want assurances that their benefit check arrives. Rarely mentioned or largely unknown is the size of the nation’s unfunded liabilities, long term obligations in Medicare and Social Security. In 2014 they reached nearly $49 trillion with a “T”.

Our annual Gross Domestic Product, (GDP) what the U.S. takes in for goods and services is about $14 trillion. Our current national debt is $18 trillion and growing. Regarding the unfunded liabilities, Romina Boccia of The Heritage Foundation noted last year that they were “nearly three times the size of the total national debt or more than $150,000 for every person in the U.S.” He predicted that “even the most vulnerable Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries would see their benefits drastically cut after 2030.”

Here’s another way of looking at our debt. When interest rates return to normal WE are going to be paying several hundred billion in interest on our current $18 trillion debt. In short, we have to desperately start cutting spending NOW to reduce that debt. Or else!

The 2016 budget announced by House Budget Chairman Tom Price represents Republican values. As the Wall Street Journal noted, it “would cut spending by $5.5 trillion relative to the status quo over the next decade, reducing federal spending to 18.2% of the economy by 2024. The share today is 20.3% and is headed toward 22.3% in a decade on present trend.” It’s useful to keep in mind that every dollar the government collects and spends is one less dollar that the private sector can spend on starting and expanding businesses large and small.

All that money represents opportunities for waste that are mind-boggling. A recent article in CNS News reported that “Medicare and Medicaid made a combined $77.4 billion in improper payments in fiscal 2014, a 20.4 percent increase from fiscal 2013, according to data published by the Government Accountability Office and the federal paymentaccuracy.gov website.” Twelve government programs that wasted money made the Government Accountability Office list including the school lunch and public housing/rental assistance programs.

The good news about the new fiscal budget is that it openly calls for repealing ObamaCare. It also outlines deregulating Medicaid to give governors more flexibility. It is a terrific fiscal burden. The budget took note of the fact that there are too many duplicative government programs such as 92 antipoverty programs. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that consolidating such programs would increase real GDP per capita by 1.5% in 2015. Eliminating a whole bunch of them would save even more.

Jane M. Orient, M.D., the Executive Director of American Physicians and Surgeons, and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute, warned that “there seem to be some good first steps, such as block-granting Medicaid to the states. But even Republicans aren’t admitting that their budget also involves fighting over money that we don’t have, that the Federal Reserve will create out of faith and credit.”

“Also absent,” said Dr. Orient, “is recognition of the crushing burden of regulation, especially EPA rules to destroy a huge portion of our electrical generating capacity, with heavy subsidization of costly, unreliable, environmentally destructive wind and solar projects that can’t possibly replace coal, nuclear, or natural gas. Or recognition of the destructive impact of the Department of Education. How about devolving environmental protection and education back to the states, too, along with Medicaid?”

Heartland Tax & Budget News (1)“This new House budget,” said Peter Ferrara, a Heartland Senior Fellow for Entitlement and Budget Policy, “shows the passing of the Age of Obama and the broad gulf of difference between today’s conservative Republicans and the modern, ultra-Left, extremist, neo-socialist Democrats. Reagan-life, the plan would balance the budget without tax increases, while modernizing our increasingly dangerously lagging military.”

The Wall Street Journal editorial pointed out that, “As important, failing to pass a budget would also deprive Republicans of the procedural tool known as reconciliation. This allows the GOP to pass a final budget with a simple majority in the House and Senate, and thus it will be crucial to putting larger reforms of ObamaCare or taxes on Mr. Obama’s desk. A vote against the budget is in that sense a vote for the ObamaCare status quo.”

In sum, the proposed budget represents a serious effort to enact reforms that are long overdue. These and other measures are needed to encourage economic growth, the heart’s blood of the nation.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is by J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo.

Tragedy of the Healthcare Commons: The Affordable Care Act contributes to an already unsustainable situation by D.W. MacKenzie

Recent difficulties with implementing the Affordable Care Act have increased opposition to the program. A majority of Americans now oppose it. Problems with the healthcare.gov website are in all likelihood temporary. However, there are serious long-term problems, particularly considering long-term finance and labor-supply issues. Give the mounting difficulties with and growing concerns about the ACA, it is worthwhile to reconsider the main issues regarding this program.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently published a report examining some of these problems. It contains nothing new. Many commentators have discussed the projection of lower labor-force participation. Obamacare subsidies will allow lower-income Americans to work less. People do in fact work less if their costs are shared. The tendency of people to withhold work from collective undertakings is known among economists as a tragedy of the commons.

