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The Price Of The Dependency Culture

Reality bites. From Harvard University’s Institute of Politics comes more dire news about what is ahead for America unless we get serious about reforming the massive dependency culture that’s been created. For example:

The news isn’t much better on the Social Security front: “Without reform, Social Security beneficiaries will face a 23 percent benefit cut in 2033. By 2087, beneficiaries will receive 28 percent less than calculated under the current benefit formula.”

Unfortunately, the Left is very successful at demonizing anyone who seeks to face this reality. Recall what happened to then President Bush when he proposed a tiny slice of reform. He was cast as having no heart. His reform were even opposed by some in his own party. So here we are nearly a decade later. The massive promises continue and the dependency culture continues to grow.



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Office Of Special Counsel: IRS Employee Admits Campaigning For Democrats While On Duty

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has issued a news release about its investigation into IRS employees who were alleged to have campaigned for Democrats while on the job.

The instances include this one:

A tax advisory specialist in Kentucky will serve a 14-day suspension for promoting her partisan political views to a taxpayer she was assisting during the 2012 Presidential election season. OSC received a recorded conversation in which the employee told a taxpayer she was “for” the Democrats because “Republicans already [sic] trying to cap my pension and . . . they’re going to take women back 40 years.” She continued to explain that her mom always said, “‘If you vote for a Republican, the rich are going to get richer and the poor are going to get poorer.’ And I went, ‘You’re right.’ I found that out.” The employee’s supervisor had advised her about the Hatch Act’s restrictions just weeks before the conversation. The employee told the taxpayer, “I’m not supposed to voice my opinion, so you didn’t hear me saying that.” Following OSC’s investigation, the employee entered into a settlement agreement with OSC in April 2014. In the agreement, she admitted to violating the Hatch Act’s restrictions against engaging in political activity while on duty and in the workplace and using her official authority or influence to affect the result of an election.

This was done on the taxpayer dime.

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Monday At JLF: Duke Scholar Chris Conover Discusses Health Care Policy

Join us Monday at 12 Noon at JLF in downtown Raleigh for a discussion of health care policy with a renowned Duke scholar, Chris Conover.

Shaftesbury attendees are in for a rare treat as we have lunch with one of the nation’s top health care policy experts–Dr. Chris Conover.

Dr.Conover is a Research Scholar in the the Center for Health Policy & Inequalities Research at Duke University, an adjunct scholar at AEI, and a Mercatus-affiliated senior scholar. 

Dr. Conover has taught in the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, the Duke School of Medicine and the Fuqua School of Business at Duke. 

His research interests are in the area of health regulation and state health policy, with a focus on issues related to health care for the medically indigent (including the uninsured), and estimating the magnitude of the social burden of illness. 

He is the recent author of The American Health Economy Illustrated and is a Forbes contributor at The Health Policy Skeptic.

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Meet Charlene: The Face Of Liberals’ Legal Assault On Education Opportunity For Poor Kids

Meet Charlene Woods, who is raising her 5-year-old grandson, who is in kindergarten. She wants the best for this little boy and she is doing everything she can to provide it.

She applied to North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship program for low-income families.

Charlene is one of the North Carolinians whose opportunity is being taken away, thanks to the shameful legal assault by liberals in our state on the Opportunity Scholarship program.

The truth is, liberals are seeking to prevent Charlene from accessing the same educational opportunity for her grandson as a wealthy grandmother can access for hers.

Say a prayer for Charlene and her grandson.

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Are We Witnessing the Individual Mandate’s Demise?

Let’s hope that ObamaCare is crumbling under its own weight, as some analysts believe is the case. This morning, JLF’s Katherine Restrepo analyzes ObamaCare’s individual mandate in the wake of the official “deadline” to purchase government approved insurance or pay a penalty.

And due to the lengthy lists of penalty exemptions and hardship exemptions, the individual mandate really lacks muscle. Exemptions pertain to those who do not file federal taxes, whose premiums for the lowest-cost compliant plan available exceed 8 percent of their income, or who do not have health insurance for less than three months at a time.

Those are just a few of the penalty exemptions. Below are some hardship exemptions from healthcare.gov:

  • Individuals who would have been eligible for Medicaid if their state opted for Medicaid expansion
  • Domestic violence victims
  • Family death
  • You had medical expenses you could not pay in the last 24 months
  • You experienced unexpected increases in necessary expenses due to caring for an ill, disabled, or aging family member

But wait. There’s more.

