Why Is Congress Declaring War on Seniors?

Why Is Congress Declaring War on Seniors?

Progressives in Congress are planning to spend an additional $1,000 per enrollee on beneficiaries in traditional Medicare, but spend no additional money on Medicare Advantage enrollees. In economic terms, the flip side of a subsidy is a penalty. If you give a subsidy to people who make one choice, you are effectively imposing a cost on everyone who makes a different choice. In this case, the Democrats’ proposal does more than tilt the playing field. It makes seniors worse off whenever they switch from one system to the other.

Why Americans Are Not Anxious To Get Back To Work

Why Americans Are Not Anxious To Get Back To Work

There are 5 million fewer people employed today than before the Covid epidemic struck and 7.7 million of those out of work are officially counted as unemployed. What’s going wrong? Federal policies are making it increasingly attractive not to work.

Social Security Debt up $6.8T

Social Security Debt up $6.8T

The Social Security Trustees have released their annual report on the system’s finances. The news is awful. Social Security’s unfunded liability is an enormous $59.8 trillion. That’s over 2.5 times the size of the U.S. economy. Even more disturbing is the change since last year’s report. The system’s unfunded liability grew by $6.8 trillion. In other words, while Congress has been arguing over whether we can afford $3.5T in new spending, the debt we are leaving to our children grew by almost twice that amount without Congress lifting a finger.

But unlike the change in official debt, Social Security’s deficits are carefully kept off the books — for political, not economic reasons. Consequently, not a single media outlet we know of has reported these numbers

Goodman: Why we are Divided

Goodman: Why we are Divided

The liberal media is panicking over the prospect of Larry Elder becoming governor of California. An editorial in the New York Times by Farhad Manjoo, for example, declares the Elder candidacy a “looming disaster,” a “liberal nightmare” and a possibility that is “as serious as a heart attack.” For Times editorial writer Paul Krugman, the possibility is even more frightening. Elder, he says, would be a “Trumpist governor” whose election would produce “awesome consequences” – all bad, of course.

The Politics of Health

The Politics of Health

In almost all recent polling, voters say health care is their number one concern.They also trust Democrats more than Republicans on the issue. But why?

Obamacare is the most flawed health system Americans ever created. If you combine the average premium and the average deductible people faced last year, a family of four with Obamacare insurance had to spend $25,000 before getting any benefits from their Obamacare plan. And in most places, the best doctors and the best hospitals are not included in Obamacare plan’s narrow networks.

The Politics of Health

Goodman: How the Right Should Talk about Health Care

Why do Democrats do so much better than their Republican rivals when voters think about health care? Because Democrats are much better at following five rules for how successful candidates should talk about the subject.

The $3.5T Spending Mistake

The $3.5T Spending Mistake

Congressional Democrats are proposing to spend an enormous amount of taxpayer dollars on what the New York Times calls a “cradle to the grave” addition to U.S. social welfare. When budgeting shenanigans are ignored, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that the full cost is not the $3.5 trillion that has been widely advertised, but at least $5.0 trillion and possibly as much as $5.5 trillion.

Congress v. Seniors

Congress v. Seniors

After years of advocating a level playing field, on which traditional Medicare competes against private Medicare Advantage plans, Democrats are now proposing to tilt the scales. They are proposing a hearing, vison and dental benefit for traditional Medicare, while stiffing the private plans. The proposal will make seniors worse off whenever they switch to or from a Medicare Advantage plan.

Is Congress a Den of Thieves?

Is Congress a Den of Thieves?

Robbing Peter to pay Paul is something almost all governments routinely do. And they have been doing it for years. If you haven’t seen a good argument for it, that’s because government theft is so fully ingrained in our way of life that no one thinks a justification is needed.

Kotlikoff: Government Debt is like a Ponzi Scheme

Kotlikoff: Government Debt is like a Ponzi Scheme

At the very time leftist politicians are proposing to finance their programs with mammoth deficit spending, leftist economists are giving them cover with the argument the country may never have to pay off the debt.

But Goodman Institute Senior Fellow and Boston University Economist, Professor Laurence Kotlikoff and his colleagues challenge this conclusion in two papers posted at the highly prestigious National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper site. Deficits used to finance current consumption “are like Ponzi schemes,” they say.”

