Social Security Trust Fund Investing in the Stock Market

The Wall Street Journal held one of its aperiodic debates last Sunday, this time on whether the Social Security Trust Fund should be allowed to invest in stocks.  One debater argued that such investing would reduce the need for dependence on benefit cuts or tax increases; the other claimed that government should stay out of the market.

It’s certainly true that investing in the stock market could produce better returns than the Trust Fund’s current requirement to invest wholly in (unmarketable) Federal debt instruments.

YGTBSM

This episode is from Newark Mayor Ras Baraka (D).  He claimed last Sunday, with a straight face that

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is “targeting” mayors like himself, and intimidating them into being “fugitive slave catchers that run around and do their bidding in our cities.”

Milwaukee County, WI, Sheriff David Clarke was more polite than I:

I’ve heard a lot of stupid things [but] comparing fugitive slaves to illegal immigrants is the gold standard of stupidity[.]

I say, rather, that Baraka’s TDS has turned him into an irrational election-denier.

Contrasts

As the Trump administration begins to shape its policy on drugs, tension is growing between a treatment-focused approach, embodied in a new commission on opioids headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and the aggressive prosecution of drug crimes promised by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

There need there be no tension because there is no contradiction.  The two approaches—nail hard those who prey on the vulnerable and the addicted—and working to free the addicted from the controls of their addiction (“free from the controls” because an addict never loses his addiction; he can only reach a point where he can say reliably, “not today.”  That’s where current medical technology has us) rather than simply jailing them, too, potentiate each other.

Continued Veterans Administration Failure

Dr Dale Klein is, formally, on the Veterans Administration payroll—to the tune of a $250,000/yr salary—but he’s not employed by them, and so his pain management skills are actively denied our veterans who would benefit from them.  Klein blew the whistle on his proximate employer’s—Southeast Missouri John J Pershing VA facility—secret waiting lists and wait time manipulation practices.  Now he’s shunned by his employers and banished to a room by himself where he’s denied access to his patients and patients are denied access to him.

Another Assault on US Intellectual Property

Beijing has proposed requiring cloud-computing services providers to turn over essentially all ownership and operations to Chinese partners and could result in the transfer of valuable US intellectual property, according to the letter, viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Not “could result”—technology theft transfer is the point of the requirement.  This comes against the backdrop of the People’s Republic of China’s ongoing technology requirements.

China already places restrictions on investing for foreign cloud providers operating in the country under rules passed in the last two years…including forced collaboration with rivals and technology transfer.

Is the PRC market really worth these losses?

House Freedom Caucus of No

Yesterday, the membership of the House Freedom Caucus of No forced the American Health Care Act, the first stage of a three-stage Obamacare repeal and replace program offered by the majority of the House Republican Conference, to be withdrawn from the day’s backup vote (recall that these No-ers already had forced a delay from Thursday’s vote over their demand to have their way or there could be no Act), and so there will be no AHCA.

Delays

The House Republicans were forced to cancel yesterday’s scheduled American Health Care Act vote.  The Freedom Caucus, the Caucus of No, couldn’t be satisfied.  Congressmen like Jim Jordan (R, OH) and Caucus of No Chairman Mark Meadows (R, NC) refused late compromises, all the while insisting by implication from their refusals that constituents of other Congressmen, for instance Tom Cole (R, OK), worked for them and not that Cole worked for his Oklahoma constituents—and that those Oklahoma constituents might have different imperatives than those Congressmen of the Caucus.  So, no compromise from the No-ers.

Republican Gadflies

Karl Rove talked about health care coverage prospects in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, and that triggered a thought in my pea brain.

Senator Tom Cotton (R, AR) has announced that the House plan on offer, a plan designed to be passable through reconciliation, with later phases of repeal and replace for completing the task, is dead on arrival, and the House shoe start over and produce a more comprehensive plan in this first phase.  But Cotton has chosen to not offer a plan of his own, or outline what a plan acceptable to him would look like other than to address taxes and to more fully repeal right damn now Obamacare, or even to offer the tactics he’d use to get the new plan—which could not be done through reconciliation—past a Progressive-Democrat filibuster.

Privacy

Cross-posted from my comment on the matter at Grim’s Hall and based on a CNN article.

From Comey’s quote as provided by CNN:

There is no such thing as absolute privacy in America….

That’s his (cynically offered, because I don’t agree he’s either as stupid or as ignorant as he’d have to be otherwise) straw man; he’ll have to play with his dolly without me.

He also has distorted (deliberately, if not from his lack of understanding, coming from Government’s perspective as he does) what the Founders wrought:

Sanctuary Cities and Federal Funding

San Francisco asked a federal judge Wednesday to block President Trump’s order threatening to strip federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities that bar police from enforcing immigration laws.

This suit has a good chance of succeeding.  In 1987’s South Dakota v Dole, the Supreme Court ruled (in a dispute over the State’s minimum drinking age and Federal highway funds transfers to the State) that the Federal government cannot withhold already agreed Federal funds from a State in order to coerce State acquiescence with Federal wishes.  Funds can be withheld to “persuade,” but the withheld funds must be related to the question at hand rather than a blanket withholding, and the amount withheld cannot be coercive in its size, but only persuasive.  Without naming a threshold for the amount, the Court held that the 5% withholding imposed by the Federal government was not coercive.