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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Friday, June 05, 2015

What The "Bourbon Shortage" And The Kentucky Derby Can Teach Us About The Fed

by Ralph Benko, Contributing Author: There is an urban legend that there is a looming Bourbon Supply Crisis. (Heaven Forfend!) Meanwhile, American Pharoah, as expected, won the Kentucky Derby. Both circumstances contain a homey lesson about the Federal Reserve System’s conduct of monetary policy.

Let’s start with bourbon. According to a recent article by Jake Emen in Eater.com, Is the U.S. Poised to Run Out of Bourbon? dispelling the myth of a looming bourbon shortage:The demand for bourbon is overwhelming. In the past decade, there has been a nearly 40 percent growth in sales of bourbon and Tennessee whiskey in the United States, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS).

“We’re growing so dramatically that we’ve outgrown any reasonable expectations,” says Jim Rutledge, Master Distiller of Four Roses, one of the iconic, major Kentucky bourbon distilleries. “It’s just out of sight.”

... Meanwhile, an IWSR survey commission by Vinexpo projects that global bourbon sales are predicted to increase nearly 20 percent more in the next five years. Not everyone has faith in those numbers though, and plans based upon future growth have come back to hurt distillers in the past.

“Long-range findings in this business is really long-range guessing, and I wouldn’t even call it educated guessing,” explains Rutledge. “It’s very difficult to determine consumer trends, and looking back at previous years and what’s been happening, that obviously didn’t work.”
The only thing worse than not having enough whiskey to sell to people is having vast rickhouses lined with whiskey-filled barrels that nobody wants to buy. It happened in the 1970s as many American consumers shifted away from whiskey, instead turning toward vodka and rum. This led to the demise and consolidation of brands, and it’s a hard-learned lesson which remains in the back of everyone’s mind even in today’s bullish bourbon market.

“Vast rickhouses lined with whiskey-filled barrels that nobody wants to buy….” Kentucky has more barrels of this elixir of the gods (4.7 million) than it does … citizens (4.3 million) reports The Atlantic Wire. Even this doughty bourbon drinker would have a problem making a material dent in a liquidity crisis of the magnitude described by Mr. Emen….

Now imagine how vastly more complex is the calculus for the demand for… dollars. Quantum physicist Niels Bohr once crisply observed, “It is exceedingly difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”

The Fed, while operating with astonishing impunity, is by no means exempt from Bohr’s Aphorism. Dr. Richard Rahn, in the Washington Times:The Federal Reserve had forecast the U.S. economy to grow about 4 percent near the beginning of each year for the last five years. But during each year, the Fed was forced to reduce its forecast until it got to the actual number of approximately 2 percent. (Other government agencies have been making equally bad forecasts.) These mammoth errors clearly show that the forecast models the official agencies use are mis-specified and contain incorrect assumptions.Even the occasional career Fed official, among others, admits — here and there — how unreliable is the modeling proves.

Is there a better way? Indeed, and the recent win by American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby suggests it. American Pharoah was the odds-on favorite… and won. While upsets occur, and with some regularity. That’s what makes horseraces! That said, the odds, set by the bettors, consistently track pretty well with reality (or betting on horseraces simply would cease to occur).

Group intelligence consistently proves a better judge than does experts, however talented and well equipped (such as the Fed’s hundreds of PhD economists). As James Suriowiecki wrote in his bestselling The Wisdom of Crowds:A classic demonstration of group intelligence is the jelly-beans-in-the-jar experiment, in which invariably the group’s estimate is superior to the vast majority of the individual guesses. When finance professor Jack Treynor ran the experiment in his class with a jar that held 850 beans, the group estimate was 871. Only one of the fifty-six people in the class made a better guess. …

[T]he group’s guess will not be better than that of every single person in the group each time. In many (perhaps most) cases, there will be a few people who do better than the group. … But there is no evidence in these studies that certain people consistently outperform the group. In other words, if you run ten different jelly-bean-counting experiments, it’s likely that each time one or two students will out-perform the group. But they will not be the same students each time.
Suriowiecki writing, in 2004, at Forbes.com: “Just as Google’s PageRank encapsulates the knowledge of Web users, so does a market price embody, as the economist Friedrich Hayek suggested, all of the tacit knowledge and wisdom of investors and traders.”

One lesson from both the bourbon industry and the Kentucky Derby has to do with the folly of central planning. Central planning is a widely discredited practice to which elite monetary (and other) economists, Fed officials, and rainbow-unicorn-chasing Progressives still bitterly cling. Yet the historical data persuade me that a “Treynor Rule” would be functionally superior to the Taylor Rule, or NGDP targeting.

By allowing the markets themselves to determine their desired liquidity balances, a great deal of inefficiency is subtracted from the markets. No longer would $5.3 trillion a day be exchanged, as now, to hedge the risks of, or speculate on, currency fluctuation.

Historically, the way markets were allowed to determine their desired liquidity balances — and, in the process, set the economy’s interest rates in an organic way — was by the monetary authorities defining the nation’s money as, and making it convertible to, a fixed weight of gold … and adhering to the “rules of the game” to keep it there.

The classical gold standard was not one of carrying around gold coins in leather purses. It simply meant that when the “price” of gold rose from $35 an ounce to $35.01 an ounce, the monetary authorities would withdraw a bit of currency (until the price subsided again) or, if the price subsided to $34.99, inject a bit more currency (until the price rose again). It represented a “real time” rather than “batch” information processing system. It worked imperfectly but much less imperfectly than what we now have.

This may have been what then-World Bank Group president Robert Zoellick meant, in a widely noted FT column where he wrote, in part:The system should also consider employing gold as an international reference point of market expectations about inflation, deflation and future currency values. Although textbooks may view gold as the old money, markets are using gold as an alternative monetary asset today.And what Bundesbank president Dr. Jens Weidmann meant when he stated:Concrete objects have served as money for most of human history; we may therefore speak of commodity money. A great deal of trust was placed in particular in precious and rare metals – gold first and foremost – due to their assumed intrinsic value. In its function as a medium of exchange, medium of payment and store of value, gold is thus, in a sense, a timeless classic.Or what analysts from Deutsche Bank meant in stating:[G]old is not really a commodity at all. While it is included in the commodities basket it is in fact a medium of exchange and one that is officially recognised (if not publicly used as such). We see gold as an officially recognised form of money for one primary reason: it is widely held by most of the world’’s larger central banks as a component of reserves. We would go further however, and argue that gold could be characterised as ‘‘good’’ money as opposed to ‘bad’ money which would be represented by many of today’s fiat currencies.As for bourbon, per Emen, “New stills must be produced to make more bourbon, new warehouses are required to store more barrels, which themselves have been battling scarcity issues due both to demand and inclement weather, and then that bourbon must sit, and sit, and sit.” Not so money. As Dr. Weidmann stated in the same speech, “Indeed, the fact that central banks can create money out of thin air, so to speak, is something that many observers are likely to find surprising and strange, perhaps mystical and dreamlike, too – or even nightmarish.”

Forty economists (few of them monetary) unanimously condemned the gold standard in a survey taken a few years ago. Still, Boehr was, and is, right: “It is exceedingly difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.” As for monetary policy, time for the Fed to reassess its operating protocols. High time to replace groupthink with group intelligence.
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Ralph Benko is senior advisor, economics, to American Principles in Action’s Gold Standard 2012 Initiative, and a contributor to he ARRA News Service. Founder of The Prosperity Caucus, he was a member of the Jack Kemp supply-side team, served in an unrelated area as a deputy general counsel in the Reagan White House. The article which first appeared in Forbes was submitted for reprint by the author.