Study: Inequality Greatly Exaggerated

Study: Inequality Greatly Exaggerated

Lifetime spending inequity is one-third of wealth inequality. The main reason: government taxes and transfers, which make the system far more “progressive than we are led to believe. In 2018, for example, the top 1 percent of taxpayers paid 40.1 percent of all federal income taxes. The top 10 percent paid 71.4 percent. The bottom half of the country paid less than 3 percent of all federal income taxes.

How to Reform Obamacare

How to Reform Obamacare

John Goodman was the first person to note that health plans would respond to Obamacare incentives by imposing high deductibles (three times what is normal for employer plans) and narrow networks (as bad or worse than under Medicaid). Along with Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff, he has now proposed simple, straightforward reforms to both problems in an editorial published in The Hill.

The Case for I Bonds

The Case for I Bonds

Right now, the interest rate adjusted for inflation on government securities is negative. Today’s yields on TIPS (Treasury Inflation Protected Securities) are minus 1.81 percent out five years and minus 0.21 percent out 30 years But Series I Saving Bonds issued by the US Treasury are offering a real rate of interest of zero fixed for 30 years. You can invest up to $10,000. You don’t receive interest until you cash in the bonds. And you don’t have to ay taxes on inflation-generated returns.

A Smarter and Fairer Student Loan Fix

A Smarter and Fairer Student Loan Fix

A far better, fairer and simpler student-loan reform is available. It lets students, as well as their parents, borrow at the government’s long-term Treasury bond rate. The current rate is 1.85 per cent. College students face a 2.75 per cent borrowing rate, graduate and professional students face a 4.30 per cent rate, and parents, who borrow to help finance their children’s education, face a 5.30 per cent rate. Hence, this proposal, which would permit federal and private loans to be refinanced federally at the prevailing 30-year rate, would substantially lower the cost of borrowing for higher education.

Joe Biden’s Tax Plan

Joe Biden’s Tax Plan

The long-run loss to the US capital stock is roughly 6 percent and the long-run decline in output is roughly 2 percent. We predict a roughly 2 percentage-point reduction in wages of US workers, with a larger reduction in the wages of high-skilled workers. Changes of this magnitude could significantly offset the micro gains to low-wage and middle-wage workers of Biden’s fiscal reforms. 

Kotlikoff and Mina on Home Testing for Covid

Kotlikoff and Mina on Home Testing for Covid

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Goodman Institute Senior Fellow Lawrence Kotlikoff and Harvard epidemiologist Michael Mina say the new point of care test developed by Abbott Labs is the right test at the right time.

Here is the disappointment. To conform with government regulations, this test has to be administered in the presence of a medical professional (such as a nurse). That means its value will be limited to schools, large companies, hospitals, etc. It won’t be useful for people who most need to be tested. We don’t insist on having a nurse present when a woman conducts her own pregnancy test. How is a Covid test any different?

What we really need are 150 million tests a day. In the home.

Kotlikoff:  We Are Not Saving Enough

Kotlikoff: We Are Not Saving Enough

On net, the U.S. is saving just 2.2 percent of our national income. By contrast, the nation’s saving rate was 7.6 percent in the 1980s, 10.3 percent in the 1970s, and 13.0 percent in the 1960s.

The main reason: government policies that take an ever-larger share of resources from young and give them to the old.

Unless baby boomers change their saving habits substantially and relatively quickly, they may experience much higher rates of poverty in their old age than what the current elderly are experiencing. More

Kotlikoff: Why is the FDA Harming our Kids?

Kotlikoff: Why is the FDA Harming our Kids?

Larry Kotlikoff says the FDA is foot dragging on approving vaccines for children, without any defensible reason. FDA-sanctioned adult vaccine trials began in March 2020. Given the crisis, safer and riskier adult-trial phases were run in parallel, with adolescent trials soon thereafter. But the FDA pushed a conservative approach for children, ostensibly to protect them. So pediatric trials were delayed until March 2021 — a full year beyond the start of adult trials. This delay has threatened every American child with long-term morbidity and even mortality. More.

