Recent Posts From Jason Pye
Today in Liberty: Keystone XL dealt a blow, Obamacare alternative endorsed by FreedomWorks, Thomas Sowell on Ted Cruz
“Many unions have contracts with employers that are based on a multiple of the prevailing minimum wage. If the minimum wage goes up, union salaries go up by a similar percentage.” — Neal Boortz
— Keystone XL hits a road block not named Obama: The Lancaster County District Court has shot down a 2012 state law that would have sped up the regulatory process to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. “TransCanada now must secure approval for the pipeline route from the state’s utility regulators — a step the 2012 Nebraska law sought to circumvent,” notes Zack Colman of the Washington Examiner. “Judge Stephanie Stacy said [Gov. Dave] Heineman’s move to approve the revised pipeline plan, as the law allowed, was unconstitutional because it wrested control of oil pipeline decisions from the state regulatory body, the Nebraska Public Service Commission. As such, Stacy ruled the law null and void.”
Edward Lazear, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, has written an interesting op-ed at Politico Magazine on some of the healthcare reforms developed by President George W. Bush’s administration mid-way into his second term.
Lazear presents these reforms as an alternative to Obamacare, pointing to the recent findings in the Congressional Budget Office report showing that employment will drop by 2.5 million full-time workers because of the disincentives created by health insurance subsidies in the law. He explains that the 2007 reforms would have made healthcare more cost-effective and efficient. What’s more, it would have made health insurance more accessible to Americans who couldn’t afford coverage.
“The Bush 2007 plan achieves these goals,” Lazear wrote. “The basic structure is to offer all Americans a standard tax deduction, in 2007 set at $15,000 for families and $7,500 for individuals. The deduction would apply to payroll tax — both employee and employer contribution — as well as to income tax.”
“Importantly, the size of the deduction would be independent of the amount spent on the plan. Any taxpayer who has a plan that includes catastrophic coverage gets the full deduction, irrespective of the plan’s cost,” he continued. “That is important because it creates the incentives to choose efficiently.
Lazear explains that the problem with the current system is that it’s tied to employment. Instead, he argues, that offering tax credits to individuals would create “appropriate incentives to shop around.”
Political insiders from both parties blame the rise in primary challenges for the gridlock we’re seeing in Congress. You’ve heard it before. Talking heads will that Republicans, for example, have to appeal to their base to avoid an insurgent conservative primary challenger.
Though it’s true that some incumbents have been knocked off by primary challengers in recent election cycles, Robert Boatright, a political science professor at Clark University and author of Getting Primaried: The Changing Politics of Congressional Primary Challenges, challenges the conventional wisdom that primary challenges are responsible for gridlock in Washington:
There’s just one problem with the idea that primaries have become more common and more important: It’s dead wrong. By my count, there’s nothing unique about the number of competitive primary challenges occurring today. In fact, there were more competitive primary races run in the House during the 1970s (an average of 49 per election) than there have been in the last decade (the average has been 45 each election). Today’s primaries only look competitive because the late 1990s had so few of them. The pattern in the Senate is similar.
While most Democrats seem to be hailing the news that Obamacare will reduce the incentive to work, Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius seems to be in complete denial.
At a stop in Orlando on Monday, Sebelius told reports that there is no evidence that Obamacare will reduce employment.
“There is absolutely no evidence, and every economist will tell you this, that there is any job-loss related to the Affordable Care Act,” Sebelius said. “Part-time physicians are actually down since 2010, not up. The number of full-time workers continues to increase. I know that’s a popular myth that continues to be repeated, but it just is not accurate.”
Well, there is evidence.
The Congressional Budget Office recently determined that Obamacare would reduce employment by 2 million full-time workers by 2017, up from an earlier projection of 800,000, rising to 2.5 million by 2024. The reason for the decline in workers is because the subsidies, which are tied to income, would encourage people to work less.
A group of South Carolina-based conservatives have filed a compliant with the Justice Department over the state’s election system, a move that could have implications for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) if he’s forced into a runoff against any one of his primary opponents.
At issue is disenfranchisement of military voters who claim residence in the Palmetto State. Carolina Conservatives United, a group formed last year, alleges that the two-week span between the general primary and the primary runoff mandated by state election statues stands in violation of Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.
“In 2012, we had the largest case of voter disenfranchisement in our state’s history. It is our desire to take our legislators at their word that they want to correct such issues when they arise,” said Bruce Carroll, chairman of Carolina Conservatives United.
“A change to state law is required to fix this current problem, but we are not going to leave anything to chance. We are also filing an official complaint with the US Department of Justice and request their attention to this matter,” he added.
The MOVE Act is 2009 law that requires states to send requested ballots to military and overseas voters no later than 45 days before a federal election. In its complaint, Carolina Conservatives United notes that the Justice Department intervened last year during the special election in South Carolina’s First Congressional District, but it wasn’t a permanent solution to the problem.
You know that Tea Party movement thing that took off five years ago this month and helped Republicans take control of the House of Representatives in 2010? Yeah, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) doesn’t know anything about it. No, seriously, that’s what he told Mississippi News Now.
