Business & Economy

While I’m generally no fan of a progressive tax plan, Donald Trump’s 2016 Tax Reform Plan released during the campaign was one I could get behind. This because it took a knife to our horrendous tax structure and brought down taxes across the board. We all win. Not just the rich and the poor.

I’m going to post the plan below in full so you can remind yourself of how great, how YUGE the plan was/is. But first I have to ask… what happened to that plan? Why is Trump looking to release a new plan this week? Why not just publish the same plan he campaigned on?

Via WashPo.

Top Trump administration officials are giving out differing accounts of a tax plan that the president has promised will be released Wednesday, calling into question whether they have ironed out some of the most difficult components of any proposal.

Among the major decisions President Trump and his party face on taxes is whether to go for a short-term tax cut that keeps much of the existing tax code intact but reduces rates or whether to go for a more fundamental shift that makes long-term changes to how the government collects revenue. Putting in place long-term changes to the tax code would give businesses certainty to help guide their investment decisions, but these sorts of changes to the tax code are much more difficult politically, as they would require bipartisan support.

On Saturday, administration officials offered confusing signals on which route Trump would pursue.

Wait, what? Confusing signals on which route Trump will pursue? Yeah that certainly creates a lot of confusion. This because Trump already told us which route he would pursue.

Here it is in full.

Can’t we just stick with what we were promised? Isn’t that what we all voted for?

 

On Tuesday, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg dropped a stunner when he announced to the attendees of F8, Facebook’s annual developers’ conference, that the tech giant is developing technology that will allow users to communicate using only their minds. The technology will come in the form of implantable chips that will create a brain-computer interface (BCI). It’s one of several secret projects being developed in the mysterious R&D division Building 8 labs.

Zuckerberg’s past statements on the fabled brain-computer interface have been nothing less than tantalizing. In 2015, Zuckerberg laid out his personal vision for the technology:

“One day, I believe we’ll be able to send full rich thoughts to each other directly using technology,” Zuckerberg said during a Q&A. “You’ll just be able to think of something and your friends will immediately be able to experience it too if you’d like.”

On Tuesday, Zuckerberg confirmed BCI as one of four technologies the tech giant is currently developing in B8 (in addition to augmented reality, drones, and cameras). This isn’t exactly news, as it’s been known for some time that Facebook was heading in this direction. A recent job post by the company called for “an experienced Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) Engineer who will be responsible for working on a 2-year B8 project focused on developing advanced BCI technologies.”

Zuckerberg teased everyone by announcing more details would be released today, and indeed, they were.

On Wednesday, former DARPA executive Regina Dugan, who also worked for Google’s advanced projects division and currently heads the Building 8 division, told conference attendees that a research team of 60 engineers is currently developing technologies that will allow people to type at 100 words per minute using only their minds. BCI applications will also enable people to control augmented and virtual reality interfaces using only their thoughts.

It appears Dugan is making headway on her original job description, which was to develop “technologies that fluidly blend physical and digital worlds.”

More details about Facebook’s BCI technology will be released in the coming days.

Originally published at Activist Post.

At noon, Donald Trump will sign an executive order calling for a probe whether imports of foreign-made steel are hurting U.S. national security. The order will revive a decades-old, rarely used law to explore imposing new barriers on steel imports, in this case aimed loosely at China.

Trump will sign the memorandum related to section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 at an event in the White House that will include leadersd of several U.S. steel companies; the law will allow the president to impose restrictions on imports for reasons of national security. Trump’s directive will ask Ross to conduct the probe “with all deliberate speed and deliver the results to the president with his recommendations.”

An official cited by Reuters sad that there are national security implications from imports of steel alloys that are used in products such as the armor plating of ships and require a lot of expertise to create and produce.

The move is another step in Trump’s “America First” policies in which he has tried to boost U.S. manufacturers and preserve American jobs. It comes as he tries to coax China into taking a more active role in reining in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

While an official said that the directive is not aimed at a specific country but is “product oriented”, in recent years the US has seen a substantial increase in imports of Steel and related products from China, which has been dumping its exports around the globe, although in recent months has been either warehousing the product domestically, or using it as part of the latest housing bubble.

