Thursday, 12 December 2019 19:06

Medicare for all facelift: The ugly is still there

Medicare for All (M4A) retained its prominent place on the stage at the latest Democratic debate. In its purest Bernie Sanders form, concurrent with abolishing private health insurance, U.S. residents would be enrolled in “Medicare.” The program would pay for unlimited “medically necessary” health expenses, including pharmaceuticals, mental health and substance abuse treatment, vision, dental, and hearing services, and long-term care with no out-of-pocket costs. Some supporters were scared off by the $32 trillion over 10 years price tag. Not to be outdone, Elizabeth Warren’s “I’m with Bernie” plan comes with a $52 trillion over 10 years price tag including up to $34 trillion in new government spending. Our country’s entire yearly budget is a mere $3.5 trillion. For perspective, if your salary is $40,000 per year it would take 25 million years to earn 1 trillion dollars. As M4A’s dark side emerged, the candidates distanced themselves from Bernie-care.

Elimination of private insurance? Whoa, Nellie! Over 156 million Americans —half the country—are covered by employer-sponsored health insurance plans and another 23 million have private individual policies. And most of these folks like that arrangement. Then there was pushback from some unions who had excellent health insurance policies for which they had bargained and given up other perks.

In the June debate the candidates raised their hands indicating they would abolish private health insurance. Now Mayor Buttigieg wants to “unify the American people around, creating a version of Medicare, making it available to anybody who wants it, but without the divisive step of ordering people onto it whether they want to or not.” Vice president Biden, noting his desire to keep patient choice stated, “we should build on Obamacare … adding a Medicare option in that plan, and not make people choose.” Of course, Obamacare caused a rise in premiums, a decrease in choice of insurance coverage, and like any large government-run program was prone to mismanagement and waste.

Possible financing mechanisms were screaming for a deep dive. One analysis concluded that most Americans would suffer financially if M4A were implemented as proposed. An analysis by a bipartisan think tank estimated a 32 per cent increase in payroll taxes would be needed to fund M4A. Everyone—even the working poor—would have more payroll taxes extracted from their paycheck. The analysis concluded that most households would pay more in new taxes than they would save by eliminating their current spending on private health insurance and out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Senator Warren tries to hide the ugly truth by railing about the evil rich who would be taxed down to their underwear. Take the deceptively worded “2-cent” annual tax for households with more than $50 million in assets. If you have $51 million in assets, most probably tied up in your business, you’d have to cough up (.02)($1,000,000) or $20,000, not 2 cents. The devil’s spawn, aka our 535 billionaires, would be subject to a 6 percent annual tax on their assets. Who will be the next target when the government has driven the assets to a sunny island in the Caribbean? Finally, raising the corporate income tax back up to 35 percent likely would result in businesses paying lower wages to current employees or cutting back on hiring to compensate for the increased tax burden.

During the latest debate, Senator Warren retreated from her “all-in” approach, asserting she would first provide Medicare at no cost to “everybody under the age of 18, everybody who has a family of four income less than $50,000”—about 135 million people. Second, she would lower the Medicare age to 50 and expand Medicare coverage to include vision, dental, and long-term care. In the third year, “when people have had a chance to feel it and taste it and live with it, we’re going to vote and we’re going to want Medicare for all.”

Senator Sanders owns that payroll taxes would be doubled or tripled and proposes a 4 percent surtax on families earning more than $29,000. So if you earn $60,000, you’d have to pay (.04)($31,000) or $1,240, enough for a whole year’s membership in a private Direct Primary Care plan. Senator Sanders, staying true to his principles, is sticking with unadulterated Medicare for All with its financial warts.

Even those who are numb to government over-spending can see the broader problem of inviting Uncle Sam into their lives in exchange for a Medicare card in their wallet. Any remaining privacy is erased. Our medical records would be furnished to the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Physicians and patients would be robbed of their autonomy and choice by medical care policies set by the government monopoly. Lack of competition leads to lower quality and fewer services. Coverage becomes an illusion.

Medicare for All’s beauty is only skin deep and its ugly goes to the bone.

 

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Dr. Singleton is a board-certified anesthesiologist. She is Immediate Past President of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). Her opinions are her own. This is an edited column that originally appeared at www.pennypressnv.com, reprinted with permission. 

 

 

Published in Opinion

With ten candidates still in the running we have three obvious front runners and two additional wildcards. Biden, Warren and Sanders are at the top. Mayor Pete (Buttigieg) and Harris round out the top five. Yang, Klobuchar, Booker, Gabbard and Steyer should pack it in. I mean, after something like fifteen debates if you’re not in the top 3-5 you should, you know - move on. 

In fact, I’m willing to bet most of you went - “Steyer? Who is Steyer?” I know, right? There are too many people running. Let’s get rid of some of the candidates on the bottom. Also, Tom Steyer is a non politician, progressive billionaire who wants term limits for Congress, wants to decriminalize illegal border crossings and wants to expand the Supreme Court. Well, term limits for Congress is a fantastic idea! I’m all for that. Unfortunately, he’s polling at less than 1% so I’m not sure what he’s still doing in the race. 

