Patterico's Pontifications

3/31/2017

Mike And Karen Pence Sound Like They Have A Rock Solid Marriage. Why Is That Offensive?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:05 am

[guest post by Dana]

[It irritates me that I am compelled to push back against something so ridiculous. And what annoys me even more is the continuing case of the vapors from which the left side of the aisle suffers. For God sake, stop being such a bunch of little girls!]

On Wednesday, The Washington Post published a profile of Vice-president Pence’s wife, Karen Pence. Readers were able to catch glimpse of a steadfast woman who consistently puts her faith and family first. The picture of Mrs. Pence also revealed the high level of regard in which the Pences hold their 32-year marriage. And each other.

However, the portion of the profile that is causing a flurry of hysteria, is this:

In 2002, Mike Pence told the Hill that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either.

The writer of the profile, Ashley Parker, also tweeted this to point readers to her story.

Now let’s look at the actual quote in context:

During his 12 years in Congress, Pence had rules to avoid any infidelity temptations, or even rumors of impropriety. Those included requiring that any aide who had to work late to assist him be male, never dining alone with a woman other than his wife, and not attending an event where alcohol is served unless Karen was there.

In a 2002 interview with The Hill, Pence called it, “building a zone around your marriage.”

“If there’s alcohol being served and people are being loose, I want to have the best-looking brunette in the room standing next to me,” Pence said.

Okay, now let’s look at the reaction of Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief of Mother Jones. One reason I selected her response(s) from a slew of similar responses because hers covered the same territory in one long rant. Amusingly, I’m fairly certain Jeffery believes her response(s) to be logical and reasonable, while I see them as ignorant, knee-jerk and just a bit embarrassing: Untitled

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Shorter Jeffrey: How dare Mike Pence honor his marriage and honor his wife.

This just doesn’t seem hard to me: A couple marries. They have promised to remain faithful to one another. They come up with a plan to help each other hold up their end of the bargain because they understand the human condition and challenges of marriage. It might not be your plan, but it’s their plan, and anyone who values marriage should be cheering them on. This is an investment in their future, and their children’s future. Even society at large benefits from stable marriages. This safeguarding is also an investment that will pay off in massive dividends of happiness for all parties involved. But if the method which Mike and Karen Pence have chosen to guard their marriage with doesn’t work for you, then fine, do something else. Just remember, it’s the fool who believes their own marriage won’t be tested at some point in time. However, at the end of the day, it’s really none of anyone’s damn business how the Pences run their marriage, so perhaps the naysayers and critics should butt out and focus on making sure their own marriages are secure.

Another reason I selected Jeffery’s response(s) is because she clearly demonstrates how a large segment of the country continues to be fairly ignorant about the evangelical community, and what Christians (and Conservatives) value. In this setting, the Pence’s risk management strategy is not at all strange or unusual. This making a conscious decision to pro-actively protect and maintain a sacred covenant made between a couple and God is pretty standard fare. As Aaron Blake put it over at The Fix:

If nothing else, the commentary from the left about Parker’s tweet confirms the initial reactions of those on the right: that plenty of people in the United States simply don’t understand them and have dismissed them as Neanderthals — deplorables, even. The fact that this kind of arrangement is so foreign and unthinkable to some people in this country reinforces what separate worlds we live in.

I’m sure David and Nancy French would agree. They also were treated in a fashion similar to the Pences when their own risk-management strategies put in place during David French’s deployment to Iraq were misrepresented and mocked by the usual suspects.

It’s mind-boggling that people who certainly know better, want us to believe that Washington D.C., the ultimate hub of power and money, is a scandal-free zone. In that town, one doesn’t even have to be having an illicit relationship to find themselves smeared on the covers of the The New York Times and The Washington Post . Thus it only seems wise for any married individual in any position of power, to be mindful of their actions with the opposite sex and give no opportunity for gossip or rumor, or for an insatiable media to zero in on a small nothing and make it into a big something. (Whether it’s true or not is irrelevant.)

Finally, in this honest look at our human frailties, fidelity, and honoring one’s marriage, noted author and icon of the left, Ta-Nehisi Coates demonstrates why it is wise to take steps to protect a marriage. Just like Mike Pence does.

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(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

3/30/2017

Trump Vows to Fight Freedom Caucus in 2018

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:26 am

They told me if I didn’t vote for Donald Trump, we’d get a President determined to fight conservatives — and they were right!

