House Passes Tax-Reform Bill – 12 Republicans, All Democrats Vote Against

Here are the House Republicans who voted against the tax bill, which of course raises the question: With his NO vote, what secret message was Rohrabacher sending to Putin & Assange? pic.twitter.com/B66BY0uIZC
— Ira Goldman (@KDbyProxy) December 19, 2017

After more than six weeks of frenzied negotiations, the House of Representatives has passed the reconciled version of President Donald Trump’s tax plan, leaving only one major hurdle between Republicans and their biggest legislative accomplishment of the Trump era.
In a 227-203 vote, the House passed the tax plan over united Democratic opposition, as well as a flurry of ‘no’ votes from blue-state Republicans who spoke out against provisions in the bill that eliminate deductions for state and local taxesthat will disproportionately impact taxpayers in high-tax states like California and New York. Ultimately, 12 Republicans joined 191 Democrats in voting against the bill.
The vote followed an empassioned debate with Democrats – who labeled the bill the White House “tax scam” – slamming the bill as an attempt to establish a “permanent plutocracy.” Republicans countered that it would benefit all Americans, and evidence of its sanguine impact on the economy would emerge over the next year.
The contentious debate that preceded the vote was interrupted several times by protesters, including people who shouted “kill the bill, don’t kill us!” The Hill pointed out that one of the protesters was a woman in a wheelchair who said she relies on Medicaid and warned that the bill would “starve” the public.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 19, 2017.

George Soros To Congress: “Please Don’t Cut My Taxes”

After transferring over the bulk of his personal wealth to his ‘Open Society’ Foundation – the umbrella organization for a network of dozens of political groups that push Soros’s far-left agenda across the US and Europe, Soros is still comfortable enough to justify giving away even more of his money – this time to the US federal government.
Taking a page out of Warren Buffett’s book, Soros and a group of some 400 other rich Americans – including doctors, lawyers and CEOs – are sending a formal letter to Congress chiding lawmakers for trying to reduce taxes on the richest American families at a time when wealth inequality is rapidly expanding. Instead, the letter asks Congress not to pass any tax bill that ‘further exacerbates inequality’ and adds to the debt (both of the current Republican plans would add $1.5 trillion to the debt over 10 years).
The letter was penned by Responsible Wealth, a group of ‘enlightened’ rich people that includes Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, fashion designer Eileen Fisher and philanthropist Steven Rockefeller, in addition to Soros. Along with the big names are many individuals and couples who rank among the top 5% of Americans (those who have $1.5 million in assets or earn $250,000 or more a year).
In a rebuttal to Congress’s argument that corporate tax cuts will help stimulate growth, the letter argues that corporations are already reaping record profits. Instead of handing more money to the wealthy, the letter’s signers argue the government should use the funds to invest in education, research and roads that benefit everyone, while protecting entitlement programs like Medicaid.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 14, 2017.

US Spent A Record $4 Trillion In Fiscal 2017, Pushing Deficit To $666 Billion

One year ago, the CBO forecasted that the Fiscal 2017 US deficit (for the year ended September 30), would be in the mid-$500 billion range. It was not meant to be, however, and on Friday the Treasury reported that with outlays of $341 billion in the last month of the fiscal year, offset by $349 billion in receipts, the full year deficit grew to a nice, round and very memorable $666 billion in fiscal 2017, up $80 billion or 14% from fiscal 2016. The government ran an $8 billion surplus in September, much smaller than the $33 billion surplus in September 2016. Receipts fell 2% while outlays grew 5% last month compared with the same period a year earlier.
For the full year, federal tax receipts reached a record high $3.315 trillion, thanks to slightly faster growth, according to a Treasury official quoted by the WSJ. But government outlays also hit a record high last year at nearly $4 trillion ($3.981 trillion to be precise), 3% higher than they were in the previous fiscal year, thanks to increased spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as higher interest payments on the public debt. And that’s with interest rates that were near all time lows. We can’t wait until the $20+ trillion in Federal debt starts really hitting the bottom budget line as the Fed starts pushing rates higher.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 20, 2017.