When Customer Service Becomes Consumer Fraud

When Customer Service Becomes Consumer Fraud

Reasonable customer service is part and parcel of what one is purchasing from our increasingly small number of mammoth retail companies. But Laurence Kotlikoff writes, “Every so often I focus on what seems, from personal experience, to represent “customer support” bordering on consumer fraud.” Examples: AJ Madison, Anthropologie, and Apple.  

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Going Against the Grain

Going Against the Grain

In 1973, John Baden and Richard Stroup proposed selling off the U. S. Forest Service to private owners, some nonprofit and some for-profit. In an article in the Journal of Law and Economics, they argued that commercial timber would be better managed by private companies, and non-profit organizations like the Sierra Club could protect the important environmental areas.

Goodman and Saving: Budget Deal’s Trillion Dollar Surprise

Goodman and Saving: Budget Deal’s Trillion Dollar Surprise

The most significant federal entitlement reform in our lifetime was a little noticed provision that Democrats included in the Affordable Care Act. The provision was a cap on Medicare spending, similar to the cap Republicans proposed for Medicaid last summer.

Saving on CNBC: FED is holding 20% of federal debt

Saving on CNBC: FED is holding 20% of federal debt

The Federal Reserve System is holding 20% of the federal government’s publicly held debt. It also is holding a lot of bank reserves. For every dollar of required reserves, banks have deposited $12 at the FED.

Gramm and Saving in the Wall Street Journal: Fed Task is Precarious

Gramm and Saving in the Wall Street Journal: Fed Task is Precarious

The Fed balance sheet contains 20% of all publicly held federal debt and 34% of the value of all outstanding government-guaranteed mortgage-backed securities. As the economy returns to normal growth, getting rid of those assets risks runaway inflation or a crippled recovery or both.

Saving: Are Republicans Too Stingy with Medicaid?

Saving: Are Republicans Too Stingy with Medicaid?

Before the Senate voted on a “skinny” alternative to Obamacare, it was considering the House version of repeal and replace – called the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA).

Saving on CNBC: FED is holding 20% of federal debt

The Federal Reserve’s Accountability Deficit

The Federal Reserve enjoys extraordinary independence from the elected branches of government, based on the well-founded fear that politicians cannot be trusted with the power to print money and manipulate interest rates.

Tom Saving has a new book

Tom Saving has a new book

Tom Saving has a new book called A Century of Federal Reserve Monetary Policy: Issues and Implications for the Future.

Gramm and Saving in the WSJ: The Fed has lost its ability to control interest rates

Gramm and Saving in the WSJ: The Fed has lost its ability to control interest rates

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, former Sen. Phil Gramm and Goodman institute Senior Fellow Thomas Saving write “Never in the Fed’s 105-year history has it had less control over market interest rates than it has today…. To expect the Fed to hold interest rates above or below the market rate under these circumstances is not only naive but dangerous.”

The 60 Percent Solution to Reforming Healthcare

The 60 Percent Solution to Reforming Healthcare

Can we transform the entire health care system by empowering the roughly 60 percent of patients who are in private health plans? That’s the premise of a new book I just read by Todd Furniss (@TFurniss on Twitter). The author ofThe 60% Solution: Rethinking Healthcare, believes there are five major reforms necessary to empower patients and help them get better care at better prices. These include: (1) change governance, (2) modify health savings accounts (HSAs), (3) clear prices, (4) standardize accounting and information technology in the medical industry and (5) emphasize primary care.

Herrick: States Should Ban These Lab Scams

Herrick: States Should Ban These Lab Scams

There is a new health care scam spreading across rural America that could cost you plenty. Large commercial labs like Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp do not have locations in every small town. As a result, many rural hospitals perform lab work for both their inpatients and outpatients in the local community.

Herrick: Future Pandemics Require Better Access to Primary Care

Herrick: Future Pandemics Require Better Access to Primary Care

When Americans become ill or have a health complaint, they often schedule an appointment with a primary care provider (PCP). PCPs are often the first line of defense in the battle against the onset of seasonal outbreaks of colds, flu or more serious problems like COVID-19.

Herrick: Could Free-Market Medicine Respond Better to Pandemics?

Herrick: Could Free-Market Medicine Respond Better to Pandemics?

