Health Plan Providers Are Concerned

These providers, which surprisingly The Wall Street Journal misapprehends as insurers, are bracing for a drop in enrollment in the ongoing health plan provision program “turmoil.”  There’s this key passage in the article at the link:

[M]any firms say they expect to lose consumers who will bear the full brunt of the rate increases—those who aren’t eligible for the health law’s premium subsidies, which help enrollees with annual incomes of less than around $48,000.

The National Association of Realtors Objects

The NAR is objecting to the current tax reform plan’s essential doubling of the standard deduction to $12,000 for single filers and to $24,000 for married couples.

The Realtors are upset because they say this middle-class tax cut would make fewer taxpayers use the mortgage-interest deduction. The National Association of Realtors trashed the framework in a statement, saying it “would all but nullify the incentive to purchase a home for most, amounting to a de facto tax increase” and ensure “that only the top 5% of Americans have the opportunity to benefit from the mortgage interest deduction.”

Laziness

Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, and HSBC, banks allegedly involved in rigging the erstwhile international debt interest rate benchmark LIBOR, are going to pay $132 million in aggregate to “settle” a court case over that alleged involvement.

The proposed settlements…include no admission of wrongdoing.

The banks are paying the money for—as the plaintiffs plainly agree by their own acceptance of the settlement—not doing anything.

This is a bad deal. If the banks didn’t do anything wrong, for what are they paying? If they deserve fines, why aren’t they being kept in court for an on-the-record public recitation of their wrongdoing and punishment?

Must Be Dead Broke Again

The money’s already spent, and the Clinton Foundation has no other money to send back to Harvey Weinstein.

That’s the excuse that the Clinton Foundation is using (I’m deliberately eliding Hillary Clinton’s fatuous excuse for not returning Weinstein’s donations to her campaign—”there’s no one to return the money to”) for refusing to return Weinstein’s donation of somewhere between $100,000 to $250,000 to the Foundation.

The money’s gone.  And since money is eminently fungible, as all of the management of the Clinton Foundation—Chairman Bill Clinton, Vice Chairman Chelsea Clinton, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer Craig Minassian, et al.—all know full well, by implication the Foundation has no other money with which to make the returns.

Health Plan Coverage and Contraception

The Wall Street Journal has noted that the Trump administration has taken regulatory action to reduce, if not eliminate (the Supreme Court still has to do its job vis-à-vis a Little Sisters of the Poor case, as does Congress legislatively, contra a short handful of Republicans who prefer Obamacare intact over any step toward getting rid of it), the requirement that health plan providers provide contraception to women at no cost to those women coverees and do so regardless of any question of conscience or religious tenet.

Naturally, Progressive-Democrats and the Left generally have their collective panties in a wedgie over that.  However, they carefully ignore certain inconvenient facts.

Two Health Insurance Markets?

The Wall Street Journal has misunderstood the situation and the proposal [emphasis added].

President Donald Trump’s executive order on health insurance, the most significant step so far to put his stamp on health policy, is designed to give more options to healthy consumers. It also could divide the insurance market in two.

What Trump is purportedly going to do with his Executive Order is

  • instruct[] federal agencies to loosen rules on health plans that the administration says have driven up premiums and reduced insurance offerings

Estate Tax and Tax Reform

Senate Republicans seem unable to understand this subject, also.

Others [Republicans] say their desire to eliminate the [estate] tax must be balanced against other priorities including tax cuts for businesses and middle-class families.

This is disingenuous. Eliminating the estate tax explicitly favors middle-class families and businesses: it’s the small businesses and farms that are owned by middle class families that are the most harmed by this death tax.

Aside from that is this piece of irrelevancy:

Estate tax repeal would reduce federal revenue by about $239 billion over the next decade, according to the Tax Policy Center.

YGTBSM

This is from a Food and Drug Administration warning letter to the owners of Nashoba Brook Bakery, via The Wall Street Journal:

Your…products are misbranded…because…the labels fail to bear a complete list of all the ingredients by common or usual name….

Your Nashoba Granola label lists ingredient “Love.” Ingredients required to be declared on the label or labeling of food must be listed by their common or usual name…. “Love” is not a common or usual name of an ingredient, and is considered to be intervening material because it is not part of the common or usual name of the ingredient.

Another Example

…of government regulatory failure.  The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which regulates, among other financial institutions, brokerage houses, has its own investment portfolio.  FINRA charges fees from those it regulates for their privilege of being regulated.  And

In years when FINRA’s fee revenue exceeds forecasts and investment gains are strong, the regulator can rebate fees paid by firms it regulates.

Investment gains are strong.  However, FINRA turns out to be a crappy investor, getting just two-thirds of the return since 2004, when the regulatory body’s investment portfolio was created, that a simple-minded standard portfolio mix of 50% each of bonds and stocks would have gotten in the same period.  Its return shortfall, 3.4% vs that standard portfolio’s 6%, is a real money shortfall: $440 million for a portfolio of $1.6 billion.

Some Early Thoughts on the Tax Reform Proposal

…triggered by Laura Saunders’ piece in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal.

Beginning with the headline and thesis of her piece: Winners and Losers Under the Trump Tax Plan. Because Government should be about picking winners and losers instead of just protecting a level free market for all.  Sure.

Now a couple of specifics.

People with large medical or disaster deductions. Each of these write-offs on Schedule A has significant hurdles and is only available to taxpayers with large unreimbursed expenses