Obamacare and ObamaMart Strike Again

In the continuing story of ObamaMart’s still incomplete (!) backend, the part of the Web site that takes the citizen’s input and sorts it, collates it with other government information, and then passes it on to other relevant parties—the health plan providers, for instance, and the IRS—there’s this:

Because of complicated connections between the new health care law and income taxes, the Department of Health and Human Services must send out millions of new tax forms next year.

The forms are called 1095-As, and list who in each household has health coverage, and how much the government paid each month to subsidize those insurance premiums. Nearly 5 million people have gotten subsidies through HealthCare.gov.

More Regulatory…Foolishness

Gordon Crovitz identified some.

The Obama administration’s standard reaction to technological innovation has been to block change via regulation….

Federal regulators are also putting the brakes on self-driving cars, which are closely related to the Uber innovation—enabling riders to order a car service using their smartphone app. If fast-moving technology hadn’t collided with slow-moving regulators, this might have been the last summer you’d have to drive your own car.

And

US regulators won’t let car manufacturers go much beyond what Mercedes now offers [active cruise control, automatic braking and lane-keeping technologies]. That means car makers can’t roll out technologies they already have, and auto makers in Europe, which has fewer regulations limiting technology, have surpassed their US competitors.

Another Look at Tax Inversion Mergers

Burger King Worldwide Inc is in talks to buy Canadian coffee-and-doughnut chain Tim Hortons Inc, a deal that would be structured as a so-called tax inversion and move the hamburger seller’s base to Canada.

After all, Canada’s corporate tax rate is competitive even with Ireland’s 12.5% rate, at least from the lofty perspective of our own 35% top corporate rate: Canada’s rate is 15%. This inversion isn’t just the fiscally sound thing to do, it satisfies the company management’s fiduciary duty to control costs and maximize profits for the company’s owners.

BK isn’t alone in moving to Canada:

Obamacare and Jobs

The results are starting to come in, via three independently done polls by three separate Federal Reserve Banks.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia:

  • 78.8% of businesses in the district have made no change to the number of workers they employ as the specific result of ObamaCare
  • 3% are hiring more
  • 18.2% are cutting jobs and employees
  • 18% shifted the composition of their workforce to a higher proportion of part-time labor
  • 88.2% of the roughly half of businesses that modified their health plans as a result of ObamaCare passed along the costs through increasing the employee contribution to premiums, an effective cut in wages

Drug Markets and Regulation

With this attitude, we’re not going to have much of a drug development or production industry—to the detriment of our drug market.

“A big part of our concern is not just Sovaldi [a new, and so still very expensive, drug with a near-perfect cure rate for Hepatitis C], but all the other specialty drugs,” said Mario Molina, the CEO of Molina Healthcare that runs Medicaid and ObamaCare plans in nine states, on a July earnings call. He added: “I think that the government needs to step in here and make sure that the market is rational. If we as a health plan want a rate increase, we have to go to our regulators and get it approved. There’s no such thing going on in the pharmaceutical market.

A Trade War

Russia has announced that it won’t buy certain goods from certain of the nations that are sanctioning Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and its fomenting of rebellion in eastern Ukraine. This is a trade war that Russia shouldn’t be expected to win.

For one thing, Russia’s economy is the size of Italy’s and more moribund, so any trade war can only hurt Russia relatively more than it can hurt the far larger economies of the US, the EU, Australia, Canada, even Norway, who are the targets of the Russian boycott.

For another thing, here are some facts related to this boycott.

Entitlements and Taxes

Dr Ben Carson had a couple thoughts a while ago; they’re still valid.

On taxes:

What we need to do is come up with something simple. And when I pick up my Bible, you know what I see? I see the fairest individual in the universe, God, and he’s given us a system. It’s called a tithe.

We don’t necessarily have to do 10% but it’s the principle. He didn’t say if your crops fail, don’t give me any tithe, or if you have a bumper crop, give me triple tithe. So there must be something inherently fair about proportionality. You make $10 billion, you put in a billion. You make $10 you put in one. Of course you’ve got to get rid of the loopholes.

Appellate Court En Banc Hearings

The DC Circuit a short time ago held in Halbig v Burwell that Federal regulations regarding Federal health plan exchanges violate Obamacare’s plain language: Federal subsidies, contrary to those regulations, are available only to health plan holders who got their plans through State-run health plan exchanges.

Adam White, in a recent Wall Street Journal piece in the context of that ruling and the Federal government’s subsequent appeal to the DC Circuit to rehear the case en banc, noted a couple of things.

One is how rare en banc (re)hearings are, especially for the DC Circuit:

Another Government Overreach

In a recent op-ed piece, The Wall Street Journal correctly decried the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s CARDS program. This program, cynically named “Comprehensive Automated Risk Data System,” is a program that wants to require all of our brokerage houses to report to FINRA massive amounts of data concerning our investment accounts, including what we’re doing in (with?) those accounts.

The op-ed correctly objected to CARDS’ massive collection of data, saying

FINRA says the ocean of data will help it spot a problem almost in real time, far earlier than if it showed up during a regular examination. …

Paul Ryan’s Expanding Opportunity in America

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s “Expanding Opportunity in America” proposal can be seen in full here. I’ll only comment on parts of it in this post.

On the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, then, we should reexamine the federal government’s role. For too long, the federal government has tried to supplant, and not to support, the people fighting poverty on the front lines—families, neighborhoods, community groups. In the fight against poverty, the people ultimately are the vanguard, and government is the rearguard. Government protects the supply lines. But it is the people themselves who take to the front lines.