As the WSJ adds, the U.S. government hasn’t used the law to impose penalties since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995, which discourages such unilateral sanctions. The law was most famously used by President Richard Nixon in 1971 to impose an across-the-board 10% import surcharge to contain the U.S. trade deficit at the time.

The planned ceremony follows a Trump rally Tuesday at Wisconsin tool factory where he ordered aides to craft new policies increasing “Buy American” provisions for government procurement spending. In the speech unveiling the action, he blasted the WTO as “another one of our disasters,” and vowed to accelerate acting on his campaign promises to rewrite American trade policy.

Originally published at Zero Hedge.

The minimum wage for H1B visa recipients is $60,000, unchanged from 1989. Let me emphasize that for you. Our government is permitting companies to bring in foreign skilled labor at 1989 wages, completely undercutting the American workforce and driving down wages.

Today President Trump signed an executive order to reform the program.

“Right now, H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery — and that’s wrong,” said Trump.

Annually, there is a quota of 85,000 new visas, with 20,000 reserved for master’s degree holders. To give you an idea how voracious an appetite American tech firms have for foreign labor, this was the fifth year in a row the cap had been met within 5 days.

The order was seen as a ceremonial media event, having little to no bearing on actual law. In order to effect real change, congress will need to change the law.

Tucker Carlson took on Mark Cuban to discuss the law — who is supportive of the H1b visas because MUH American exceptionalism and MUH capitalism. While against ‘hoarding’ visas, Cuban is supportive of the program because it allows American companies to hire skilled labor.

Tucker retorted, ‘that’s the talking point, and it makes sense […], but the reality, as you know, is 80% of foreigners admitted under H1b make less than the median income in which the work.  In other words, they’re being brought over, not because of their skills, but because they save labor costs. That’s a subversion of the idea.’

Cuban’s reply was to blame the visa hoarders on causing the problem, saying ‘that’s wrong, that’s not at the core of the H1b visa.’

Then Cuban twisted himself into a pretzel, saying ‘But when it comes to competing for the best talent around the world, I’m a big believer in American exceptionalism. I believe we can compete. When we can’t get the job, we get smarter. Work harder, get smarter, you’ll get it the next time around. I think that’s good for everybody.’

WTF? What sort of bullshit was Mark chewing on before spewing out this nonsense? But what about the wage gap, Mark?

Tucker weighed in, ‘except in a lot of those cases, we don’t get smarter, we get unemployed.’ Tucker went on to explain that over 40% of college graduates describe themselves as underemployed. He added, ‘so we have a massive labor pool that’s educated in our system (Cuban nodding), and yet they’re being turned away in favor of people who are being educated abroad. That does not help America in any way.’

(awkward silence, death blow delivered)

The government has an obligation to protect American jobs. By plainly stating that the religion of capitalism can do no wrong and that ‘market forces’ will lead the path towards utopia is rhetoric. By creating loopholes that lower wages, literally taking away jobs from skilled American labor, is the very definition of abdication of duty, in some cases treasonous.

The biggest H1B visa sponsors are:

Infosys
Cap Gemini
Tata Consulting
IBM
Wipro
Accenture
Tech Mahindra
Deloitte
Cognizant
Microsoft
HCL America
Google
Ernst and Young
UST Global
Larsen and Toubro
Amazon

It’s worth noting, many of those companies are consultants, who then used the skilled labor to work on projects on behalf of their fortune 500 clients. In others words, they’re merely gatekeepers, obfuscating the true nature of how pervasive this program is in the American workforce.

Originally published at iBankCoin.

When Donald Trump was elected, there was so much optimism among libertarians and conservatives, it was almost palpable. However, it’s only been several months into his first term, and it’s becoming quite apparent that Trump is no savior. In retrospect, it was foolish to think any single person could snap his fingers, and reverse decades of financial mismanagement and political corruption. It was foolish to think that he could dismantle an entrenched bureaucracy that is more powerful than most people realize.

But not everyone was convinced that Trump was going to be able to turn this ship around. Peter Schiff knew that the damage done by the political establishment was irreversible, and that our financial system was living on borrowed time. In a recent interview with Future Money Trends, Schiff explains why Donald Trump can’t stop the inevitable, and how you can crash proof your assets ahead of the economic pain that is coming:

Donald trump should already be disappointing a lot of people who thought we were going to get change, we were going to make America great again. We didn’t repeal Obamacare, that’s here to stay. Major tax reform is dead. We’re dropping bombs.

