Wednesday, March 15, 2017



The Leftmedia's Turf War

Mainstream media outlets such as the Washington Post have an established track record for covering the news. Over the years they have secured their status in the eyes of much of the public as legitimate journalists. But for years they have stubbornly stuck with a crumbling fa├žade — that they’re reporting from a non-agenda driven, non-biased perspective. The MSM’s claim to objectivity in its reporting is time and again exposed as a farce.

The latest example comes from a complaint voiced by the Washington Post over the list of pool reporters chosen to cover Vice President Mike Pence. All the major mainstream media outlets were represented in the pool, as well as several Leftmedia organizations such as BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post, who share the Washington Post’s anti-conservative bias. But the inclusion of Fred Lucas, a reporter for the Heritage Foundation-owned Daily Signal, sparked howls of outrage. Oh, the humanity. The Post, which became practically unhinged in its anti-Trump coverage in the last year, essentially lumped the Signal in with what it said were “extremist or racist organizations.” Clearly, someone at the Post hasn’t actually been reading the Signal.

The growth of alternative news organizations, many openly holding unabashedly conservative perspectives, has long been eroding the monopoly the MSM used to hold. The MSM’s continued attempts to promote the lie of its “objective” reporting only serves to further reinforce Americans' distrust in the media — trust is at historic lows.

This latest incident exposes the Post as little more than a roaring paper tiger. The MSM is in a turf war that they’re losing, because they’ve embraced an agenda of journalistic activism rather than objectivity. Instead of engaging honestly with the fact that every organization expresses a particular bias to one degree or other, they have sought only to promote the notion that they are the only legitimate purveyors of truth. Through the use of strawman tactics and labeling prejudice the MSM seeks to discredit alternate news organizations' reporting rather than deal with the facts of the reporting.

Speaking of labeling, Harvard University has been circulating a list entitled “False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical ‘News’ Sources”. This list is made up of mostly conservative news and commentary sites, such as the Washington Examiner and the Washington Free Beacon. We at The Patriot Post have the distinguished “honor” of making the list as well. Maybe somebody missed the endorsement we received several years ago from Harvard Political Review.

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Replace DACA

During the campaign, Donald Trump promised to cancel the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy “on day one.” The president did not get around to DACA on his first day in office, and it’s now looking like President Trump may not get around to DACA at all.

Recent reports suggest that the White House has no imminent plans to touch the executive action granting temporary protection from deportation to more than 2 million illegal aliens.

President Obama’s DACA, issued in 2012 via memorandum, was a patently lawless use of executive power. After Congress (again) decided not to pass the DREAM Act, granting legal status to illegal immigrants who came here as children, the president abused his “pen and phone” to impose the law’s provisions unilaterally.

The administration risibly claimed that this was an exercise of “prosecutorial discretion,” implying that the government would be evaluating applications for deferred status on a case-by-case basis.

Unsurprisingly, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials have reported otherwise; in fact, anyone who appears to be under the maximum deferral age — that is, any illegal immigrant who appears younger than 35 years old — is simply presumed to be eligible for DACA.

Under the policy, about 750,000 illegal aliens have been granted not only renewable, two-year deportation stays, but also work permits, Social Security numbers, access to the EITC welfare program, and driver’s licenses. Functionally, more than 2 million have been shielded from deportation for nearly five years.

President Trump’s sudden lack of interest in rolling back this gross executive overreach undoubtedly has to do with the prospect of political backlash over a very sympathetic segment of the illegal population. But there is no reason why these so-called DREAMers can’t be accommodated in a process that respects our system of government.

According to Politico, the Trump administration was accepting DACA applications following the inauguration at a rate of about 800 per day. (Politico estimated 140 new applications and 690 renewals daily, based on the most recent available data.)

The White House’s first step should be to stop issuing new DACA grants. The Trump administration shouldn’t be extending the reach of Obama’s lawless action.

The second step should be either to end renewals, allowing existing DACA permits to expire over the next two years, or to announce that renewals will be granted only until the end of this year. The point would be to phase out the current system and implement a new, lawful one via a bipartisan deal in Congress.

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A Conservative Approach To Health Reform

John C. Goodman

Sen Rand Paul (R-KY) says he can‘t support a health reform now being considered by the leadership in the House of Representatives. He predicts that many conservatives in Congress will agree with him.

So, what would he support? What should conservatives in general support when it comes to health care?

