Friday Noon ~ thefrontpagecover

~ Featuring ~  
Trump's HRAs, Price Transparency
Driving Health Care Improvements
Louis DeBroux  
Congress and the Iran and Saudi Arabia problem
by Danielle Pletka } ~ The Senate voted today on a series of resolutions to block 22 arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates... The Menendez resolutions were designed to overturn a Trump administration maneuver to bypass Congress and make the sales, which the administration insisted critical to national security. Uncomfortably, perhaps, the vote on the $8 billion worth of sales came as news that Iran had shot down a US drone — a US Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance craft — that the US insists was in international air space.  As you consider the breathless reporting on the Iranian attack, as well as Iran’s other recent provocations, and think about whether Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are really unworthy recipients of US arms sales, a little context and background is in order. I reviewed the bidding on Iran and who’s to blame in a blog post earlier this week. Short story shorter, it’s important not to allow antipathy deserved or otherwise for Donald Trump or confusion about the aims of his foreign policy to obfuscate Iran’s own culpability for the situation we find ourselves in. It was Iran that violated its nuclear obligations, and Iran that escalated in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere. It is Iran that is attacking shipping in the Gulf, after pledging to do so repeatedly. You may not like Donald Trump or John Bolton or Mike Pompeo, but Iran’s malign behavior or at least this iteration of it dates from well before the White House was a glimmer in the Donald’s eye. Remember that.  Now, on to the Arab Gulf states ranged with the United States against Iran. The United States has been selling arms to the region and to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in particular since the 1950s. A number of those sales have been controversial over the years, and while successive administrations have stood their ground with no resolution of disapproval for an arms sale ever overriding a presidential veto, they have also sought to respond to congressional concerns by dropping certain elements of particular arms packages. Arms deliveries to the United Arab Emirates began later — in the 1970s — but have also been growing in quality and quantity in recent years as the UAE has stepped up its regional role.  Congress has been more sensitive to Saudi malfeasance than any president of either party, but Congressional outrage has been highly selective, and only nine resolutions of disapproval had been introduced per the  Congressional Research Service until the latest rounds. Congressional and press outrage over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi has spiraled to levels of hysteria bearing almost no relationship to the act itself. No one should downplay the horror or the brazenness of Khashoggi’s killing, but the notion that this is Saudi at its worst Really? What about its support for al Qaeda? The execution of Sheikh Nimr? The oppression of women and minorities? bears almost no scrutiny. Not to speak of Iran’s execution of — to pick one — reporter Zahra Kazemi. Saudi Arabia has been a problematic ally since the beginning, and arguably Saudi Arabia today is better than it has been in many years. For its part, Iran is worse.  Similarly, the sudden outrage over Saudi and Emirati actions in Yemen — which has almost no relationship to compassion for the actual people of Yemen — is tied to Trump hatred. If not, why no outrage over the scumbag/liar-nObama administration’s initiation of support for Saudi in Yemen? Why did Congressional Democrats remain almost silent at the murder of half a million Syrians at the hands of Russia, Iran, and Iranian-supported terrorists over two scumbag/liar-Obama terms? It is one thing to have objections to certain parts of the very large arms packages to these two Gulf states; it is another to bar sales to them altogether. And a refusal to arm either of these allies in the Middle East begs the question of whom members of congress believe should be opposing Iranian domination in Yemen or al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. US troops? Or should Iran and al Qaeda be allowed free reign? Here are the facts that face us in the region: Iran is today the world’s most significant state sponsor of terrorism; it is behind the deaths of Americans in Iraq, behind the murder of hundreds of thousands in Syria, behind the terrorism of Hamas and Hezbollah, and behind the destabilization of many states beyond. It is a police state with American citizens behind bars with no hope of justice. Iran is our most dangerous enemy in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are not democracies or anything close. In particular, Saudi Arabia’s record on human freedom is appalling. But Saudi Arabia will not employ better military practices in Yemen without US guidance. And the United Arab Emirates will not be better at pursuing al Qaeda, another important enemy, without US support. There is a discussion to be had about the wisdom and level of US tolerance for our allies’ malfeasance. But that discussion needs to go back decades, not two years. Donald Trump is far from an ideal champion of American interests in the world, but he is not confused about the need to range allies on our side in the Middle East against Iran. It is hard to say the same about Congressional Democrats and their fellow travelers.  
