Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Democrat Outrage Over GOP Tax Cuts Unfounded, Immoral

Government redistribution of wealth isn't charity, and tax cuts won't make Americans less generous

The progressive Democrat outrage over the recently signed Republican tax reform law provides both a fascinating insight into the minds of leftists and a unique opportunity to discuss taxes and spending from a moral standpoint.

Democrats are clearly infuriated at the idea that the federal government will now be prevented from confiscating quite as much of the earnings of tens of millions of Americans as it did last year. In a bizarre twist of logic, Democrats see tax cuts as greedy American citizens stealing from government. That is evidenced in their rhetoric, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi calling the tax cuts “Armageddon,” and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accusing Republicans of “giv[ing] the richest few a bigger piece of the pie.”

Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) called it a “looting of the federal treasury,” at least before conceding to CNN’s Jake Tapper that 91% of the middle class he claims to champion will, in fact, benefit from the Republican tax cuts, and then blaming Republicans for not making the cuts permanent. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) brilliantly trolled Sanders on Twitter, inviting him to co-sponsor legislation doing just that.

The common thread in the government-loving leftist narrative is that government has a right to whatever portion of our earnings it deems necessary to achieve its ends, with taxpayers as slaves whose labor provides the necessary funding.

Democrats have hijacked and distorted language and turned it on its face, accusing workers who want to keep more of their money to provide for their families of being “greedy,” while painting government, which takes our earnings by force to give to those who have not earned it, as altruistic. Harvard economist Thomas Sowell captures the essence of this looking-glass logic, stating, “I have never understood why it is ‘greed’ to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.”

As to the why of the progressive Democrat pursuit of what renowned economist Frederic Bastiat called “legal plunder,” well, that is a logical political calculation on their part, and it comes down to raw power. For, as socialist playwright George Bernard Shaw smugly noted, “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend upon the support of Paul.” Democrats seek to steal greater amounts from a shrinking number of workers, with the clear knowledge that voters benefitting from the redistribution of those ill-gotten gains will keep them in power.

Democrats claim to be horrified at the thought that tax cuts will (allegedly) increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years (as if keeping money in private hands, rather than ever-expanding government spending, is the problem). Yet an astute observer would note these same Democrats happily ran up the deficit during the Barack Obama years, resulting in $10 trillion in new debt.

Tax cuts are good policy. As liberal icon John F. Kennedy declared in 1962, in calling for significant cuts to the corporate and personal income tax rates, “In short, it is a paradoxical truth that … the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now.”

Tax cuts are also morally sound, allowing free men and women to provide for the care of their families, rather than be rendered serfs on a government master’s plantation, retaining just enough of the fruits of their labor to maintain subsistence.

And while leftists claim taxes need to be higher so the so-called “rich” can pay their “fair share,” let’s remind them they can voluntarily donate more of their money to government if they wish. That is, unless they wish to admit their philosophy is not about caring for the needy, but about cultivating envy and justifying theft.

Thus, speaking of benevolence with money, another fear regarding the impact of tax cuts is that, with the standard deductions and child tax credits doubling, it will drastically reduce the number of people who itemize and, therefore, reduce the number of people who give to charity.

Such a thought shows a misunderstanding of the nature of charity, which is a voluntary, individual act (by definition, government cannot be charitable, because it uses force). The American people are empirically the most generous people on Earth, giving twice as much in personal charity as the next closest country, Canada.

People give to charity not for tax breaks (which would be silly; the taxes saved are far less than the amount given to charity), but out of a sincere desire to help their fellow man. Last year alone, individual Americans donated nearly $300 billion to charity, nearly three times more than was donated by foundations and corporations.

The reality is that with more money in their own pockets, there will be more available for Americans to donate to charity. Multiple studies show the more conservative and religious a person is, the more they donate to charity, both in hard dollars and as a percentage of income. (Perhaps that’s tied with the way leftists think about taxes and deductions.) There is no reason to think the tax cuts will do anything but encourage even greater charitable giving, since those who were previously barely making ends meet may now have the means, and the desire, to share.

And voluntary sharing is a very good thing. Government redistribution is not.



Trump Rule Aims to Extend Health Care Option to 11 Million Uninsured

Small businesses and sole proprietors will be able to band together under a new federal rule to create employee health plans that would expand coverage options for 11 million uninsured Americans, senior Trump administration officials said.