Tags: Ralph Benko, Bourbon Shortage, The Kentucky Derby, the Fed To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Senate Dems Threatening Gridlock On Funding For Troops And Everything Else

In Mafia style approach, Sen, Minority Leader Reid
addressed FY 2016 Defense Appropriations Bill as

  "I think it really is kind of a waste of time.”
Today in Washington, D.C. - June 5, 2014
The House is not in session today and will reconvene at 2:00 PM on Monday. Yesterday the House considered amendment on H.R. 2577 — "Making appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other purposes." The House will take up this bill again when they return.

The Senate is not in session today and will reconvene on Monday at 3 PM. Yesterday, the Senate voted on three amendments to H.R. 1735, the Fiscal Year 2016 Defense Authorization bill. Adopted were amendments from Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) by votes of 61-34 and 48-44. Rejected was an amendment from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, which failed to get the 60 votes needed by a vote of 53-42.

Earlier this week, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Senate consideration of the critical Defense Authorization bill was a “waste of time.”  But now he’s going even further – threatening to block all legislation funding the government, including the measure that funds the Pentagon and pays the troops, unless Democrats’ demands are met for even more spending on agencies like the IRS and EPA.

Yesterday, Politico reported, “Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is vowing to use Senate rules to block the entire appropriations process — an aggressive new phase in the Democrats’ legislative strategy that could invite charges that he’s creating the same kind of gridlock Reid accused Republicans of when they were in the minority. . . .

“At a closed-door Democratic leadership meeting Tuesday night, Reid (D-Nev.) vowed that his caucus wouldn’t allow a single spending measure to get a floor vote, sources familiar with the meeting say. And on Thursday at noon, his top lieutenants announced their party’s intentions to filibuster and prevent Republicans from even calling up the spending measures.”

Reid Wilson, formerly of The Washington Post, spoke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell about Democrats’ announced intentions to shut down the appropriations process. “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday he sees Democratic efforts to block a defense spending bill as evidence that the minority remains ‘wedded’ to the dysfunction that ground the Senate to a partisan halt in recent years.

“Democratic senators said Thursday they would block the defense appropriations measure from reaching the floor this month unless Republicans agree to lift caps on government spending not related to defense. In an interview with Morning Consult, McConnell said that move shows Democrats are relying on delay tactics.

“‘The current behavior, threatening to deny funds for veterans and for our troops overseas in a kind of childish pique because they want to spend more on agencies like the IRS and the EPA underscores once again what the source of the dysfunction was,’ McConnell said. ‘And they’d like to continue it.’”

Leader McConnell also told Politico, “Underscoring their devotion to D.C. dysfunction, Democrats are now threatening to deny funding for the brave men and women who protect us, their families, and veterans in a childish gambit to wrest billions more for wasteful bureaucracies like the IRS. . . . Though their behavior is completely discordant with the real challenges facing our country, we nonetheless intend to work our way through this.”

Tags: Democrats, Harry Reid, threatening gridlock, funding of troops To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Rick Perry Presidential Announcement 2016

ARRA News Service - Yesterday, former Texas governor Rick Perry announced his bid for the 2016 republican candidate for President of the United States. He announced in Addison, TX.

Perry as a Republican was elected in 1991 and served as Agriculture Commissioner until he became Lieutenant Governor of Texas in 1998 and assumed the governorship in December 2000 when then-governor George W. Bush resigned to become President of the United States. Perry is the longest serving governor in Texas state history having served 14 years, 166 days as Governor. He also the second longest serving governor in history for all states.

Perry was also United States Air Force Captain and C-130 pilot. Was was on active duty from 1972-1977. Perry was elected to the Texas House of Representatives as a democrat and served 6 yrs. On September 29, 1989, he switch to the Republican party.

The economy of Texas is one of the largest economies in the United States. Under Rick Perry's leadership, as of 2015, Texas is home to six of the top 50 companies on the Fortune 500 list and 51 overall, (third most after New York and California). In 2012, Texas grossed more than $264.7 billion a year in exports—more than exports of California ($161.9 billion) and New York ($81.4 billion) combined. As a sovereign country (est 2015), Texas would be the 12th largest economy in the world by GDP (ahead of South Korea and the Netherlands).

Texas has a gross state product of $1.662 trillion,he second highest in the U.S.Texas's household income was $48,259 in 2010 ranking 25th in the nation. Texas has the second largest population in the country after California. Texas is one of the seven states of the United States with no personal state income tax. In addition, Texas does not allow any lower level of government (counties, cities, etc.) to impose an income tax. Without an income tax, Texas still had revenue of $39.40 billion in 2012.

Video and Transcript of Speech Follow:
Transcript of Announcement Speech:


Thank you. I was born five years after the end of a global war that killed more than 60 million people.

I am the son of a veteran of that war, who flew 35 missions over war-torn Europe as a tail gunner on a B-17.

When dad returned home, he married mom, and they started a life together.

They were tenant farmers.

They were raised during a time of great hardship, and had little expectation beyond living in peace, putting a roof over our heads and putting food on our table.

Home was a place called Paint Creek. Too small to be called a town, but it was the center of my universe.

For years we had an outhouse, and mom bathed us in a number two washtub on the back porch. She also hand-sewed my clothes until I went off to college.

I attended Paint Creek Rural School, grades one through 12. I played 6-man football. I was a member of Boy Scout Troop 48, became an Eagle Scout, and went off to Texas A&M where I was a member of the Corps of Cadets and an animal science major.

I was proud to wear the uniform of our country as an Air Force officer and aircraft commander.

After serving, I returned home to the rolling plains and big skies of West Texas, and I returned to farming.

There is no person on earth more optimistic than a dryland cotton farmer. We always know a good rain is just around the corner, no matter how long we’d been waiting.

The values learned on my family’s cotton farm are timeless: the dignity of work, the integrity of your word, responsibility to community, the unbreakable bonds of family, and duty to country.

These are enduring values. Not the product of some idyllic past, but a touchstone of American life in our small towns, our largest cities, our booming suburbs.

I have seen American life from the red dirt of a West Texas cotton field, from a campus in College Station, from the elevated view of a C-130 cockpit, and from the Governor’s office of the Texas Capitol.

I served a small rural community in the Texas Legislature, and I led the world’s 12th largest economy.

I know that America has experienced great change, but what it means to be an American has never changed: we are the only nation in the world founded on the power of an idea that all “are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Our rights come from God, not from government, and our people are not the subjects of government, but instead government is subject to the people.

It has always been the case that there has been a social compact between one generation of Americans and the next: to pass along an inheritance of a stronger country full of greater promise and possibility.

And that social compact has been protected at great sacrifice. This was never more clear to me than when I took my father to the American cemetery that overlooks the bluffs at Omaha beach.

On that peaceful, wind-swept setting, there lie 9,000 graves, including 45 pairs of brothers, 33 of whom are buried side by side, a father and a son, two sons of a president. They all traded their future for ours in a final act of loving sacrifice.

In that American Cemetery, it is no accident each headstone faces west: west over the Atlantic, towards the nation they defended, the nation they loved, the nation they would never come home to.

It struck me as I stood in the midst of those heroes that they look upon us in silent judgment. And that we must ask ourselves: are we worthy of their sacrifice?

The truth is we are at the end of an era of failed leadership.

We have been led by a divider who has sliced and diced the electorate, pitting American against American for political purposes.

Six years into the so-called recovery, and our economy is barely growing. This winter, it actually got smaller.