Many people have come to believe that the only way to protect Americans against future pandemics is to turn over control of our health care system to the government. The folly of this view was apparent when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) utterly failed as the monopoly supplier of COVID-19 diagnostic testing kits. When the first cases appeared, about half of the test kits failed and replacements were slow in coming.

How Obamacare Made Things Worse for Patients With Preexisting Conditions

How Obamacare Made Things Worse for Patients With Preexisting Conditions

One of the strange features of the national health care conversation is how it has evolved. What is often referred to as Obamacare began as an attempt to insure the uninsured. In fact, the initial Congressional Budget Office estimates predicted the Affordable Care Act would be largely successful in doing just that. Yet it was the Senate’s Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, who identified the political problem with that goal early on. About 95% of those who vote already have insurance, Schumer noted. So Obamacare was promising to spend a great deal of money on people who don’t vote.

Response to Coronavirus Reflects Trump’s Plan to Radically Reform Health Care

Response to Coronavirus Reflects Trump’s Plan to Radically Reform Health Care

Critics of President Trump’s response to the coronavirus crisis characterize it as knee-jerk, spur-of-the-moment, and grasping at any straw within reach. In fact, many of the executive actions we have seen in the past few days reflect a new approach to health policy that has been underway almost since the day Donald Trump was sworn into office.

Correcting Misconceptions of Health Care Reform

Correcting Misconceptions of Health Care Reform

One reader posed the question, how does the tax break for employee health insurance harm our health care system? Short answer: over time the practice reduced competition, which weakened cost-control and resulted in health care inflation three times that of consumer inflation. Consider this: once covered by generous health plans, workers cared less about what medical care cost because their health plans paid most of the tab. Employers didn’t care what things cost because they were passing on the costs to workers (indirectly) in lieu of higher cash wages. Third party administrators (TPAs), who manage the benefits for employers, didn’t much care what things cost because they were passing on the costs to employers with a mark-up. The more money spent, the more TPAs earn.

Health Reform: There Is Something for Everyone to Love… and Hate

Health Reform: There Is Something for Everyone to Love… and Hate

Why is it controversial to expand the physician supply, creating more competition? Doctors oppose it, just like they oppose expanding the scope of practice for nurse practitioners. Doctors don’t want me to be able to see a nurse practitioner or physician assistant for a wart on my toe unless that NP/PA works for them.

How did doctors get so powerful? In the first half of the 20th Century, the American Medical Association (AMA) waged a largely successful battle to close medical schools that trained competing physicians. …. More than half of American and Canadian medical schools were closed….  Thus, the job of a physician was yanked out of reach of all but the smartest, most disciplined, wealthy elites.

What’s Behind the Vaccine Slowdown?

What’s Behind the Vaccine Slowdown?

What’s behind the slowdown in vaccinations? The consensus among experts is those not yet vaccinated either 1) don’t want the vaccine 2) harbor some doubts about vaccine safety or efficacy, or 3) simply lack the motivation to find vaccine providers and make an appointment. Vaccine hesitancy accounts for about one-third of adults. For example, the Kaiser Family Foundation ran a survey in April that found 15 percent of respondents who had not received the vaccine plan to “wait and see.” Another 6 percent will get vaccinated “only if required,” and 13 percent refuse to get the vaccine. 

Linda Gorman Study: Obamacare Dollars Wasted

Linda Gorman Study: Obamacare Dollars Wasted

The percent of the population with private health insurance actually declined during the eight years of the Obama presidency, according to a study by health economist Linda Gorman.

Gorman: Obamacare has been extremely wasteful

Gorman: Obamacare has been extremely wasteful

The federal government spent $341 billion from 2014 through 2016 on subsidizing individual coverage so that people would buy it (Not counting the money spent on state and federal exchanges).

Gorman in Forbes: Will Tax Reform Kill People?

Gorman in Forbes: Will Tax Reform Kill People?

You know you are in the silly season when the charges against sensible tax reform become more and more outrageous. The silliest and most outrageous is based on this causal reasoning: The Republican tax measure repeals the Obamacare mandate, requiring people to purchase health insurance; without the mandate, fewer people will insure; and without insurance, more people will die.