The Freedom Caucus contains people who want to actually repeal ObamaCare rather than replace it with another big government program that retains central planning of the health care sector.

Trump has no interest in policy details. He just wants something he can call a “win” even if the price of people’s premiums continues to rocket upwards.

Increasingly, that is what Republicans want too: “winning” that results in big government, federal control of the economy, and pork pork porkity pork (that’s coming next).

Winning!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

3/29/2017

It Is Nearly Impossible For The Self-Important To Not Reveal The Fool That Dwells Within

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:05 pm

[guest post by Dana]

They simply cannot resist the urge to try and be relevant. Embarrassingly, this kind of inevitable showmanship becomes just another effort to sate the voracious appetite of one’s own vanity:

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From the bio of Drexel University Assistant Professor George Ciccariello-Maher, PhD:

…an expert and frequent media commentator on social movements, particularly in Latin America. His most recent book, We Created Chávez: A People’s History of the Venezuelan Revolution (Duke University Press, 2013), examines social movements and revolutionary groups active before and during the era of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Ciccariello-Maher also teaches, researches and writes about race, racism, prisons and policing in the U.S. and internationally, including how race is associated with suspicion and guilt. He has been a media commentator for such outlets as The New York Times, Al Jazeera, CNN Español, NPR, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and the Christian Science Monitor, and his opinion pieces have run in the New York Times’ “Room for Debate,” The Nation, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Fox News Latino. He previously taught political theory at U.C. Berkeley, San Quentin State Prison and the Venezuelan School of Planning in Caracas.

Perhaps you might remember Ciccariello-Maher as the “white genocide” tweeter last Christmas Eve. This when he tweeted, “All I want for Christmas is White Genocide”. Drexell University gave him a little slap on the wrist as a result.

Anyway, Ciccariello-Maher seems like the type who would be happy to know he has made waves with his latest display of ignorance insightfulness. Happy about that, and no doubt smug and happy that he receives a cushy salary without ever having to hike up a hill carrying 60 lbs. or more on his back.

As the parent of a soldier who is readying for a second deployment, you might think I would be offended by Ciccariello-Maher’s tweet. But I’m not. He is nothing to me. Just another big mouth on the internet who has proven that he is not worth my time or energy to get to know. These cats are a dime a dozen. But one purpose Ciccariello-Maher’s existence does serve, is to remind people like me that doing something honorable and something of real importance is not for the faint of heart, nor for the self-consumed, and certainly not for those brave enough to mouth off on Twitter but too afraid to speak in a mature and direct manner to a soldier when the opportunity presents itself. I suspect it may have been a teachable moment for the professor.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

Trying To Fix The Problem Of Four Liquor Stores And Rampant Alcoholism

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:29 am

[guest post by Dana]

Recently, The New York Times had a story about four liquor stores in the unincorporated village of Whiteclay, Nebraska. Located just a few miles away from the officially dry Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, the stores are where the local Native Americans go to purchase their beer. In Whiteclay, with a population of less than a dozen people, the four stores collectively sell a staggering 3.5 million cans of high-alcohol malt liquor annually:

This town is a rural skid row, with only a dozen residents, a street strewn with debris, four ramshackle liquor stores and little else. It seems to exist only to sell beer to people like Tyrell Ringing Shield, a grandmother with silver streaks in her hair.

On a recent morning, she had hitched a ride from her home in South Dakota, just steps across the state line. There, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, alcohol is forbidden. In Whiteclay, though, it reigns supreme.

“You visit, you talk, you laugh, you drink,” said Ms. Ringing Shield, 57, as she stood on the sidewalk with friends, chain-smoked Montclair cigarettes and recounted her struggles with alcoholism, diabetes and cirrhosis. “It makes you forget.”

The grim scene in Whiteclay has scarcely changed for decades. Particularly in the warmer months, Native Americans can be seen openly drinking beer in town, often passed out on the ground, disheveled and ill. Many who come to Whiteclay from the reservation spend the night sleeping on mattresses in vacant lots or fields.

Even under the chill of winter, people huddle outside the liquor stores, silver beer cans poking from coat pockets. The street, busy with traffic from customers, is littered with empty bottles and scraps of discarded clothing.

“It promotes so much misery, that little town,” said Andrea Two Bulls, 56, a Native American on Pine Ridge, who added that she hoped the state would revoke the licenses. “My brother used to go to Whiteclay all the time, and we’d have to go look for him. People sit and drink until they pass out. They just succumb.”

