Washington Beyond the Headlines: Will Medicare Cuts Be The Price Of Partisanship?
By Andy Blom, TES Correspondent
After a Wild Card team with a 43 year old quarterback won the Super Bowl we once again believe anything can happen in America. Who knows…maybe taxes will go down…maybe regulations will disappear…maybe COVID-19 will vanish…maybe Government will stop spending us into debt. But until that happens and pigs fly, we’ll look to free market thinkers and doers to keep working on the things that affect you, your business and your life. This week’s news you can use:
Ouch! Will Medicare Cuts Be The Price Of Partisanship? President Biden and the newly empowered Democrat Congress promised bipartisan unity. Then they immediately cut out the Republicans and moved to highly partisan Reconciliation to force through their proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus. Well legislation, like elections, has consequences. In this case the consequences, intended or unintended, could be very painful. By moving to Reconciliation the D’s run into a statutory PAYGO law that requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to order a sequester of mandatory spending to offset any deficit increase that occurs from the proposed Reconciliation legislation. In short, $1.9 trillion in stimulus might have to paid for by cutting Medicare. Get the details, they’re important.
Reshaping America — The Devil Is In The Legislation. What are the real goals of President Biden, Chuck Shumer, Nancy Pelosi and the progressive wing of the Democrat Party? Don’t bother to listen to campaign drivel – from any politician – look at the legislation they choose to introduce first. Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform does and he says there is a lot to be learned, and worried about, in H.R 1 and S.1, the first bills introduced by the new administration. Do they tackle the pandemic? No. Do they provide economic stimulus to help Americans recover? No. They revamp election laws in an attempt to give their party a permanent edge. Take a look, it’s a lesson in truth in politics. For a more lawyerly take on issues with the legislation, visit here.
Should They Put A Stop To GameStop? Retail investors invaded Wall Street and it caused a furor. Should they be stopped? Regulated? Punished? Rewarded? If the event confused you (it did me) John Berlau of the Competitive Enterprise Institute clears things up and makes some reasonable suggestions on how to proceed.
Free Speech And Social Media…Actually, There Is An Answer. As the cries of censorship and bias grow louder and louder social media giants are caught in a difficult position. And, truthfully, so are conservatives — torn between calling for Government regulation and recognizing the right of a private entity to behave independently. Curt Levey, President of the Committee for Justice and a lawyer himself (although we won’t hold that against him) has some suggestions for how social media, caught between condemnation from the right and increasing demands from the left, can solve their problems with the First Amendment. Interesting reading on a critical issue.
Covid-19 And Schooling…It’s All Here In Easy To Read Charts And Graphs. How do parents feel about COVID-19 and… schooling? Educators? Vaccines? Are you tired of the mixed messages and contradictory information you get from media? Well Morning Consult has done extensive polling on all the issues, so now you can make up your own mind. It’s a wealth of information, well prepared and intelligently presented. Do your homework here.
Or You Could Just Send Your Kid To Catholic School. While public schools dither and teacher’s unions keep doors shut, over a million children are still going to class, learning, socializing, misbehaving and doing all the necessary growing that comes from in-person schooling…by attending Catholic Schools. The Wall Street Journal tells the positive story of the heroic normalcy Catholic Schools and Catholic School teachers are providing to parents and children across the country. Perhaps “Catholic” Joe Biden will see fit to provide some much needed aid to this worthy cause.
The Census and Redistricting. Why Your Local Politics Could Be A Mess. The Census. It’s one more thing the pandemic messed up. So census data that was due by 12/31/20 is now expected by April 30, 2021. That means redistricting plans are getting pushed back. But some states have elections in 2021. Which could mean elections with the old districting and then special elections with new redistricting in 2022. Or…well, you begin to see the problem. Is your state involved? The National Conference of State Legislatures dives in and tells all, deconstructing the mess in each possible scenario. Blame the pandemic, but we are beginning to yearn for simpler days.
Yes, Taxing The Rich Will Hurt You Too. Maybe you are already rich. Congratulations. But President Biden’s plan to tax the top 1% will have more far reaching consequences (even if it stay limited to that 1%). On the table? An increase in the corporate income tax that would make American corporations the highest taxed in the developed world. That will cost jobs and raise prices. Also, proposed tax increases on income earned overseas by U.S. corporations. That would ship jobs abroad and lead companies to move to less heavily taxed countries. Proposed increases in the top personal income tax would hurt small businesses as they try to recover from the pandemic and, again, lead to job loss and higher prices. Potential increases in capital gains taxes and inheritance tax also would have far reaching effects. As a political slogan “Tax The Rich” has a wonderful sound, but the reality is much more sobering for everybody. Aaron Stover tells you why. in Budget and Tax News.
Electoral College —This Is Just A Tease, But Watch the Trailer Anyway. We won’t lecture, we would probably have flunked out of the Electoral College anyway, but Lightspeed Pictures has put together a documentary on the Electoral College…how it works and why it’s important (e.g.: without it, white people would elect the President). As cries grow to go to a national popular vote it is timely and important viewing. Watch the trailer or find the full length picture on Amazon Prime.