Our economic slowdown is not inevitable, it is the direct result of bad economic policy.

The president’s tax and regulatory policies have slammed shut the door of opportunity for the average American trying to climb the economic ladder, resigning the middle class to stagnant wages, personal debt, and deferred dreams.

Weakness at home has led to weakness abroad.

The world has descended into a chaos of this president’s own making, while his White House loyalists construct an alternative universe where ISIS is contained and Ramadi is merely a “setback” – where the nature of the enemy can’t be acknowledged for fear of causing offense, where the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, the Islamic Republic of Iran, can be trusted to live up to a nuclear agreement.

No decision has done more harm than the president’s withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

Let no one be mistaken, leaders of both parties have made grave mistakes in Iraq. But in January, 2009 – when Barack Obama became Commander-in-Chief – Iraq had been largely pacified.

America had won the war. But our president failed to secure the peace.

How callous it seems now as cities once secured with American blood are now being taken by America’s enemies, all because of a campaign slogan.

I saw during Vietnam a war where politicians didn’t keep faith with the sacrifices and courage of America’s fighting men and women, where men were ordered into combat without the full support of their civilian commanders.

To see it happen again, 40 years later, because of political gamesmanship and dishonesty, is a national disgrace.

But my friends, we are a resilient country. We have been through a Civil War, we’ve been through two world wars, we’ve made it through a Great Depression – we even made it through Jimmy Carter. We will make it through the Obama years.

The fundamental nature of this country is our people never stay knocked down. We get back up, we dust ourselves off, and we move forward. And we will again.

I want to share some important truths with my fellow Americans, starting with this truth: we don’t have to settle for a world in chaos or an America that shrinks from its responsibilities.

We don’t have to apologize for American exceptionalism, or western values.

We don’t have to accept slow growth that leaves behind the middle class, and leaves millions of Americans out of work.

We don’t have to settle for crumbling bureaucracies that target taxpayers and harm our veterans.

And we don’t have to resign ourselves to debt, decay and slow growth.

We have the power to make things new again. To project American strength again, to get our economy going again.

And that is why today I am running for the presidency of the United States of America.

It is time to create real jobs, to raise wages, to create opportunity for all. To give every citizen a stake in this country. To restore hope, real hope to forgotten Americans, millions of middle class families who have given up hope of getting ahead, millions of workers who have given up hope of finding a job.

Yes, it’s time for a reset, time to reset the relationship between government and citizen.

Think of the arrogance of Washington, DC, representing itself as some beacon of wisdom, with policies smothering this vast land with no regard for what makes each state and community unique. That’s just wrong.

We need to return power to the states, and freedom to the individual.

Today our citizens and entrepreneurs are burdened by over-regulation and unspeakable debt.

Debt is not just a fiscal nightmare, it is a moral failure. Let me speak to the millennial generation: massive debt, passed on from our generation to yours, is a breaking of the social compact.

You deserve better. I am going to offer a responsible plan to fix the entitlement system, and to stop this theft from your generation.

To those forgotten Americans drowning in personal debt, working harder for wages that don’t keep up with the rising cost of living, I come here today to say your voice is heard.

I know you face rising health care costs, rising child care costs, skyrocketing tuition costs, and mounting student loan debt. I hear you, and I am going to do something about it.

To the one in five children in families on food stamps, to the one in seven Americans living in poverty, to the one in ten workers who are unemployed, under-employed or given up hope of finding a job: I hear you, you are not forgotten.

I am running to be your president.

For small businesses on Main Street struggling to just get by, smothered by regulations, targeted by Dodd-Frank: I hear you, you’re not forgotten. Your time is coming.

The American People see a rigged game, where insiders get rich, and the middle class pays the tab.

There is something wrong when the Dow is near record highs, and businesses on Main Street can’t even get a loan.

Since when did capitalism involve the elimination of risk for the biggest banks while regulations strangle our community banks?

Capitalism is not corporatism. It is not a guarantee of reward without risk. It is not about Wall Street at the expense of Main Street.

The reason I am running for president is I know for certain our country’s best days lie ahead. There is nothing wrong in America today that cannot be fixed with new leadership.

We are just a few good decisions away from unleashing economic growth, and reviving the American Dream.

We need to fix a tax code riddled with loopholes that sends jobs overseas and punishes success.

We have the highest corporate tax rate in the western world. It is time to reduce the rate, bring jobs home and lift wages for working families.

By the time this Administration has finished with its experiment in big government, they will have added more than 600,000 pages of new regulations to the Federal Register.

On my first day in office, I will issue an immediate freeze on all pending regulations from the Obama administration. That same day, I will send to Congress a comprehensive reform and rollback of job-killing mandates created by Obamacare, Dodd-Frank and other Obama-era policies.

Agencies will have to live under strict regulatory budgets. And health insurers will have to earn the right to your money, instead of lobbying Washington to force you to hand it over.

On day one, I will also sign an executive order approving the construction of the Keystone Pipeline.

Energy is vital to our economy, and to our national security. On day one, I will sign an executive order authorizing the export of American natural gas and oil, freeing our European allies from dependence on Russia’s energy supplies.

Vladimir Putin uses energy to hold our allies hostage. If energy is going to be used as a weapon, I say America must have the largest arsenal.

We will unleash an era of economic growth, and limitless opportunity. We will rebuild American industry. And we will lift wages for American workers.

It can be done because it has been done in Texas.

During my 14 years as governor, Texas companies created almost one-third of all new American jobs.

In the last seven years of my tenure, Texas created 1.5 million new jobs. Without Texas, America would have lost 400,000 jobs.

We were the engine of growth because we had a simple formula: control taxes and spending, implement smart regulations, invest in an educated workforce, and stop frivolous lawsuits.

Texas now has the second highest high school graduation rate in the country and the highest graduation rates for African-American and Hispanic students.

We led the nation in exports, including high-tech exports. We passed historic tax relief, and I was proud to sign balanced budgets for 14 years.

We not only created opportunity, we stood for law and order.

When there was a crisis at our border last year and the president refused my invitation to see the challenge that we faced, I told him, “Mr. President, if you won’t secure the border, Texas will.”

Because of the threat posed by drug cartels and trans-national gangs, I deployed the Texas National Guard.

The policy worked. Apprehensions declined by 74 percent. If you elect me your president,
I will secure this border.

Homeland security begins with border security. The most basic compact between a president and the people is to keep the country safe.

The great lesson of history is strength and resolve bring peace and order, and weakness and vacillation invite chaos and conflict.

My very first act as president will be to rescind any agreement with Iran that legitimizes their quest to get a nuclear weapon.

Now is the time for clear-sighted, proven leadership. We have seen what happens when we elect a president based on media acclaim rather than a record of accomplishment.

This will be a “show-me, don’t tell me” election, where voters look past the rhetoric to the real record.

The question of every candidate will be this one: when have you led? Leadership is not a speech on the senate floor, it’s not what you say, it’s what you do.

And we will not find the kind of leadership needed to revitalize the country by looking to the political class in Washington.

I have been tested. I have led the most successful state in America. I have dealt with crisis after crisis – from the disintegration of a space shuttle, to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike, to the crisis at the border, and the first diagnosis of Ebola in America.

I have brought together first responders, charities and people of faith to house and heal vulnerable citizens dealing with tragedy.

The spirit of compassion demonstrated by Texans is alive all across America today. While we have experienced a deficit in leadership, among the American People there is a surplus of spirit.

And among our great people, there is a spirit of selflessness – that we live to make the world better for our children, and not just ourselves.