In a place where “unemployment exceeds 80 percent, poverty affects more than 90 percent of those living on the reservation,” and a staggering 25% of newborn babies on the reservation have fetal alcohol syndrome, there is now a concerted effort being made by the Nebraska legislature to find some sort of solution to the crisis:

[M]any residents of Nebraska and South Dakota are pushing for the liquor stores of Whiteclay to be shut, disgusted by the easy access to alcohol the stores provide to a people who have fought addiction for generations. The Nebraska authorities, in turn, have tightened scrutiny of the stores, which sell millions of cans of beer and malt liquor annually. Last year, for the first time, the state liquor commission ordered the stores’ six owners to reapply for their liquor licenses.

The fate of the stores could be decided next month, when the three-member commission holds hearings in Lincoln, the state capital.

While it appears that there is a general agreement that this is a public health emergency and must be solved, just how to do it remains a problem. There seem to be two schools of thought, neither of which are surprising.

First, there are those who believe that the government needs to step in:

[Sen. Pansing Brooks] introduced LB407 to examine the impact of alcohol sales in Whiteclay and its surrounding communities and make recommendations to the Legislature on how to solve the economic and social issues facing the area. Members of the task force would collect, examine and analyze data on fetal alcohol syndrome rates, access to treatment services and the risk of alcoholism for children raised in the area.

“Both our actions and inactions in Nebraska are having devastating effects on the people of Pine Ridge,” she said. “We have to help the people who are being harmed by this public health emergency and we must not continue turning a blind eye to this vulnerable population.”

Gordon Sen. Tom Brewer* supported the bill. He said many of the surrounding communities do not want to see the alcohol stores in Whiteclay shut down because it could cause the problem to spread to their area. An entire generation has been lost to alcoholism and another is in the process of being lost if the Legislature fails to act, Brewer said.

“We’re poisoning a group of people that we’ve forced onto a piece of land and we’re not taking action because the problem could spread to surrounding communities,” he said. “Ignoring the problem and ignoring the people and just accepting it as inevitable is not the right answer.”

Sen. John Lowe of Kearney also supported the bill, saying concern for the state’s people should outweigh any concerns for the rights of small business owners.

“It’s up to us to take a stand and make that decision that business is not more important than our people,” he said.

And then there are those who are against upsetting the status quo:

“If we would get rid of the stores, there would be an uproar,” said Allyssa Comer, 20.

Vance Blacksmith, 47, a Native American and teacher on the reservation, said he favored leaving the stores alone.

“They’re not hurting anyone,” he said. “Drinking is a personal choice. The people who drink are trying to accept life as it is. And it’s depressing, being here on Pine Ridge.”

In addition, local sheriff Terry Robbins noted that even if the four stores were closed down, people who wanted to drink would just be compelled to drive farther to buy their beer. This would result in other drivers being endangered. Sheriff Robbins also noted that ultimately, closing down the four stores would not end the crisis of Native American babies being born with fetal alcohol syndrome. And he’s right. This is not a simple problem involving just a few people. It is a multi-generational issue endemic to American Indians – the catastrophic results of which not only impact those exercising their freedom to drink (excessively), but also directly impacts the most innocent and vulnerable among us, as well as the taxpayers.

With that, in our nation a person with a plan and enough money can set up shop, provide a legal product to consumers, and make a living from their efforts. If compliant with the laws of the land, should business owners be denied their freedom to make a living because people of legal age choose to make unwise decisions? Given that these are a people that were horribly mistreated by the federal government, are they now in need, or in want of that same government to come to their rescue?

*This is rather significant: Sen. Tom Brewer grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation. That he found a way to avoid the tragic life of so many, evidences that one can work toward a different outcome, and that even in the cloistered confines of the reservation where desperation abounds, there are options. That Sen. Brewer did so with such honor, speaks volumes:

He grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation – where poverty and diabetes, fetal alcohol syndrome and suicides – run rampant, seizing too many Lakota lives each year. He’s walked the streets of Whiteclay, where some descendants of those who once wiped out Custer’s command now surrender to a can of Budweiser.

Back then, there were few choices for Indian youth like him, a direct descendant of the famed Sioux Chief Red Cloud. So when a military recruiter came calling, Brewer did the only thing he could think of: He signed up for a hitch, donning the uniform of the country that had destroyed his own.