The Wheels Of Government — Congress Axes A DoD Spending Watchdog. We promise to tell you about the things in Washington not making the headlines. Well, the headline in this case was Congress Overrides Trump Veto to Pass NDAA. Sure, Congress passes the NDAA – The National Defense Authorization Act – every year. It funds the military. But little noticed, and un-headlined, in this year’s bill was a little paragraph eliminating the 3rd highest civilian position in the pentagon…the position that watched over military spending waste. It’s an interesting story and an interesting lesson in how Government woks, and protects itself, published ironically in Responsible Statecraft.
Can Keystone XL Be Saved? It’s A Long Shot. In his first week in office President Biden axed the Keystone XL Pipeline. Thousands of jobs were lost, Canada is mad, and gas prices immediately started to rise. A handful of Republican legislators are trying to ride to the rescue, authoring a bill that would allow Keystone to proceed without a permit from the President. It’s a long shot, but it’s the first shot fired by Republicans in the war between American energy independence and a green new deal. Keep up with the battle.
Medical Price Controls Are A Bad Foot In The Door To Socialized Medicine. Sometimes the Government sneaks one by us and we only find out later how much it’s going to hurt. Take Price Controls on drugs health care. Sounds good, but it can result in less innovation, less R&D, less access to health care, fewer providers, restrictions on care, procedures and medications…it can be an ugly picture. This one is complicated but it affects every American who may ever be on Medicare or Medicaid…which means all of us. Better learn more.
Bad Ideas Have Consequences: The $15 Minimum Wage. Sure, double the wage for that teenager behind the counter at McDonald’s. What could possibly go wrong? Well, Americans for Tax Reform will tell you, and it ain’t pretty. According to ATR, more than doubling the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour will cost millions of jobs, close small businesses across the country, and harm younger, less-skilled, less educated workers. Read their blog post against the Raise the Wage Act, then see the Coalition Letter below the post. Want to know a little more? The Heritage Foundation has disturbing facts and figures.
The Carbon Tax is Still a Bad Idea. Like the Terminator that just keeps coming at you, Climate Change activists never stop pushing a carbon tax. As President Biden continues issuing job and energy killing Executive Orders on climate (could it be he issues Executive Orders because he knows legislation would never pass Congress?), and various states and state compacts propose and impose carbon levies, be of good heart. Over 75 organizations and thought leaders have signed a coalition letter against the bad idea, and will continue to fight it at every level.
That “Forgiven” Federal Pandemic Aid? It Seems Some States Aren’t So Forgiving. That loan the Feds gave to help your business through the pandemic? The one that would be ‘forgiven”? Well, it may not be free after all. It seems some state governments, greedy little buggers that they are, want to tax you for taking the money that helped your business survive the shutdowns. Oh that’s right, the state mandated shutdowns. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans that helped pay rent and payroll are not subject to Federal Income Tax. But some states (Massachusetts, Virginia, Wisconsin, Illinois to name a few) are taxing, or planning to tax that Federal money. This government giveth, that government taketh away. Patrick Gleason has the story in Forbes.
Climate Change and “Greenwashing”…What Are The Real Benefits? We live in a world of corporate virtual signaling. But amidst all the corporate self aggrandized do-gooding, what are the actual benefits that accrue to shareholders, or the environment? One stockholder is raising real questions about just what is accomplished by ExxonMobil’s climate change actions and why the company won’t disclose the information to its stockholders. It raises interesting questions about the real impact of woke corporate behavior and how it truly affects the environment…and the man in the street.
Wielding The Power Of Money…BlackRock Goes Woker. Speaking of corporate virtue signaling, BlackRock Chief Larry Fink, sitting on $9 trillion of investment assets, wants companies to cut carbon emissions…and he’s putting down markers to make them measure up. Wanting the firms he invests in to “have a purpose beyond profit”, Fink believes firms that embrace climate transition will be rewarded by the market. See his demands and judge for yourself.
Movie Night — Get To Know Thomas Sowell. Thomas Sowell is one of the greatest economists and political philosophers of our age. Whether you’re familiar with Mr. Sowell, or if you’ve never read him, his rise from humble beginnings to prominence is an inspiring and important story. Free to Choose Media has made available their one hour film for your enjoyment and edification. Take a momentary break from The Bachelor and tune in.
Lest We Ever Forget…The Liberation of Auschwitz. We seldom delve into history in this column, but January marked the memorial of an important event from last century. Let’s remember the liberation of Auschwitz…and the horrors it revealed. history.com tells the moving story and with anti-semitism shockingly on the rise in the U.S. and around the world, except oddly enough in the Middle East where Trump made important strides towards peace, it is important that we not let the tragedy of the Holocaust.
Andresen Blom is a Washington based policy and political analyst and author who has been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Hill, and Politico.