CBO Says McConnell Healthcare Bill Would Slash Deficits By $420 Billion, Leave 15 Million Uninsured

Another day, another CBO score for another version of the GOP’s healthcare bill. This time, the agency estimates that McConnell’s “Better Care Reconciliation Act” legislation would lower the federal budget deficit by $420 billion over the next 10 years by reducing spending for Medicaid and subsidies for nongroup health insurance.
As The CBO notes, those effects would be partially offset by the effects of provisions not directly related to health insurance coverage (mainly reductions in taxes), the repeal of penalties on employers that do not offer insurance and on people who do not purchase insurance, and spending to reduce premiums and for other purposes.
Compared with the June 26 cost estimate for a previous version of the legislation, this cost estimate shows savings over the next 10 years that are larger – as well as estimated effects on health insurance coverage and on premiums for health insurance that are similar. The current version of the legislation would result in greater deficit reduction mostly because it would retain certain taxes that the previous version of the legislation would have eliminated. The description of the legislation and of CBO and JCT’s methodology and results that appeared in the agencies’ previous estimate largely applies to this one as well.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 20, 2017.

INCOMING!

Here we go.…
Were it not for the provision that Pat Toomey, the Pennsylvania Republican, put into the Senate’s proposed health care reform, this legislation would be moderately important but hardly momentous. Toomey’s provision, however, makes it this century’s most significant domestic policy reform.
It required tenacity by Toomey to insert into the bill a gradually arriving, but meaningful, cap on the rate of growth of per-beneficiary Medicaid spending. It is requiring of Toomey and kindred spirits strenuous efforts to keep it there, which reveals the Republican Party’s itch to slouch away from its uncomfortable but indispensable role as custodian of realism about arithmetic.
Well, no it doesn’t and he isn’t — that is, being realistic about arithmetic.
The argument in this article is that the expansion in cost is all about “mission creep.” Nonsense.
The facts are that medical spending has gone from ~3-4% of GDP to nearly 20% and continues to accelerate. This of course means that ultimately it would exceed 100%, which is impossible.

This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-07-11.

100 Million Dead In US

Go ahead folks, read this one.
Accordingly, I must communicate to you at this time the full extent of our dire fiscal straits and the potential disruptions that we face in addressing even our most critical core responsibilities going forward into the new fiscal year. My Office has very serious concerns that, in the coming weeks, the State of Illinois will no longer be able to guarantee timely and predictable payments in a number of areas that we have to date managed (albeit with extreme difficulty) despite an unpaid bill backlog in excess of $15 billion and growing rapidly.
We are effectively hemorrhaging money as the state’s spending obligations have exceeded receipts by an average of over $600 million per month over the past year. (ed: That’s $7.2 billion/year)
My cause for alarm is rooted in the increasing deficit spending combined with new and ongoing cash management demands stemming from decisions from state and federal courts, the latest being the class action lawsuit filed by advocates representing the Medicaid service population served by the state’s Managed Care Organizations (MCOs). As of June 15, the MCOs, and their provider networks, are owed a total of more than $2.8 billion in overdue bills at the Comptroller’s Office. There is no question that these obligations should be paid in a more timely manner and that the payment delays caused by the state’s financial condition negatively impact the state’s healthcare infrastructure. We are currently in court directed discussions to reach a workable and responsive payment schedule going forward, but any acceleration of the timing of those payments under the current circumstances will almost certainly affect the scheduling of other payments, regardless of other competing court orders and Illinois statutory mandates.

This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-06-21.