I mean it’s the same old same old right? Big government… bigger deficits… more cheap money… keep the air in the bubble. We’re headed for a major major crisis.

Watch the full interview with Peter Schiff:


(Watch At Youtube)

As for what that major crisis will be, it’s not what most people would expect. As Schiff points out, it’s not going to be triggered by one sector of the economy, as we saw in during the last financial crash. The crisis is going to emerge with the dollar itself, which Schiff says could cause precious metal prices to soar. Everyone is taking for granted the fact that the dollar is king, but it’s not going to be for long. Not when our government continues to rack up debt like a compulsive gambler; which at this point, doesn’t appear to be changing under Trump.

The dollar is living on borrowed time, literally. And so we just don’t know. It’s like a bomb with a fuse, but we just don’t really know how long the fuse is. The dollar, I think is in a major bubble. I think it is in the process of topping out. I think once it completes this top it’s going down. And I think it’s going to take out the lows from 2008…

…I think it’s going to go down for the count. Because the last time, what saved the dollar was the financial crisis, and that crisis resulted in everybody buying the dollar. But I think the next crisis is not going to be the same crisis that we had in 08. I think the dollar is going to be the crisis. I don’t think it’s going to be a bread and butter financial crisis. This is going to be a currency crisis. So it’s going to be the US government. It’s not going to be the mortgage markets that’s blowing up. It’s going to be the treasury bond market that’s blowing up. It’s going to be the Federal Reserve that’s blowing up. And this is going to be a major major negative for the dollar, not a positive.

We really don’t know how long that fuse is, but there’s no doubt that it’s been lit. There is a frustrating truism in economics. You can easily predict if something bad is going to happen, but you can never predict when it’s going to happen.

That’s because the economy is built on numbers that are easy to calculate, but it’s impossible to predict how people will react to those numbers. In our case, people don’t want to believe that this economy is built on a house of cards and that their standard of living is in jeopardy. That willful ignorance, that confidence, can keep the show going long after the curtain should have been drawn. However, no amount of confidence can keep an unsustainable system running forever. Eventually, reality becomes impossible to ignore.

Trump doesn’t want to preside over a major decline in our standard of living, but ultimately that has to happen. Because this is the consequence of all this excess consumption that went on before he was president. You know, we sacrificed our future to indulge our past. The future is now the present. We’re here, and it’s time to pay the piper.

There’s only one thing you can do, according to Peter Schiff. Prepare yourself and your family with real assets like gold and silver that will keep your finances afloat during the next currency crisis.

Originally published at SHTFPlan.com.

How would imagine home away from life in the city, and in on-the-grid cookie-cutter urban life?

Everyone has a different vision, but more people than ever are making it a reality.

The growing concerns about all the things going on in the world, and the need to buffer from the vulnerabilities of a collapsing society have driven a growing community towards alternative living.

And benefits to living off the grid, and in a tiny home? No utility bills. No mortgage. And complete freedom.

Not that everything is easy or automatic. But these are structures that almost anyone could afford to construct. And when the SHTF, people living this way will be in a much better position in most cases to ride out whatever emergency has fallen upon us.

via Tiny House Listings:

I recently had the chance to visit Jeremy’s completely off-grid tiny house in Eastern, North Carolina. The first thing that struck me about his tiny home is the simplicity of it while also maintaining a very nice aesthetic. His water comes from a pitcher pump inside the home that is filtered before use. His energy comes from a simple solar that meets all of his needs. His tiny house is basically everything he needs and nothing he doesn’t. He even grows much of his food, coming pretty darn close to self-sufficiency. One more that’s never mentioned around Jeremy’s home, for obvious reasons is “mortgage.” Thanks so much Jeremy for the tour!

There are many variations, and endless ways to customize a structure like this, or any other off grid home, to your needs and desires.

In many cases, it is simply a matter of changing the way you think about what a home is, and how your dwelling serves you.

If you are a slave to the mortgage on your home, and your reliance on on-grid power, it may be something you live to regret.

Then again, this kind of thing probably isn’t for everyone.

Story courtesy of SHTFPlan.