It was said that when King George the Third asked what General Washington would do upon winning the war, he was told he would return to his farm and relinquish power. To that, the monarch replied, if he did that, he would be the greatest man of his age.

George Washington lived in the service of a cause greater than self.

If anyone is wondering if America still possesses the character of selfless heroes, I am here to say, “Yes, I am surrounded by such heroes.”

They are of different generations, but they are woven together by the same thread of selfless sacrifice.

They are heroes like Medal of Honor Recipient Mike Thornton, who survived an ambush by enemy forces in Vietnam, and made it back to the safety of a water rescue, only to find out a fellow team member had been left behind, presumed dead.

He didn’t leave though, he returned through enemy fire and retrieved Lieutenant Norris who was still alive – and then swam for two hours keeping his wounded teammate afloat until they were rescued.

Heroes like Marcus Luttrell, who survived a savage attack on the side of a mountain in Afghanistan, losing his three teammates and 16 fellow warriors shot down trying to rescue him.

He is not just the lone survivor, to Anita and me he is a second son.

And Taya Kyle, who suffered the deep loss of her husband Chris, an American hero. When I think of Taya Kyle, I think of a brave woman who carries not just the lofty burden of Chris’ legacy, but the grief of every family who has lost a loved one to the great tragedy of war, or its difficult aftermath. Anita and I want to thank her for her tremendous courage.

America is an extraordinary country. Our greatness lies not in our government, but in our people.

Each day Americans demonstrate tremendous courage. But many of those Americans have been knocked down and are looking for a second chance.

Let’s give them that chance. Let’s give them real leadership. Let’s give them a future greater than the greatest days of our past.

Let’s give them a president who leads us in the direction of our highest hopes, our best dreams and our greatest promise.

Thank you, and God bless you.


Tags: Rick Perry, announces, candidate, 2016 Presidential candidate To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

For and Against? Unions Waffle On Minimum Wage

by Paul Jacob, Contributing Author: Bad ideas take a person only so far.

Proponents of a widely destructive policy may be loath to relinquish it altogether when destructive consequences loom. Yet they may also loathe to see it applied consistently -- because of the pain it'll cause their particular gang.

Harm to others inflicted by lousy ideas? Fine!

Harm to yourself? Not fine!

Hence the semi-reversal by Los Angeles union officials of their demand for a minimum wage of $15 an hour, recently approved by LA's city council. Union leaders have been among the most ardent proponents of the new minimum, which until now they've insisted must be imposed equally, no exemptions for special hardship.

But now union reps like Rusty Hicks want exemptions for unionized companies so that unions are free to negotiate an agreement that, as Hicks puts it, "allows each party to prioritize what is important to them." Wow! Sounds like he might favor free markets, in which parties to a trade participate, voluntarily, only when priorities are aligned and each expects to gain.

Many motives for Hicks's contradictory stance are plausible. One is that the requested exception would encourage companies to unionize to escape burdensome new costs. Accept one burden to escape a worse one.

Instead of letting unions cripple all workplaces but their own, let's "allow each party to prioritize what is important to them" across the board, by letting employers and employees negotiate without any political interference whatever.

This is Common Sense. I'm Paul Jacob.
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Paul Jacobs is author of Common Sense which provides daily commentary about the issues impacting America and about the citizens who are doing something about them. He is also President of the Liberty Initiative Fund (LIFe) as well as Citizens in Charge Foundation. Jacobs is a contributing author on the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Paul Jacob, Common Sense, minimum wage, union waffle, for or against To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Free Trade? Yes. Anti-Constitution, Anti-Transparency Classified TPA/TPP? Definitely No

Why is Passed Free Trade TPA/TPP Classified?
by Seton Motley, Contributing Author: Flying under the free trade flag, many in DC are pushing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and fast-track Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).U.S. President Barack Obama Defends Trans-Pacific Partnership

Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) N/A%: More Trade = More American Jobs

(Senate Majority Leader Mitch) McConnell Urges Cooperation on Trade Legislation
Is the TPP actually free trade? Well, we don’t know – it’s shrouded in lock-down, totalitarian secrecy.Congress Can – and Should – Declassify the TPP

One of the most controversial aspects of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the fact that the Obama administration has tried to impose a public blockade on the text of the draft agreement….
Not exactly “the most transparent administration in history” we were promised.(T)he American people haven’t been allowed to see it before Congress votes on fast track. Members of Congress can read the draft agreement under heavy restrictions, but they can’t publicly discuss or consult on what they have read….Why isn’t every single member of Congress demanding these restrictions be lifted – and TPP be made fully public? Why instead this?When Congress votes on whether to grant the president “fast-track authority” to negotiate the TPP – which would bar Congress from making any changes to the secret pact after it’s negotiated – it will effectively be a vote to pre-approve the TPP itself….Fast-track TPA is Congress yet again ceding its Constitutional power to the Executive Branch. Of which we’ve already seen way too much. The last six years – and the last century.Fast Track Trade Authority: Usurping the Constitution

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution states: “The Congress shall have the power…to regulate commerce with foreign nations,” among other duties and responsibilities.

Fast Track/Trade Promotion Authority is being sought by President Obama as a means of passing new trade agreements through Congress on an up or down vote without the knowledge of the voters.

Instead, Congress should follow the Constitution and debate trade bills under “regular order,” not unique Fast Track procedures.
“Regular order?” I seem to recall hearing that phrase before.Boehner Says House Will ‘Follow Regular Order’

McConnell’s Call For ‘Regular Order’ May Not Mean What It Used To
Apparently it doesn’t.When Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) became Senate majority leader, he promised he’d restore what he called regular order in that chamber.Not so much.McConnell on Senate Passage of Trade Promotion Authority

U.S. House Speaker Boehner Upbeat On Fast-Track Trade Prospects
Before TPP goes any further, the books should be opened – and We the People shown what it all actually is.

TPA should simply go away. It’d be nice if these people adhered to the Constitution at least every once and a while.
----------------
Seton Motley is the President of Less Government and he contributes to ARRA News Service. Please feel free to follow him him on Twitter   /   Facebook.

Tags: Seton Motley, Less Government, Free Trade, TPA, TPP, anti-constitution, anti-transparency To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Sharyl Attkisson: Freedom of Information Act Is ‘Pointless, Useless Shadow of Its Intended Self’

by Natalie Johnson: Sharyl Attkisson, a senior independent contributor for The Daily Signal and former investigative reporter for CBS News, said she watched her daughter grow up while she was waiting on the government to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Her daughter was 8 years old in 2003, when she submitted the request to the Department of Defense for information regarding soldier vaccine injuries. Attkisson recounted the story at a hearing on government transparency Tuesday in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

By the time the Defense Department turned over the documents, her daughter was 18 and getting ready to leave for college.

“FOIA should be one of the most powerful tools of the public and the press in a free and open society,” Attkisson said. “Instead, it’s largely a pointless, useless shadow of its intended self.”

It was a day for reporters to leave the sidelines and testify as witnesses in a hearing called by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the committee’s chairman, to shed light on the excessive impediments surrounding the Freedom of Information Act. Chaffetz is leading an investigation into excessive FOIA delays, obstructions and violations, calling for an “open and transparent” government.

Attkisson testified along with Vice News investigative reporter Jason Leopold, Newsweek investigative reporter Leah McGrath Goodman and New York Times assistant general counsel Dave McCraw. Each shared stories about excessive delays.

