Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Cruising the Web

Pain is coming to Nevada small businesses when Obamacare's employer mandates take effect. And the ones to suffer will be their employees. And the pain will resonate throughout the state's economy as it will in the rest of the states. And Nevadans can thank their Senator Harry Reid for their plights.
The law’s employer coverage mandate doesn’t take effect until 2015, but early plan renewals are starting to roll in. And for some businesses, the premium jumps are positively painful.

Local insurance brokers are reporting spikes ranging from 35 percent to 120 percent on policies that renew from July to December. The increases are especially acute among employers with workforces made up of younger, healthier men. That’s because Obamacare prohibits offering lower rates to healthier groups. It also narrows the allowed premium gap between older and younger enrollees.

“It’s like if there were no more safe-driver discounts with State Farm,” said local insurance broker Frank Nolimal of Assurance Ltd. “Everybody has the same rate, whether you have three DUIs, or you’re a (nondrinking) churchgoing Mormon.”

The changes put as many as 90,000 policies across Nevada at risk of cancellation or nonrenewal this fall, said Las Vegas insurance broker William Wright, president of Chamber Insurance and Benefits. That’s more than three times the 25,000 enrollees affected in October, when Obamacare-compliant plans first hit the market.

Some workers are at higher risk than others of losing company-sponsored coverage. Professional, white-collar companies such as law or engineering firms will bite the bullet and renew at higher prices because they need to compete for scarce skilled labor, Nolimal said.

But moderately skilled or low-skilled people making $8 to $14 an hour working for landscaping businesses, fire-prevention firms or fencing companies could lose work-based coverage because the plans cost so much relative to salaries.

Employees who keep their coverage might see leaner take-home pay, which could hurt the economy.

Nolimal said one business client whose monthly premiums will rise from $160 to $340 in June plans to shift most of the increase onto his employees.

“Just like when you see gasoline prices going up an extra dime a gallon, it takes money out of the economy for things like buying a new stereo or having dinner out on the town,” Nolimal said. (h/t Hot Air)
Do you think Harry Reid cares? As Bruce McQuain writes,
Note that we’re talking about higher premiums almost across the board. Note also that the 90,000 number refers to policies, not people. It will obviously effect a lot more than 90,000 people. And finally note who will get hit the hardest. That’s right — those that can least afford it. So moderately skilled or low-skilled workers who are receiving health insurance benefits paid for by their employer will now become, what?

Dependent on taxpayer subsidies to have insurance, that’s what. Of course the administration will tout these folks as “uninsured” and claim that they’ve been rescued from such a state, when in fact they’re transfers — converted from paying their own way to having the taxpayer pay there way.

And Harry Reid? Well, frankly, he couldn’t care less.
Harry Reid is too busy complaining about the Koch Brothers instead of answering questions about what he has help to inflict on his state.

The rushed way in which the Affordable Care Act was passed meant that it was poorly written with quite a few drafting errors in it. A Nicholas Bagley explains at The Incidental Economist explains how the bill was set up the risk corridor program in which the government would reimburse insurance agencies for their losses under Obamacare without any appropriations language. The Democrats were originally worried that insurance companies wouldn't offer insurance plans in the exchanges if they weren't protected from their losses. But they forgot to insert appropriations language into the bill.
t has to do with appropriations. The Constitution states that “[n]o Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” That constitutional exhortation is backed up by a statute, known as the Antideficiency Act, that prohibits federal officers from spending any money “exceeding an amount available in an appropriation or fund.” All of which is to say that Congress must pass a law appropriating funds before the executive branch can dip into the federal Treasury.

The trouble is that the risk corridor program lacks any appropriations language. That won’t matter for exchange insurers that have lower medical costs than they anticipated . They’ll still be on the hook for making risk corridor payments—payments that, according to CBO, will amount to about $16 billion over the three-year life of the program. But the lack of an appropriation could matter a lot for insurers with heftier-than-expected costs. In CRS’s view, HHS cannot pay them the $8 billion they’re set to receive through the program.*

In a normal political environment, this wouldn’t be a big deal. Because no payments are due until 2015, Congress still has plenty of time to appropriate the funds. But this isn’t a normal political environment, and the next Congress may resist spending money on a program that Republicans—who will almost certainly retain control of the House—have decried as a bailout. Should Congress fail to appropriate the needed funds, the administration will come under intense pressure to find a workaround. (Sound familiar?)(h/t Volokh Conspiracy)
So we soon see the President finding a way to appropriate money without Congress doing so. Think of what a violation of checks and balances that might be. And who would have standing to object? Yet another example of how the Obama presidency is weakening the entire constitutional structure of our government.

Apparently, there is a part of the tax code that could save Donald Sterling from having to pay taxes on the profits he would make if the NBA forced him to sell his team. It sounds rather questionable, but Sterling could maybe keep it tied up in court with the IRS until he dies.

If you're wondering how health care for the great majority of Americans who can't afford their own treatment will look after decades under Obamacare, check out what has been happening for decades at the VA hospitals.

