It Just Keeps Getting Better and Better

…or worse and worse, depending on your perspective.  Not only is the Veterans Administration continuing to make bad/false/improper payments, they seem to be getting acceleratingly worse about it.  The Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General reported that the VA made $5 billion in “improper” payments in 2015, and then while that drew attention, the VA increased their improper payouts to $5.5 billion in 2016.

To show how terrible the rates can be, here are some data from James Clark at the above link:

  • the VA Community Care had 75% of their payments as “improper” payments in 2016

Medicaid Cuts?

Some conservative Republican Senators are looking to cut Federal transfers to the States earmarked for those States’ Medicaid programs.  Others are concerned.

[T]he [conservative Senate Republicans’] Medicaid plan could affect many more people and shift significant costs onto hospitals and states.

The PRC and Northern Korea

Harry Kazianis tried to explain, in his Real Clear World piece, why the People’s Republic of China “won’t solve” the northern Korea crisis for us.  It’s complicated for the PRC, he said.

He [Kazianis’ carefully unidentified “Chinese scholar” and “retired official of the People’s Liberation Army”] pressed his case, noting, “look at this problem from where I sit in Beijing. I see a world of trouble when it comes to North Korea. I see war. I see death. I see superpower showdowns. We must all agree we don’t want this. Yes, nuclear weapons are bad, but North Korea could create far more trouble than you realize, and China would have to deal with most of it.”

Stuff

Now The New York Times is jumping on the bandwagon.  The paper is claiming that a James Comey memo has it that President Donald Trump interfered with Comey’s investigation of Trump’s ex-NSA advisor, Mike Flynn.  The following is based heavily on a comment I posted on Grim’s Hall.

First, the paper doesn’t have the memo; it was read to them. By a deliberately unidentified source. If the memo exists.  If the reader exists.

Payback

Recall that when President Donald Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, he allowed Russian photographers to take pictures but not photographers from the American NLMSM.

Now the Washington Post is claiming that President Trump “revealed highly classified information to [the] Russian foreign minister and ambassador” in that Oval Office meeting.

What’s being ignored in the manufactured hysteria over this is that WaPo very carefully used only anonymous sources for their claims: current and former US officials and officials and a US official familiar with the matter and a former senior US official and an official with knowledge of the exchange and a former senior US counterterrorism official and [a] former intelligence official and on and on.

Briefly

President Trump has promised to roll back the regulatory state, but he’ll need the help of a judiciary that has for decades deferred too eagerly to executive agencies.

Indeed.  As the WSJ op-ed at the link says, that’ll require the judiciary to recognize its role in the Federal government and, in particular, its position in the hierarchy.

The proximate matter here is a DC Circuit ruling in US Telecom Association v Federal Communications Commission which used the Chevron Deference doctrine (which holds that the Court should be spring-loaded to uphold an Executive Branch agency rule rather than considering its constitutionality—its legitimacy—de novo on its merits) to find for the FCC.  Judge Brett Kavanaugh dissented, and he based his dissent in large part on decrying that deference doctrine.  The WSJ asked

This is Why

…we can’t have nice schools.

Students at the University of New Hampshire [boycotted] final exams after a student uploaded a picture of another white student in what appears to be a bedtime facial mask, implying it’s “blackface.”

The university caved in to the students’ demands, and postponed the exams.

The right answer would have been to hold the finals as scheduled, let the pupils who skipped them—for whatever reason—receive failing grades on the exams, with attendant consequences for their course grade for the semester and for their graduation.

Senate Democrat Obstructionism, More of

Present Donald Trump, as many of you are aware, has nominated 10 conservative persons to judgeships in a number of Federal districts and Federal appellate courts.  Senate Progressive-Democrats are, of course, objecting.  One of those nominees (David Stras) is a Minnesota judge nominated to the 8th Circuit.  Senator Al Franken (D, MN) is…concerned…because nobody consulted him on the matter, and he’s threatening to block Stras.  There’s no petty, precious arrogance there.  Mm, mm.  Not a bit.

Senator Dick Durbin (D, IL) is more broadly “concerned.”

[A]s long as we have the [blue-slip] authority, we’ll use it if necessary.

A Thought on Tax Reform

The Wall Street Journal‘s piece by Laurence Kotlikoff, a Boston University economist, on tax reform had this subhead [emphasis added]:

The House proposal beats Trump’s plan, which is more regressive and would induce huge tax avoidance.

There are a number of questions considered in the article, but the prior question, it seems to me is that tax avoidance bit.  The question of tax avoidance is an interesting non sequitur.  Kotlikoff (or the WSJ‘s headline writer), like too many others, is tacitly assuming Government is entitled [sic] to our money; he is giving not the least particle of thought to the need to establish, first, that Government even needs the money before there can be any tax to be avoided.

Expanding their Empire?

The SEC—the Securities and Exchange Commission—doesn’t have enough power; it wants to convince more private companies, over which it has no jurisdiction, to go public so it can regulate them, too?

To spur more companies to go public, the new head of the Securities and Exchange Commission has turned to a veteran Silicon Valley lawyer whose career has involved some of the biggest deals in history.

SEC Commissioner Jay Clayton seems to be sincere in this effort, but he won’t be around forever, and his predecessor had different regulatory ideas, and so likely will his successors.

Then there’s this: