…and in breaking news, the sky is blue! President Obama, speaking to the US Chamber of Commerce, tried to put forth the idea that regulations are a good thing.
From the Fox News report:
Speaking on matters that concern the business community with which the president has had a rocky relationship, Obama said, “The perils of too much regulation are matched by the dangers of too little.”
But, he said, regulations also serve a purpose.
“Already we’re dramatically cutting down on the paperwork that saddles businesses with huge administrative costs,” he said. “But ultimately, winning the future is not just about what the government can do to help you succeed. It’s about what you can do to help America succeed.”
He added, “We cannot go back to the kind of economy — and culture — we saw in the years leading up to the recession, where growth and gains in productivity just didn’t translate into rising incomes and opportunity for the middle class.”
The president took the opportunity to defend two of his primary legislative achievements — a Wall Street banking bill and health insurance reform.
“I know you have concerns about this law,” he said of the health law. “But the nonpartisan congressional watchdogs at the CBO estimate that health care tax credits will be worth nearly $40 billion for small businesses over the next decade.”
Of course, he neglects to point out that the “nonpartisan congressional watchdogs at the CBO” are hamstrung in how they can figure up their numbers, so you can trust what they say about as much as you can trust Paris Hilton to score perfect on the SAT.
One of the most common refrains from the political left and the media is that, regarding the economy, conservatives advocate for unchecked freedom for big business to do whatever it wants to do, and for no government interference with business at all. These assertions stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of conservatism.
For the conservative, the issue comes down to the proper role of government. To have no government at all is anarchy, and certainly no conservative would argue that. So the question is not whether or not there should be government involvement (there should), but what level of government involvement is appropriate.
When we look at the biggest financial scandals of the last decade (Enron, WorldCom, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, etc.), they all have one thing in common. At some point, whether through active complicity or negligence, government played a huge role in allowing the scandals to occur. And with every scandal, it becomes an excuse, or rather an imperative, to increase the level of government involvement to keep it from occurring again.
Some of the major scandals have occurred because the regulatory oversight assigned to one government agency or another was either inadequately enforced, or government employees were co-opted into the fraudulent scheme. Others occur because our statutory and regulatory law has become so complex that it is inevitable that a crafty thief will be able to find technical loopholes that fulfill the letter of the law while being contradictory to the clear intent of the law. Either way, we continue to add layer after layer of government bureaucracy, regulation and complexity, and yet the scandals keep getting more and more expensive. That is because the more complex the law, the easier it is to find a technical Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card.
As a libertarian, I hear a lot about how licensing and regulation is important. “We need this for our protection,” they argue. That may be, in some cases. But in others? Hardly. Licensing and regulation have long since run beyond anything approaching reasonable.
It’s easy to say we need licensing. Doctors, someone will say, are a prime example. Licensing supposedly insures that they know what they’re doing. Contractors are another, some will argue. Heaven forbid you use an unlicensed general contractor. After all, your house could collapse.
I’m not going to get into doctors, because that discussion could take all day on its own and never quite get resolves. Contractors are another matter entirely. In Dougherty County, Georgia, getting a Contractor’s License requires an outlay of money based on what you think you’ll make and how many people you think you’ll employ. No skills test is required. No competency has to be shown. You just get the license and then start trying to get jobs.
And you know what? Houses don’t collapse in Dougherty County any more frequently than anywhere else.
The thing is, I can actually see the point of those who favor licensing on contractors. I disagree with them, but I see where they’re coming from on that. There are a myriad of other licenses that are required to perform a profession that are ridiculous.
For one, barbers and hair stylists have to be licensed in many places (are there any places that don’t require it?). Now, this may have made sense in the Middle Ages when barbers also performed surgery, but now? The absolute worst thing I can get from an unlicensed barber is a horrible hair cut. Guess what? I’ve gotten that form licensed barbers too.
Last week the GOP released their Pledge to America, attempting to give American voters a clear view of where the Republican Party stands on current issues. Since so many Americans – especially those of us who identify as Republicans – are furious with our out-of-control federal government, a specific plan of attack is a great idea.
One of the biggest concerns among Republicans that the Pledge to America addresses is the new health care law. Good points can be found in the health care section of the Pledge, but we should be cautious not to blindly accept everything the Republicans are offering. For example, the GOP’s Pledge promises to require health insurance companies to offer coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions.
The party in Washington that has allegedly heard the concerns of America has pledged to extend regulations that dictate how insurance companies must operate.
Requiring insurance companies to cover customers with pre-existing conditions is a violation of free market economic principles and is a regulation that will raise insurance costs for everyone.
People with pre-existing conditions will buy the insurance (because government regulations will require insurance companies to offer them coverage), and the higher costs incurred because of the pre-existing conditions will lower the insurance company’s profit margin.
To offset the lower profit margins, insurance companies will raise their policies’ premiums, offer less extensive coverage, and give lower payments to doctors. As health insurance costs increase, we will find ourselves paying for coverage too costly to afford, receiving fewer benefits, and being treated by disgruntled doctors who have been forced to accept lower payments for their services.
Is this reform, or is this the status quo?
We’ve been covering the discovery of a provision in ObamaCare that would place a burden on small businesses by requiring that they file 1099 forms for expenditures over $600. Even Democrats realized that this requirement was bad for business, especially as President Barack Obama tries to convice voters otherwise.
