American Elephants


It’s All Falling apart. Chapter Five by The Elephant's Child
June 3, 2015, 7:44 pm
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Health Care, Regulation | Tags: , ,

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The euphemistic name “The Affordable Care Act” always made people laugh. But already, it is reaching the point where “The Unaffordable Care Act” is more appropriate. The LA Times reports that large numbers of Californians enrolled in ACA plans are struggling financially under the cost.

Forty-four percent of exchange policyholders surveyed said it’s somewhat or very difficult to afford their premiums. That’s compared with 25% of adults who had employer-based or other private health insurance.

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, acknowledged that many Californians find it hard to fit health insurance premiums into their household budget, even when they qualify for generous federal subsidies.

ObamaCare exchanges have a gimmick called a “risk corridor.” The idea was that insurers who made a profit would share a portion of that profit with other insurers. If there were not enough profit makers, the taxpayers would make up the difference. Republicans added a provision that required the risk corridors to be revenue neutral, meaning insurers  would no longer have access to taxpayer funds. But suggested rates for 2016 are beginning to show up.

In Oregon, five insurers on the exchange are proposing average premium increases for next year ranging from 25.6 percent to 52 percent…. Four insurance companies on Montana’s exchange are requesting average premium increases ranging from 22.4 percent to 45.1 percent.

The biggest company on Tennessee’s exchange, BlueCross/BlueShield, is proposing an average premium increase of 36.6 percent, while the co-op on the exchange, Community Health Alliance, is proposing a 32.6 percent increase. In New Mexico, Health Service Corp. is asking for a premium hike of 51.6 percent. The largest insurer on South Dakota’s exchange is Wellmark, and in Maryland it is CareFirst. They are asking for average rate increases of 42.9 percent and 30.4 percent, respectively.

Charles Krauthammer reports on what his doctor friends are reporting on the increasingly frustration conditions of clinical practice.

The complaint was not financial but vocational — an incessant interference with their work, a deep erosion of their autonomy and authority, a transformation from physician to “provider.”

“[A] never-ending attack on the profession from government, insurance companies and lawyers … progressively intrusive and usually unproductive rules and regulations,” topped by an electronic health records (EHR) mandate that produces nothing more than “billing and legal documents” — and degraded medicine.

Democrats have never understood the free market, nor incentives and disincentives, and they remain convinced that their brilliant friends in the federal bureaucracy can fix everything if they just have enough control. They’re working now on a study to determine how much they can narrow the window in which women can get a mammogram, so they can reduce that cost.

They added all sorts of nice-sounding benefits (free birth control pills) which add big costs, and when they are surprised by the increase, try to figure out what they can take away to compensate.



It’s All Falling Apart. Chapter Four by The Elephant's Child
June 3, 2015, 6:19 pm
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Environment, Regulation | Tags: , , ,

unofficial-stream-small-custom-e1339556645568The Environmental Protection Agency, fresh off declaring it can regulate all industrial activity to get rid of CO² in our atmosphere, has announced their intent to save the nation’s rivers, streams, rivulets and wetlands from “pollution and degradation.”

The intent, as the Obama administration announced, is to save the nation’s streams, headwaters, creeks and wetlands from “pollution and degradation.”

“Protecting our water sources is a critical component of adapting to climate change impacts,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said, adding that the new rule would help “strengthen our economy and provide certainty to American businesses.”

The EPA claims authority to do what it’s doing under the 1972 Clean Water Act, which is supposed to cover only “navigable waterways.”

The rule would extend EPA authority over dry creeks that carry water in the rainy season, potholes and puddles. Here in the Northwest, every backyard turns into a “wetland” during a good portion of the year. Any private individual or business that wants to do anything connected to water will have to ask the government’s permission.

The House has voted to send the rule back to the EPA for reconsideration. The Senate has a bill to do the same.

Every rule promulgated by the federal government reflects a new restriction on Americans to do what they wish with their own lives, talents and property. Meanwhile, few, if any, tangible benefits exist. That’s what the administrative state represents.