I believe there are three reforms that are consistent with individual empowerment and limited government: (1) a universal health refund that transfers all government tax and spending subsidies to ordinary citizens every year with no strings attached other than the requirement that it be used for health care, (2) a flexible health savings account so that money not spent this year can be saved tax free for future medical expenses and (3) protection for people who lose their insurance because of government policies.

Universal Health Refund. If we take all tax breaks used to subsidize health insurance in the work place, all of the funds currently spent under Obamacare and all of the federal dollars used to subsidize indigent care, it amounts to more than $2,000 per person for people not covered by a government insurance program. That’s more than $8,000 a year for a family of four. Let people take this money and shop in an unfettered market for health care and health insurance.

This approach would leave the total amount spent on health care roughly at the level where it is today. But it would minimize the role of government and maximize the role of individual choice and competition in the marketplace.

If this idea sounds vaguely familiar, it should. Last year Charles Murray, writing in the Wall Street Journal, argued that we should replace our entire welfare system with an annual gift that would amount to $13,000 for every adult. Many regard Murray’s idea as impractical. But applying the idea to health care has a well-established pedigree in conservative and Republican circles.

For well over a decade House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been a steadfast supporter of replacing current tax and spending subsidies for health care and health insurance with a universal tax credit. John McCain ran on this idea in the 2008 election. The legislative embodiment of McCain’s plan was the Patients Choice Act, which Ryan cosponsored in 2009 along with David Nunes (R– CA) in the House and Tom Coburn (R–OK) and Richard Burr (R–NC) in the Senate.

What about employer-sponsored insurance? Employers would be free to offer insurance to their employees just as they do today. The only thing that would change would be the way the federal government encourages insurance. Instead of excluding employer contributions from taxable income, employees would receive their annual health refund instead. To ease the transition and minimize problems, employers could be given a choice – stay in the current system or let their employees claim a health refund.

Also, employees who find their employer offer unattractive would be able to use their health refund to buy insurance in the individual market.

What about Medicaid? State governments should be encouraged to convert their enrollees to private insurance – which is personal and portable and gives people access to better care. They could do this by allowing their beneficiaries to combine the state’s share of Medicaid with the universal health refund to enroll in an employer plan or buy health insurance directly.

What about Obamacare taxes? Revenues raised under the Affordable Care Act would be returned to the people by means of the heath refund, along with all other federal tax and spending money. Remember, most of these revenues come from special interests who agreed to be taxed because they expected to profit from Obamacare – drug companies, insurance companies, big business, etc. But those who really want to see all these taxes go away won’t be disappointed. They are all going to vanish as part of tax reform.

A Flexible Health Savings Account. Ideally, this account should be a Roth Account that wraps around any third-party insurance plan. Unlike today’s highly regulated system, there would be no across-the-board deductible. People would be free to enroll in health plans which allow them to manage all their primary care dollars, without restriction. Health plans would also be able to make special deposits to the accounts of chronic patients who agree to manage their own care – especially where self-management of care is shown to be more effective than traditional doctor therapies. Patients would also be able to use their HSAs to pay the fees of concierge doctors, or providers in “direct-pay” arrangements.

Protection for People Who Lose Their Insurance Because of Government Policies. No one should be allowed to game the insurance system by remaining uninsured while healthy and then enrolling after they get sick for the same premiums healthy enrollees pay. Such people should face premiums that are actuarially fair. But many people today have insurance that is not personal or portable because of a tax law that subsidizes group insurance and penalizes individually owned insurance. That means that when they leave their job, after many years of paying premiums, they can face very high rates from a new carrier because of a health condition. Since government causes this problem, we must look to government to solve it.

People transitioning from the group market to the individual market should not be penalized because of a pre-existing condition. Risk pools and reinsurance are acceptable ways of minimizing the cost of the transition. However, no one should be able to game the system. Once in a plan, people should pay a full, actuarially fair price for any upgrade in coverage and they should receive a full, actuarially fair rebate for any downgrade.

Also, health plans should not be able to dump their sickest, most costly enrollees on other plans – as is happening in the race to the bottom in the Obamacare exchanges. Instead, the orginal plan must top up the premium to the new plan so that the latter receives a total revenue equal to the expected cost of care. This is a system I call “free market risk adjustment.”

The Way forward. The principles outlined here have been ignored in virtually every Republican health reform proposed in the past three years. The exception is a proposal by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA). This proposal would provide a minimum amount of health insurance to almost everyone and it would give the private sector new tools to control costs. We have described it at Health Affairs.

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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