The Pronk Pops Show 929, July 17, 2017, Story 1: Downsizing The Federal Government or Draining The Swap: Trump Should Permanently Close 8 Departments Not Appoint People To Run Them — Cut All Other Department Budgets by 20% — Video — Story 2: Federal Spending Breaks $4 Trillion for Fiscal Year 2017 — Story 3: The American People and President Trump Vs. Political Elitist Establishment of The Big Government Democratic and Republican Parties — Videos

Posted on July 18, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Breaking News, Business, Cartoons, Coal, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Currencies, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Federal Government, Government, Government Spending, Health, Health Care, Health Care Insurance, History, House of Representatives, Human, Independence, Insurance, Law, Life, Medicare, Movies, Natural Gas, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Progressives, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Resources, Security, Senate, Social Security, Taxation, Taxes, U.S. Dollar, Unemployment, United States of America, Videos, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Project_1

The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 929,  July 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 928,  July 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 927,  July 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 926,  July 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 925,  July 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 924,  July 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 923,  July 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 922,  July 3, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 921,  June 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 920,  June 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 919,  June 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 918,  June 26, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 917,  June 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 916,  June 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 915,  June 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 914,  June 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 913,  June 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 912,  June 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 911,  June 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 910,  June 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 909,  June 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 908,  June 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 907,  June 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 906,  June 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 905,  June 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 904,  June 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 903,  June 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 902,  May 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 901,  May 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 900,  May 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 899,  May 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 898,  May 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 897,  May 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 896,  May 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 895,  May 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 894,  May 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 893,  May 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 892,  May 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 891,  May 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 890,  May 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 889,  May 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 888,  May 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 887,  May 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 886,  May 4, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 885,  May 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 884,  May 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 881: April 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 880: April 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 879: April 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 878: April 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 877: April 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 876: April 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 875: April 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 872: April 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 871: April 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 869: April 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 868: April 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 867: April 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

Image result for cartoons on big government democratic and republican partiesImage result for cartoons on big fat governmentBar Chart of Government Spending by AgencyImage result for cartoons on big government democratic and republican parties

Image result for cartoons the american people and trump vs washington establishment

 

Story 1: Downsizing The Federal Government or Draining The Swap: Trump Should Permanently Close 8 Departments Not Appoint People To Run Them — Cut All Other Department Budgets by 20% — Video

Order of Establishment of the Executive Departments

Rank*
Year
Executive Departments
1
1789
2
1789
3
1789
1947
Department of War
Department of Defense (merger of War and Navy departments)
4
1789
1870
Attorney General
Department of Justice
1798
Department of the Navy
(merged with War Department in 1947)
1829
Postmaster General
(Post Office privatized in 1970)
5
1849
6
1862
1903
Department of Commerce and Labor
(Departments split in 1913)
7
1913
8
1913
9
1953
1980
10
1965
11
1966
12
1977
13
1979
14
1989
15
2002

Close Permanently The Following Federal Departments

1. Department of Agriculture

2. Department of Commerce

3. Department of Education

4. Department of Energy

5. Department of Housing and Urban Development

6. Department of Interior

7. Department of Labor

8. Department of Transportation

Keep Open The Following Federal Departments 

But Cut Budgets By 20 Percent

1. Department of Defense

2. Department of State

3. Department of Treasury

4. Department of Justice

5. Department of Veterans’ Affairs

6. Department of Health and Human Services

7. Department of Homeland Security

How to Solve America’s Spending Problem

Government: Is it Ever Big Enough?

The Bigger the Government…

The War on Work

What Creates Wealth?

The Promise of Free Enterprise

Why Capitalism Works

What is Crony Capitalism?

WH Website Asks Americans to Suggest Ways to Reorganize, Eliminate Federal Gov’t

Trump signs order to cut government costs

President Trump Signs Executive Order to Cut Government Costs

Trump orders a total examination and reorganization of federal agencies.

Downsizing the Federal Government

Dan Mitchell Commenting on Downsizing Government and Federal Bureaucracy

TAKE IT TO THE LIMITS: Milton Friedman on Libertarianism

Bureaucracy Basics: Crash Course Government and Politics #15

Types of Bureaucracies: Crash Course Government and Politics #16

Controlling Bureaucracies: Crash Course Government and Politics #17

Can the United States Reform its Way to Financial Security?

 

President Trump has filled far fewer top jobs in cabinet or cabinet-level agencies than President Barack Obama had at this point in his presidency.

The status of top jobs
25 weeks into each administration:

Confirmed
by Senate
Nominated or
Announced
Empty
Trump 33 57 120
Obama 126 43 41

Story 2: Federal Spending Breaks $4 Trillion for Fiscal Year 2017 — Videos

Bar Chart of Government Spending by Agency

The bar chart comes directly from the Monthly Treasury Statement published by the U. S. Treasury Department. <—- Click on the chart for more info.

The “Debt Total” bar chart is generated from the Treasury Department’s “Debt Report” found on the Treasury Direct web site. It has links to search the debt for any given date range, and access to debt interest information. It is a direct source to government provided budget information.

$$$ — “Deficit” vs. “Debt”— $$$

Suppose you spend more money this month than your income. This situation is called a “budget deficit”. So you borrow (ie; use your credit card). The amount you borrowed (and now owe) is called your debt. You have to pay interest on your debt. If next month you spend more than your income, another deficit, you must borrow some more, and you’ll still have to pay the interest on your debt (now larger). If you have a deficit every month, you keep borrowing and your debt grows. Soon the interest payment on your loan is bigger than any other item in your budget. Eventually, all you can do is pay the interest payment, and you don’t have any money left over for anything else. This situation is known as bankruptcy.

“Reducing the deficit” is a meaningless soundbite. If the DEFICIT is any amount more than ZERO, we have to borrow more and the DEBT grows.

Each year since 1969, Congress has spent more money than its income. The Treasury Department has to borrow money to meet Congress’s appropriations. Here is a direct link to the Congressional Budget Office web site. Check out the CBO’s assessment of the Debt. We have to pay interest* on that huge, growing debt; and it dramatically cuts into our budget.

Huge Mistake! White House Reveals Budget Deficit Will Be $250 BILLION Greater

Federal Spending to Top a Record $4 Trillion in FY2017

1. June Unemployment Report Was Better Than Expected
2. Federal Spending to Blow Through $4 Trillion in FY2017
3. What Does the Government Spend Our Tax Dollars On?
4.Even President Trump’s Federal Budget Increases Spending

Overview

Both the Congressional Budget Office and the White House Office of Management and Budget announced last week that federal spending will top $4 trillion for the first time ever in fiscal 2017, which began on October 1, 2016 and ends on September 30.

The Congressional Budget Office released its annual “Budget and Economic Outlook: 2017 to 2027” last week in which it projected that total federal spending in fiscal 2017 will hit a record $4,008,000,000,000. That’s up from the previous record of $3.853 trillion spent in fiscal 2016.

While most Americans have no idea how much our out-of-control government spends each year, much less what our enormous annual federal budget deficits are, long-time clients and readers, know this is a topic I focus on and warn about each and every year – and will again today. This is something every American voter should absolutely know about!

Yet before we get to those discussions, I will summarize last Friday’s better than expected unemployment report for June. The strong jobs report had several significant implications for the economy going forward as I will discuss below. Let’s get started.

June Unemployment Report Was Better Than Expected

Friday’s unemployment report for June was a welcome surprise, especially following the weaker than expected report for May. The Labor Department reported at the end of last week that the economy created 222,000 new jobs in June, up from only 152,000 in May – and well above the pre-report expectation of 179,000.

The increase in new jobs in June was the largest in four months and the second highest of the year. Hiring was also revised higher for May and April than previously reported. The pickup in hiring in the spring coincides with a fresh spurt of growth in the economy after a slow start to the year.

Monthly change in nonfarm payrolls

The headline unemployment rate rose slightly from 4.3% in May to 4.4% in June, but that was largely because more jobless Americans rejoined the labor force by actively looking for work last month. That’s a good thing.

Hourly pay rose 0.2% to $26.25 an hour in June, the government said. Over the last 12 months, wages have only advanced a modest 2.5% — up slightly from the rate reported for May, but still well below the usual gains at this late stage of an economic expansion.

Underemployment, which measures people who want to be working full-time but are not, rose to 8.6% in June from 8.4% in May. It‘s still far lower than in prior years but it’s never a good sign to see this measure tick up.

The number of Americans who work part-time but want a full-time job also rose a notch to 5.3 million in June. Part-time employment has been a persistent problem for job seekers since the recession ended, as many companies try to limit increases in full-time workers.

Overall, economists say the strong job gains in June reflect a healthy labor market. Some believe we are approaching the level of “full employment.”

Federal Spending to Blow Through $4 Trillion in FY2017

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reported last week that federal spending will top $4 trillion for the first time ever in fiscal 2017, which ends on September 30.

The CBO released its annual “Budget and Economic Outlook: 2017 to 2027” last week in which it projected that total federal spending in fiscal 2017 will hit a record $4.008 trillion. That’s up from the previous record of $3.853 trillion spent in fiscal 2016.

Federal spending to top $4 trillion

The record $4.008 trillion the CBO estimates the federal government will spend this fiscal year equals $33,805 for each of the 118,562,000 households the Census Bureau estimated were in the United States as of March.

I should note for the record that while federal spending will top $4 trillion for the first time this year while Donald Trump is president, this year’s spending is actually tied to Barack Obama’s budget passed in his last year in office. So don’t blame President Trump… yet.

The federal budget goes up every single year, no matter which party is in office, and no matter that our national debt will top $20 trillion later this year. Clearly, federal spending is out of control, and no one in Washington, DC has the will to stop it – including President Trump (more on this below).

Apparently, leaders in both parties no longer believe there is a limit to how much our country can borrow and spend. There is no longer any sense that our ballooning national debt will at some point trigger a new financial crisis much worse than what we experienced in late 2007-early 2009.

Worst of all, WE keep electing and re-electing these people. In that sense, it’s our own fault.

What Does the Government Spend Our Tax Dollars On?

Many (if not most) Americans don’t understand how and where the government spends our tax dollars and the tens of billions it borrows each and every year. That’s what we will take a look at in the discussion just below. Let’s start with this graphic for an overview.

Government spending

Pew Research had an excellent analysis on how the federal government spends our money (and what it borrows) earlier this year. I’ll reprint the highlights for you below (emphasis mine).

“When thinking about federal spending, it’s worth remembering that, as former Treasury official Peter Fisher once said, the federal government is basically ‘a gigantic insurance company,’ albeit one with ‘a sideline business in national defense and homeland security.’

In fiscal year 2016, which ended this past September 30, the federal government spent just under $4 trillion, and about $2.7 trillion – more than two-thirds of the total – went for various kinds of social insurance (Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, unemployment compensation, Veterans benefits and the like).

Another $604 billion, or 15.3% of total spending, went for national defense; net interest payments on government debt was about $240 billion, or 6.1%. Education aid and related social services were about$114 billion, or less than 3% of all federal spending. Everything else – crop subsidies, space travel, highway repairs, national parks, foreign aid and much, much more – accounted for the remaining 6%.

It can be helpful to look at federal spending as a share of the overall US economy, which provides a consistent frame of reference over long periods. In fiscal 2016, total federal outlays were 21.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). For most of the past several decades, federal spending has hovered within a few percentage points above or below 20%.

The biggest recent exception came in the wake of the 2008 mortgage crash: In fiscal 2009, a surge in federal relief spending combined with a shrinking economy to push federal outlays to 24.4% of GDP, the highest level since World War II — when federal spending peaked at nearly 43% of GDP.

Social security, Medicare, human services a growing share of spendingMeasured as a share of GDP, the biggest long-term growth in federal spending has come in human services, a broad category that includes various kinds of social insurance, other health programs, education aid and veterans benefits.

From less than 1% of GDP during World War II (when many Depression-era aid programs were either ended or shifted to the war effort), federal spending on human services now amounts to 15.5% of GDP.

It actually was higher – 16.1% – in fiscal 2010, largely due to greater spending on unemployment compensation, food assistance and other forms of aid during the Great Recession. Now, the main growth drivers of human-services spending are Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.

While spending on human services has grown to represent a greater share of GDP over time, the defense share has become smaller: It was 3.3% in fiscal 2016, versus 4.7% as recently as fiscal 2010. In general, and perhaps not surprisingly, defense spending consumes more of GDP during wartime (well over a third at the height of World War II) and less during peacetime.

The major exception was the Reagan-era military buildup… From a post-Vietnam low of 4.5% of GDP in fiscal 1979, defense spending eventually peaked at 6% of GDP in fiscal 1986.

Besides human services and national defense, the next-biggest category of federal spending is interest on public debt. Excluding interest paid to government trust funds (such as the Social Security and military-retirement trust funds) and various other small government loanprograms, the $240 billion in net interest paid on federal debt in fiscal 2016 represented 1.3% of GDP. [Remember that interest rates are near historic lows today.]

Even though total public debt has continued to grow (it stood at nearly $19.96 trillion in February, hitting the statutory debt limit), the dollar amount of actual interest paid fluctuates with the general interest rate environment. Rates are quite low now, but they were much higher in the 1980s and 1990s; in those decades, net interest payments often approached or exceeded 3% of GDP. END QUOTE

Even President Trump’s Federal Budget Increases Spending

Back in March, President Trump unveiled a controversial new federal budget proposal for fiscal year 2018, which begins on October 1st. The budget was a shocker in that it proposed cutting spending in every federal agency except Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs.

The new budget would slash Environmental Protection Agency spending by over 31% next year and cut State Department spending by over 28%, all in one fell swoop. It is by far the most conservative, smaller government budget we have seen in my adult lifetime.

Trump proposals for government agency budget changes

Yet as I wrote on March 21, Mr. Trump’s so-called “skinny budget” has no chance of becoming law. I bring it back up today only to point out that even with Trump’s massive government agency cuts (which will never pass), federal spending still increases in FY2018.

As noted above, the CBO and the OMB now agree that federal spending in FY2017 will be apprx. $4.008 trillion. In Trump’s proposed budget, federal spending would reach apprx. $4.094 trillion. And it goes up each year thereafter, soaring to $5.7 trillion by 2027 – even under Trump’s skinny budget.

The sad reality is that our politicians will not take definitive actions to slow the rise in our national debt. Perhaps that’s because half of American households receive direct benefits from government programs like Medicare, Social Security, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), nutrition programs for mothers and children, subsidized housing and unemployment assistance, to name just a few.

That’s another topic for another day. The point is, federal spending is out of control, and our leaders have no intention of stopping or reversing this dangerous trend. What this means is that we are destined for another serious financial crisis at some point. The markets and our creditors will decide when and it won’t be pretty!

Wishing you well,
Gary D. Halbert

Forecasts & Trends E-Letter is published by Halbert Wealth Management, Inc. Gary D. Halbert is the president and CEO of Halbert Wealth Management, Inc. and is the editor of this publication. Information contained herein is taken from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed as to its accuracy. Opinions and recommendations herein generally reflect the judgement of Gary D. Halbert (or another named author) and may change at any time without written notice. Market opinions contained herein are intended as general observations and are not intended as specific investment advice. Readers are urged to check with their investment counselors before making any investment decisions. This electronic newsletter does not constitute an offer of sale of any securities. Gary D. Halbert, Halbert Wealth Management, Inc., and its affiliated companies, its officers, directors and/or employees may or may not have investments in markets or programs mentioned herein. Past results are not necessarily indicative of future results. Reprinting for family or friends is allowed with proper credit. However, republishing (written or electronically) in its entirety or through the use of extensive quotes is prohibited without prior written consent.

https://www.advisorperspectives.com/commentaries/2017/07/11/federal-spending-to-top-a-record-4-trillion-in-fy2017?channel=Economic%20Insights

Social Security Will Be Paying Out More Than It Receives In Just Five Years

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

When social security was first implemented in the 1930’s, America was a very different country. Especially in regards to demographics. The average life expectancy was roughly 18 years younger than it is now, and birth rates were a bit higher than they are now. By the 1950’s, the fertility rate was twice as high as it is in the 21st century.

In other words, for the first few decades, social security seemed very sustainable. Most people would only live long enough to benefit from it for a few years, and there was an abundance of young workers who could pay into the system.

Those days are long gone. As birth rates plummet and people live longer, (which otherwise should be considered a positive development) social security’s future is looking more and more bleak.

No matter how you slice it, it doesn’t seem possible to keep social security funded. In fact, social security is going to start paying out more money than it receives in just a few short years. It may even be insolvent before the baby boomer generation dies off.

According to the Social Security Board of Trustees, the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds will be depleted in 2034.

When this happens, only 77 percent of benefits will be payable. That estimate is no change from last year’s estimate.

In addition, the Disability Insurance trust fund will be depleted in 2028, which is an improvement from last year’s estimate of 2023. Once that fund is depleted, 93 percent of benefits will be paid.

Right now, Social Security continues to take in through revenue more than it pays it through benefits, which is expected to continue until 2022. Once Social Security begins to pay out more than it takes in, it will be forced to liquidate the assets held by the trust funds.

In 2016, Social Security generated $957 billion in income. It only paid out $922 billion including $911 billion in benefits to 61 million beneficiaries.

But the solutions that have been proposed for this problem don’t hold much promise. For instance, we know that simply raising taxes won’t work.

But increasing the payroll tax is not a good long-term solution to fixing Social Security. For example a higher payroll tax would have negative economic effects. In addition, it’s not even clear that raising the payroll tax would even generate enough revenue.

“Some claim that the solution to preserving Social Security is to raise more taxes, but history shows that doesn’t work,” said David Barnes who is the director of policy engagement for Generation Opportunity in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. “In fact, since Social Security was created, payroll taxes have been raised more than 20 times. Twenty times! Yet, the program is still headed towards insolvency.”

This is one reason why so many Western countries, almost all of which are suffering from declining birth rates, have been so eager to open their borders to more immigrants. They’re trying to bring in as many young workers as they can.

But that’s not going to work either. Forget about the high crime rates, terrorist attacks, and social disintegration that Europe is facing now after bringing in millions of immigrants. Even if those problems didn’t exist, immigration isn’t the solution. The West has had wide open borders for decades, and it hasn’t made a dent in the liabilities faced by social security programs (perhaps these immigrants aren’t paying as many taxes as these governments had hoped).

We could let younger generations opt out of social security to stave off future obligations, but that wouldn’t help fund the current generation of retirees. Social security is already on the path to being underfunded for them, and letting young people opt out would obviously make things worst for current retirees.

There isn’t really any viable solution for paying off the future liabilities of social security, aside from cutting the benefits or increasing the retirement age. Otherwise it’s going to run out of money eventually, which is the same story with private and public pensions. We are all paying for our retirements in one form or another, but few of us living right now are going to fully benefit from it.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-19/social-security-will-be-paying-out-more-it-receives-just-five-years

Story 3: The American People and President Trump Vs. Political Elitist Establishment of The Big Government Democratic and Republican Parties — Videos

Ronald Reagan .. “Government is the problem”

The Bigger the Government…

Government: Is it Ever Big Enough?

How Big Should Government Be? Left vs. Right #1

Big Government Kills Small Businesses

Socialist explains why we need big government and more freebies

 

Why universal basic income is gaining support, critics

July 15, 2017 Updated: July 17, 2017 11:49am

The idea of government giving every person a universal basic income has been gaining traction thanks in part to endorsements from some Silicon Valley celebs. Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and others want to explore the idea.

The idea of government giving every person a universal basic income has been gaining traction thanks in part to endorsements from some Silicon Valley celebs. Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and others want to explore the idea.

The idea of a universal basic income — monthly cash payments from the government to every individual, working or not, with no strings attached — is gaining traction, thanks in part to endorsements from Silicon Valley celebs.

Some see it as a way to compensate for the traditional jobs with benefits that will be wiped out by robotics, artificial intelligence, self-driving vehicles, globalization and the gig economy. Others see it as a way to reduce income inequality or to create a more efficient, less stigmatizing safety net than our current mishmash of welfare benefits.

“I think ultimately we will have to have some kind of universal basic income, I don’t think we are going to have a choice,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said at the World Government Summit in Dubai in February.

In a commencement speech at Harvard University in May, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things.” And in a July 4 blog post,Zuckerberg praised Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend, the nearest thing to universal income in this or any country. Since 1982, Alaska has been distributing some of its oil revenue as an annual payment, ranging from about $1,000 to $3,000, to every resident including children.

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and Y Combinator president Sam Altman have all said it’s worth exploring. Y Combinator’s nonprofit research lab started a basic income pilot with fewer than 100 people in Oakland last fall with the goal of gathering information to structure a larger research proposal, its director, Elizabeth Rhodes, said.

The concept has been around, with different names and in different countries, for centuries, said Karl Widerquist, co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network.

It enjoyed a wave of U.S. popularity in the 1910s and ’20s and again in the ’60s and ’70s when it was championed by free-market economist Milton Friedman, Martin Luther King and, for a while, Richard Nixon.

It resurfaced again after the 2008 financial crisis, when soaring unemployment and corporate bailouts focused attention on the “99 percent.” The concept picked up steam in recent years as studies started predicting widespread unemployment because of automation.

Basic income has fans across the political spectrum, but for very different reasons. Libertarian backers would replace all or most welfare programs with a monthly cash payment as a way to prevent poverty, reduce government bureaucracy and let people decide for themselves how to use the money.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (right), shown in May receiving an honorary degree from Harvard, also supports the universal income concept. Photo: Paul Marotta, Getty Images

Photo: Paul Marotta, Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (right), shown in May receiving an honorary degree from Harvard, also supports the universal income concept.

By contrast, “those left of center like the idea of using (basic income) as a supplement to the existing safety net,” said Natalie Foster, co-chairwoman of the Economic Security Project, a two-year fund devoted to researching and promoting the idea of unconditional cash.

In a “utopian version,” the money would “sit alongside existing programs” and go to every man, woman and child, Foster said. But if you made it enough to keep people above poverty — $1,000 a month is a popular number — “it starts to add up to a very significant portion of the GDP,” Foster said.

That’s why some proposals would reduce or eliminate payments to children or to adults over 65 if they are getting Social Security and Medicare. Some would limit the benefits going to high-income people, either directly or indirectly by raising their tax.

“In the simple model, everyone in the lower half (of the income distribution) would be a net beneficiary, everyone in the upper half would be net payers,” Widerquist said.

Charles Murray, a libertarian political scientist with the American Enterprise Institute, has proposed a basic income plan that would replace all transfer payments including welfare, food stamps, housing subsidies, the earned income tax credit, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It would also eliminate farm subsidies and “corporate welfare.”

In exchange, each American older than 21 would get a monthly payment totaling $13,000 a year, of which $3,000 would go to health insurance. After $30,000 in earned income, a graduated tax would “reimburse” some of the grant until it dropped to $6,500 at $60,000 in income. However, the grant would never drop below $6,500 to compensate for the loss of Social Security and Medicare.

Murray admitted that many seniors get more than $6,500 worth of benefits a year from those two programs, which is why it would have to be phased in.

“What I’m proposing would actually be cheaper than the current system,” Murray said. It would give adults a “living income” and “liberate people” who are tied to a job or welfare program in a particular city because they can’t risk leaving to pursue a new opportunity.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk favors universal basic income to compensate workers displaced by automation. "I don’t think we are going to have a choice," he said at a February event in Dubai. Photo: KARIM SAHIB, AFP/Getty Images

Photo: KARIM SAHIB, AFP/Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk favors universal basic income to compensate workers displaced by automation. “I don’t think we are going to have a choice,” he said at a February event in Dubai.

Andy Stern, a senior fellow at the Economic Security Project, has proposed a “left-of-center” plan that would give every adult 18 to 64 a monthly cash payment of $1,000. It would replace welfare programs such as food stamps, the earned income tax credit, unemployment and Supplemental Security Income. But it would keep Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security disability.

He figures the plan would cost about $1.75 trillion a year. Ending welfare programs would save about a third of that. Another third could come from ending the tax deduction for mortgage interest and other write-offs. The remaining third could come from new sources such as a tax on carbon emissions or financial transactions.

Stern would not reduce payments to the rich or raise their taxes because that would bring back the problem he is trying to eliminate — determining who is “worthy and unworthy” to receive benefits. But many of the tax increases he envisions “would have a disproportionate effect on higher-income people,” he said.

Some opponents of guaranteed income say it will encourage laziness. Proponents say the current system discourages work by taking away some benefits as income goes up.

Zipcar founder Robin Chase, now a speaker and author, said universal income would encourage and reward important work that “does not get monetized,” such as child care and volunteer work. It would also spur business creation. “I had the luxury of taking risks because I had a husband who had a full-time job with health care. A majority of the population cannot take any risks in pursuing innovation or higher-value, non-remunerative things.”

