Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Krauthammer on ambiguity

So there's a conflict between the literal meaning and the context of the law.  This is a job for either the legislature (to resolve) or the judiciary (to interpret) - not the executive branch.

Chief Justice Roberts to the rescue

Here's Tom Goldstein of the well-regarded SCOTUSBlog: "Why Obamacare probably isn't doomed."

Obamacare kneecapped

Obama 2008: "Don't tell me words don't matter!"

D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals: "Yeah, words do matter."

Today the court ruled that Obamacare subsidies paid through the Federal Obamacare exchange were illegal because the wording of the law unambiguously states that subsidies are only available through state-run exchanges.  Hot Air picks it up:
Plain and simple, if Congress wants to rewrite the law to extend subsidies to federal enrollees, they’re welcome to do it. That’s what legislatures are for. But the law, as written, says what it says, and that’s not the court’s problem.
You're going to hear that phrase a lot today: "the law says what it says."

Extra - Hit and Run: "It's a major blow to the way the administration has chosen to implement the health law, and a victory for plain language legal interpretation as well."  Words matter.

More - From Legal Insurrection.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Krugman is full of it, part redux

I tend to tune out the NY Times' liberal polemicist since even his own ombudsman described him as somebody with "disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults."

As Patterico ably demonstrates, the slicing blades were at full power in Krugman's latest take on the nation's long-term debt.  By using the stimulus-heavy year of 2009 as the baseline for spending and deficits, Krugman now claims that "all is well" since we're now running slightly lower deficits.  Also, he compares the total debt-to-GDP to post World War II levels as if this is contextual to modern times.  Finally, Krugman ignores that revenues-to-GDP almost never rise above 20%, no matter what taxation rate is applied, so debt will rise inexorably when spending is above that level.

Of course, it's well known that everybody who disagrees with Krugman is an idiot, including the green eyeshades over at the CBO who said this only a couple days ago:
If current laws remained generally unchanged in the future, federal debt held by the public would decline slightly relative to GDP over the next few years, CBO projects. After that, however, growing budget deficits would push debt back to and above its current high level. Twenty-five years from now, in 2039, federal debt held by the public would exceed 100 percent of GDP, CBO projects. Moreover, debt would be on an upward path relative to the size of the economy, a trend that could not be sustained indefinitely.
Once again, as Patterico notes, liberals like Krugman wailed like banshees at the insignificant budget cuts of the sequester.  There is zero chance they'll accept the $230+ billion in cuts or tax hikes required to close this gaping hole.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Slumdog Millionaire it was not

I took the family to Northampton tonight, the hippie capital of Western Massachusetts, and there was some First World begging going on in front of Faces.  Two zaftig girls were sitting on the sidewalk, reading paperbacks and smoking.  Near their iced coffees was a sign reading "Please help - any amount accepted."

It breaks my cold, cold heart to see people settle for an iced latte instead of a caffe machiatto.

I should have snapped a cellphone picture.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Red Sea

I missed this WashPost editorial the other day: "No Washington hasn't solved the country's debt problem."

The first step to curing a spending addiction is to admit you have one.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Can't possibly be true

Warning: rant ensuing.  So I set up a tuition payment plan through Sallie Mae but, after I was done, the FAQ indicated it would not accept payment from a College 529 Account - the VERY THING designed to pay for college expenses!  What?!?  I don't know what's going on here...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Magazines I'm ashamed to admit I once subscribed to

5.) NASCAR Illustrated
4.) Dynamite
3.) Family Computing
2.) Newsweek
1.) Rolling Stone

I'm just kidding about #4.  Dynamite was great!

We're going broke

The Hill: "CBO says US deficit levels are unsustainable."
Washington’s failure to contain entitlement spending is biting into the nation’s long-term fiscal outlook, the Congressional Budget Office warned in a Tuesday report that found the nation’s debt would jump to 106 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2039.
The CBO said the rising costs of entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security as the U.S. population continues to age are the drivers of U.S. debt.
The new year of bankruptcy for Social Security is 2030, if you're keeping score.  Sucks for you if you were born in the late 1960s or beyond....hey, wait!

Extra - From Q&O.

Monday, July 14, 2014

It's a trap

It's been quite a while since I did an entitlement-related post and today Robert Samuelson provides some content in "The real Medicaid problem."  Half the states in America have resisted the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.  Given the parallel to Social Security and Medicare, that's probably wise:
One is the assumption that the 90 percent reimbursement rate remains permanently. Why should it? To curb budget deficits, Congress might cut it. “The ACA says what it says. Future Congresses can repeal or modify it,” says Matt Salo of the National Association of Medicaid Directors. Could the favorable reimbursement be bait-and-switch? States’ actual costs could be higher than assumed. Why make a bad problem worse?
Even if this doesn’t happen, demographic trends — also ignored by the White House report — are devastating for states. Medicaid’s cost structure is peculiar. Children and adults under 65 represent three-quarters of beneficiaries but only one-third of costs. The quarter who are aged and disabled represent two-thirds of costs. They are especially sickly and poor. More than 60 percent of nursing home residents have Medicaid.
Over the past quarter-century, the percent of states' budgets going to Medicaid has risen from 9% to 19%.  When these expenses put pressure on state budgets, either taxes will need to go up or other spending will be curtailed.  Hello Detroit:
What this means is that, as the population ages, states’ Medicaid spending will rise inexorably. The competition between nursing homes and home health care — on the one hand — and classroom teachers, higher education, police and other governmental services — on the other — will intensify. Medicaid becomes a vise squeezing other public services or requiring continuous tax increases. More spending goes toward meeting past obligations and not present and future needs. Underfunded state and local pensions compound the effect.
Opposition to the Medicaid expansion is always portrayed as a heartless choice by the states but I fail to see how setting a state on a glide path to slashed budgets and/or bankruptcy is particularly compassionate.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Back from camping

It was a beautiful weekend in Vermont.  It was heartwarming to read this story about how Governor Hickenlooper was bested in eight-ball.  Playing pool is fun!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Your obligatory World Cup blog post

I've been just crazy busy for this one-man blog between work and the considerable complexity of getting a kid prepped for college in a month.  So here's a funny story I heard on NPR today: the people of Brazil have an unthinkable choice.  Who do they root for in the World Cup final?

On the one hand is Argentina, Brazil's bitter rival in futbol but also its South American neighbor.

On the other hand is Germany, who delivered one of the most humiliating World Cup smackdowns to Brazil in the semi-finals.

It wasn't even close in an informal poll of Brazilians: a win for Argentina would be intolerable.