Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Medicare

Gov’t Collects Record $240 Billion in May; Still Runs $88 Billion Deficit

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, June 16, 2017:

English: Medicare and Medicaid as % GDP Explan...

Medicare and Medicaid as % GDP Explanation: Eventually, Medicare and Medicaid spending absorbs all federal tax revenue.

The U.S. Treasury announced on Thursday that the federal government collected more money in May than in any other month in history: $240.4 billion. In the same breath, it said that the government spent $328.8 billion, creating a deficit of $88.4 billion.

From a wage earner’s perspective, it meant that in May the average worker paid $1,572 in taxes but the government spent $2,149, making up the $577 difference by borrowing. Such deficit spending is making the S&P Global credit rating agency increasingly nervous.

Just a week earlier, the agency affirmed its best rating — A-1+ — for the government’s “short term” debt, which means, in its own parlance, that the federal government’s ability to pay its current bills is “strong.” But in the longer term, the agency is far less sanguine. While holding its current long-term rating at AA+ (one full notch below its best rating), it said it’s unable to give the United States its highest rating (AAA) because of “high general government debt, relatively short-term-oriented policymaking, and uncertainty about policy formulation” for the future. It explained what it meant about that “uncertainty”:

Some of the [Trump] Administration’s policy proposals appear at odds with policies of the traditional Republican leadership and historical base. That, coupled with lack of cohesion, not just across, but within parties, complicates the ability to effectively and proactively advance legislation in Congress, particularly on fiscal policy. Taken together, we don’t expect a meaningful expansion or reduction of the fiscal deficit over the forecast period.

And what does it say about what’s likely to happen over that “forecast period”?

The U.S.’s net general government debt burden (as a share of GDP) remains twice its 2007 level. While, in our view, debt to GDP should hold fairly steady over the next several years, we expect it to rise thereafter absent measures to raise additional revenue and/or cut nondiscretionary expenditures.

What does that phrase “next several years” mean? How much time before the government’s national debt explodes upward? Says S&P:

Although deficits have declined, net general government debt to GDP remains high at about 80% of GDP. Given our growth forecasts and our expectations that credit conditions will remain subdued, thus keeping real interest rates in check, we expect this ratio to hold fairly steady through 2020. At that point, it could deteriorate more sharply, partly as a result of demographic trends.

Translation: Deficit spending will remain “subdued” for three and a half years, and then Katy bar the door!

Here is where S&P bows out of the picture, giving way instead to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which completed the picture in its March report:

Federal debt held by the public, defined as the amount that the federal government borrows from financial markets, has ballooned over the last decade. In 2007, the year the recession began, debt held by the public represented 35 percent of GDP. Just five years later, federal debt held by the public has doubled to 70 percent and is projected to continue rising.

“Continue rising”? By how much? And by when? The CBO is blunt:

Debt has not seen a surge this large since the increase in federal spending during World War II, when debt exceeded 70 percent of GDP. The budget office projects that growing budget deficits will cause the debt to increase sharply over the next three decades, hitting 150 percent of GDP by 2047.

So, that ratio of government debt compared to the country’s economic ability to produce goods and services was 35 percent in 2007, is now 70 percent, and will soon be 150 percent.

And what’s the reason?

The majority of the rise in spending is largely the result of programs like Social Security and Medicare in addition to rising interest rates. For example, Social Security and major health care program spending represented 54 percent of all federal noninterest spending, an increase from the average of 37 percent it has been over the past 50 years.

It appears to be an unstoppable locomotive. Non-discretionary spending (spending already locked into place by past Congresses and fully expected to be received by its beneficiaries) is on autopilot. And interest rates now coming off historic lows are only going to increase those annual deficits into the future as far as the eye can see.

The CBO is about as close as one can get to a truly non-partisan federal agency — one that has no partisan political agenda and is considered by many as the most reliable forecaster of future economic events. So it’s not only willing to cover, analyze, and present its findings candidly, it’s also willing to tell the truth. It asked, rhetorically, “What might the consequences be if current laws remain unchanged?” It answered:

Large and growing federal debt over the coming decades would hurt the economy and constrain future budget policy. The amount of debt that is projected under the extended baseline would reduce national saving and income in the long term; increase the government’s interest costs, putting more pressure on the rest of the budget; limit lawmakers’ ability to respond to unforeseen events; and increase the likelihood of a fiscal crisis, an occurrence in which investors become unwilling to finance a government’s borrowing unless they are compensated with very high interest rates.