Police departments aren’t the only ones seizing money from citizens without charging them with a crime: the IRS is in the civil asset forfeiture game too.

In just two years – from 2012 to 2014 – the IRS stole more than $17 million from innocent business owners, deliberately targeting their earnings for an easy steal. Using obscure anti-money laundering rules and civil asset forfeiture, the agency compromised the rights of individuals and their businesses, a government watchdog has discovered.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released a report.

on March 30 that details how IRS investigators seized hundreds of bank accounts from business owners based on nothing but a suspicious pattern of deposits.

In more than 90 percent of those cases, the money was completely legal. The audit also found that investigators violated internal policies when conducting interviews, failed to notify individuals of their rights, and improperly bargained to resolve civil cases.

From The Washington Post:

To combat criminal activity, individuals and businesses are required to report all bank deposits greater than $10,000 to federal authorities. Intentionally splitting up large sums of cash into sub-$10,000 amounts to avoid that reporting requirement is known as “structuring” and is illegal under the federal Bank Secrecy Act.

But many business owners engaged in perfectly legal activities may be unaware of the law. Others are covered by insurance policies that don’t cover cash losses greater than $10,000. Still others simply want to avoid extra paperwork, and keep their deposits less than $10,000 on the advice of bank employees or colleagues.

Under the Act, structuring IS technically a crime, but the reporting requirements were enacted to detect serious criminal activity – including terrorist activities, money laundering, and drug trafficking.

They “were not put in place just so that the Government could enforce the reporting requirements,” as the IG’s report explains.

But the IRS didn’t let that stop them. The agency pursued hundreds of cases from 2012 to 2015 on suspicion of structuring, but with no indications of connections to any criminal activity. Simply depositing cash in sums of less than $10,000 was all that it took to arouse agents’ suspicions, leading to the eventual seizure and forfeiture of millions of dollars in cash from people not otherwise suspected of criminal activity.

The inspector general found money seized and forfeited by the IRS was legally obtained in 91 percent of a sample of 278 structuring investigations it reviewed occurring between fiscal years 2012 and 2014. Altogether, those funds totaled $17.1 million and involved 231 cases.

The investigation was launched in 2014 after lawsuits and research by the Institute for Justice (IJ), including its report Seize First, Question Later, which is cited by TIGTA, helped bring the abuses to the public’s attention.

The investigation also found, reports IJ:

  • Department of Justice attorneys working with the IRS encouraged “quick hits,” where property was easier to seize, “rather than pursuing cases with other criminal activity (such as drug trafficking and money laundering), which are more time-consuming”;
  • “The Government appeared to bargain non-prosecution to resolve the civil forfeiture case[s]”;
  • Investigators often ignored reasonable explanations for transactions that appeared to fit a pattern of structuring.

IJ Attorney Robert Everett Johnson issued a statement in response to the report, and some details he points out are particularly concerning:

The IRS gave no warning prior to these seizures, and the IRS did not speak to property owners to see if there might be some honest explanation for the pattern. Shockingly, even when property owners provided an innocent explanation for their banking practices following the seizures, the IRS watchdog found that the agency did not even consider whether it might be true. That disregard for the pursuit of justice is the unfortunate but unsurprising result of civil forfeiture’s profit incentive, which allows agencies like the IRS to use money that they seize to fund their budgets.

The IRS and the DOJ have returned some money to some victims, but until all of the ill-gotten assets are returned to their proper owners, justice will not be served, says IJ.

It is unclear whether structuring forfeiture cases make up a small or large percentage of all IRS forfeitures, because the IRS does not publish that information and denied requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act to make it public.

The findings of the TIGTA audit were released shortly after another government corruption bombshell was revealed: The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized $3.2 billion in cash over a 10-year period from people who were never under criminal investigation.

Story courtesy of the Daily Sheeple.

I had an “interesting” debate on Twitter last night with someone who is involved in the health insurance game in some way and apparently has cancer patients as clients.  He is a strong shill for the “Obamacare Repeal/Replace” process.

The debate was plenty fun and decent right up until I pointed out that on the math the Federal Government spent $1,417 billion last fiscal year on Medicare and Medicaid, up from $380 billion in 1998, which incidentally was 37% of all federal spending — and it’s accelerating at ~9% a year as it has been for the last several decades.