“The Lakota spirit is a warrior spirit and that’s what drew me to the military,” Brewer says. “We’re a warrior culture, and if you’re going to be a warrior, you should do it in uniform.”

And so he did, serving 13 tours of duty. Six in Afghanistan. Countless battle wounds. Shot seven times. Blown up by a rocket-propelled grenade. Traumatic brain injury. Two purple hearts and a bronze medal.

A couple of items to consider: Disagreements about whether store owners are breaking the law by selling to individuals who are already intoxicated have been going on for some time in Whiteclay.

Additionally, some people believe that the lack of law enforcement officers contributes to the problems in Whiteclay as well:

The village does not have its own police force. It relies primarily on the Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office, which is headquartered about 20 miles away in Rushville. Besides the sheriff, the department has four deputies to cover a county the size of Delaware.

At a public hearing last week, a street minister said it was almost pointless to call 911 because it took so long for the sheriff’s office to respond.

By state law, liquor licenses can only be issued in areas with sufficient law enforcement.

–Dana

The Patterico Music Project: The Lyrics to “In Your Mind”

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 7:07 am

Yesterday I debuted a song written by me in the early 1990s, and recently re-recorded by Jamie Woolford of the groups The Stereo and Let Go. If you missed it, here it is again:

Below are the lyrics to that song as originally written. As the SoundCloud description says, it’s a breakup song directed at “a girl who thinks she’s a heartbreaker but needs to get over herself.” Jamie changed the lyrics in a couple of places, which I will note after showing you the lyrics.

IN YOUR MIND

No I won’t give in
And talk to you again
I said it once before
I’ve had all that I can take

I have had enough
So I will call your bluff
And leave you here
To guess at your mistake

You can’t see the truth
You have lived your life
Completely blind
You are blind

And though I’m leaving you
You have left me shattered
In your mind
In your mind

It is sad but true
The things I say to you
A looker, not a seer,
You can’t see the way things are

You are just another face
And you’re easily replaced
I’m sorry but
You pushed your luck too far

I’m sorry if I said
That you were the best I’d ever find
The line went to your head
And never made it out
It’s stuck in your mind

No I won’t give in
And talk to you again
I said it once before
I’ve had all that I can take

I have had enough
So I will call your bluff
And leave you here
To guess at your mistake

You can’t see the truth
You have lived your life
Completely blind
You are blind

And though I’m leaving you
You will leave me shattered
In your mind
Only in your mind

Instead of “A looker, not a seer / You can’t see the way things are” Jamie sings “With eyes open wide / Still can’t see the way things are.” I liked the contrast between the terms “looker” and “seer” in the context of a song about a clueless but attractive woman — but everything Jamie does is to enhance the music, so I trust him. I can’t argue with the final product, which I love.

On the lines “And though I’m leaving you / You have left me shattered” he sings something else besides “I’m leaving you.” I’ve probably listened to this 30 times and still can’t figure out what he’s singing there, but haven’t gotten around to asking him yet. Any ideas?

Tomorrow I’ll let you hear the original recording I made around 1991. It’s . . . well, “not as good” would be putting it mildly.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

3/28/2017

They Told Me If I Didn’t Vote for Trump…

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:09 pm

They told me if I didn’t vote for Trump, nothing would be done about ObamaCare, and the President would be happy about it — and they were right!

UPDATE: Dave had this exact same joke first.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

The Patterico Music Project: “In Your Mind” Recorded by Jamie Woolford

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 1:01 am

It’s time for Song #7 in the Patterico Music Project. The concept is simple: my favorite musical artists record cover versions of songs I wrote 25 years ago. You’ve never heard this one before. It’s another cover by Jamie Woolford. I told you all about Jamie here, in my post announcing his cover of “Alien Song.” Jamie has transformed this song into something I can’t stop listening to. Get ready to experience some major power pop that should have you bouncing around the room — assuming you have the volume turned up loud enough.

Press play now — and enjoy.

Tomorrow I’ll give you the lyrics. And on Thursday you can hear my original version.

Jamie has done two others. Stay tuned!

P.S. Those looking for previous entries in the series can find them here:

All can be accessed at my SoundCloud page at soundcloud.com/patterico.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

3/27/2017

Trump Tweets Out Yet Another Attack On The Freedom Caucus; Pledges To Deal With Democrats

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:30 pm

I have argued that the members of the Freedom Caucus who opposed TrumpCare aka the AHCA are heroes. Donald Trump apparently disagrees:

What he calls “the jaws of victory” I call “the jaws of ObamaCare lite.” For Trump, the solution, apparently, is to negotiate with Democrats:

Nothing says “good policy” like a deal that makes Democrats happy!