Anyway. Sanders is out raising them all, but seems to be consistently in the number three spot in terms of news coverage and polls. Warren, just a few weeks ago was the clear front runner but she took a huge slump, for some reason. And now it’s good old “Uncle Joe” back as the front runner. Which, you may remember, is Biden’s unofficial nickname. 

Well, all of them were at it again last night at another debate that had way too many people on stage. And, I thought it was pretty clear that Mayor Pete came out on top. No one is attacking him because he’s not a front runner and so he was able to get his points across. And man o’ man Mayor Pete comes across poised, intelligent and filled to the brim with common sense and reason. 

Warren did her Warren thing - Medicare for all, tax the rich. I don’t think she gained or lost ground. Same with Sanders. Biden pushed civility, which is great but I’m not sure that will help him surge up in the polls. All three of them kind of pushed their brand name. Harris, who has fallen so far behind the other front runners was more aggressive than I have seen her in the past few months and even called out President Trump for getting “punked” by North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un. 

I don’t think last night’s debate changed the way anyone views the democratic candidates, with perhaps the exception of Mayor Pete. I know Pete is surging in Iowa, which is a critical caucus to win, but too many people don’t know him. But that’s the thing about him, the more people hear about him the more people are clearly like, “I don’t know who this guy is … but I like him!” 

Yeah. Me too. He’s a great candidate. But … can he beat Donald Trump in the popular vote? Perhaps. But perhaps he’s too much of an underdog to win. Perhaps the Democrats need a big name to win. And they have three big names in Biden, Sanders and Warren. Mayor Pete just might have to wait four or eight more years for a legitimate shot.  

And, I know we are still miles away from the finish line but sometimes I just wonder what is taking some of these politicians so long to drop out. Senator Harris is a decent progressive candidate but she’s clearly, and I mean clearly - too far behind. Drop out of the race and get back to the Senate - you know, the job you were elected for. I guess one could say the same about Senator Warren; however, she’s actually on top so there is reason for her to stay in the race. But Klobuchar? Gabbard? It’s not happening, maybe it’s time to get back to the Senate / House for your elected jobs. Booker? I mean, Booker had a great closing speech but this is just not your year. There is, as they say - a snowball's chance in hell the nomination will go to any of the folks on the bottom.

Unless some catastrophic event happens, it’s clearly going to be one of Biden, Sanders or Warren. Or, if they get really clever - a Biden / Warren ticket. Or a Sanders / Warren ticket. Or a Warren / Sanders ticket. 

Or, heck - a Warren / Mayor Pete ticket. Think of that. Wow. I like it. (Probably won’t happen). 

Any combination of the above will probably mount a decent challenge to President Trump. Just as long as Hillary Clinton doesn’t enter the race, which she (probably jokingly) hinted at a few days ago.

Ugh. She just won’t go away. Please, please Hillary - you lost to Obama, you lost to Trump. Leave it alone. The Dem’s don’t need more candidates.

Published in Politics

For better or worse, it seems clear that Senator Elizabeth Warren is the frontrunner to become the Democratic nominee in the 2020 election against President Trump. It’s not just me saying it. Pretty much every website that covers politics says it too. And the other candidates certainly believe it, because on Tuesday evening (the 15th of October) at the CNN debate they all went after Warren the way you do when there is an obvious front runner. Most of it didn’t stick, although I do think Warren needs to answer some specific questions about her Medicare plan as in, who’s paying for it? Because lots of folks ask her and so far, she kind of dodges. 

Other than that, I think she’s a fine candidate. Warren does not have the negative baggage that Hilary Clinton had and conservatives seem to be overly, “meh” about Warren. It’s not like the targeted conservative rage that men seem to have for AOC or Representative Omar. It's more of a dismissive dislike against Warren and they seem to regard her as nothing special outside of being another “stupid libtard.” 

But Liberals love her. They really do. But, can Warren win over undecideds and moderates? Well, that there is the winning ticket, ain’t it?  And … well … I don’t know. Again, she doesn’t have the Clinton baggage, I mean, there were lots of folks that hated Hilary! Some of the reasons to dislike Hilary Clinton were warranted, most were not. I think Warren is generally going to be recognized as a much more likable Hillary. If you’ve heard any of Warren’s speeches she actually just comes off as honest and good natured. That’s a huge plus.  

Moody’s doesn’t seem to think it matters much, though. Their analytical department has been fairly accurate predicting presidential races since 1980 and they see Trump winning in all scenarios except for one - extremely high voter turnout. (On the other hand, it should be noted that they had Hillary Clinton winning against Trump. So, there’s that). But that’s interesting. Their fairly accurate analytics department is pretty sure Trump is going to win, unless, of course, a HUGE number of people turn out to vote, and then they’re pretty sure the Democratic nominee will win. 

I’ve been hearing this my entire adult life. If more voters turned out, it becomes less likely that modern Republicans would win. I am making no judgement one way or another I’m just saying that I think that’s interesting. And it’s nothing new. 

