Obamacare….

…again. The claimed purpose of Obamacare is to get every American covered by a health plan.

Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, with its mandate that all Americans purchase insurance and requirement for businesses to offer employees insurance plans, many small companies provided coverage by directly reimbursing medical costs or for the cost of private insurance plans. Businesses do it because that’s a less complicated process than dealing with an official health insurance plan….

An IRS Rule (remember these guys and their rules?) that took effect on 1 Jul punishes those businesses for helping their employees.

US Access to Space

Last weekend, a SpaceX rocket carrying supplies to the Space Station exploded while staging after launch. This follows an Orbital Sciences resupply rocket explosion last fall and a Russian resupply rocket failure last spring.

USAF General (Ret) William Shelton, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, is lamenting legislation barring the use of Russian rocket engines in our launchers, and his concern is sparked by those failures.

Rents and Rental Ownership

New York City is going to do it, again.

Mayor Bill de Blasio appears poised to deliver on a campaign promise to freeze rents for more than one million tenants protected by New York City’s rent-stabilization laws.

Both landlord and tenants leaders said they expect the Rent Guidelines Board to approve the freeze, affecting one-year apartment leases beginning on or after Oct 1, on Monday….

Never mind that

…an annual report showed that landlord operating costs only rose 0.5% due to falling fuel prices. Excluding volatile fuel costs, overall costs rose 3.6%.

The Supreme Court Erred Again

Heads up: long post. I have some thoughts on the Roberts Court’s ruling concerning the IRS’ tax credits.

Chief Justice John Roberts again rewrote the Patient Protection Affordable and Care Act to suit what he thought it should say rather than staying within the bounds of what it actually says. In these comments I’ll leave aside Roberts’ guiding principles that health plans that are independent of the risk being transferred are, somehow, insurance plans; that possession of a health plan is a universal so good it must be mandated; and that the folks who need a health plan the least—the healthy—must also be required to possess such a plan. Those matters have been well addressed elsewhere. I’ll confine my remarks to his position on the IRS’ tax credits.

International Trade and Hillary Clinton

Recall that the Democrats in the House of Representatives last week blew up their erstwhile favorite, a wealth transfer sub-bill to pay a bunch of money to American workers who would be “displaced” by the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade bill being negotiated by President Barack Obama and 11 other Pacific nations. This in turn blew up the fast track authority bill already passed in the Senate and of which the TAA was a part.

YGTBSM

The federal government cannot verify nearly $3 billion in subsidies distributed through Obamacare, putting significant taxpayer funding “at risk,” according to a new audit report.

HHS’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) said

[The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] CMS’s internal controls did not effectively ensure the accuracy of nearly $2.8 billion in aggregate financial assistance payments made to insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act during the first four months that these payments were made.

Three findings from the audit [emphasis added]:

  • did not have systems in place to ensure that financial assistance payments were made on be half of confirmed enrollees and in the correct amounts,

Federal Security and Privacy

A government data warehouse stores personal information forever on millions of people who seek coverage under President Obama’s health care law, including those who open an account on HealthCare.gov [ObamaMart] but don’t sign up for coverage.

The Feds are proud of that, too:

The health care system, known as MIDAS, is described on a federal website as the “perpetual central repository” for information that the Affordable Care Act authorizes federal agencies to collect.

“Data in MIDAS is maintained indefinitely at this time,” says another document, a government privacy assessment dated Jan 15.

Never mind that

Over-Regulation

…Texas style. An eight-year-old girl and her seven-year-old sister were selling lemonade and kettle corn at their homemade stand in front of their house in Overton, TX. You recognize the deal: kids selling cool drinks (with a snack added this time) on a hot summer day to give passersby some relief and to pick up some spending money.

However.

A police officer on Monday approached the stand, which offered lemonade for 50 cents and “kettle korn” for $1.

In patrol-car video, the officer can be heard asking the girls’ mother…for a permit. She says she wasn’t aware they needed one.

Health Care Subsidies

President Barack Obama sent his HHS Secretary, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, to Congress to testify before the House Ways and Means Committee about, among other things, his plans should the Supreme Court rule against Federal subsidies for those who bought health plans through ObamaMart and not through state exchanges as Obama’s ACA requires. He said, through her,

If the court says that we do not have the authority to give subsidies, the critical decisions will sit with the Congress and states and governors to determine if those subsidies are available[.]

This is openly cynical. “If the court says…” the subsidies are not available, they’re not available. Full stop.

The SEC and its In-House Judges

I wrote about this a bit ago; here’s a follow-up via a related case.

A federal judge ruled Monday that the Securities and Exchange Commission’s use of an in-house judge to preside over an insider-trading case was “likely unconstitutional,” a potential blow to the agency’s controversial use of its internal tribunal.

This is another case concerning the SEC’s practice of stacking cases it brings against alleged miscreants by using its own judges to decide the matter.