Category Archives: Economy

Now There Can Be No Doubt: Obamacare Has Increased Non-Group Premiums In Nearly All States

obamacare

Forbes: Remember this categorical assurance from President Obama?

“We’ll lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year. .  .  . We’ll do it by the end of my first term as president of the United States”

OK, it’s probably a little unfair to take some June 2008 campaign “puffery” literally–even though it was reiterated by candidate Obama’s economic policy advisor, Jason Furman in a sit-down with a New York Times reporter: “‘We think we could get to $2,500 in savings by the end of the first term, or be very close to it.” Moreover, President Obama subsequently doubled-down on his promise in July 2012, assuring small business owners “your premiums will go down.”  Fortunately, the Washington Post fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, honestly awarded the 2012 claim Three Pinocchios (“Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions”).

Unfortunately, this has never settled the debate. When the Society of Actuaries estimated spring 2013 that the ACA would result in increasing claims costs by an average of 32 percent nationally by 2017, such estimates could be dismissed as “projections” since at the time of this study, actual premiums in the Exchanges had not yet been announced.  A subsequent plethora of studies showed there had been double-digit increases in premiums (when comparing actual Exchange premiums to previously-prevailing premiums in the non-group market). However, virtually all of these studies focused only on Exchange premiums rather than premiums in the entire non-group market (only half of which consists of Exchange coverage). As a consequence, Obamacare proponents tended to dismiss these studies either as partisan attacks or methodologically limited, making what amounts to apples-to-oranges comparisons.

However, a new study from the well-respected and non-partisan National Bureau of Economic Research (and published by Brookings Institution), overcomes the limitations of these prior studies by examining what happened to premiums in the entire non-group market. The bottom line? In 2014, premiums in the non-group market grew by 24.4% compared to what they would have been without Obamacare.  Of equal importance, this careful state-by-state assessment showed that premiums rose in all but 6 states (including Washington DC).  It’s worth unpacking this study a bit to understand the ramification of these findings.

Non-Group Premiums Rose in 45 States Due to Obamacare

The non-group market can only be accurately assessed on a state-by-state basis. Obamacare. The law creates a single risk pool in each state for non-group coverage. That is, health insurers can sell policies inside or outside the Exchanges but they all are part of the same risk pool.  Unlike virtually all other studies that have been conducted to date, this new study examined premium data from both Exchange and non-Exchange plans, i.e., providing a picture of the complete non-group market rather than one segment.  This is crucially important since in nearly one third of states (16), Exchange coverage constitutes 40% or less of the entire non-group market (Table 1).

PremiumIncreasesKowalski

Of equal importance, unlike prior studies which simply compared pre-Obamacare premiums in 2013 to actual premiums offered on Exchanges in 2014, this new study isolates the causal impact of Obamacare statistically by using trend data in each state to figure out what non-group premiums in 2014 would have been in the absence of Obamacare. Thus, critics could dismiss many other so-called “pre-/post” studies by effectively saying “Well, premiums in the non-group have always gone up by a large amount, so what’s happening under Obamacare is no different.”  Such criticisms cannot be levied at this study. All of the percentage changes shown in the chart below represent the net change attributable to Obamacare after accounting for all the other factors that would have made premiums go up.[1]

Clearly, the adverse impact of Obamacare on non-group premiums varies sizably across states. The law is estimated to result in lower premiums in only 6 states. However, it should be noted that while the author presented premium estimates for California and New Jersey, the data for these two states is incomplete due to anomalous data reporting requirements. Thus, the large estimated premium decline of 37.5% in New Jersey likely would be different were full data available, but there is no way of telling by how much.

What is disturbing is to see premium increases in excess of 35% in 9 states, including some of the nation’s largest states (Florida and Texas). Remember, these are increases above and beyond normal premium trends.  No one can credibly claim that these massive premium increases would have happened anyway since the study was specifically designed to isolate the law’s impacts from all the other factors that have driven up premiums in recent years.

