The motivated left is after one of the most committed, conscientious, brilliant, visionary conservatives in the U.S. Senate and he has a giant target on his back. The left-wing Hollywood gang, along with leftist George Soros and their allies are pouring in millions for O'Rourke with the hope that his personality will cause voters to ignore his out of touch left-wing positions on issue after issue and vote for him. Ted Cruz's re-election is imperative for our future.
Medicare For All Is Bankruptcy For All
By Daniel Noble
It has become popular this political season to call for "Medicare for All", a system of nationalized health care on the Medicare Model. Young Progressives are gaining traction within the Democratic Party with this popular slogan.
Is this a good idea?
On the surface, it would seem plausible. The country has been operating on the system since the mid 1960s, it is popular with the public, and with some minor changes; we are told this model can be extended to the rest of the population.
However, like with most political ideas, it would not be wise to look only at the surface.
Medicare is part of a whole slew of complex entitlements and obligations of the government that parade under the rather obscure term of unfunded liabilities. This means there are promises the government has made not represented by the national debt, or the amount owed in outstanding Treasury Bonds. The national debt or bonded indebtedness is now pushing past $21 Trillion. Unfunded liabilities are what the term implies: liabilities of the Federal Government for which taxes and borrowing (funding) has yet to take place. It is an IOU to the public not represented by current Treasury Bonds. The government owes a claim say on health care, not interest and principal on a bond. Get it?
Bonded indebtedness of $21 Trillion is completely out of control and rising about a Trillion a year. This is unprecedented during peacetime and robust economic expansion. Adding new burdens on the government and taxpayers must be considered within the context that current debt trends are unsustainable.
The size of the unfunded liabilities vary with who is doing the counting. If those obligations were counted in a manner similar to the requirements of the private sector, most experts put these obligations well over $200 Trillion or TEN TIMES the so call national debt.
Anyone considering new programs has to take into account the TOTAL obligations of the government, funded and unfunded.
Among these unfunded obligations are claims on Social Security, military pensions, government employee pensions, pension guarantees to the private sector, deposit insurance, and guarantees behind government guaranteed mortgages. You can quickly see that some of these obligations are guarantees that are very real, others may never be made active unless we have a severe downturn in the economy.
But recessions are part of the rhythm of history and to suggest that these guarantees on things like deposit insurance, private pensions, and housing paper will not become real flies in the face of what we just went through in the crash of 2008. We just saw them become real obligations!
Anyone considering new programs needs to take into account that recessions happen. When they do occur spending rises because more people fall into the social safety net, and revenue falls because of a drop in economic activity. That necessarily adds to run away budget deficits.
Notice also that most of the unfunded obligations are things related to older people. Older people need pensions and older people spend much more money on health care than do the young. That is the nature of aging.
Medicare and Social Security are already in serious financial difficulty because of the huge Baby Boom aging, and the much smaller population growth that came afterwards. The biggest bulge in the Baby Boom was 1952 to about 1960. Since most people qualify for Medicare at age 65, and Social Security between ages 62-66, you can see we are now in the middle of a huge funding crisis. Upwards of 10,000 people a day are now making claim on their Social Security and Medicare promises.
Thus, this is NOT a time to add new burdens, even if desired by some.
To keep government checks from bouncing, the government will have to borrow more, or tax more, and thus "unfunded liabilities" become funded liabilities by the issuance of more debt or by the diverting of revenue to taxes instead of productive investment. These demographic trends will drive fiscal deficits and probably taxes, much higher over the next few years. Borrow or tax more, unless you expect the tooth fairy to pay for it.
Advocates say Medicare is working well, and so we can graft huge numbers of new people onto the structure.
Critics point out that despite the taxes collected in the system, the recent Trustees Report from Medicare indicated costs are rising faster than predicted and that the system could go bust by 2026. Meanwhile, many doctors now refuse to provide Medicare services and are dropping out or simply retiring.
Medicare looks more solvent than it really is because it does not pay doctors or hospitals anywhere near the market rate for their services. Doctors leaving the system is not a sign the system is working!
This below market payment regime means health care providers have to push the inherent losses off on younger patients. So with even all the taxes collected, and all the cost shifting, the system is still rapidly running out of money.
Social Security is a separate subject but the system too also now has negative cash flow. More money is going out to pay for benefits than received in FICA taxes.