Lindsey Graham Draws a ‘Red Line’ for Iran 
and They Definitely Don’t Want To Cross This One
by Shaun Hair } ~ The point of no return. That is a phrase we are all familiar with. Once we reach that point, there is no going back — it is a proverbial line in the sand... When it comes to Iran, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham just revealed his point of no return Wednesday night on Fox News. “They’re the most murderous regime on the planet, and that is saying a lot,” Graham told host Brett Baier. “But the big problem is if they go back to enriching in a manner that could lead to a bomb. You are putting Israel in a world of hurt and the entire world should be worried about this.” Graham explained that Iran’s strategy is to divide and cause chaos. “If I were the president, I would tell the Iranians that if there is an attack on a ship or a pipeline or anything like that, we’re gonna blow up your oil refinery and take you out of the oil business because they are trying to drive up costs by creating chaos,” Graham said. While Graham gave assurance that U.S. action would not involve a “land invasion,” he did clearly articulate a point of no return for Iran. “My red line is if there is any more disruption of shipping in the Strait of Hormuz linked to Iran. Take out their navy, bomb their refineries,” Graham said. The Washington Post reported that Iran was angry that the Trump administration did not renew waivers back in May for eight countries to import Iranian oil despite sanctions. The increasing tensions hit a high point when the U.S. and Saudia Arabia pointed a finger at Iran after explosions damaged and destroyed two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz...
The Democrats’ Presidential Field and Communism
by E. Jeffrey Ludwig } ~ Everything that America stands for is being opposed by the resurgence of communism with its profound hatred of private property as the root of alienation and exploitation in society... Inequality and the injustice that is believed to flow out of that inequality of ownership is, for the communist mentality, the starting point for a radical critique of American society, indeed of Western Civilization.  The left rejects belief in and gratitude for the fact that the U.S. rose out of the British rights framework which is inherently capitalistic. The liberty enshrined in our leading documents and law is closely justified by its support of private property as an inalienable right and by Christian values derived from a 2000 year old abiding faith in the God of the Bible and in Christ His Son. Communism, by contrast, arose out of a Germanic cultural and dialectical mindset that was atheistic, so we are not surprised that communism should be so repulsive to our citizens. In American politics we have many contenders for the Democrat Presidential nomination using deceptive rubrics such as Democratic Socialism, Green New Deal, Black Lives Matter remember Stokely Carmichael in the sixties with the clenched fist “power to the people”?, progressivism, and even liberalism in a way wholly different from classical liberalism. commie-Bernie Sanders self-labels as a Democratic Socialist, but has participated in the Democratic caucus in the Senate, and is now a leading contender for the Democrat Party nomination for President. commie-Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez self-labels as a Socialist but was elected to Congress as a Democrat. Just as these socialists are comfortable working in Washington DC as Democrats, we see that communists are comfortable with referring to themselves as socialists. An entire section of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) website is entitled “Bill of Rights of Socialism.” If socialists can be Democrats, and communists can be socialists, then we can entertain the possibility some or many of the Democrats and socialists are communists. Further, has any reporter asked them, “Are you a communist? And if not, how do your views differ from those of communism?” They do not ask these questions because the questions themselves would be seen as a form of disparagement. The fact that there are some differences among the Democratic candidates is not evidence in itself that they do not deserve to be stigmatized. Historically, there were and are differences among different factions of communists. The Mensheviks were violently opposed to the Bolsheviks. Leon Trotsky had to flee the USSR because of his opposition to Joseph Stalin. Here are some of the programs and policies listed by Rich Noyes that are being advocated by the Democratic Party primary candidates. These positions extend the reach of the federal government and trample on the notion of right to one’s property, which trampling brings about a curtailment of individual liberty...  
House panel subpoenas Flynn, Gates