Here’s the problem with Trump’s latest tantrum: the folks in the Freedom Caucus were not the only people who opposed this dog of a bill. They’re just the ones Paul Ryan wanted to blame. Leon Wolf has an indispensable piece about this, and I’ll just tease you with a few paragraphs:

Ryan would have you believe that the Freedom Caucus was solely responsible for the scuttling of his deeply unpopular pet project to “repeal” Obamacare. The media, which are largely ignorant of the internal dynamics of the House GOP caucus because they are largely staffed by ex-Democrat Hill staffers, have been happy to carry Ryan’s water in this regard — either because they, too, dislike the Freedom Caucus or because they are too lazy to dig even an inch below the surface and learn the truth.

Of course, the Freedom Caucus might well wish to claim the AHCA’s defeat as a net positive since Americans opposed its passage by a whopping margin of 56 percent. However, regardless of the particulars of the act, Ryan now has a convenient scapegoat he can blame for the party’s failure to pass a bill that at least nominally replaced Obamacare — both with Chamber of Commerce-types who supported AHCA-style reform and, more significantly, with President Donald Trump (who looks increasingly likely to enter the fray in Republican House primaries in 2018). And with the latter target, there is evidence that his campaign is working, since Trump has begun grousing aloud about Freedom Caucus members on his Twitter account.

The facts, however, tell a very different story. Even though liberals and moderates in the House GOP caucus were quieter during the AHCA debate, they were no less opposed to the bill. The only difference is that Ryan opted not to place them in a difficult position — an opportunity Freedom Caucus members were not afforded.

All emphasis in the original. Read it all.

There’s a path to repealing ObamaCare that makes sense. That path is not making “great deals” with Democrats out of pique. The correct path is Ted Cruz’s plan. That path is the free market.

Pass it and dare the chucklehead Trump to veto it.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

What Should Be the Next Step on Repealing ObamaCare? Ted Cruz Has the Answer

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:00 am

So. What comes next on repealing ObamaCare?

The TrumpCare bill (AHCA) was a disaster. It was not a vote to repeal ObamaCare, but rather a vote to keep it, and tweak it. That’s not what Republicans promised to do, and it’s not good enough. We should not mourn its passing, but celebrate it. The defeat of the bill was glorious, and the members of the Freedom Caucus who opposed it are heroes.

The reason fans of the free market are angry is not because TrumpCare failed — but because of the statements by Paul Ryan and Donald Trump that they are done with trying to repeal ObamaCare. Those statements are wrong and dangerous. As Ted Cruz once said:

First principle: Honor our promise. When you spend six years promising, “If only we get elected, we’ll repeal Obamacare,” you cannot renege on that promise. Failure is not an option. Breaking our word would be catastrophe. The voters would, quite rightly, never again trust Republicans to deliver on anything.

Amen.

The response to the defeat of TrumpCare is not to pick up the ball and go home. It must be to draft a bill that actually does what Republicans promised, and drives down costs through market-based mechanisms.

What should such a bill look like? As it turns out, Ted Cruz had a proposal that outlined an answer to that question. I blogged that op-ed before, but with the defeat of the AHCA, Cruz’s op-ed has renewed relevance, as a blueprint that could bring Republicans together and actually repeal ObamaCare. I think it’s worth giving his proposal another detailed look.

First, Cruz suggests something I have been pushing throughout this process: starting with the 2015 repeal bill.

First, begin with the 2015 repeal language. . . . Virtually every Republican in Congress voted for that language, and the parliamentarian has already ruled it as permissible. We should begin with that previously approved repeal language as the baseline.

Bingo. The recent debate over AHCA has shown that the previous votes to repeal ObamaCare may have been fraudulent show votes. But here’s the thing: if you’re a moderate, it’s easier to justify a vote against AHCA than it would be to justify changing your vote on the exact same language you voted for before.

A duplicate of the 2015 bill, we learned yesterday from Andrea Ruth, exists — today, in this Congress. It is languishing in committee. It needs to be pushed to the floor and voted on.

