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New Healthcare Bill Will Include Cruz-Lee Amendment And $45 Billion To Fight Opioid Epidemic

While no one has seen the Senate’s revised healthcare bill as of yet, early indications suggest it will include a version of a controversial amendment from Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee that has become a sticking point in the negotiations.

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While no one has seen the Senate’s revised healthcare bill as of yet, early indications suggest that it will include a version of a controversial amendment from Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) that has become a sticking point in the negotiations.  Among other things, the amendment would allow insurers to sell plans that do not meet ObamaCare regulations if they also sell a plan that does meet those rules.

Called the “Consumer Freedom Amendment,” we highlighted the main points of the Cruz/Lee proposal last month:

The “Consumer Freedom Amendment” would leave existing ObamaCare plans on the individual market, while also allowing insurers to sell plans that don’t comply with requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

“What that does — it leaves existing plans on the market but it gives new options so that people can purchase far more affordable health insurance. It will enable a lot more people to be able to afford buying health insurance,” Cruz told The Hill on Thursday afternoon.

Cruz’s amendment would allow insurers to continue offering plans that follow ObamaCare’s “Title One” requirements, including essential health benefits, which mandates 10 services insurers must cover with no cost-sharing.

But insurers could also sell skimpier, cheaper plans that don’t cover those 10 services or meet other ObamaCare requirements.

“If a health insurer offers a plan consistent with the Title One mandates, insurers can also sell in that same state any other plans that consumers desire,” Cruz said.

So, what else is expected to be included in the new bill?  Among other things, apparently the original Obamacare taxes on investment income and the payroll tax are making a comback to help fund Medicare. Axios has more highlights:

An additional $70 billion to help states stabilize their markets and offset the costs of covering expensive patients — on top of more than $100 billion that was already there.

$45 billion to fight the opioid epidemic.

A provision allowing people to use tax-preferred health savings accounts to pay their premiums

Changes to the ACA that would let more consumers use tax subsidies to buy plans that only offer catastrophic coverage.

The bill would no longer repeal two of the ACA’s tax increases on wealthy families, and it won’t include a new tax break for health-care executives.

In other words, more provisions that simply make the bill look and feel an awful lot like Obamacare…a fact that Senator Rand Paul pointed out in an op-ed just yesterday in which he blasted McConnell’s new bill as more or less a capitulation by Republicans to simply “keep Obamacare.”

I miss the old days, when Republicans stood for repealing Obamacare. Republicans across the country and every member of my caucus campaigned on repeal – often declaring they would tear out Obamacare “root and branch!”

What happened?

The Senate Obamacare bill does not repeal Obamacare. I want to repeat that so everyone realizes why I’ll vote “no” as it stands now:

The Senate Obamacare bill does not repeal Obamacare. Not even close.

Of course, with Senator Rand Paul a definite no and several other Republican Senators still on the fence, it’s unclear whether any bill that will be presented today will have a chance of ever being passed into law.

Photo: “Doctor” by costculator.com is licensed under CC BY

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Politics

Is America Really ‘Up’ For A Second Cold War?

America will have been pushed out of Asia and the western Pacific back beyond the second chain of islands.

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After the 19th national congress of the Chinese Communist Party in October, one may discern Premier Xi Jinping’s vision of the emerging New World Order.

By 2049, the centennial of the triumph of Communist Revolution, China shall have become the first power on earth.

Her occupation and humiliation by the West and Japan in the 19th and 20th centuries will have become hated but ancient history.

America will have been pushed out of Asia and the western Pacific back beyond the second chain of islands.

Taiwan will have been returned to the motherland, South Korea and the Philippines neutralized, Japan contained. China’s claim to all the rocks, reefs and islets in the South China Sea will have been recognized by all current claimants.

Xi’s “One Belt, One Road” strategy will have brought South and Central Asia into Beijing’s orbit, and he will be in the Pantheon beside the Founding Father of Communist China, Mao Zedong.

Democracy has been rejected by China in favor of one-party rule of all political, economic, cultural and social life.

And as one views Europe, depopulating, riven by secessionism, fearful of a Third World migrant invasion, and America tearing herself apart over politics and ideology, China must appear to ambitious and rising powers as the model to emulate.

Indeed, has not China shown the world that authoritarianism can be compatible with national growth that outstrips a democratic West?