In short, asking Medicare For All would place huge new obligations on a structure already swaying badly and due to collapse entirely not that far in the future if serious reform is not undertaken. Sadly, the party of fiscal responsibility, nominally the Republican Party, has grown silent on deficits and entitlement reform.
Does this seem like a wise idea to you to add more obligations on a system that can't meet the current obligations to the elderly, who have now planned their lives around them and are too old to go back to work?
How big are the new obligations being suggested? In April of this year Charles Blahous with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University estimated that taxes would have doubled to pay for an estimated $32.6 Trillion dollar increase over the next 10 years to fund the Medicare for all scheme. Do you think the economy would run well with taxes being doubled?
In short, given the funding shortfall in the present system, the uncontrolled growing national debt, the already monstrous tower of unfunded liabilities, the aging of the Baby Boom, and to naively assume that recession will never happen again; it is the height of fiscal irresponsibility to propose adding even more burdens to a current system already headed for insolvency.
It would seriously endanger the promises we have already made to the nation's elderly, veterans, and government employees. It will endanger the creditworthiness of the nation and the value of the currency. It is willful blindness not to acknowledge the rickety nature of existing programs and cavalierly add new burdens just for political advantage.
Medicare For All is bankruptcy for the nation. How is that "progressive?"
The Real Danger of Social Media & The Media
By Brian Ettinger, Contributing Editor
We do not need to be concerned about a military takeover of the government as it is the social media and media that has already started this process. The social media and technology companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Apple and Samsung have already collected the data information on millions of individuals, provided a message that is designed to influence their biased points of view and the tech companies keeping track of all we see and watch. By controlling the data and message, they tailor a message to individuals, which allows them, from a political and commercial standpoint, to develop the viewpoint they want conveyed.
This is immense power over millions of individuals and controls what the public learns or is told about on any issue. These companies have power that needs to be under some type of regulation. The data they are collecting and the message they are delivering in the political arena is creating a dangerous climate by favoring one political party over another and could lead to a one party system. To control this data and utilize it to convey their view goes against our democratic system and shuts off free speech and privacy rights.
Can you imagine if the U.S. military attempted a coup to overthrow our elected officials and replace an independent judiciary with a military leader? The media and social media would be outraged. But this is exactly what they are doing by tailoring a specific message and control over the individual based on the private data they collect on us. To know where we are at all times by the smart device, to know what we buy and what we view is a dangerous issue and unless addressed now this will lead to a shift in power that would change the U.S. democratic process forever.
These social media, technology and media companies are globalist in their thinking and do not view the U.S. or its citizens in a favorable light. So they need to be regulated in a system that makes them open and transparent to all views, and not ones that only agree with their views. If not, then we need some type of recourse or make them use a disclaimer that shows they are biased towards one view. If these companies go unregulated, this will lead to destroying our political system as a republic and before long we will be in some future society where free speech will be dead and only one point of view will be tolerated.
Brian Ettinger is a practicing attorney and contributing editor to TCR. He is a strong conservative who is concerned about America's future.
No, Trump's Presidency Is Not Failed
By Bruce Bialosky, Contributing Editor
If you watch the news on a daily basis -- enhanced by the recent death of John McCain and the Kavanaugh hearings -- you would think the country was near Armageddon. With the release of the anonymous column in the New York Times, a picture is painted of an administration in disarray and a country in peril. From what anyone can see the reality is very much the opposite.
Trump has made many missteps for which he is responsible, but some were forced upon him. During the campaign, he was abandoned by many establishment Republicans who refused to embrace him once he won the nomination. If he had to engage people like Stuart Stevens and Matt Rhoades from the failed Romney campaign, that would have been disastrous. The problem was he was left with virtually no one who came up the ranks through the normal process. He brought the likes of the seedy Paul Manafort and his cohort Rick Gates. Though their crimes had nothing to do with Trump, they left him open to being branded by their stench.
The same followed when he entered the White House. Trump did not have the long roots in the political arena to draw on to fill all the administrative spots and the rumors flew about all the people who wanted to stay away. Trump was left to employ people like Steve Bannon, Anthony Scaramucci and Omarosa Manigault Newman who should have never been near a White House. Reince Preibus could not control this circus; Trump brought in John Kelly.