So far I don’t see the fear mongering against Warren that usually happens in elections. You know what I mean, attack ads with scary music that say things like, “She’s the most liberal nominee ever and she’s coming for your guns, your bibles and your dinosaurs!”  =)

Of course, she’s not the nominee yet. She’s just the front runner, which may or may not change. Once the actual nominee is in, I’m sure the fear mongering attack ads will come. 

But they really don’t need to because, here’s the thing, the fear mongering ads, on both sides of the aisle - very, very rarely, if ever - come true! I hesitate to say never but in all honestly it’s probably a lot closer to never than rarely. They do seem to scare folks though. They just never come true. (Hardly, ever). 

Look, Warren is smart. She’s an academic, she’s a former professor and she’s been in the Senate for several years. In the same way that McCain defended Obama at one of the republican rallies from a voter who said she couldn’t trust Obama because he’s an “Arab,” conservatives should be pretty okay with the idea of an incredibly smart, academic politician in the oval office. She’s not some Lex Luthor-esq super villain looking to turn the U.S. into 1970’s communist Russia.

No one, and I mean NO ONE wants to turn the entire country into a communist socialist regime. There are people that want some socialized programs. Considering we already have a bunch of them - the police department, emergency rooms, the fire department, the DMV, public libraries and even, get this … the NFL.

That’s right, except for the Dallas Cowboys who bought themselves out in the 1970’s, all the other teams evenly split money that goes into the NFL, so that no single team has a money advantage over any other team. Which, is kind of like socialism and it’s not scary. It actually makes sense to do it that way.

I mean, it’s not exactly socialism, but close enough that any reasonable person who watches the NFL but rages against any kind of government program being socialized, should at least go, “Hmmm. Maybe a couple government programs could be socialized without the country going to hell in a handbasket.” 

Here’s a fun thought, how many republican NFL fans do you think will actually stop watching the NFL, if they were to find out that NFL is pretty socialist? 

Probably, not many. Mostly likely, none. But that’s just a guess. 

Anyway, all I’m trying to say is that Elizabeth Warren is not some scary socialist loon that’s going to strip away all your private rights and hand them over to the government. Keep in mind that there was a time when Democrats said things like, “We should try out Social Security & a G.I. Bill” and Republicans lost their minds and said the country would fall apart if you did either of those treasonous, libtard socialist programs! 

Looks like they were wrong. While it's true that the Baby Boomer generation is putting social security at risk, can you honestly tell me that it’s been a bad idea and /or that the G.I. Bill is a crazy socialist plot? I mean, think about that, there were once Republicans that raged against the idea of FDR’s G.I. Bill. 

If universal health care passes in the United States, I have almost no doubt that fifty years from now, when most of us are gone, the vast, overwhelming majority of the country will be like, “Can you imagine that people used to rage against the idea of universal health care? I mean, if you tried to take my universal health care from me or my family, they would have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands.” 

Indeed.

Published in Politics
Thursday, 05 September 2019 15:38

Guns and Democrat Presidential candidates

We had another nutburger start shooting at police last weekend in West Texas.  

 

The lame-o media—in this case NBC News—decided for America that the important part of the story was this:

 

  • The attack, the second mass shooting in Texas this month, prompted a round of calls for stricter gun laws from some hopefuls running for the Democratic nomination for president.
  • U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said on Twitter, “America is sick of this. We need to act.”
  • Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke of El Paso, Texas, where 22 people were killed in an Aug. 3 attack at a Walmart, tweeted, “More information is forthcoming, but here’s what we know: We need to end this epidemic.”
  • U.S. Sen Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said on Twitter that the violence makes her “heartsick.” “We’ve already lost far too many to gun violence-Congress must act now,” she said.
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, also called for stricter firearms rules.
  • Entrepreneur Andrew Yang tweeted, “We are better than this. We will do better for our kids.”
  • And California billionaire Tom Steyer called for “emergency gun legislation.”

 

Imagine that.  Six Democrat who think they could, when they grow up, become President of the United States are so consumed with their run to get the nomination to nowhere that, irrespective of the facts, they hear about a crazy person using a gun to kill innocent citizens and can think of nothing more than we need new laws.

 

Answer me this: Isn’t murder and jacking a USPS mail truck already illegal? 

 

To me, this comes under the heading of, “but Achmed, we can’t do that in the United States, there’s a law against that.”

 

For its part, Google gives the so-called national media infinite amounts of preference when you google “Odessa TX shooting”  On early Sunday morning, you had to get to the fourth page before you got past CNN, MSNBC, NBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc.  I never actually found the Odessa American on Google as a news source for the shooting, even though they had their police reporter assigned to it.  The Washington Post?  The New York Times?  Seriously?

 

The fact is that the shooter is a resident of Odessa who was killed by police at a theatre complex after he hijacked a U.S. Postal Service truck killing the truck driver.  And, had been fired from his job that morning.  It has been reported that he called the FBI and other law enforcement tip lines before he used what appears to be an illegally purchased weapon.