But the 2015 bill is not enough. So Cruz next focuses on areas that should provide broad consensus for Republicans. They include excellent ideas like “allow[ing] consumers to purchase insurance across state lines,” ensuring the ability to buy “low-cost catastrophic insurance on a nationwide market,” and the use of health savings accounts. These would all have the effect of increasing competition and lowering costs. But it’s what Cruz says next that I consider critical:

Third, we should change the tax laws to make health insurance portable, so that if you lose you[r] job you don’t lose your health insurance. You don’t lose your car insurance or life insurance or house insurance if you lose your job; you shouldn’t lose your health insurance either. And that would go a long way to[wards] addressing the problem of pre-existing conditions, since much of that problem stems from people losing their jobs and then not being able to get new coverage on the individual market.

Fourth, we should protect continuous coverage. If you have coverage, and you get sick or injured, your health insurance company shouldn’t be able to cancel your policy or jack up your premiums. That’s the whole point of health insurance.

These suggestions by Cruz are very important, and I want to discuss them at some length. Here’s where it gets tough, because there’s a bitter pill that, in my view, Americans have to swallow: we have to get rid of the ObamaCare provision that requires companies to insure pre-existing conditions. Now I can already hear a bunch of people yelling: hold up there hoss, that’s never going to work and people don’t want that. Do me a favor: hear me out. There’s a way to address the concerns people have about insurance companies’ refusal to insure against pre-existing conditions without this mandate. The answer lies in Cruz’s suggestions in his op-ed, which contains terms that may seem abstract to some people, such as “guaranteed renewal” and “equal tax treatment for individual plans” and “portability.” But if you stick with me for a moment, I’ll explain the reality behind these abstract terms, and how they can help solve the problem.

First, let me say that I understand why people wanted the provision requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions. Very simply: the situation before ObamaCare was untenable for a lot of people, and the recession made it worse. Here’s the scenario: you’ve been carrying health insurance for years through your job — but then the recession hits and you are laid off. You’ve been responsible all these years, but in the meantime you’ve developed a serious health condition. Because insurance is tied to work, you’re now thrown into the individual market, which is entirely dysfunctional and which may well reject you because of your “pre-existing” condition.

This is an entirely unacceptable state of affairs. It’s unfair, and Americans should not have to stand for it. And it seems to many people as though the easy answer is to tell insurance companies: hey, you have to cover these conditions! But here’s the problem: that leads you inextricably down the ObamaCare path, because if you mandate coverage for pre-existing conditions, most people just won’t buy health insurance until they develop those conditions. That’s clearly an unworkable situation for insurance companies, because they can’t make money by selling only policies that are going to lose them a lot of money. And that’s what led us to this Rube Goldberg contraption of ObamaCare, where the government decided to pad the insurance companies’ bottom line by forcing healthy people to buy insurance, and even forcing them to buy coverage for things they didn’t want and would never want (like maternity care for a single male).

So the pre-existing conditions requirement is not some perk that we can keep while ditching the rest of ObamaCare.

So what else can be done? Well, there’s always single-payer. If you liked socialism and think it worked well for the Soviet Union, North Korea, and Venezuela, you’ll love socialism in health care! The rosy Big Media descriptions of socialized health care in Canada, the UK, and elsewhere often leave out the plight of people who die waiting for their operations, and are simply neglected by a system that has no real incentive to improve their health. There’s also a corrosive effect of nationalized health care on your ability to criticize the government. If you think politicians making decisions about your life is a good thing now, just wait until they have power over whether you live or die. Dissent is going to be a little more difficult then, isn’t it?

Luckily, the free market has another way. It’s called guaranteed renewability — the same concept as the “continuous coverage” described by Cruz in his op-ed. Guaranteed renewability is described in this excellent paper from the Mercatus Center:

[G]uaranteed-renewable insurance permits consumers to renew their coverage at the same premium, regardless of whether they have developed any new chronic health conditions since obtaining the insurance.

If you really want to go deep into the policy analysis, I recommend reading that paper. But the essence of the idea is that, like term life insurance, annual premiums are lower if you buy in when you’re young and healthy. This way, the money that insurance companies need to cover people who have developed serious health conditions is provided voluntarily by younger people who want to buy into guaranteed renewal coverage early, rather than by a government-ordered mandate enforced by penalties (or if you prefer, Justice Roberts, by “taxes”) imposed on people who don’t comply.

Why didn’t this happen pre-ObamaCare? Actually, it did — but it was unworkable for a lot of people who lost their jobs, because insurance was not truly portable. The Mercatus Center paper says that “most individual market plans were indeed sold with this guaranteed-renewable provision” — but if you lost your job, you’d end up having to convert from a health plan sponsored by the employer to an individual health plan. This would subject you to rejection for a pre-existing condition — the very same unacceptable racket described above. The HIPAA law in 1996 attempted to address the issue of portability, but did not really fix the problem.