At this rate it will cross $2,000 billion, or more than half (by a good margin) of the current federal budget within 5 years.  That will blow a $600 billion additional annual deficit hole in the budget into a rising rate environment which the government will not be able to finance.

That’s math, not politics.

For this I was told I was a conspiracy nut and belonged on Infowars.  Never mind that every one of my figures came from the Treasury itself in the form of its official published balance sheet.  If that’s tinfoil…..

Yeah.

Following my assertion that the AHCA does zero to address cost, which he admitted is correct, and that if we do not address cost and thus drop that $1,417 billion precipitously the government’s budget will be destroyed and thus collapse on the clear evidence and trends published by our government’s own Treasury Department he declared that he was storming off and blocking me — and did exactly that.

So what do we have here?  When I bring up arithmetic and facts that are published by our own government along with the published growth rates and what that will inevitably lead to, pointing out that there is exactly one way to stop what is otherwise inevitable predicated on the laws of mathematics I get called a conspiracy nut?

30 year trends in data published by our own government is a conspiracy?  A statement that we cannot finance another $600 billion a year rising to somewhere around $2.5 trillion a year within five more in a rising rate environment is open to question?

REALLY?

Or is the truth that the light came on in his head — he is shilling for a bill that is an outrageous and open fraud upon the public since it will not address cost (which he admits) but will further advance the collapse of our federal government’s ability to fund itself, and thus operate!

It’s a hell of a lot easier to just slam the door than take on the math and either find an error in it (in which case you win) or admit you’re wrong and change your position, especially after you’ve been lobbying lawmakers, eh?

Here’s a bit of history — all fact — when you get down to it.  The insurance and medical industry was in the beginning stages of collapse in 2008.  Annuities are funny things; you promise to pay X, you take in Y, you invest it with a return of Z in a bond ladder and the books balance.  You hope.

You get in a lot of trouble when the promise to pay X ends up as X+ and the return Z doesn’t materialize.  You can get in lethal trouble that way, in fact, and quite easily.  This is how the pension systems in our states, cities and private instances have blown up, and most of it has come from health care.

Then there are all the pigs at the trough in health care itself.  See, while health care counts toward GDP, and is nearly 20% of it today (up from about 3% 30ish years ago) most of it doesn’t produce anything.  Not one car, one house, one television set.  Oh sure, it might allow someone to keep making those things — maybe — but at what cost?  Yes, there are exceptions, but most of those exceptions (e.g. childbirth) are actually quite cheap in percentage terms.

The ugly part is that much medical care is actually negative to GDP.  Why?  Consider the drug addict who mainlines opiates and destroys his heart valves. “Fixing” it costs upward of $500,000, all said and done. Will that person ever produce more value than that with their remaining life?  Definitely not if they keep using drugs; they’ll die.  The sad reality is that most of them do exactly that.

How about the Type II diabetic that winds up running through a quarter-million bucks in drugs, amputations, dialysis, blindness and death because they won’t change their food intake and stop eating carbohydrates?  How far does he or she go before the ability to produce is destroyed, at which point they’re on disability and go from producing something to a net consumer of everyone else’s production?  By the way that specific instance when you add it all up nets out to somewhere around $400 billion a year for Medicare and Medicaid now!  That’s crazy on any objective basis; you could literally give everyone in the country — man, woman and child $1,000 a year instead with money left over — or adequately feed everyone who is hungry in sub-Saharan Africa (all ~230 million of them!) with a lot of money left over.

I’m not going to talk ethics in this regard in this post because that’s a thorny discussion indeed!  But you can’t escape the math.  There are plenty of people in the lower and middle economic strata — in fact, most — who can easily wind up being a net negative to GDP and the problem becomes much worse when medical costs ramp by a factor of six compared against GDP.

Eventually you run out of people who can and will pay when exponential cost growth happens like this.

Always.

It was starting in the 1990s and early 2000s and everyone in the industry, never mind anyone running a company (like me) knew it.  The so-called “High Risk Pools” were collapsing.  That’s a fact, and it was cited as one of the reasons we had to pass the PPACA – to put a stop to their collapse by forcing everyone into paying for those who were very sick or nearly dead!