Muk99G3UFLQll0LfkSpd2W2wM7yzhVcU2lZ4MjcRUIWm7OkGOSg_IsZQWfzMJZ6I4w5NtuPnYvlM4UhT-FZpoaGOUzwqz_SSjWM5K3eabvbx5zWhF-pcbL7NfijxP7oPJeDeFMf-QYzCYTvzRlLFkOE8iGZem1KCK-D8D2D52QFYYUkDQg=s0-d-e1-ft#%3Ca%20rel%3Dnofollow%20href=?profile=RESIZE_710xby Morgan Chalfant } ~ The House Intelligence Committee has issued subpoenas for documents and testimony from former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign aide Richard Gates... "As part of our oversight work, the House Intelligence Committee is continuing to examine the deep counterintelligence concerns raised in Special Counsel Mueller's report, and that requires speaking directly with the fact witnesses," the committee's chairman, Rep. scumbag-Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), said in a statement on Thursday. scumbag-Schiff noted that both Flynn and Gates cooperated extensively with special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, but said that they have so far “refused to cooperate fully with Congress.” In a Wednesday letter, scumbag-Schiff demanded that Flynn, who worked on President Trump's campaign and briefly in the administration, provide “documents and other materials” by June 26 and appear before the committee for sworn testimony on July 10. The committee is also ordering Gates to turn over documents and other materials by June 26 and to provide sworn testimony on July 10, according to a separate letter issued to him. scumbag-Schiff wrote in the letter to Gates, Trump’s former deputy campaign manager, that the panel has “no choice but to compel the production of the specified documents and your testimony” pursuant to a subpoena because he has thus far declined to cooperate voluntarily with the committees requests... scumbag-Schiff is an idiot, he should be the one to be subpoena. 
Liberals' National Popular Vote Scheme Is Unconstitutional and Dangerous
by Brian S. Messenger } ~ As of now, fourteen states have passed the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC), which attempts to eliminate the Electoral College as set forth in the United States Constitution... 
There have been many good articles written about the legality of interstate compacts to achieve the desired National Popular Vote goals. The author does not need to rehash all of those problems but believes that there are three additional ways that the NPVIC is both unconstitutional and dangerous. Constitutional Flaw #1: Non-Republican Form of Government... Article IV, Section 4 of the United States Constitution says in part that  "the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." The United States is a constitutional republic, where people elect their senators and representatives at the national level. At the state level, this is copied by every state except for Nebraska, which has a unique unicameral Legislature. A Republican form of government, by its definition, means that people elect representatives to represent them in running the government. This is done so that the people are not encumbered with the daily operations and voting to run the state or federal government. A fundamental problem with the NPVIC is that it is inherently not a republican form of government for a specific state to select that state's Electors. Once a state Legislature decides to ask its citizens their preference through a popular vote, there must be a rational basis as to how the vote of the state's citizens is used to select that state's electors. It is not rational that the people's decision could be overruled by the votes of citizens of unrelated states. The following comparison is between two states in the NPVIC who are at the extremes of the Popular Vote Range for the 2016 election. Vermont has three electoral votes in our existing system and cast 315,067 votes for president in 2016. This constituted 0.23% of the total votes in the nation. Under the NPVIC, Vermont will give other states 99.77% of the power to select its state's electors for president instead of maintaining the 100% control it presently has. Presently, there is a total pool of 538 electors, and 0.23% constitutes 1.2 electors. Vermont has irrationally thrown away its automatic control of three Electoral Votes for an effective control of 1.2 electoral votes.  Constitutional Flaw #2: Popular Vote Coercion... Constitutional Flaw #3: Removal of Critical Safety Mechanism... In the 13 presidential elections that the author can remember, he has felt emotions ranging from being thrilled, being happy, being worried, and being disgusted with the results.  Since we live in a great country, where honest Americans can have different views, the author is sure that many people felt differently.  Unfortunately, the fact that someone doesn't like who wins specific elections is no excuse for trying to dramatically change the genius of our presidential election system.  This paper shows how the NPVIC would not only be unconstitutional in three key ways, but would potentially be dangerous to our nation...  
Trump's HRAs, Price Transparency Driving Health Care Improvements
Louis DeBroux:  Our current health care payment system is a bastardized amalgam of bad policy begetting worse policy; a slowly evolving mess rooted in the FDR-signed Stabilization Act of 1942, which froze wages and salaries for workers, forcing America’s employers to find another way to attract the best talent. They did that by taking advantage of a loophole in the law that allowed “insurance and pension benefits” to grow “in a reasonable amount.” And thus was employer-based health insurance born.