Which brings one to the ultimate rhetorical question: What happens when even those “very high interest rates” aren’t enough to compensate those investors for the risks they are taking by loaning their money to a government that increasingly isn’t able to pay its bills and must continue to borrow increasingly massive amounts to cover its deficits? What happens next?

Puerto Rico Headed to Bankruptcy Court, Likely Costing Investors Billions

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, May 3, 2017: 

English: Map of Peuto Rico, with inset showing...

The federal fiscal oversight board created by Congress last June to fix Puerto Rico gave up on Monday, putting the island country into the hands of a federal bankruptcy judge.

The board, created last June, was designed to help newly elected Governor Ricardo Rossello come to terms with mutual funds and hedge fund owners that own the bulk of the island’s $73 billion debt. Rossello’s first effort, which would have applied a one-third financial “haircut” to them was turned down by the board, which called it too generous.

Rossello’s second effort would have applied a 50-percent haircut, but Franklin Advisers and Oppenheimer Fund, the two largest entities holding the island’s debt, pushed back.

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Former Heritage Economist Stephen Moore Refutes CBO’s Doom & Gloom

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, April 26, 2017:

Stephen Moore by David Shankbone, New York City

Stephen Moore

The Heritage Foundation’s Distinguished Visiting Fellow Stephen Moore, now a CNN economics commentator, thinks the latest report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is far too pessimistic. Instead, he believes that most of the nation’s fiscal problems can be solved just by prodding the economy.

The CBO report, “The 2017 Long-Term Budget Outlook,” assumed that little would change politically over the next 10 to 30 years, despite promises from President Trump that his policies would “make America great again.” It projected that the Baby Boomers would exhaust the resources of Medicare and Social Security, and then those costs would be shifted directly to the Department of the Treasury.

If nothing changes, said the CBO, the percentage of the national debt held by the public (pension plans, mutual funds, foreign governments, and wealthy individuals) would double over the next 30 years, which would “pose substantial risks for the nation.”

The problem is exacerbated, said the CBO, not only by an aging population demanding that the government keeps its promises to them, but also

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Cash-only Medical Care Benefits From IRS Non-enforcement of ObamaCare Mandate

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, March 27, 2017:

Exterior of the Internal Revenue Service offic...

Exterior of the Internal Revenue Service office in midtown New York. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Following the issuance of President Trump’s executive order in January in which he ordered the Health and Human Services Department to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of [ObamaCare, or ACA] that would impose a financial burden on any State, or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families…” the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) responded last month:

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Trump Preframes the Budget Conversation with His “Blueprint”

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, March 17, 2017: 

After reading Donald Trump’s Art of the Deal, “Peter W.” wrote how “The Donald” preframes a conversation with an opponent: “When he makes an opening bid, it is far away from where his deals end. It is a poker game with high stakes, and it is up to the other to negotiate a better position.”

That is what Trump and his OMB Director Mick Mulvaney offered on Wednesday: the opening bid in the budget conversation to take place later on this year. Mulvaney was very clear about that: “This Blueprint is not the full Federal budget, [but] it does provide lawmakers and the public with a view of the priorities of the President and his Administration.”

It also serves to warn the public – the American taxpayer who is the deeply interested third party in that conversation – that the budget is going to be much larger than the one Obama left his office with in 2017, which was $4.15 trillion.

It’s called “America First – A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” and it’s Trump’s attempt to set the parameters of the conversation with Congress after his full budget is released in late May. The strategy might have worked well for Trump – he brags that he successfully closed more than 100 real estate “deals” during his career – but dealing with 535 members of the House and Senate is, to put it mildly, going to be a different cup of tea.

Said Trump:

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Trump’s “Blueprint” Budget Is a Policy Statement; Real Budget to Follow

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, March 16, 2017:

English: Official portrait of US Rep. Mick Mul...

Mick Mulvaney. Trump’s OMB Director

President Donald Trump’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) unveiled “America First — A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” on Thursday, noting that the president’s actual budget will be released in May. President Trump and his OMB Director Mick Mulvaney joined in outlining the “blueprint” without disclosing hard numbers, revenue projections, or even an economic outlook to back it up. It was, in other words, a policy statement, with details to follow.