Taxpayers Will Pay About 24% More for Exchange Subsidies Due to Obamacare-induced Premium Increases

Of course, Obamacare enthusiasts will argue that I’m ignoring all the subsidies provided to Exchange members. It’s certainly true that for those lucky enough to qualify for such subsidies, the typical size of a subsidy in any given state would have been sufficient to protect such individuals from the premium increases shown in the chart above.  But that ignores the fact that out of an estimated 13.2 million people covered in the non-group market in second quarter 2014 (Kowalski’s estimate), only about 7 million qualified for subsidies.[2]  Thus, there were 6.2 million in the non-group market who had to absorb these premium increases without the benefit of any help from Uncle Sam.

Moreover, the fact that federal taxpayers were handed the privilege of having to offset such premium increases using their hard-earned tax dollars should in no way obscure the reality that Obamacare caused premiums to rise in the first place. Higher premiums are not what was promised when the law was enacted. Of equal importance, such subsidies represent a transfer that does not improve the welfare of the nation as a whole. A dollar given to an Exchange member to offset these higher premiums is simply a dollar taken out of the pocket of another American taxpayer. Indeed, had premiums not risen in the first place, the amount of subsidies required on the Exchanges could have been roughly 24% lower.  Increasing the tab that taxpayers had to pay for such subsidies by roughly one fourth certainly in no way increased the nation’s welfare.

In short, it is harder and harder for champions of Obamacare to ignore the plain truth that this misguided law has increased premiums in the non-group market, a burden borne by millions who have to buy coverage in that market without the benefit of taxpayer subsidies and by the taxpayers who must bankroll subsidies for those who qualify.  As I’ve demonstrated repeatedly, this law creates many more losers than winners. The many millions in the non-group market who are having to pay higher premiums due to Obamacare are just one slice of a much larger pool of losers. But until this increasingly incontestable reality are acknowledged by the law’s supporters there is no prospect of changing a law that continues (quite sensibly) to be opposed by the majority of Americans.

obama

DCG

“I Could Work If I Wanted to…”

I found the following at http://adrianvance.blogspot.com/?view=classic

A Ford dealer reports: Tom Selkis’ (Latham Ford) Facebook – True story recently at the dealership.

“One of my salesmen had a woman in his office yesterday wanting to lease a brand new Focus. As he was reviewing her credit application with her he noticed she was on social security disability.

He said to her you don’t look like you’re disabled and unable to work. She said, “Well I’m really not. I could work if I wanted to, but I make more now than I did when I was working and got hurt.” (A non-disabling injury).

She said the government sends her $1500.00 a month disability check. And, she gets $700.00 a month on an EBT card (food stamps), plus $800.00 a month for rent.”

In addition a free cell phone and 250 minutes free on her phone, per month
It all adds up to $3500.00 a month.

When she was working, she was taking home about $330.00 per week, $1,320 per month. Do the math and then ask yourself why the Hell should she ever go back to work?

If you multiply that by millions of people, you realize the scope of the real problem we face as a country. Putting people out of work breeds socialists!

When the socialists have 51% of the population in that same scenario, we are finished and they are getting their fast if they have not achieved it already. This is the Obama Plan.

We have 92.6 million people not working from a potential work force of 180 million, 51.4% unemployed. We have crossed the threshold to permanent socialism unless the Republicans convince the people that working offers opportunity for much more. but they seem to only want to imitate Democrats with their versions of the same programs!

When there are not enough people working to support these people what happens? Riots? Civil War for “benefits.” Be prepared to protect your homes and especially any stored food.

She didn’t lease the Focus because the dealer down the road beat our deal by $10.00/month.

Glad to know she is so frugal with our hard earned money.”

Submitted by James and Shirley Howard, Edited by Adrian Vance

Seattle Socialist Party Wants $20 Per Hour Minimum Wage, Offers $13 Per Hour For Website Manager

do as i say

DailyCaller: The economy is stagnant — so stagnant that over 35 percent of all Americans have been reported to a collection agency for bad debt and The Washington Post has advised newly-minted college graduates to give up hope and go live in their parents’ basements.

However, The Daily Caller never dreamed it would come to this: A socialist party that wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $20 per hour is currently advertising a job for an experienced web developer paying $13 per hour.

The party is the Freedom Socialist Party, which, impressively, owns the rights to the domain name Socialism.com.

This month, the Freedom Socialist Party placed an ad on both Indeed.com and Craigslist seeking a part-time web content manager in Seattle. The job pays $13 per hour (or more, maybe, if you are really good).

