Donald Trump’s executive order he declared killed Obamacare hasn’t actually changed any laws, but if Trump cuts subsidies paid to health insurance companies like he proposed, it would increase premiums for middle-class Americans and increase the federal deficit by $194 billion over the next decade, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
The $19.4 billion that would be added to the federal deficit annually on average is $12.4 billion more than the government is currently paying to subsidize health insurance discounts for low-income Americans. That $7 billion the federal government pays in annual subsidies to cover the discounts insurers are required to offer under the Affordable Care Act insures helps about 7 million Americans afford health insurance.
Since insurers are required to offer those discounts by law, that $7 billion in lost income (and any in lost premiums due to more Americans choosing to go uninsured) will fall on the backs of middle-class Americans who don’t receive insurance through their employers. Individuals making around $48,000 or a family of four earning almost $100,000 annually are expected to see their premiums increase 20 percent next year.
While Senators came to a bipartisan agreement to float Obamacare for the next two years, Trump said he opposes any measure that “bails out” health insurance companies. But if Trump is so concerned about the $7 billion paid annually to health insurance companies to make health insurance more affordable for low-income Americans, what about the $92 billion the government spends on corporate welfare, according to research by the Libertarian Cato Institute done in 2006? The federal government spends $6.18 billion more subsidizing Boeing aircraft production than it does to make health insurance more affordable to low-income Americans.
While Donald Trump’s executive order he claimed killed Obamacare hasn’t actually changed any laws, it could eventually allow associations to skirt state rules so employers can provide employees health insurance that covers next to nothing.
Under the new executive order, an association of businesses offering similar products or services could choose which state’s marketplace they want to use to provide health insurance to all the association’s employees -- regardless of location. The association could and likely would pick a state offering the cheapest option providing the fewest benefits for its employees, resulting in less money paid in premiums and, therefore, higher premiums for individuals and families who don’t get insurance through their employer.
These associations would be considered large employers, which aren’t subject to the same rules as individual or small group plans under the Affordable Care Act. They are not required to cover all the ACA’s essential health benefits nor are they required to offer insurance that covers a minimal percentage of their employees’ medical bills. This puts the bulk of the medical risk and expense burden on the employee instead of the insurance company while also lowering expenses for employers. This will also result in individuals and families picking up more of the tab when it comes to premiums paid.
The executive order also expands short-term insurance plans, which were designed for people temporarily out of work for a limited amount of time. Like insurance plans for large businesses, these insurance plans are not required to meet ACA regulations of providing essential health benefits, not charging sick people more than healthy people for health insurance or denying people insurance based on preexisting conditions or medical history.
The executive order will lift the burden of insurance premiums off the shoulders of businesses and onto the shoulders of individuals and families, which will result in more under- and uninsured Americans and higher premiums.
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You can bet that, when reviewing smartphones, Consumer Reports magazine appears to have a blind spot towards Samsung; maybe a few blind spots. How so? Well, I’ll get to that shortly.
Now on the surface, CR ought to be the perfect review source. Unlike most other publications, online or print, it actually buys tested products from retail stores. That includes luxury cars costing over $100,000 if need be. So, in that area at least, it should be incorruptible. Compare that to regular publications that contain reviews, most of which receive free samples from the manufacturers.
Indeed, when I announced recently that Vizio sent me a 4K TV for review — with no preconditions as to how I rate the product — I got a comment from a reader suggesting that my article would somehow be tainted. But I’ve been reviewing tech gear received on that basis for over two decades, and it’s definitely not a factor. Never has been.
But even if there’s a tiny bit of suspicion on the part of some people that product reviews might be slanted if those products are sent free of charge, I am not surprised that CR gets high credibility. So there’s a story from Seoul, South Korea touting the fact that, “Samsung’s Galaxy S8 tops U.S. consumer review.”
South Korea? But isn’t CR an American magazine? Yes, so this story no doubt originated from Samsung, even though a manufacturer is theoretically prohibited from quoting a CR review. So the article mentions the conclusion, not the contents, so even if it was originated from Samsung, the company is off the hook.
According to the latest CR report about smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus gained top ratings by CR. Number three, peculiarly, was last year’s Galaxy S7. Really. So where did the iPhone 8 end up? According to CR, fourth and fifth. Number six was the Galaxy Note 8.