Congress Could Improve Health Care by Reforming the False Claims Act

Congress Could Improve Health Care by Reforming the False Claims Act

In a new Independence Institute working paper on the use and misuse of the False Claims Act (FCA), attorneys Mark W. Pearlstein and Laura McLane explain how an 1863 statute written to expose and punish Civil War contractors who billed for gunpowder and supplied kegs full of sawdust raises costs and threatens access to medical care.

Linda Gorman Study: Obamacare Dollars Wasted

ObamaCare is a success — at sucking vast sums of money from the private sector

In Washington, the healthcare debate isn’t about rescuing the people in the individual insurance market from ObamaCare’s high premiums and poor coverage. Nor is it about improving patient welfare, or reducing medical costs. It’s about using the “coverage for all” mantra to suck huge sums of money out of the private sector with ObamaCare taxes, premiums, and regulations.

Gorman: US Hospitals are Safer

Gorman: US Hospitals are Safer

A frequent criticism of US hospitals is the charge of excessive adverse medical events,  sometimes leading to avoidable deaths. How do our hospitals compare to hospitals in national health care systems? Quite well. The percent of patients who experience an adverse event is twice as high in Canada, three times as high in Britain and four times as high in New Zealand. 

Our Gravest Peril

Our Gravest Peril

ObamaCare? Stagnant economy? Crushing debt? Foreign ­policy fecklessness may trump them all. Commentary by Pete du Pont January 21, 2014 Source: Wall Street Journal America's most worrisome problem may not be the failed takeover of our healthcare system. It may not be...

Our Gravest Peril

The Great Destroyer

ObamaCare wreaks havoc on health care, the economy, American freedom and Obama's presidency. Commentary by Pete du Pont November 25, 2013 Source:The Wall Street Journal Polls show an increasing majority of Americans dislike President Obama's health­care law and...

Our Gravest Peril

Hillary Will Run

How could she not? Commentary by Pete du Pont October 29, 2013 Source: Wall Street Journal Hillary Clinton is going to run for president in 2016. Granted, she is exhibiting even more coyness than most presidential prospects, and yes, the media are filled with those...

Our Gravest Peril

The Beltway Stalemate

Democrats and Republicans have never had such a conflict of visions. Commentary by Pete du Pont September 26, 2013 Source: The Wall Street Journal The debate about military action in Syria seems over for now, and Washington is back in campaign mode. We have a...

Our Gravest Peril

Obama’s Foreign Failure

The world hasn't lived up to his Pollyannaish expectations. Commentary by Pete du Pont August 27, 2013 Source: The Wall Street Journal Barack Obama entered the White House with the promise of restoring our nation's standing in the world. Suffering from war fatigue and...

Our Gravest Peril

Second­-Term Nightmare

ObamaCare's chickens come home to roost. Commentary by Pete du Pont July 27, 2013 Source: The Wall Street Journal Talk about being between a rock and a hard place. The Obama administration and its allies in Congress are faced with the challenge of trying to convince...

Our Gravest Peril

Obama’s Anti-­Energy Agenda

He threatens to cut off the fuel the economy needs. Commentary by Pete du Pont July 01, 2013 Source: The Wall Street Journal Not surprisingly, President Obama and Speaker John Boehner have different views on energy policy, differences brought into stark contrast by...

Our Gravest Peril

Obama’s Scandalous Legacy

He has given Americans new reason to distrust the government. Commentary by Pete du Pont May 28, 2013 Source: The Wall Street Journal It's too early to tell if May will be remembered as marking the beginning of a failed second term for President Obama, but it is clear...

Our Gravest Peril

The Left’s “Wars”

The Left’s “Wars” Commentary by Pete du Pont March 28, 2014 Source: The Wall Street Journal The midterm elections are just over seven months away and the left has unleashed its usual rhetoric about the Republican "war on women." It's baseless political pandering of...

Our Gravest Peril

Global Warming Heats Up

The public could use an honest debate. Commentary by Pete du Pont February 27, 2014 Source: The Wall Street Journal Global warming is back. Not actual global warming, as the decade­long trend of little to no increase in temperatures continues. But the topic of global...

Our Gravest Peril

The Real Inequality Problem

It isn’t that some people are wealthy but that others are struggling. Commentary by Pete du Pont April 28, 2014 Source: The Wall Street Journal Among the too numerous frustrations of the political process is that a lot of smart and talented people spend their time and...