Some believe the answer to income inequality and automation is not guaranteed income but a guaranteed job. Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, has said the federal government should provide a job with benefits to anyone who wants one and can’t get one. “A job guarantee could simultaneously lower un- and underemployment while providing critically needed labor in fields ranging from infrastructure to education to child and elder care,” Bernstein, who was an economist in President Barack Obama’s administration, wrote in the American Prospect.

Jason Furman, who chaired Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, doesn’t like guaranteed jobs or guaranteed income. Furman, now a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, said universal income suffers from three problems.

“One is that it’s very hard to make the numbers add up. To get to (incomes) like $12,000, you need huge increases in taxes. Two, there are a lot of benefits to targeting. You only get unemployment if you don’t have a job and are looking for a new job. If anything, I might toughen the work search requirement” to receive unemployment.

Finally, he said, “I believe there is no reason that people can’t be employed in the future. We have thousands of years of experience of technological progress not leading” to mass unemployment. He pointed out that technologically advanced countries do not have higher unemployment rates than those that are less advanced.

“We should put more effort into how to create jobs and prepare people for jobs in the future,” he said. Universal basic income “is giving up on work and giving up on people. I’m not prepared to do that.”

Kathleen Pender is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. 

http://www.sfchronicle.com/aboutsfgate/article/Why-universal-basic-income-is-gaining-support-11290211.php

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 922, July 3, 2017, Story 1: The Meaning of Independence Day — Videos — Part 2 — Story 2: Majority of American People Want and Deserve A Big, Bold, Bipartisan Tax Reform Cut — The Time Is Now For The Fair Tax Less Version of The FairTax — Trump Should Embrace Real Tax Reform By Becoming Champion of Fair Tax Less If He Wants A Booming Economy Growing At 5% Plus — No Guts — No Glory — Just Do It By Labor Day September 4, 2017 — Make America Great Again — What Good is Dreaming It If You Don’t Actually Do It! — Videos

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Story 1: The Meaning of Independence Day — Videos

The Meaning of Independence Day

Published on Jun 26, 2008

Dr. Michael Berliner, co-chairman of the Board of Directors of the Ayn Rand Institute, former professor of philosophy and executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, reminds us of the true meaning of Independence Day.

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IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine,Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton,George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson,George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr.,Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Steve Bannon is right: Donald Trump should raise taxes on the rich

White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has a big idea that, according to Axios, he’s been pushing aggressively within the Trump administration: raising the top income tax rate. He’s reportedly telling his colleagues that the top bracket should “have a 4 in front of it.” (The current top bracket is 39.6 percent, or 43.4 after you include Medicare taxes.)

This would be a big shift for the administration. Its latest tax plan would cut the top rate on non-investment income to 35 percent, or 37.9 percent including Medicare taxes. Earlier plans featured top rates of 33 percent and 25 percent, and would lower the rate for “pass-through” income that owners of certain businesses get from 39.6 percent to a mere 15 percent, inducing a huge amount of tax evasion and cutting average rates for the rich still further.

And while Bannon has always affected a rivalry with wealthy elites, which this latest proposal fits into well, it’s doubtful that the more traditional supply-side conservatives on Trump’s economic team, namely Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and National Economic Council Chair Gary Cohn, will get on board.

But they should. Trump and his team have a tremendous number of goals for tax reform. They want a dramatically lower corporate tax rate (Axios reports that Mnuchin and Cohn “aren’t bluffing when they say they want to slash the corporate tax rate to 15% from the current 35%”) and to let companies deduct all their investments immediately, instead of over time. They want a much bigger standard deduction on the individual side, and some kind of subsidy for child care.

Those are expensive changes, which require substantial pay-fors. One of the biggest that Republicans have proposed is the hugely controversial border adjustment measure, which Walmart, the Koch brothers, and other influential business lobbies are loudly opposing. Another is ending the deductibility of interest for debt, a very worthwhile proposal that is sure to enrage banks that take out massive amounts of debt; Goldman Sachs veteran Mnuchin has said he opposes this shift. On the individual side, eliminating the state and local tax deduction, as the Trump team has proposed, would raise money and reduce a big giveaway to rich people in blue states, but then again, the category “rich people in blue states” includes a lot of GOP donors as well as Trump himself.

And even if all of those controversial changes made it through, they might not be enough to pay for all the cuts that Republicans want.

Giving up on individual income tax rate cuts, and embracing higher rates for top earners, would free up a lot more money for corporate tax cuts. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that raising the brackets for people making more than $400,000 or so by 1 point each would raise about $93 billion over 10 years. For a new top rate of, say, 47 percent, that could mean as much as $650 billion over 10 years, and even more if you’re willing to hit 50 percent or raise taxes on people making under $400,000. Another option would be to do what Hillary Clinton proposed in the campaign and add a 5 percent surcharge to income above a certain threshold, without any deductions allowed; that would further reduce opportunities for tax evasion.

An even more ambitious plan, proposed by economists Alan Viard and Eric Toder and embraced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), would overhaul the way the US taxes investment income. Today profits are taxed through the corporate tax code, and then again when they’re distributed to investors through dividends, or when those investors sell shares for a capital gain. Viard and Toder propose lowering the corporate rate to 15 percent and then taxing investments every year at normal income tax rates, whether or not they’re sold. That would end preferential treatment for investment income in the individual code, and let the individual tax raise quite a bit more money. It would enable a 45 or 47 percent top bracket to raise even more revenue to offset the cost of full expensing and a bigger standard deduction.

Ultimately, the Trump administration has to make a decision about what its goal in tax reform is. If the goal is to cut corporate taxes and encourage investment by companies, then Bannon is right: Top income rates should go up to pay for that. If the goal is to just funnel money to rich people, then they shouldn’t. But the former is a more defensible goal, and a top income rate of 45 or 47 percent would help get us there.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/7/3/15914750/steve-bannon-trump-tax-rich

 

Part 2 –Story 2: Majority of American People Want and Deserve A Big, Bold, Bipartisan Tax Reform Cut — The Time Is Now For The Fair Tax Less Version of The FairTax — Trump Should Embrace Real Tax Reform By Becoming Champion of Fair Tax Less If He Wants A Booming Economy Growing At 5% Plus — No Guts — No Glory — Just Do It By Labor Day September 4, 2017 — Make America Great Again — What Good is Dreaming It If You Don’t Actually Do It! — Videos

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Corporations paying fewer taxes

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Wealthy pay more in taxes than poor

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Rep. Meadows: Tax reform, health care and infrastructure get done by September

Speaker Ryan Guarantees That Congress Will Get Tax Reform Done In 2017

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Ron Paul on Paul Ryan’s tax reform plan

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Donald Trump: Simplify the Tax Code

Donald Trump: I pay as little as possible in taxes

Grover Norquist on Speaker Ryan’s tax reform timeline

Grover Norquist: Expect dramatic tax cuts from Trump

The Pledge: Grover Norquist’s hold on the GOP

FairTax: Fire Up Our Economic Engine (Official HD)

Pence on the Fair Tax

Freedom from the IRS! – FairTax Explained in Details

Millionaire confidence plunges on Trump’s tax reform delays

What’s Up With Trump’s Tax Reform? Myths vs. Facts

The FairTax: It’s Time

Dan Mitchell explains the fair tax

Six Reasons Why the Capital Gains Tax Should Be Abolished

Is America’s Tax System Fair?

Sen. Moran Discusses FairTax Legislation on U.S. Senate Floor

Milton Friedman – Why Tax Reform Is Impossible

Milton Friedman – Is tax reform possible?

What’s Killing the American Dream?

Robert Wolf: Border adjustment not going to happen

Is Donald Trump serious about tax reform?

Sean Spicer: Trump wants to get tax reform right

Will tax reform really happen by August?

Dan Mitchell Discussing GOP Tax Plan and Corporate Rate Reduction

What Tax Reform Could Look Like Under Donald Trump | Squawk Box | CNBC

#Eakinomics – 4 Key Questions on Dynamic Scoring

What is Dynamic Scoring?

Trump Pushes ‘Major Border Tax’ to Keep Jobs in U.S.

Ryan Unexpectedly Joins Forces With Bannon on Border Tax

Kudlow: Freedom Caucus & Trump’s base is opposed to Border Adjustment Tax

Sen. Perdue: Border Adjustment Tax would “shutdown economic growth”

Sen. Tom Cotton: “I have serious concerns” w/ Border Adjustment Tax

Americans Need a Progressive Consumption Tax

Sen. Strange: “I would not” vote for a Border Adjustment Tax

CNBC: Steve Forbes on Border Adjustment Tax – “Don’t Do It” 2.8.17

Meg Whitman: Border Adjustment Tax Will Not Create Jobs | CNBC

Art Laffer: Border tax is a major mistake

Border Tax Fight Is Economists Vs. Everybody Else | Squawk Box | CNBC

Dan Mitchell Discussing GOP Tax Plan and Corporate Rate Reduction

What is a Border Adjustment?

Border Tax: What You Need to Know

Will a border adjustment tax help American businesses?

Will a border adjustment tax kill free trade?

Border adjustment tax political suicide?

Fox Pol:l 73% Want Tax Reform This Year – Cavuto

Could the border tax debate stall tax reform?

Is A Border Adjustment Tax A Good Idea?

Border Adjustment Tax: Trump’s MAGA Ace

President Donald Trump Begins First Week By Meeting With Top Business Leaders | NBC News

Dan Mitchell Fretting about GOP Border-Adjustable Tax Plan

Paul Ryan on why he’s confident about tax reform

1/26/17 Border Adjustment Taxes, Tax Reform & Trade: Panel 1

1/26/17 Border Adjustment Taxes, Tax Reform and Trade: Panel 2 Part 2

Border Tax Adjustment and Corporate Tax Reforms: Panel 1

Border Tax Adjustment and Corporate Tax Reforms: Panel 2

Breaking Down The Republican Plan For A Border Tax | CNBC

McConnell Seeks Revenue-Neutral Tax Reform This Congress

Mnuchin: Three percent growth achievable with tax reform

Can Congress get tax reform done?

Rep. Reed: Tax reform will get done this year

Sen. Shelby Says Fundamental Tax Reform Good for Economy

Harvard Professor: Trump’s Border Tax ‘Misunderstood’

Making Sense Of The 20 Percent Tax Proposal | Morning Joe | MSNBC

Proposed Tax Package A Dramatic Cut Even With A Border Tax?

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin On Tax Reform, Growth, Border Tax, China (Full) | Squawk Box | CNBC

Wilbur Ross On Border Tax: Something Will Be Found To Fill Trillion-Dollar Hole | Squawk Box | CNBC

Honda “Impossible Dream” Commercial

Honda Advert: Impossible Dream II 2010

Lyrics
To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest, to follow that star,
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
To fight for the right without question or cause
To be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause
And I know if I’ll only be true to this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I’m laid to my rest
And the world will be better for this
That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To fight the unbeatable foe, to reach the unreachable star
Songwriters: Joe Darion / Mitchell Leigh
The Impossible Dream lyrics © Helena Music Company

 

Taxes May Be Certain, but Tax Reform Is Not

Taxes May Be Certain, but Tax Reform Is Not
by V. Lance Tarrance

Donald Trump is a man who throws down gauntlets, and he threw down several big ones during his campaign for president — confronting the status quos on immigration, onhealthcare and on taxes, to name a few. He is now pursuing bold policy changes on each. But it could be Trump’s action on taxes that matters most to whether the stock market continues to ride high, GDP growth returns to a healthy 3% and, therefore, whether his presidency is judged well in posterity.

News about taxes has been relatively slow thus far in Trump’s administration. Judicial blowback against his immigration policies and Congressional blowback on healthcare reform have received far more attention than the general tax-plan principles he announced in April. Still, achieving detailed tax reform may prove even more difficult than his other policy struggles once the wheels start turning.

Before making tax reform a year-end goal, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin initially said he hoped to complete tax reform by August. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reacted by saying that tax reform is a “very complicated subject” and harder to do now than the last time Congress achieved it in 1986. And passing the 1986 tax reform legislation was no easy task — it required winning the support of a Democratic House and a Republican president, and took nearly two years of intense negotiations. Alluding more cynically to the significant political obstacles that often impede changing the tax code, former House Speaker John Boehner said the passing of a tax code overhaul is “just a bunch of happy talk.”

Now, however, current Speaker Paul Ryan is also pushing for tax reform by the end of 2017, making these obstacles appear a little less daunting than if the administration were going it alone.

Aside from whether tax experts and Washington politicians are willing to upend the tax code, it is important to note where the American people stand on the need for action on taxes. It must be remembered that taxpayers may dislike the current tax system but not be convinced that Congress and the Trump administration will make it any better — change could be worse. Without a strong push from the American people, Trump’s tax reform might not materialize.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Gallup tested several of candidate Trump’s tax proposals.

  • He advocated eliminating most federal income tax deductions and loopholes for the very rich, and Gallup found 63% of American adults favoring this with just 17% opposed.
  • His proposal to simplify the federal tax code — reducing the current seven tax brackets to four — was also popular, with 47% agreeing and only 12% disagreeing.
  • Trump’s plan to eliminate the estate tax paid when someone dies garnered considerably more agreement than disagreement from Americans, 54% to 19%. Notably, this is an issue that Congress and the wider public have considered in the recent past, and public sentiment on the issue today is in line with past Gallup polls on this issue, such as when it asked about keeping the estate tax from increasing in 2010.

More recently, in March 2017, Americans viewed President Trump’s general plan to “significantly cut federal income taxes for the middle class” positively: 61% agreed with the plan (with no mention of Trump in the question), 26% disagreed and 13% had no opinion. Trump’s proposal to lower corporate tax rates, however, elicited a split decision, with 38% reacting positively, 43% negatively and the potentially decisive 19% “no opinion” group apparently needing more information.

These findings suggest Americans could respond favorably to many of the specific elements of Trump’s ultimate tax plan, provided they make it into whatever legislation Congress winds up debating. For example, in spite of closing tax loopholes that favor the rich, the plan is expected to end up cutting taxes on the wealthy, not raising them. But as long as the plan also cuts taxes on the middle class, that fact alone is unlikely to sink it with Americans. Bush’s across-the-board tax cuts in 2001, which more Americans at the time said were a “good thing” than a “bad thing,” are a perfect illustration of this.

Whether Americans feel a sense of urgency about enacting tax reform is another matter.

In April 2017, Gallup found that Americans’ concern about their own federal tax burden had actually cooled somewhat, as barely half (51%) felt their taxes were “too high,” down from 57% in 2016. By contrast, in June 1985, the year before the revolutionary Tax Reform Act of 1986 went into effect, 63% of Americans said their taxes were too high.

While public demand for lowering taxes may have waned, it is not gone. Public concern about taxes fell the most over the past year among Republicans — a familiar political pattern given the partisan shift in presidential power. With a Republican in the White House, the Republican rank and file are less likely to say anything negative about the government, including about taxes. Still, 62% of Republicans call their taxes too high, as do 52% of independents and 39% of Democrats.

The implication? While not as intense as Congressional leaders may have expected, public demand for tax reform is still there, especially among the Republicans who may matter most to GOP lawmakers.

Common Ground Exists on Tax Reform

As the U.S. Congress is about to start its summer recess, tax reform remains ill defined by the administration, and negotiations over sub-issues like the border adjustment tax have stalled any pivot to immediate tax legislation. More importantly, there seems to be no bipartisan support this time, while there was under Reagan in 1986. Granted, this may seem like less of an issue now, as Republicans today control both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. But real tax reform always makes for winners and losers, and it is problematic for only one party to pass new reforms. One need only look at the electoral consequences that Democrats have repeatedly suffered since 2010, the year they passed major healthcare reform legislation on party-line votes, to understand the danger Republicans could face if they pursue tax reform alone.

To make tax reform possible from a bipartisan standpoint, Congress needs to make sure the bill can be branded a “middle-class winner.” As noted previously, Americans favor tax cuts for the middle class, and as the following table shows, Republicans and Democrats are also more likely to believe middle-income people are currently paying too much in taxes than to say they are paying their fair share or paying too little.

Both Party Groups Tend to Believe Middle-Income Americans Pay Too Much in Federal Taxes
Republican/Lean Republican Democrat/Lean Democratic
% %
Too much 51 49
Fair share 40 43
Too little 5 7
No opinion 4 1
GALLUP, APRIL 5-9, 2017

To ensure tax reform enjoys at least some bipartisan support, Democrats will need a win during negotiations, meaning taxes would likely need to be raised on the nation’s wealthier class of citizens. Republicans are split on the issue of the fairness of taxes paid by upper-income people, but Democrats are in solid agreement that they pay too little.

Parties Diverge on Perceptions of What Upper-Income Americans Pay in Federal Taxes
Republican/Lean Republican Democrat/Lean Democratic
% %
Too much 18 4
Fair share 38 13
Too little 40 82
No opinion 4 1
GALLUP, APRIL 5-9, 2017

Bottom Line

With the Trump administration wanting tax reform before the end of 2017, Ryan is now promising to put it on the front burner. However, even Republican leaders’ enthusiasm for tax reform may not be enough to overcome the triad of legislative challenges that exist: the slimness of the Republican majorities in the U.S. House and Senate, the lack of bipartisanship in Washington and the power of special interest groups in Washington, D.C., to protect their vested interests. This is why comprehensive tax reform is historically so rare.

One thing working in Republicans’ favor is that a majority of Americans support tax relief for the middle class, and members of both major parties tend to believe middle-class taxes are too high. If the bill can be positioned strongly as middle-class tax relief, its chances for success will be higher.

http://www.gallup.com/opinion/polling-matters/213239/taxes-may-certain-tax-reform-not.aspx

The Fair Tax — A Tax System that Americans Rightfully Deserve

  • 04/22/2016
  • FAIRtax 
  • by: Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX-4)
The Fair Tax — A Tax System that Americans Rightfully Deserve

At more than 73,000 pages, it’s no wonder our country’s tax code spells headache for millions of hardworking Americans across the country. This bloated document, riddled with complicated loopholes, is anything but navigable for working-class people who can’t afford to hire accountants, lawyers or tax professionals. Yet like clockwork every spring, Americans throw away countless time and treasure in an attempt to properly comply with the process of giving their hard-earned money to the federal government.

The rigors of compliance aside, our tax code penalizes economic growth and American competitiveness. By imposing some of the highest corporate tax rates in the industrialized world, American business are incentivized to entertain corporate inversions, and leave trillions of dollars of cash abroad where it can’t be invested in American growth. While the well-to-do and well-connected may be able to navigate this byzantine world, taxpayers across the country and throughout the 18 counties in Texas I represent are frustrated, and rightfully so. The American people deserve better.

Frustration with the IRS reached new levels in 2013 when revelations surfaced that the agency was targeting conservative groups. When Congress launched investigations, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen repeatedly obstructed justice by refusing to testify and failing to produce up to 24,000 emails relevant to the investigations. This is simply unacceptable.

To make matters worse, the IRS experienced a cyber-attack in 2015 that left more than 700,000 taxpayer accounts vulnerable. And according to a GAO report released just last month, the IRS has improved only marginally since that time in regard to its data security. Taxpayers should not be subject to the political whims of unelected bureaucrats who refuse to follow the law and falsify facts before Congress, all the while placing their personal financial data at risk.

As a staunch fiscal conservative, I’ve been vocal and outspoken about the need for a fairer, flatter tax code – one that doesn’t stifle growth or punish economic success. After all, Ronald Reagan famously said that the role of government should be to fostereconomic growth, not smother it. That’s why I’ve joined more than 70 of my colleagues in cosponsoring legislation that would eliminate all individual and corporate income taxes – the FairTax Act of 2015 (H.R. 25).

The FairTax Act, introduced by Rep. Rob Woodall (GA-7), eliminates all personal, corporate, gift and estate taxes and replaces them with a simple, point-of-sale consumption tax. Beyond this, it completely abolishes the IRS and all of the bureaucratic red tape and corporate cronyism that comes with it – and remains revenue neutral in the process.

The FairTax Act combats the corruption and inefficiency of the IRS, and instead promotes American growth and investment. I’m proud to be a cosponsor of this key piece of legislation, because it recognizes that more freedom and less government is the formula for economic success. It’s this model that’s allowed Texas to lead the nation in job growth since 2008, and it’s about time for Washington to get an overdue dose of these commonsense, Texas economic values. The FairTax Act will do just that, and I urge my colleagues to support it.

Congressman John Ratcliffe represents Texas’ 4th district, serving the outer eastern suburbs of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplexsince 2015.  He is a member of the Judiciary Committee as well as the House Homeland Security Committee, serving as Chairman of its Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies Subcommittee.  Prior to Congress, he served as Mayor of Heath, Texas.  In addition, during the George W. Bush Administration, he was appointed to multiple posts, including U.S. Attorney and Chief of Anti-Terrorism and National Security for the Eastern District of Texas.

Your Money, Your Decision

The current federal income tax system is clearly broken — unfair, overly complex, and almost impossible for most Americans to understand. But there is a reasonable, nonpartisan alternative before Congress that is both fair and easy to understand. A system that allows you to keep your whole paycheck and only pay taxes on what you spend.

The FairTax is a national sales tax that treats every person equally and allows American businesses to thrive, while generating the same tax revenue as the current four-million-word-plus tax code. Under the FairTax, every person living in the United States pays a sales tax on purchases of new goods and services, excluding necessities due to the prebate. The FairTax rate after necessities is 23% compared to combining the 15% income tax bracket with the 7.65% of employee payroll taxes under the current system — both of which will be eliminated!

Important to note: the FairTax is the only tax plan currently being proposed that includes the removal of the payroll tax.

Keep Your Paycheck

For the first time in recent history, American workers will get to keep every dime they earn; including what would have been paid in federal income taxes and payroll taxes. You will get an instant raise in your pay!

Social Security & Medicare Funding

Benefits will not change. The FairTax actually puts these programs on a more solid funding foundation. Instead of being funded by taxes on workers’ wages, which is a small pool, they’ll be funded by taxes on overall consumption by all residents. Learn More .

Get a Tax Refund in Advance on Purchases of Basic Necessities

The FairTax provides a progressive program called a prebate. This gives every legal resident household an “advance refund” at the beginning of each month so that purchases made up to the poverty level are tax-free. The prebate prevents an unfair burden on low-income families. Learn more .

Pay Tax on Only What You Spend

Be in control of your financial destiny. You alone can control your tax burden. If you’re thrifty, you’ll pay lower taxes than somebody who is not. Most importantly, you’ll be taxed fairly. Learn moreabout what is taxed.

Everyone Pays Their Fair Share

Tax evasion and the underground economy cost each taxpayer an additional $2,500 every year! But by taxing new products and services consumed, the FairTax puts everyone in the country at the same level at the cash register. Further, only legal residents are eligible for the prebate. Learn more .

The IRS is No Longer Needed

No more complicated tax forms, individual audits, or intrusive federal bureaucracy. Retailers will collect the FairTax just as they do now with state sales taxes. All money will be collected and remitted to the U.S. Treasury, and both the retailers and states will be paid a fee for their collection service. Learn More

Summer looms with GOP stuck on health care, budget, taxes

The Capitol in Washington is quiet after lawmakers departed the for the Independence Day recess, Friday, June 30, 2017. The Republican leadership in the Senate decided this week to delay a vote on their…

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are stuck on health care, can’t pass a budget, and hopes for a big, bipartisan infrastructure package are fizzling. Overhauling the tax code looks more and more like a distant dream.

The GOP-led Congress has yet to salt away a single major legislative accomplishment for President Donald Trump — and a summer of drift may lead to a logistical nightmare this fall.

Instead, Trump’s allies appear both divided and indecisive, unable to deliver on his agenda while letting other must-do congressional business — chiefly their core responsibilities of passing a budget and spending bills, and keeping the government solvent — slide onto an already daunting fall agenda that is looking more and more like it’ll be a train wreck.

Friday brought more bad news for Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and other House leaders as 20 GOP moderates signaled a revolt on the budget, penning a letter to Ryan announcing their opposition to an emerging plan to force cuts to government agencies and benefit programs such as food stamps. The letter, authored by Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., warned that without an agreement with Democrats on increasing agency spending, moderates will be “reticent to support any budget.”

“It’s looking like they’re very disorganized. They got obviously a lot of conflict over spending preferences and it’s not just a two-way conflict,” said top House Budget Committee Democrat John Yarmuth of Kentucky. “It’s just a tough Rubik’s Cube they’re trying to solve.”

So it’s not just the Senate effort to repeal and replace Democrat Barack Obama’s health care law that’s foundering. The annual congressional budget measure — a prerequisite to this fall’s hoped-for tax effort — is languishing as well, as are the 12 annual spending bills that typically consume weeks of House floor time each summer.