 

The point is that, short of repealing the Second Amendment and confiscating over 300,000,000 guns, nothing “proposed” by the six Democrats referred to above would have prevented any of the “mass shootings” we have recorded since 1966.

 

The only thing which might work is repealing Democrat sponsored bills like those which make it illegal to consolidate databases of mental health issues and allow for one central constantly updated database against which background checks are made.

 

And even that’s a relatively long shot.

 

Because, in my opinion, what stops bad guys with guns are good guys with guns—and the training to make a difference.

 

They may be crazy when they go somewhere and shoot it up, but they’re not stupid.

 

These shootings almost never happen where there’s much of a chance that someone there might be able to shoot back.

 

But the left can’t accept that.  Guns bad.  Criminality good.  That’s the way the left sees it—which is why NOTHING meaningful will ever happen.

 

If, by chance, one of these idiots were to get elected President and Democrats take Congress, you might see an armed revolution.

 

Or, more likely, we would find out that these guys were blowing smoke up our butts all along.

 

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Fred Weinberg is a columnist and the CEO of USA Radio Network. His views and opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GCN. Fred's weekly column can be read all over the internet. You can subscribe at www.pennypressnv.com. This is an edited version of his column, reprinted with permission. 

 

 

Published in Opinion

"It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their own selfish purposes." -President Andrew Jackson

People need to first understand those who are guilty of the crimes against the American people and how they operate by doing the unthinkable. That is how they get away with what they get away with because people don’t believe that they would do such things. Well, guess what?  They are.

To prove the point, just look to those who are changing American government to that which is foreign to American government on a daily basis by those who are playing the good guys. This is all being done little by little through incrementalism or a siege (Deuteronomy 28:52).

If only the American people would take the time and read their Bibles and founding documents, how soon they could identify these counterfeits that operate under false pretenses (Jeremiah 6:16), both in the Christian realms, as well as the political realms (Mark 8:14-15).

Look at how Americans have been under heightened attack over the last 2 years by those who have been sold as the good guys to represent them.  Free speech, the right to bear arms, the sodomite agenda, personal and national security, etc. all of this during the tenure of the said good guy.

Then again, the old Communist tactic comes to my aid,

“The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.” -Vladimir Lenin

Today, we see President Donald Trump is sold as the victim by those he fails to prosecute.  Meanwhile, the support that is driven to his base only ensures a victory for his next 4 years in the people's White House. This helps him to further his attacks on his support base.

In other words, Americans are being set up for the fall.

Mark my words.

Just this last week, Fox News, the best that the conservatives have, just put out a fake poll (Causing the enemy, “Americans,” to believe that there is a lot more of them than there really is) stating that their poised and controlled opposition criminal and actor Joe Biden was winning over that of Trump, 49% to 39%.

Have you seen the crowds that go to Donald Trump's engagements? Pretty astounding. There were over 100,000 ticket requests for Trump's presidential 2020 kickoff at the same time that this fake poll came out.

For years, Americans have seen Joe Biden exposed for his perversions. He has the support of no one and Americans know it.

What of lunatic Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, who endorses a coup against Donald Trump?  Warren also argues the illegal border invasion shouldn’t be against the law.”  How much support do you suppose she has in her efforts against Trump? None!  This is exactly what drives support to Donald Trump. It is called controlled opposition. 

Meanwhile, and on the other hand, President Donald Trump releases 196,000 illegals back into the cities of America.

What of criminal Senator Kamala Harris, who recently said that she would usurp Congress and unconstitutionally change gun laws? Again, this takes all eyes off Donald Trump's administration that is actually doing what she is talking about, and drives support to Trump.

The "establishment" knows that Americans will never get behind Kamala Harris and her criminal actions.  No, the "establishment" transgresses (1 John 3:4) the law with the help of those who have been sold to you the American people as the good guys (2 Corinthians 11:14).

Who has attacked gun rights more than that of Donald Trump's administration?

No one.

Twenty-six states have now passed 55 new gun control policies by a majority of Republican governors. 

What about openly gay presidential contender mayor Pete Buttigieg from Indiana, who claims that he cannot help himself, that he was born that way, and then blames God for the choices that he makes (Deuteronomy 30:19)? Outside of the likes of less than 1.7 percent of the population that engage in homosexual behavior, who do you think is going to support this guy? (Editor’s note: The number of people who identify as gay varies depending on the country you live in, but is generally considered to be within the 1% to 2% range; however, in the U.S., that number appears to be much closer to 4%).  Again, this all drives support to Donald Trump, who in turn supports the agenda to decriminalize sodomy on a global scale.

I hope that you are getting my point here friends, this is the enemy play book and has been for decades in this country (Proverbs 20:12). The right wars against the left (Mark 3:25) and who wins and loses at the end of these contrived unconstitutional wars? Americans lose, and corruption wins every-time.

When will Americans learn?

Furthermore, there are hundreds of other candidates who are running for the White House to serve “We the People.”  Why is it that we have only heard from the MainStream Media and their hand-picked candidates and not from the others? All cameras are to be kept on their global players and pushers of a global agenda.