The reporters complained the law, which requires the government to respond to Freedom of Information requests within 20 business days, with the option of a 10-day extension under “unusual circumstances,” is flagrantly violated or ignored, resulting in an unprecedented backlog in requests.

Leopold said fewer than 1 percent of the thousands of Freedom of Information Act requests he submitted across dozens of federal agencies have been decided within the law’s legal timeframe.

Federal agencies often cite lack of funding and staff as reason for the increase in backlogs, but Attkisson said blame falls on the agencies themselves. She claimed federal officials “intentionally” create delays not because they lack resources but rather to conceal public information.

“FOIA law was intended to facilitate the timely release of public information,” Attkisson said. “Instead, federal officials have perverted it and use it to obfuscate, obstruct and delay. The broken system is not by accident, it’s by design.”

Beyond unusually long delays, the journalists on the panel complained of repeated instances of unnecessary redactions or rejection of requests because of misuse of the law’s various exemptions.

Attkisson held up entirely redacted documents from the Department of Health and Human Services with the exemption “(b)5” boldly printed in black across the white pages.

Exemption (b)5 is the most widely used. It allows government to withhold what are often referred to as “pre-decisional” documents—a list of applicants or vendors competing for work, for instance—or those that would be available only to opposing parties in a lawsuit.

“These are about HealthCare.gov … nothing that has to do with national security, nothing that could possibly put us in danger or help terrorists,” Attkisson said. “(B)5 should be interpreted very narrowly. Instead, they slap that on just about anything.”

This particular exemption, Attkisson said, has become known as the “withhold it because you want to” exemption among those used to receiving the bold, black stamps.

“The exemptions are given much, much too broad a reading,” McCraw said. “Congress is in power to cut those back, and that’s the single most important thing that would help.”

To Attkisson, the law can only be fixed once violators are forced to face “meaningful criminal penalties.”

Under today’s standards, Attkisson noted, agencies avoid punishment by using taxes to pay for fines associated with violations, shifting the burden from the government to the public.

“There are no repercussions for them to withhold material,” Attkisson said. “But there are repercussions if they release information.”
------------
Natalie Johnson is a news reporter for The Daily Signal 

Tags: Sharyl Attkissin, Freedom of Information Act, shawdow of intent, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Why Internet Freedom Is at Stake

by Brett Schaefer: Over the past 25 years, the Internet has gone from a relatively unknown arena populated primarily by academics, government employees, researchers and other technical experts into a nearly ubiquitous presence that contributes fundamentally and massively to communication, innovation and commerce.

It is unsurprising that, as the Internet has expanded in importance, calls for increased governance have also multiplied.

Some governance of the Internet, such as measures to make sure that Internet addresses are unique, and that changes to the root servers are conducted in a reliable and non-disruptive manner, is necessary merely to ensure that it operates smoothly. That’s why it has been in place for decades.

A great factor in the growth and success of the Internet, from which nearly everyone has benefited directly or indirectly, is that governance has been light and relatively non-intrusive.

Some want this to change, particularly governments eager to enhance their control over the Internet content and commerce. They seek to assert international regulation and governance over the Internet far exceeding what is currently the case.

China, Russia and a number of Muslim countries in particularly have been open in their desire to limit speech on the Internet that they deem offensive or damaging to their interests.

Governments are able to control Internet policies within their borders, albeit with varying degrees of success. To expand these efforts for controlling Internet content globally, however, they must control the numbering, naming and addressing functions of the Internet.

This is hardly a new ambition for these nations. The United States has had to periodically rally opposition to similar efforts in the past.

For instance, the lead up to the U.N. World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held in Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in 2005 sparked intense debate between the United States and other countries supporting a private-sector led model of Internet governance versus nations seeking to grant the U.N. supervision of the Internet.

At the 2012 World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), Russia, China, and several other governments again sought to grant the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) greater authority and responsibility over the Internet. Countries dubious of ITU governance of the Internet, including the U.S., took an equally strong opposing position.

This debate has been temporarily sidelined by the March 2014 announcement by the United States that it would end its contractual relationship with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to manage the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions.

The IANA is critical to the smooth operation of the Internet through the management and global coordination of the Domain Name System (DNS) and the Internet protocol numbering system. The DNS is, in essence, the Internet address book that translates the alphanumeric name of a website (dailysignal.com) into the unique numerical IP address (72.21.81.133) that computers use to identify specific websites.

The U.S. federal government has expressed since the 1990s its intent to make management of the IANA fully private—that is, free from government oversight. However, this transition has been repeatedly deferred due to concerns over ICANN’s ability to fulfill its responsibilities absent U.S. oversight.

When it made its announcement, the United States made clear that ICANN would have to meet several conditions before it would allow the transition to occur:
  • ICANN must continue to support and enhance the multi-stakeholder model;
  • the security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet Domain Name System must be maintained;
  • necessary reforms must be adopted to ensure that the post-transition ICANN would meet the needs and expectations of the global customers and partners of the IANA services; and
  • the openness of the Internet must be maintained.
The United States also insisted that the U.S. role not be replaced by a government-led or an intergovernmental organization.

These conditions are fairly broad and much of the past year has been occupied by discussions between ICANN, the NTIA and the multi-stakeholder community (the various business, technology, and civil society groups that use and depend on the Internet) about what is needed to meet those conditions.

This is a critical matter.

When the U.S. government oversight role ends, ICANN will come under considerable pressure from a number of interested parties to adopt policies that they favor.

It is critical that ICANN is sufficiently insulated from these pressures to make independent decisions while simultaneously being responsive and accountable to the broader multi-stakeholder community.

But we should not delude ourselves that a successful ICANN transition will resolve the debate over the future of Internet governance.

Ample opportunities exist in the future, particularly meetings of the ITU and other international forums on the Internet like the WSIS and the WCIT, for countries desirous of more direct government control of the Internet to press their agenda.

It is unclear how this dispute will be resolved. But the stakes are high.

If Internet functions and freedom are harmed or subjected to unnecessary regulatory burdens or political interference, not only would there be economic damage, but a vital forum for freedom of speech and political dissent would be compromised.
-------------------
Brett D. Schaefer is the Jay Kingham fellow in International Regulatory Affairs at The Heritage Foundation. Schaefer analyzes a broad range of foreign policy issues, focusing primarily on international organizations and sub-Saharan Africa.

Tags: Internet Freedom, at stake, ICANN, NTIA,  UN, ITU, China, Russia, Muslim countries, limit free speech, Brett Schaefer, Heritage Fundation To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Thursday, June 04, 2015

EPA Looks at the Science and Finds Hydraulic Fracturing is No Threat to Drinking Water

A hydraulic fracturing site located atop the Marcellus shale
rock formation in Pennsylvania. Photo: Ty Wright/Bloomberg.
by Sean Hackbarth, Contributing Author: Hydraulic fracturing, when done correctly, is safe and saves Americans money. The science says so.

EPA looked at scientific studies, government, NGO, and industry data and concluded that hydraulic fracturing has not had "widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water."

For those of us closely involved in the debate over shale energy, this report simply reaffirms what previous science has shown, as Katie Brown explains at Energy In Depth:EPA's study actually builds upon a long list of studies that show the fracking process poses an exceedingly low risk of impacting underground sources of drinking water. It corroborates a "landmark study" by the U.S. Department of Energy in which the researchers injected tracers into hydraulic fracturing fluid and found no groundwater contamination after twelve months of monitoring. It is also in line with reports by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Government Accountability Office, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Groundwater Protection Council, to name just a few."The results of EPA's exhaustive new analysis of hydraulic fracturing should not come as a surprise," Christopher Guith, senior vice president for policy at the Institute for 21st Century Energy, said. "As the scope of America's shale oil and gas opportunities have become understood, states and industry have developed regulatory environments and practices that ensure that hydraulic fracturing is done safely."