The Labor Department rule allowing “association health plans,” placed Thursday in the Federal Register, builds on an executive order by President Donald Trump from October.

One senior Trump administration official said during a background briefing Wednesday that the association health plans will “level the playing field” between small businesses and large corporations and provide “more health care for more people at a lower cost.”

Currently, 8 million Americans employed by small businesses and another 3 million sole proprietors, who do business without employees, don’t have access to a group health insurance plan.

Entry on the Federal Register opens a 60-day public comment period, and the rule could be implemented as early as summer, officials said.

“The main objective of this effort is to expand choices for people who do not yet have insurance and [create] more options for employers and employees to take advantage of,” Robert Moffit, a senior fellow in health policy studies at The Heritage Foundation and a former assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, told The Daily Signal.

In theory, individual small businesses without many employees could band together—in some cases across state lines—to create a health insurance plan covering a combined, large pool of employees, not unlike that of a health plan run by a big company with its own large pool of employees.

Such association members must have a “commonality,” which could be based on region or industry, senior administration officials said on background.

For example, companies in a specific state could band together for a plan. Already, industry groups such as the National Association of Restaurants and the National Homebuilders Association have expressed support for the concept.

While association plans are targeted for small businesses, a larger corporation could join one. However, these companies already have existing plans, so there would be less incentive to do so, the senior administration officials said.

Conceptually, the association health plans would be comparable to certain union-sponsored plans, such as that of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, in which an individual entrepreneur may buy into a larger health insurance plan, officials said.

Administration officials who briefed state leaders on the idea described them as “cautious but not antagonistic” and “intrigued.”

States will be free to regulate to ensure the solvency of the plans.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, the health insurance lobby, has warned that such plans could be prone to fraud without state oversight.

“For example, between 2000 and 2002, insurance scams through associations left more than 200,000 policyholders with unpaid medical bills totaling $252 million,” a research brief from the organization says.

However, Moffit contends this is not alone a reason to oppose the plans.

“That’s a matter of how they are governed,” Moffit said. “Medicaid is prone to fraud. Nobody is saying we should ban Medicaid. If that’s a reason for opposition, you could apply such a rationale across the board to welfare programs and food stamps.”

Participating companies will be required to have a role in governing the health plans, senior administration officials said.

Another potential point for opponents is that fewer people who are uninsured will turn to the existing insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

This could drive up the cost of the exchange plans, because they would have fewer participants. But Trump administration officials contend their plan will increase consumer options.

The rule will go into place administratively under an existing law, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, known as ERISA.

When signing the executive order Oct. 12, Trump predicted:

Insurance companies will be fighting to get every single person signed up, and you will be hopefully negotiating, negotiating, negotiating, and you’ll get such low prices for such great care.

Trump’s executive order primarily does three things:

—Allows more small businesses to form associations to buy insurance plans, with the goal of creating more competition and expanding options across state lines.

—Reviews establishment of “short-term limited duration insurance,” which would not be subject to Obamacare’s expensive and comprehensive coverage regulations.

—Makes it easier for businesses to offer health reimbursement accounts, allowing more employees of small businesses to get coverage through work.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who had opposed other administration-backed health care plans, said at the signing ceremony that the Trump executive order was “the biggest free-market reform of health care in a generation.”

Paul added that the reform, “if it works and goes as planned, will allow millions of people to get insurance across state lines at an inexpensive price.”

In a Facebook post Thursday morning, Paul said he “applauds” the new rule allowing association health plans as described in the original version of this article:



The Obama legacy: Health Insurance Premiums Rising as High as 265% in Virginia This Year

Health insurance premiums in Virginia’s individual marketplace are set to rise as high as 265 percent in this new year.

According to the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s Affordable Care Act filing data, the maximum allowable premium hike for Optima Health Plan customers is 265.5 percent, which represents the largest increases in the Virginia individual market next year. Some Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company health plans on the individual market are set to rise 168.6 percent in 2018.

Thee Virginia State Corporation Commission explained that the sharp increases are legal in the state because they follow “federal uniform modification guidelines.” Insurance companies such as CareFirst provided reasons for the rate changes such as the “age factor.”



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