A large part of the reason health insurance is not fully portable is the differential tax treatment between employer-sponsored and individual plans. Insurance premiums paid by employers are not taxed, while premiums paid by individuals are.

How could we even out the tax treatment of employer-sponsored and individual plans? We could follow the lead of most economists and rescind the tax exemption for employer-sponsored plans, but that would be very unpopular. The Mercatus Center instead suggests “modification of the tax code to extend the tax break for health insurance beyond the employment-based market into the individual market.” In other words, give the tax exemption to everyone. This would still amount to a subsidy by the federal government — but employees already enjoy this subsidy, and the unequal treatment of individual plans is not equitable and distorts the market. The key is treating both types of plans equally under the tax code.

Of course, we can’t just snap our fingers and achieve all this overnight. As the Mercatus Center paper acknowledges, “a transition to this market-oriented arrangement would likely have to be coupled with high-risk-pool coverage for those who already have pre-existing conditions, but the need for these high-risk pools would decline over time.” You can’t just yank the rug out from people who have no choice but to depend on the ObamaCare system in the near term. But moving towards a market-based system will lower costs and premiums.

We also have to move away from the situation where a third party pays for everyday costs. Basic health care should not be covered by insurance. Your car insurance does not cover oil changes, and health insurance should not be used for basic care like checkups and treatment of everyday illnesses. When people have to make their own choices about how much to spend, prices will fall — and so will insurance premiums.

What about the people who can’t afford insurance (or who are simply irresponsible and do not buy insurance)? Well, first of all, with the above reforms, there would be far fewer people in that situation than there were in 2008, before ObamaCare was passed. But in the end, this is a separate question from the basic policy of how to repeal ObamaCare. There will always be the less fortunate in society who can’t afford some of the basics of life: housing, food, health care, and the like. And there will always be people who are irresponsible and don’t plan for their future, whether it’s in the area of health insurance, life insurance, retirement, their kids’ education . . . the list goes on.

For these groups of people, there will always be a tension between people like me, who recommend that such issues be taken care of by charity and the private sector when the problems to be addressed are serious or life-threatening, and leftists who want the government to take care of everybody. Either way, the reality of the world is that resources are scarce, and not every need can be met. This will always be true under any system. Government cannot simply decree that everyone will receive the best possible care for every illness. Any system, whether public or private, will result in some people not being able to access scarce resources. No government health care system is a panacea, and anyone who keeps their eyes open and watches for stories of people being mistreated under socialized health care will find them. The VA is just the tip of the iceberg.

But the solution is not to give ideal care to people who could have bought insurance but chose not to. Imagine doing that with any other type of insurance: Gallant buys a fire insurance policy and Goofus does not — but Goofus knows that government will buy him a new house if his house burns down. Goofus is not going to buy insurance in that scenario — and Gallant won’t either. The concept of insurance is destroyed by such an arrangement. Some Goofuses are going to suffer in the free market — but again, no resources in this world are unlimited, and Goofus will never have all his needs met without contributing to society.

Finally, let me briefly revisit a topic I covered before — because the reigning assumption appears to be that repealing ObamaCare would leave millions uninsured and worse off. This is completely bogus, and the fallacy of that argument must be central to any discussion of what to do next. For the full argument, I commend to you my post from March 8. Here’s the summary: to the extent that health care coverage has increased, that increase has resulted from two factors: a) gains in employer-sponsored insurance, and b) an expansion of Medicaid.

The former (increased employer-sponsored insurance) is not due to ObamaCare but rather is due to the (tepid) recovery and millions going back to work. Indeed, private coverage has been harmed by ObamaCare, since ObamaCare has hampered the recovery and hurt employers’ ability to hire more people. Since the passage of ObamaCare, believe it or not, “the share of Americans with private insurance has declined.” Yes: declined. So ObamaCare does not get credit for expanding private health insurance.

The latter factor (expansion of Medicaid) is not a net gain for Americans because outcomes under Medicaid are worse than outcomes of the uninsured. Under ObamaCare, age-adjusted death rates increased in 2015 after declining for decades — and life expectancy fell for the first time since 1993.

Repeal will not cost lives. If anything, full repeal with no replacement will save lives.