As could be easily predicted, this created a host of problems, but by the time the law was changed, the practice had taken root. Over the years the problems have grown, only to have the “solutions” created by Congress make things worse.

scumbag/liar-nObama used the rising costs of health care as an excuse to push for his quasi-socialist plan for health insurance, which he considered a stepping stone to a fully socialized “single-payer” (i.e., government-run and controlled) health system.

The results were disastrous.

Under the “Affordable” Care Act, premiums more than doubled in the first four years, leaving millions of Americans with unaffordable premiums and deductibles. National health spending jumped from 16.3% of GDP to 17.9% (estimated to hit 19.4% by 2027), and per capita spending on health care jumped $2,841 per year.

And now, $586 billion later, more than twice as many Americans are concerned about health care than before scumbag/liar-nObamaCare was passed. But for Democrats this was a feature, not a bug. They wanted the private system to collapse so they could justify fully socialized health care in America.

But now there is hope.

On Sunday, President Donald Trump announced the roll-out of a new health care plan in the next two months, and though the specific language is not yet available, the initial provisions are very promising.

The first provision is the release of a final rule on HRAs (Health Reimbursement Accounts) that will significantly increase choice for employees. Employers can make tax-free contributions (with no statutory limits) to accounts for employees, who can then use the funds to pay for out-of-pocket costs not covered by traditional insurance, but to also pay for premiums for private insurance.

This will have a dramatic effect on the insurance market, giving millions of currently uninsured Americans an affordable coverage option. It is estimated that within first five years, as many as 800,000 small businesses (most with less than 20 employees) will sponsor HRAs for their employees, funding coverage for more than 11 million workers.

This option also addresses two major issues in the health system; namely, the lack of portability in health insurance and coverage for pre-existing conditions. The latter is largely a result of the former.

HRAs provide portability in health care plans, because you would take your insurance with you from one employer to the next. It closes that gap in coverage that insurers use to justify denying payment for care.

This will also create new suppliers in the health insurance market to meet demand. Currently, 81% of small businesses (> 200 employees) and 42% of larger firms only offer one health plan. A single plan is no choice at all; you accept it or you go without coverage.

By ending the discriminatory tax treatment which favors employer-based plans and penalizes individual plans, employees will not feel pressured to stay at a job they hate simply because of the health insurance benefits. As a result, health care options will increase, employment mobility will increase, and prices will fall.

The Trump administration has also included built-in mechanisms that prevent employers from treating classes of employees differently, or insuring healthy employees while dumping older, sicker employees onto the scumbag/liar-nObamaCare plans.

Another step taken by President Trump may pay even greater dividends in the long run.

As early as next week, President Trump is expected to issue an executive order requiring pricing transparency throughout the health care industry. Industry providers of all sorts will be required to publish costs for services, medicines, etc.

It’s hard to overestimate what a game-changer this could be.

Today, it is impossible to determine actual costs, with pricing being significantly higher for the same service depending on the insurer, group plan, geographical location, etc. For example, a 2011 study found that a lower-limb MRI in New York was 12 times higher in New York than in Baltimore, and that pricing even varied 900% within the same city (Miami).

While still a long way from a true free market in health care, President Trump is taking steps that make significant strides in that direction.

Now Congress must do its job and finally address the mess it created 77 years ago, and which it has only made worse since. It is time for a true free market in health care, and President Trump is taking the lead.  

~The Patriot Post  
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