It’s a matter of perspective

The graphic in today’s newspaper certainly makes it look like spending on public eduction in Clark County has been rather stagnant over the past five decades.

A chart shows the growth in the Distributive School Account, the amount of states spent per pupil each year. From 1970 to this year, according to the graphic, this has grown from $545 to $5,700, a steep almost 45-degree angle. But when adjusted for inflation on the same chart, the DSA has grown by only 60 percent. The extended line looks rather flat.

The line chart excludes other funding that has been added other the years, dismissing it as, “Other sources of funding outside the DSA have bolstered per-pupil spending, but only for certain students.” This includes Zoom funding for English learners, Victory funding for poorer schools, added special education funds and weighted funding, which is formula to added funding poor performing schools whatever the reason. According to a bar chart, this added nearly double the Clark County school funds.

Despited dismissing this as for “certain students,” money is fungible. If that money had not been added the funding would have come from the DSA. So the total spending is not $5,700 per pupil, but $11,250. Adjusted for inflation, the funding has tripled over nearly 50 years.

Changes the perspective a bit.

There is no chart showing student achievement scores over that half century.




GOP ObamaCare replacement bill seriously flawed, but this opportunity should not be missed

The GOP bill to replace ObamaCare landed with a thud. Of course, the Democrats hate it because it eliminates taxes on the wealthy, but conservatives are deriding the bill as ObamaCare 2.0, RINOcare and TrumpCare because it contains all new entitlements and is still too intrusive on the private health care insurance markets.

The Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon notes that the bill does little to derail the expansion of Medicaid and, even expands ObamaCare by appropriating funds for the law’s so-called “cost-sharing” subsidies and retains the very regulations “that are threatening to destroy health insurance markets and leave millions with no coverage at all.”

GOP ObamaCare replacement presented (AP pix via WSJ)

In a similar vein, Heritage’s Edmund F. Haislmaier says the bill tries to protect those who picked up subsidized coverage under ObamaCare but fails to remove the market damaging insurance regulations of ObamaCare that have driven up premiums.

“This bill misses the mark primarily because it fails to correct the features of Obamacare that drove up health care costs,” Haislmaier writes. “Congress should continue to focus on first repealing the failed policy of Obamacare and then act to offer patient-centered, market-based replacement reforms.”

Both writers criticized the decision to retain the Cadillac tax on expensive health insurance plans.

But a Wall Street Journal editorial, while admitting the bill is flawed, points out that Republicans have a narrow window for repeal and replace and failing to pass some kind of bill might doom efforts to rid the nation of ObamaCare at all.

“In other words, the House bill is the only heath-care show in town,” WSJ advices. “If conservatives join Democrats to defeat the measure, the result will be to preserve ObamaCare as is—and probably torpedo the rest of the GOP agenda including tax reform. Good luck running for re-election in 2018 with a record of failure.”

The 123-page bill is full of federal government interference. It could be trimmed to a few pages and simply allow health insurance premiums to be deducted from income taxes, and leave any insurance regulations to the states, while exercising its Commerce Clause role and allowing insurance to be sold competitively across state lines.

Cannon doesn’t agree with WSJ.

“The House Republican leadership bill does not replace ObamaCare. It merely applies a new coat of paint to a building that Republicans themselves have already condemned,” he writes. “Since the most important asset health reformers have is unified Republican opposition to ObamaCare, at least in theory, it would set the cause of affordable health care back a decade or more if Republicans end up coalescing around this bill and putting a Republican imprimatur on ObamaCare’s core features. If this is the choice, it would be better if Congress simply did nothing.”

But the bill can be drastically amended, and should be. Having health insurance is not the same as having access to healthcare. In fact, one study found that the health of those added to Medicaid roles in Oregon had no health improvement.

In most cases, ObamaCare has resulted in little more than cost shifting.

ObamaCare repeal will not result in people dying in the streets

The Congressional Budget Office is out today with its doom and gloom projections of what would happen if ObamaCare is repealed:

The number of people who are uninsured would increase by 18 million in the first new plan year following enactment of the bill. Later, after the elimination of the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid eligibility and of subsidies for insurance purchased through the ACA marketplaces, that number would increase to 27 million, and then to 32 million in 2026.

B Premiums in the nongroup market (for individual policies purchased through the marketplaces or directly from insurers) would increase by 20 percent to 25 percent—relative to projections under current law—in the first new plan year following enactment. The increase would reach about 50 percent in the year following the elimination of the Medicaid expansion and the marketplace subsidies, and premiums would about double by 2026.