An American State Department official has spoken with the Times of Israel to outline what the administration had been proposing in the failed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. According to this official, it is all the Israelis' fault that the talks broke down. The State Department is, apparently, so angry about this failure that one official seems to wish for more terrorism against Israelis to bring them to the negotiating table.
There was a massive effort on our part to pull the wagon out of the deep quicksand it was stuck in. But the reality here hit us hard. Neither side had a sense of urgency. Kerry was the only one who felt a sense of urgency, and that was not enough.”

One bitter American official told Barnea, “I guess we need another intifada to create the circumstances that would allow progress.”

A third intifada, the Americans made clear, “would be a tragedy. The Jewish people are supposed to be smart; it is true that they’re also considered a stubborn nation. You’re supposed to know how to read the map: In the 21st century, the world will not keep tolerating the Israeli occupation. The occupation threatens Israel’s status in the world and threatens Israel as a Jewish state.”

Pressed by Barnea on perceived international hypocrisy over Israel’s presence in the West Bank, when the world “closes its eyes to China’s takeover of Tibet, it stutters at what Russia’s doing to Ukraine,” the Americans were quoted as responding: ”Israel is not China. It was founded by a UN resolution. Its prosperity depends on the way it is viewed by the international community.”
As Jim Hoft reminds us, 1,100 Israelis were killed by terrorists during the Second Intifada. And now a State Department official seems to be inviting more terrorism to bring Israelis to the negotiating table. As Jeff Dunetz points out, this is yet another bit of State Department rhetoric casting all the blame on the Israelis. And John Kerry himself has threatened Israel with another Intifada if they don't negotiate.
Kerry's recent gaffe suggesting that without a peace deal Israel will become an apartheid state was just the latest of many made by the Secretary of State. For example, three months after the negotiations began he participated in a joint interview hosted by Israeli and Palestinian reporters. When asked by an Israeli reporter why the peace talks were important, Kerry answered, “Does Israel want a third intifada?”

The American stance seems to be that if Israel doesn’t make one-sided concessions to every Palestinian demand, the Jewish State will return to the era of suicide bombers murdering hundreds of civilians in Israeli city center.

While addressing a February conference in Munich, Kerry seemed to give support to the anti-Israel BDS (boycott, divestment and sanction) movement saying, “The risks are very high for Israel. People are talking about boycott. That will intensify in the case of failure.
It's as if Kerry wants to lay out American acceptance of certain actions by Palestinians in response to the breakdown of negotiations. His words imply a certain acceptance of such actions as the natural responses of Palestinians to Israel's supposed intransigence. Kerry just instinctively blames the Jews. As Dunetz writes,
More than once this administration has blamed Israel for the failure of the talks only to walk the statement back to blame both sides.

Comments by Obama, Kerry and other senior Israeli officials make it seem that Israel’s decision to add homes to existing communities, or to agonizingly debate whether to release convicted murders who would have been executed if their crimes took place in states such as Texas, were just as damaging to the peace process as the daily anti-Semitic incitement on Palestinian TV, the continued rockets and other terrorist attacks, or the deal signed with the terrorist group Hamas.

Kerry’s apartheid comment, ironically published on Yom HaShoah, proves the lack of understanding of Israeli society this administration has.

Not only is Israel the only democracy in the Middle East but also it is the only pluralistic society. All citizens of Israel Jew and Gentile enjoy the same freedoms and full human and civil rights. Minorities in Israel participate in government, are elected to parliament, have served as ministers and Judges including the Supreme Court. Palestinians have even sued the Israeli government and won in the courts.

Where else in the Middle East does that happen? In Israel’s Muslim neighbor countries including the Hamas-controlled Gaza find Christian minorities are oppressed as well as women and homosexuals. Most Jews have long-since been thrown out of the Arab countries, and by making the “settlements” an issue, the Obama administration is declaring Judea and Samaria must also be “Judenrein.” But to this administration, Israel is the oppressor nation....

What this administration doesn’t understand is despite the desire to make peace, Israel will never agree to a treaty that endangers its security, no matter what the slander and pressure coming from the American Administration.

Sixty-six years ago this week, Harry Truman ignored much of the world and his own State Department to recognize the brand new state of Israel, because morally it was the right thing to do. This Administration’s actions over the past few weeks, trashing Israel in off the record speeches and anonymous interviews makes one wonder if Barack Obama would have the moral fiber to make the same decision as Harry Truman.

The Washington Post reports on the thousands of pages of government reports that are required by Congress to be produced but that no one is actually reading.
Every year, as required by law, the U.S. government prepares an official report to Congress on Dog and Cat Fur Protection. The task requires at least 15 employees in at least six different federal offices.

First, workers have to gather data about the enforcement of a law banning imports of fur coats, furry toys or other items made from the pelts of pets. How many shipments were checked? How many illegal furs were found?

The data are written into a report, passed up the chain of command and sent to Capitol Hill.

And then nothing happens.

Although it was Congress that demanded this report in a 2000 law, the legislators who pushed for it are gone. The debate over imported pet fur has waned. Congress lost interest. Of the seven committees that still get copies of the report, none reported finding it useful.

Still, the law lives on, requiring a bureaucratic ritual that has become a complete waste of time.
As the Post reports, there are over 4,000 such reports required by Congress. And no one even knows how many of those reports are actually turned in because no one is reading them in the first place.

Nick Gillespie gives a full-throated defense of libertarianism from cries of racism.