But GOP leaders say all is going well. Ryan told a Wisconsin radio host on Thursday that “it’s the most productive Congress since the mid-’80s” and issued a news release Friday titled “Despite What You May Hear, We Are Getting Things Done.” The release cites a bipartisan Department of Veterans Affairs accountability measure and 14 bills repealing Obama-era regulations as Congress’ top achievements.

“It would be hard to fault the average American for thinking all that’s going on in Washington these days is high-drama hearings and partisan sniping,” Ryan said. “But amid the countdown clocks and cable news chatter, something important is happening: Congress is getting things done to help improve people’s lives.”

In the first year of a presidency, the annual August congressional recess is a traditional point to take stock. By that point, Obama had signed an economic recovery bill and President George W. Bush had won his landmark tax cuts, while President Bill Clinton was celebrating a hard-fought budget package.

Trump has no comparable successes to trumpet — but his allies in Congress say they’re not worried.

“We laid out an agenda in November and December, and we’re needing to get there,” said House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas. “And we can effectively get there. The questions that confound us are those that we can answer ourselves. And we will.”

And as Republicans are stalled on health care, the budget and infrastructure, there are several other problems that need to be taken care of, including increasing the nation’s borrowing authority, preventing a government shutdown, and lifting budget “caps” that are hobbling efforts to beef up the military.

Unlike health care, the debt limit and a deal to fix the spending caps — a leftover from a failed 2011 budget deal — can only be resolved with Democratic help. However, they promise to consume political capital and valuable time and energy, and there’s no political pay-off, other than forestalling disaster.

First, Congress is off on vacation to return in July for a three-week session. Then comes the traditional monthlong August recess.

After Labor Day comes a four-week sprint to October and the deadline to avert a government shutdown with a temporary spending bill — and to forestall a disastrous default on U.S. obligations by lifting the debt limit, which is a politically toxic vote for many Republicans.

Sentiment is building among some lawmakers to shorten the recess to make progress on the unfinished work that is piling up. On Friday, 10 GOP senators, led by David Perdue of Georgia, sent Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a letter citing delays on health care, the budget, a stopgap spending bill and the debt limit as reasons to consider canceling some or all of the recess.

“If we successfully navigate those priorities, we can finally get to our once in a generation opportunity on tax reform,” the letter said. “Growing the economy, repairing our infrastructure, and rebuilding our military are all dependent on accomplishing the tasks before us.”

http://wtop.com/government/2017/06/summer-looms-with-gop-stuck-on-health-care-budget-taxes/

APRIL 13, 2016

High-income Americans pay most income taxes, but enough to be ‘fair’?

Corporations paying fewer taxes

Tax-deadline season isn’t many people’s favorite time of the year, but most Americans are OK with the amount of tax they pay. It’s what other people pay, or don’t pay, that bothers them.

Just over half (54%) of Americans surveyed in fall by Pew Research Center said they pay about the right amount in taxes considering what they get from the federal government, versus 40% who said they pay more than their fair share. But in a separate 2015 surveyby the Center, some six-in-ten Americans said they were bothered a lot by the feeling that “some wealthy people” and “some corporations” don’t pay their fair share.

It’s true that corporations are funding a smaller share of overall government operations than they used to. In fiscal 2015, the federal government collected $343.8 billion from corporate income taxes, or 10.6% of its total revenue. Back in the 1950s, corporate income tax generated between a quarter and a third of federal revenues (though payroll taxes have grown considerably over that period).

Nor have corporate tax receipts kept pace with the overall growth of the U.S. economy. Inflation-adjusted gross domestic product has risen 153% since 1980, while inflation-adjusted corporate tax receipts were 115% higher in fiscal 2015 than in fiscal 1980, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. There have been a lot of ups and downs over that period, as corporate tax receipts tend to rise during expansions and drop off in recessions. In fiscal 2007, for instance, corporate taxes hit $370.2 billion (in current dollars), only to plunge to $138.2 billion in 2009 as businesses felt the impact of the Great Recession.

Corporations also employ battalions of tax lawyers to find ways to reduce their tax bills, from running income through subsidiaries in low-tax foreign countries to moving overseas entirely, in what’s known as a corporate inversion (a practice the Treasury Department has moved to discourage).

But in Tax Land, the line between corporations and people can be fuzzy. While most major corporations (“C corporations” in tax lingo) pay according to the corporate tax laws, many other kinds of businesses – sole proprietorships, partnerships and closely held “S corporations” – fall under the individual income tax code, because their profits and losses are passed through to individuals. And by design, wealthier Americans pay most of the nation’s total individual income taxes.

Wealthy pay more in taxes than poorIn 2014, people with adjusted gross income, or AGI, above $250,000 paid just over half (51.6%) of all individual income taxes, though they accounted for only 2.7% of all returns filed, according to our analysis of preliminary IRS data. Their average tax rate (total taxes paid divided by cumulative AGI) was 25.7%. By contrast, people with incomes of less than $50,000 accounted for 62.3% of all individual returns filed, but they paid just 5.7% of total taxes. Their average tax rate was 4.3%.

The relative tax burdens borne by different income groups changes over time, due both to economic conditions and the constantly shifting provisions of tax law. For example, using more comprehensive IRS data covering tax years 2000 through 2011, we found that people who made between $100,000 and $200,000 paid 23.8% of the total tax liability in 2011, up from 18.8% in 2000. Filers in the $50,000-to-$75,000 group, on the other hand, paid 12% of the total liability in 2000 but only 9.1% in 2011. (The tax liability figures include a few taxes, such as self-employment tax and the “nanny tax,” that people typically pay along with their income taxes.)

All told, individual income taxes accounted for a little less than half (47.4%) of government revenue, a share that’s been roughly constant since World War II. The federal government collected $1.54 trillion from individual income taxes in fiscal 2015, making it the national government’s single-biggest revenue source. (Other sources of federal revenue include corporate income taxes, the payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare, excise taxes such as those on gasoline and cigarettes, estate taxes, customs duties and payments from the Federal Reserve.) Until the 1940s, when the income tax was expanded to help fund the war effort, generally only the very wealthy paid it.

Since the 1970s, the segment of federal revenues that has grown the most is the payroll tax – those line items on your pay stub that go to pay for Social Security and Medicare. For most people, in fact, payroll taxes take a bigger bite out of their paycheck than federal income tax. Why? The 6.2% Social Security withholding tax only applies to wages up to $118,500. For example, a worker earning $40,000 will pay $2,480 (6.2%) in Social Security tax, but an executive earning $400,000 will pay $7,347 (6.2% of $118,500), for an effective rate of just 1.8%. By contrast, the 1.45% Medicare tax has no upper limit, and in fact high earners pay an extra 0.9%.

All but the top-earning 20% of American families pay more in payroll taxes than in federal income taxes, according to a Treasury Department analysis.

Still, that analysis confirms that, after all federal taxes are factored in, the U.S. tax system as a whole is progressive. The top 0.1% of families pay the equivalent of 39.2% and the bottom 20% have negative tax rates (that is, they get more money back from the government in the form of refundable tax credits than they pay in taxes).

Of course, people can and will differ on whether any of this constitutes a “fair” tax system. Depending on their politics and personal situations, some would argue for a more steeply progressive structure, others for a flatter one. Finding the right balance can be challenging to the point of impossibility: As Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV’s finance minister, is said to have remarked: “The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.”

Note: This is an update of an earlier post published March 24, 2015.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/13/high-income-americans-pay-most-income-taxes-but-enough-to-be-fair/

Summary of the Latest Federal Income Tax Data, 2016 Update

February 1, 2017

Vice President Mike Pence stays loyal to Trump, but it could come at a cost

Noah Bierman Contact Reporter

The Republicans’ signature healthcare bill was in peril in Congress and President Trump was busy warring against media foes on Twitter.

Vice President Mike Pence, wearing a brown suit and his usual earnest expression, was far from the fray last week, here at a warehouse outside Cleveland amid metal rods and wooden crates for a “listening session” with small-business owners. Sitting at a drafting table, he ignored the camera lights as well as the trouble in Washington, dutifully hearing out complaints about healthcare, taking notes on a legal pad and promising the Ohioans that the Trump-Pence administration was close to replacingObamacare.

This is how Mike Pence copes with the drama that defines life as Donald Trump’s sidekick: acting like everything is normal, boringly normal. 

It requires a measure of willful disbelief, some salesmanship and a heap of praise for the president. But that coping strategy does not mask the fundamental challenge of Pence’s role since he became Trump’s running mate nearly a year ago: balancing his own reputation and political ambition against his loyalty to a man seemingly determined to scorch nearly every norm in Washington, and now enmeshed in a special counsel investigation in large part due to his own erratic behavior.

The vice president has made his choice, hitching his career to Trump’s unpredictable presidency, but lately he also has made a few notable moves toward protecting himself, hiring a personal attorney and establishing an independent political committee.

“It’s kind of perilous — skiing through moguls,” said Brian Howey, an Indiana political blogger who has chronicled Pence’s career from U.S. House member to Indiana governor to vice president. “How many times can you do that before you’re ensnarled in the web of deception?”

Friends say there is nothing to game out in Pence’s allegiance to Trump. Pence believes in the president, they say, and agrees with supporters who believe the White House is under unfairly harsh scrutiny. 

“What would happen if suddenly we found Trump is setting fire to the Humane Society?” said Greg Garrison, a conservative former radio host in Indiana who has long known Pence, choosing an absurd example to make the point that Trump’s recklessness has been exaggerated. “Does that mean Mike is going to go along? No, he’s not. But I think Mike is where he is because he understands this president and where we are right now.”

Yet just five months in, some observers say Pence’s chosen course as the captain of Trump’s cheering section has diminished his own gravitas and dashed the hopes of mainstream Republicans who thought Pence could serve as a check on the impulsive Trump.

“Recent vice presidents have been supportive of the president without surrendering a sense of personal dignity, without saying stuff that just doesn’t pass the straight-face test,” said Joel K. Goldstein, a St. Louis University law professor who has written about the modern vice presidency and its enhanced power.

For a parallel, Goldstein reached not to a vice president but to a well-known aide to President Lyndon B. Johnson, Jack Valenti, who was mocked for his over-the-top praise of his boss. Valenti, Goldstein said, is the only public figure in the modern era that came close to Pence’s level of presidential puffery.

What is more, Goldstein added, any notion that Pence’s power would be enhanced by his governing experience relative to the inexperienced Trump has been undermined by the sense that Pence lacks the standing to “go in with Trump and level with him on things.”

While Pence is often in the room with Trump and speaks with him nearly every day, he does not always command the president’s attention. That dynamic was evident during the first Cabinet meeting last month. Trump swiveled his head around the room and asked, “Where is our vice president?”

Pence sat right in front of him.

When the president finally spied his top deputy, Pence knew just what to say.

“The greatest privilege of my life is to serve as the — as vice president to the president who’s keeping his word to the American people and assembling a team that’s bringing real change, real prosperity, real strength back to our nation,” Pence said.

Taking their cue from Pence, the Cabinet secretaries then took turns extolling the president in ways that were widely derided as obsequious.

But for Pence, such flattery has come to define his persona. Variations on the line that serving Trump is “the greatest privilege of my life” are part of his stump speech, used among audiences as varied as Cuban Americans in Miami, evangelicals in Washington, troops in Honolulu, Japan and South Korea, and, last week, the factory workers in Ohio.

The younger Pence, with his square features, silver hair and wholesome rhetorical style, suggests a measured 1950s television dad, and as such stands in contrast to a president who developed his celebrity in the 21st century world of social media and reality television. His political discipline also contrasts with Trump’s extemporaneous politics.

As governor of Indiana, Pence was seen as a potential presidential candidate by many Republicans, at least until his popularity waned significantly. Certainly he was seen before the 2016 campaign as a more serious possibility than Trump. Pence is, in many ways, the type of establishment-blessed figure Trump ran against when he pledged to wrest power from career politicians.

But Pence came to see himself as Trump did, less as a contrast to the maverick mogul than as a complement.

“You don’t win six congressional elections and a gubernatorial election and a national ticket without having a sense of politics and self-preservation,” said Rep. Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican who served with Pence in the House leadership.

For Pence the key to melding Trump’s interests with his own, Cole said, is making clear that he’s only as valuable to the president as his reputation. “It doesn’t help him if he loses his credibility,” Cole said.

Pence has skirted that danger since his first month in office.

Though he led Trump’s presidential transition, Pence has said he did not know about meetings between Russian officials and Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security advisor during the campaign and initially in the White House, that are now central to the investigation into possible collusion to influence the 2016 election. So in January, on Flynn’s assurance, he falsely said on television that Flynn had not discussed with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak the sanctions that President Obama imposed in December as penalty for Russia’s campaign meddling.

Flynn’s lying to the vice president was the reason given for his forced resignation, yet Trump and several advisors had been aware of Flynn’s deception for days.

Pence also said he did not know Flynn was secretly lobbying for Turkey until March, though Flynn, according to the New York Times, informed the transition team in early January that he was under investigation for failing to report the work he did as a foreign agent during the campaign.

And after Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey, Pence insisted that the bureau’s Russia investigation had nothing to do with it, only to have Trump contradict him a day later in a nationally televised interview.

The incidents underscore Pence’s problem: His allies maintain he is a core inside player, yet at significant moments, they have insisted he was out of the loop. The friends dismiss such embarrassments, however, as the natural consequence of Trump being Trump, and Pence’s place as first in line whether the White House is on offense or defense.

“He understands he has a job and his job is to be a loyal soldier, and he’s a very effective communicator,” said Pete Seat, an official with the Indiana Republican Party. “So sometimes the job of being first one out of the gate falls on him.”

David McIntosh, the Indiana Republican whom Pence replaced in Congress, said “there were two truths” in the Comey firing. There was the one Pence told — that Justice Department leaders recommended Comey be fired — and the one that Trump later told, that he would have fired Comey regardless of that recommendation.

“One thing I think Mike would not do is make the first statement if he thought it was not true,” said McIntosh, disregarding Pence’s insistence that Comey’s firing had nothing to do with the Russia investigation when Trump later said it did.

Pence, who turned 58 last month, came to prominence in Indiana as a talk radio host in the 1990s, building a brand as a conservative Christian who chose to make his points without turning up the volume.

Elected to Congress on his third try, Pence initially was a conservative renegade. But he proved to be in the vanguard of what became the tea party movement. Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican whose office was next to Pence’s when the Indianan was in Congress, remembers the two of them bursting through the House doors together on late nights — like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid into a saloon — to halt spending measures, and offering slow claps for President George W. Bush’s spending plans during a State of the Union address.

Flake said Pence’s ability to stay relentlessly on message endeared him to other conservatives, propelling him into the House leadership ranks.

Next, as Indiana’s governor for four years, he built on his conservative credentials while showing a willingness to bend on a few issues, including allowing expansion of Medicaid as part of Obamacare. He suffered his biggest setback on a religious liberty bill that allowed store owners to refuse services for gay weddings; Pence retreated under pressure from groups concerned the law would hurt Indiana’s reputation and its ability to recruit workers and businesses from out of state.

Pence’s allies say he has maintained important credibility in Congress, both because he served there and because of his alliance with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan. He was influential as Trump made his Cabinet choices and enlisted Judge Neil M. Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, a selection that united Republicans more than any decision Trump has made in the White House. But his role as a conduit to Congress is being tested by Republicans’ divisions over the healthcare bill, which Pence has repeatedly promised would get out of Congress by the end of summer.

Pence, through his press office, declined an interview request, citing his desire to avoid discussing his role or influence. He has been careful to avoid taking credit, an important trait to a president who wants it for himself and is angered by those who flaunt their influence. If the vice president has had any disagreements with Trump, they have not been leaked, a rarity in the White House.

Pence associates say he is most comfortable in the policy realm, letting Trump pick his tasks and define his role. That has included trips to Asia and Europe and another planned for Latin America in August. By sticking to script and avoiding free-form interactions with the press, Pence has avoided getting dragged further into controversies over the Russia investigation and Trump’s tweets.

As Comey testified in Congress last month that the president lied and tried to halt the investigations of Flynn and Russia, Pence once again found a spot for himself away from the tumult.

Before an ornate room full of governors and state officials near the White House, Pence focused on the administration’s theme of the week: roads, bridges and airports. He spoke about the “builder in the White House,” even as Trump himself had overshadowed that message with tweets assailing the mayor of London, the media and his Justice Department.

“Folks,” Pence said, “it’s already been a banner week for infrastructure.”

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The Pronk Pops Show 921, June 29, 2017, Part 1 –Story 1: Majority of American People Want and Deserve A Big, Bold, Bipartisan Tax Reform Cut — The Time Is Now For The Fair Tax Less Version of The FairTax — Trump Should Embrace Real Tax Reform By Becoming Champion of Fair Tax Less If He Wants A Booming Economy Growing At 5% Plus — No Guts — No Glory — Just Do It By Labor Day September 4, 2017 — Make America Great Again — What Good is Dreaming It If You Don’t Actually Do It! — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 921,  June 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 920,  June 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 919,  June 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 918,  June 26, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 917,  June 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 916,  June 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 915,  June 20, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 902,  May 31, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 900,  May 25, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 894,  May 16, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 892,  May 12, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 888,  May 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 887,  May 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 886,  May 4, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 885,  May 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 884,  May 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 865: March 31, 2017

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The Pronk Pops Show 921, June 29, 2017, Part 1 –Story 1: Majority of American People Want and Deserve A Big, Bold, Bipartisan Tax Reform Cut — The Time Is Now For The Fair Tax Less Version of The FairTax — Trump Should Embrace Real Tax Reform By Becoming Champion of Fair Tax Less If He Wants A Booming Economy Growing At 5% Plus — No Guts — No Glory — Just Do It By Labor Day September 4, 2017 — Make America Great Again — What Good is Dreaming It If You Don’t Actually Do It! — Videos

Image result for fairtaxImage result for fair tax nation
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Corporations paying fewer taxes

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Wealthy pay more in taxes than poor

Image result for president trump for fair tax

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1/26/17 Border Adjustment Taxes, Tax Reform and Trade: Panel 2 Part 2

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Wilbur Ross On Border Tax: Something Will Be Found To Fill Trillion-Dollar Hole | Squawk Box | CNBC

Honda “Impossible Dream” Commercial

Honda Advert: Impossible Dream II 2010

Lyrics
To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest, to follow that star,
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
To fight for the right without question or cause
To be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause
And I know if I’ll only be true to this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I’m laid to my rest
And the world will be better for this
That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To fight the unbeatable foe, to reach the unreachable star
Songwriters: Joe Darion / Mitchell Leigh
The Impossible Dream lyrics © Helena Music Company

 

Taxes May Be Certain, but Tax Reform Is Not

Taxes May Be Certain, but Tax Reform Is Not
by V. Lance Tarrance

Donald Trump is a man who throws down gauntlets, and he threw down several big ones during his campaign for president — confronting the status quos on immigration, onhealthcare and on taxes, to name a few. He is now pursuing bold policy changes on each. But it could be Trump’s action on taxes that matters most to whether the stock market continues to ride high, GDP growth returns to a healthy 3% and, therefore, whether his presidency is judged well in posterity.

News about taxes has been relatively slow thus far in Trump’s administration. Judicial blowback against his immigration policies and Congressional blowback on healthcare reform have received far more attention than the general tax-plan principles he announced in April. Still, achieving detailed tax reform may prove even more difficult than his other policy struggles once the wheels start turning.

Before making tax reform a year-end goal, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin initially said he hoped to complete tax reform by August. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reacted by saying that tax reform is a “very complicated subject” and harder to do now than the last time Congress achieved it in 1986. And passing the 1986 tax reform legislation was no easy task — it required winning the support of a Democratic House and a Republican president, and took nearly two years of intense negotiations. Alluding more cynically to the significant political obstacles that often impede changing the tax code, former House Speaker John Boehner said the passing of a tax code overhaul is “just a bunch of happy talk.”

Now, however, current Speaker Paul Ryan is also pushing for tax reform by the end of 2017, making these obstacles appear a little less daunting than if the administration were going it alone.

Aside from whether tax experts and Washington politicians are willing to upend the tax code, it is important to note where the American people stand on the need for action on taxes. It must be remembered that taxpayers may dislike the current tax system but not be convinced that Congress and the Trump administration will make it any better — change could be worse. Without a strong push from the American people, Trump’s tax reform might not materialize.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Gallup tested several of candidate Trump’s tax proposals.

  • He advocated eliminating most federal income tax deductions and loopholes for the very rich, and Gallup found 63% of American adults favoring this with just 17% opposed.
  • His proposal to simplify the federal tax code — reducing the current seven tax brackets to four — was also popular, with 47% agreeing and only 12% disagreeing.
  • Trump’s plan to eliminate the estate tax paid when someone dies garnered considerably more agreement than disagreement from Americans, 54% to 19%. Notably, this is an issue that Congress and the wider public have considered in the recent past, and public sentiment on the issue today is in line with past Gallup polls on this issue, such as when it asked about keeping the estate tax from increasing in 2010.

More recently, in March 2017, Americans viewed President Trump’s general plan to “significantly cut federal income taxes for the middle class” positively: 61% agreed with the plan (with no mention of Trump in the question), 26% disagreed and 13% had no opinion. Trump’s proposal to lower corporate tax rates, however, elicited a split decision, with 38% reacting positively, 43% negatively and the potentially decisive 19% “no opinion” group apparently needing more information.

These findings suggest Americans could respond favorably to many of the specific elements of Trump’s ultimate tax plan, provided they make it into whatever legislation Congress winds up debating. For example, in spite of closing tax loopholes that favor the rich, the plan is expected to end up cutting taxes on the wealthy, not raising them. But as long as the plan also cuts taxes on the middle class, that fact alone is unlikely to sink it with Americans. Bush’s across-the-board tax cuts in 2001, which more Americans at the time said were a “good thing” than a “bad thing,” are a perfect illustration of this.

Whether Americans feel a sense of urgency about enacting tax reform is another matter.

In April 2017, Gallup found that Americans’ concern about their own federal tax burden had actually cooled somewhat, as barely half (51%) felt their taxes were “too high,” down from 57% in 2016. By contrast, in June 1985, the year before the revolutionary Tax Reform Act of 1986 went into effect, 63% of Americans said their taxes were too high.

While public demand for lowering taxes may have waned, it is not gone. Public concern about taxes fell the most over the past year among Republicans — a familiar political pattern given the partisan shift in presidential power. With a Republican in the White House, the Republican rank and file are less likely to say anything negative about the government, including about taxes. Still, 62% of Republicans call their taxes too high, as do 52% of independents and 39% of Democrats.

The implication? While not as intense as Congressional leaders may have expected, public demand for tax reform is still there, especially among the Republicans who may matter most to GOP lawmakers.

Common Ground Exists on Tax Reform

As the U.S. Congress is about to start its summer recess, tax reform remains ill defined by the administration, and negotiations over sub-issues like the border adjustment tax have stalled any pivot to immediate tax legislation. More importantly, there seems to be no bipartisan support this time, while there was under Reagan in 1986. Granted, this may seem like less of an issue now, as Republicans today control both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. But real tax reform always makes for winners and losers, and it is problematic for only one party to pass new reforms. One need only look at the electoral consequences that Democrats have repeatedly suffered since 2010, the year they passed major healthcare reform legislation on party-line votes, to understand the danger Republicans could face if they pursue tax reform alone.

To make tax reform possible from a bipartisan standpoint, Congress needs to make sure the bill can be branded a “middle-class winner.” As noted previously, Americans favor tax cuts for the middle class, and as the following table shows, Republicans and Democrats are also more likely to believe middle-income people are currently paying too much in taxes than to say they are paying their fair share or paying too little.

Both Party Groups Tend to Believe Middle-Income Americans Pay Too Much in Federal Taxes
Republican/Lean Republican Democrat/Lean Democratic
% %
Too much 51 49
Fair share 40 43
Too little 5 7
No opinion 4 1
GALLUP, APRIL 5-9, 2017

To ensure tax reform enjoys at least some bipartisan support, Democrats will need a win during negotiations, meaning taxes would likely need to be raised on the nation’s wealthier class of citizens. Republicans are split on the issue of the fairness of taxes paid by upper-income people, but Democrats are in solid agreement that they pay too little.