Over the last quarter century, China, thanks to economic nationalism and $4 trillion in trade surpluses with the United States, has exhibited growth unseen since 19th-century America.

Whatever we may think of Xi’s methods, this vision must attract vast numbers of China’s young — they see their country displace America as first power, becoming the dominant people on earth.

What is America’s vision? What is America’s cause in the 21st century? What is the mission and goal that unites, inspires and drives us on?

After World War II, America’s foreign policy was imposed upon her by the terrible realities the war produced: brutalitarian Stalinist domination of Eastern and Central Europe and much of Asia.

Under nine presidents, containment of the Soviet empire, while avoiding a war that would destroy civilization, was our policy. In Korea and Vietnam, Americans died in the thousands to sustain that policy.

But with the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the breakup of the USSR, it seemed that by 1992 our great work was done. Now democracy would flourish and be embraced by all advanced peoples and nations.

But it did not happen. The “end of history” never came. The New World Order of Bush I did not last. Bush II’s democracy crusade to end tyranny in our world produced disasters from Libya to Afghanistan.

Authoritarianism is now ascendant and democracy is in retreat.

Is the United States prepared to accept a world in which China, growing at twice our rate, more united and purposeful, emerges as the dominant power? Are we willing to acquiesce in a Chinese Century?

Or will we adopt a policy to ensure that America remains the world’s preeminent power?

Do we have what is required in wealth, power, stamina and will to pursue a Second Cold War to contain China, which, strategic weapons aside, is more powerful and has greater potential than the Soviet Union ever did?

On his Asia tour, President Trump spoke of the “Indo-Pacific,” shorthand for the proposition that the U.S., Japan, Australia and India form the core of a coalition to maintain the balance of power in Asia and contain the expansion of China.

Yet, before we create some Asia-Pacific NATO to corral and contain China in this century, as we did the USSR in the 20th century, we need to ask ourselves why.

Does China, even if she rises to surpass the U.S. in manufacturing, technology and economic output, and is a comparable military power, truly threaten us as the USSR did, to where we should consider war to prevent its expansion in places like the South China Sea that are not vital to America?

While China is a great power, she has great problems.

She is feared and disliked by her neighbors. She has territorial quarrels with Russia, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan. She has separatists in Tibet and Xinjiang. Christianity is growing while Communism, the state religion, is a dead faith. Moreover, the monopoly of power now enjoyed by the Communist Party and Xi Jinping mean that if things go wrong, there is no one else to blame.

Finally, why is the containment of China in Asia the responsibility of a United States 12 time zones away?

For while China seeks to dominate Eurasia, she appears to have no desire to threaten the vital interests of the United States. China’s Communism appears to be an ideology disbelieved by her own people, that she does not intend to impose it on Asia or the world.

Again, are we Americans up for a Second Cold War, and, if so, why?

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Economy

The Stock Market Is Up 5 Trillion Dollars Since Donald Trump Was Elected

One year ago we witnessed the greatest miracle in political history, and since that time we have also witnessed one of the greatest miracles in financial history.

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One year ago we witnessed the greatest miracle in political history, and since that time we have also witnessed one of the greatest miracles in financial history. On November 8th, 2016 the Dow closed at 18,332.74. On Wednesday, it closed at 23,563.36. U.S. stocks have increased in value by about 5.4 trillion dollars since Donald Trump was elected, and I don’t think that we have seen anything quite like this ever before. So does Donald Trump deserve the credit for this unprecedented stock market run? Many experts are at least giving him part of the credit…

Greg Valliere, chief global strategist at Horizon Investments, says outgoing Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen deserves “much of the credit” because the Fed’s policy of low interest rates has helped maintain a good economy and “favors stocks over other investments.”

But Trump, he adds, “gets some credit for establishing a pro-business climate in Washington.” Trump also gets kudos for rolling back business regulations and pushing for a big tax cut for U.S. corporations, which investors say will boost corporate profitability.

Without a doubt, a Trump victory was a good thing for the financial markets, but politicians need to be careful not to take too much credit for soaring stock prices.

Because if they take credit when stocks go up, then they also have to be willing to take the blame when they go down.

The primary reason why stock prices have gone up so much over the past several years is due to unprecedented intervention by global central banks. They have literally pumped trillions of dollars that they have created out of thin air into the financial markets, and of course that was going to drive up asset prices.