One problem with this is that it is based on a law proposed a year ago that would repeal mandates and penalties under the law, but would leave in place so-called insurance market reforms, such as barring insurers from varying premiums based on an individual’s health care costs, requiring coverage of pre-existing conditions and requiring coverage of things like maternity care.

The CBO itself noted: “The number of people without health insurance would be smaller if, in addition to the changes in H.R. 3762, the insurance market reforms mentioned above were also repealed. In that case, the increase in the number of uninsured people would be about 21 million in the year following the elimination of the Medicaid expansion and marketplace subsidies; that figure would rise to about 23 million in 2026.”
Another problem with the projection is that CBO projections about ObamaCare have been remarkably inaccurate.
For example, the CBO 2010 projection of ObamaCare enrollment in 2016 overshot the mark by 120 percent, according to Forbes, and the CBO projected the Medicaid expansion would be much smaller and less expensive than it really is.
Cato’s Michael Tanner notes that ObamaCare’s health insurance coverage expansion was mostly due to Medicaid expansion and not through subsidies for private insurance.
Having insurance doesn’t necessarily mean having health care.
“There is ample evidence to suggest that Medicaid provides little if any benefit,” Tanner writes. “One notable experiment in Oregon found no improvements in health outcomes from Medicaid enrollment. But regardless, repeal of ObamaCare is unlikely to have any short-term impact on Medicaid.”
Tanner concludes:

The only workable answer is to take otherwise uninsurable people out of the traditional insurance market altogether and subsidize their coverage separately.

This may be done through the expansion and subsidy of state high-risk pools, much the way states handle auto insurance for high-risk drivers. Or sick individuals may be taken out of the insurance system altogether, with their health care paid for through a reformed Medicaid program.

However these changes play out, it’s important to realize that no one is going to have their health insurance suddenly snatched away. Some people may have to get their health care in different ways, and some, who can afford it, may have to pay more.

But the predictions that replacing ObamaCare will mean uninsured Americans dropping dead in the street are worth little more than fake news.

Don’t buy the vision of people dying in the streets.

Ramirez cartoon

Ramirez cartoon

Free! Free! Free! Step right up and take it! The rich will pay for it, somehow, we think

A chicken in every pot. Pot for every chicken. Free health care. Free college tuition. Free renewable power (Well, maybe not.). Higher Social Security income. Medicaid for everyone.

And not just for Americans. It’s for anyone who can show up, anytime, at any age.

Hillary Clinton said so last night at the Democratic choir, I mean debate:

“Well, first of all, I want to make sure every child gets health care. That’s why I helped to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and I want to support states that are expanding health care and including undocumented children and others.

“I want to open up the opportunity for immigrants to be able to buy in to the exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. I think to go beyond that, as I understand what Governor (Martin) O’Malley has recommended, so that they would get the same subsidies.

“I think that is — it raises so many issues. It would be very difficult to administer, it needs to be part of a comprehensive immigration reform, when we finally do get to it.”

It turns out it is not just for the children. (We do assume that free college tuition mentioned most of the candidates is also for the so-called DREAMers.)

But the Sun Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale in South Florida reports that the U.S. is becoming Castro’s version of Social Security as older Cubans flock to the United States. An analysis by the paper found that the number of Cubans over the age of 60 coming to the U.S. has grown fivefold since 2010.

The attraction: $733 a month in Supplemental Security Income, food stamps, housing assistance and free health care.

Just one example:

“Elisa Diaz came at 75 to be near her three children in the U.S. She lives in Miami in a subsidized apartment, gets food stamps and $700 a month in SSI. The benefits, she said, are much better than pensions in Cuba — about $7 a month. ‘I have an American flag in my house,’ she said. ‘I’m happy. I want to be an American citizen.’”

This is true even if family members here have upper middle class income.

So, the rich here can not only afford all those freebies for Americans but for foreigners, too.

“It’s become a convenient pressure valve for the Castro regime to rid itself of its old people, with all their costs of aging, while holding on to power. …” an Investor’s Business Daily editorial relates. “The cost to U.S. taxpayers for this retirement plan for Castro’s castoffs is likely billions. The Sun-Sentinel found welfare alone for all Cuban refugees is about $685 million, and Cubans are the No. 1 recipients.

“This makes a mockery of the increasingly suspect system of instant asylum to any Cuban who makes it here. Castro has rapidly learned to use that law to dump his high-cost elderly on us, laughing all the way to the bank.”

After watching the debate Republican candidate Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida remarked:

“It was basically a liberal versus liberal debate about who was going to give away the most free stuff. Free college education, free college education for people illegally in this country, free health care, free everything.”