Reduced labor-force participation means both lower total tax revenue and higher spending on government benefits. The CBO’s long-term forecasts report serious imbalances between tax revenues and federal spending. Federal deficits are projected to remain high, but “manageable,” for about a decade.

The costs of entitlements, along with regular budget items (defense and non-defense), are relevant to any discussion of the ACA’s affordability. The retirement of the baby boomers, though, will result in steadily rising costs for older entitlement programs. Taxpayers are already legally responsible for a national debt of $17 trillion (which  will hit $20 trillion by the time Obama leaves office). Interest payments on the national debt are low for the time being, but they won’t stay that way forever. The Medicare trustees have admitted to a long-term deficit of $34 trillion, but independent estimates run much higher. Social Security has an unfunded liability of more than $12 trillion. These costs pile on top of the current regular budget of $3.5 trillion, not to mention projected growth in this budget. Taxpayers are also responsible for the ACA’s cost overruns. Section 1342 of the ACA makes taxpayers responsible for bailing out insurance companies if the need arises.

Taxpayers are legally obligated to finance all of the above-mentioned expenditures, debts, and unfunded liabilities. People who believe in individual liberty reject the idea that people are morally obliged to fund ever-rising Federal expenditures. But the dispute over whether American taxpayers should fund projected federal spending is rendered academic by the fact that younger Americans will not be able to afford to pay for all of it. The commons created out of the New Deal and the Great Society is collapsing.

Economist Larry Kotlikoff estimates that average rates of taxation would have to rise 56 percent to cover projected increases in federal expenditures. Kotlikoff’s estimate may be high, but even a lower figure would leave Americans in dire financial straits. Taxpayers simply will not be able to fund all projected increases in all current federal programs. Bond investors will not finance our rising national debt in unlimited amounts. The ACA’s increased spending and lower labor-force participation, on top of these increases, makes national bankruptcy that much more likely.

National bankruptcy is not inevitable. The U.S. government is heading toward bankruptcy superficially because politicians have failed to set rational budget priorities, and fundamentally because citizens expect far too much of the public sector. The ACA was created out of concern that financial considerations bar access to healthcare to many people. And Americans do spend a large percentage of national income on healthcare.

The good news is that “we” have a substantial amount of leeway to save money on healthcare. Data on the overall effectiveness of public healthcare spending is clear, but not nearly as well known among voters. For example, The RAND Corporation conducted a health insurance experiment from 1974 to 1982, which showed that making healthcare “free,” or available at no personal marginal cost, does lead people to buy more. Much of this extra healthcare is inappropriate or largely unneeded, however. When people pay for more of their healthcare out of pocket, they tend to waste less money. The RAND study concluded, “In general, the reduction in services induced by cost sharing had no adverse effect on participants’ health.” Many other studies cast doubt on the effectiveness of providing healthcare at no private cost. According to another study, “Medicare enrollees in higher-spending regions receive more care than those in lower-spending regions but do not have better health outcomes or satisfaction with care.” Studies of people with health savings accounts (HSAs), as compared with people with plans like PPOs, show HSA holders control premium inflation better than their PPO counterparts.

Having people pay deductibles or bear other out-of-pocket costs causes us to economize on healthcare. Health insurance pools risks and creates a type of commons, whether done privately or publicly. The private commons of insurance companies does, however, have limits. Private insurance companies deny some types of coverage, depending on how much insurance people contract for in the first place. In other words, private insurance is not an open commons—it specifies the extent to which each policy holder can draw out of the insurance pool.

Public insurance programs lure people in by promising more benefits than private insurance plans offer. Yet public programs ultimately run into the basic problem of scarcity. The ACA pushes people out of very basic insurance plans into plans with higher levels of coverage, but excessive coverage is a major source of high healthcare costs. Americans spend a sizable portion of GDP on health expenses (17.9 percent in 2011). The overconsumption of healthcare by overinsured Americans is both a major source of excessive costs and a cost that can be cut with little adverse effect.