It took Kelly and Trump awhile to realign the operation, but now they seem to be humming with a great cast. Some came on early, others were added later, but the list is impressive. Some of these people are as good as it gets:
Dr. Scott Gottlieb - Food and Drug Administration
Ajit Pai - Federal Communications Commission
Larry Kudlow - Director, National Economic Council
John Bolton - National Security Adviser
General Jim "Mad Dog" Mattis - Secretary of Defense
Mike Pompeo - Secretary of State
Kirstjen Neilsen - Secretary of Homeland Security
Mick Mulvaney - Director of the Office of Management Budget and Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Alex Azar - Secretary of Health and Human Services
Alex Acosta - Secretary of Labor
Nikki Haley - U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
This is just a partial list of the stellar people who are in place now and making the government work for us. There are no more questionables.
Trump may have a different management style and he may throw out many ideas that are unconventional, but that is why he was elected - to shake the establishment to its core. He has done that and that is why they hate him so. It is also why many Americans love him. Our country had ossified without anyone questioning the status quo on a direct line to government controlling every aspect of our lives.
If you ever heard of zero-based budgeting that is when no department starts with what they had the prior year as a base for the next year - everything must be justified. Trump believes in zero-based governing. Just because we did it in the past does not mean we should continue in the same manner.
When Trump brought up renegotiating NAFTA again you would have thought the sky was falling. My response was simple - the agreement is 25 years old, it makes sense to reevaluate and see where it has worked and where it has not and update the agreement. To the Trump haters he was racist for demanding change. The Trump team came to agreement with Mexico first and told the "white" Canadians to come along. So much for being racist.
Trump reminds me much of Michael Milken in the 1980s. Milken was redefining how companies were financed and who would run them. The business establishment feared him and they came after him using the full force of the American government as their weapon. Yes, he plead guilty to plea-bargained, questionable charges, but it was to save the suffering of his family that was being harassed in 2 A.M. raids.
What he was guilty of was challenging the inflexible and entitled monied interests.
Trump is fighting three forces:
1. The Press
2. The Left
3. Self-Righteous Establishment Republicans
He rattles their cages. They don't like his style and/or his politics. Whenever I sit in a public place and someone speaks to me about the mayhem Trump has caused, I ask them to look out the window. Where is the pandemonium? Where is the suffering? The only havoc is intentionally created by the people who want to bring Trump down. The suffering I see is the homeless created by failed housing and municipal policies of Democrat-run city governments.
Yet, serious leaders talk of obstruction, unindicted co-conspiring and impeachment. Senators trip over each other trying to out-hate Trump while making fools of themselves.
There have been no crimes. There is no obstruction. There is no collusion. The only reality is of a farcical investigation that detracts from the administration focusing their resources on helping the American people.
Trump may not be a conservative, but has operated as a conservative. Maybe the most successful conservative president we have ever had for the short period he has been in office.
Look at results: Consumer confidence is soaring, business confidence is soaring, manufacturing confidence is soaring, middle-class income is at an all-time high, for the first three quarters of 2018 business stats are above 800,000 per quarter - a figure never reached before, there are more job openings than job seekers, the number of people on food stamps is down, the number of people on social security disability is down. This is a huge change from the Obama years. When people express confidence in their economic lives like this it translates to every aspect of their lives. That is despite a drumbeat of negativism from the MSM.
Some look at the silly things Trump does or says, and others just shrug it off as immaterial nonsense. He is not racist. He is not anti-Semitic. He is not evil in any way. He is just an unconventional politician doing a damn good job on getting things done and changing the rot in Washington.
As I have said before, you whip up a state of hysteria and then say there is hysteria in the country; people in the end know who is responsible.
Bruce Bialosky is the founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition of California and a former Presidential appointee. You can follow Bruce on Twitter @brucebialosky.
TCR on the Air
Red, White & Blue featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland on Fridays at 7:30 pm on PBS Houston Channel 8, replaying Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on Channel 8, Monday at 11:30 pm on Channel 8.2 and on the web at www.houstonpublicmedia.org.
About Your Editor
09-21-18 - Midterm Elections Preview with Democratic activist Barbara Ann Radnofsky and Republican Consultant Joe Brettell.
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his twenty-first year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last seventeen years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. As a public service for the last 15 years, Gary has published election guides for the GOP primary, general elections and city elections, all with the purpose of assisting conservative candidates. Gary is also in his 17th year of co-hosting Red, White and Blue on PBS Houston, longest running political talk show in Texas history. Gary serves on the Board of Directors of American Values, a national pro-family, pro-faith, conservative organization supporting the unity of the American people around the vision of our founding fathers and dedicated to reminding the public of the conservative principles fundamental to the survival of our nation. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.