Parties Diverge on Perceptions of What Upper-Income Americans Pay in Federal Taxes
Republican/Lean Republican Democrat/Lean Democratic
% %
Too much 18 4
Fair share 38 13
Too little 40 82
No opinion 4 1
GALLUP, APRIL 5-9, 2017

Bottom Line

With the Trump administration wanting tax reform before the end of 2017, Ryan is now promising to put it on the front burner. However, even Republican leaders’ enthusiasm for tax reform may not be enough to overcome the triad of legislative challenges that exist: the slimness of the Republican majorities in the U.S. House and Senate, the lack of bipartisanship in Washington and the power of special interest groups in Washington, D.C., to protect their vested interests. This is why comprehensive tax reform is historically so rare.

One thing working in Republicans’ favor is that a majority of Americans support tax relief for the middle class, and members of both major parties tend to believe middle-class taxes are too high. If the bill can be positioned strongly as middle-class tax relief, its chances for success will be higher.

http://www.gallup.com/opinion/polling-matters/213239/taxes-may-certain-tax-reform-not.aspx

The Fair Tax — A Tax System that Americans Rightfully Deserve

  • 04/22/2016
  • FAIRtax 
  • by: Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX-4)
The Fair Tax — A Tax System that Americans Rightfully Deserve

At more than 73,000 pages, it’s no wonder our country’s tax code spells headache for millions of hardworking Americans across the country. This bloated document, riddled with complicated loopholes, is anything but navigable for working-class people who can’t afford to hire accountants, lawyers or tax professionals. Yet like clockwork every spring, Americans throw away countless time and treasure in an attempt to properly comply with the process of giving their hard-earned money to the federal government.

The rigors of compliance aside, our tax code penalizes economic growth and American competitiveness. By imposing some of the highest corporate tax rates in the industrialized world, American business are incentivized to entertain corporate inversions, and leave trillions of dollars of cash abroad where it can’t be invested in American growth. While the well-to-do and well-connected may be able to navigate this byzantine world, taxpayers across the country and throughout the 18 counties in Texas I represent are frustrated, and rightfully so. The American people deserve better.

Frustration with the IRS reached new levels in 2013 when revelations surfaced that the agency was targeting conservative groups. When Congress launched investigations, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen repeatedly obstructed justice by refusing to testify and failing to produce up to 24,000 emails relevant to the investigations. This is simply unacceptable.

To make matters worse, the IRS experienced a cyber-attack in 2015 that left more than 700,000 taxpayer accounts vulnerable. And according to a GAO report released just last month, the IRS has improved only marginally since that time in regard to its data security. Taxpayers should not be subject to the political whims of unelected bureaucrats who refuse to follow the law and falsify facts before Congress, all the while placing their personal financial data at risk.

As a staunch fiscal conservative, I’ve been vocal and outspoken about the need for a fairer, flatter tax code – one that doesn’t stifle growth or punish economic success. After all, Ronald Reagan famously said that the role of government should be to fostereconomic growth, not smother it. That’s why I’ve joined more than 70 of my colleagues in cosponsoring legislation that would eliminate all individual and corporate income taxes – the FairTax Act of 2015 (H.R. 25).

The FairTax Act, introduced by Rep. Rob Woodall (GA-7), eliminates all personal, corporate, gift and estate taxes and replaces them with a simple, point-of-sale consumption tax. Beyond this, it completely abolishes the IRS and all of the bureaucratic red tape and corporate cronyism that comes with it – and remains revenue neutral in the process.

The FairTax Act combats the corruption and inefficiency of the IRS, and instead promotes American growth and investment. I’m proud to be a cosponsor of this key piece of legislation, because it recognizes that more freedom and less government is the formula for economic success. It’s this model that’s allowed Texas to lead the nation in job growth since 2008, and it’s about time for Washington to get an overdue dose of these commonsense, Texas economic values. The FairTax Act will do just that, and I urge my colleagues to support it.

Congressman John Ratcliffe represents Texas’ 4th district, serving the outer eastern suburbs of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplexsince 2015.  He is a member of the Judiciary Committee as well as the House Homeland Security Committee, serving as Chairman of its Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies Subcommittee.  Prior to Congress, he served as Mayor of Heath, Texas.  In addition, during the George W. Bush Administration, he was appointed to multiple posts, including U.S. Attorney and Chief of Anti-Terrorism and National Security for the Eastern District of Texas.

Your Money, Your Decision

The current federal income tax system is clearly broken — unfair, overly complex, and almost impossible for most Americans to understand. But there is a reasonable, nonpartisan alternative before Congress that is both fair and easy to understand. A system that allows you to keep your whole paycheck and only pay taxes on what you spend.

The FairTax is a national sales tax that treats every person equally and allows American businesses to thrive, while generating the same tax revenue as the current four-million-word-plus tax code. Under the FairTax, every person living in the United States pays a sales tax on purchases of new goods and services, excluding necessities due to the prebate. The FairTax rate after necessities is 23% compared to combining the 15% income tax bracket with the 7.65% of employee payroll taxes under the current system — both of which will be eliminated!

Important to note: the FairTax is the only tax plan currently being proposed that includes the removal of the payroll tax.

Keep Your Paycheck

For the first time in recent history, American workers will get to keep every dime they earn; including what would have been paid in federal income taxes and payroll taxes. You will get an instant raise in your pay!

Social Security & Medicare Funding

Benefits will not change. The FairTax actually puts these programs on a more solid funding foundation. Instead of being funded by taxes on workers’ wages, which is a small pool, they’ll be funded by taxes on overall consumption by all residents. Learn More .

Get a Tax Refund in Advance on Purchases of Basic Necessities

The FairTax provides a progressive program called a prebate. This gives every legal resident household an “advance refund” at the beginning of each month so that purchases made up to the poverty level are tax-free. The prebate prevents an unfair burden on low-income families. Learn more .

Pay Tax on Only What You Spend

Be in control of your financial destiny. You alone can control your tax burden. If you’re thrifty, you’ll pay lower taxes than somebody who is not. Most importantly, you’ll be taxed fairly. Learn moreabout what is taxed.

Everyone Pays Their Fair Share

Tax evasion and the underground economy cost each taxpayer an additional $2,500 every year! But by taxing new products and services consumed, the FairTax puts everyone in the country at the same level at the cash register. Further, only legal residents are eligible for the prebate. Learn more .

The IRS is No Longer Needed

No more complicated tax forms, individual audits, or intrusive federal bureaucracy. Retailers will collect the FairTax just as they do now with state sales taxes. All money will be collected and remitted to the U.S. Treasury, and both the retailers and states will be paid a fee for their collection service. Learn More

Summer looms with GOP stuck on health care, budget, taxes

The Capitol in Washington is quiet after lawmakers departed the for the Independence Day recess, Friday, June 30, 2017. The Republican leadership in the Senate decided this week to delay a vote on their…

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are stuck on health care, can’t pass a budget, and hopes for a big, bipartisan infrastructure package are fizzling. Overhauling the tax code looks more and more like a distant dream.

The GOP-led Congress has yet to salt away a single major legislative accomplishment for President Donald Trump — and a summer of drift may lead to a logistical nightmare this fall.

Instead, Trump’s allies appear both divided and indecisive, unable to deliver on his agenda while letting other must-do congressional business — chiefly their core responsibilities of passing a budget and spending bills, and keeping the government solvent — slide onto an already daunting fall agenda that is looking more and more like it’ll be a train wreck.

Friday brought more bad news for Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and other House leaders as 20 GOP moderates signaled a revolt on the budget, penning a letter to Ryan announcing their opposition to an emerging plan to force cuts to government agencies and benefit programs such as food stamps. The letter, authored by Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., warned that without an agreement with Democrats on increasing agency spending, moderates will be “reticent to support any budget.”

“It’s looking like they’re very disorganized. They got obviously a lot of conflict over spending preferences and it’s not just a two-way conflict,” said top House Budget Committee Democrat John Yarmuth of Kentucky. “It’s just a tough Rubik’s Cube they’re trying to solve.”

So it’s not just the Senate effort to repeal and replace Democrat Barack Obama’s health care law that’s foundering. The annual congressional budget measure — a prerequisite to this fall’s hoped-for tax effort — is languishing as well, as are the 12 annual spending bills that typically consume weeks of House floor time each summer.

But GOP leaders say all is going well. Ryan told a Wisconsin radio host on Thursday that “it’s the most productive Congress since the mid-’80s” and issued a news release Friday titled “Despite What You May Hear, We Are Getting Things Done.” The release cites a bipartisan Department of Veterans Affairs accountability measure and 14 bills repealing Obama-era regulations as Congress’ top achievements.

“It would be hard to fault the average American for thinking all that’s going on in Washington these days is high-drama hearings and partisan sniping,” Ryan said. “But amid the countdown clocks and cable news chatter, something important is happening: Congress is getting things done to help improve people’s lives.”

In the first year of a presidency, the annual August congressional recess is a traditional point to take stock. By that point, Obama had signed an economic recovery bill and President George W. Bush had won his landmark tax cuts, while President Bill Clinton was celebrating a hard-fought budget package.

Trump has no comparable successes to trumpet — but his allies in Congress say they’re not worried.

“We laid out an agenda in November and December, and we’re needing to get there,” said House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas. “And we can effectively get there. The questions that confound us are those that we can answer ourselves. And we will.”

And as Republicans are stalled on health care, the budget and infrastructure, there are several other problems that need to be taken care of, including increasing the nation’s borrowing authority, preventing a government shutdown, and lifting budget “caps” that are hobbling efforts to beef up the military.

Unlike health care, the debt limit and a deal to fix the spending caps — a leftover from a failed 2011 budget deal — can only be resolved with Democratic help. However, they promise to consume political capital and valuable time and energy, and there’s no political pay-off, other than forestalling disaster.

First, Congress is off on vacation to return in July for a three-week session. Then comes the traditional monthlong August recess.

After Labor Day comes a four-week sprint to October and the deadline to avert a government shutdown with a temporary spending bill — and to forestall a disastrous default on U.S. obligations by lifting the debt limit, which is a politically toxic vote for many Republicans.

Sentiment is building among some lawmakers to shorten the recess to make progress on the unfinished work that is piling up. On Friday, 10 GOP senators, led by David Perdue of Georgia, sent Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a letter citing delays on health care, the budget, a stopgap spending bill and the debt limit as reasons to consider canceling some or all of the recess.

“If we successfully navigate those priorities, we can finally get to our once in a generation opportunity on tax reform,” the letter said. “Growing the economy, repairing our infrastructure, and rebuilding our military are all dependent on accomplishing the tasks before us.”

http://wtop.com/government/2017/06/summer-looms-with-gop-stuck-on-health-care-budget-taxes/

APRIL 13, 2016

High-income Americans pay most income taxes, but enough to be ‘fair’?

Corporations paying fewer taxes

Tax-deadline season isn’t many people’s favorite time of the year, but most Americans are OK with the amount of tax they pay. It’s what other people pay, or don’t pay, that bothers them.

Just over half (54%) of Americans surveyed in fall by Pew Research Center said they pay about the right amount in taxes considering what they get from the federal government, versus 40% who said they pay more than their fair share. But in a separate 2015 surveyby the Center, some six-in-ten Americans said they were bothered a lot by the feeling that “some wealthy people” and “some corporations” don’t pay their fair share.

It’s true that corporations are funding a smaller share of overall government operations than they used to. In fiscal 2015, the federal government collected $343.8 billion from corporate income taxes, or 10.6% of its total revenue. Back in the 1950s, corporate income tax generated between a quarter and a third of federal revenues (though payroll taxes have grown considerably over that period).

Nor have corporate tax receipts kept pace with the overall growth of the U.S. economy. Inflation-adjusted gross domestic product has risen 153% since 1980, while inflation-adjusted corporate tax receipts were 115% higher in fiscal 2015 than in fiscal 1980, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. There have been a lot of ups and downs over that period, as corporate tax receipts tend to rise during expansions and drop off in recessions. In fiscal 2007, for instance, corporate taxes hit $370.2 billion (in current dollars), only to plunge to $138.2 billion in 2009 as businesses felt the impact of the Great Recession.

Corporations also employ battalions of tax lawyers to find ways to reduce their tax bills, from running income through subsidiaries in low-tax foreign countries to moving overseas entirely, in what’s known as a corporate inversion (a practice the Treasury Department has moved to discourage).

But in Tax Land, the line between corporations and people can be fuzzy. While most major corporations (“C corporations” in tax lingo) pay according to the corporate tax laws, many other kinds of businesses – sole proprietorships, partnerships and closely held “S corporations” – fall under the individual income tax code, because their profits and losses are passed through to individuals. And by design, wealthier Americans pay most of the nation’s total individual income taxes.

Wealthy pay more in taxes than poorIn 2014, people with adjusted gross income, or AGI, above $250,000 paid just over half (51.6%) of all individual income taxes, though they accounted for only 2.7% of all returns filed, according to our analysis of preliminary IRS data. Their average tax rate (total taxes paid divided by cumulative AGI) was 25.7%. By contrast, people with incomes of less than $50,000 accounted for 62.3% of all individual returns filed, but they paid just 5.7% of total taxes. Their average tax rate was 4.3%.

The relative tax burdens borne by different income groups changes over time, due both to economic conditions and the constantly shifting provisions of tax law. For example, using more comprehensive IRS data covering tax years 2000 through 2011, we found that people who made between $100,000 and $200,000 paid 23.8% of the total tax liability in 2011, up from 18.8% in 2000. Filers in the $50,000-to-$75,000 group, on the other hand, paid 12% of the total liability in 2000 but only 9.1% in 2011. (The tax liability figures include a few taxes, such as self-employment tax and the “nanny tax,” that people typically pay along with their income taxes.)

All told, individual income taxes accounted for a little less than half (47.4%) of government revenue, a share that’s been roughly constant since World War II. The federal government collected $1.54 trillion from individual income taxes in fiscal 2015, making it the national government’s single-biggest revenue source. (Other sources of federal revenue include corporate income taxes, the payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare, excise taxes such as those on gasoline and cigarettes, estate taxes, customs duties and payments from the Federal Reserve.) Until the 1940s, when the income tax was expanded to help fund the war effort, generally only the very wealthy paid it.

Since the 1970s, the segment of federal revenues that has grown the most is the payroll tax – those line items on your pay stub that go to pay for Social Security and Medicare. For most people, in fact, payroll taxes take a bigger bite out of their paycheck than federal income tax. Why? The 6.2% Social Security withholding tax only applies to wages up to $118,500. For example, a worker earning $40,000 will pay $2,480 (6.2%) in Social Security tax, but an executive earning $400,000 will pay $7,347 (6.2% of $118,500), for an effective rate of just 1.8%. By contrast, the 1.45% Medicare tax has no upper limit, and in fact high earners pay an extra 0.9%.

All but the top-earning 20% of American families pay more in payroll taxes than in federal income taxes, according to a Treasury Department analysis.

Still, that analysis confirms that, after all federal taxes are factored in, the U.S. tax system as a whole is progressive. The top 0.1% of families pay the equivalent of 39.2% and the bottom 20% have negative tax rates (that is, they get more money back from the government in the form of refundable tax credits than they pay in taxes).

Of course, people can and will differ on whether any of this constitutes a “fair” tax system. Depending on their politics and personal situations, some would argue for a more steeply progressive structure, others for a flatter one. Finding the right balance can be challenging to the point of impossibility: As Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV’s finance minister, is said to have remarked: “The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.”

Note: This is an update of an earlier post published March 24, 2015.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/13/high-income-americans-pay-most-income-taxes-but-enough-to-be-fair/

Summary of the Latest Federal Income Tax Data, 2016 Update

February 1, 2017

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The Pronk Pops Show 919, June 27, 2017, Part 1 — Story 1: Breaking BIG — Big Interventionist Government — Obamacare and Obamacare Lite — The Progressive Two-Party Tyranny of The Democratic and Republican Parties — Fake Repeal and Fake Replace Is Not Real Repeal of Obamacare and All Obamacare Regulations and Replace With Free Enterprise Individual Health Insurance Markets Not Centralized Federal Control and Regulation with Massive Subsidies Of Health Insurance Industry — Collectivists vs Individualists — Replace The C, D, F BIG Progressive Republican Senators and Representatives — The Party’s Over — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 919,  June 27, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 907,  June 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 906,  June 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 905,  June 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 904,  June 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 903,  June 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 902,  May 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 901,  May 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 900,  May 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 899,  May 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 898,  May 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 897,  May 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 896,  May 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 895,  May 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 894,  May 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 893,  May 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 892,  May 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 891,  May 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 890,  May 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 889,  May 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 888,  May 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 887,  May 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 886,  May 4, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 885,  May 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 884,  May 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 881: April 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 880: April 25, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 878: April 21, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 868: April 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 867: April 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 865: March 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 864: March 30, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 862: March 28, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 860: March 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 859: March 23, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 856: March 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 855: March 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 854: March 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 853: March 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 852: March 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 851: March 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 850: March 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 849: March 1, 2017

Image result for cartoons on repeal and replace of obamacare

Image result for Progressive republicans and democrats the two party tyrannyImage result for cartoons on repeal and replace of obamacareImage result for Progressive republicans and democrats the two party tyranny

National Debt Clock 

http://www.usdebtclock.org/

Image result for Progressive republicans and democrats the two party tyranny

Part 1 — Story 1: Breaking BIG — Big Interventionist Government — Obamacare and Obamacare Lite — The Progressive Two-Party Tyranny of The Democratic and Republican Parties — Fake Repeal and Fake Replace Is Not Real Repeal of Obamacare and All Obamacare Regulations and Replace With Free Enterprise Individual Health Insurance Markets Not Centralized Federal Control and Regulation with Massive Subsidies Of Health Insurance Industry — Collectivists vs Individualists — Replace The C, D, F BIG Progressive Republican Senators, and Representatives — The Party’s Over — Videos

 

Image result for Per capita health care expenditures by country 2015

Image result for Per capita health care expenditures by country 2015

 

Image result for Per capita health care expenditures by country 2015

Image result for Per capita health care expenditures by country 2015

Image result for Per capita health care expenditures by country 2015

Image result for how many americans are in employer paid health insurance v. individual health insurance

Judy Holliday – The Party’s Over

Judy Holliday The Party’s Over Lyrics

The party’s over
It’s time to call it a day
They’ve burst your pretty balloon
And taken the moon away.

It’s time to wind up

The masquerade
Just make your mind up
The piper must be paid.

The party’s over
The candles flicker and dim
You danced and dreamed

Through the night
It seemed to be right
Just being with him.

Now you must wake up
All dreams must end
Take off your makeup

The party’s over
It’s all over, my friend.

Now you must wake up
All dreams must end
Take off your makeup
The party’s over
It’s all over, my friend.

President Trump Holds Meeting with GOP Senators After Delayed Healthcare Vote 6/27/17

I won’t vote to keep ObamaCare: Rand Paul

What is President Trump’s role in the health care fight?

MARK LEVIN: Senate Health Care Bill Is 95% OBAMACARE

Conservative George Will MOCKS Donald Trump And Derives Republicans Over Hypocrisy On Trumpcare

Sen. Rand Paul: Our Bill May Cost More In First 2 Years Than Obamacare Did | TODAY

Republicans delay Senate health care vote

Heller says he will not support the GOP Senate health-care bill

Senator Ron Johnson: ‘We Should Not Be Voting’ on Healthcare This Week | Meet The Press | MSNBC

Milton Friedman – Collectivism

Milton Friedman on universal health care

Milton Friedman – The Social Security Myth

Milton Friedman – The Welfare Establishment

Milton Friedman – Tyranny of the Status Quo – Part 1 – Beneficiaries

Milton Friedman – Tyranny of the Status Quo – Part 2 – Bureaucrats

Milton Friedman – Tyranny of the Status Quo – Part 3 – Politicians

Milton Friedman – Why Tax Reform Is Impossible

Milton Friedman – Health Care Reform (1992) pt 1/4

Milton Friedman – Health Care Reform (1992) pt 2/4

Milton Friedman – Health Care Reform (1992) pt 3/4

Milton Friedman – Health Care Reform (1992) pt 3/4

Milton Friedman – Health Care Reform (1992) pt 4/4

Milton Friedman – Morality & Capitalism

Lacking enough GOP votes, Senate pushes back health bill

Sen. Rand Paul: Senate health care bill needs more Obamacare ‘repeal’

Hardball with Chris Matthews 6/27/17 Republicans can’t repeal and replace Obamacare

Hume on GOP Health Care Fight: Either Way, Republicans Have a ‘Problem’

Rand Paul: Let’s Repeal Obamacare And Don’t Replace It

Rush Limbaugh Talks Obamacare With VP Mike Pence: “We Take The Teeth Out Of The Tiger”

Republicans have one major problem on Obamacare

Why Can’t America Have a Grown-Up Healthcare Conversation?

Is Obamacare Working? The Affordable Care Act Five Years Later

Why Are American Health Care Costs So High?

How Health Insurance Works

Senate postpones health care bill vote

Individual Health Insurance VS. Group Health Insurance

Published on Aug 14, 2009

Ok so lets contrast individual vs. group health insurance. One thing that a lot of people get wrong is individual health insurance, number one isn’t as good coverage and number two, cost more than a group coverage. Well, these two things are wrong. The first one, lets talk about cost. We find that individual health insurance is about 40% less than any group plan. You can load it up with all the features and benefits you are looking for in a group

Group vs. Individual Health Insurance: Health Insurance Facts & More

Published on Aug 16, 2012

Trump triumphs, CNN implodes, the Russian myth is destroyed and the Alt-Left Media haven’t a clue.

How Demented and Sick Our Republic Has Become By Design

‘We’re Amending Obamacare. We’re Not Killing It’

The Senate bill coming out Thursday would do many things to health care in the U.S., but it won’t get rid of the Affordable Care Act, and Mitch McConnell won’t claim that it does.

The health-care bill Senate Republicans plan to unveil on Thursday likely will make substantial changes to Medicaid and cut taxes for wealthy Americans and businesses. It will eliminate mandates and relax regulations on insurance plans, and it will reduce the federal government’s role in health care.

What it won’t do, however, is actually repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Lost in the roiling debate over health care over the last several weeks is that Republicans have all but given up on their longstanding repeal-and-replace pledge. The slogan lives on in the rhetoric used by many GOP lawmakers and the Trump White House but not in the legislation the party is advancing. That was true when House Republicans passed the American Health Care Act last month, which rolled back key parts of Obamacare but was not a full repeal. And it is even more true of the bill the Senate has drafted in secret, which reportedly will stick closer to the underlying structure of the law.

“We’re amending Obamacare. We’re not killing it,” a frustrated Jason Pye of the conservative group FreedomWorks told me earlier this month as the murky outlines of the Senate proposal were beginning to emerge.

Like the House bill, the Senate plan is expected to repeal the ACA’s employer and individual insurance mandates and most if not all of the tax increases Democrats levied to pay for new programs and benefits. But the Senate bill likely will only begin a years-long phase-out of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion in 2020 rather than end it as the House measure does.

The Senate also is expected to include more generous tax credits than the House bill that more closely resemble the system already in place under Obamacare. But the funding levels would still be lower than the current law. And according to Axios, the bill would allow states to opt out of some ACA insurance regulations, but it would do so by loosening existing waivers within the current law rather than follow the House in creating a new waiver system. And the Senate proposal would require that states adhere to more of Obamacare’s regulations than the House bill.Senate Majority Leader McConnell has quietly abandoned the language of “repeal-and-replace” that his office originated seven years ago in the immediate aftermath of the ACA’s enactment. In more than a dozen speeches on health care that McConnell has delivered on the Senate floor since the House passed its bill in early May, he hasn’t uttered the word “repeal” a single time, according to transcripts provided by the majority leader’s office. Nor has he repeated his own pledge to rip out Obamacare “root and branch.” “We’re going to make every effort to pass a bill that dramatically changes the current health care law,” McConnell told reporters on Tuesday, setting a new standard for the bill Republicans plan to release on Thursday.

When the year started, legislation leaving Obamacare substantially in place would have been dead on arrival with hardliners in the House and Senate, who demanded that party leaders expand on a bill that former President Barack Obama vetoed in 2015. That measure did not fully repeal the ACA either, bowing to Senate budget rules limiting how much of the law Republicans could scrap without a filibuster-proof 60 votes. But it eliminated the tax credits and subsidies undergirding the law’s insurance exchanges along with its tax increases and mandates. And with Republicans now in control of both Congress and the White House, conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus this spring began pushing the leadership to go further by repealing Obamacare’s core consumer protections guaranteeing the coverage of essential health benefits and prohibiting insurers from charging higher rates to people with preexisting conditions.