Illinois Comptroller: “The State Can No Longer Function, We Have Reached A New Phase Of Crisis”

With just 10 days to go until Illinois enters its third year without a budget, resulting in the state’s imminent downgrade to junk status and potentially culminating in a default for the state whose unpaid bills now surpass $15 billion, Democratic Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza issued a warning to Illinois Gov. Rauner and other elected officials on Tuesday, saying in a letter that her office has “very serious concerns” it may no longer be able to guarantee “timely and predictable payments” for some core services.
In the letter posted on her website, Mendoza who over the weekend warned that Illinois is “in massive crisis mode” and that “this is not a false alarm” said the state is “effectively hemorrhaging money” due to various court orders and laws that have left government spending roughly $600 million more a month than it’s taking in. Mendoza said her office will continue to make debt payments as required, but indicated that services most likely to be affected include long-term care, hospice and supportive living centers for seniors. She added that managed care organizations that serve Medicaid recipients are owed more than $2.8 billion in overdue bills as of June 15.
“The state can no longer function without a responsible and complete budget without severely impacting our core obligations and decimating services to the state’s most in-need citizens,” Mendoza wrote. “We must put our fiscal house in order. It is already too late. Action is needed now.”
Unveiling the most dire langage yet, in her letter Mendoza said “we are now reaching a new phase of crisis” perhaps in an attempt to prompt the Democrats and Republicans to sit down and come up with a comrpomise:

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 20, 2017.

Leftist Just Want to Complain But Avoid the Real Issues

Working people are concerned about taxes and national security. In America they are screaming loud about how Obamacare raised the cost of everyone’s healthcare changing that for 300 million Americans to be concerned about 20 million who the government should have simply added to Medicaid if someone could not get insurance or were illegal aliens.
The left is wholly unconcerned about any of that. They pound their drums yelling about social justice and equality that somehow always justifies raising taxes on the ‘rich’ but magically never lowers anyone else’s taxes. This is like handing your credit card to your child to go buy some clothes. They come back and spend twice as much as you expected. When you inquire how they could spend that much on one outfit, they respond that they saved you double that because they really wanted to buy something else. That is the logic of politicians. They saved you money because they really wanted to take a lot more.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Jun 12, 2017.

Illinois In Deep Financial Trouble

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza was ordered to make a ‘substantial’ dent in a $2 billion backlog of bills owed to Medicaid providers. The courts ruled that according to the State Constitution, it cannot reduce the pension payments to state employees. What is happening in Illinois is indicative of how governments are imploding and why I am warning get out of all State and Muni-debt before it is too late. Since State and local governments cannot ‘print’ (create) money, they are forced to borrow and raise taxes. Consequently, they have hit the ceiling in tax resistance. What is happening is people are gradually migrating because there is absolutely no hope for states like Illinois. The only way out will have to be bankruptcy and a default on all the pension promises.
A federal judge has now intervened ordering the Comptroller to now prioritize who it pays. This is turning into the clash of titans – the epic battle between medical expenses that constantly rise regardless of the business cycle and state employees demanding pensions. Caught in the middle are the average middle class American who is being exploited from both sides. The judge now ordered the state to pay up towards Medicaid to keep doctors and hospitals from cutting off care for the low-income families that rely on the program.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Jun 10, 2017.

How Washington’s Reaction to Trump’s Budget Justifies the Rise of Bitcoin

Earlier this week the Trump administration announced their proposed budget for 2018. The plan bears some striking resemblance to Trump’s first budget attempt in three key ways: it contains some legitimate cuts to a number of government programs, it features increases to America’s irrational war budget, and all together it reflects a significant increase in government spending from current levels. It also has zero chance of passing in Washington, which may be the most significant aspect of the budget.
As soon as details emerged, it was already being torn apart by a web of pundits, think tanks, and politicians. Not because it doesn’t adequately address America’s growing debt bomb, but because it promoted an ‘extreme’ view of austerity. In spite of its refusal to address the trillions in entitlement obligations for Social Security and Medicare, the budget’s modest reductions to Medicaid were deemed ‘radical.’ New York City mayor Bill de Blasio warned that proposed cuts to additional social programs will literally kill children. Meanwhile, the dependably absurd Jennifer Rubin was up in arms because Trump wasn’t spending enough on war.
As such, Republicans in both the House and Senate have made it clear that they aren’t interested in Trump’s ‘New Foundation for American Greatness.’

