Projection

Kentucky has decided to take advantage of new Federal Medicaid rules and add a work requirement to those receiving Medicaid payments in order for them to be eligible for continued payments.  Recipients in the typical working age range of 19-64 must do 80 hours—two weeks—of what the State terms “community engagement.”  There are, of course, exceptions for those who cannot work.

As Kentucky’s governor Matt Bevin (R) noted in his tweet about his decision to approve the new rule,

There is dignity associated with earning the value of something that you receive. The vast majority of men and women, able-bodied men and women … they want the dignity associated with being able to earn and have engagement.

It’s a Start

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has been instructed by President Donald Trump to adjust its rules to allow the States to adjust their own rules to require work for Medicaid payments.

This is a very good start.  There are two remaining steps, though.  The funds transferred to the States in support of Medicaid need to be converted to block grants with no strings attached.  Each State knows its own medical support needs far better than does the Federal government.

The Price of Labor

…is also a cost to labor.  Minimum wage mandates took effect at the start of the year in 18 States and in 20 cities.  These mandates have drastically raised the cost to labor.

Late Monday, casual dining chain Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (RRGB) announced that it would eliminate bus boys at 570 restaurant locations, a move that is expected to save the company an estimated $8 million over the course of the coming year. The company’s chief financial officer said the decision was made in order to “address the labor increases we’ve seen.”

Tax, Tax, Tax

That’s the position of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.  With Great Britain going out from the European Union, Juncker says the remaining nations will have to pony up yet more money “if we are to pursue European policies and fund them adequately[.]”

Currently, the EU budget is capped at 1% of the total of the EU members’ aggregated GDP.  However, it’s not enough, though, that the remaining nations will have to fill the large-ish gap created by the British departure.  Juncker wants yet more.

Yet, even that “have to fill” bit remains unjustified in any concrete terms.

Energy Poor?

In an otherwise reasonable piece on the disaster that the Global Warming Funding Industry represents for the poor folks, Bjorn Lomborg, Copenhagen Consensus Center President (aside: he, too, uses the climatistas’ euphemistic obfuscation “climate change”), Lomberg based much of his argument on this definition of energy poverty:

Economists consider households energy poor if they spend 10% of their income to cover energy costs.

Wow.  I guess, then, that households that spend 20%-30% on their housing costs must be housing poor even more so.

Prolly need lots of Government subsidies for homeowners and renters, too.  The solution to [housing] need not punish the poor.

Value in Spending vs Parity in Spending

The House and Senate leadership met Wednesday in Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R, WI) office, along with White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, to see if there’s any possibility of the Progressive-Democrats working with Republicans to get Federal spending under control.  It seems not.

Both parties claim to want to increase our ability to defend ourselves and our friends and allies, and so both claim to want to increase defense spending.  Only one of the two seems serious, however.  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D, CA):

Trade Reciprocity

When the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US refused to approve a deal between the People’s Republic of China’s Ant Financial Services Group and MoneyGram International Inc, wherein the former would acquire the latter, Anjani Trivedi in a Wall Street Journal article lamented the demise of “deal making” between American companies and PRC companies.

Beijing has softened its attitude somewhat recently, relaxing its foreign-investment policies to lure more capital into specific sectors, including financial services. With the CFIUS decision on Ant and MoneyGram, it’s clear such moves aren’t going to be met with much reciprocity.

And

Uninformed

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is upset because his enormously high taxes are going to be exposed in all their fiscally painful glory by the just-passed tax reform bill.

We’re going to propose a restructuring of our tax code. I’m not even sure what they [Republicans] did is legally constitutional and that’s something we’re looking at now.  You can change the tax code. You can’t penalize my state because of its political affiliation. There’s never been a double taxation before in the history of the nation.

A Thought on Student Loans

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is taking steps to redress the Obama administration travesty of a student loan program, but these can only be interim steps and by themselves are entirely insufficient.

Unfortunately, the student loan programs are entirely dysfunctional and want complete revamping. My high-level suggestions:

  1. student loan discharge only via bankruptcy, no special treatment of these loans
  2. let schools and students write their own loan agreements, including interest rates and payback provisions, without Government interference
  3. hold those schools and students to those agreements
  4. if Government guarantees any student loans, do so IAW the following:

The Veteran’s Choice Program

This is a program that would give veterans the option of going to a private sector doctor in lieu of playing the delay wait game at a Veterans Administration facility, after the veteran has jumped through the requisite VA hoops.  After a political tussle in Congress over increasing/renewing its funding, some additional money was provided.  That additional funding was necessitated because

its popularity depleted the allocated funds more quickly than anticipated. Patient visits through the program increased more than 30% in the first quarter of fiscal year 2017, according to the VA.