Just when you thought ObamaCare couldn’t get any more maddening comes this prediction from health insurance industry consultant Robert Laszewski. The problem isn’t new — not enough young, healthy people are signing up for Obamacare — but the prediction for 2015 is a real kick in the gut.
Because people with existing insurance tend to be healthier, insurers were hoping they would flood into the insurance pool if their plans were cancelled.
Though a number of policies to cushion the blow to insurers were put in place for the first three years of Obamacare, once they expire it will be less likely that insurers will want to absorb costs of offering insurance on the exchanges.
“I don’t expect the insurance industry to be patient past 2015 before it has to begin charging the real cost of the program to consumers,” Laszewski writes.
Ah yes, the “real cost.”
JLF’s Katherine Restrepo has been warning about all this for a very long time.
Carolina Journal’s Don Carrington reports here on tax fraud season.
As income-tax filing season for the 2013 tax year reaches its peak, billions of dollars in fraudulent refunds continue to flow to scam artists using stolen or fabricated identities and fake dependents to take advantage of a major loophole in the way the federal government issues refunds to individuals. The IRS says it is catching some of the perpetrators, but its enforcement efforts are hindered by political pressure to issue tax refunds before the agency can verify the identities of tax filers.
Officials from the North Carolina Department of Revenue say they are taking measures to catch the tax crimes, formally known as Stolen Identity Refund Fraud, but some flaws remain in the agency’s procedures dealing with SIRF. For example, NCDOR recently sent an interest income notice to a “taxpayer” in Durham several months after Carolina Journal notified NCDOR that the “taxpayer” did not live in Durham and her identity had been invented by fraudsters.
Fraud continues to get past tax authorities in other states as well. In March 2013, Sanford resident Martha Underwood found an envelope in her mailbox she said contained a state income tax refund check from Maryland. The envelope was addressed to the home on Westcott Circle where she and her husband had lived for five years, but the name of the addressee was Hispanic-sounding, and she did not know the addressee.
Underwood contacted CJ in January. She had read a CJ story about a Union County homeowner who had found in his mailbox an IRS check for $8,315 made out to Ray L. Rodriguez Morales. The street address was the homeowner’s, but Morales didn’t live there. That homeowner contacted CJ because he had also read earlier CJstories about SIRF schemes.
Underwood said she did not open the envelope but kept it, trying to figure out what to do with it. A week later she wrote on the envelope: “This is fraud. Doesn’t live here.” She dropped it off at her local post office.
A few weeks later, she was working outdoors when she witnessed a late model van full of people stop at her neighbor’s mailbox. “Two men got out and went through the mailbox retrieving what appeared to be two items. They gave a victory shout and jumped back in the van. The driver burned rubber on the way out of my street,” she recalled. “I later asked my neighbor if she was missing any bills or other mail, and she said no.”
“I didn’t know anything about this until I read about it in Carolina Journal. If it is happening in Sanford, Durham and the other places you have documented, it is probably happening everywhere,” she said.
“Tax fraud is not just taking my address and someone else’s Social Security Number, it is theft of public money, of every taxpayer’s contribution to the well being of the state and nation,” she said.
Be sure to read the entire report here.
Supporters of government intervention into our food choices seem to believe Americans eat cheeseburgers and fries because we don’t realize how many calories are in them. According to their logic, if government forces restaurants and/or food manufacturers to print the calorie and fat counts BIGGER and BOLDER on menus and the packages, we will choose tofu over cheeseburgers.
That is naive to say the least.
The latest round of food industry labeling changes will simply grow government regulatory powers — and add to the cost of doing business. Ultimately, that adds to the cost of the product. In the end, you and I will pay for the nanny-staters’ misguided faith in government as the solution to whatever they deem a problem. The Wall Street Journal profiles the impact on small business:
The latest proposed requirements to show calorie counts in larger type and disclose added sugars would force Ms. King to ask the printing company she works with to create new printing plates. The cost? About $100 per product, or $5,000 in all for the estimated 50 different cookies, bars, brownies and other desserts, which come in different sizes, weights and flavors. “It’s hard to manage changes and inventories and get all the correct information all over again,” she says.
At Rooibee Red Tea, a five-year-old Louisville, Ky., organic iced-tea business on track to sell 160,000 cases this year, co-owner Heather Howell says the changes, if adopted, will be costly. Due to space limitations on her tea bottles, she will have to work with designers on new artwork at an estimated cost of up to $30,000, she says. “You’re looking at millimeters to fit on a bottle. If the new nutrition label is going to be a little larger, you’ve got to make sure it fits. Everything has to look appealing to the eye.”
And it’s all because government bureaucrats think they can — and should — force us to eat what government thinks we should eat, not what we want to eat. I don’t disagree that obesity is a problem, but it’s a personal problem related to personal choices. It is not a problem for government to “solve.” Those who consume more calories than their body uses have a basic right to do that. In a free society, we are free to make poor choices. But in a free society, we must expect people to shoulder the responsibility of their poor choices, such as higher health insurance premiums that reflect their higher risk for ramifications of too many calories and too few trips to the gym.
This isn’t rocket science. When you eat more than your body needs to fuel itself, you will get fat. We’re just too politically correct to admit it and to tell the nanny-staters to stay out of it.
WPTF’s Bill LuMaye made a fascinating observation this afternoon, which I will expand on.
Since Big Education opposes teachers being paid for performance and working without a lifetime guarantee of a job – called tenure — then defenders of the entrenched status quo must really be upset about this story.
Every morning, Emily and Brian Quigley leave their Raleigh home and head to their teaching jobs on different sides of Wake County. When they get home each evening, sometimes after working second jobs, they talk a lot about school.
The Quigleys, who got married in 2010, are both among the 26 semifinalists for Wake’s Teacher of the Year award.
And they’re both second-grade teachers – Emily at Holly Springs Elementary, Brian at Lockhart Elementary in Knightdale.
When they found out they were in the running for the award, they felt a sense of good-natured competition, they said.
“Now I think we’re just happy for each other,” Emily said.
Imagine that. The Quigleys are competing against one another — and have lived to tell the tale.
Big Education fails to acknowledge that most of the working world competes for compensation and goes to work each day without the guarantee of a lifetime job. And, yes, all this occurs at the same time employees collaborate on projects despite making different amounts of money. Big Education knows this, of course, but Big Education hopes you’ll swallow its argument that teaching is the chosen profession and that the working world’s norms do not apply to teaching. Teaching is an honorable profession, not the “chosen” profession.
JLF’s Becki Gray discusses why voters should view this election season in the context of freedom versus government intervention. It is excellent food for thought as we each begin our research into candidates’ views on issues.
Candidates for the General Assembly will answer questions about school choice, taxes, and spending. Should parents be free to choose the best options for their children? Should poor students have the same opportunities as their wealthier classmates?
Is a simpler, fairer, more equitable tax system that allows families the freedom to keep and choose how to spend more of their money better than paying more to the government and getting less? Is a state government obligated to provide transparent and honest accounting of where tax dollars are spent? Isn’t the best way out of poverty a job?
In many ways, the outcome of North Carolina’s judicial races may have the greatest impact on life in our state. The Supreme Court could make decisions on the voter identification requirement, redistricting, school choice, the death penalty, property rights, and more.
Who those judges are and the principles that drive their decisions are critical to the preservation of freedom in North Carolina. A healthy respect for and strict adherence to the North Carolina Constitution provide our only assurance that the judicial branch of state government will protect our freedom.
Local government candidates will be answering questions about public transportation, school construction costs, land use, zoning, smart growth, debt, and transparent budgeting.
School boards should ensure taxpayer dollars are spent effectively on classroom instruction and focus on meeting the educational needs of children, families, and communities; they also should encourage collaboration among all schools in their district, including charter, private, and traditional pubic schools. Nor should they antagonize parents who choose to educate their children at home.
The issues center on the economy, but the election is about freedom. Every issue should be put to this test: Does it restrict or promote freedom? Every candidate should be committed to preserving freedom and every voter to understanding what is at risk.
When Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood issued his temporary injunction that prevents low-income North Carolina families from receiving opportunity scholarships while the program is litigated, real people were impacted in a very negative. In this video, the Institute for Justice (IJ) profiles one of them: Wake County mom Cynthia Perry, who is fighting for an opportunity for her daughter to attend a private school.
North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, signed by Governor Pat McCrory in summer 2013, will provide up to 2,400 scholarships worth up to $4,200 to low-income families to send their children to private schools. If parents don’t think that their children are receiving a good education in their current public school, the program will help them to pay for a private school that better suits their child’s educational needs. To be eligible, families must also be eligible for the federal free and reduced-price school lunch program, which means there is an income cap of about $44,000 for a family of four. The program started accepting applications on February 1, 2014, and will begin awarding scholarships on March 1, 2014. “This case is about who should control the education of low- and middle-income children in North Carolina,” said IJ Attorney Renée Flaherty. “The Legislature, the governor and the Institute for Justice believe parents should direct a child’s education, but the North Carolina Association of Educators and the school boards believe they should have the power to limit other people’s choices—that low- and middle-income parents should not have the freedom to select among the widest variety of educational options. That is why they filed these lawsuits.” Flaherty pointed out, “Most Americans already have school choice: they choose to live in a good school district or they can afford private school. School choice is widespread—unless you’re poor. Through the Opportunity Scholarship Program, the North Carolina General Assembly is giving low-income families the same educational choices that wealthier families already enjoy.” IJ client and school choice mom Cynthia Perry has a school-age daughter who wishes to attend a private school. Perry said, “We need to get this program up and running now.”