Its All Falling Apart, Chapter Three by The Elephant's Child
June 3, 2015, 5:47 pm
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Taxes | Tags: , ,

The Treasury Department Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) warned the IRS that it was not sufficiently protecting taxpayer data, and made recommendations that the IRS failed to implement. TIGTA Chief T.Russell George told the Senate Finance Committee at a hearing yesterday, that the IRS failed to implement over 40 recommendations that would have made taxpayers’ information safer from hackers.

An IRS data breach has resulted in the stolen personal tax information of over 100,000 households could have been prevented if the IRS listened to the Inspector General and to IRS watchdog groups, Americans for Tax Reform reported.

Since 2007, the IRS has been warned at least seven times by watchdog groups that it needed to strengthen its protections of taxpayer information.

In a 2014 report, TIGTA warned that if stronger protections are not implemented, “taxpayers could be exposed to the loss of privacy and to financial loss and damages resulting from identity theft or other financial crimes.”  The report was the latest in a series of warnings about the agency’s inability to protect taxpayer information.

2013 report found that the IRS had failed to fully implement eight recommendations that would increase security over taxpayer data despite telling TIGTA they had been implemented. A 2011 report found that taxpayer data was vulnerable to hackers and stronger security measures were needed and in 2010, TIGTA found that the agency had inadequate safeguards to protect taxpayer information from contract workers.

According to Americans for Tax Reform, the IRS did purchase Nerf footballs that were never used, the world’s largest crossword puzzle, $100 lunches and  Thomas the Tank Engine Wristbands. The IRS will reportedly notify those taxpayers whose information was hacked.



It’s All Falling Apart. Chapter two. by The Elephant's Child
June 3, 2015, 5:28 pm
Filed under: Immigration, National Security, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

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Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) asked Department of Homeland Security officials to provide data on high-level threats that have managed to slip through visa screenings.. Specifically he asked for a percentage or exact figures on how many people labeled as potential risks have slipped through visa screenings. Officials could not supply an accurate number to the subcommittee.

The witnesses offered to submit data to the House Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security on how they are deporting high-risk targets.

The exchange came as DHS announced that it will ramp up its overseas screening operations as a method of heading off attacks at home on Tuesday. The agency said it will add nine new pre-screening stations in 10 different countries. The officials said the agency has cargo screening stations in 60 ports in 32 countries.

These programs have increased security in American airports and shipping ports; now 36 percent of all travelers to the United States are prescreened, and 80 percent of maritime-cargo traffic is examined before entering port.

Alan Bersin, assistant secretary and chief diplomatic officer for DHS office of policy said ” In a global world, the idea of having borders on a map is a thing of the past. We don’t see the traditional borders: air, land, and sea, as the first signs of entry, but the last.”



It’s All Falling Apart. Chapter One by The Elephant's Child
June 3, 2015, 4:35 pm
Filed under: Intelligence, National Security, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

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It is all falling apart. Incompetence is demonstrably in charge. But there is a bright spot in the gloom. The Transportation Security Administration just demonstrated that even beyond the inconvenience, the personal degradation of humiliating whole-body scans or pat-downs, the efforts of the agency to keep us safe is a total flop. Ninety-five percent of explosives and weapons intentionally sent into the TSA detection apparatus went undetected. TSA has a success rate of a bare 5%! Kevin D. Williamson, who just gets better and better, takes the agency apart in a scathing column today. Do read the whole thing.

But the “bright spot”? The bright spot is that in an increasingly incompetent government, there is a “Red Team” testing the efficiency and efficacy of an agency tasked with keeping the nation safe. There was no cover-up. On Monday, the acting chief of the TSA, Melvin Carraway, was transferred to Homeland Security’s office of state and local law enforcement. imagesIt’s only a small bright spot, for Jeh Johnson, secretary of Homeland Security could not summon the gumption to just fire Carraway, but Carraway was reassigned. It is possible to embarrass the Obama administration.

Kevin Williamson also offers up the solution: Make the airlines corporately responsible for their own security, and put the airlines themselves in charge of screening. No one has a deeper concern about flight security.




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