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on May 26, 2017.

Handout Nation: Combined Enrollment In America’s 4 Largest Safety Net Programs Hits A Record High Of 236 Million

Margaret Thatcher once said that the problem with socialism ‘is that eventually you run out of other people’s money’. As you will see below, the combined enrollment in America’s four largest safety net programs has reached a staggering 236 million. Of course that doesn’t mean that 236 million people are getting benefits from the government each month because there is overlap between the various programs. For example, many Americans that are on Medicaid are also on food stamps, and many Americans that are on Medicare are also on Social Security. But even accounting for that, most experts estimate that the number of Americans that are dependent on the federal government month after month is well over 100 million. And now that so many people are addicted to government handouts, can we ever return to a culture of independence and self-sufficiency?
On Wednesday, CNN ran an editorial by Bernie Sanders in which he called President Trump’s proposed budget ‘immoral’ because it would cut funding for government aid programs.
But is it moral to steal more than a hundred million dollars from future generations of Americans every single hour of every single day to pay for these programs?
Of course the answer to that question is quite obvious.
There will always be some Americans that are unable to take care of themselves, and we should want to help them.
But as millions upon millions of Americans continue to jump on to the safety net, eventually we are going to get to the point where it is going to break.
As I mentioned above, the combined enrollment in the four largest safety net programs has reached a new all-time record high…

This post was published at The Economic Collapse Blog on May 24th, 2017.

Watch Live: White House Releases Details Of Trump’s 2018 Budget Proposal

Watch as the White House officially releases its 2018 budget proposal (the statement can be read here and the full budget is found at the following link).
***
The Trump administration has officially unveiled its budget seeking $1.5 trillion in non-defense discretionary cuts and $1.4 trillion in Medicaid cuts over the course of a decade, while adding nearly half a trillion dollars to defense spending, for a total of $3.6 trillion in spending cuts. The plan, titled ‘A New Foundation for American Greatness,’ would dramatically reshape federal spending, cutting anti-poverty and safety net programs, while leaving Medicare and the retirement portion of Social Security untouched.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 23, 2017.

Trump’s Budget Will Slash $1.7 Trillion In Entitlements, Cut Food Stamps By 25%

More details from President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal are trickling out via a flurry of overnight reports from The Washington Post, Associated Press and Bloomberg News.
***
Here are some of the highlights from the latest batch of trial balloons:
The budget will slash $1.7 trillion in spending on entitlement programs, according to Bloomberg. Trump’s budget will include a massive nearly $200 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the modern version of food stamps, over the next 10 years – what amounts to a 25% reduction, according to The Washington Post. The food stamp cuts are part of a broader $274 billion welfare-reform effort, according to a report by The Associated Press. The budget calls for about $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid for fiscal year 2018, WaPo reported. The budget also calls for $2.6 billion in border security spending, $1.6 billion of which will be earmarked for Trump’s proposed wall along the U. S.’s southern border. The budget is also expected to propose major domestic discretionary spending cuts – an earlier version of the budget called for $54 billion in such cuts next year alone.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 22, 2017.

