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ACA Repeal Bill Doesn’t Really Repeal the Law

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ACA Repeal Bill Doesn’t Really Repeal the Law

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After months of promises to the party’s base supporters, congressional Republican leaders are readying a bill that would repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), using the same procedural tool used to pass it into law.

ACAIt’s called “reconciliation,” and it allows a majority party to bypass the threat of a filibuster in the Senate, which requires 60 votes to break. Well, there’s actually more to it. A January 2010 explainer from NPR notes that reconciliation comes from “a provision of the 1974 Congressional Budget Act” and “is designed to force committees to make changes in mandatory – or entitlement – spending and revenues, such as Medicare.

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It was conceived by lawmakers as a way to bring down the deficit by easing the path for budget and tax deals.”

Without getting into the details and controversy surrounding reconciliation, which has been used to pass several bills, including the ACA and the bipartisan Welfare Reform Act of 1996, Republicans hope to use it to repeal the 2010 healthcare law. But they’re finding opposition from conservatives. Why? Because it targets provisions that have a budgetary impact, as is the case with reconciliation.

It’s true that the reconciliation bill – the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act – will eliminate many harmful provisions of the ACA, including the individual mandate, the employer mandate, and the medical device tax. But regulations requiring that health plans carry certain benefits that are driving up the cost of coverage, for example, will remain in place.

Still, House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-GA, insists the bill is the right move. “Under this year’s balanced budget agreement, Congress has the opportunity to use a powerful but limited legislative process to advance a bill to the president’s desk that will target ACA – a law that is doing real harm to individuals, families, physicians, workers and job creators – and help pave the way for patient-centered health care reform,” Price said in a statement.

“The bill repeals punitive taxes and mandates, an unelected, unaccountable board of bureaucrats empowered to effectively deny care to seniors, undue demands on employers and employees, and an ACA slush fund. The bill also imposes a one-year moratorium on taxpayer dollars being used to pay abortion providers that are prohibited under the legislation while increasing resources to community health centers,” he added.

Heritage Action, one of the conservative groups opposed to ACA, has come out against the bill to repeal the law because of its limited impact. “[T]here’s frustration with the path that leadership’s taking,” a spokesman for the group told The Hill on Tuesday.

Absent the reconciliation process, Senate Republicans, who hold 54 seats in the chamber, wouldn’t be able to move it to the president’s desk. Of course, regardless of whether a bill to repeal the ACA passes Congress, the White House has threatened a veto, which almost certainly won’t be overridden because neither chamber has a veto-proof majority.

Passage of ACA repeal using reconciliation would be a statement. It would mark the first time Republicans have successfully moved legislation on the matter through Congress. But without control of the White House, it simply won’t be feasible until at least January 2017.

They Said It with John Boehner, Gary Johnson, and MORE

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It section in Volume 20, No. 13 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

U.S. COVERED UP GASSING OF AMERICAN TROOPS: “During and immediately after the first Gulf War, more than 200,000 of 700,000 U.S. troops sent to Iraq and Kuwait in January 1991 were exposed to nerve gas and other chemical agents. Though aware of this, the Department of Defense and CIA launched a campaign of lies and concocted a cover-up that continues today. A quarter of a century later, the troops nearest the explosions are dying of brain cancer at two to three times the rate of those who were farther away. Others have lung cancer or debilitating chronic diseases, and pain. More complications lie ahead. According to Dr. Linda Chao, a neurologist at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco, ‘Because part of their brains, the hippocampus, has shrunk, they’re at greater risk for Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases.’” — journalist Barbara Koeppel, “U.S. Nerve Gas Hit Our Own Troops in Iraq,” Newsweek, March 27, 2015.

John Boehner (R-OH)“The world is starving for American leadership. But America has an anti-war president.” — U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) during a Capitol Hill press conference, March 26. Apparently Obama’s ongoing U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan — not to mention covert operations around the world — slipped Rep. Boehner’s mind.