Said Trump:

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Trump’s 2018 Budget Won’t Touch Social Security, Medicare

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, February 27, 2017:

English: The standard Laffer Curve

The standard Laffer Curve

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Fox News on Sunday that cuts in entitlement programs — i.e., Social Security and Medicare — won’t appear in the president’s budget: “We are not touching those now. So don’t expect to see that as part of this budget, OK? We are very focused on other aspects and that’s what’s very important to us.”

Trump’s budget for fiscal year 2018 (starting October 1, 2017) is expected to be presented to the House on Monday, March 13, just two weeks away. And there are a lot of moving parts that must be glued into place before then.

Those parts include

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ObamaCare Replacement Plan Introduced in Congress

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, February 16, 2017: 

Official portrait of United States Senator (R-KY).

Senator Rand Paul

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Representative Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) introduced their ObamaCare Replacement Act (ORA) on Wednesday. It would simultaneously repeal nearly all of ObamaCare’s most onerous demands and mandates while opening up the health-insurance market to individuals to purchase, or not to purchase, coverage. The bill, S.222, might more appropriately be named the “Health Insurance Freedom to Purchase Act,” putting the decision to buy, or not to buy, coverage back in the hands of individual citizens and taking it out of the hands of the federal government.

Senator Paul said,

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Bill to Repeal Obamacare Represents Major Paradigm Shift

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, February 17, 2017:

English: A Portrait of Thomas Jefferson as Sec...

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson said many things on which classical liberals and libertarians agree. The one most apropos to Obamacare is this: “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”

Anything that requires government force (or threat of) to gain compliance is, on its face, immoral. But Obamacare did something else: it was a deliberate forced attempt to shift personal responsibility for one’s health care from a citizen to his government. Jefferson had this to say about that:

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Trump’s Regulatory Executive Order: One In, Two Out

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 30, 2017:

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan

White House officials described President Donald Trump’s Executive Order for “Reducing Government Regulations and Controlling Regulatory Cost” as Trump’s “one in, two out” plan: For every regulation promulgated by a federal agency, that agency must “identify” two existing regulations to be targeted for extinction.

The order also sets a cap of $0 for the cost of new regulations, with the only exceptions being military and national security regulations. The president said when signing the order,

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Trump Pick for Management & Budget Talks Raising Retirement Age

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, January 25, 2017:

Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C., shown), President Donald Trump’s pick to head up the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), touched the famous “third rail” of American politics during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday. Testifying before the Senate Budget Committee, Mulvaney was pressed hard for his views on Social Security by Senator Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.): “Do you think we need to look at adjusting the [retirement] age yet again because we live longer?”

Replied Mulvaney, “I do, yes sir.”

His response was unsettling to Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who declared,

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Boomers Are Retiring, Draining Pension Plans

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, December 12, 2016:

Roosevelt Signs The : President Roosevelt sign...

President Roosevelt signs Social Security Act, at approximately 3:30 pm EST on 14 August 1935.

In a moment of surprising candor, Danielle DiMartino Booth, a former advisor to the Federal Reserve, said in a Real Vision TV interview on Saturday that “the Baby Boomers are no longer an actuarial theory. They’re a reality. The checks [from their retirement plans] are being written.”

For years commentators have repeatedly asserted that “when” the Baby Boomers (that generation born between 1946 and 1964) start to retire, they will start using up funds set aside in pension plans, putting those plans into crisis. According to Booth, that day has arrived.

She pointed to the crisis in Dallas that threatens to put the city into bankruptcy, and the report from Calpers (the California Public Employees Retirement System),

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Chuck Schumer Seeks “Common Ground” With Trump

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, November 21, 2016:  

Senator Charles Schumer

Senator Charles Schumer

During a press interview at his office on Friday, New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer said that he had spoken two or three times with President-elect Donald Trump: “He’s called. He’s friendly. The word is that he thinks he can work with me, but we’ll see. The jury’s [still] out.”

Schumer, just reelected for his fourth term as senator, will become the Senate minority leader in the 115th Congress as Harry Reid, the present Senate minority leader, is retiring. The Wall Street Journal characterized the interview as an effort by Schumer to seek “common ground” with Trump. Other members of the press weren’t so charitable.