NEW YORK’S SINGLE PAYER HEALTH CARE PLAN WILL BURDEN TAX PAYERS

New York’s expensive idea, single payer health care, is going to cost the state more than their entire annual revenue. The state currently has around $71 billion in tax revenue, but just this health care plan would cost over $91 billion, and that’s likely a low estimate.
The single-payer health care plan that cleared the lower chamber of New York’s state legislature on Tuesday would require massive tax increases to double and possibly even quadruple the state’s current annual revenue levels. The plan, which was passed 87-38, would eliminate all private insurance in the state while keeping medicare and Medicaid and would provide health care to everyone in New York through the state government.
The New York Health Plan would add to the already hefty tax burden on the state’s residents. The financial aspects of this massive health care takeover will be the biggest challenge for the state. New York collected about $71 billion in tax revenue last year. In 2019, when the single-payer plan would be enacted, the state expects tax revenue to exceed $82 billion. To pay for health care for all New Yorkers, though, the state would need to find another $91 billion annually, and that’s a low estimate. The cost of this health care plan is likely to far exceed the estimated $91 billion. Of course, the state’s largest health care union is backing the government takeover of the industry, and that will help drive the costs even higher.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on MAY 18, 2017.

Government Shutdown Odds Are Rising, Goldman Warns

Having been quite confident that Trump would be able to pass some form of Tax reform as recently as two weeks ago, Goldman’s Washington analyst, Alec Phillips, is turning increasingly more pessimistic on the prospects that Trump’s economic agenda will gain traction in Congress, especially now that attention has seemingly shifted to Trump’s bombing policies in Syria (and perhaps North Korea in the not too distant future).
In a note over the weekend, the Goldman strategist writes that “following the failure to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would repeal the Medicaid expansion and tax hikes enacted in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and reduce the tax subsidies for health insurance under that law, Republican leaders in the House have struggled to develop an alternative health proposal that might find enough support to pass. At this point, it still appears possible that the House could pass a revised version of the bill at some point in May. However, the compromises that might be made in the House to gain support are apt to reduce support in the Senate, and the process in that chamber would take much longer than even the drawn out House process, in our view.”
He also observes that lawmakers and market participants have refocused their attention on tax reform, “though a number of other issues are likely to delay activity on tax legislation for another several weeks.” This includes another potential attempt to pass health legislation, the possibility of a government shutdown, a debt limit deadline later this year, and geopolitical developments.
Which brings us to the key topc: the prospect of a government shutdown in less than three weeks. This is what Phillips says when discussing the risks of a government shutdown on April 29.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 9, 2017.

Challenge: Guess the Last Year the U.S. Government Ran a Budget Surplus

There are two kinds of U. S. government deficits: on-budget and off-budget.
The one that gets all the attention is the on-budget deficit. It’s relatively small. The big one is the off-budget deficit. That is the deficit in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other government old-age wealth-transfer programs. This deficit is called unfunded liabilities. The present value of the unfunded liabilities of the U. S. government is about $210 trillion. This is not the looming deficit. This is the present value of the looming deficit. This is what the government would have to invest in private industry, which would (we hope) pay a positive rate of return over the life of the programs.
Sadly, the government does not have a spare $210 trillion in the vault ready to invest.
For a detailed study of this deficit — the one that cannot be evaded politically — see Prof. Laurence Kotlikoff’s 2015 testimony to the Senate Budget Committee. Click here.
This brings us to the official, on-budget deficit of the federal government. The U. S. Treasury is the source of this information.
Here are the deficits for the 21st century. Subtract the total debt of one year from the next year. That is the deficit. You will see how much the national debt rises each year. This is the annual deficit.

This post was published at Gary North on Gary North – March 31, 2017.

Reality Virus Infects Kansas Legislators, Brownback Immune

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of New Economic Perspectives. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
The good news is that the Kansas legislature, the land of the lunatics, experienced an outbreak of the reality virus (first diagnosed and named by Steve Keen among neoclassical economists). The bad news is that the Kansas’ Crazy-in-Chief, Governor Sam Brownback, has proven immune to the virus. Brownback decided to put Art Laffer in charge of Kansas’ taxation policy. Even neoclassical economists roll their eyes when it comes to Laffer’s claims that dramatic tax decreases lead to significantly increased net tax revenues. Laffer’s batting average on this claim is .000 and his ‘proof’ of his claim is a graph (the ‘Laffer curve’) that he drew that contradicts reality. Brownback knew that Laffer was batting .000 on his claims and that Laffer never drops his claims when reality (repeatedly) falsifies his graph. To no one’s surprise, Brownback’s tax cuts produced a fiscal disaster for Kansas.
Brownback also launched an unholy war against the people of Kansas in other spheres vital to their lives, including health care and education. In particular, Brownback denied 150,000 Kansans access to the Medicaid expansion that was a pure win-win for the State and its citizens. Brownback, with the aid of the Koch brothers, launched a purge of Republican state legislators to remove ‘moderates.’ (Actually, they were true conservatives.) This spread Brownback’s delusions throughout the Republican-dominated legislature. Kansas’ Republican legislators, therefore, should have been among the people most resistant to the reality virus, particularly so soon after the delirium of Trump’s victories.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on March 29, 2017.