You’ll find out what Katherine means here. 

What should we do to right the health insurance ship? To begin with, give people choices, not mandates and penalties. Katherine’s ongoing analysis is available here.

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“it was liberals demanding uniformity of thought – or else.”

Writing for USA Today, Kirsten Powers discusses the Left’s embrace of silencing those with whom they disagree. The alarming actions of the Thought Police has been on vivid display with respect to the ouster of Mozilla’s CEO over his support of traditional marriage. Powers chronicles the second case.

Another incident of muzzling those without the proper worldview received less attention. Kickstarter, the nation’s biggest crowd-funding site,refused to accept a film about convicted abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell unless descriptions of his crimes were removed.

After producers Phelim McAleer and his wife, Ann McElhinney, complained publicly, embarrassed Kickstarter CEO Yancey Strickler claimed on Twitter that the allegation was false. Strickler released an e-mail accepting the Gosnell film, but failed to mention that it was accepted only after the filmmakers withdrew in frustration. The producers released e-mails from Kickstarter demanding that references to stabbing babies and “similar language” be removed. The “acceptance letter” came March 28, the day after the producers withdrew their proposal.

There was time when the Left and the Right found common ground in the support of free speech. No more, particularly when it comes to issues of culture and religious belief.

How sad — and alarming — it is for America.

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Private Sector Provides Another Lesson For Government

The Wall Street Journal carries a fascinating story about private firms that are deciding to eliminate their human resources department. It’s a move designed for more efficiency and an expectation that employees will resolve their own issues and be more responsible for themselves.

Companies seeking flat management structures and more accountability for employees are frequently taking aim at human resources. Executives say the traditional HR department—which claims dominion over everything from hiring and firing to maintaining workplace diversity—stifles innovation and bogs down businesses with inefficient policies and processes. At the same time, a booming HR software industry has made it easier than ever to automate or outsource personnel-related functions such as payroll and benefits administration.

Here’s how one company is handling things.

Interpersonal issues must be handled differently when HR isn’t around to mediate. Klick Health, a Toronto-based marketing agency focused on health care, has forgone a human-resources department in favor of two “concierges,” employees with customer-service backgrounds whose job is to create what CEO Leerom Segal calls a “frictionless” work experience for employees.

To be sure, this innovation and efficiency doesn’t come without the potential for legal peril, which many times is the result of the massive regulatory scheme imposed on industry by all levels of government.

Isn’t it interesting that while private industry seeks to change and innovate and look for new ways to handle issues, government simply adds more regulations and people.


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46 Million? 7 Million? Less Than 7 Million?

Remember back four or five years ago when supporters of the ObamaCare bill said their support was based in the need for government to “do something” about the uninsured, which they tagged at 46 million? Well, here’s the latest data — this time from Rand — about how this massive government takeover of the health insurance/health delivery system is addressing the uninsured. According to RAND, only about 1/3 of enrollees were previously uninsured. JLF’s Katherine Restrepo has the data here.


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Wednesday in Raleigh: Washington Update With The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes

Looking for insights into the current state of Washington politics and policy?

The John Locke Foundation will sponsor a luncheon Wednesday in Raleigh previewing the U.S. House and Senate races with Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard, Democratic consultant Brad Crone, and Republican consultant Mark Rotterman.

Details here. 

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$27 Billion: How Do We Pay For It?

Sarah Curry, JLF’s director of fiscal policy studies, lays out a looming fiscal problem for our state that has been building for many years: taxpayer liability for state employee health care and retirement benefits.

These benefit plans are considered by the state to be liabilities, meaning they are payments that must be made using state tax dollars. While the General Fund has a specific amount of debt capacity it can manage, pensions and benefit plans are not within that capacity. Benefit plans are not considered “hard” liabilities (PDF) because they are based upon estimates of costs the state will incur in the future and because the payment timetable is uncertain. 

Since these liabilities are not part of the state’s debt capacity calculation, any unfunded obligations do not represent a hard liability in the same way debt service does. So in essence, these future payments funded with tax dollars to retired state employees are hidden from the General Fund’s accounting ledger and are putting a large burden on future taxpayers in North Carolina without them even knowing.

While offering both retirement and health care benefits to employees is a reasonable and expected part of employment, the state needs to re-evaluate its method of paying for these benefits. There are two main ways these benefit plans can be maintained for future generations of state employees while still offering the benefits promised to those who have already retired: first, changing the way these plans are funded; and second, changing the way they are paid to retired employees.


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