U.S. FOREIGN POLICY IN ONE TWEET: “US praises US ally for bombing US-equipped militia aligned with US foe who is partnering with US to fight another US-equipped militia.” — tweet by journalist/photographer Gregg Carlstromsent as Saudi Arabia began bombing Yemen, March 26, 2015.

YOU’RE ENTITLED (TO PAY FOR ENTITLEMENTS): “Your 2014 tax dollars — which are due [this] month — went primarily to pay for government benefits. Major entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare and Social Security) devoured more than half of the 2014 budget at 51 percent of spending. Other federal benefits took another 19 percent, meaning that 70 percent of government spending went to pay some sort of benefit to someone. These additional ‘income security’ and other benefits include federal employee retirement and disability, unemployment benefits, and welfare programs such as food and housing assistance.” — economist Romina Boccia, “The Breakdown of Where Your Tax Dollars Go,” Heritage Foundation, March 17, 2015.

THE MARIJUANA DISCONNECT: “Marijuana polls 60% in favor of legalization. Huge, insane, disconnect that the minority is maintaining criminal penalties for the majority!” — tweet by Gary Johnson, 2012 Libertarian Party presidential candidate, March 5, 2015.

Nick GillespieLET THEM BAKE — OR NOT BAKE — CAKE: “Nobody should be forced to do something they don’t want to do, whether it’s bake cakes for gay weddings or decorate cakes with anti-gay slurs. To me, whether a person’s or a business’s decision is based in religion is immaterial.” — Nick Gillespie, “Everybody’s Lost Their Goddamn Mind Over Religious Freedom,” The Daily Beast, April 1, 2015.

Why Did Our Ancestors Approve the Constitution?

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 8 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

United States Constitution

Here’s a provocative thought experiment from Jacob G. Hornberger, president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. In a recent article “Why Did Our Ancestors Approve the Constitution?“ Hornberger poses this question:

“Suppose our American ancestors in 1787 had been told that the proposed Constitution, which they were being asked to approve, was going to bring into existence a federal government that would have the following powers:

  • The power to tax people’s incomes in any amount government officials deemed appropriate.
  • The power to regulate people’s economic activities.
  • The power to incarcerate and fine people for ingesting harmful substances.
  • The power to round people up and incarcerate them indefinitely without trial by jury and due process of law.
  • The power to torture people.
  • The power to assassinate people.
  • The power to invade foreign countries and wage wars of aggression against them.
  • The power to establish military bases in foreign countries.
  • The power to take money from people and give it to others.
  • The power to secretly spy on people and monitor their activities.
  • The power to incarcerate and fine people for spending money in other countries.
  • The power to make paper money the official money of the United States.
  • The power to control and regulate gun ownership.

“Imagine, also, that the American people were told that the Constitution was going to bring into existence a vast, permanent military establishment as well as a secretive governmental agency (i.e., the CIA) with the omnipotent powers to kidnap people, conduct medical experiments on them without their consent, torture people, and assassinate people.

“Imagine, also, that they were told that a vast welfare state was going to be brought into existence, with the federal government charged with the task of taking care of people with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, foreign aid to dictators, and the like.

“One thing is beyond dispute: If our American ancestors had believed that the Constitution was going to bring into existence that type of federal government — the type of federal government we have today — they never would have approved it.”

There’s much more provocative reading in the rest of “Why Did Our Ancestors Approve the Constitution?

The Coming Government Debt Explosion — and How to Deal with It

in Business and Economy, Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 6 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

The U.S. ship of state is sailing full steam ahead — straight toward a massive debt iceberg. Debt Iceberg

Here are some genuinely shocking figures from “Medicare and Social Security Tabs Coming Due,” an article by Michael Tanner, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, in the March 2015 issue of Reason magazine:

  • The national debt recently reached $18 trillion — approximately 101 percent of the United States’ GDP.
  • The Congressional Budget Office projects the debt will rise to $27.3 trillion within the next decade. 
  • But those numbers are actually far too low — because they ignore Social Security and Medicare’s unfunded liabilities. Add those in, and the national debt hits $90.6 trillion.
  • Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are responsible for fully 47 percent — nearly half — of federal spending, and they continue to grow. 
  • Social Security has a $24.9 trillion shortfall, while Medicare has $48 trillion in unfunded liabilities. Should healthcare costs rise, the Medicare figure could soar to $88 trillion. 
  • Just this year, Social Security will have a $69 billion cash-flow deficit. Every year after, that shortfall will worsen. And Medicare is in even worse financial shape than Social Security.