The global agenda players that the American people are trying to rid themselves from are the very agenda's that President Donald Trump is implementing on his followers (Jeremiah 17:5).

This is how the American people, and that of other countries throughout history that have been destroyed are being undermined (1 Kings 13:33). Nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

And just think friends, if I listened to the modern day professed and hypocritical Christians and conservatives of the day we would all be wrong.

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Bradlee Dean is a guest contributor to GCN news. His views and opinions are his own and do not reflect the views and opinions of the Genesis Communication Network. Bradlee's radio program, The Sons of Libertybroadcasts live M - Sat here at GCN. This is an edited version of an op-ed originally published by Sons of Liberty Media at www.sonsoflibertyradio.com. Reprinted with permission. 

 

 

 

Published in Opinion
Thursday, 27 June 2019 17:13

Democratic Debate: Part I

I probably know what you’re thinking. Either - “I hate all the libtard Democrats and don’t care what they have to say” or, “There are too bloody many Democratic Presidential nominees for me to care what any of the non-front runners have to say (because we all know the three obvious front runners are Biden, Warren and Sanders.)”

Fair enough. But last night’s debate (that wasn’t actually a debate) held a few surprising moments. But, only a few. I mean, Warren basically - crushed everyone. And, I say, “wasn’t actually a debate” because, rarely did the candidates - debate one another and when you only get 60 seconds to answer complex policy questions then, well - it’s not a debate.

Anyway. A few takeaways:

In his after the “debate that wasn’t actually a debate” coverage Trevor Noah was spot on when he said, “This was a chance for many of the unknown candidates to introduce themselves to a national audience. They could go from who is that?” - all the way too … “ooooooh, yeaaah - that guy! (pause). No, I’m not going to vote for him. No.” (It’s probably a bit funnier when Noah says it).   

And it was one hundred percent true! There were at least three people on stage where I had that exact moment of “who” to “oh, him” to “nope.” Let’s call them “the debate that wasn’t actually a debate losers” - Tim Ryan, John Delaney, Jay Inslee. I’m not even going to rank them on their policy choices because, most of the Democrats have similar ideas (in the same way the most Republican’s have similar ideas). These three public figures just, well, quite figuratively - didn’t even need to be at the “debate.”  It’s not like any of them were bad, per say. They, along with Klobuchar, were all fine (even though she kept getting cut off). But all of them were just kind of. “meh.” 

And “meh” will NEVER beat Donald Trump. 

Then, we come to the nights actual loser. And there really is only one actual loser and that’s Beto O'Rourke. He’s been polling fairly high. People seem to like him. I was expecting him to, at the very least - beat out Bill de Blasio in the debate but - nope. De Blasio beat down O'Rourke on multiple occasions and Beto came off as kind of a stammering dolt. De Blasio did what New Yorkers do (I lived there for many years), they shout over you to get their point across, and they expect you to do the same to them to get your point across too! 

I swear, walking the streets of NYC, I’ve seen that exact scenario dozens and dozens of times. Two New Yorker’s, usually men - have a minor dispute over something, then yell at each other to get their point across. And then they’re both like, “Oh, cool, that’s your point. I understand it now.” 

And then they literally shake hands and are like, “We should grab a beer some time,” and walk away from each other.  

Lots of folks outside of NY are appalled by this kind of behavior. Especially if you’re from the passive aggressive Midwest. I think it’s kind of great, TBH. Get it out in the open and then move on. 

Anyway. That’s my take on De Blasio. He’s a typical New Yorker. He might actually do well against Trump. Can you imagine the debates between those two. Because I’m thinking -  Shouting. Match.

Alas, it’s really not going to be De Blasio. He might stick around for a bit but … nope. Not him.  

Moving on. Tulsi Gabbard and Cory Booker both came out fine, Booker probably more so. In fact, along with De Blasio, I expect both of them to be in the race for a while - until they all drop out and offer their full support for the obvious front runners - Warren, Sanders, Biden. 

Which brings me to the remaining two stand out stars of last nights “way too many candidates on stage” debate (that wasn’t a debate.)

The first, truly great stand out star: Julian Castro. As the kids these days say, Julian Castro - “killed it.” He was razor sharp on policy, he was razor sharp on social reform, he was a charismatic speaker, he was comfortable on stage and he was, as we all like to say - “presidential.” My opinion on this seems to be par for the course because Castro shot up on Google about 4000% and trended himself right to the top of the candidates list. 

But … honestly … it probably won’t matter. Because, the second stand out from last night was Elizabeth Warren. Warren just crushed everyone the first half of the “debate.” The second half she had much less speaking time and so other folks were able to step up more and “meh” the heck out over everyone watching.  

As sharp as Castro was on policy, social reform and being “presidential,” Warren has pretty much been doing exactly that for the last few months. And she continued to do it at last night’s debate.

I would love to see Castro right at the top with the three front runners and the other two popular candidates (Harris & Buttigieg) but I honestly don’t see any of them taking down Warren, Sanders or Biden. 