Instead of voting on an outright repeal of the provision, Democrats tucked it away with other provisions that hiked taxes and it ultimately failed when it came up on the floor:
The House rejected a bill Friday that would have repealed the provision. The two parties disagreed on how to make up the lost revenue.
“This foolish policy hammers our business community when we should be supporting their job growth,” Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska said in the Republicans’ weekly radio and Internet address Saturday. “It’s only one example of how the administration’s promise to support small businesses really rings hollow.”
Democrats blamed Republicans for Friday’s failure.
“Despite all of their rhetoric about the need to eliminate this reporting requirement, Republicans walked away from small businesses when it mattered most,” said Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
Businesses already must file Form 1099s with the IRS when they purchase more than $600 in services from a vendor in a year. The new provision would extend the requirement to the purchase of goods, starting in 2012.
Note: I intended to merely comment on this chart when sharing it via my Posterous. During the 5 or so minutes I was commenting, it grew to be something more substantial, and at the urging of others, it has been cross-posted here.
Since the 1960s, the percentage of total healthcare cost paid directly by the end consumer, aka patient, has dropped drastically, but out of pocket costs have risen and the cost of healthcare has risen drastically over that same period.
What has happened between then and now? The intervention of government into the marketplace. Insurance regulations, government mandates about what MUST be covered, Medicare/caid, and inflation make costs skyrocket, but the opacity of the prices keeps patients from seeing what each visit, prescription, and procedure actually costs. With that opacity, there is no competitive pricing, because the prices paid by patients are merely co-pays and the withholding from their paycheck for employer-sponsored health plans, insurance companies, and government programs that pay negotiated rates. Without competition and price transparency, prices will continue to rise.
In addition, patients largest out of pocket expense is their insurance coverage, which does not fluctuate to accommodate the amount of healthcare services consumed. The patient knows they only pay $10-$50 for each office visit, but the overall costs of those visits can be thousands of dollars. The patient rarely, if ever, sees the actual cost… Usually only if their insurance claim is denied.
We heard it on the floor of the House of Representatives yesterday from Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA). He made it very clear to his fellow members that the vote to repeal ObamaCare was a “vote to stop the IRS.”
That proclamation was true for two reasons. First, the IRS was given authority to enforce ObamaCare’s individual mandate and the collect the fines imposed on Americans who don’t purchase health insurance coverage. The IRS has also far exceed its statutory authority by imposing fines on businesses that don’t offer coverage to employees in states that rejected the insurance exchanges. Those points by themselves are concerning enough.
The second point is that the IRS official who oversaw the office that dealt with tax-exempt organizations during the time the agency was discriminating against Tea Party groups is now leading the office responsible for ObamaCare:
Sarah Hall Ingram served as commissioner of the office responsible for tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012. But Ingram has since left that part of the IRS and is now the director of the IRS’ Affordable Care Act office, the IRS confirmed to ABC News today.
The White House and leading congressional Democrats are still trying to fight back against critics of ObamaCare, but their specious case isn’t convincing skeptical small business owners. According to a recent survey from Gallup, only 9% believe that the law will help them, while 48% of small business owners believe ObamaCare is going to be bad for business:
To show how deep the concern over the law goes and the messaging problem before apologists of the law, only 13% of small business owners believe that ObamaCare will improve quality of healthcare.
FreeEnterprise.com, the official blog of the United States Chamber of Commerce, also points to a separate poll of business owners showing the confusion over ObamaCare and points to the fact that “41% said [of sma held off on hiring workers, and 38% said they’ve pulled back on growing their businesses because of the law.”
President Barack Obama, who has overseen four consecutive years of $1 trillion budget deficits and $6 trillion added to the national debt in a little more than four years, issued a proclamation last week designating April as “National Financial Capability Month”:
President Barack Obama, who has increased the national debt by $53,377 per household, has proclaimed April “National Financial Capability Month,” during which his administration will do things such as teach young people “how to budget responsibly.”
“I call upon all Americans to observe this month with programs and activities to improve their understanding of financial principles and practices,” Obama said in an official proclamation released Friday.
“Together, we can prepare young people to tackle financial challenges—from learning how to budget responsibly to saving for college, starting a business, or opening a retirement account,” he said.
Do you live in a free state? This question would receive a variety of answers because, after all, the 50 states make up our Union each have their own versions and views on freedom.
Politicians on the “left coast” view freedom as “freedom from want,” which is why they have set in place a vast — and costly — welfare state and burdensome regulatory policies. The north isn’t too dissimilar, especially with its emphasis on nanny state policies.
States that comprise the “libertarian west” and the south tend to have fiscally conservative-leanings and the approach toward personal liberty is, while not great on every issue, generally much less regulated.
So how do you determine if you live in a free state? The Mercatus Center has released its annual report, Freedom in the 50 States, which serves as a guide to weigh various aspects of freedom — fiscal policy, regulatory policy, and personal freedom.
The authors of the report, William Ruger and Jason Sorens, explained their findings yesterday and concluded that states that clamp down on freedoms are seeing people leave for states with more freedom.
“The more a state denies people their freedoms, increases their taxes or passes laws that make it hard for businesses to hire and fire, the more likely they are to leave,” wrote the authors of the report. “And while there’s clearly more to life than drinking oversized beverages and eating foie gras, the states that won’t allow you to often cause trouble for their residents in other ways.”