The deal that ultimately allowed the AHCA to pass the House was an under-appreciated turning point in the health-care debate. The concession that Speaker Paul Ryan and a few key moderates made to the Freedom Caucus was to allow states to opt out of some of Obamacare’s insurance regulations, most crucially on equal treatment for pre-existing conditions. But the concession that conservative lawmakers and outside groups made in return was just as significant: They agreed to back off their demand for full repeal and endorse—or at least not fight—a bill that fell far short of that goal.“While this legislation does not fully repeal Obamacare, it’s an important step in keeping that promise to lower healthcare costs,” the Freedom Caucus said in its statement upon passage of the AHCA. It was a message echoed by outside groups like FreedomWorks, Heritage Action, and the Club for Growth, who agreed to drop their opposition to the bill, a move that gave Republicans additional cover to vote for it. Conservatives had embraced an incrementalist approach to Obamacare. The new standard they adopted for health-care legislation was not whether it eliminated the Affordable Care Act but whether it would lower premiums for most consumers.One key question for McConnell is whether the most outspoken conservatives in his caucus—Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Mike Lee of Utah—will judge the Senate bill by that more modest baseline. Republicans can lose no more than two votes to secure passage, and a group of moderate senators is proving just as difficult for party leaders to nail down. To this point, Paul has been the most critical of the GOP approach and the most likely to oppose the proposal from the right. The House bill, he complained, already kept 90 percent of Obamacare’s subsidies. “If this gets any more subsidies in it, it may well be equal to what we have in Obamacare. So it really wouldn’t be repeal,” Paul said on Tuesday, according to Bloomberg. Even so, the Kentucky conservative wouldn’t rule out supporting the bill until he read the text.Cruz and Lee have participated in the Senate process as members of the 13-man working group, and aides have said both have bought into McConnell’s incremental approach. But the two have each complained about the emerging draft in recent days, either on the substance or the top-down, secretive process used to write the bill. “We’re not there yet,” Cruz said Tuesday on Fox News. “The current draft doesn’t do nearly enough to lower premiums.”The Congressional Budget Office projected that in states that opted out of Obamacare’s insurance requirements under the waivers allowed in the House bill, average premiums would drop significantly. But the tradeoff is that people with preexisting conditions would face sharply higher costs or be priced out of insurance entirely. Conservatives have argued that the high cost of adhering to the ACA’s minimum coverage requirements has forced insurers to raise premiums in order to make a profit.Conservative activists briefly held out hope that the health-care bill would move further to the right in the Senate, buoyed by efforts by Cruz and Lee to have Republicans override parliamentary rulings limiting how much of Obamacare they could repeal through the budget reconciliation process. But party leaders never seriously considered that option, which moderate Republicans were likely to oppose.In recent weeks, conservatives have instead focused on demanding that the Senate preserve—or deepen—the reforms to Medicaid in the House bill while still repealing all of Obamacare’s tax hikes. “It is clear that significant portions of the Republican Party have no intention of actually repealing Obamacare despite campaigning on that objective for years,” Mike Needham, CEO of Heritage Action, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Conservatives will evaluate legislative language when it becomes available, looking particularly at whether the legislation empowers states to get out of the onerous insurance mandates imposed by Obamacare, maintains and improves the House’s Medicaid reforms, and repeals Obamacare’s stifling taxes.”

Make no mistake, Republicans aren’t merely tinkering around the edges of the health-care system, or Obamacare. The Senate proposal that will come out on Thursday will significantly alter the federal funding of Medicaid and, in all likelihood, would result in millions fewer Americans having health insurance over the next decade, as projected by the CBO. And while they won’t be excited by the bill, conservative senators and activists might well come around to support it. They’d vote for the plan as a step in the right direction, a weakening of Obamacare. But like McConnell, they won’t be calling it something that it’s not: repeal.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/senate-republican-bill-obamacare-repeal/531108/

What’s in the Senate Republican Health-Care Bill

Like the House version, Mitch McConnell’s proposal would slash taxes, cut Medicaid, and eliminate Obamacare’s insurance mandates for individuals and employers.

The Senate Republican health-care bill is finally out in the open.

After weeks of secretive deliberations, party leaders on Thursday released a 142-page proposal that would slash taxes on the wealthy and businesses; reduce federal funding for Medicaid and phase out its expansion under the Affordable Care Act; and limit the tax credits available to help people purchase insurance on the individual market. The legislation, titled the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, is officially labeled a “discussion draft,” but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants Republicans to debate and vote on the bill by the end of next week.

Like the American Health Care Act that passed the House in May, the Senate bill is a substantial revision to Obamacare but not a wholesale repeal. And while Senate Republicans had vowed to start over rather than work off the unpopular House proposal, their version is structured the same way. The Senate measure mirrors the House bill in eliminating the ACA’s employer and individual insurance mandates and most of the tax increases it imposed to pay for new programs. Both proposals call for an overhaul of Medicaid funding that would allow states to institute work requirements and end the program’s status as an open-ended entitlement. The Senate bill would go further than the House’s $800 billion in cuts by reducing its growth rate beginning in 2025, but unlike the House version, it would begin a three-year phase-out of the program’s expansion in 2020. The AHCA would cut off the expansion entirely that year.

As expected, Democrats assailed the proposal as a draconian measure that would strip health insurance from millions all for the goal of providing tax cuts for the rich. They seized on comments that President Trump reportedly made to Republican senators in which he called the House proposal “mean.”
“Simply put: This bill will result in higher costs, less care, and millions of Americans will lose their health insurance, particularly through Medicaid,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said. “It’s every bit as bad as the House bill; in some ways, it’s even worse.”

But the McConnell was never intended to appeal to Democrats. Instead, the majority leader and the Senate policy staffers who wrote the bill were trying to strike a delicate balance between conservatives bent on ripping up Obamacare and moderate Republican senators who, though they campaigned on repeal, now want to preserve its central benefits. Whether McConnell achieved that middle ground is unclear, as few Republican senators leapt to embrace his proposal in the immediate aftermath of its release. The first official holdouts to emerge were a group of four conservatives: Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.“Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor,” they said in a joint statement. “There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.”Their statement was significant because together, their opposition alone could sink the bill given the GOP’s narrow, 52-48 majority in the Senate. But its careful wording left a lot of room for any or all of the conservatives to come around by the time the bill hits the floor next week. Paul, who has been a critic of the GOP approach for months, was more harsh in a pair of tweets he sent on his own. “The current bill does not repeal Obamacare. It does not keep our promises to the American people,” he wrote. Paul had long been considered a likely no vote, as it is unlikely McConnell could move the bill far enough to the right to get his support without losing moderates.
The draft will also face the test of whether its provisions pass muster under the Senate’s complex rules for budget reconciliation, which would allow Republican to circumvent a Democratic filibuster. Aides on Thursday acknowledged that “there will be ongoing discussions with the Parliamentarian” in the Senate about certain parts of the bill.The Senate proposal targets abortion coverage by prohibiting the use of tax credits to buy insurance plans that cover the procedure, and it would ban funds from going to Planned Parenthood. Those provisions could jeopardize the support of two moderate Republicans, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who have said they oppose restricting federal funding to Planned Parenthood. A spokeswoman for Collins, Annie Clark, said Thursday she would be reviewing the bill into the weekend. “She has a number of concerns and will be particularly interested in examining the forthcoming CBO analysis on the impact on insurance coverage, the effect on insurance premiums, and the changes in the Medicaid program,” Clark said.The Senate bill also allows states to opt out of some of Obamacare’s insurance regulations, but it does not allow waivers that would let insurance companies charge higher rates to people with preexisting conditions. “We’re not touching preexisting conditions,” one top GOP staffer told reporters on a Thursday conference call. While the House bill created a new waiver system aimed at allowing states to get around Obamacare requirements, the Senate expands an existing waiver in the current law to make it easier for states to apply. The provision, aides said, would allow insurance companies in states that obtain waivers to sell plans that do not provide essential health benefits, including maternity care, hospitalization, and mental-health treatment.Unlike the House bill, the Senate proposal contains funding for cost-sharing payments for insurers to help stabilize the faltering individual insurance market under Obamacare. They would continue through 2019 before being repealed entirely. The payments are the subject of a lawsuit that House Republicans filed against the Obama administration three years ago, and while the Trump administration has continued the subsidies, its refusal to guarantee them over the long term has prompted more insurers to exit the ACA exchanges.McConnell has drawn criticism from senators in both parties for writing the bill behind closed doors without public hearings, though it’s unclear if the mounting frustration among some Republican senators about the process will threaten the legislation’s passage. In a floor speech on Thursday morning, the majority leader said senators would have “ample time” to review and amend the bill before a final vote. The Congressional Budget Office said it would release its analysis of the Senate bill’s cost and impact on insurance early next week. It found that the House bill would leave 23 million more people uninsured over the next decade while reducing average premiums depending on whether states opted out of Obamacare’s insurance regulations.“We debated many policy proposals. We considered many different viewpoints,” McConnell said. “In the end, we found that we share many ideas about what needs to be achieved and how we can achieve it. These shared policy objectives and the solutions to help achieve them are what make up the health care discussion draft that we talked through this morning.”Senate budget rules call for what’s known as a “vote-a-rama” where members of either party offer amendments in a single session. And in many ways, it appears McConnell’s draft is designed to be amended. The bill, for example, does not include funding for the opioid crisis that Senators Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and others were demanding. Nor does it adopt their proposal for a longer, seven-year phase-out of the Medicaid expansion. But by omitting those provisions at the front end, McConnell could be inviting Portman, Capito, and other wavering senators to add them by amendment so they can claim credit for improving the bill when it comes to the floor. Similarly, the statement Paul, Cruz, Lee, and Johnson appeared to be a play for changes that could win their ultimate support.Republicans have a razor-thin majority of 52 seats, and McConnell can lose no more than two votes to pass the bill with a tie-breaker from Vice President Mike Pence. The majority leader will also face difficulty securing support from conservatives who feel the proposal doesn’t go far enough in dismantling Obamacare.https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/whats-in-the-senate-republican-health-care-bill/531258/
Mark Levin’s new book, “Rediscovering Americanism,” an assault on the media and progressives and a call for Americans to take back their country, debuts today at No. 1 on Amazon.

Showing the draw of the New York Times bestselling author and top syndicated radio host, his book is already on the way to becoming another big seller.

“My new book covers a lot of territory — philosophy, history, economics, law, culture, etc. And I look deeply into what is meant by Americanism, republicanism, individualism, capitalism. What do we mean by natural law, unalienable rights, liberty, and property rights? From where do these principles come? Why are they important?” he told Secrets.

It follows in the path of his other books and the nation: Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto; Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America; The Liberty Amendments; and Plunder and Deceit.

Secrets reviewed “Rediscovering Americanism”last week and wrote:

In the book, Levin attacks the embrace by the media, politicians, and academia of progressive promises of a “utopia” defined by the end of personal freedom and individuality.

He has a grim name for it: “The Final Outcome.” Levin wrote, “They reject history’s lessons and instead are absorbed with their own conceit and aggrandizement in the relentless pursuit of a diabolical project, the final outcome of which is an oppression of mind and soul.”

Levin added, “the equality they envision but dare not honestly proclaim, is life on the hamster wheel, where one individual is indistinguishable from the next.”

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner’s “Washington Secrets” columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/mark-levin-book-condemning-media-progressives-debuts-no-1-amazon/article/2627178

Dems face identity crisis

Democrats are grappling with how to keep their progressive base happy while winning over white working-class voters who left the party in the 2016 elections.

Defections by blue-collar voters cost Democrat Hillary Clinton the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all of which went to President Trump. It was the first time since 1988 that a GOP presidential candidate had won Michigan or Pennsylvania, and the first time since 1984 in Wisconsin.

The fallout has created an identity crisis for a Democratic Party seeking to find its way forward in the post-Obama era.

A string of House special election losses culminating in Democrat Jon Ossoff’s disappointing defeat in Georgia last week has only intensified the scrutiny and second-guessing of Democratic strategy, to say nothing of the hand-wringing by party activists craving a victory.

“I’m not convinced we know what the best thing is for the party right now,” said Democratic strategist Jim Manley. “I’m not convinced we have the answers.”

Democrats trying to figure out what they’re doing wrong are focused on how they’ve seemingly lost a significant part of the Democratic base all while failing to turn out enough progressives.

There are different views about what to do across the party, with some questioning whether the white working-class voters can be won back by a party that seems to be tilting leftward with the rise of Sen. Bernie Sanders(I-Vt.) and other liberal voices.

“I’ve spoken to some folks who think we have to only choose one or the other,” said one former senior aide to President Barack Obama. “And after this election cycle, I think there are some who believe there may be some truth to that.”

A lot depends on whether the party can find the right candidate with the right message, particularly in 2020.

“Democrats need a reason for showing up. Give them a reason to believe, and we won’t be having this discussion,” the former Obama aide said.

Democrats say there is a way to appeal to both progressives and white working-class voters.

“Everybody is being too simplistic,” Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons said. “Voters are much more complex.”

Simmons said it’s not a matter of choosing to talk about police violence and climate change or the minimum wage and creating jobs.

Progressives, he said, want Democrats to talk about all of that.

They “want politicians to say something about Black Lives Matter and equality — they also want to know how they’re going to get their kids through college, pay off their house and get a better job,” he said. “The thing that’s most frustrating to me is this either-or dichotomy.”

Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012 show Democrats can win over both groups, say some Democrats.

“This crisis is Democrats not realizing their own strengths, or being scared of articulating their core principles, rather than a crisis of having no agenda,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University.

He said a focus on economics, climate change and being anti-Trump would animate the party.

“These are the places that 2018 candidates need to focus on, because they are ways to distinguish themselves from the GOP and its agenda,” he added. “Then they should continue to use Trump as a unifying theme. Often experts downplay this, but Republicans were very effective at using Obama that way.”

In recent days, particularly since the Ossoff loss, Democrats have been doing a lot of finger-pointing.

There’s been a movement to stop blaming the 2016 presidential election loss on Russia. And there have been calls to cut ties with current Democratic leaders like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Some of those calls, within the House, come from lawmakers such as Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who is worried about losing the white working class.

On the other end of the spectrum, some say Sanders’s bashing of Democrats has only deepened wounds.

“A lot of people are sick of it,” said Manley, a former adviser to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “The mainstream part of the party has had it up to here with what he’s been saying.”

Some Democrats are seeking to build a bridge between the two groups.

In an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the party will unveil a “strong, bold, sharp-edged and commonsense economic agenda” in the coming weeks.

Addressing both wings of his party, he added, “I’m talking to Bernie Sanders. I’m talking to Joe Manchin. This is going to be really something that Democrats can be proud of, and I’m excited about it.”

Manchin, a Democratic senator from West Virginia, is among the most centrist members of Schumer’s conference.

Michael Tyler, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, said Democrats will look to expand their support across the party.

He acknowledged in an email to The Hill that in order to win elections, Democrats “have to focus on broadening and turning out our base and on reaching out to Americans who cast ballots for Donald Trump or didn’t vote at all.”

Tyler said Democrats are in the process of rebuilding a party “from an organization whose mission was solely to elect the president of the United States to one that organizes to elect Democrats up and down the ballot, from school board to Senate.”

But it may not be as easy as that, some strategists say.

Asked how the party rebounds and lures both working-class and progressive Democrats, Manley admitted: “I don’t have the faintest idea in this point in time. I’m still trying to digest what happened.”

http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/339577-dems-face-identity-crisis

Replacing Obamacare is a make-or-break moment for Republicans

 June 25

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) threw himself off a political cliff last week when he declared full-throated opposition to the Senate version of the Obamacare repeal bill, and it remains to be seen if Heller is hanging by a limb out of sight and can climb back to electoral sanity or has hit rock bottom in his public career.Individual Senate Republicans face different political realities, but the caucus must somehow get the votes necessary to return the revised Obamacare “repeal and replace” bill to the House. To fail to do so is to condemn not only Heller and Arizona’s Sen. Jeff Flake to certain doom but probably others among the eight GOP senators up for reelection. The grass roots’ disgust with this betrayal will be so deep as to endanger every senator, even in deep red states such as Mississippi, Texas and Utah.The political crosswinds and upheavals in the country are already beyond predicting anything, so to add even more cause for grievance by betraying the central promise of the congressional GOP is beyond irresponsible. It is political insanity. Shut the door to the consultants, and throw out the polling senators. If the GOP defaults on its core promise, it is doomed as a party to minority status, probably as early as 2018 and certainly in 2020.

To fail this week almost certainly forfeits the House majority in next year’s midterm elections but perhaps also the Senate’s, and with the latter, the ability to confirm Supreme Court justices and lower court judges, pass budgets under reconciliation, have any chance at serious tax reform and of course approve the crucial repeal of the Defense Department sequestration.

This is of course an imperative vote on saving American health care. Next year, for example, there potentially will be at least 18 counties in Ohio without even a single option for an individuals seeking coverage. The swaths of America where there is only one provider are large and growing. “Choice for consumers” is a delusion, and soaring deductibles have made health care an illusion to millions more.

Obamacare is a catastrophe on its own terms, but the consequences of not passing its repeal are worse even beyond those awful health-care outcomes. It will forfeit every other Republican goal because failing to deliver on the central promise of eight years of debates and campaigns will shatter the credibility every Republican, not just those who block the bill. The party as a whole will be gravely wounded, perhaps beyond healing for a generation or more.

I don’t have to guess about this. I have been talking to the center-right of the country for three hours a day Monday through Friday for the past 17 years. I know the central argument of the conservative activists everywhere in the United States is that Beltway Republicans cannot be trusted to do anything hard. That argument was dented by the discipline with which the GOP put up with the mainstream media and Democrats’ slings and arrows in the fight over replacing Justice Antonin Scalia. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) rightly calculated that to surrender that hill would be to lose not just a political battle but the political war stretching long into the future. It was that big of a deal to the base.

The same is true of Obamacare. To vote “no” on whatever compromise arrives is to express contempt for the Republican Party as a whole – and its grass-roots activists and base voters — and for those ideas it stands for on all major matters, from a strong defense to low taxes to an originalist Supreme Court.

Thus Heller seemed to declare himself a hollow man when he said he could not vote for it, a man without any core beliefs because with his rambling statement he endangered all alleged core GOP beliefs, and thus the GOP will not support him. It isn’t about primaries; primary opponents need not materialize. It is about millions of conservatives who will simply give up on politics.

This is a make-or-break moment for Senate Republicans and the party itself. Sadly, for this conservative, the tone-deafness of Heller may not be unique. It may not even turn out to be particularly rare. We will know in a week. And not one GOP senator will be able to say he or she wasn’t warned.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/replacing-obamacare-is-a-make-or-break-moment-for-republicans/2017/06/25/c5f7775a-59c9-11e7-9fc6-c7ef4bc58d13_story.html?utm_term=.602544feab43

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Great Seal of the United States
Long title The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Acronyms(colloquial) PPACA, ACA
Nicknames Affordable Care Act, Health Insurance Reform, Healthcare Reform, Obamacare
Enacted by the 111th United States Congress
Effective March 23, 2010; 7 years ago
Most major provisions phased in by January 2014; remaining provisions phased in by 2020
Citations
Public law 111–148
Statutes at Large 124 Stat. 119 through 124 Stat. 1025(906 pages)
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the House as the “Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009” (H.R. 3590byCharles Rangel (DNYon September 17, 2009
  • Committee consideration by Ways and Means
  • Passed the House on October 8, 2009 (416–0)
  • Passed the Senate as the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” on December 24, 2009 (60–39with amendment
  • House agreed to Senate amendment on March 21, 2010 (219–212)
  • Signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010
Major amendments
Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010
Comprehensive 1099 Taxpayer Protection and Repayment of Exchange Subsidy Overpayments Act of 2011
United States Supreme Court cases
National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius
Burwell v. Hobby Lobby
King v. Burwell

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often shortened to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and nicknamed Obamacare, is a United States federal statute enacted by the 111th United States Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. Under the act, hospitals and primary physicians would transform their practices financially, technologically, and clinically to drive better health outcomes, lower costs, and improve their methods of distribution and accessibility.

The Affordable Care Act was designed to increase health insurance quality and affordability, lower the uninsured rate by expanding insurance coverage and reduce the costs of healthcare. It introduced mechanisms including mandates, subsidies, and insurance exchanges.[1][2] The law requires insurers to accept all applicants, cover a specific list of conditions and charge the same rates regardless of pre-existing conditions or sex.[3]

The ACA has caused a significant reduction in the number of people without health insurance, with estimates ranging from 20–24 million additional people covered during 2016.[4][5] Increases in overall healthcare spending have slowed since the law was implemented, including premiums for employer-based insurance plans.[6] The Congressional Budget Office reported in several studies that the ACA would reduce the budget deficit, and that repealing it would increase the deficit.[7][8]

As implementation began, first opponents, then others, and finally the president himself adopted the term “Obamacare” to refer to the ACA.[9]

The law and its implementation faced challenges in Congress and federal courts, and from some state governmentsconservative advocacy groupslabor unions, and small business organizations. The United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the ACA’s individual mandate as an exercise of Congress’s taxing power,[10] found that states cannot be forced to participate in the ACA’s Medicaid expansion,[11][12][13] and found that the law’s subsidies to help individuals pay for health insurance are available in all states, not just in those that have set up state exchanges.[14]

Together with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act amendment, it represents the U.S. healthcare system‘s most significant regulatory overhaul and expansion of coverage since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.[15][16][17][18]

Provisions

The President and White House Staff react to the House of Representatives passing the bill on March 21, 2010.

The ACA includes provisions to take effect between 2010 and 2020, although most took effect on January 1, 2014. Few areas of the US health care system were left untouched, making it the most sweeping health care reform since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.[15][16][17][19][18] However, some areas were more affected than others. The individual insurance market was radically overhauled, and many of the law’s regulations applied specifically to this market,[15] while the structure of Medicare, Medicaid, and the employer market were largely retained.[16] Most of the coverage gains were made through the expansion of Medicaid,[20] and the biggest cost savings were made in Medicare.[16] Some regulations applied to the employer market, and the law also made delivery system changes that affected most of the health care system.[16] Not all provisions took full effect. Some were made discretionary, some were deferred, and others were repealed before implementation.

Individual insurance

Guaranteed issue prohibits insurers from denying coverage to individuals due to pre-existing conditions. States were required to ensure the availability of insurance for individual children who did not have coverage via their families.

States were required to expand Medicaid eligibility to include individuals and families with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level, including adults without disabilities or dependent children.[21] The law provides a 5% “income disregard”, making the effective income eligibility limit for Medicaid 138% of the poverty level.[22]

The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollment process was simplified.[21]

Dependents were permitted to remain on their parents’ insurance plan until their 26th birthday, including dependents that no longer live with their parents, are not a dependent on a parent’s tax return, are no longer a student, or are married.[23][24]

Among the groups who remained uninsured were:

  • Illegal immigrants, estimated at around 8 million—or roughly a third of the 23 million projection—are ineligible for insurance subsidies and Medicaid.[25][26] They remain eligible for emergency services.
  • Eligible citizens not enrolled in Medicaid.[27]
  • Citizens who pay the annual penalty instead of purchasing insurance, mostly younger and single.[27]
  • Citizens whose insurance coverage would cost more than 8% of household income and are exempt from the penalty.[27]
  • Citizens who live in states that opt out of the Medicaid expansion and who qualify for neither existing Medicaid coverage nor subsidized coverage through the states’ new insurance exchanges.[28]

Subsidies

Households with incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level were eligible to receive federal subsidies for policies purchased via an exchange.[29][30] Subsidies are provided as an advanceable, refundable tax credits.[31][32] Additionally, small businesses are eligible for a tax credit provided that they enroll in the SHOP Marketplace.[33] Under the law, workers whose employers offer affordable coverage will not be eligible for subsidies via the exchanges. To be eligible the cost of employer-based health insurance must exceed 9.5% of the worker’s household income.