And, if that’s not enough Democratic candidate talk for you. Well, don’t worry! There are another ten candidates speaking tonight! And only two of them are named Sanders and Biden. You know, the obvious front runners. 

But, then again - you never know who will stand out and who will tank but I guess we’ll find out tonight. 

Published in Politics
Thursday, 16 May 2019 20:25

Don't blame student debt on capitalism

American college graduates are suffering financially under the weight of $1.5 trillion of student loan debt. The bulk of that debt stems from worrisome federal student loan practices and ballooning state tuition costs. Approximately 75 percent of college students attend a state university or college with tuition rates set by legislatures or state institutions. Over 85 percent of student loans are generated under the federal student loan program. In the past three decades, tuition at state colleges has increased by 313 percent.

Oddly, some seem to blame “capitalism” for the student loan predicament. Ray Dalio, billionaire investor, cited massive student debt loads in a recent article that made the case for reforming capitalism. Presidential Candidate John Hickenlooper penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal boldly proclaiming he is running for president to save capitalism. The very first point in his argument is that (public) high school education doesn’t provide adequate training for the modern economy. Anecdotally, we have heard the federal student loan predicament conflated with capitalism.

The Hardship Is Real

The pain of student debt is real. Sadly, there are many adults burdened by thousands of dollars in loan debt. Khalilah Beecham-Watkins, a first-generation college student and young mom, is one of many who feels as if they’re a prisoner to student loan debt. Khalilah has been working to pay down her $80,000 debt while helping her husband tackle his own loan obligations. In an interview last year, she said, “I feel like I’m drowning.”

As is well-reported, many young adults feel like Khalilah. In the United States, the average student loan debt is more than $37,000. As unsettling as that figure is, some graduates face even higher debt loads. About five percent of degree earners have student loan debt totaling $100,000 or more. Stories like Khalilah’s need to be told so that students don’t flippantly take on crushing debt without recognizing the gravity of such a decision.

This significant debt load is exacerbated by the fact that many graduates are finding it difficult to find well-paying jobs, which has spiraled into incredibly high rates of loan delinquency: More than one out of every 10 loan recipients is unable to keep up with payments. The Brookings Institute estimates that nearly 40 percent of borrowers will default by 2023. These are sobering statistics, and it’s important that borrowers be fully aware of the risks and benefits associated with debt of all kinds, including student loans.

The Benefits of Investing in a College Degree

Despite the burden that comes with debt, there are undeniable long-term benefits to earning a degree. In our skills-based economy, it is no surprise that a person with a bachelor’s degree will earn significantly more than a person with only a high school diploma. It has been estimated that a bachelor’s degree increases a person’s average lifetime earnings by $2.8 million.

And the more degrees someone holds, the more their earning potential increases. Studies indicate that earning a graduate degree could triple a person’s expected income. But in the near-term, the financial stress of loan delinquency, deferred consumption, and lower net worth is real.

While the buck ultimately stops with each of us when it comes to our own financial decisions, the student loan quagmire is chiefly the product of federal policy. Federal laws prohibiting sound commercial lending practices and states setting tuition rates high enough to guarantee they’re able to absorb all the federal money they can are complicit in this widespread problem.

Bad Diagnoses Lead to Bad Prescriptions

Rather than addressing the underlying problems of federal financial aid and rising public college tuition, politicians like Senators Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders are offering politically expedient ideas. Sen. Warren proposes debt cancellation of up to $50,000 to more than 42 million people.

Sen. Warren’s plan would eliminate debt for 75% of borrowers with student loans, and federal funding to ensure students attend state college for free. But nothing in life is free. Warren’s sleight-of-hand doesn’t make existing debt or future tuition magically disappear. Rather those costs are passed on to taxpayers. And since college graduates earn roughly twice as much as high school graduates and can expect to be in higher tax brackets, guess who would be paying the taxes for Sen. Warren’s plan.

Why Federal Loans Are Not Like Commercial Loans

To understand the federal student loan mess, it is necessary to understand some details about the loans that are at the center of the issue. The federal government provides a few types of loans, but the largest share of student debt comes from subsidized and unsubsidized federal loans.

In the case of a subsidized loan, the Department of Education pays the interest on the loan while the student is in school and for six months thereafter. A student can qualify for this type of loan whether or not they are creditworthy or have the ability to repay the loan.

In typical commercial lending, a bank would not offer a loan to an individual who didn’t hold a reasonable promise of being able and willing to repay it. This harkens back to 2008 when the US housing market collapsed because of irresponsible lending practices and the belief that everyone—no matter their financial situation—should own a home. It should be no surprise, then, that some economists predict a similar implosion of the student loan market. In other contexts, this would be called predatory lending.

The State’s Role in Tuition Inflation

The second contributor to these financial aid troubles is ballooning state college tuition rates. State legislatures and state institutions set public college rates, so these state officials should be held accountable to provide lower-cost alternatives. One lower-cost alternative to traditional on-campus programs would be to offer a basic skills-based college curriculum online at-cost, i.e., based on the marginal cost of providing downloadable lecture videos and similar programming.