In light of EPA's study, some people have some reevaluating to do:
This study shows that states are successfully regulating hydraulic fracturing and duplicative federal rules aren't needed. "Shale energy development continues to be a major economic driver of our economy, and it is critical that the federal government does not layer on duplicative and unnecessary regulations," said Guith.

As for hydraulic fracturing opponents, they need to stop denying the science.
---------------
Sean Hackbarth is a policy advocate and Senior Editor at U.S Chamber of Commerce. He twitters at @seanhackbarth and is a contributing author at the ARRA News Service.

Tags: EPA, Science, Hydralic Fracturing, no threat, drainking water, reports, Sean Hackbarth, Chamber of Commerce To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Obama Train . . .

. . . Obama Fast Track Trade Authority will hurt wages, kill jobs, increase regulations, and facilitate Obama’s phony climate change agenda.
Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

Tags: Obama Train, Fast Track Trade Authority, hurt wages, kill jobs, increase regulations, facilitate Obama’s phony climate change agenda, editorial cartoon, AF Branco To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Obamacare's Broken Promises: Americans Facing Double-Digit Premium Increases Across The USA

Today in Washington, D.C. - June 4, 2015:
The House reconvened at 9 AM today. The House took up H.R. 2577 — "Making appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other purposes." The proceeded to consider Amendments to bill.

Yesterday, the House passed another appropriations bill: H.R. 2578 (242-183) — "Making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other purposes."

The Senate reconvened at 9:30 AM today and resumed consideration of H.R. 1735, the Fiscal Year 2016 Defense Authorization bill.

At 10:30, the Senate voted 61-34 to adopt an amendment to the bill offered by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) that would add funding to upgrade the Army’s Stryker vehicles. At 1:45 PM, the Senate begins voting on amendments to the bill offered by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

In a speech on the floor this morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “Obamacare is a mess. It’s a law filled with broken promises, one that’s been plagued by failure, and one that’s caused costs to skyrocket for millions — after the supporters of this law promised costs would fall. I speak to you now in the wake of a bombshell revelation from the Administration: that many insurers are now requesting to raise premiums by double-digits across the country.

<“Numbers for Kentucky, for instance, just came out yesterday. Most of the insurers on the commonwealth’s Obamacare exchange are looking to raise premiums. Some of the proposed increases are as high as 25%, and some Kentuckians may now face double-digit premium increases for the second — or even third — year in a row.

“This is more bad Obamacare news for the people I represent. And in some states the proposed increases are even more alarming, if you can believe it.

“Kentuckians can look next door for proof of that, where some Hoosiers could be hit with a 46% jump in their premiums. Or, if they look south to Tennessee, they’ll see that premium hikes of 36% have been proposed.”

Just yesterday, the AP reported, “Iowa's largest private health insurer is proposing double-digit increases in premium rates for some of its individual plans next year, citing higher medical and prescription drug costs and greater use of services.

“Wellmark Health proposed the increases for 16 of its plans, including one increase of nearly 35 percent, in filings with state regulators and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Iowa-based insurers proposed rate increases of at least 10 percent for 30 separate plans, according to the federal HHS. The company serves 1.7 million Iowa residents.

“The proposed increases would apply to plans sold on the health insurance exchanges created under the federal health care law, as well as individual coverage sold through brokers and agents. . . . Coventry Health Care of Iowa proposed rate increases for 12 of its plans, ranging from nearly 11 percent to 20 percent. Time Insurance submitted two plans, proposing increases of 22 percent and 66 percent. . . .

“Wellmark said that, for every $1 in premiums paid by members in 2014, the company was spending $1.28 on health care claims, government fees and administration. ‘Thus current premium levels are too low to support the business, and will need to be increased substantially’ the company said.”

In the Granite State, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported, “Minuteman Health Inc. — which entered the New Hampshire exchange market this year with the lowest premiums — has requested rate increases ranging from 42 to 51 percent for next year, according to healthcare.gov, the online exchange established by the Affordable Care Act. Maine Community Health Options asked for premium increases between 19 and 22 percent.

“Both companies attributed their proposed increases in part to the Premium Assistance Program, the name for the Medicaid expansion program that is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1. . . .

“Maine Community estimated that claims from the Medicaid patients will be 61 percent higher than its current risk pool, according to a statement filed with healthcare.gov. Tom Policelli, the chief executive of Minuteman, said his actuaries had similar numbers when they worked out the proposed increase.”

And CNN writes, “Hold onto your wallets ... many insurers want to substantially hike rates on Obamacare policies for 2016. Many are proposing double-digit premium increases for individual policies, with some companies looking to boost rates more than 60%, according to a list posted Monday by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.”

According to the Obama administration’s own website for its unpopular health care law, several states have insurers seeking rate increases of over 50%: Delaware has one seeking a 54% rate increase, Utah a 58% increase, Virginia a nearly 60% increase, New Mexico 65%, Alabama nearly 71%, Nevada nearly 73%, Alaska nearly 78%, Arizona nearly 79%, and in Idaho, there’s an insurer seeking a 100% rate increase.

As Leader McConnell said, “These are huge numbers. They affect real people. We’ve seen the truth of that statement in the stories we hear from our constituents about how Obamacare’s massive cost burdens affect them.

“Take the Kentucky small business owner who wrote to say that his plan is now being cancelled thanks to Obamacare. ‘My monthly premium will increase from $610 to approx[imately] $1200,’ he said, ‘and this is with high deductibles.’

“Or take the constituent of mine from Floyd County who recently wrote to say that she can no longer afford her Silver Obamacare plan after the monthly premium spiked by more than 75 percent. ‘I was forced to take the Bronze Plan,’ she said, which ‘isn't worth the paper or ink to print it on.’ These are the kinds of stories that have become all too familiar in the age of Obamacare.”

He concluded, “It’s about time the President and his party worked constructively with us to start over on real health reform that can lower costs and increase choice, instead of hurting the Middle Class the way Obamacare does. That’s what the American people deserve.”

Tags: Obamacare, broken promises, Americans facing double-digit, premium increases, USA To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

ICYMI: DOD Charges Millions at Casinos, Strip Clubs on Govt. Credit Cards

Is this 2011 Phone Number still working?
ARRA Editor: Numerous reports have surfaced over
DOD & Military Services punishing and discharging active
duty members who espoused  moral / Christian values.
Judicial Watch's  article evidences just the tip of the
iceberg!  DOD & the current administration appears to
no longer desire moral military leaders in their midst.
Organizations loaded with "Fraud, Wast and Abuse,
 never seek out people with moral compass.  
Judicial Watch: In the latest of many flagrant examples of how tax dollars are wasted, government-issued credit cards were used by Department of Defense (DOD) employees to make more than $4 million in personal charges, including at casinos and strip clubs.

During a one-year period the agency charged 20 million transactions for $3.4 billion on government credit cards, according to a DOD Inspector General report issued this month. About $3.2 million of it was spent at casinos and nearly $1 million on personal expenses, including about $100,000 at strip clubs by 646 card holders. The casino charges were made through 4,437 transactions by 2,636 charge card holders, according to the report which breaks down expenditures by military branch.

