By Phil Kerpen
When Republicans vote against coverage expansions, that's the headline. So let's give Senate Democrats the same treatment: they just voted to take away insurance coverage from millions of Americans.
Last summer, Republicans failed to deliver on their longstanding promise to repeal Obamacare due to Senator John McCain's dramatic last minute thumbs down. They failed again in the fall, when the Graham-Cassidy bill to block grant health care dollars to the states was pulled from the floor because ailing Senator Thad Cochran was stuck in a Mississippi hospital.
Conservative activists were disappointed and dispirited, liberal partisans were jubilant, and most of America just figured we would keep muddling on with the dysfunctional Obamacare apparatus still in place.
But late last year Congress struck a major blow to the heart of Obamacare. The individual mandate penalty tax that punishes Americans for not having Obamacare-compliant coverage was repealed in the Trump tax cut bill.
That made Obamacare voluntary. But there was a problem. There were very few non-Obamacare plans available, because a 2016 Obama regulation had deliberately crippled them.
That 2016 Obama regulation slashed the duration of Obamacare-exempt so-called "short-term, limited duration plans" from one year to three months and banned them from being renewable.
Why did Obama do it?
Because people were flocking to these short-term plans, even though at that time they would have to pay both their premiums and the individual mandate penalty tax for choosing a non-Obamacare plan.
The plans were that much cheaper and better than the junky Obamacare plans, with sky-high premiums and deductibles and narrow provider networks that exclude the best hospitals.
And now, thanks to a directive from President Trump to rescind the 2016 Obama rule, they are back. And now there's no penalty tax for being in a non-Obamacare plan!
As of October 2, 2018, non-Obamacare plans are legal again and uncrippled. They can be written for up to 364 days at a time, renewed for up to three years, and can now be paired with a premium guarantee product to lock in a successor policy after three years without any risk of a premium increase because you get sick.
If you like your non-Obamacare plan you can keep it, without paying more, even if you get sick.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates Trump's deregulation will increase overall insurance coverage by about a million people by 2023. Other estimates are higher, with the Center for Health and Economy projecting an overall coverage increase of 2.3 million by 2020 and even the liberal Urban Institute estimating 1.7 million more Americans insured by 2019.
So who would say no to consumers having more choices, with lower premiums, guaranteed renewability without medical underwriting, and potentially better provider networks?
Who would say no to up to two million people presently uninsured getting coverage because they'll be able to afford these new options?
Democrats. Democrats who want to force everyone into Obamacare's one-size-fits-all approach.
I just got back to the American Commitment offices from the United State Capitol, where I sat in the Senate gallery and listened to brilliant speeches from Senators Grassley and McConnell and disgraceful lies from Senators Schumer and Feinstein. After weeks of calling Judge Kavanaugh a gang rapist, neither mentioned the thoroughly debunked claims of Julie Swetnick and her creepy porn lawyer.
But they did keep flogging the Christine Blasey Ford smear – which has also collapsed. This morning the Wall Street Journal reported that Ford’s beach friend Monica McLean pressured Leland Keyser to “revise” her sworn statement that she did not know, had never met Brett Kavanaugh and knew nothing about Ford’s allegations. The FBI obtained text messages proving it. [SOURCE:]
And you didn’t see this in the U.S. press, but yesterday the British Daily Mail talked to a close family member of Keyser, who said:
'It really felt a lot like Christine was the one called to the principal's office to give an account of something and just threw her under the bus. You know, just reached for a name.'
It gets even sicker. “Friends” of Keyser pressured her to lie for Ford by invoking a tragic incident in which her high school boyfriend died. They wrote her a letter saying: “There was nothing you could have done to save Bill from the fate that awaited him, but you can save Christine.”