While the total cost to a student of an online degree currently tends to be less than a traditional degree, the tuition is often the same. By offering video of select classes, schools could unlock the value of their existing educational resources and expand access to more students. However, state schools are largely immune from market discipline, which encourages cost-cutting and leveraging economies of scale. Instead of reducing operating costs and tuition prices, state schools soak up the flow of federal loan dollars.

On the finance side, state universities could offer their own alternative to federal student loans. Take, for instance, the market-oriented model of Purdue University and offer income sharing agreements (ISAs). Income sharing agreements allow consumers to pay off a debt by sharing a portion of the student’s income with the lender for a set number of years. Instead of a loan, ISAs allow investors to take “equity” in a student’s future earnings for a period of time.

The problem with the financial aid predicament is that market discipline has been eliminated from state college education and federal financial aid. Public colleges aren’t going to be privatized and run like for-profit businesses any time soon. However, by applying market-based innovations and lessons from the private sector to state colleges, it may be possible to expand access to state college, offer alternative financing arrangements (like income sharing agreements), and reduce the cost of college through technology and economies of scale.

 

Doug McCullough is Director of Lone Star Policy Institute. Brooke Medina is communications director at Civitas Institute in NC. Their opinions are their own. This article originally appeared on fee.org. Reptrinted in full, with permission. 

 

 

 

 

Published in Opinion

There is new hope that states with adult-use and medical marijuana laws on the books and states considering legalization or decriminalization will finally be able to stop worrying about the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) commandeering their police officers and sheriff’s deputies to enforce federal marijuana prohibition. A bipartisan group of United States’ Senators and Representatives introduced the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Entrusting States (STATES) Act on Thursday. It’s intent is to allow states to determine what marijuana laws are right for them.

Diff’rent Strokes for Diff’rent Folks

Republican Cory Gardner of Colorado and Democrat Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts introduced the bill in the Senate. Republican David Joyce of Ohio and Democrat Earl Blumenauer of Oregon are co-sponsors of the bill they introduced in the House of Representatives. Upon introduction of the bill, its creators emphasized that their legislation would not make marijuana legal throughout the country – as if the name of the bill and its acronym weren’t revealing enough.

The bill’s bipartisan group of writers wants everyone to know the STATES Act is a states’ rights bill and not a legalize marijuana bill for obvious reasons – the biggest being that legislation ending federal marijuana prohibition would never pass Congress let alone get the support of Donald Trump, who said he’ll “probably” back the bill. But any legislation even misrepresented as a marijuana legalization bill would do lasting damage to the cannabis movement that has seen economies, government budgets, infrastructure and education improve while crime, opioid overdoses, suicides and healthcare costs decrease in states with adult-use or medical marijuana laws.

STATES Act’s States’ Rights Focus Leaves Conservatives Little Wiggle Room

With the STATES Act, it will be nigh impossible for Conservatives to justify their opposition of the bill by calling it an endorsement of drug use. Politicians representing states that border states with adult-use or medical marijuana laws could claim the bill would only stretch their law enforcement and judicial budgets even thinner, but they couldn’t misrepresent the legislation to their constituents as an attempt to legalize marijuana. They could even request additional federal funding to address the increased law enforcement and judicial workload they anticipate, but they couldn’t vote “no” with the excuse of “I’m not about to legalize marijuana.” I mean, they could say that in their defense, but not without subjecting themselves to ridicule.

STATES Act’s States’ Rights Focus Appeals to Public Majority

Another reason the bipartisan crafters of the STATES Act are making cannabis a states’ rights issue is because it appeals to a majority of the public. A Gallup poll conducted in June 2016 found that 55 percent of Americans prefer government power to be concentrated at the state level instead of the federal level, and Republicans are are four times as likely to support state power.

Giving more power to the states appeals to Republicans, Libertarians and even some Democrats. Hell, I’m a Socialist, and I support small government because I know Socialism, like all forms of governing, works most effectively and efficiently in people’s behalf when the number of people it governs is small and when that population is concentrated in a governable geographic area. Why? The answer was provided by the late Alan Thicke back in 1978: “Now, the world don't move to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you, may not be right for some.”

Those are, of course, the opening lyrics to the “Diff’rent Strokes” theme song, and a more true statement could not be uttered let alone sung. The United States is a vast country that spans the spectrum of both geography and demography, which makes it difficult to govern. Americans experience such differing circumstances that what might be right for you, may not be right for some. Hell, in my home state of Montana you can drive eight hours and never leave the state, but the geography and the people change immensely. What works in the West probably won’t work in the East and vice versa. Marijuana legalization might be right for Californians, but it may not be right for Nebraskans. The STATES Act would allow states to choose what cannabis laws work best for their residents.