Congress v. Seniors

Congress v. Seniors

After years of advocating a level playing field, on which traditional Medicare competes against private Medicare Advantage plans, Democrats are now proposing to tilt the scales. They are proposing a hearing, vison and dental benefit for traditional Medicare, while stiffing the private plans. The proposal will make seniors worse off whenever they switch to or from a Medicare Advantage plan.

Why Is Congress Declaring War on Seniors?

Why Is Congress Declaring War on Seniors?

Progressives in Congress are planning to spend an additional $1,000 per enrollee on beneficiaries in traditional Medicare, but spend no additional money on Medicare Advantage enrollees. In economic terms, the flip side of a subsidy is a penalty. If you give a subsidy to people who make one choice, you are effectively imposing a cost on everyone who makes a different choice. In this case, the Democrats’ proposal does more than tilt the playing field. It makes seniors worse off whenever they switch from one system to the other.

Why Americans Are Not Anxious To Get Back To Work

Why Americans Are Not Anxious To Get Back To Work

There are 5 million fewer people employed today than before the Covid epidemic struck and 7.7 million of those out of work are officially counted as unemployed. What’s going wrong? Federal policies are making it increasingly attractive not to work.

Social Security Debt up $6.8T

Social Security Debt up $6.8T

The Social Security Trustees have released their annual report on the system’s finances. The news is awful. Social Security’s unfunded liability is an enormous $59.8 trillion. That’s over 2.5 times the size of the U.S. economy. Even more disturbing is the change since last year’s report. The system’s unfunded liability grew by $6.8 trillion. In other words, while Congress has been arguing over whether we can afford $3.5T in new spending, the debt we are leaving to our children grew by almost twice that amount without Congress lifting a finger.

But unlike the change in official debt, Social Security’s deficits are carefully kept off the books — for political, not economic reasons. Consequently, not a single media outlet we know of has reported these numbers

Goodman: Why we are Divided

Goodman: Why we are Divided

The liberal media is panicking over the prospect of Larry Elder becoming governor of California. An editorial in the New York Times by Farhad Manjoo, for example, declares the Elder candidacy a “looming disaster,” a “liberal nightmare” and a possibility that is “as serious as a heart attack.” For Times editorial writer Paul Krugman, the possibility is even more frightening. Elder, he says, would be a “Trumpist governor” whose election would produce “awesome consequences” – all bad, of course.

Kotlikoff: Why is the FDA Harming our Kids?

Kotlikoff: Why is the FDA Harming our Kids?

Larry Kotlikoff says the FDA is foot dragging on approving vaccines for children, without any defensible reason. FDA-sanctioned adult vaccine trials began in March 2020. Given the crisis, safer and riskier adult-trial phases were run in parallel, with adolescent trials soon thereafter. But the FDA pushed a conservative approach for children, ostensibly to protect them. So pediatric trials were delayed until March 2021 — a full year beyond the start of adult trials. This delay has threatened every American child with long-term morbidity and even mortality. More.

Is Congress a Den of Thieves?

Is Congress a Den of Thieves?

Robbing Peter to pay Paul is something almost all governments routinely do. And they have been doing it for years. If you haven’t seen a good argument for it, that’s because government theft is so fully ingrained in our way of life that no one thinks a justification is needed.

The $3.5T Spending Mistake

The $3.5T Spending Mistake

Congressional Democrats are proposing to spend an enormous amount of taxpayer dollars on what the New York Times calls a “cradle to the grave” addition to U.S. social welfare. When budgeting shenanigans are ignored, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that the full cost is not the $3.5 trillion that has been widely advertised, but at least $5.0 trillion and possibly as much as $5.5 trillion.

Who Will Pay for Biden’s BBB Agenda?

Who Will Pay for Biden’s BBB Agenda?

More preschool services mean the country has to have less of everything that’s not preschool. More homecare means less of everything that’s not homecare. More free college means less of everything that’s not college.

European countries do this sort of thing with broad-based taxes on wages and consumption. After paying taxes, people have less money to spend on other stuff. The Biden administration, however, wants to pretend that people can have a bundle of new services and keep on consuming as they did before.

The only thing that will reduce the consumption of other stuff under the BBB agenda is higher prices – what ordinary people call inflation.