Perry’s daughter Amiyah (called “Faith”) has trouble with reading comprehension and has already had to attend summer school twice. Perry is afraid that, if Faith stays in the public schools, she will slip through the cracks and have to repeat third grade. Perry has lost confidence in the public schools and has applied for an Opportunity Scholarship so that she can send Faith to a private school. Perry is a single mother who cannot afford to send Faith to private school on her own—she needs the financial lifeline of an Opportunity Scholarship.
Low-income families deserve the same education opportunity as wealthier families. That is what the Opportunity Scholarship provides. What a shame that those who claim to be advocates for those in need are trying to deny Cynthia Perry and other moms and dads this fundamental opportunity.
Fasten your seat belts. Here is a rundown of the president’s proposed budget. If you love $17 trillion in debt, then you’ll love $21 trillion.
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest was in western North Carolina Monday. Among the things he mentioned in his speech was the impact of last year’s tax reform and tax reduction plan that was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by the governor.
“There was more money in your paycheck this January because of what this General Assembly did,” he said. “That is good foundational stuff.”
Forest said North Carolina has moved from 44th in business tax climate to 17th.
“We want to be number one in the business tax climate,” he said. “We want to be the state that is the most open for business.”
So what should legislators do as a next step to keep moving our state toward renewed prosperity and status as first in freedom? JLF’s Roy Cordato offers recommendations. Here’s what he’s written about tax reform for corporations.
On the corporate income side, North Carolina leaders dropped the tax rate from 6.9 percent, highest in the Southeast, to 6 percent in 2014 and 5 percent in 2015. The rate could drop as low as 3 percent in 2017 if the state meets revenue targets.
“Unlike the current corporate income tax, which combines a high rate with special breaks for favored businesses and industries, new lower rates will apply across the board,” Cordato said. “Loopholes and giveaways embedded in the current system, based on what is essentially a crony capitalist model, are eliminated.”
Future reform should focus on abolishing the corporate income tax, Cordato said. “It’s a hidden tax, and it creates a drag on the state’s economy by placing an additional layer of taxation on investment,” he said. “Lawmakers should repeal the legislation that enables the state to tax corporate income at all. This would make it difficult for future legislatures to reinstate the tax.”
The annual Forbes list of billionaires is making news, and I’m waiting for the Left to begin the usual chorus about “income inequality” and how it’s not “fair” that these people are so wealthy. Here’s hoping we’ll be spared that nonsense. What I find really interesting about this year’s list are these facts:
Last year, I conducted a literature survey of all recent studies published in academic or professional journals that examined the relationship between government policies and state economic performance. From 1992 to 2013, there were 31 studies of economic freedom indexes. In 24 of them (77 percent), higher economic-freedom scores were associated with higher economic performance after adjusting for other factors. In the remaining seven studies, there was no statistically significant relationship. Not a single study found that higher economic freedom — which primarily means lower taxes, spending, and regulatory burdens — was statistically associated with lower economic growth.
A 2012 paper in the International Journal of Economics and Finance, for example, found that states with higher economic freedom tend to attract higher levels of investment from foreign firms, which then leads to more economic growth. A 2007 study in the Southern Economic Journalfound that states attract another form of valuable capital, people, to the extent they embrace economic freedom.
I am sorry to inform you – but not surprised – that the spokesman for Chapel Hill/Carrboro Schools believes competition is bad for education.
Jeffrey Nash, spokesman for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, said he does not support salary increases based on merit because it promotes unhealthy competition among teachers.
“I don’t know of any educators who think merit pay actually works,” he said. “We’re trying to make sure that our teachers are collaborative rather than competing against one another for bonuses.”
Just wondering if Mr. Nash competed for his job as spokesman, and, if so, if he thinks the process created unhealthy competition among those who wanted the job.
Just wondering if Mr. Nash likes the idea of his paycheck being just the same as everyone else’s paycheck, no matter how effective he is at his job and no matter how ineffective they are at theirs.