Thanks, Obamacare!: Individual health insurance premiums skyrocketed in California, and young people were the hardest hit

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini acknowledged this week that Obamacare plans are “really not an affordable product for a lot of people.” He wasn’t kidding. The Los Angeles Times reports that individual health insurance premiums have skyrocketed in California, in some cases doubled, over last year’s rates:

For 2014, consumers purchasing individual policies paid between 22% and 88% more for health insurance than they did last year, depending on age, gender, type of policy and where they lived, [California Insurance Commissioner Dave] Jones said Tuesday.
[…]
For 2014, consumers purchasing individual policies paid between 22% and 88% more for health insurance than they did last year, depending on age, gender, type of policy and where they lived, Jones said Tuesday.

“The rate increase from 2013 to 2014, on average, was significantly higher than rate increases in the past,” Jones said in a news conference in Sacramento.

The hardest-hit were young people, he said. In one region of Los Angeles County, people age 25 paid 52% more for a silver plan than they had for a similar plan the year before, while someone age 55 paid 38% more, according to a report that Jones released Tuesday.

Here we go: Obamacare subsidies challengers have asked the Supreme Court to hear their case

Cross your fingers, folks. The plaintiffs in King v. Burwell, which, like Halbig v. Burwell, deals with the subsidies provided to consumers on the federal Obamacare Exchange, have asked the Supreme Court to hear the their case:

Their lawsuit was dismissed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which ruled that the Obama administration can legally award the subsidies through federally run insurance exchanges — not just those run by the states themselves. The individuals behind King v. Burwell say the subsidies are being improperly awarded through Virginia’s federally run exchange.

Sam Kazman, general counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said the goal is to get the issue resolved as quickly as possible, since millions of Americans obtaining insurance subsidies could be affected. The conservative group is funding the litigation.

“A fast resolution is also vitally important to the states that chose not to set up exchanges, to the employers in those states who face either major compliance costs or huge penalties, and to employees who face possible layoffs or reductions in their work hours as a result of this illegal IRS rule,” Kazman said in a statement Thursday. “Our petition today to the Supreme Court represents the next step in that process.”

#IAmUnitedLiberty: Dan Mitchell is the Guardian Angel of the American Taxpayer

Full disclosure: Dan and I are both alumni of the University of Georgia (UGA) and play on a UGA alumni softball team together, so I count him as a friend. I only bring it up because he asked me during this interview if I was going to mention the UGA connection and, while I hadn’t planned on it, I suppose I should because it is how I knew him before I found out he was “kind of a big deal” as we like to say on the softball team. So, while he’s difficult to watch UGA football games with given his propensity toward pessimism — which I think is really just to get a reaction from me, usually successfully — he’s a great softball player and pitched an amazing game a few weeks ago that allowed us to beat the pants off a very solid Richmond Spiders team. So he’s not only a genius in the field of tax policy and a formidable emissary of small government — all detailed rather hilariously at his blog International Liberty — he’s a tremendous softball player and a proud Georgia Bulldog. Go DAWGS!

World renowned tax expert and Cato Institute scholar Dan Mitchell thinks of politicians as characters in old cartoons that, when faced with a decision, suddenly find they’ve an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, both handing out advice as to the right move.

He sees himself, flashing a grin that signals you shouldn’t take him too seriously, as the angel. “My job is to convince [politicians] to do what’s right for the country, not what’s right for their own political aspirations,” he says.

A very unpopular Harry Reid trails a very popular potential Republican challenger by 10 points

The 2014 mid-term election may not be the only thing worrying Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Sure, the Senate is up for grabs and, as it looks right now, Republicans stand a better than even chance of taking back the upper chamber.

But a new poll finds that Reid could be in big trouble if he seeks reelection in 2016. Not only is he very unpopular in his home state, Reid trails Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NV), who get solid marks from voters, by a 10-point margin:

According to a Harper Polling survey, Reid trails popular GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval, who hasn’t ruled out challenging the incumbent, by 10 points, 53 percent to 43 percent. Veteran Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston first reported the poll’s findings on his website, ralstonreports.com.

Reid’s favorable/unfavorable rating in the poll is significantly underwater (41 percent/55 percent). Sandoval’s rating, on the other hand, is stellar (58/30).

Sandoval is a virtual shoo-in to win reelection this year; he leads little-known Democrat Bob Goodman in the Harper poll, 54 percent to 39 percent.

Obviously, the 2016 election is more than two years away. That’s an eternity in politics, so be very careful in taking away too much from this poll. Yeah, Reid is in trouble, but anything can happen. What’s more, Sandoval is generally viewed as a moderate. He’s done some things in Nevada that haven’t sat well with in-state conservatives.

Today in Liberty: Obamacare disapproval hits an all-time high, Eric Cantor will leave Congress on August 18

“Nobody spends somebody else’s money as carefully as he spends his own. Nobody uses somebody else’s resources as carefully as he uses his own. So if you want efficiency and effectiveness, if you want knowledge to be properly utilized, you have to do it through the means of private property.” — Milton Friedman

— Economy adds 209,000 jobs in July, unemployment rate rises slightly: The economy added 209,000 jobs in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the unemployment rate increased from 6.1 percent to 6.2 percent. Economists had projected 233,000 jobs and that the unemployment rate would hold steady at 6.1 percent. Although the report didn’t meet expectations, this is the sixth consecutive month of 200,000-plus job growth. The labor participation rate — the percentage of Americans working or looking for work — increased marginally from 62.8 percent in June, a 35-year low, to 62.9 percent in July.