Subsidies (2014) for Family of 4[34][35][36][37][38]
Income % of federal poverty level Premium Cap as a Share of Income Incomea Max Annual Out-of-Pocket Premium Premium Savingsb Additional Cost-Sharing Subsidy
133% 3% of income $31,900 $992 $10,345 $5,040
150% 4% of income $33,075 $1,323 $9,918 $5,040
200% 6.3% of income $44,100 $2,778 $8,366 $4,000
250% 8.05% of income $55,125 $4,438 $6,597 $1,930
300% 9.5% of income $66,150 $6,284 $4,628 $1,480
350% 9.5% of income $77,175 $7,332 $3,512 $1,480
400% 9.5% of income $88,200 $8,379 $2,395 $1,480
a.^ Note: In 2014, the FPL was $11,800 for a single person and $24,000 for family of four.[39][40] See Subsidy Calculator for specific dollar amount.[41] b.^ DHHS and CBO estimate the average annual premium cost in 2014 would have been $11,328 for a family of 4 without the reform.[36]

Premiums were the same for everyone of a given age, regardless of preexisting conditions. Premiums were allowed to vary by enrollee age, but those for the oldest enrollees (age 45-64 average expenses $5,542) could only be three times as large as those for adults (18-24 $1,836).[42]

Mandates

Individual

The individual mandate[43] is the requirement to buy insurance or pay a penalty for everyone not covered by an employer sponsored health planMedicaidMedicare or other public insurance programs (such as Tricare). Also exempt were those facing a financial hardship or who were members in a recognized religious sect exempted by the Internal Revenue Service.[44]

The mandate and the limits on open enrollment[45][46] were designed to avoid the insurance death spiral in which healthy people delay insuring themselves until they get sick. In such a situation, insurers would have to raise their premiums to cover the relatively sicker and thus more expensive policies,[43][47][48] which could create a vicious cycle in which more and more people drop their coverage.[49]

The purpose of the mandate was to prevent the healthcare system from succumbing to adverse selection, which would result in high premiums for the insured and little coverage (and thus more illness and medical bankruptcy) for the uninsured.[47][50][51] Studies by the CBOGruber and Rand Health concluded that a mandate was required.[52][53][54] The mandate increased the size and diversity of the insured population, including more young and healthy participants to broaden the risk pool, spreading costs.[55] Experience in New Jersey and Massachusetts offered divergent outcomes.[50][53][56]

Business

Businesses that employ 50 or more people but do not offer health insurance to their full-time employees pay a tax penalty if the government has subsidized a full-time employee’s healthcare through tax deductions or other means. This is commonly known as the employer mandate.[57][58] This provision was included to encourage employers to continue providing insurance once the exchanges began operating.[59] Approximately 44% of the population was covered directly or indirectly through an employer.[60][61]

Excise taxes

Excise taxes for the Affordable Care Act raised $16.3 billion in fiscal year 2015 (17% of all excise taxes collected by the Federal Government). $11.3 billion was an excise tax placed directly on health insurers based on their market share. The ACA was going to impose a 40% “Cadillac tax” on expensive employer sponsored health insurance but that was postponed until 2018. Annual excise taxes totaling $3 billion were levied on importers and manufacturers of prescription drugs. An excise tax of 2.3% on medical devices and a 10% excise tax on indoor tanning services were applied as well.[62]

Insurance standards

Essential health benefits

The National Academy of Medicine defined the law’s “essential health benefits” as “ambulatory patient services; emergency services; hospitalization; maternity and newborn care; mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices; laboratory services; preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management; and pediatric services, including oral and vision care”[63][64][65][66][67][68][69] and others[70] rated Level A or B by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.[71] In determining what would qualify as an essential benefit, the law required that standard benefits should offer at least that of a “typical employer plan”.[68] States may require additional services.[72]

Contraceptives

One provision in the law mandates that health insurance cover “additional preventive care and screenings” for women.[73] The guidelines issued by the Health Resources and Services Administration to implement this provision mandate “[a]ll Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity”.[74] This mandate applies to all employers and educational institutions except for religious organizations.[75][76] These regulations were included on the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine.[77][78]

Risk management

ACA provided three ways to control risk for insurers in the individual and business markets: temporary reinsurance, temporary risk corridors, and permanent risk adjustment.

Risk corridor program

The risk-corridor program was a temporary risk management device defined under the PPACA section 1342[79]:1 to encourage reluctant insurers into the “new and untested” ACA insurance market during the first three years that ACA was implemented (2014–2016). For those years the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “would cover some of the losses for insurers whose plans performed worse than they expected. Insurers that were especially profitable, for their part, would have to return to HHS some of the money they earned on the exchanges”[80][81]

According to an article in Forbes, risk corridors “had been a successful part of the Medicare prescription drug benefit, and the ACA’s risk corridors were modeled after Medicare’s Plan D.”[82] They operated on the principle that “more participation would mean more competition, which would drive down premiums and make health insurance more affordable” and “[w]hen insurers signed up to sell health plans on the exchanges, they did so with the expectation that the risk-corridor program would limit their downside losses.”[80] The risk corridors succeeded in attracting ACA insurers. The program did not pay for itself as planned with “accumulated losses” up to $8.3 billion for 2014 and 2015 alone. Authorization had to be given so that HHS could pay insurers from “general government revenues”. Congressional Republicans “railed against” the program as a ‘bailout’ for insurers. Then-Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), on the Appropriations Committee that funds the Department of Health and Human Services and the Labor Department “[slipped] in a sentence” — Section 227 — in the “massive” appropriations Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (H.R. 3547) that said that no funds in the discretionary spending bill “could be used for risk-corridor payments.” This effectively “blocked the administration from obtaining the necessary funds from other programs”[83] and placed Congress in a potential breach of contract with insurers who offered qualified health plans, under the Tucker Act[79] as it did not pay the insurers.[84][84]

On February 10, 2017, in the Moda Health v the US Government, Moda, one of the insurers that struggled financially because of the elimination of the risk corridor program, won a “$214-million judgment against the federal government”. Justice Thomas C. Wheeler stated, “the Government “made a promise in the risk corridors program that it has yet to fulfill. Today, the court directs the Government to fulfill that promise. After all, ‘to say to [Moda], ‘The joke is on you. You shouldn’t have trusted us,’ is hardly worthy of our great government.”[85]

Temporary reinsurance

Temporary reinsurance for insurance for insurers against unexpectedly high claims was a program that ran from 2014 through 2016. It was intended to limit insurer losses.[citation needed]

Risk adjustment

Of the three risk management programs, only risk adjustment was permanent. Risk adjustment attempts to spread risk among insurers to prevent purchasers with good knowledge of their medical needs from using insurance to cover their costs (adverse selection). Plans with low actuarial risk compensate plans with high actuarial risk.[citation needed]

Other provisions

In 2012 Senator Sheldon Whitehouse created this summary to explain his view on the act.

The ACA has several other provisions:

  • Annual and lifetime coverage caps on essential benefits were banned.[86][87]
  • Prohibits insurers from dropping policyholders when they get sick.[88]
  • All health policies sold in the United States must provide an annual maximum out of pocket (MOOP) payment cap for an individual’s or family’s medical expenses (excluding premiums). After the MOOP payment cap is reached, all remaining costs must be paid by the insurer.[89]
  • A partial community rating requires insurers to offer the same premium to all applicants of the same age and location without regard to gender or most pre-existing conditions (excluding tobacco use).[90][91][92] Premiums for older applicants can be no more than three times those for the youngest.[93]
  • Preventive care, vaccinations and medical screenings cannot be subject to co-paymentsco-insurance or deductibles.[94][95][96] Specific examples of covered services include: mammograms and colonoscopies, wellness visits, gestational diabetes screening, HPV testing, STI counseling, HIV screening and counseling, contraceptive methods, breastfeeding support/supplies and domestic violence screening and counseling.[97]
  • The law established four tiers of coverage: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. All categories offer the essential health benefits. The categories vary in their division of premiums and out-of-pocket costs: bronze plans have the lowest monthly premiums and highest out-of-pocket costs, while platinum plans are the reverse.[68][98] The percentages of health care costs that plans are expected to cover through premiums (as opposed to out-of-pocket costs) are, on average: 60% (bronze), 70% (silver), 80% (gold), and 90% (platinum).[99]
  • Insurers are required to implement an appeals process for coverage determination and claims on all new plans.[88]
  • Insurers must spend at least 80–85% of premium dollars on health costs; rebates must be issued to policyholders if this is violated.[100][101]

Exchanges

Established the creation of health insurance exchanges in all fifty states. The exchanges are regulated, largely online marketplaces, administered by either federal or state government, where individuals and small business can purchase private insurance plans.[102][103][104]

Setting up an exchange gives a state partial discretion on standards and prices of insurance.[105][106] For example, states approve plans for sale, and influence (through limits on and negotiations with private insurers) the prices on offer. They can impose higher or state-specific coverage requirements—including whether plans offered in the state can cover abortion.[107] States without an exchange do not have that discretion. The responsibility for operating their exchanges moves to the federal government.[105]

State waivers

From 2017 onwards, states can apply for a “waiver for state innovation” that allows them to conduct experiments that meet certain criteria.[108] To obtain a waiver, a state must pass legislation setting up an alternative health system that provides insurance at least as comprehensive and as affordable as ACA, covers at least as many residents and does not increase the federal deficit.[109] These states can be exempt from some of ACA’s central requirements, including the individual and employer mandates and the provision of an insurance exchange.[110] The state would receive compensation equal to the aggregate amount of any federal subsidies and tax credits for which its residents and employers would have been eligible under ACA plan, if they cannot be paid under the state plan.[108]

In May 2011, Vermont enacted Green Mountain Care, a state-based single-payer system for which they intended to pursue a waiver to implement.[111][112][113] In December 2014, Vermont decided not to continue due to high expected costs.[114]

Accountable Care Organizations

The Act allowed the creation of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), which are groups of doctors, hospitals and other providers that commit to give coordinated, high quality care to Medicare patients. ACOs were allowed to continue using a fee for service billing approach. They receive bonus payments from the government for minimizing costs while achieving quality benchmarks that emphasize prevention and mitigation of chronic disease. If they fail to do so, they are subject to penalties.[115]

Unlike Health Maintenance Organizations, ACO patients are not required to obtain all care from the ACO. Also, unlike HMOs, ACOs must achieve quality of care goals.[115]

Others

Legislative history

President Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on March 23, 2010

Background

An individual mandate coupled with subsidies for private insurance as a means for universal healthcare was considered the best way to win the support of the Senate because it had been included in prior bipartisan reform proposals. The concept goes back to at least 1989, when the conservative The Heritage Foundation proposed an individual mandate as an alternative to single-payer health care.[125] It was championed for a time by conservative economists and Republican senators as a market-based approach to healthcare reform on the basis of individual responsibility and avoidance of free rider problems. Specifically, because the 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) requires any hospital participating in Medicare (nearly all do) to provide emergency care to anyone who needs it, the government often indirectly bore the cost of those without the ability to pay.[126][127][128]

President Bill Clinton proposed a healthcare reform bill in 1993 that included a mandate for employers to provide health insurance to all employees through a regulated marketplace of health maintenance organizations. Republican Senators proposed an alternative that would have required individuals, but not employers, to buy insurance.[127]Ultimately the Clinton plan failed amid an unprecedented barrage of negative advertising funded by politically conservative groups and the health insurance industry and due to concerns that it was overly complex.[129] Clinton negotiated a compromise with the 105th Congress to instead enact the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) in 1997.[130]

John Chafee

The 1993 Republican alternative, introduced by Senator John Chafee as the Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act, contained a “universal coverage” requirement with a penalty for noncompliance—an individual mandate—as well as subsidies to be used in state-based ‘purchasing groups’.[131] Advocates for the 1993 bill included prominent Republicans such as Senators Orrin HatchChuck GrassleyBob Bennett and Kit Bond.[132][133] Of 1993’s 43 Republican Senators, 20 supported the HEART Act.[125][134] Another Republican proposal, introduced in 1994 by Senator Don Nickles (R-OK), the Consumer Choice Health Security Act, contained an individual mandate with a penalty provision;[135] however, Nickles subsequently removed the mandate from the bill, stating he had decided “that government should not compel people to buy health insurance”.[136] At the time of these proposals, Republicans did not raise constitutional issues with the mandate; Mark Pauly, who helped develop a proposal that included an individual mandate for George H. W. Bush, remarked, “I don’t remember that being raised at all. The way it was viewed by the Congressional Budget Office in 1994 was, effectively, as a tax.”[125]

Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts went from 90% of its residents insured to 98%, the highest rate in the nation.[137]

In 2006, an insurance expansion bill was enacted at the state level in Massachusetts. The bill contained both an individual mandate and an insurance exchange. Republican Governor Mitt Romney vetoed the mandate, but after Democrats overrode his veto, he signed it into law.[138] Romney’s implementation of the ‘Health Connector’ exchange and individual mandate in Massachusetts was at first lauded by Republicans. During Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign, Senator Jim DeMint praised Romney’s ability to “take some good conservative ideas, like private health insurance, and apply them to the need to have everyone insured”. Romney said of the individual mandate: “I’m proud of what we’ve done. If Massachusetts succeeds in implementing it, then that will be the model for the nation.”[139]

In 2007, a year after the Massachusetts reform, Republican Senator Bob Bennett and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden introduced the Healthy Americans Act, which featured an individual mandate and state-based, regulated insurance markets called “State Health Help Agencies”.[128][139] The bill initially attracted bipartisan support, but died in committee. Many of the sponsors and co-sponsors remained in Congress during the 2008 healthcare debate.[140]

By 2008 many Democrats were considering this approach as the basis for healthcare reform. Experts said that the legislation that eventually emerged from Congress in 2009 and 2010 bore similarities to the 2007 bill[131] and that it was deliberately patterned after Romney’s state healthcare plan.[141]

Healthcare debate, 2008–10

Healthcare reform was a major topic during the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries. As the race narrowed, attention focused on the plans presented by the two leading candidates, Hillary Clinton and the eventual nominee, Barack Obama. Each candidate proposed a plan to cover the approximately 45 million Americans estimated to not have health insurance at some point each year. Clinton’s proposal would have required all Americans to obtain coverage (in effect, an individual mandate), while Obama’s proposal provided a subsidy but rejected the use of an individual mandate.[142][143]

During the general election, Obama said that fixing healthcare would be one of his top four priorities as president.[144] Obama and his opponent, Sen. John McCain, proposed health insurance reforms though they differed greatly. Senator John McCain proposed tax credits for health insurance purchased in the individual market, which was estimated to reduce the number of uninsured people by about 2 million by 2018. Obama proposed private and public group insurance, income-based subsidies, consumer protections, and expansions of Medicaid and SCHIP, which was estimated at the time to reduce the number of uninsured people by 33.9 million by 2018.[145]

President Obama addressing Congress regarding healthcare reform, September 9, 2009

After his inauguration, Obama announced to a joint session of Congress in February 2009 his intent to work with Congress to construct a plan for healthcare reform.[146][147] By July, a series of bills were approved by committees within the House of Representatives.[148] On the Senate side, from June to September, the Senate Finance Committee held a series of 31 meetings to develop a healthcare reform bill. This group — in particular, Democrats Max BaucusJeff Bingaman and Kent Conrad, along with Republicans Mike EnziChuck Grassley and Olympia Snowe— met for more than 60 hours, and the principles that they discussed, in conjunction with the other committees, became the foundation of the Senate healthcare reform bill.[149][150][151]

Congressional Democrats and health policy experts like MIT economics professor Jonathan Gruber[152] and David Cutler argued that guaranteed issue would require both community ratingand an individual mandate to ensure that adverse selection and/or “free riding” would not result in an insurance “death spiral”.[153] This approach was taken because the president and congressional leaders had concluded that more progressive plans, such as the (single-payer) Medicare for All act, could not obtain filibuster-proof support in the Senate. By deliberately drawing on bipartisan ideas — the same basic outline was supported by former Senate majority leaders Howard BakerBob DoleTom Daschle and George J. Mitchell—the bill’s drafters hoped to garner the votes necessary for passage.[154][155]

However, following the adoption of an individual mandate, Republicans came to oppose the mandate and threatened to filibuster any bills that contained it.[125] Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who led the Republican congressional strategy in responding to the bill, calculated that Republicans should not support the bill, and worked to prevent defections:[156]

It was absolutely critical that everybody be together because if the proponents of the bill were able to say it was bipartisan, it tended to convey to the public that this is O.K., they must have figured it out.[157]

Republican Senators, including those who had supported previous bills with a similar mandate, began to describe the mandate as “unconstitutional”. Journalist Ezra Klein wrote in The New Yorker that “a policy that once enjoyed broad support within the Republican Party suddenly faced unified opposition.”[128] Reporter Michael Cooper of The New York Times wrote that: “the provision … requiring all Americans to buy health insurance has its roots in conservative thinking.”[127][134]

Tea Party protesters at the Taxpayer March on Washington, September 12, 2009

The reform negotiations also attracted attention from lobbyists,[158] including deals between certain lobby groups and the advocates of the law to win the support of groups that had opposed past reforms, as in 1993.[159][160] The Sunlight Foundation documented many of the reported ties between “the healthcare lobbyist complex” and politicians in both parties.[161]

During the August 2009 summer congressional recess, many members went back to their districts and held town hall meetings on the proposals. The nascent Tea Party movement organized protests and many conservative groups and individuals attended the meetings to oppose the proposed reforms.[147] Many threats were made against members of Congress over the course of the debate.[162][163]

When Congress returned from recess, in September 2009 President Obama delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress supporting the ongoing Congressional negotiations.[164] He acknowledged the polarization of the debate, and quoted a letter from the late Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy urging on reform: “what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.”[165] On November 7, the House of Representatives passed the Affordable Health Care for America Act on a 220–215 vote and forwarded it to the Senate for passage.[147]

Senate

The Senate began work on its own proposals while the House was still working. The United States Constitution requires all revenue-related bills to originate in the House.[166] To formally comply with this requirement, the Senate used H.R. 3590, a bill regarding housing tax changes for service members.[167] It had been passed by the House as a revenue-related modification to the Internal Revenue Code. The bill became the Senate’s vehicle for its healthcare reform proposal, discarding the bill’s original content.[168] The bill ultimately incorporated elements of proposals that were reported favorably by the Senate Health and Financecommittees. With the Republican Senate minority vowing to filibuster, 60 votes would be necessary to pass the Senate.[169] At the start of the 111th Congress, Democrats had only 58 votes; the Senate seat in Minnesota ultimately won by Al Franken was still undergoing a recount, while Arlen Specter was still a Republican (he became a Democrat in April, 2009).

Negotiations were undertaken attempting to satisfy moderate Democrats and to bring Republican senators aboard; particular attention was given to Republicans Bennett, Enzi, Grassley and Snowe. On July 7 Franken was sworn into office, providing a potential 60th vote. On August 25 Ted Kennedy—a longtime healthcare reform advocate—died. Paul Kirk was appointed as Senator Kennedy’s temporary replacement on September 24.

After the Finance Committee vote on October 15, negotiations turned to moderate Democrats. Majority leader Harry Reid focused on satisfying centrists. The holdouts came down to Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, an independent who caucused with Democrats, and conservative Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson. Lieberman’s demand that the bill not include a public option[153][170] was met,[171] although supporters won various concessions, including allowing state-based public options such as Vermont’s Green Mountain Care.[171][172]

Senate vote by state.

  Democratic yes (58)
  Independent yes (2)
  Republican no (39)
  Republican not voting (1)

The White House and Reid addressed Nelson’s concerns[173] during a 13-hour negotiation with two concessions: a compromise on abortion, modifying the language of the bill “to give states the right to prohibit coverage of abortion within their own insurance exchanges”, which would require consumers to pay for the procedure out of pocket if the state so decided; and an amendment to offer a higher rate of Medicaid reimbursement for Nebraska.[147][174] The latter half of the compromise was derisively termed the “Cornhusker Kickback”[175] and was repealed in the subsequent reconciliation amendment bill.

On December 23, the Senate voted 60–39 to end debate on the bill: a cloture vote to end the filibuster. The bill then passed, also 60–39, on December 24, 2009, with all Democrats and two independents voting for it, and all Republicans against (except Jim Bunning, who did not vote).[176] The bill was endorsed by the AMA and AARP.[177]

On January 19, 2010, Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown was elected to the Senate in a special election to replace Kennedy, having campaigned on giving the Republican minority the 41st vote needed to sustain Republican filibusters.[147][178][179] His victory had become significant because of its effects on the legislative process. The first was psychological: the symbolic importance of losing Kennedy’s traditionally Democratic Massachusetts seat made many Congressional Democrats concerned about the political cost of passing a bill.[180][181]

House

House vote by congressional district.

  Democratic yes (219)
  Democratic no (34)
  Republican no (178)
  No representative seated (4)

Brown’s election meant Democrats could no longer break a filibuster in the Senate. In response, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel argued that Democrats should scale back to a less ambitious bill; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back, dismissing Emanuel’s scaled-down approach as “Kiddie Care”.[182][183]

Obama remained insistent on comprehensive reform. The news that Anthem Blue Cross in California intended to raise premium rates for its patients by as much as 39% gave him new evidence of the need for reform.[182][183] On February 22, he laid out a “Senate-leaning” proposal to consolidate the bills.[184] He held a meeting with both parties’ leaders on February 25. The Democrats decided that the House would pass the Senate’s bill, to avoid another Senate vote.

House Democrats had expected to be able to negotiate changes in a House-Senate conference before passing a final bill. Since any bill that emerged from conference that differed from the Senate bill would have to pass the Senate over another Republican filibuster, most House Democrats agreed to pass the Senate bill on condition that it be amended by a subsequent bill.[181] They drafted the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, which could be passed by the reconciliation process.[182][185][186]

As per the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, reconciliation cannot be subject to a filibuster. But reconciliation is limited to budget changes, which is why the procedure was not used to pass ACA in the first place; the bill had inherently non-budgetary regulations.[187][188] Although the already-passed Senate bill could not have been passed by reconciliation, most of House Democrats’ demands were budgetary: “these changes—higher subsidy levels, different kinds of taxes to pay for them, nixing the Nebraska Medicaid deal—mainly involve taxes and spending. In other words, they’re exactly the kinds of policies that are well-suited for reconciliation.”[185]

Jim Clyburn and Nancy Pelosi celebrating after the House passes the amended bill on March 21

The remaining obstacle was a pivotal group of pro-life Democrats led by Bart Stupak who were initially reluctant to support the bill. The group found the possibility of federal funding for abortion significant enough to warrant opposition. The Senate bill had not included language that satisfied their concerns, but they could not address abortion in the reconciliation bill as it would be non-budgetary. Instead, Obama issued Executive Order 13535, reaffirming the principles in the Hyde Amendment.[189] This won the support of Stupak and members of his group and assured the bill’s passage.[186][190] The House passed the Senate bill with a 219–212 vote on March 21, 2010, with 34 Democrats and all 178 Republicans voting against it.[191] The next day, Republicans introduced legislation to repeal the bill.[192] Obama signed ACA into law on March 23, 2010.[193] Since passage, Republicans have voted to repeal all or parts of the Affordable Care Act over sixty times; no such attempt by Republicans has been successful.[194] The amendment bill, The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, cleared the House on March 21; the Senate passed it by reconciliation on March 25, and Obama signed it on March 30.

Impact

Coverage rate, employer market cost trends, budgetary impact, and income inequality aspects of the Affordable Care Act.

This chart illustrates several aspects of the Affordable Care Act, including number of persons covered, cost before and after subsidies, and public opinion.

Coverage

Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). County By County Projected Insurer Participation in Health Insurance Exchanges.