Schumer was feisty,

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The Tax Foundation’s Big Surprise: Trump’s Tax Plan is Better Than Hillary’s!

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, October 21, 2016:  

English: The standard Laffer Curve

The standard Laffer Curve

The Tax Foundation, founded nearly 80 years ago, considers itself non-partisan, guided by what it calls “the principles of sound tax policy, simplicity, transparency, neutrality, stability, no retroactivity, broad [tax] bases and low [tax] rates.” It has steadfastly opposed tax increases of any kind: income, corporate, or excise. Especially annoying are tax “preferences” (i.e., subsidies) for the housing industry and tax credits for certain constituencies (which the Foundation calls “picking winners and losers”).

So it’s no surprise that in its study of Trump’s and Clinton’s so-called “tax plans” the Foundation concluded that Trump’s was vastly superior to Hillary’s:

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Tax Foundation Rates Tax Plans of Trump and Clinton: Trump’s Plan Wins

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, October 20, 2016:

Tax Foundation

Tax Foundation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Analysis by the Tax Foundation of all that is currently known about the tax plans proposed by presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton concludes that, if enacted, Clinton’s plan would expand government at the expense of a shrinking economy. On the other hand, Trump’s plan would grow the economy, shrink government’s revenues, raise wages, and expand employment.

But it’s not tax “reform,” claims the study’s author, Kyle Pomerleau,

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Social Security to Announce Tiny Increase in Benefits for Next Year

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, October 11, 2016:  

Seal of the United States Social Security Admi...

Next Tuesday the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will announce Social Security’s COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) for 2017. It is widely anticipated to be between nothing and $3 a month for the average beneficiary.

But Medicare premiums (retirees are often expected to pay a monthly fee for coverage) for seniors receiving Social Security retirement benefits are expected to jump nearly $30 a month. That premium increase would reduce the average retirement benefit by about $25 a month, except that Congress had inserted a “hold harmless” provision into Medicare law. Instead, the premium increase will be funded by Medicare, thereby hastening the day when that part of Social Security runs out of money.

The statistics reflective of the current gradual liquidation of Social Security’s so-called Trust Fund are familiar to most recipients:

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CEO Resigns From Obama’s Entrepreneur Board

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, August 8, 2016:  

When Elizabeth Holmes (above), the 32-year-old CEO of medical technology startup Theranos, was named as one of President Obama’s presidential ambassadors for global entrepreneurship (PAGE) last year, she sounded like the winner of a beauty contest, telling her audience how she was going to save the world:

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Violating Rule Number One Costs Careless Silicon Valley Investors Millions

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, August 8, 2016:  

Every investor has, or at least should have, rules. A few good ones are: If your barber starts giving you investment advice, find another barber. Tips are for waiters. Never get into something that you can’t get out of. Always set a stop loss. If you miss one opportunity, don’t worry: there’s another one right behind it.  Wherever possible, hedge. And so on.

Above all these is Rule Number One, a rule so hackneyed it’s almost embarrassing to put it down on paper:

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Three Charged in $1 Billion Medicare/Medicaid Fraud Scheme

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, July 25, 2016:  

Seal of the United States Department of Justice

Last Friday the Justice Department charged a Miami-area healthcare operator, a hospital administrator, and a physician’s assistant with conspiracy involving submitting fraudulent bills to Medicare and Medicaid exceeding, for the first time, $1 billion.

The three included Philip Esformes, the owner of more than 30 Miami-area nursing and assisted-living facilities, hospital administrator Odette Barcha, and physician assistant Arnald Carmouze. They were charged with money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, and receiving kickbacks, along with other charges.

The conspiracy had been going on for 14 years, and came to a end with the help of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force (MFSF), which began investigating healthcare fraud in March 2007. Since that time, nearly 3,000 defendants,

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How Does the “Honor System” Work When There Is No Honor?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, July 25, 2016:  

English: Photograph of President signing the M...

President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Medicare Bill

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP uses www.whistleblower-lawfirm.com as its URL where it advertises its legal services: Government Procurement Fraud, Pharmaceutical Fraud, Medicare and Medicaid Fraud, Defense Contractor Fraud, Education Fraud, Banking and Mortgage Fraud, Securities Fraud, and Tax Fraud.

Business is booming, especially with Medicare and Medicaid fraud growing, it seems, almost by the day. The firm explains why:

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.