The U.S. Air Force is by far the biggest offender, outspending other branches and civilian DOD employees with government-issued credit cards. In the year analyzed by investigators, the Air Force charged more than $400,000 in personal expenses at casinos and nearly $40,000 at strip clubs. The Army came in second by spending almost $350,000 at casinos during the same period and nearly $35,000 at “adult entertainment establishments.”

As an example the report lists a member of the Naval Special Welfare Group who made a dozen transactions on a government credit card for a total of $1,116 at adult entertainment venues during a business trip to El Paso, Texas. The same sailor also charged $648 in food, drinks and bank withdrawals at other establishments during the El Paso trip, according to the inspector general report. “While in El Paso, the cardholder spent more than six times his total [allotted money for expenses], which included Dreams Cabaret, Jaguars Gold Club, Tequila Sunrise, and Red Parrot Gentlemen’s Club,” the report states.

Another example features a senior airman at a North Carolina Air Force base who traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada on Uncle Sam’s dime. He made three charges totaling $4,686 with his government credit card at the Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club. The same airman tried to charge an additional $920, but the inspector general discloses that the bank declined it because it would have exceeded the spending limit on the card. “The cardholder later admitted that he used his [government card] at the Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club VIP room for himself and several friends,” the report states.

One effective way to prevent this sort of outrageous waste from occurring in the future is to forbid using government travel cards at casinos and strip clubs, the DOD watchdog points out. Profound as this may seem, the DOD has no such rule in place. In fact, the Pentagon’s Defense Travel Management Office responded to the inspector general’s probe by patting itself on the back for a system that evidently screens for problems. It’s so effective, the DOD travel office asserts, that improper spending is a tiny percentage of the total credit card spending.

This is nothing new for the Pentagon. In fact, it has a long history of wasting money egregiously and Judicial Watch has reported it for years. Last summer JW wrote about a DOD Inspector General report documenting how the agency overpaid around $9 million for spare parts for a helicopter. A year earlier the Pentagon lost at least $1.1 billion to waste and fraud, according to a federal audit conducted by the investigative arm of Congress. In 2012 the agency blew $2.7 million on faulty software that was supposed to help cut costs by updating antiquated financial ledgers that create serious management weaknesses.

Tags: DOD, Fraud, Waste, Abuse, charges millions, Casinos, Strip Clubs, Government Credit Cards, Judicial Watch report To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

‘Costs Exploding Under Obamacare’

‘Hold Onto Your Wallets’ America

Broken Promises: “Finally, my proposal would bring down the cost of health care for millions -- families, businesses, and the federal government.” (President Obama, Remarks, 3/3/10)
  • “I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family's premium by up to $2,500 a year." (Senator Obama, Remarks, 6/23/07)
‘Hold Onto Your Wallets’ – Costs Rising For Families

“Hold onto your wallets ... many insurers want to substantially hike rates on Obamacare policies for 2016.” (“Obamacare Sticker Shock: Big Rate Hikes Proposed For 2016,” CNN, 6/2/15)
“Many insurers… say they are asking for higher premiums because they remain unsure about the future and what their medical costs will be.” (“Seeking Rate Increases, Insurers Use Guesswork,” New York Times, 6/2/15)

IDAHO: Rate increases up to 100% “Blue Cross of Idaho Health Service, Inc., Gold & Silver St. Luke’s CCO – Individual … Requested Rate Increase: 100%.” (“Idaho Rate Review Submissions,” Healthcare.gov, Accessed 6/2/15)

ARIZONA: Rate increases up to 79% “Time Insurance Company, 2016 Individual Medical Plan – Individual … Requested Rate Increase: 78.88%.” (“Arizona Rate Review Submissions,” Healthcare.gov, Accessed 6/2/15)

ALASKA: Rate increases up to 78% “Time Insurance Company, 2016 Individual Medical Plan – Individual … Requested Rate Increase: 77.53%” (“Alaska Rate Review Submissions,” Healthcare.gov, Accessed 6/2/15)

NEVADA: Rate increases up to 73% “Time Insurance Company, 2016 Individual Medical Plan – Individual … Requested Rate Increase: 72.78%.” (“Nevada Rate Review Submissions,” Healthcare.gov, Accessed 6/2/15)

ALABAMA: Rate increases up to 71%“Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, Blue Choice Platinum – Individual … Requested Rate Increase: 70.88%.”  (“Alabama Rate Review Submissions,” Healthcare.gov, Accessed 6/2/15)

NEW MEXICO: Rate increases up to 65% “Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico, PPO – Individual … Requested Rate Increase: 65.01%.” (“New Mexico Rate Review Submissions,” Healthcare.gov, Accessed 6/2/15)

VIRGINIA: Rate increases up to 60% “Aetna Life Insurance Company, Aetna Fee For Service – Small Group … Requested Rate Increase: 59.71%.” (“Virginia Rate Review Submissions,” Healthcare.gov, Accessed 6/2/15)

UTAH: Rate increases up to 58%“Arches Mutual Insurance Company, Arches Health Plan Individual POS – Individual … Requested Rate Increase: 58.00%” (“Utah Rate Review Submissions,” Healthcare.gov, Accessed 6/2/15)

DELAWARE: Rate increases up to 54% “Time Insurance Company, 2016 Individual Medical Plan – Individual … Requested Rate Increase: 54.28%.” (“Delaware Rate Review Submissions,” Healthcare.gov, Accessed 6/2/15)

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Rate increases up to 51% “Minuteman Health, Inc., MHI NH MNO 13 – Individual … Requested Rate Increase: 51.27%.” (“New Hampshire Rate Review Submissions,” Healthcare.gov, Accessed 6/2/15)

Costs Rising For Taxpayers

CMS, OFFICE OF THE ACTUARY: “By 2023 federal, state, and local government financing is projected to account for 48 percent of national health expenditures, up from 44 percent in 2012, and to reach a total of $2.5 trillion.” (Office Of The Chief Actuary For The Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services, “National Health Expenditure Projections, 2013-23”, Health Affairs, October 2014)
‘Exchanges Are Wrestling With Surging Costs’
‘Overhead Costs Exploding’

“Five years after the passage of ObamaCare, there is one expense that’s still causing sticker shock across the healthcare industry: overhead costs. The administrative costs for healthcare plans are expected to explode by more than a quarter of a trillion dollars over the next decade, according to a new study published by the Health Affairs blog. The $270 billion in new costs, for both private insurance companies and government programs, will be ‘over and above what would have been expected had the law not been enacted,’ one of the authors, David Himmelstein, wrote Wednesday. Those costs will be particularly high this year, when overhead is expected to make up 45 percent of all federal spending related to the Affordable Care Act.” (“Overhead Costs Exploding Under Obamacare, Study Finds,” The Hill, 5/27/15)

“The extra administrative costs amount to the equivalent of $1,375 per newly insured person per year, the authors write.” (“Overhead Costs Exploding Under Obamacare, Study Finds,” The Hill, 5/27/15)

‘One Of The Biggest Cost Drivers Is Call Centers’

“Nearly half of the 17 insurance marketplaces set up by the states and the District under President Obama’s health law are struggling financially, presenting state officials with an unexpected and serious challenge five years after the passage of the landmark Affordable Care Act. Many of the online exchanges are wrestling with surging costs, especially for balky technology and expensive customer-call centers — and tepid enrollment numbers.” (“Nearly Half Of Obamacare Exchanges Are Struggling Over Their Future,” Washington Post, 5/1/15)

“Most exchanges have operating budgets of $28 million to $32 million. One of the biggest cost drivers is call centers, where operators answer questions and can sign people up. Enrollment can be a lengthy process — and in several states, contractors are paid by the minute.” (“Nearly Half Of Obamacare Exchanges Are Struggling Over Their Future,” Washington Post, 5/1/15)