The law has caused a significant reduction in the number and percentage of people without health insurance. The CDC reported that the percentage of people without health insurance fell from 16.0% in 2010 to 8.9% during the January–June 2016 period.[195] The uninsured rate dropped in every congressional district in the U.S. between 2013 and 2015.[196] The Congressional Budget Office reported in March 2016 that there were approximately 12 million people covered by the exchanges (10 million of whom received subsidies to help pay for insurance) and 11 million made eligible for Medicaid by the law, a subtotal of 23 million people. An additional 1 million were covered by the ACA’s “Basic Health Program,” for a total of 24 million.[4] CBO also estimated that the ACA would reduce the net number of uninsured by 22 million in 2016, using a slightly different computation for the above figures totaling ACA coverage of 26 million, less 4 million for reductions in “employment-based coverage” and “non-group and other coverage.”[4]

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimated that 20.0 million adults (aged 18–64) gained healthcare coverage via ACA as of February 2016, a 2.4 million increase over September 2015. HHS estimated that this 20.0 million included: a) 17.7 million from the start of open enrollment in 2013-2016; and b) 2.3 million young adults aged 19–25 who initially gained insurance from 2010-2013, as they were allowed to remain on their parent’s plans until age 26. Of the 20.0 million, an estimated 6.1 million were aged 19–25.[5] Similarly, the Urban Institute issued a report in in December 2016 that said that about 19.2 million non-elderly Americans had gained health insurance coverage from 2010 to 2015.[197] In March 2016, the CBO reported that there were approximately 27 million people without insurance in 2016, a figure they expected would range from 26-28 million through 2026. CBO also estimated the percentage of insured among all U.S. residents would remain at 90% through that period, 92-93% excluding unauthorized immigrants.[4]

Those states that expanded Medicaid had a 7.3% uninsured rate on average in the first quarter of 2016, while those that did not expand Medicaid had a 14.1% uninsured rate, among adults aged 18 to 64.[198] As of December 2016 there were 32 states (including Washington DC) that had adopted the Medicaid extension, while 19 states had not.[199]

By 2017, nearly 70% of those on the exchanges could purchase insurance for less than $75/month after subsidies, which rose to offset significant pre-subsidy price increases in the exchange markets.[200] Healthcare premium cost increases in the employer market continued to moderate. For example, healthcare premiums for those covered by employers rose by 69% from 2000-2005, but only 27% from 2010 to 2015,[6] with only a 3% increase from 2015 to 2016.[201]

The ACA also helps reduce income inequality measured after taxes, due to higher taxes on the top 5% of income earners and both subsidies and Medicaid expansion for lower-income persons.[202] CBO estimated that subsidies paid under the law in 2016 averaged $4,240 per person for 10 million individuals receiving them, roughly $42 billion. For scale, the subsidy for the employer market, in the form of exempting from taxation those health insurance premiums paid on behalf of employees by employers, was approximately $1,700 per person in 2016, or $266 billion total in the employer market. The employer market subsidy was not changed by the law.[4]

Insurance exchanges

As of August 2016, 15 states operated their own exchanges. Other states either used the federal exchange, or operated in partnership with or supported by the federal government.[203]

Medicaid expansion

Medicaid expansion by state, as of September 1, 2015.[204]

  Adopted the Medicaid expansion
  Medicaid expansion under discussion
  Not adopting Medicaid expansion

As of December 2016 there were 32 states (including Washington DC) that had adopted the Medicaid extension, while 19 states had not.[199] Those states that expanded Medicaid had a 7.3% uninsured rate on average in the first quarter of 2016, while those that did not expand Medicaid had a 14.1% uninsured rate, among adults aged 18 to 64.[198] Following the Supreme Court ruling in 2012, which held that states would not lose Medicaid funding if they didn’t expand Medicaid under the ACA, several states rejected expanded Medicaid coverage. Over half of the national uninsured population lived in those states.[205] In a report to Congress, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) estimated that the cost of expansion was $6,366 per person for 2015, about 49 percent above previous estimates. An estimated 9 million to 10 million people had gained Medicaid coverage, mostly low-income adults.[206] The Kaiser Family Foundation estimated in October 2015 that 3.1 million additional people were not covered because of states that rejected the Medicaid expansion.[207]

States that rejected the Medicaid expansion could maintain their Medicaid eligibility thresholds, which in many states were significantly below 133% of the poverty line.[208] Many states did not make Medicaid available to childless adults at any income level.[209] Because subsidies on exchange insurance plans were not available to those below the poverty line, such individuals had no new options.[210][211] For example, in Kansas, where only able-bodied adults with children and with an income below 32% of the poverty line were eligible for Medicaid, those with incomes from 32% to 100% of the poverty level ($6,250 to $19,530 for a family of three) were ineligible for both Medicaid and federal subsidies to buy insurance. Absent children, able-bodied adults were not eligible for Medicaid in Kansas.[205]

Studies of the impact of state decisions to reject the Medicaid expansion calculated that up to 6.4 million people could fall into this status.[212] The federal government initially paid for 100% of the expansion (through 2016). The subsidy tapered to 90% by 2020 and continued to shrink thereafter.[213] Several states argued that they could not afford their 10% contribution.[213][214] Studies suggested that rejecting the expansion would cost more than expanding Medicaid due to increased spending on uncompensated emergency care that otherwise would have been partially paid for by Medicaid coverage,[215]

A 2016 study led by Harvard University health economics professor Benjamin Sommers found that residents of Kentucky and Arkansas, which both accepted the Medicaid expansion, were more likely to receive health care services and less likely to incur emergency room costs or have trouble paying their medical bills than before the expansion. Residents of Texas, which did not accept the Medicaid expansion, did not see a similar improvement during the same period.[216] Kentucky opted for increased managed care, while Arkansas subsidized private insurance. The new Arkansas and Kentucky governors have proposed reducing or modifying their programs. Between 2013 and 2015, the uninsured rate dropped from 42% to 14% in Arkansas and from 40% to 9% in Kentucky, compared with 39% to 32% in Texas. Specific improvements included additional primary and preventive care, fewer emergency departments visits, reported higher quality care, improved health, improved drug affordability, reduced out-of-pocket spending and increased outpatient visits, increased diabetes screening, glucose testing among diabetes patients and regular care for chronic conditions.[217]

A 2016 DHHS study found that states that expanded Medicaid had lower premiums on exchange policies, because they had fewer low-income enrollees, whose health on is worse than that of those with higher income.[218]

Healthcare insurance costs

U.S. healthcare cost information, including rate of change, per-capita, and percent of GDP. (Data source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services[219])

The law is designed to pay subsidies in the form of tax credits to the individuals or families purchasing the insurance, based on income levels. Higher income consumers receive lower subsidies. While pre-subsidy prices rose considerably from 2016 to 2017, so did the subsidies, to reduce the after-subsidy cost to the consumer. For example, a study published in 2016 found that the average requested 2017 premium increase among 40-year-old non-smokers was about 9 percent, according to an analysis of 17 cities, although Blue Cross Blue Shield proposed increases of 40 percent in Alabama and 60 percent in Texas.[220] However, some or all of these costs are offset by subsidies, paid as tax credits. For example, the Kaiser Foundation reported that for the second-lowest cost “Silver plan” (a plan often selected and used as the benchmark for determining financial assistance), a 40-year old non-smoker making $30,000 per year would pay effectively the same amount in 2017 as they did in 2016 (about $208/month) after the subsidy/tax credit, despite large increases in the pre-subsidy price. This was consistent nationally. In other words, the subsidies increased along with the pre-subsidy price, fully offsetting the price increases.[221]

Healthcare premium cost increases in the employer market continued to moderate after the implementation of the law. For example, healthcare premiums for those covered by employers rose by 69% from 2000-2005, but only 27% from 2010 to 2015,[6] with only a 3% increase from 2015 to 2016.[201] From 2008-2010 (before passage of the ACA) health insurance premiums rose by an average of 10% per year.[222]

Several studies found that the financial crisis and accompanying recession could not account for the entirety of the slowdown and that structural changes likely share at least partial credit.[223][224][225][226] A 2013 study estimated that changes to the health system had been responsible for about a quarter of the recent reduction in inflation.[227] Paul Krawzak claimed that even if cost controls succeed in reducing the amount spent on healthcare, such efforts on their own may be insufficient to outweigh the long-term burden placed by demographic changes, particularly the growth of the population on Medicare.[228]

In a 2016 review of the ACA published in JAMA, Barack Obama himself wrote that from 2010 through 2014 mean annual growth in real per-enrollee Medicare spending was negative, down from a mean of 4.7% per year from 2000 through 2005 and 2.4% per year from 2006 to 2010; similarly, mean real per-enrollee growth in private insurance spending was 1.1% per year over the period, compared with a mean of 6.5% from 2000 through 2005 and 3.4% from 2005 to 2010.[229]

Effect on deductibles and co-payments

While health insurance premium costs have moderated, some of this is because of insurance policies that have a higher deductibleco-payments and out-of-pocket maximums that shift costs from insurers to patients. In addition, many employees are choosing to combine a health savings account with higher deductible plans, making the impact of the ACA difficult to determine precisely.

For those who obtain their insurance through their employer (“group market”), a 2016 survey found that:

  • Deductibles grew by 63% from 2011 to 2016, while premiums increased 19% and worker earnings grew by 11%.
  • In 2016, 4 in 5 workers had an insurance deductible, which averaged $1,478. For firms with less than 200 employees, the deductible averaged $2,069.
  • The percentage of workers with a deductible of at least $1,000 grew from 10% in 2006 to 51% in 2016. The 2016 figure drops to 38% after taking employer contributions into account.[230]

For the “non-group” market, of which two-thirds are covered by the ACA exchanges, a survey of 2015 data found that:

  • 49% had individual deductibles of at least $1,500 ($3,000 for family), up from 36% in 2014.
  • Many marketplace enrollees qualify for cost-sharing subsidies that reduce their net deductible.
  • While about 75% of enrollees were “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with their choice of doctors and hospitals, only 50% had such satisfaction with their annual deductible.
  • While 52% of those covered by the ACA exchanges felt “well protected” by their insurance, in the group market 63% felt that way.[231]

Health outcomes

Insurance coverage helps save lives, by encouraging early detection and prevention of dangerous medical conditions. According to a 2014 study, the ACA likely prevented an estimated 50,000 preventable patient deaths from 2010 to 2013.[232] City University public health professors David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler wrote in January 2017 that a rollback of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion alone would cause an estimated 43,956 deaths annually.[233]

Federal deficit

CBO estimates of revenue and impact on deficit

The CBO reported in several studies that the ACA would reduce the deficit, and that repealing it would increase the deficit.[7][8][234][235] The 2011 comprehensive CBO estimate projected a net deficit reduction of more than $200 billion during the 2012–2021 period:[8][236] it calculated the law would result in $604 billion in total outlays offset by $813 billion in total receipts, resulting in a $210 billion net deficit reduction.[8] The CBO separately predicted that while most of the spending provisions do not begin until 2014,[237][238] revenue would exceed spending in those subsequent years.[239] The CBO claimed that the bill would “substantially reduce the growth of Medicare’s payment rates for most services; impose an excise tax on insurance plans with relatively high premiums; and make various other changes to the federal tax code, Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs”[240]—ultimately extending the solvency of the Medicare trust fund by 8 years.[241]

This estimate was made prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling that enabled states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion, thereby forgoing the related federal funding. The CBO and JCT subsequently updated the budget projection, estimating the impact of the ruling would reduce the cost estimate of the insurance coverage provisions by $84 billion.[242][243][244]

The CBO in June 2015 forecasted that repeal of ACA would increase the deficit between $137 billion and $353 billion over the 2016–2025 period, depending on the impact of macroeconomic feedback effects. The CBO also forecasted that repeal of ACA would likely cause an increase in GDP by an average of 0.7% in the period from 2021 to 2015, mainly by boosting the supply of labor.[7]

Major new sources of increased tax receipts include:[95] higher Medicare taxes; annual fees on insurance providers; fees on the healthcare industry such as manufacturers and importers of brand-name pharmaceutical drugs and certain medical devices; limits on tax deductions of medical expenses and flexible spending accounts; a 40% excise tax on plans with annual insurance premiums in excess of $10,200 for an individual or $27,500 for a family; revenue from mandate penalty payments; a 10% federal sales tax on indoor tanning services. Predicted spending reductions included a reduction in Medicare reimbursements to insurers and drug companies for private Medicare Advantagepolicies that the Government Accountability Office and Medicare Payment Advisory Commission found to be excessively costly relative to government Medicare;[245][246] and reductions in Medicare reimbursements to hospitals that failed standards of efficiency and care.[245]

Although the CBO generally does not provide cost estimates beyond the 10-year budget projection period because of the degree of uncertainty involved in the projection, it decided to do so in this case at the request of lawmakers, and estimated a second decade deficit reduction of $1.2 trillion.[240][247] CBO predicted deficit reduction around a broad range of one-half percent of GDP over the 2020s while cautioning that “a wide range of changes could occur”.[248]

Opinions on CBO projections

The CBO cost estimates were criticized because they excluded the effects of potential legislation that would increase Medicare payments by more than $200 billion from 2010 to 2019.[249][250][251] However, the so-called “doc fix” is a separate issue that would have existed whether or not ACA became law – omitting its cost from ACA was no different from omitting the cost of other tax cuts.[252][253][254]

Uwe Reinhardt, a Princeton health economist, wrote. “The rigid, artificial rules under which the Congressional Budget Office must score proposed legislation unfortunately cannot produce the best unbiased forecasts of the likely fiscal impact of any legislation”, but went on to say “But even if the budget office errs significantly in its conclusion that the bill would actually help reduce the future federal deficit, I doubt that the financing of this bill will be anywhere near as fiscally irresponsible as was the financing of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003.”[255] Douglas Holtz-Eakin, CBO director during the George W. Bush administration, who later served as the chief economic policy adviser to U.S. Senator John McCain‘s 2008 presidential campaign, alleged that the bill would increase the deficit by $562 billion because, he argued, it front-loaded revenue and back-loaded benefits.[256]

Scheiber and Cohn rejected critical assessments of the law’s deficit impact, arguing that predictions were biased towards underestimating deficit reduction. They noted that for example, it is easier to account for the cost of definite levels of subsidies to specified numbers of people than account for savings from preventive healthcare, and that the CBO had a track record of overestimating costs and underestimating savings of health legislation;[257][258] stating, “innovations in the delivery of medical care, like greater use of electronic medical records[259] and financial incentives for more coordination of care among doctors, would produce substantial savings while also slowing the relentless climb of medical expenses… But the CBO would not consider such savings in its calculations, because the innovations hadn’t really been tried on such large scale or in concert with one another—and that meant there wasn’t much hard data to prove the savings would materialize.”[257]

In 2010 David Walker, former U.S. Comptroller General then working for The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, stated that the CBO estimates are not likely to be accurate, because they were based on the assumption that the law would not change.[260] The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities objected that Congress had a good record of implementing Medicare savings. According to their study, Congress followed through on the implementation of the vast majority of provisions enacted in the past 20 years to produce Medicare savings, although not the payment reductions addressed by the annual “doc fix”.[261][262]

Economic consequences

CBO estimated in June 2015 that repealing the ACA would:

  • Decrease aggregate demand (GDP) in the short-term, as low-income persons who tend to spend a large fraction of their additional resources would have fewer resources (e.g., ACA subsidies would be eliminated). This effect would be offset in the long-run by the labor supply factors below.
  • Increase the supply of labor and aggregate compensation by about 0.8 and 0.9 percent over the 2021-2025 period. CBO cited the ACA’s expanded eligibility for Medicaid and subsidies and tax credits that rise with income as disincentives to work, so repealing the ACA would remove those disincentives, encouraging workers to supply more hours of labor.
  • Increase the total number of hours worked by about 1.5% over the 2021-2025 period.
  • Remove the higher tax rates on capital income, thereby encouraging additional investment, raising the capital stock and output in the long-run.[7]

In 2015 the Center for Economic and Policy Research found no evidence that companies were reducing worker hours to avoid ACA requirements[263] for employees working over 30 hours per week.[264]

The CBO estimated that the ACA would slightly reduce the size of the labor force and number of hours worked, as some would no longer be tethered to employers for their insurance. Cohn, citing CBO’s projections, claimed that ACA’s primary employment effect was to alleviate job lock: “People who are only working because they desperately need employer-sponsored health insurance will no longer do so.”[265] He concluded that the “reform’s only significant employment impact was a reduction in the labor force, primarily because people holding onto jobs just to keep insurance could finally retire”, because they have health insurance outside of their jobs.[266]

Employer mandate and part-time work

The employer mandate requires employers meeting certain criteria to provide health insurance to their workers. The mandate applies to employers with more than 50 employees that do not offer health insurance to their full-time workers.[267] Critics claimed that the mandate created a perverse incentive for business to keep their full-time headcount below 50 and to hire part-time workers instead.[268][269] Between March 2010 and 2014 the number of part-time jobs declined by 230,000, while the number of full-time jobs increased by 2 million.[270][271] In the public sector full-time jobs turned into part-time jobs much more than in the private sector.[270][272] A 2016 study found only limited evidence that ACA had increased part-time employment.[273]

Several businesses and the state of Virginia added a 29-hour-a-week cap for their part-time employees,[274][unreliable source?][275][unreliable source?] to reflect the 30-hour-or-more definition for full-time worker.[267] As of yet, however, only a small percent of companies have shifted their workforce towards more part-time hours (4% in a survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis).[269] Trends in working hours[276] and the effects of the Great Recessioncorrelate with part-time working hour patterns.[277][278] The impact of this provision may have been offset by other factors, including that health insurance helps attract and retain employees, increases productivity and reduces absenteeism; and the lower training and administration costs of a smaller full-time workforce over a larger part-time work force.[269][276][279] Relatively few firms employ over 50 employees[269] and more than 90% of them offered insurance.[280] Workers without employer insurance could purchase insurance on the exchanges.[281]

Most policy analysts (on both right and left) were critical of the employer mandate provision.[268][280] They argued that the perverse incentives regarding part-time hours, even if they did not change existing plans, were real and harmful;[282][283] that the raised marginal cost of the 50th worker for businesses could limit companies’ growth;[284] that the costs of reporting and administration were not worth the costs of maintaining employer plans;[282][283] and noted that the employer mandate was not essential to maintain adequate risk pools.[285][286] The effects of the provision generated vocal opposition from business interests and some unions not granted exemptions.[283][287]

A 2013/4 survey by the National Association for Business Economics found that about 75 percent of those surveyed said ACA hadn’t influenced their planning or expectations for 2014, and 85 percent said the law wouldn’t prompt a change in their hiring practices. Some 21 percent of 64 businesses surveyed said that the act would have a harmful effect and 5 percent said it would be beneficial.[288]

Hospitals

From the start of 2010 to November 2014, 43 hospitals in rural areas closed. Critics claimed that the new law caused these hospitals to close. Many of these rural hospitals were built using funds from the 1946 Hill–Burton Act, to increase access to medical care in rural areas. Some of these hospitals reopened as other medical facilities, but only a small number operated emergency rooms (ER) or urgent care centers.[289]

Between January 2010 and 2015, a quarter of emergency room doctors said they had seen a major surge in patients, while nearly half had seen a smaller increase. Seven in ten ER doctors claimed that they lacked the resources to deal with large increases in the number of patients. The biggest factor in the increased number of ER patients was insufficient primary care providers to handle the larger number of insured patients.[290]

Insurers claimed that because they have access to and collect patient data that allow evaluations of interventions, they are essential to ACO success. Large insurers formed their own ACOs. Many hospitals merged and purchased physician practices. The increased market share gave them more leverage in negotiations with insurers over costs and reduced patient care options.[115]

Public opinion

Prior to the law’s passage, polling indicated the public’s views became increasingly negative in reaction to specific plans discussed during the legislative debate over 2009 and 2010. Polling statistics showed a general negative opinion of the law; with those in favor at approximately 40% and those against at 51%, as of October 2013.[291][292] About 29% of whites approve of the law, compared with 61% of Hispanics and 91% of African Americans.[293]Opinions were divided by age of the person at the law’s inception, with a solid majority of seniors opposing the bill and a solid majority of those younger than forty years old in favor.[294]

Congressional Democrats celebrating the 6th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act in March 2016 on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

Congressional Democrats celebrating the 6th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act in March 2016 on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

Specific elements were popular across the political spectrum, while others, such as the mandate to purchase insurance, were widely disliked. In a 2012 poll 44% supported the law, with 56% against. By party affiliation, 75% of Democrats, 27% of Independents and 14% of Republicans favored the law overall. 82% favored banning insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, 61% favored allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, 72% supported requiring companies with more than 50 employees to provide insurance for their employees, and 39% supported the individual mandate to own insurance or pay a penalty. By party affiliation, 19% of Republicans, 27% of Independents, and 59% of Democrats favored the mandate.[295] Other polls showed additional provisions receiving majority support, including the creation of insurance exchanges, pooling small businesses and the uninsured with other consumers so that more people can take advantage of large group pricing benefits and providing subsidies to individuals and families to make health insurance more affordable.[296][297]

In a 2010 poll, 62% of respondents said they thought ACA would “increase the amount of money they personally spend on health care”, 56% said the bill “gives the government too much involvement in health care”, and 19% said they thought they and their families would be better off with the legislation.[298] Other polls found that people were concerned that the law would cost more than projected and would not do enough to control costs.[299]

Some opponents believed that the reform did not go far enough: a 2012 poll indicated that 71% of Republican opponents rejected it overall, while 29% believed it did not go far enough; independent opponents were divided 67% to 33%; and among the much smaller group of Democratic opponents, 49% rejected it overall and 51% wanted more.[295] In June 2013, a majority of the public (52–34%) indicated a desire for “Congress to implement or tinker with the law rather than repeal it”.[300] After the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate, a 2012 poll held that “most Americans (56%) want to see critics of President Obama’s health care law drop efforts to block it and move on to other national issues”.[301]A 2014 poll reported that 48.9% of respondents had an unfavorable view of ACA vs. 38.3% who had a favorable view (of more than 5,500 individuals).[302]

A 2014 poll reported that 26% of Americans support ACA.[303] Another held that 8% of respondents say that the Affordable Care Act “is working well the way it is”.[304] In late 2014, a Rasmussen poll reported Repeal: 30%, Leave as is: 13%, Improve: 52%.[305]

In 2015, a CBS News / New York Times poll reported that 47% of Americans approved the health care law. This was the first time that a major poll indicated that more respondents approved ACA than disapproved of it.[306] The recurring Kaiser Health Tracking Poll from December 2016 reported that: a) 30% wanted to expand what the law does; b) 26% wanted to repeal the entire law; c) 19% wanted to move forward with implementing the law as it is; and d) 17% wanted to scale back what the law does, with the remainder undecided.[307]

Separate polls from Fox News and NBC/WSJ both taken during January 2017 indicated more people viewed the law favorably than did not for the first time. One of the reasons for the improving popularity of the law is that Democrats who opposed it in the past (many prefer a “Medicare for All” approach) have shifted their positions since the ACA is under threat of repeal.[308]

A January 2017 Morning Consult poll showed that 35% of respondents either believed that “Obamacare” and the “Affordable Care Act” were different or did not know.[309] Approximately 45% were unsure whether the “repeal of Obamacare” also meant the “repeal of the Affordable Care Act.”[309] 39% did not know that “many people would lose coverage through Medicaid or subsidies for private health insurance if the A.C.A. were repealed and no replacement enacted,” with Democrats far more likely (79%) to know that fact than Republicans (47%).[309]

A 2017 study found that personal experience with public health insurance programs leads to greater support for the Affordable Care Act, and the effects appear to be most pronounced among Republicans and low-information voters.[310]

Political aspects

“Obamacare”

The term “Obamacare” was originally coined by opponents as a pejorative. The term emerged in March 2007 when healthcare lobbyist Jeanne Schulte Scott used it in a health industry journal, writing “We will soon see a ‘Giuliani-care’ and ‘Obama-care’ to go along with ‘McCain-care’, ‘Edwards-care’, and a totally revamped and remodeled ‘Hillary-care‘ from the 1990s”.[9][311] According to research by Elspeth Reeve, the expression was used in early 2007, generally by writers describing the candidate’s proposal for expanding coverage for the uninsured.[312] It first appeared in a political campaign by Mitt Romney in May 2007 in Des Moines, Iowa. Romney said, “In my state, I worked on healthcare for some time. We had half a million people without insurance, and I said, ‘How can we get those people insured without raising taxes and without having government take over healthcare?’ And let me tell you, if we don’t do it, the Democrats will. If the Democrats do it, it will be socialized medicine; it’ll be government-managed care. It’ll be what’s known as Hillarycare or Barack Obamacare, or whatever you want to call it.”[9]

By mid-2012, Obamacare had become the colloquial term used by both supporters and opponents. In contrast, the use of “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” or “Affordable Care Act” became limited to more formal and official use.[312] Use of the term in a positive sense was suggested by Democrat John Conyers.[313] Obama endorsed the nickname, saying, “I have no problem with people saying Obama cares. I do care.”[314]

In March 2012, the Obama reelection campaign embraced the term “Obamacare”, urging Obama’s supporters to post Twitter messages that begin, “I like #Obamacare because…”.[315]

In October 2013 the Associated Press and NPR began cutting back on use of the term.[316] Stuart Seidel, NPR’s managing editor, said that the term “seems to be straddling somewhere between being a politically-charged term and an accepted part of the vernacular”.[317]

Common misconceptions

“Death panels”

On August 7, 2009, Sarah Palin pioneered the term “death panels” to describe groups that would decide whether sick patients were “worthy” of medical care.[318] “Death panel” referred to two claims about early drafts.