It was amusing to hear Clinton talk about the outrageous cost of college tuition. She is the one who charges colleges a quarter of a million dollar and more to give half-hour speeches.

After the choir, er, I mean debate. (CNN photo)

Tom Sowell pointed out a couple of years ago that this “new” plan by the Democrats has already been tried.

In 1921 the top income bracket tax rate reached 73 percent in 1921. That year the number of people with income of $300,000 a year fell to 300, down from 1,000 five years earlier. Tax revenue also fell, Sowell notes.

Congress cut the top income-tax rate down from 60 percent to 24 percent and “vast sums of money that had seemingly vanished into thin air suddenly reappeared in the economy, creating far more jobs and far more tax revenue for the government.”

They called it the roaring ’20s.

Cato chart

In 1924, Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon noted, “The history of taxation shows that taxes which are inherently excessive are not paid. The high rates inevitably put pressure upon the taxpayer to withdraw his capital from productive business.”

President Calvin Coolidge agreed, saying “the wise and correct course to follow in taxation and all other economic legislation is not to destroy those who have already secured success but to create conditions under which every one will have a better chance to be successful.”

Clean power plan will cost jobs and income, while doing nothing to curb global warming

Nevada is already ahead of Obama’s futile gesture by closing cheap coal-fired plants and increasing the cost of power while doing nothing to curb global warming. (R-J photo)

Obama rhapsodized about his administration’s Clean Power Plan from the EPA, and preached about the urgency to curb global warming now because 2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record and ice caps are shrinking.

“Climate change is no longer just about the future that we’re predicting for our children or our grandchildren; it’s about the reality that we’re living with every day, right now,” he said.

The plan is to cut carbon emissions from power plants by 32 percent by 2030.

Pay no heed to the fact that 2014 was warmer than 2010 by just two-hundredths of a degree – or 0.02C — or that the margin of error means there is only a 38 percent chance that this is true.

But be assured this plan will curb global warming — by 0.018°C by 2100, using the global alarmists own model.

According to a Heritage Foundation report, Obama’s plan will only result in a few costs by 2030:

  • An average annual employment shortfall of nearly 300,000 jobs;
  • A peak employment shortfall of more than 1 million jobs;
  • A loss of more than $2.5 trillion (inflation-adjusted) in aggregate gross domestic product (GDP); and
  • A total income loss of more than $7,000 (inflation-adjusted) per person.

Someone should tell the president polar ice has been growing since 2012.

Then there is the possibility that a little man-made warming might not be so bad since some scientists are predicting a subsidence of solar activity that could result in global cooling.

But never let the facts get in the way of Obama’s mission to stop the oceans from rising — just like King Canute.

“And it’s easy to be cynical and to say climate change is the kind of challenge that’s just too big for humanity to solve. I am absolutely convinced that’s wrong,” said Obama the self-assured. “We can solve this thing.”

An expensive solution in search of a problem?

White House or Animal House?

The EPA waves its MACICC wand and saves the planet

The new EPA regulations that order 30 percent cuts in power plant greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 claim to create benefits that offset the cost of compliance — higher power bills.

Reid Gardner power plant (photo by Kent Harper)

The 645-page document claims climate benefits of $30 billion, health benefits of up to $59 billion, but compliance cost of only $7.3 billion in the year 2030. How one calculates climate benefits when there has been no detectible change in the climate in 17 years, despite higher carbon output that ever, is a mystery.

It basically is a decree to shut down all coal-fired power plants since they produce the most carbon.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates the rule will cut the average annual economic output by $51 and and cost 224,000 jobs every year through 2030.

Nevada is already in the process of shutting down all its coal-fired power plants by legislative decree and can expect to be seeing higher bills in the coming years. The law requires ratepayers to foot the bill for every dime of cost of shutting those plants, though presumably, under the EPA regs, those plants would have to have been shut down anyway, perhaps at the expense of the company and its shareholders.

The bottom line is that Americans will be paying real money for theoretical benefits.

Patrick Michaels at Cato Institute spells out the vaunted benefits of this move:

“The EPA’s own model, ironically acronymed MAGICC, estimates that its new policies will prevent a grand total of 0.018ºC in warming by 2100. Obviously, that’s not enough to satisfy the steadily shrinking percentage of Americans who think global warming is a serious problem.

“MAGICC tells us that the futility of whatever Obama proposes for existing plants will be statistically indistinguishable from making sure that there are no new coal-fired ones. In fact, dropping the carbon dioxide emissions from all sources of electrical generation to zero would reduce warming by a grand total of 0.04ºC by 2100.”