I decided to take a look at the factors that put the iPhones below three Samsungs, including one of last year’s models. Let’s just say it didn’t make a whole lot of sense in the scheme of things, but I’ve had these issues before with CR.
Take, for example, the Galaxy S8 versus the iPhone 8. The former is rated 81, the latter is rated 80. So despite the implications of the article from that South Korean publication, the scores are extraordinary close. A minor issue here, another minor issue there, and the results might have been reversed.
But what is it that makes the Samsung ever-so-slightly superior to the iPhone? Unfortunately, the two reviews aren’t altogether clear on that score. So on the basis of 11 performance categories in which the two phones are rated, the iPhone 8 has six excellent ratings, four very goods, and one good. So in theory the Samsung should have scored better in these categories. However, it has four excellent and seven very goods.
From my point of view, the Apple ought to rate better. More excellent ratings, right? But there is a Good rating for battery life, whereas the Samsung rates as Excellent. Evidently that factor must supplant all other considerations and award the Samsung with a higher total. Curiously, the longer battery life of the iPhone 8 Plus evidently didn’t merit a rating higher than Good either.
But there’s more. It turns out that the iPhone is far more resilient to damage than the Galaxy S8. According to CR, the iPhone “survived the water dunk test and our tough 100 drops in the tumbler with just some minor scratches.”
Evidently, being a rugged mobile handset doesn’t count for very much, because the qualitative ratings don’t include that factor. So the Galaxy S8, according to CR, doesn’t fare nearly as well. The report states, “The screen is rather fragile. After 50 rotations in the tumbler, our experts rated it only fair. The display was badly broken and not working. For this phone, a protective case is a must have.”
What does that say to you? It says to me that the Galaxy S8 should have been seriously downgraded because it’s very fragile; users are forced to buy extra protection for normal use and service. Smartphones are routinely dropped or knocked against things.
To me, it’s barely acceptable. To CR, ruggedness doesn’t matter.
Nor does the reliability of a smartphone’s biometrics count, evidently. As most of you know, the Galaxy S8 and its big brother, the S8 Plus, have three biometric systems. The fingerprint sensor, located at the rear, is an awkward reach. You are at risk of smudging the camera lenses instead. Both the facial recognition and iris sensors aren’t terribly secure. Both can be defeated by digital photographs.
In short, you have a breakable smartphone with two biometric features of questionable quality being judged superior to another smartphone that’s rugged and has a reliable fingerprint sensor. But maybe it has somewhat shorter battery life than the competition. In other words, CR seems to regard battery life above other important factors, but how ratings are weighted, and why potential breakability is not considered, is just not mentioned.
But since CR buys the products it reviews, the serious flaws in its review methods aren’t important. The media that continues to quote the magazine’s ratings without critical comment aren’t helping to encourage CR to change its ways.
And please don’t get me started about the curious way in which it rates the battery life of notebook computers.
Gene Steinberg is a guest contributor to GCN news. His views and opinions, if expressed, are his own. Gene hosts The Tech Night Owl LIVE - broadcast on Saturday from 9:00pm - Midnight (CST), and The Paracast - broadcast on Sunday from 3:00am - 6:00am (CST). Both shows nationally syndicated through GCNlive. Gene’s Tech Night Owl Newsletter is a weekly information service of Making The Impossible, Inc. -- Copyright © 1999-2017. Click here to subscribe to Tech Night Owl Newsletter. This article was originally published at Technightowl.com -- reprinted with permission.
“If Hillary Clinton is not brought to justice, then America is doomed.” -Live feed
The above statement may sound over the top or extreme in many different ways, yet it is true.
History teaches us just that. Ask countries in the past who refused to bring corrupt politicians to justice and you will discover, without fail, that they were destroyed. If you leave corrupt politicians to do what they will, without suffering the consequences of breaking the laws (I John 3:4), you will simply add strength to tyranny.
To put it into perspective, look at what President Thomas Jefferson stated:
"The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first."
Taking it to the present, we recently heard Newt Gingrich say that the way to resolve the problem of corruption is to “Start putting a few people in jail, you’ll see the leaks dry up dramatically (Isaiah 56).”
Clearly, Scripture teaches us in Isaiah 26:9 that “…when Thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” Also read Isaiah 51:4.