But it doesn’t stop there -- It gets worse. Ford’s “beach friend” Monica McLean worked for the FBI for 20 years until she hastily resigned when President Trump was elected. Much of her time in the FBI was spent in New York as a “Public Information Officer” – a press agent – and often the principal for whom she was doing press work was none other than Preet Bharara. Bharara himself is a close associate of Chuck Schumer and former senior staffer for Schumer on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
I’ve asked Ryan Grim, the Intercept reporter who originally reported the existence of the Ford letter whether it was leaked to him by McLean and he refused to answer – even though he already publicly stated he did not get it from Feinstein.
And the only interview McLean has done was with a former FBI colleague Josh Campbell, now at CNN, who didn’t ask a single hard question. I’ve asked Josh if he is personal friends with McLean, but he won’t reply.
So this whole thing is very rapidly unraveling. Not only did the FBI find ZERO corroboration for any version of Ford’s ever-changing story, but now we are starting to get a good idea how the whole disgusting information operation worked. We are close to exposing and Smashing the Smear Machine.
But here’s the problem.
Today’s Senate vote was 51-49, and some senators could wobble before tomorrow’s vote on final passage. We’ve seen that before. And the left is pulling out all the stops. So please write to the Senate...
By Jon Decker
This week the U.S. and Canada are set to square off in another round of trade negotiations for "NAFTA 2.0." Amid this week of heavy back-and-forth, one exciting opportunity presents itself that has largely flown under the radar – President Trump's new trade agreement could prove to be life-saving.
The Trump administration is taking a serious look at how to lower drug costs and increase innovation through trade policy. Many of our trading partners impose draconian prescription drug price controls and use other regulatory means to undermine the value of American drug patents.
This forces Americans to shoulder the research and development costs for new drugs, as we are the only significant market that doesn’t impose similar price controls. The foreign drug price controls are set above the marginal cost of manufacturing pills, but nowhere near the total costs associated with bringing a new drug to market. These protectionist policies are a significant reason why it takes a staggering $2.6 billion to bring a new drug to market. This cost falls overwhelmingly on Americans.
A new report from Committee to Unleash Prosperity founders Stephen Moore and Steve Forbes reveals how foreign price controls stifle life-saving innovations.
The Committee to Unleash Prosperity stated:
"If OECD countries lifted price controls altogether, the study estimated the resulting increase in pharmaceutical R&D investment would yield eight to 13 new drugs per year through 2030, increasing the average life expectancy of a 15-yearold individual living in the U.S. today by 1.1 to 1.6 years (while adding 0.6 to 0.9 years to the life expectancy of a 45-year-old). The benefits aren’t limited to the U.S., as eliminating price controls would also result in substantial gains in longevity in other countries as well. The potential economic gains from increasing longevity run into the trillions of dollars worldwide."
The Committee to Unleash Prosperity’s study gives important insight on the consequences of foreign drug price controls. The study shows that President Trump has real potential to alleviate suffering and save lives by negotiating a trade deal that forces other countries to pay their fair share of the research and development of new drugs. Reducing protectionist policies that impact drug prices would save lives both at home and abroad, and it is in all nations' best interest to pursue policies with the potential to save lives.
If President Trump's new trade agreement allows people to live longer, healthier lives, that sounds like a "better deal" to me.
By Phil Kerpen
On his way out the door, former Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (then known as CFPB – Acting Director Mick Mulvaney changed it to BCFP this year to reflect its exact legal name) chief Richard Cordray signed off on a shockingly corrupt settlement agreement that could have widespread negative consequences for student loan borrowers and more broadly for consumer finance across the economy.
It was an enforcement action against the National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts, a group of 15 Delaware trusts that hold about 800,000 student loans totaling $12 billion, of which $5 billion is presently in default. These are loans that were made by dozens of private banks and then aggregated by institutional investors and repackaged as securities.
Because these are private loans, enforcement actions against borrowers in default require individual lawsuits to be filed – and the trusts used an array of debt collection entities to bring thousands of such lawsuits. Many of these lawsuits filed by third party debt collection entities were bogus, taking action without proper documentation or in some cases taking action against people who did not actually owe anything. Some of the debt collectors have already been fined for their violations.