In an article at Vice News last January, Tanner described the difficult choices we face:

“To pay all the benefits promised in the future, Social Security would have to increase the payroll tax by as much as half, or find that revenue elsewhere. The government can always cut benefits, but without a tax increase those benefits would have to eventually be slashed by 23 percent. That would be very hard for seniors who depend on the program to get by.”

What to do about these problems? You can read Cato’s proposals for reforming Social Security at their Social Security reform website.

Cato’s research and proposals for health care and welfare reform (including Medicare and Medicaid and Obamacare) can be found here.

Libertarian Party presidential candidate Harry Browne offered his plan for replacing Social Security with consumer-based choices in his 1996 book The Great Libertarian Offer. Though the numbers are a bit dated, his explanation of Social Security’s problems, and his solution, remain very relevant, elegant, and easy to read and understand.

For a quick overview of genuine market-based health care reform, see this short 2015 article “What True Health Care Reform Would Look Like“ by Matt Battaglioli, published by the Mises Institute.

Finally, see “How to Eliminate Social Security and Medicare“ by George Reisman (Mises Institute, 2011) for more reasons why these programs should be eliminated, and a plan to accomplish this.

They Said It…

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

SECRETIVE US SPECIAL OP FORCES DEPLOYED WORLDWIDE: “A review of open-source information reveals that in 2012 and 2013, US Special Operations forces (SOF) were likely deployed to — or training, advising or operating with the personnel of — more than 100 foreign countries. And that’s probably an undercount. In 2011, then-SOCOM spokesman Colonel Tim Nye told TomDispatch that Special Operations personnel were annually sent to 120 countries around the world. They were in, that is, about 60 percent of the nations on the planet. … SOCOM is weaving a complex web of alliances with government agencies at home and militaries abroad to ensure that it’s at the center of every conceivable global hot spot and power center. In fact, Special Operations Command has turned the planet into a giant battlefield…” — award-winning journalist Nick Turse, “Why Are US Special Operations Forces Deployed in Over 100 Countries? That’s over 60 percent of the nations on the planet,” The Nation, January 7, 2014.

JUDGE: FOUNDERS WOULD BE “AGHAST” AT NSA: “[N]o court has ever recognized a special need sufficient to justify continuous, daily searches of virtually every American citizen without any particularized suspicion. … I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware ‘the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power,’ would be aghast.” — from U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon‘s Dec. 16 ruling that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone records was “almost certainly” unconstitutional. The issue seems headed to the Supreme Court.

SNOWDEN JUSTIFIED: “I acted on mybelief that the NSA’s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts. Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many.” — NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden reacting to U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon’s Dec. 16 ruling (above).

OUR UNCONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT: “Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution lists the activities for which Congress is authorized to tax and spend. Nowhere on that list is there authority for Congress to tax and spend for: Medicare, Social Security, public education, farm subsidies, bank and business bailouts, food stamps and thousands of other activities that account for roughly two-thirds of the federal budget. Neither is there authority for congressional mandates to citizens about what type of health insurance they must purchase, how states and people may use their land, the speed at which they can drive, whether a library has wheelchair ramps, and the gallons of water used per toilet flush. The list of congressional violations of both the letter and spirit of the Constitution is virtually without end. Our derelict Supreme Court has given Congress sanction to do just about anything for which they can muster a majority vote.” — economist and syndicated columnist Walter Williams, “Parting Company,” Jan. 1, 2014.

JAY LENO STONES CONGRESS:  “In defending the budget deal, Congressman Paul Ryan quoted the Rolling Stones and said, ‘You can’t always get what you want.’ When it comes to Congress, here’s a better Stones quote: ‘Can’t get no satisfaction.’ How about that?” — Jay Leno Dec. 13, 2013.