Yet, Americans fail to do so, and what they do is draw the seat of violence nigh unto themselves.
“Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near.” -Amos 6:3
Furthermore, it is inscribed on government buildings throughout America in stone. On one, Moses holds the two tablets of the Law (Exodus 20) with the inscription:
“Justice the Guardian of Liberty”
The reason this is happening is because the American Church (78% claim to be Christians -1 John 2:4) has been taught by the hirelings (John 10:12), who occupy the pulpits in this country, that they have no business in judging right from wrong. How ridiculous!
Maybe they should try that next time they break speeding laws. Just rip up the ticket, throw it at the police officer’s feet, and tell him “Who are you to judge me?” See how far that gets them!
I say, “Twist not Scripture, lest you be like Satan.”
It amazes me how Americans give a pass to corruption as if to suggest that the politicians are above the law.
“…they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause…” (Jeremiah 5:28)
Didn’t the representatives of “We the People” put their hand on the Bible swearing to uphold the laws found in our Constitution? YES THEY DID!
“They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause...” (Jeremiah 5:28)
This was Jeremiah preaching to a people that fell under the judgments of God.
America, 8 months ago a new president was sworn in. If you remember, for a long period of time on the campaign trail, you were promised that he was to bring forth a “special prosecutor” to deal with “Crooked Hilary.” Donald Trump at this point has done nothing, worse yet he told Americans that, “We owe her a major debt of gratitude.” That’s the opposite of what he promised to do (Matthew 23:3).
Judicial Watch recently reported the following:
A Judge Forces the State Department to Open Up on Clinton Emails
This week United States District Judge James E. Boasberg ruled that the Department of State must make public a FBI declaration detailing its efforts to retrieve the former secretary of state’s government emails (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Rex Tillerson (No. 1:15-cv-00785).
Statement regarding the decision:
We’re happy with the ruling, but it is unbelievable we’re being opposed by Trump appointees in the State and Justice Departments on the Clinton email issue. President Trump ought to be outraged his appointees are protecting Hillary Clinton. The State Department should initiate action with the Justice Department – and both agencies should finally take the necessary steps to recover all the government emails Hillary Clinton unlawfully removed.
Here is the background.
On April 30, 2015, we sued former Secretary John Kerry after the State Department failed to take action on a letter we sent to Kerry “notifying him of the unlawful removal of the Clinton emails and requesting that he initiate enforcement action pursuant to the [Federal Records Act],” including working through the Attorney General to recover the emails.
After initially being dismissed by the district court, our lawsuit was revived on appeal by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on December 27, 2016. The Federal Records Act states that an agency head “shall” initiate an action through the Attorney General when he becomes aware of any unlawful removal of agency records.
While at the State Department, Clinton conducted official government business using an unsecure email server and email accounts. Her top aides and advisors also used non-“state.gov” email accounts to conduct official business.
The Trump administration defended the handling of the email matter by the Obama administration and filed two declarations from the FBI trying to justify the State Department’s refusal to follow the law and refer to the Clinton email issue to the Justice Department.
As the decision notes, the second FBI declaration is non-public and was filed in camera and ex parte with the court. Judge Boasburg rejected the State Department’s arguments that the FBI declaration be withheld to protect grand jury secrecy: “After reviewing the document in camera, the Court concludes it largely rehashes information already made public, thus obviating any need for secrecy.”
Meantime, transcripts reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee reveal that former FBI Director James Comey began drafting an exoneration statement in the Clinton email investigation before the FBI had interviewed key witnesses.
Chairman Chuck Grassley and Senator Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, requested all records relating to the drafting of the statement as the committee continues to review the circumstances surrounding Comey’s removal from the Bureau.
The senators wrote to the FBI: “Conclusion first, fact-gathering second—that’s no way to run an investigation. The FBI should be held to a higher standard than that, especially in a matter of such great public interest and controversy.”
And so should a president be held to his promises to a people that entrusted him to represent them in the first place.
Remember, "The people of these United States are the rightful masters of both congresses and courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert that Constitution," according to the Preamble to the US Constitution. Amen!
Bradlee Dean is a guest contributor to GCN news. His views and opinions, if expressed, are his own and do not reflect the views and opinions of the Genesis Communication Network. Bradlee's radio program, The Sons of Liberty broadcasts live M - Sat here at GCN.