In 2012, the Freedom Socialist Party’s national platform championed “full employment” — not part-time — and an increase in the minimum wage “to $20 an hour” for all employees in all jobs.

If you are interested in applying for the $13-per-hour web content manager job, it won’t be easy. For starters, you’ll need to be “familiarity with HTML/CSS” and Photoshop. The latter is a graphics editor developed by Adobe Systems, an $18 billion private company. You’ll also need “ability to self-manage and problem-solve independently.” Proficiency in Spanish and social media as well as “an interest in ongoing political events” are desirable. And absolutely no telecommuting!

The Freedom Socialist Party’s 2012 political platform was nothing if not ambitious. Among much else, it demanded a 70 percent tax rate for “the top 1 percent;” “unilateral U.S. nuclear disarmament,” “free multi-lingual public education, including ethnic studies, through college and trade school;” free abortions; bank nationalization; and the cancellation of all free-trade treaties.

Despite this month’s job offer of a part-time, 20-hour-per-week, $13-per-hour job, the party also called for a 30-hour work week for everyone “with no cut in pay” and “a guaranteed annual income.”

The Seattle branch of the Freedom Socialist Party appears to be located in an apartment building directly across the street from a Bank of America branch.

The 2012 Freedom Socialist Party candidates for president and vice president were Stephen Durham and Christina López, according to the outfit’s website. The pair doesn’t seem to have fared very well. The Federal Election Commission does not list them as the recipients of any votes. Comedian Roseanne Barr received 67,326 votes. “None of These Candidates” received 5,770 votes — in Nevada.

In case the Freedom Socialist Party yanks its ad, here’s a screenshot as it appeared on Indeed.com:

seattle socialist

Close up of compensation:

seattle socialist2

DCG

New poll finds President Ebola and the Democrats in trouble

Pres Ebola overpass signSeen on a freeway overpass somewhere in America

Meanwhile, ABC News reports, Oct. 15, 2014, that a new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that President Ebola and the Democrats “are heading into the midterm elections in trouble.”

The poll’s findings, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates:

  • The POS’s 40% job approval rating — STILL 40% JOB APPROVAL! — is the lowest of his career.
  • The Democratic Party’s popularity is its weakest in 30 years, with more than half of Americans (51%) seeing the party unfavorably for the first time, and just 39% see it favorably.
  • The Republican Party has a weaker 33%-56% favorable-unfavorable rating. But while the Democrats have lost 10 points in favorability just since August, the GOP has held steady – and its negative score has eased by 7 points in the past year. The GOP also benefits from its supporters’ greater likelihood of voting. All of which accounts for GOP candidates holding a 50-43% lead among likely voters for U.S. House seats in the Nov. 4 election.
  • 71% of Americans express worry about a terrorist attack.
  • 65% say they’re concerned about an Ebola epidemic.
  • Almost two-thirds say the country is headed seriously off on the wrong track.
  • Three-quarters are dissatisfied with the way the political system is working. Scorn is widely cast: Among those who are dissatisfied with the political system, two-thirds say both sides are equally to blame, with the rest dividing evenly between Obama and his party, vs. the Republicans in Congress, as the chief culprits. But as a nearly 6-year incumbent president, Obama – and by extension his party – are most at risk.
  • On which party they trust more to handle the main problems facing the country:
    • Among all Americans: it’s 39% vs. 39%.
    • Among registered voters: it’s 41% for the Republican Party vs. 38% for the Democrats.
    • But among likely voters this becomes an 8-point Republican advantage: 46% for the GOP vs. 38% for the Democrats.
  • Obama is at career lows in approval for his handling of immigration, international affairs and terrorism (long his best issue). Approval of his handling of the conflict with Islamic State insurgents in Iraq and Syria has plummeted by 15% in the last two weeks, amid questions about the progress of the air campaign now under way. (See “Obama’s ISIL strategy reexamined: air strikes ineffective; weak coalition“)
  • While Obama’s negative rating on handling the economy has eased, more Americans say they’ve gotten worse off rather than better off under his presidency:
    • 77% are worried about the economy’s future.
    • 57% say America has  been experiencing a long-term decline in living standards – all grim assessments as Election Day looms.

ABC poll on economy

Never forget that in Obama’s mind, there’s something wrong with you if you don’t think America is better off under his presidency.

See PDF of the poll with full results, charts and tables here.