Trump Will Make Social Security Cuts If This Appointee Gets His Way

While on the campaign trail, then presidential hopeful Donald J. Trump promised he would never make Medicare or Social Security cuts if elected.
‘Save Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security without cuts. Have to do it,’ Trump stated at a rally on June 16, 2015, the day he announced his presidential bid.
‘We’re going to save your Social Security without killing it like so many people want to do. And your Medicare,’ Trump promised attendees at a July 2016 rally in Phoenix.
But just a little more than a month after winning the election, Trump nominated Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) as director of the U. S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
The move raised eyebrows for those closely following Social Security and Medicare policy.
You see, Mulvaney is a staunch supporter of cuts to entitlement programs – especially Social Security and Medicare.
In fact, on Monday Mulvaney told the media he is devoted to changing Trump’s mind…

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on March 9, 2017.

Pelosi Slams ‘TrumpCare’: “Couldn’t Be Worse… Biggest Wealth Transfer Ever”

Following Chuck Schumer’s denigration of ‘Trumpcare’ overnight, Nancy Pelosi has come out swinging this morning to press the same narrative to the American people: It “couldn’t be worse” she exclaimed on ABC’s ‘This Morning’
Here is what Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer had to say about the Republican’s plan for “TrumpCare” last night…
“Trumpcare doesn’t replace the Affordable Care Act, it forces millions of Americans to pay more for less care. This plan would cut and cap Medicaid, defund Planned Parenthood, and force Americans, particularly older Americans, to pay more out of pocket for their medical care all so insurance companies can pad their bottom line.
It cuts taxes on the rich to make middle class families pay more. To make matters worse, this sham of a replacement would rip treatment away from hundreds of thousands of Americans dealing with opioid addiction, breaking the President’s word that he would expand treatment, not cut it.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 7, 2017.

Trump and GOP Fail: ‘Obamacare Repeal/Replace’

So it’s out….. well, at least sort-of-out.
And let me point out a few things about this bill, at least as far as I can determine from reading and cross-referencing it:
It does not repeal the “penalty.” It instead moves it to the back end; if you don’t have insurance (by choice) and then buy it, you get hammered with a 30% penalty for a year. For most people that’s far more than the ACA penalty for not having insurance — it could easily be $3,000 or more! This is outright fraud on the part of the GOP which said it was repealing the penalty. Paul Ryan, Donald Trump and the rest are all ****ing liars. Medicaid expansion is essentially ended and cost-pickup for the states is capped to CPI-U’s medical expenditures inflation index on a forward basis. This will detonate State budgets within about 10 years as the current spend is expanding at ~9% a year but the CPI-U index is less than half that. It does not repeal the prohibition on discrimination in price (or denial) for pre-existing conditions, but it does increase the multiplier for age to 5 (from 3.) IT IS NOT A REPEAL OF THE ACA — not even close. The vast majority of the ACA remains intact. The “mandate” is gone but the penalty remains, just shifted to the back side and for many will be far worse than the penalty would have been. The restriction on what plans you can sell is gone, subsidies are cut, indexed only to age and paid to HSAs instead of directly to insurers. It does repeal many of the “add-on” taxes that paid for the program previously as well.

This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-03-07.