But now global central banks are reversing course in unison, and we will see if financial markets around the world can maintain these dizzying levels without artificial support.

Because the truth is that whenever price/earnings ratios have ever gotten this high throughout history, a horrifying stock market crash has always followed. There is no way that stock prices can stay at these levels without central bank support, and the trillions of dollars in paper gains that we have seen up to now can potentially be wiped out very rapidly.

Just look at a company like Snapchat. This is a company that is supposedly worth 15.4 billion dollars at the moment, and yet it is bleeding hundreds of millions of dollars a quarter. The following numbers come from Wolf Richter…

Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, reported late Tuesday that its revenues in the third quarter rose 62% from a year ago, to $208 million, while its net loss more than tripled to $443 million. How? It wasn’t easy, but here’s how they did it:

  • Cost of revenues, $211 million, exceeds revenues, a troublesome indicator. Most of it is what Snap pays Alphabet for hosting its content in the Google Cloud.
  • Research and development expenses, $239 million, also exceed revenues.
  • Sales and marketing expenses, $102 million, to push those Snapchat Spectacles? More on those in a moment.
  • General and administrative expenses: $118 million

Total expenses of $670 million, against revenues of $208 million. That’s what I call a business model.

I want to be very clear about what I am going to say next.

Snapchat’s business model is terribly broken, and this is a company that is going to zero.

Ultimately, those that hold Snapchat stock to the very end will lose everything. Instead of 15 billion dollars, this is a company that won’t be worth 15 cents.

Speaking of going to zero, Sears just announced that they are getting rid of up to 140 more stores. We have already set an all-time record for retail store closings in 2018, and the “retail apocalypse” that we are witnessing is only going to continue to accelerate.

But at least the stock market continues to set new record highs, right?

Don’t be fooled by the headlines. The artificial stock market bubble is living on borrowed time, and meanwhile the “real economy” continues to struggle.

When the stock market finally crashes, it will not be Donald Trump’s fault.

Let me say that again.

When the stock market finally crashes, it will not be Donald Trump’s fault.

The Federal Reserve and other global central banks created this artificial bubble, and they will be to blame for the carnage that is caused when it bursts.

And as the next great financial crisis unfolds, my hope is that people will finally be sick enough of these “boom and bust cycles” that we will be able to get rid of the Federal Reserve for good.

We need people to understand that the design of our financial system is fundamentally flawed, because if we never treat the root cause of our problems we will always be chasing symptoms.

There is a better way, and my hope is that in the aftermath of the next crisis we can start to get there.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

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Politics

Here Is How Easy It Is For The President To Launch a Nuclear Weapon

The steps the president has to take to fire a nuke are involved and complicated, but they work to safeguard against accidental launches and miscommunications.

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The steps the president has to take to fire a nuke are involved and complicated, but they work to safeguard against accidental launches and miscommunications.

That said, the entire process could happen in just a few short minutes. The following is a transcription of the animation.

It can take the US government just minutes to launch a nuclear weapon. Here’s how it would work.

The president has the sole authority to call for a nuclear strike. Once the call is made, a series of critical steps follow.

The president first meets with top military advisers. The meeting would take place in the Situation Room. If the president is traveling, a call is made on a secure line.

If the president still wants to go through with the strike, the order is verified. To authenticate the order, a challenge code is read to the president. It’s usually two phonetic letters like “Delta-Echo.”

The president then receives the “biscuit”, a laminated card that’s always near the president. The biscuit has the matching response to the challenge code.

The Pentagon then broadcasts an encoded message to missile crews. The message is only about the length of a standard tweet.

It includes the war plan, “Sealed Authentication System” or (SAS) codes, and the actual missile launch codes. When the launch crews get the message they open lock safes to obtain the SAS codes. These codes are compared with the SAS codes included in the message.

If fired from a submarine the captain, executive officer, and two others authenticate the launch order. Fifteen minutes after receiving the order, the missiles could be ready to launch.

If fired from land, there are 50 missiles controlled by 5 launch crews in different locations. Each crew “votes” for the launch by turning their keys at the same time.

There are five different keys, but only two need to be turned to launch the missiles. In this scenario, the missiles could be ready to launch just minutes after the president’s order. Once the missiles are launched, there’s no turning back.


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