~Eowyn

Proof that USA is less free under Obama

When Barack Hussein Obama was elected president in 2008, he vowed that he would “fundamentally transform” America.

Most people either didn’t believe him or simply didn’t bother to think about what “fundamental transformation” means.

Since the United States was founded on the principles of limited government, individual freedom, and free-market capitalism, Obama’s “fundamental transformation” must mean a drastic (“fundamental”) change (“transformation”) from:

  1. Limited to unlimited government, the most unlimited being a totalitarian state, wherein the all-seeing state reaches into every niche and cranny of our lives. (See the NSA’s tracking and recording of our every phone call, email, and financial transaction.)
  2. Individual freedom to political tyranny, whether government or the cultural tyranny of “political correctness.”
  3. Free-market capitalism to big-corporate socialism (fascism) or communism.

Put simply, the third transformation is the diminution or loss of economic freedom.

What is “economic freedom”? From the Fraser Institute, a Canadian libertarian think-tank:

Economic freedom has been shown in numerous peer-reviewed studies to promote prosperity and other positive outcomes. It is a necessary condition for democratic development. It liberates people from dependence on government in a planned economy, and allows them to make their own economic and political choices.

The classic definition of economic freedom is:

Individuals have economic freedom when property they acquire without the use of force, fraud, or theft is protected from physical invasions by others and they are free to use, exchange, or give their property as long as their actions do not violate the identical rights of others. An index of economic freedom should measure the extent to which rightly acquired property is protected and individuals are engaged in voluntary transactions. (James Gwartney and Robert Lawson et al., Economic Freedom of the World: 1996 Annual Report)

Interestingly, nations that are economically free out-perform non-free nations in every indicator of well-being — those of average per capita GDP, average income of the poorest 10% of the population, life expectancy, and political and civil liberties.

Every year, the Fraser Institute undertakes a measurement — an index — of the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom. The results are published in an annual report, Economic Freedom of the World.

The index of each country is derived from 42 data points that are used to measure the degree of economic freedom in 5 broad areas:

  1. Size of government: expenditures, taxes, and enterprises
  2. Legal structure and security of property rights
  3. Access to sound money
  4. Freedom to trade internationally
  5. Regulation of credit, labor, and business

According to the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World 2014 Annual Report, President Ebola can claim great success in “fundamentally transforming” by greatly reducing the economic freedom of Americans.

Here’s a screenshot I took of page 172 of the 2014 Report, on the economic freedom of the United States from 1980 to 2012:

Click image to enlarge

economic freedom usa1a

As you can see, in 4 of the 5 areas of economic freedom, the U.S. has declined drastically in 2012, as compared to 1980 or even to 2005 (under George W. Bush):

  1. Size of government: The U.S. ranked 49th in the world in 1980, and 46th in 2012.
  2. Legal system and property rights: The U.S. ranked 1st in the world in 1980, but 36th in 2012.
  3. Access to sound money: The U.S. ranked 5th in the world in 1980, 1st in 2005, but plummeted to 38th in 2012.
  4. Freedom to trade internationally: The U.S. ranked 7th in the world in 1980, but fell to 29th in 2012.
  5. Regulation: The U.S. ranked 4th in the world in 1980, 6th in 2005, but 10th in 2012.

Overall, when all 5 areas are summarized, in 1980 the U.S. ranked 3rd in the world in economic freedom, falling to 9th in 2005, then worsened further to 14th in 2012.

The top 10 countries in economic freedom are:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Singapore
  3. New Zealand
  4. Switzerland
  5. Mauritius
  6. United Arab Emirates
  7. Canada
  8. Australia
  9. Jordan
  10. Chile/Finland (a tie)

The 10 least economically free countries are:

10. Myanmar (formerly Burma)

9. Democratic Republic of Congo

8. Burundi

7. Chad

6. Iran

5. Algeria

4. Argentina

3. Zimbabwe

2. Republic of Congo

And the least economically free country in the world is actor Sean Penn’s favorite country:

1. The late Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela

North Korea wasn’t rated.

Read the report for yourself, here.

~Eowyn

UNFAIR: Exposing the IRS

On October 14, 2014, for one night only, the documentary film, Unfair: Exposing the IRS, will screen in 674 theaters nationwide, courtesy of Fathom Events, a company that brings sports, concerts, speeches and other alternative entertainment to movie screens.