“A billion dollar government contract involving hundreds of local workers at an Obamacare processing center in Wentzville. But now employees on the inside are stepping forward, asking, ‘Is this why we're broke?’ Some of them claim to spend most of their day doing nothing.” (KMOV-MO, 5/12/14)

“On April 16, a person claiming to be a former Serco employee posted this online, ‘This place is a JOKE. There's nothing to do--NO WORK.’” (“Obamacare Contractor Pays Employees To Spend Their Days Doing Nothing,” Weekly Standard, 5/13/14)

‘‘I feel guilty for working there as long as I did,’ Takatz, 42, told the newspaper. ‘It was like I was stealing money from people.’” (“Contractor For Obama Health Reform Law Scrutinized,” AP, 5/15/14)

Costs Rising For Employers

“The Commonwealth Fund's state-by-state analysis also shows that in every state over the course of a decade, the cost of employer-provided health care still grew faster than incomes. That, in turn, had led to workers footing a bigger share of the costs of their health insurance. In fact, employee contributions to their insurance costs have risen by as much as 175% since 2003 in some cases — with workers in the south having the biggest cost burden.” (“Workers 'Squeezed' By Health Insurance Costs,” USA Today, 1/17/15)

“Nationwide, the average contribution an employee made to an insurance premium in 2013 and the average deductible together represented 9.6 percent of the median income of American households with members under age 65. That is up from 8.4 percent in 2010 and nearly double the 5.3 percent that households were paying for employer-provided health coverage in 2003.” (“Insurance Costs Continue To Squeeze Workers,” The Baltimore Sun, 1/8/15)

Tags: Exploding cost, Obamacare, news reports, nationwide To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

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  • 1/4/15 - 1/11/15
  • 1/11/15 - 1/18/15
  • 1/18/15 - 1/25/15
  • 1/25/15 - 2/1/15
  • 2/1/15 - 2/8/15
  • 2/8/15 - 2/15/15
  • 2/15/15 - 2/22/15
  • 2/22/15 - 3/1/15
  • 3/1/15 - 3/8/15
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  • 3/15/15 - 3/22/15
  • 3/22/15 - 3/29/15
  • 3/29/15 - 4/5/15
  • 4/5/15 - 4/12/15
  • 4/12/15 - 4/19/15
  • 4/19/15 - 4/26/15
  • 4/26/15 - 5/3/15
  • 5/3/15 - 5/10/15
  • 5/10/15 - 5/17/15
  • 5/17/15 - 5/24/15
  • 5/24/15 - 5/31/15
  • 5/31/15 - 6/7/15
  • 6/7/15 - 6/14/15
  • 6/14/15 - 6/21/15
  • 6/21/15 - 6/28/15
  • 6/28/15 - 7/5/15
  • 7/5/15 - 7/12/15
  • 7/12/15 - 7/19/15
  • 7/19/15 - 7/26/15
  • 7/26/15 - 8/2/15
  • 8/2/15 - 8/9/15
  • 8/9/15 - 8/16/15
  • 8/16/15 - 8/23/15
  • 8/23/15 - 8/30/15
  • 8/30/15 - 9/6/15
  • 9/6/15 - 9/13/15
  • 9/13/15 - 9/20/15
  • 9/20/15 - 9/27/15
  • 9/27/15 - 10/4/15
  • 10/4/15 - 10/11/15
  • 10/11/15 - 10/18/15
  • 10/18/15 - 10/25/15
  • 10/25/15 - 11/1/15
  • 11/1/15 - 11/8/15
  • 11/8/15 - 11/15/15
  • 11/15/15 - 11/22/15
  • 11/22/15 - 11/29/15
  • 11/29/15 - 12/6/15
  • 12/6/15 - 12/13/15
  • 12/13/15 - 12/20/15
  • 12/20/15 - 12/27/15
  • 12/27/15 - 1/3/16
  • 1/3/16 - 1/10/16
  • 1/10/16 - 1/17/16
  • 1/17/16 - 1/24/16
  • 1/24/16 - 1/31/16
  • 1/31/16 - 2/7/16
  • 2/7/16 - 2/14/16
  • 2/14/16 - 2/21/16
  • 2/21/16 - 2/28/16
  • 2/28/16 - 3/6/16
  • 3/6/16 - 3/13/16
  • 3/13/16 - 3/20/16
  • 3/20/16 - 3/27/16
  • 3/27/16 - 4/3/16
  • 4/3/16 - 4/10/16
  • 4/10/16 - 4/17/16
  • 4/17/16 - 4/24/16
  • 4/24/16 - 5/1/16
  • 5/1/16 - 5/8/16
  • 5/8/16 - 5/15/16
  • 5/15/16 - 5/22/16
  • 5/22/16 - 5/29/16
  • 5/29/16 - 6/5/16
  • 6/5/16 - 6/12/16
  • 6/12/16 - 6/19/16
  • 6/19/16 - 6/26/16
  • 6/26/16 - 7/3/16
  • 7/3/16 - 7/10/16
  • 7/10/16 - 7/17/16
  • 7/17/16 - 7/24/16
  • 7/24/16 - 7/31/16
  • 7/31/16 - 8/7/16
  • 8/7/16 - 8/14/16
  • 8/14/16 - 8/21/16
  • 8/21/16 - 8/28/16
  • 8/28/16 - 9/4/16
  • 9/4/16 - 9/11/16
  • 9/11/16 - 9/18/16
  • 9/18/16 - 9/25/16
  • 9/25/16 - 10/2/16
  • 10/2/16 - 10/9/16
  • 10/9/16 - 10/16/16
  • 10/16/16 - 10/23/16
  • 10/23/16 - 10/30/16
  • 10/30/16 - 11/6/16
  • 11/6/16 - 11/13/16
  • 11/13/16 - 11/20/16
  • 11/20/16 - 11/27/16
  • 11/27/16 - 12/4/16
  • 12/4/16 - 12/11/16
  • 12/11/16 - 12/18/16
  • 12/18/16 - 12/25/16
  • 12/25/16 - 1/1/17
  • 1/1/17 - 1/8/17
  • 1/8/17 - 1/15/17
  • 1/15/17 - 1/22/17
  • 1/22/17 - 1/29/17
  • 1/29/17 - 2/5/17
  • 2/5/17 - 2/12/17
  • 2/12/17 - 2/19/17
  • 2/19/17 - 2/26/17
  • 2/26/17 - 3/5/17
  • 3/5/17 - 3/12/17
  • 3/12/17 - 3/19/17
  • 3/19/17 - 3/26/17
  • 3/26/17 - 4/2/17
  • 4/2/17 - 4/9/17
  • 4/9/17 - 4/16/17
  • 4/16/17 - 4/23/17
  • 4/23/17 - 4/30/17
  • 4/30/17 - 5/7/17
  • 5/7/17 - 5/14/17
  • 5/14/17 - 5/21/17
  • 5/21/17 - 5/28/17
  • 5/28/17 - 6/4/17
  • 6/4/17 - 6/11/17
  • 6/11/17 - 6/18/17
  • 6/18/17 - 6/25/17
  • 6/25/17 - 7/2/17
  • 7/2/17 - 7/9/17
  • 7/9/17 - 7/16/17
  • 7/16/17 - 7/23/17
  • 7/23/17 - 7/30/17
  • 7/30/17 - 8/6/17
  • 8/6/17 - 8/13/17
  • 8/13/17 - 8/20/17