We can’t give up. Republicans promised repeal. The time to deliver is now. Republicans need to stop buying into the false premise that ObamaCare has helped people. Republicans need to enact real market-based reforms.

The principles articulated by Ted Cruz would be an excellent place to start.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

3/25/2017

Sanctuary Cities Prevent Wealthy Communities From Becoming Paralyzed And Stuck With Dirty Houses

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:35 am

[guest post by Dana]

The once truly Golden State has descended to this:

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed a brief in in support of a lawsuit filed by Santa Clara County challenging President Donald Trump’s executive order targeting sanctuary cities.

The amicus brief filed Wednesday says Trump’s order threatens to withdraw federal funds from states and cities that don’t help the federal government enforce immigration laws.

Santa Clara County last month asked a federal judge to block Trump’s executive order threatening the loss of nearly $1.7 billion in federal funds to local governments.

Becerra says he has a responsibility to protect state laws and policies that ensure public safety and protect the constitutional rights of residents.

He adds that Trump’s attempt to “hijack” state and local resources to do the Trump Administration’s bidding raises serious constitutional questions.

Becerra conveniently ignores that it is the law that the Trump administration seeks to enforce, not a whimsical, willy-nilly, pull-it-out-of-your-hat bidding. Becerra certainly does have a responsibility to protect state laws and policies that ensure public safety and protect the constitutional rights of residents, so why is he selectively exercising that responsibility to benefit just 6% of the state’s population? Where does that leave the rights and safety of the other 94%?

Anyway, to pile onto the absurdity, the uber-wealthy beach community of Malibu has jumped on the state’s sanctuary movement. Spearheading the effort is none other than onetime president – on television anyway – Martin Sheen. (The last time we saw Sheen was during the election when he channeled President Bartlett from the West Wing, and implored Republican members of the Electoral College not to vote for Donald Trump.)

Ah, yes, nothing says solidarity quite like the wealthy 1% desperate to maintain their lifestyles of luxury and ease:

The discussion inside Malibu City Hall over whether to become a sanctuary city last week bore the usual hallmarks of the heated national debate over illegal immigration.

While some residents praised the proposal, others blamed those who are in the country illegally for crime and called the move a thinly disguised rebuke of President Trump.

But it being Malibu, there was a celebrity twist. The idea was inspired by one of the town’s many famous residents: actor Martin Sheen. In December, he grabbed the lectern during a City Council meeting and — as if conjuring his inner President Josiah Bartlet from “The West Wing” — urged the city to become a sanctuary city.

Like many sanctuary city resolutions, Malibu’s is largely symbolic. Backers said the move, which passed on a 3-2 council vote, is a chance for Malibu’s privileged to stand up for the city’s vulnerable population.

Malibu is about 92% white and one of L.A. County’s wealthiest cities. Everyone agrees the city has workers who are not authorized to be in the United States, and they tend to serve the food at upscale eateries, clean the beachside mansions, look after children and keep the landscaping looking lush.

And confirming just how utterly out of touch with the every-man the uber-wealthy residents of Malibu are, Mikke Pierson, a supporter of the resolution, commented:

[I]t’s hard to imagine a Malibu without the many immigrants who toil there. That why expressing support for people who are in the country illegally is so important, he said.

“Heck … we would be paralyzed and no one’s houses would be cleaned,” the former surf shop owner said.

Paralyzed!

In a city where the median price of homes currently on the market is nearly $3.9 million, quite obviously illegal immigrants working in Malibu are compelled to make long commutes to the beach community from places like South Los Angeles and Compton where they can afford to live.

Juan Lopez, who works in Malibu, is quoted:

Most immigrants just want to work, and they end up doing jobs that hardly anyone else, let alone most Americans, want to do.

In each house, there’s one immigrant here. You see Spanish speakers taking care of babies in every house. They help people here.

Gosh, one might suppose that Malibu seeks to protect its own little service industry because the city would come to a grinding halt if residents had to do their own yard work, take care of their own children, and cook their own meals. Obviously, hiring those who are here legally and without fear of being reported would come at a much higher price than the wealthy residents of Malibu are willing to pay.

Self-serving elitism is never an attractive look – no matter how expensive the rags. And given that it has been the residents of Malibu who have worked exceedingly hard to keep illegal immigrants and other non-residents off their the public beaches in Malibu, that they now deem themselves a “sanctuary city” is spectacularly rich, indeed.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

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