But under Cordray the BCFP went further, declaring the trusts themselves "covered persons" under the Consumer Financial Protection Act and brought an enforcement action against the trusts, even though they are passive entities that did not engage in any of the improper activities.
If that action stands, the well-established, low-risk mechanism of securitizing loans through trusts would become a legally fraught process. And that would cause a massively negative ripple effect.
"For future students and their parents, this Byzantine fight over securitized loans may prove costly," Bloomberg reporter Shahien Nasiripour explained. "The threat of a government agency setting aside securities contracts based on student loan payments could lead hedge funds to devalue their holdings, and cause them to demand higher interest rates on future loans to compensate for the risk of unilateral government action."
Worse, the fallout would not be contained to the student loan market. A robust securitization market helps keep interest rates down for mortgages, auto loans, and credit cards.
Unfortunately, the trusts themselves eagerly agreed to Cordray's power grab – because the hedge fund titan, Donald Uderitz, who bought up control of the trusts stood to benefit.
As Andrew Wilford explained, the BCFP "stepped in and made a deal with Uderitz to transfer servicing powers to Uderitz’s firm, VCG, in return for fines on some trustees and other servicing companies. The upshot for Uderitz and VCG is that Uderitz will make a killing off servicing and administering the debt."
In effect, Uderitz "settled" with Cordray to use trust assets for his own company's benefit. Moreover, the use of trust assets to settle claims against debt collectors, who were all hired subject to contracts that held the collectors responsible for compliance violations – would undermine investor confidence and drive up the cost of capital and therefore...
By Phil Kerpen
Obama's astonishing takeover of the automobile industry was accomplished through a process even more corrupt than his takeover of the health care sector. While both involved backroom deals, the auto takeover was sealed in a backroom from which both the American people and our elected officials were completely shut out.
Worse, it transferred power over a huge swath of our economy – and the basic choice of what cars and trucks Americans can buy – not to Washington, DC but to Sacramento, California. Sacramento was empowered, contrary to federal law, to set fuel economy standards and to implement a credit scheme that raises the prices of vehicles all over the country to lavish subsidies on rich buyers of electric hobby cars in California.
Obama climate czar Carol Browner oversaw the secret negotiations in 2010. Mary Nichols, the chair of the California Air Resources Board, was the other key player in a game of bad cop and really bad cop; basically, industry was told that if they didn’t acquiesce to the new rules, California – waiver in hand – would even more severely kneecap them.
Nichols told the New York Times that Browner "quietly orchestrated" the secret negotiations between the White House, regulators, and auto industry officials. "We put nothing in writing, ever," Nichols bragged.
In 2012 – with Sacramento firmly in control – they reprised the same tactics to ratchet up the mandate to 54.5 miles per gallon, which of course guarantees cars will be smaller, lighter, less crash-worthy, less powerful, and less comfortable than you can even imagine. A nice-sized family-vehicle? Good luck.
The political calculation by Obama was that putting Sacramento in the driver's seat would lock in place the scheme because the regulatory, legal, public relations, and political effort required to unwind it would be too daunting for a future Republican administration.
They did not count on President Donald Trump or his intrepid lead on this issue, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
Secretary Chao, jointly with EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, have issued a brilliantly crafted proposed rulemaking that revises the core of the Obama fuel economy rules to reach a sweet spot that balances environmental, safety, and cost considerations – backed by thousands of pages of detailed legal, scientific, and economic analysis.
Their proposal would keep the model year 2020 standards in place through model year 2026, rather than allow a sharp increase in fuel economy requirements that would occur under the Obama/California plan. The Trump plan would save more than $500 billion in societal costs and reduce highway fatalities by 12,700 lives – because more expensive new cars price people out on the margin, forcing them to drive older, less safe cars longer.
Against the half-trillion in benefits you can weigh the global warming impact – or non-impact. Model runs based on mainstream, consensus climate models show the Trump proposal would impact the global climate by 3/1000th of one degree Celsius by 2100. You can round that to zero.