I wrote article after article on this in the 2009 timeframe with the facts and figures from our own government and those making similar claims.  The PPACA was basically a bailout of the medical industry engineered to force a more-level slam of the cost on everyone in the country.

But… it failed.  It failed because nothing was done about the actual problem and costs continued to ramp.  The negative GDP problem got worse rather than better and moved even further up the income scale.  The government tried to finance it but doing so just destroyed productivity and tax receipts.

The funny thing about cost-shifting is that it can never solve a cost problem.  It just moves it somewhere else.  Where it moved it was on the back of productivity and tax receipts, both of which have been horrifyingly bad since the 2008 crash.  Last fiscal year tax receipts rose by less than 1% despite all the new taxes in the PPACA and higher rates generally while productivity improvements have all but disappeared.

The AHCA cannot resolve this.  Returning to “High Risk Pools” is idiotic because those very pools were on the verge of collapse prior to the PPACA and were a big part of why Obamacare was written and passed!  The insurance and medical lobbies wrote the PPACA to get rid of those problems, or so they thought.  They tried denying math but failed; you can’t get rid of a cost by making someone else pay it; you simply move it and eventually it comes back and bites you.

The answer to the problem cannot lie in “more insurance” or “restructuring” health insurance and let me remind you that my debate “partner” admitted the AHCA will do nothing to address total cost.  It just moves money around, something I noted back when it was first released (and much to the detriment of state budgets.)

The answer to the problem is, and can only be, a return of the medical industry to its historical 3-4% of GDP.

How?

Enforce the damn law — specifically, 15 USC and State Consumer Protection laws.  Enforce them in a simple fashion: Everyone must post a price and everyone pays the same price; any sort of hiding, collusion, cost-shifting or similar is met with indictments, prosecution and prison for consumer fraud, racketeering along with violations of the Sherman, Clayton and Robinson-Patman acts.

What your insurance covers is between you and the insurance company; the provider of service has nothing to do with it.

Doing that will force competition into the market immediately.

Costs will drop like a stone.

We need no legislation to do any of that — just enforcement.

We do, however, need some legislation as well.  Specifically, we need to repeal the reimportation ban on pharmaceuticals, and we need to add to Robinson-Patman inclusion of international sales.  That will force “best price” everywhere and pharmaceutical costs will fall like a rock here in the United States.  Oh, those other nations?  They’ll get to pay their ratable share of the development of drugs — and it’ll be about damn time.

In terms of legislation it’s pretty easy — you can see some ideas here and here.

Note the dates.

If we fail to address cost in this manner then it matters not whether the AHCA passes.  I hope it doesn’t, simply because bad laws are worse than no laws, and I’m not vindictive.

You see, if they pass it they own it — and everything that comes after it as a result.

Story courtesy of Market Ticker.

Go here now and prepare your faxes demanding a #CleanRepeal of ObamaCare for delivery to every member of the Freedom Caucus:

UPDATE: Meals on Wheels Got THIS Shocking News Going Into the Weekend (Click here for full update)

For the mainstream media sending hundreds of millions of tax dollars to support terrorists organizations in the middle east isn’t worth covering. But God forbid Trump dare propose cutting $250K from Meals on Wheels.

A budget move that, if you only listen to what the fake news complex feeds you, would have you believing will shut down the organization and close its doors for good. But is that $250K really going to cripple Meals on Wheels? Is that really the bulk of funding for the organization?

Not even close. In fact, around 3% or less of their funding comes from taxpayers via the federal government. But don’t take my word for it. Take the words sent out directly from Meals on Wheels.

“The nationwide Meals on Wheels network, comprised of 5,000, local, community-based programs, receives 35% of its total funding for the provision of congregate and home-delivered meals from the federal government through the Older Americans Act, administered by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living. Other federal funding sources that support Meals on Wheels program operations may include the Community Development Block Grant, Community Services Block Grant or the Social Services Block Grant. In addition, programs rely on contributions from state or local governments, private donations and other resources to cover the rest, demonstrating one of the best examples of a successful public-private partnership. Meals on Wheels America, the largest and oldest national organization representing senior nutrition programs across the country, receives only 3% of its funding from the government, specifically to run the National Research Center on Nutrition and Aging.”