The movie is about abuse at the IRS, the agency responsible for collecting taxes in the U.S. Unfair is about the scandal revealed last year wherein Republican and some Democratic lawmakers accused Lois Lerner, at the time the director of the exempt organizations unit of the IRS, of delaying the applications of conservative groups seeking tax-free status from 2010-2013.

The scandal triggered several investigations, with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration confirming that the IRS did, in fact, subject Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations to far more scrutiny than it did liberal groups. Lerner dismissed calls for her resignation and was eventually called to testify before a House Oversight Committee. She retired from the IRS late last year.

Scenes in Unfair include Lerner’s testimony, such as “I have not done anything wrong,” she tells congressional representatives, before adding: “I have decided to follow my counsel’s advice and not testify or answer any of the questions today.” Just after the scene is a clip of President Ebola advising, “The only people who don’t want to disclose the truth are people with something to hide.”

The movie was written and produced by radio host Craig Bergman and directed by Judd Saul. It was executive produced by John Sullivan, who co-directed Dinesh D’Souza’s two films, America this year and 2016: Obama’s America two years ago. The filmmakers are hoping to attract thousands of Tea Partiers to the one-night screening, which is followed by a recorded panel discussion with former GOP presidential candidates Alan Keyes and Mike Huckabee. The former is in the film, along with Glenn Beck, Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Michele Bachmann.

“Lois Lerner is the boogie man that the left put out as their scapegoat,” Bergman told The Hollywood Reporter. “This isn’t about rogue agents; this is a systemic problem that has been going on for 100 years, and I make the moral case against the system. Lois Lerner is just one bad guy on a long list of bad guys.”

But Lerner continues to portray herself as the victim.

On Monday, Oct. 6, independent journalist Jason Mattera, author of the just-released book Crapitalism: Liberals Who Make Millions Swiping Your Tax Dollars, released a video of Lerner threatening to call the police on him while he tried to interview her.

“Please let me in. These guys are the press and they aren’t leaving me alone,” she says while knocking on a neighbor’s door.

“Why should we leave you alone? You were trying to use the IRS to crush political dissent,” Mattera says in the video below.

See also:

~Eowyn

Congressional candidates debate in Spanish in California

welcome to Meximerica

Welcome to Mexicalifornia!

Andrea Castillo reports for The Fresno Bee that on Oct. 4, 2014, a unique debate took place at Fresno State University in California’s inland valley city of Fresno.

Sponsored by Univision Fresno, the debate was between two candidates — incumbent David Valadao (R-Hanford) and his Democrat challenger, Amanda Renteria — running to represent the 21st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

What was unique about the debate was that it was conducted entirely in Spanish.

Amanda Renteria (l); David Valadao (r)

Amanda Renteria (l); David Valadao (r)

What is ironic is that Valadao’s native tongue isn’t even Spanish but Portuguese, being the child of Portuguese immigrants who taught him their native language before he learned English. Valadao picked up Spanish during and after high school, mainly by speaking to workers on his family’s ranch. In contrast, Renteria is the daughter of a Mexican immigrant who grew up speaking both Spanish and English.

The debate was geared toward Latino voters and focused on topics including immigration, water, agriculture and the economy.

Valadao, 37, and Renteria, 39, share similar views about many key issues: Both support comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for those here illegally, and that the government should help reunite immigrant children with their families after the youngsters enter the U.S. alone.

But Renteria noted that Valadao had voted against the California Dream Act in 2011, which allows unauthorized immigrants, including thousands in the Valley, to qualify for private scholarships and state financial aid. She said, “When children feel like they have a future they will feel different about having a baby. They will wait.”

Both candidates also agree that the Valley needs more water infrastructure, such as dams. But they differed on questions about reducing high school dropout rates, economic recovery plans, and especially the minimum wage.

California already has a high minimum wage, but Renteria said it needs to continue increasing because working families shouldn’t be poor. Valadao disagreed, saying the state already approved minimum wage increases to $9 an hour as of July 1 and $10 an hour starting Jan. 1, 2016, and that increasing business and job opportunities and making sure there is enough water are more important.

Aztlan

H/t Allan Wall of VDare

See also:

~Eowyn