STATES Act Not the First, Hopefully the Last of its Kind

This isn’t the first time a bipartisan bill has been introduced to strengthen states’ rights to adopt and enforce marijuana laws as they see fit. I was on Capitol Hill as a student lobbyist for Students for Sensible Drug Policy five years ago when H.R. 1523, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2013, was before the 113th Congress. It too sought to allow states to decide the legality of adult-use and medical marijuana by altering the Controlled Substances Act to exclude persons acting in compliance with state marijuana laws.

We felt way back then that this would be our path to ending federal marijuana prohibition, and while we weren’t going to get federal legalization, it was a compromise we were willing to make to appeal to Conservatives and get the legislation passed. I left the reception held after our lobby day filled with hope after hearing Democratic Congressman from Colorado Jared Polis and famed Conservative Grover Norquist agreeing that cannabis was an issue for states to decide by and for their respective residents.

According to Congress.gov, that bill is still before Congress, lost and forgotten by the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations since April 30, 2013. It has 28 cosponsors in the House, six of which are Republicans. The House version of the STATES Act already has 14 cosponsors in the House plus the two Representatives who assisted in drafting the bill. Eight are Republicans, so the new bipartisan bill is already appealing to more Conservatives than H.R. 1523.

STATES Act Lets States Decide Cannabis Laws Right for Them

This bipartisan group has high hopes for the STATES Act given what’s occurred since H.R. 1523 was introduced. The STATES Act does what H.R. 1523 would have. It amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude persons acting in compliance with state and tribal marijuana laws. But it doesn’t eliminate all federal oversight. Distribution of cannabis at transportation facilities and rest stops would remain federally illegal and enforced. The STATES Act does a lot more than allow states to determine their own marijuana laws, though. It also addresses some of the issues that have resulted from states legalizing adult-use or medical marijuana, which should appeal to both sides of the aisle.

STATES Act Legalizes Hemp

Back in 2011, I wrote that cannabis would be America’s best cash crop ever – even bigger than tobacco. Marijuana consumption has already far surpassed my expectations upon its legalization for adult- and medical-use, but industrial hemp is what’s going to make cannabis America’s best cash crop ever. It grows like a weed if you’ll forgive the pun, and can be used for virtually anything. It’s a stronger fiber than cotton and can be used to make textiles that last longer so our clothes don’t fall apart in the wash. It will make stronger rope, hopefully saving mountain and rock climbers’ lives, and cowboys, cowgirls and sailors headaches. Hemp seeds are also rich in fatty acids, protein, fiber and other important nutrients. Hemp can even be used as fuel, which ExxonMobil will no doubt exploit given its investment into biofuels. All that algae research ended up being nothing more than a good PR campaign because hemp is a much less intensive biofuel to produce than algae. You can even build a house out of something called hempcrete, and cannabis can also relieve your pain without getting you high. That’s right, cannabidiol, better known as CBD, has been proven to have pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety properties without the psychoactive effects of THC. So cannabis can clothe you, feed you, shelter you, transport you and your things, relieve your pain, and even save your life while creating jobs and improving our environment by oxygenating the air. Along with solar and wind energy industries, industrial hemp will be one of the biggest contributors to the health of America’s economy and environment for years to come.

STATES Act Makes Marijuana Transactions Federally Legal, Finally

The STATES Act would make cannabis transactions legal, allowing cannabis providers to take methods of payment besides cash and store that money in a bank. Cannabis providers have had a justifiable fear of depositing their profits in federal banks subject to federal law. The federal government could seize those assets like they seize vehicles used to traffic drugs. No criminal charges need to be brought against the cannabis providers for them to lose their money either, as asset forfeiture is a civil action, not criminal.

Since its legalization in Colorado, many cannabis providers have hired motorcycle couriers to pickup and deliver literal saddlebags of money to be deposited in a safe somewhere. One California dispensary owner reportedly delivers $40,000 in cash in the trunk of his car every month simply to pay his taxes. The STATES Act would make those trips a thing of the past and likely result in fewer instances of theft.

So is 2018 finally the year federal marijuana prohibition ends? Some people think so, but ultra-Conservatives could get in the way, just as they did on a cannabis bill for veterans just last week. The STATES Act probably won’t have many supporters from the religious right, which will be its biggest obstacle to overcome. But now more than ever before, Senators and Representatives on both sides of the aisle are going to be more willing to consider the end of federal marijuana prohibition given what we’ve all learned from the experimentation spearheaded by states. Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia could all adopt medical marijuana laws this year, and if that doesn’t surprise you consider where we were five years ago, when Maryland relaxing criminal penalties for seriously ill people using marijuana was considered a win for cannabis advocates.

Your Senators and Representatives are not experts on cannabis and need you to inform them on the issue, so here’s a guide on how to do so most effectively. You’ll want to appeal to the humanity in them. Politicians are not cold robots. When they hear a story about someone using cannabis to treat their chronic back pain that otherwise would keep them bedridden, they can probably relate to that. They especially want to know if cannabis helped you kick your opioid addiction. They have friends and family struggling with the same problems with which the rest of us struggle, so speak or write from the heart. The facts will only bore them to the point they tune you out.


If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Cannabis A to Z

Published in U.S.