— Obamacare disapproval hits an all-time high: The Kaiser Family Foundation has released a new poll finding that unfavorable views of Obamacare have jumped to an all-time high since they began tracking opinions of the law in April 2010. The July tracking poll shows that 53 percent of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Obamacare, while 37 percent view the law favorably. Sixty percent want Congress to “work to improve” Obamacare, while 35 want to repeal and replace it. The poll also finds that Americans are evenly divided on the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision.

In case you didn’t already know: Report finds that HealthCare.gov failed because of the Obama administration’s incompetence

The headaches consumers experienced when HealthCare.gov, the federal Obamacare Exchange, launched last year were because of the management failures of the federal agency tasked with implementing the system. And this incompetence cost the federal government millions more than expected. This, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office:

Investigators found that the administration kept changing the contractors’ marching orders for the HealthCare.gov website, creating widespread confusion and adding tens of millions of dollars in costs. Changes were ordered seemingly willy-nilly, including 40 times when government officials did not have the initial authority to incur additional costs.

The report faults the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service for ineffective oversight. Known as CMS, the agency is part of the Department of Health and Human Services and was designated to administer Obama’s health care law.
[…]
Investigators found that the administration kept changing the contractors’ marching orders for the HealthCare.gov website, creating widespread confusion and adding tens of millions of dollars in costs. Changes were ordered seemingly willy-nilly, including 40 times when government officials did not have the initial authority to incur additional costs.

The report faults the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service for ineffective oversight. Known as CMS, the agency is part of the Department of Health and Human Services and was designated to administer Obama’s health care law.

Funny or Die Accidentally Proves Why Big Federal Government Programs Suck While Making the Case for a Minimum Wage Hike

Kristen Bell Mary Poppins

A recent Funny or Die video accidentally proves what conservatives and libertarians have been saying about what the government does with paychecks.

The video, featuring Kristen Bell playing Mary Poppins, has a line which says it’s tough to live above the poverty line when the government takes out federal and state income tax, plus Social Security and Medicare. But instead of complaining about how much gets removed from paychecks, the video suggests raising the minimum wage is the only way to go.

This is ridiculous logic. Employees get 6.2% of their paychecks taken out for Social Security. This is money which never gets returned because it goes to pay for others who are already on Social Security. There’s also 1.45% taken out for Medicare. These are things Americans can’t opt out of and keep their own money.

To put it in real numbers. If someone works 40 hours a week at $7.25 the base pay should be $290. Instead, about $22 is taken out of the paycheck. That amounts to $1,144 per year which could have stayed in.

Then there’s federal income taxes. Singles making between $9,075 and $36,900 have 15% of their paycheck taken away per year. That $2,262 per year.

Time Warner Cable Doesn’t Deserve the FCC’s Help

Time Warner

From the moment the deal was announced, many questioned the unprecedented price Time Warner Cable (TWC) agreed to pay for the exclusive right to distribute Los Angeles Dodgers games through its SportsNet LA channel. Though the deal was deemed a coup for the team’s new owners, TWC acknowledged the risk that it could lose money on the Dodgers. Would this be the deal “where the big TV money in baseball bubble pops”?

The free market answer is, “Yes.” When TWC demanded that SportsNet LA be carried on the basic service tier at rates of $4-$5 per subscriber, DirecTV balked. The satellite operator was willing to place a bet in the marketplace that its subscribers would rather skip the Dodgers than be forced to bail TWC out of its bad deal, and so far, its bet has paid off. Fans feel like its the Dodgers who let them down.

Shock poll: Americans believe government anti-poverty programs cause more poverty, and they’re absolutely right

It isn’t news to conservatives that government programs do not reduce poverty levels. What is news is that 49% of Americans apparently believe that not only do government anti-poverty programs fail, but they also may increase the level of poverty.

A recent Rasmussen poll also pointed out that people that personally witness what happens when people receive government assistance are more likely than those that don’t to believe that anti-poverty programs actually increase the poverty level. While these findings are trending slightly lower than results from previous years, it is still a sign that the public may not believe that the government can resolve the issue of poverty through assistance programs.

A more profound indication of that belief is seen when people stated their thoughts about the number of people receiving government assistance - 67% believe that too many people are dependent on the government. Additionally, 62% believe that the government needs to be smaller, offering fewer programs. The same percentage of adults are keeping up with government program issues in the news.

These are excellent numbers for conservatives, if they can manage to deliver a message that the public wants to hear. Theoretically, the public is ready to see changes in anti-poverty programs. The problem isn’t selling the concept of welfare reform - it is with offering an alternative that isn’t perceived as harmful to the people that truly need assistance. This shouldn’t be extremely difficult, because 64% of Americans think that too many people that do not actually need assistance are receiving it.

How convenient: House Democrat forgets that she actually wanted impeach George W. Bush while railing against House Republicans

House Democrats are really playing up the lawsuit that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) plans to file against President Barack Obama. Before and immediately after Wednesday’s vote to authorize the lawsuit, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee blasted out nearly two-dozen fundraising emails to its list, most of which play up the phony prospect of impeachment.

Let’s not kid ourselves here, the impeachment talk is being driven by Democrats. Sure, they’ll point to a handful of mostly backbench Republican lawmakers who’ve said they’re either open to impeachment or would vote for it. But there aren’t many on the GOP’s side of the aisle who are seriously considering such a step.

Don’t tell that to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, though. She ran to first reporters she could find to tell them how the vote on the lawsuit “is about the road to impeachment.” Boehner, of course, has already said House Republicans have no plans to impeach President Obama. It’s the political tit-for-tat that drives pretty much everybody crazy.

With all of that said, however, most Democrats are conveniently forgetting that, unlike this current situation, there was actually a push in the House in 2007 to impeach then-President George W. Bush.

Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), for example, claimed last night that, even though President Bush took the United States into a war based on false premises, Democrats never sought to impeach him.

 


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