Individual Mandate and Risk Pools

Louise Radnofsky and Stephanie Armour had a piece in The Wall Street Journal that looked at the small and shrinking impact of removing the Individual Mandate (or more accurately, removing the penalty Supreme Court-created tax imposed for not satisfying the IM) on the health coverage providing industry.  The piece is worth the read, but there was one remark quoted at the end that wants a particular look.

“Making the risk pool stable is a vital part” of keeping individual insurance premiums in line with the overall cost to cover a person insured through a larger group or employer, said Andy Slavitt, a top health official in the Obama administration.

An Infrastructure Program

In the coming year, the Trump administration intends to push for an infrastructure improvement program for its next major legislative effort.  It’s certainly true that we need much improvement in our roads, bridges, and transportation networks in all mediums, for both economic and national security reasons (bonus points to those who can identify President Dwight Eisenhower’s motivation for pushing the Interstate Highway System like he did).

It’s also true that such a program would be broadly popular among American citizens.

It’s also true that the proposal coming onto offer, rather than being another Federal boondoggle, would only commit $200 billion as seed money, with the States and locals putting up the bulk of the funding and work.

The Fed’s Interest Rates

In a Letter to the Editor in a recent Wall Street Journal, was this remark:

[A] major reason for doing this [artificially suppressing interest rates] is an attempt to raise inflation to their sacrosanct 2% level.

Interest rates are inherently inflationary, since they raise the cost of money. If the Fed were serious, they’d set their benchmark rates at levels historically consistent with 2% inflation, and then they’d sit down and shut up.

One factor keeping the Fed interfering, though, is universal to all bureaucracies—the bureaucrats can’t sit down and shut up, they think they have to be constantly doing or yapping.

Minimum Wage in San Francisco

City Supervisor Jane Kim, in a recent Letter to the Wall Street Journal Editor sang huzzahs for the city’s $15/hr minimum wage and touted a tax on robots that were replacing those low-skilled workers priced out of the labor market by that minimum wage.

The minimum wage isn’t a pathway to the middle class; it is a safety net to prevent destitution.

And

[A] “robot tax” is a practical way to smooth the transitions caused by automation….

She’s wrong.

I’m sure the robots and kiosks that are replacing those low-skilled workers appreciate being saved from destitution.

Why Not All of Them?

President Donald Trump wants Congress—which is to say, Republicans, since the Progressive-Democrats in Congress want nothing to do with any Trump or Republican generally proposal—to take up welfare reform as the next major Government revamp after tax reform goes through (assuming, of course, a few Republican ego-riven snowflakes don’t blow that up).  However, Louise Radnofsky, who wrote the WSJ piece at the link, seems not to understand the scope of the problem.  Commenting on a speech concerning the matter that Trump gave in Missouri a bit ago, Radnofsky wrote this:

The president didn’t offer specifics about which of the dozens of welfare programs he was seeking to change….

That’s the Point

Six months after it went into force, China’s tough new cybersecurity law is still troubling US technology executives who fear that it will put the intellectual property of their companies and the data they collect in jeopardy.

And

…while the law went into effect June 1, the Chinese government is still drafting specific implementation rules.

And

Company and trade-group representatives are also concerned that the network-equipment security reviews could expose proprietary source code, jeopardizing their trade secrets[.]

How Close Are the House and Senate Tax Reform Bills?

See the table below, from The Wall Street Journal.  While the Left and its NLMSM emphasize the differences, and the Progressive-Democratic Party denizens rail at the claimed iniquities in their manufactured dudgeon, the tax reform bills on offer from the House and the Senate are remarkably similar.  The agree right down the line on the goals of tax reform, and they agree right down that same line on the means of achieving those goals.  The differences between the two bills are matters of degree, details bordering on trivial.

Tax Reform and SALT

The Wall Street Journal Friday opined that a House-Senate conference on the tax reform bills passed by the House and then-on offer by the Senate (since passed, with some changes to the on-offer version) could improve on the two bills and produce a better one for final passage and President’s signature.  The Editorial Board is right as far as it goes.

Notably in the context of their piece and this post, one of those changes to the Senate’s version that was included in what finally was passed was a change to their complete removal of State and local taxes: the Senate-passed version now includes the House’s deductibility of up to $10,000 in property taxes paid.

It’s Only a Few

It’s only a few Americans that we don’t like—the despicable 1% (actually the 0.2%).  That’s the Progressive-Democratic Party’s excuse for insisting that the death tax be kept in place in the current tax code reform effort.

The estate tax affects a very small—and very wealthy—number of Americans.

Only the estates of about 2 out of every 1,000 Americans who die face this tax right now.

Besides, repealing the tax, the Progressive-Democrats claim, would

unfairly provide more benefits to the wealthy over low- and middle-income Americans.

A State Runs a Budget Deficit

Louisiana, run by Progressive-Democrats since Bobby Jindall was term-limited out of office, is facing a $1.5 billion deficit as “temporary” tax increases implemented earlier begin to expire.  Jay Dardenne, the center-left Republican Commissioner of Administration, Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards’ chief budget officer, says that “devastating” spending cuts would be necessary absent a renewal of the tax increases or enactment of other tax increases.