Cochran is facing a conservative primary challenger, State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville), who has cast the 36-year senator an establishment politician who is out-of-touch with Mississippi’s conservative tendencies.
“He’s wrong. He’s flat wrong,” Cochran told Mississippi News Now. “I’m as in touch with the people of Mississippi as an elected official can be.”
But when asked about McDaniel’s support from outside conservative and Tea Party groups, Cochran said, “The Tea Party is something I don’t really know a lot about,” adding that “[i]t’s a free country. We have open opportunities for people to participate in the election process.”
Conservative groups that are openly backing McDaniel’s candidacy have seized on Cochran’s comments. The Club for Growth, for example, is running a 10-second web ad with featuring Cochran’s admitted ignorance about the Tea Party, followed by a snarky reply from McDaniel, who says, “Perhaps it’s time for an introduction.”
The net-effect of Obamacare and President Barack Obama’s proposed minimum wage hike could mean 3.5 million fewer workers by 2017, according to recent reports from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
Earlier this month the CBO released its annual snapshot of the economy, The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024. The nonpartisan fiscal research arm of Congress determined that Obamacare would reduce employment by 2 million workers by 2017.
“ACA will cause a reduction of roughly 1 percent in aggregate labor compensation over the 2017-2024 period, compared with what it would have been otherwise,” noted the CBO (p. 123). “The reduction in CBO’s projections of hours worked represents a decline in the number of full-time-equivalent workers of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024.”
The reason for the for the reduction is the subsidies available to help pay for health insurance coverage create a disincentive to work. The subsidies are, of course, tied to Americans’ income, the less someone earns, the greater the subsidy.
The reduction of workers wouldn’t end with Obamacare, at least if President Obama has his way. The CBO released a report yesterday, The Effects of a Minimum-Wage Increase on Employment and Family Income, in which it projected that the $10.10 minimum wage proposal currently being pushed by the White House and congressional Democrats could reduce employment from anywhere between 500,000 to 1 million workers.
Five years ago today, Rick Santelli gave an epic rant on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange against President Barack Obama’s mortgage bailout proposal that gave birth to what we now know as the Tea Party movement.
“The government is promoting bad behavior,” Santelli said on CNBC’s Squawk Box. “Because we certainly don’t want to put stimulus forth and give people a whopping $8 or $10 in their check, and think that they ought to save it.”
“I’ll tell you what, I have an idea,” he continued. “You know, the new administration’s big on computers and technology. How about this, President and new administration? Why don’t you put up a website to have people vote on the Internet as a referendum to see if we really want to subsidize the losers’ mortgages; or would we like to at least buy cars and buy houses in foreclosure and give them to people that might have a chance to actually prosper down the road, and reward people that could carry the water instead of drink the water?”
Today in Liberty: Tea Party group endorses Amash, Hillary silent on NSA, 3,000 Americans dumped citizenship last year
“Government should stay the hell out of people’s business.” — Barry Goldwater
— The rant that started it all: It was five years ago today that Rick Santelli went into an epic rant against President Obama’s mortgage bailout proposal. “We’re thinking of having a Chicago Tea Party in July,” Santelli said in his rant. “All you capitalists that want to show up to Lake Michigan, I’m gonna start organizing.” That rant served as a catalyst for the Tea Party movement, not in July, but a few days later, on February 27, 2009. We’ll have more on this later today.
— Afghanistan problems linger: With a new Gallup poll showing that the number Americans who believe the nearly 13-year war in Afghanistan was a mistake at an all-time high, Washington is now staring down a “no-win legacy” in the country that once gave safe-harbor to al-Qaeda. “At the moment, they’re losing and losing badly, as Washington is plumbing new depths of pessimism about the outlook for the nation that President George W. Bush and his team once vowed to transform,” Politico notes this morning. “There’s no talk of ‘victory,’ or how the U.S. should spend its share of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, or how to use the peace dividend from a world made safe from Al Qaeda. Instead, the discussion has boiled down to a debate over whether the future will bring a quick implosion or a slow-motion collapse — and whose fault it would be.”
Coming off several high-profile legislative battles, beginning in October with the government shutdown and, more recently, last week’s votes to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, it appears that Republicans will spend the rest of the year avoiding hot-button issues that could cause further division in their ranks:
Comprehensive immigration reform, tax reform, tweaks to the federal health-care law — bipartisan deals on each are probably dead in the water for the rest of this Congress.
“We don’t have 218 votes in the House for the big issues, so what else are we going to do?” said Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), an ally of House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio). “We can do a few things on immigration and work on our principles, but in terms of real legislating, we’re unable to get in a good negotiating position.”
Added Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster who works closely with party leaders: “It is an acknowledgment of where they stand, where nothing can happen in divided government so we may essentially have the status quo. Significant immigration reform and fundamental tax reform are probably not going to happen.”
GOP brass in both chambers have shifted their focus to stability, looking to avoid intraparty drama, rally behind incumbents and build Republicans’ ground game ahead of November’s midterm elections, where they hope to be competitive in a slew of Senate races and hold on to the party’s 17-seat House majority.