One was that under the law, seniors could be denied care due to their age[319] and the other that the government would advise seniors to end their lives instead of receiving care. The ostensible basis of these claims was the provision for an Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).[320] IPAB was given the authority to recommend cost-saving changes to Medicare by facilitating the adoption of cost-effective treatments and cost-recovering measures when the statutory levels set for Medicare were exceeded within any given 3-year period. In fact, the Board was prohibited from recommending changes that would reduce payments to certain providers before 2020, and was prohibited from recommending changes in premiums, benefits, eligibility and taxes, or other changes that would result in rationing.[321][322]

The other related issue concerned advance-care planning consultation: a section of the House reform proposal would have reimbursed physicians for providing patient-requested consultations for Medicare recipients on end-of-life health planning (which is covered by many private plans), enabling patients to specify, on request, the kind of care they wished to receive.[323] The provision was not included in ACA.[324]

In 2010, the Pew Research Center reported that 85% of Americans were familiar with the claim, and 30% believed it was true, backed by three contemporaneous polls.[325] A poll in August 2012 found that 39% of Americans believed the claim.[326] The allegation was named PolitiFact‘s “Lie of the Year”,[318][327] one of FactCheck.org‘s “whoppers”[328][329] and the most outrageous term by the American Dialect Society.[330] AARP described such rumors as “rife with gross—and even cruel—distortions”.[331]

Members of Congress

ACA requires members of Congress and their staffs to obtain health insurance either through an exchange or some other program approved by the law (such as Medicare), instead of using the insurance offered to federal employees (the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program).[332][333][334][335][336]

Illegal immigrants

ACA does not provide benefits to illegal immigrants.[337] It explicitly denies insurance subsidies to “unauthorized (illegal) aliens”.[25][26][338]

Exchange “death spiral”

One argument against the ACA is that the insurers are leaving the marketplaces, as they cannot profitably cover the available pool of customers, which contains too many unhealthy participants relative to healthy participants. A scenario where prices rise, due to an unfavorable mix of customers from the insurer’s perspective, resulting in fewer customers and fewer insurers in the marketplace, further raising prices, has been called a “Death Spiral.”[339]During 2017, the median number of insurers offering plans on the ACA exchanges in each state was 3.0, meaning half the states had more and half had fewer insurers. There were five states with one insurer in 2017; 13 states with two; 11 states with three; and the remainder had four insurers or more. Wisconsin had the most, with 15 insurers in the marketplace. The median number of insurers was 4.0 in 2016, 5.0 in 2015, and 4.0 in 2014.[340]

Further, the CBO reported in January 2017 that it expected enrollment in the exchanges to rise from 10 million during 2017 to 13 million by 2027, assuming laws in place at the end of the Obama administration were continued.[341]Following a 2015 CBO report that reached a similar conclusion, Paul Krugman wrote: “But the truth is that this report is much, much closer to what supporters of reform have said than it is to the scare stories of the critics–no death spirals, no job-killing, major gains in coverage at relatively low cost.”[342]

Opposition

Opposition and efforts to repeal the legislation have drawn support from sources that include labor unions,[343][344] conservative advocacy groups,[345][346] Republicans, small business organizations and the Tea Party movement.[347]These groups claimed that the law would disrupt existing health plans, increase costs from new insurance standards, and increase the deficit.[348] Some opposed the idea of universal healthcare, viewing insurance as similar to other unsubsidized goods.[349][350] President Donald Trump has repeatedly promised to “repeal and replace” it.[351][352]

As of 2013 unions that expressed concerns about ACA included the AFL-CIO,[353] which called ACA “highly disruptive” to union health care plans, claiming it would drive up costs of union-sponsored plans; the International Brotherhood of TeamstersUnited Food and Commercial Workers International Union, and UNITE-HERE, whose leaders sent a letter to Reid and Pelosi arguing, ” ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40-hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”[344] In January 2014, Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) and D. Taylor, president of Unite Here sent a letter to Reid and Pelosi stating, “ACA, as implemented, undermines fair marketplace competition in the health care industry.”[343]

In October 2016, Mark Dayton, the governor of Minnesota and a member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party, said that the ACA had “many good features” but that it was “no longer affordable for increasing numbers of people” and called on the Minnesota legislature to provide emergency relief to policyholders.[354] Dayton later said he regretted his remarks after they were seized on by Republicans seeking to repeal the law.[355]

Legal challenges

National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius

Opponents challenged ACA’s constitutionality in multiple lawsuits on multiple grounds.[356][357][not in citation given] In National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court ruled on a 5–4 vote that the individual mandate was constitutional when viewed as a tax, although not under the Commerce Clause.

The Court further determined that states could not be forced to participate in the Medicaid expansion. ACA withheld all Medicaid funding from states declining to participate in the expansion. The Court ruled that this withdrawal of funding was unconstitutionally coercive and that individual states had the right to opt out without losing preexisting Medicaid funding.[358]

Contraception mandate

In March 2012 the Roman Catholic Church, while supportive of ACA’s objectives, voiced concern through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that aspects of the mandate covering contraception and sterilization and HHS‘s narrow definition of a religious organization violated the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion and conscience. Various lawsuits addressed these concerns.[359][360]

On June 25, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6–3 that federal subsidies for health insurance premiums could be used in the 34 states that did not set up their own insurance exchanges.[361]

House v. Price

In United States House of Representatives v. Price (previously United States House of Representatives v. Burwell) the House sued the administration alleging that the money for premium subsidy payments to insurers had not been appropriated, as required for any federal government spending. The ACA subsidy that helps customers pay premiums was not part of the suit.

Without the cost-sharing subsidies, the government estimated that premiums would increase by 20 percent to 30 percent for silver plans.[362] In 2017, the uncertainty about whether the payments would continue caused Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina to try to raise premiums by 22.9 percent the next year, as opposed to an increase of only 8.8 percent that it would have sought if the payments were assured.[363]

Non-cooperation

Officials in Texas, Florida, Alabama, Wyoming, Arizona, Oklahoma and Missouri opposed those elements of ACA over which they had discretion.[364][365] For example, Missouri declined to expand Medicaid or establish a health insurance marketplace engaging in active non-cooperation, enacting a statute forbidding any state or local official to render any aid not specifically required by federal law.[366] Other Republican politicians discouraged efforts to advertise the benefits of the law. Some conservative political groups launched ad campaigns to discourage enrollment.[367][368]

Repeal efforts

ACA was the subject of unsuccessful repeal efforts by Republicans in the 111th112th, and 113th Congresses: Representatives Steve King (R-IA) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN) introduced bills in the House to repeal ACA the day after it was signed, as did Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) in the Senate.[369] In 2011, after Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives, one of the first votes held was on a bill titled “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act” (H.R. 2), which the House passed 245–189.[370] All Republicans and 3 Democrats voted for repeal.[371] House Democrats proposed an amendment that repeal not take effect until a majority of the Senators and Representatives had opted out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program; Republicans voted down the measure.[372] In the Senate, the bill was offered as an amendment to an unrelated bill, but was voted down.[373]President Obama had stated that he would have vetoed the bill even if it had passed both chambers of Congress.[374]

2017 House Budget

Following the 2012 Supreme Court ruling upholding ACA as constitutional, Republicans held another vote to repeal the law on July 11;[375] the House of Representatives voted with all 244 Republicans and 5 Democrats in favor of repeal, which marked the 33rd, partial or whole, repeal attempt.[376][377] On February 3, 2015, the House of Representatives added its 67th repeal vote to the record (239 to 186). This attempt also failed.[378]

2013 federal government shutdown

Strong partisan disagreement in Congress prevented adjustments to the Act’s provisions.[379] However, at least one change, a proposed repeal of a tax on medical devices, has received bipartisan support.[380] Some Congressional Republicans argued against improvements to the law on the grounds they would weaken the arguments for repeal.[283][381]

Republicans attempted to defund its implementation,[365][382] and in October 2013, House Republicans refused to fund the federal government unless accompanied with a delay in ACA implementation, after the President unilaterally deferred the employer mandate by one year, which critics claimed he had no power to do. The House passed three versions of a bill funding the government while submitting various versions that would repeal or delay ACA, with the last version delaying enforcement of the individual mandate. The Democratic Senate leadership stated the Senate would only pass a “clean” funding bill without any restrictions on ACA. The government shutdown began on October 1.[383][384][385] Senate Republicans threatened to block appointments to relevant agencies, such as the Independent Payment Advisory Board[386] and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.[387][388]

2017 repeal effort

During a midnight congressional session starting January 11, 2017, the Senate of the 115th Congress of the United States voted to approve a “budget blueprint” which would allow Republicansto repeal parts of the law “without threat of a Democratic filibuster.”[389][390] The plan, which passed 51-48, is a budget blueprint named by Senate Republicans the “Obamacare ‘repeal resolution.'”[391] Democrats opposing the resolution staged a protest during the vote.[392]

House Republicans announced their replacement for the ACA, the American Health Care Act, on March 6, 2017.[393] On March 24, 2017 the effort, led by Paul Ryan and Donald Trump, to repeal and replace the ACA failed amid a revolt among Republican representatives.[394]

On May 4, 2017, the United States House of Representatives voted to pass the American Health Care Act (and thereby repeal most of the Affordable Care Act) by a narrow margin of 217 to 213, sending the bill to the Senate for deliberation.[395] The Senate has indicated they will write their own version of the bill, instead of voting on the House version.[396]

Implementation history

Once the law was signed, provisions began taking effect, in a process that continued for years. Some provisions never took effect, while others were deferred for various periods.

Existing individual health plans

Plans purchased after the date of enactment, March 23, 2010, or old plans that changed in specified ways would eventually have to be replaced by ACA-compliant plans.[citation needed]

At various times during and after the ACA debate, Obama stated that “if you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan”.[397][398] However, in fall 2013 millions of Americans with individual policies received notices that their insurance plans were terminated,[399] and several million more risked seeing their current plans cancelled.[400][401][402]

Obama’s previous unambiguous assurance that consumers’ could keep their own plans became a focal point for critics, who challenged his truthfulness.[403][404] On November 7, 2013, President Obama stated: “I am sorry that [people losing their plans] are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me.”[405] Various bills were introduced in Congress to allow people to keep their plans.[406]

In the fall of 2013, the Obama Administration announced a transitional relief program that would let states and carriers allow non-compliant individual and small group policies to renew at the end of 2013. In March 2014, HHS allowed renewals as late as October 1, 2016. In February 2016, these plans were allowed to renew up until October 1, 2017, but with a termination date no later than December 31, 2017.[citation needed]

2010

In June small business tax credits took effect. For certain small businesses, the credits reached up to 35% of premiums. At the same time uninsured people with pre-existing conditions could access the federal high-risk pool. Also, participating employment-based plans could obtain reimbursement for a portion of the cost of providing health insurance to early retirees.[407]

In July the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) took effect to offer insurance to those that had been denied coverage by private insurance companies because of a pre-existing condition. Despite estimates of up to 700,000 enrollees, at a cost of approximately $13,000/enrollee, only 56,257 enrolled at a $28,994 cost per enrollee.[407]

2011

As of September 23, 2010, pre-existing conditions could no longer be denied coverage for children’s policies. HHS interpreted this rule as a mandate for “guaranteed issue“, requiring insurers to issue policies to such children.[citation needed] By 2011, insurers had stopped marketing child-only policies in 17 states, as they sought to escape this requirement.[408]

The average beneficiary in the prior coverage gap would have spent $1,504 in 2011 on prescriptions. Such recipients saved an average $603. The 50 percent discount on brand name drugs provided $581 and the increased Medicare share of generic drug costs provided the balance. Beneficiaries numbered 2 million[409]

2012

In National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius decided on June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate was constitutional when the associated penalties were construed as a tax. The decision allowed states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion. Several did so,[410] although some later accepted the expansion.[411][412]

2013

In January 2013 the Internal Revenue Service ruled that the cost of covering only the individual employee would be considered in determining whether the cost of coverage exceeded 9.5% of income. Family plans would not be considered even if the cost was above the 9.5% income threshold. This was estimated to leave 2–4 million Americans unable to afford family coverage under their employers’ plans and ineligible for subsidies.[413][414]

A June 2013 study found that the MLR provision had saved individual insurance consumers $1.2 billion in 2011 and $2.1 billion in 2012, reducing their 2012 costs by 7.5%.[415] The bulk of the savings were in reduced premiums, but some came from MLR rebates.

On July 2, 2013, the Obama Administration announced that it would delay the implementation of the employer mandate until 2015.[280][416][417]

The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act (or CLASS Act) was enacted as Title VIII of the ACA. It would have created a voluntary and public long-term care insurance option for employees.[121][123] In October 2011 the administration announced it was unworkable and would be dropped.[418] The CLASS Act was repealed January 1, 2013.[419]

The launch for both the state and federal exchanges was troubled due to management and technical failings. HealthCare.gov, the website that offers insurance through the exchanges operated by the federal government, crashed on opening and suffered endless problems.[420] Operations stabilized in 2014, although not all planned features were complete.[421][422]

CMS reported in 2013 that, while costs per capita continued to rise, the rate of increase in annual healthcare costs had fallen since 2002. Per capita cost increases averaged 5.4% annually between 2000 and 2013. Costs relative to GDP, which had been rising, had stagnated since 2009.[423] Several studies attempted to explain the reductions. Reasons included:

  • Higher unemployment due to the 2008-2010 recession, which limited the ability of consumers to purchase healthcare;
  • Out-of-pocket costs rose, reducing demand for healthcare services.[424] The proportion of workers with employer-sponsored health insurance requiring a deductible climbed to about three-quarters in 2012 from about half in 2006.[223]
  • ACA changes[223] that aim to shift the healthcare system from paying-for-quantity to paying-for-quality. Some changes occurred due to healthcare providers acting in anticipation of future implementation of reforms.[120][224]

2014

On July 30, 2014, the Government Accountability Office released a non-partisan study that concluded that the administration did not provide “effective planning or oversight practices” in developing the ACA website.[425]

In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby the Supreme Court exempted closely held corporations with religious convictions from the contraception rule.[426] In Wheaton College vs Burwell the Court issued an injunction allowing the evangelical college and other religiously affiliated nonprofit groups to completely ignore the contraceptive mandate.[427]

A study found that average premiums for the second-cheapest ( silver) plan were 10-21% less than average individual market premiums in 2013, while covering many more conditions. Credit for the reduced premiums was attributed to increased competition stimulated by the larger market, greater authority to review premium increases, the MLR and risk corridors.[citation needed]

Many of the initial plans featured narrow networks of doctors and hospitals.[428][not in citation given]

A 2016 analysis found that health care spending by the middle class was 8.9% of household spending in 2014.[429]

2015

By the beginning of the year, 11.7 million had signed up (ex-Medicaid).[430] On December 31, 2015, about 8.8 million consumers had stayed in the program. Some 84 percent, or about 7.4 million, were subsidized.[431]

Bronze plans were the second most popular in 2015, making up 22% of marketplace plan selections. Silver plans were the most popular, accounting for 67% of marketplace selections. Gold plans were 7%. Platinum plans accounted for 3%. On average across the four metal tiers, premiums were up 20% for HMOs and 18% for EPOs. Premiums for POS plans were up 15% from 2015 to 2016, while PPO premiums were up just 8%.[citation needed]

A 2015 study found 14% of privately insured consumers received a medical bill in the past two years from an out-of-network provider in the context of an overall in-network treatment event. Such out-of-network care is not subject to the lower negotiated rates of in-network care, increasing out-of-pocket costs. Another 2015 study found that the average out-of-network charges for the majority of 97 medical procedures examined “were 300% or higher compared to the corresponding Medicare fees” for those services.[citation needed]

Some 47% of the 2015 ACA plans sold on the Healthcare.gov exchange lacked standard out-of-network coverage. Enrollees in such plans, typically received no coverage for out-of-network costs (except for emergencies or with prior authorization). A 2016 study on Healthcare.gov health plans found a 24 percent increase in the percentage of ACA plans that lacked standard out-of-network coverage.[citation needed]

The December spending bill delayed the onset of the “Cadillac tax” on expensive insurance plans by two years, until 2020.[432]

The average price of non-generic drugs rose 16.2% in 2015 and 98.2% since 2011.[429]

2016

As of March 2016 11.1 million people had purchased exchange plans,[citation needed] while an estimated 9 million to 10 million people had gained Medicaid coverage, mostly low-income adults.[206] 11.1 million were still covered, a decline of nearly 13 percent.[433] 6.1 million uninsured 19-25 year olds gained coverage.[434]

Employers

A survey of New York businesses found an increase of 8.5 percent in health care costs, less than the prior year’s survey had expected. A 10 percent increase was expected for 2017. Factors included increased premiums, higher drug costs, ACA and aging workers. Some firms lowered costs by increasing cost-sharing (for higher employee contributions, deductibles and co-payments). 60% planned to further increase cost-sharing. Coverage and benefits were not expected to change. Approximately one fifth said ACA had pushed them to reduce their workforce. A larger number said they were raising prices.[435]

Insurers

The five major national insurers expected to lose money on ACA policies in 2016.[436] UnitedHealth withdrew from the Georgia and Arkansas exchanges for 2017, citing heavy losses.[203] Humana exited other markets, leaving it operating in 156 counties in 11 states for 2017.[437] 225 counties across the country had access to only a single ACA insurer. A study released in May estimated that 664 counties would have one insurer in 2017.[438][not in citation given]

Aetna cancelled planned expansion of its offerings and following an expected $300 million loss in 2016 and then withdrew from 11 of its 15 states.[439] In August 2016 Anthem said that its offerings were losing money, but also that it would expand its participation if a pending merger with Cigna was approved.[440] Aetna and Humana’s exit for 2017 left 8 rural Arizona counties with only Blue Cross/Blue Shield.[441]

Blue Cross/Blue Shield Minnesota announced that it would exit individual and family markets in Minnesota in 2017, due to financial losses of $500 million over three years.[442]

Another analysis found that 17 percent of eligibles may have a single insurer option in 2017. North Carolina, Oklahoma, Alaska, Alabama, South Carolina and Wyoming were expected to have a single insurer,[443] while only 2 percent of 2016 eligibles had only one choice.[444]

Aetna, Humana, UnitedHealth Group also exited various individual markets. Many local Blue Cross plans sharply narrowed their networks. In 2016 two thirds of individual plans were narrow-network HMO plans.[428]

One of the causes of insurer losses is the lower income, older and sicker enrollee population. One 2016 analysis reported that while 81% of the population with incomes from 100-150% of the federal poverty level signed up, only 45% of those from 150-200% did so. The percentage continued to decline as income rose: 2% of those above 400% enrolled.[445]

Costs

The law is designed to pay subsidies in the form of tax credits to the individuals or families purchasing the insurance, based on income levels. Higher income consumers receive lower subsidies. While pre-subsidy prices rose considerably from 2016 to 2017, so did the subsidies, to reduce the after-subsidy cost to the consumer. For example, a study published in 2016 found that the average requested 2017 premium increase among 40-year-old non-smokers was about 9 percent, according to an analysis of 17 cities, although Blue Cross Blue Shield proposed increases of 40 percent in Alabama and 60 percent in Texas.[220] However, some or all of these costs are offset by subsidies, paid as tax credits. For example, the Kaiser Foundation reported that for the second-lowest cost “Silver plan” (a plan often selected and used as the benchmark for determining financial assistance), a 40-year old non-smoker making $30,000 per year would pay effectively the same amount in 2017 as they did in 2016 (about $208/month) after the subsidy/tax credit, despite large increases in the pre-subsidy price. This was consistent nationally. In other words, the subsidies increased along with the pre-subsidy price, fully offsetting the price increases.[221]

Cooperatives

The number of ACA nonprofit insurance cooperatives for 2017 fell from 23 originally to 7 for 2017. The remaining 7 posted annual losses in 2015. A General Accountability Report found that co-ops’ 2015 premiums were generally below average. At the end of 2014, money co-ops and other ACA insurers had counted on risk corridor payments that didn’t materialize. Maryland’s Evergreen Health claims that ACA’s risk-adjustment system does not adequately measure risk.[citation needed]

Medicaid

Newly elected Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued an executive order to accept the expansion, becoming the 32nd state to do so. The program was expected to enroll an additional 300,000 Louisianans.[446]

2017

More than 9.2 million people signed up for care on the national exchange (healthcare.gov) for 2017, down some 400,000 from 2016. This decline was due primarily to the election of President Trump, who pulled advertising encouraging people to sign up for coverage, issued an executive order that attempts to eliminate the mandate, and has created significant uncertainty about the future of the ACA. Enrollments had been running ahead of 2016 prior to President Obama leaving office, with 9.8 million expected to sign-up, so President Trump’s actions potentially cost about 600,000 national enrollments (i.e., 9.8 million expected − 9.2 million actual = 0.6 million impact).[447] Of the 9.2 million, 3.0 million were new customers and 6.2 million were returning. The 9.2 million excludes the 11 states that run their own exchanges, which have signed up around 3 million additional people.[447] These figures also exclude the additional coverage due to the Medicaid expansion, which covers another approximately 10 million persons, as described in the impact section above.

In February, Humana announced that it would withdraw from the individual insurance market in 2018, citing “further signs of an unbalanced risk pool.”[448] That month the IRS announced that it would not require that tax returns indicate that a person has health insurance, reducing the effectiveness of the individual mandate, in response to an executive order from President Donald Trump.[449]

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini stated that ACA was in a “death spiral” of escalating premiums and shrinking, skewed enrollment.[450] However, a U.S. judge found that the Aetna CEO misrepresented why his company was leaving the exchanges; an important part of the reason was the Justice Department’s opposition to the intended merger between Aetna and Humana. Aetna announced that it would exit the exchange market in all remaining states.[451] It stated that its losses had grown from $100M in 2014 to $450M in 2016.[452] Wellmark withdrew from Iowa in April.[453] As of May, no insurer had indicated its intention to offer ACA insurance in Nebraska.[451] Also in May Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City announced it would withdraw from Missouri and Kansas’s individual markets in 2018, potentially leaving nearly 19,000 residents in Western Missouri without a coverage option.[454] Anthem announced plans to withdraw from Ohio[455] and later Wisconsin[456] and Indiana,[457] describing the market as “volatile” and referring to the difficulty in pricing its plans “due to the shrinking individual market as well as continual changes in federal operations, rules and guidance.”[455]

The CBO reported in March 2017 that the healthcare exchanges were expected to be stable; i.e., they were not in a “death spiral.”[458] In June, Centene announced that it intended to initiate coverage in Nevada, Kanasa and Missouri and expand coverage in Ohio and Florida.[459]

Molina Healthcare, a major Medicaid provider, said that it was considering exiting some markets in 2018, citing “too many unknowns with the marketplace program.” Molina lost $110 million in 2016 due to having to contribute $325 million more than expected to the ACA “risk transfer” fund that compensated insurers with unprofitable risk pools. These pools were established to help prevent insurers from artificially selecting lower-risk pools.[460]

In May the United States House of Representatives voted to repeal the ACA.[461][462]

See also

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patient_Protection_and_Affordable_Care_Act

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The Pronk Pops Show 870, April 10, 2017: Story 1: Will President Trump Boldly Cut Taxes and Spending? — A Competitive Race Towards Lower Taxes And Less Government Spending: Replace All Income Based Taxes (All Income, Capital Gain and Payroll Taxes) With Broad-Based Consumption Tax With A Progressive Tax Prebate ( FairTax 23% Less Prebate or Fair Tax Less 20% Less $1,000 Per Month or $12,000 Per Year Prebate) And Real Cuts of 5% Per Year In Government Spending To Balance The Budget In 8 Years Or Less To Pay For Tax Cuts!) — Cut Taxes and Spending — Videos — Story 2: Stagnating United States Economy — The Great Stagnation –Videos

Posted on April 10, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Communications, Congress, Countries, Culture, Currencies, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Elections, Employment, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Free Trade, Government Dependency, Government Spending, History, House of Representatives, Labor Economics, Law, Media, Medicare, Monetary Policy, News, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Scandals, Senate, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Trade Policy, U.S. Dollar, Unemployment, United States of America, Videos, Wealth, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 869: April 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 868: April 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 867: April 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 865: March 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 864: March 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 863: March 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 862: March 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 861: March 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 860: March 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 859: March 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 858: March 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 857: March 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 856: March 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 855: March 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 854: March 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 853: March 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 852: March 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 851: March 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 850: March 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 849: March 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 848: February 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 847: February 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 846: February 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 845: February 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 844: February 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 843: February 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 842: February 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 841: February 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 840: February 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 839: February 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 838: February 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 837: February 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 836: February 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 835: February 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 834: February 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 833: February 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 832: February 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 831: February 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 830: February 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 829: February 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 828: January 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 827: January 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 826: January 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 825: January 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 824: January 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 823: January 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 822: January 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 821: January 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 820: January 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 819: January 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 818: January 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 817: January 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 816: January 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 815: January 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 814: January 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 813: January 9, 2017

Story 1: Will President Trump Boldly Cut Taxes and Spending?  — A Competitive Race Towards Lower Taxes And Less Government Spending:  Replace All Income Based Taxes (All Income, Capital Gain and Payroll Taxes) With Broad-Based Consumption Tax With Generous Tax Prebate ( FairTax or Fair Tax Less!) And Real Cuts of  5% Per Year In Government Spending To Balance The Budget In 8 Years Or Less To Pay For Tax Cuts!) — Cut Taxes and Spending — Videos —  

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Sen. Strange: “I would not” vote for a Border Adjustment Tax

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CNBC: Steve Forbes on Border Adjustment Tax – “Don’t Do It” 2.8.17

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Art Laffer: Border tax is a major mistake

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