Yep. Meals on Wheels is completely financially sound without the help of the fed. Imagine that. They get grants, of course. But the amount being proposed to be cut is insignificant and won’t harm operations in any meaningful manner. The grants aren’t changed.

And no, Trump’s move to cut down spending anywhere and everywhere possible won’t damage MoW at all.

So the next time you see that silly fake news link on Fakebook or CNN, just give it a thumbs down. Because the claim is absolutely ridiculous.

Repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act will generate big savings from cuts to the Medicaid component, rather than cuts to the middle-class health insurances the program offers.

More and more federal spending under Obamacare is going to Medicaid — after President Barack Obama expanded eligibility to bring 10 million new adults into the system at a cost of over $6,000 piece. Any attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare has to focus intently on the Medicaid component. Last year, Obamacare cost the U.S. taxpayer about $110 billion, about 60 percent of which was to pay for the expansion in Medicaid.

Before the Obamacare law, eligibility for Medicaid varied widely by state, with some admitting only those below about a quarter of the poverty level. Obamacare raised the threshold to 133 percent of the poverty level or about $18,000 in income per person or about $24,000 for the average family The Supreme Court gave states the right to opt in or opt out of this expansion and 19 states chose not to participate.

The result has been that about half of the federal spending on Obamacare has gone to Medicaid expansion. With an estimated 10 million people newly eligible for Medicaid — at an average cost of $6,000 — the financial burden is certain to swell.

In repealing Obamacare, Congress should consider changes in Medicaid to reduce its cost. These cuts could either be enacted by the feds as part of the repeal and replace package or they could be options left on the table for states to use.

Generally, the states should divide their Medicaid populations into two categories: those whose incomes would have entitled them to coverage before the Obama expansion and those newly brought in. They should cut services and increase co-payments for the second group, people more able to pay.

Currently, co-payments under Medicaid are nominal and do not do much to deter utilization for trivial needs or to share the costs. Co-payments for drugs, for example, are generally limited to $4 and go as high at $8 for nonemergency visits to the ER. These levels befit the old Medicaid population, a group of people living in desperate poverty. But the new eligibility of families with incomes up to $24,000 makes it fair to charge more reasonable amounts.

Congress (or the states) should consider limiting the services covered by Medicaid for the newly eligible population. Dental, mental health, transportation, physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy are all covered. Congress and the states should consider limiting coverage to all beneficiaries or to those newly eligible.

Medicaid is a welfare program. It is not funded by people paying into the system for coverage. But it has been exempted from any efforts to curb welfare spending. Until now, an all-or-nothing approach has prevailed. Federal law prevents states from curbing or limiting the services the program provides and from charging co-payments or deductibles beyond certain specified low levels.

To make repeal and replace easier for Congress and the president, it is time to put cutting Medicaid services and spending on the table.

The reason Obamacare costs too much, with high premiums and huge deductibles, is that the special interests crammed the enabling legislation with all sorts of minimum requirements for services to be included in all policies provided by the exchanges.

These inflexible requirements drive up the cost and soak both the taxpayer and the premium payer.

Obamacare specifies a list of services to be covered: outpatient care; emergency care; hospitalization, surgery and overnight stays; pregnancy, maternity and newborn care; mental health and substance abuse; prescription drugs; rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices; laboratory services; preventive and wellness services; chronic disease management; pediatric services including oral and vision care; birth control; and breastfeeding coverage.

And they all must be covered in their entirety — no exceptions, no limits.

That’s why the premiums and deductibles are so high and the program can’t succeed.

Congress should amend the law to allow catastrophic coverage only if that is what a patient wants. Currently, catastrophic coverage only plans are available only to those under 30.

It should also eliminate some of the services on this wish list and curb others:

–Make maternity care optional, particularly for men and those out of child-bearing age.
–Limit wellness and preventative care.
–End substance abuse coverage and limit mental health coverage.
–Limit nonemergency use of ERs.

By adopting common sense limitations, Congress can lower the cost of Obamacare’s exchange-offered policies.

The rhetoric of “repeal and replace” is well and good, but cutting the costs of the program itself gives Congress a great deal more flexibility in replacing it.
COPYRIGHT 2017 DICK MORRIS AND EILEEN MCGANN
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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