The tendency of people to waste money in open-access healthcare financing is simply going to produce another tragedy of the commons. Too few young people have been signing up at Healthcare.gov because younger Americans are mostly smart enough to avoid paying into a commons. Americans are signing up mainly because they expect to draw subsidies out of this commons.

Problems with managing a commons in healthcare financing are serious. Once someone enters into a life-threatening medical condition, they and their family will want every possible available step taken to save this person—provided that “someone else” pays. Passing costs onto someone else is, aside from being morally dubious, unworkable in the aggregate because we are each “someone else” to everyone else.

There are many costs associated with government intervention into the healthcare industry: administrative and regulatory compliance costs, elevated costs of litigation and court rulings, lobbying costs, costs of perverse incentives. The perversities associated with treating health as an open-access and politicized commons have, along with other, government spending programs, created an unsustainable fiscal situation. The unaffordability of the Affordable Care Act leaves us with two main options: Congress can repeal the ACA immediately through the legislative process, or we can all wait for the repeal process of national bankruptcy.

ABOUT D.W. MACKENZIE

D. W. MacKenzie is an assistant professor of economics at Carroll College in Helena, Montana.

Hasner Campaign: Both Parties Created This Jobs Crisis

This week the Adam Hasner for US House Campaign launches the “It’s About Math” informational series. Between now and Election Day, Adam will be focusing on the real numbers and real issues of great importance to the residents of Florida’s District 22.

“So many people I speak with, regardless of political party, are sick and tired of the name calling and scare tactics,” Adam Hasner said. “What they really want to know is whether or not you have a plan to get America’s fiscal house in order and get our economy moving again. Every day I am talking about just that. I’m hopeful this debate can be about the real differences I have with my opponent on getting spending under control, creating jobs and improving the lives of people in our community. Solving our nation’s problems isn’t about Republicans or Democrats or any political philosophy. It’s about math.”

A key number from the August jobs report released last week was 368,000. That is the number of Americans who stopped looking for work and are no longer counted in the US labor force by the United States Labor Department. (Wall Street Journal, Five Key Takeaways from Jobs Report, 9/7/12).

“This number itself is telling, but it also says more about the individual stories of the college student who can’t find a job, a dad who got laid off, a mom who’s working less hours than she wants to or needs to, a senior who’s had to go back to work to make ends meet because they lost their retirement savings,” said Hasner.

“Behind this number are the stories of the people who are losing hope and beginning to believe that our country’s best days are behind us. It’s distressing that people are giving up. We can do better and they deserve better.

“While the official unemployment rate hovers above 8% for the 43rd consecutive month – perpetuating the slowest economic recovery in decades – Lois Frankel continues to distract attention from spending and the economy and remains silent about what should we do to create jobs.

“That’s most likely because she knows her record on job creation as Mayor was abysmal. Lois Frankel entered office in West Palm Beach with the city’s unemployment rate at 5.4%. But by the time she left office 8 years later, the unemployment rate in her city had climbed to 10.6%. The numbers prove that she didn’t have solutions for West Palm Beach and she’s failed to offer any ideas on how to get our nation’s economy back on track.

“Mayor Frankel continues to support the same misguided Washington policies that for the last 43 months have been failing small businesses, families and hard-working Americans.

“Both parties got us into this mess, but now isn’t the time to point fingers and place blame. It’s time for a new approach:

  • We must reform the current tax code to make it flatter, fairer, and simpler and eliminate loopholes and exemptions.
  • We must eliminate hurdles to form new businesses and right-size regulations that are currently stifling economic growth with red tape and compliance costs and do it with a balanced approach that protects our natural resources and protects consumers.
  • We must unleash the power of Made in America energy with new technologies for safe development of domestic oil and natural gas. Affordable energy is a key factor in creating jobs and attracting companies to bring manufacturing jobs back home.
  • We must also focus on education and worker training initiatives to get the long term unemployed back to work.
  • “What small businesses need is certainty, knowing what to expect so they can make critical decisions to hire new employees, invest in new equipment, and expand their operations.

“It’s time for common-sense policies that will empower private sector job creation to help Main Street get back on its feet and get America’s economy back on the move.