Week in Review: Stupid

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


Have you seen this?

It’s a video of Jonathan Gruber, one of the chief architects of the Affordable Care Act, explaining the strategy employed in order to ensure that the ACA, commonly known as Obamacare, would pass.

Those of us who saw the ACA for the train wreck it is have warned consistently, during the debate over passage and since, that its proponents were being less than candid about its true contents and likely effects. Now we have one of the key individuals behind the law acknowledging that deceit was indeed part of the strategy. In the video, Gruber admits that had the American people been told the truth about the proposed health care legislation, “it would not have passed.”

Even more breathtaking than this staggering admission is the justification Gruber offers for the bait-and-switch. In short: It’s because you’re stupid. But don’t worry — it’s not just you. No, it turns out that your stupidity is just part of being an American.

“Lack of transparency,” said Gruber, “is a huge political advantage. And basically, you know, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really critical to getting the thing to pass.”

But wait. If “the American voter,” were he or she to have known the truth about Obamacare, would have responded by opposing it, how does it follow that said voter is stupid? Doesn’t it make more sense to assume that if individuals, given access to accurate information, will respond a certain way, then they are responding rationally, logically — even intelligently?

It makes sense to you and me. But to understand what’s driving Gruber’s assumption, one must understand something inherent to much of the progressive left. Gruber and his ilk start from the premise that most of us are stupid. And that, left to our own devices, we’re simply incapable of making the decisions that are best for us. What we need is for our intellectual betters (i.e. Jonathan Gruber) to take those decisions out of our hands altogether. This disdainful view of ordinary citizens is what, more than anything, explains the left’s constant push for bigger and more intrusive government.

So in the case of the Affordable Care Act, keeping voters in the dark about what was really going on was essential — because we’re too stupid to draw the right conclusions from that information. We’re simply not bright enough to see past what appear to be flaws in this scheme and recognize that, really, it’s all for our own good.

That’s why the open enrollment period for getting insurance through the ACA, which begins Saturday, had to be pushed back until after the election. If citizens were to gain some additional first-hand experience with the program, they might be reminded of just how frustrating that experience can be. And since they’re too ignorant to see that it’s really all for the best, they might do something rash — like express their dissatisfaction in the voting booth. Thus the decision to delay that experience until after the voting was finished. (How’d that strategy work out, by the way?)  

Of course, this theory — that our political elites know better than we do what’s good for us — has now been put to the test. The Affordable Care Act has evolved from merely proposed legislation into the law of the land, and we can now gauge how wise its proponents truly were. Has it been the resounding success they promised? Was it really good for us, even if we were too stupid to know it?

You know the answer. In reality, the law has been and continues to be an unmitigated disaster. Health care costs are up, access to quality care is down, people have lost insurance plans and doctors they had and liked — and that’s to say nothing of the Obama administration’s ridiculous bumbling of the ACA’s website launch.

Polls continue to show that American voters realize what a disaster Obamacare has been. And of course, last week they delivered a historic electoral rebuke to the party responsible for forcing it on our nation.

There’s a word to describe someone who sees something for what it is, and has the wherewithal to hold the appropriate people accountable. That word is “smart.”

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend.

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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Week in Review: You did it

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


Back in January, I used this space to share with you a list of policy issues that NPRI had identified as our top priorities for the year ahead.

And the first thing on that list was our campaign to inform voters about the destructive impact of the proposed margin tax, which would appear on the November ballot.

We recognized early on that the battle over the margin tax — which proponents deceptively billed as the “Education Initiative” — would be the most important policy fight facing the Silver State this year. And given the havoc it would wreak on Nevada’s businesses and workers, we knew it was crucial that voters understood the damage this tax would cause.

I’d say they got the message.

In case you missed it — and I really can’t imagine there’s any way you did — the margin tax was dealt a resounding defeat on Tuesday, with voters rejecting it by a nearly 4-to-1 gap. Just under 79 percent of voters took a look at this teacher-union-backed measure to further soak Nevada’s already-struggling private sector and said, no thanks.

A lot of folks have called me in the past few days to commend our team at NPRI for our work on this issue over the past year. And indeed, I think our staff did a tremendous job in making the intellectual case as to why this tax represented such terrible policy. So those words of commendation are most welcome.

But the real credit belongs to you.

You and your fellow NPRI supporters are the ones who made all of our efforts possible. You’re the ones who allowed us to share the stories of the families and individuals who would be harmed by the margin tax. It was your support that allowed us to publish our study showing that more than 3,600 jobs would be lost if the tax took effect. And it was your generosity that funded our YouTube ad campaign illustrating the way those jobs would fall like dominoes, leaving thousands of our fellow citizens out of work and worrying about their future.

My friend, you did this. And I can’t thank you enough for your commitment to doing what’s right for our state.

As you know, the defeat of the margin tax wasn’t the only noteworthy result of Tuesday’s elections. Nevada Republicans made history — and shocked all political observers — by not only taking back control of the state Senate, but soaring to a large majority in the Assembly as well. The GOP now controls the governor’s office and both legislative houses for the first time in decades.

We at NPRI don’t get involved in political races, so we weren’t working toward any particular outcome on that front. But there’s no question that the power shift in Carson City sets up a whole new dynamic for the 2015 Legislative Session and presents a series of policy opportunities we’ve not seen before. And I’ll have a lot to say about what that means in the coming weeks and months.

But for now, I just want to say thank you. We had no way of knowing back in January, when we committed ourselves to exposing the truth about the margin tax, how it would ultimately turn out. But what we did know was that there was no way we could succeed on our own. We needed you to be there with us and you were.

Well done, my friend. Thank you.

Until next time,

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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Week in Review: Information

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


Just over two weeks ago, I told you about the 90-second video NPRI released that exposes the lie perpetuated by margin-tax supporters that only big business and corporations will pay the tax if it passes next week.

In her own words, a young mother describes what worries her about the margin tax. In short, if voters pass the job-killing margin tax, she could lose her job and lose her ability to provide for her family.

You and I also discussed how to make sure as many voters as possible saw this video and heard its powerful message. Using Youtube ads, we could target this video to mothers throughout Nevada.

And in that short time — thanks to your generous support — over 30,000 Nevadans have seen it. This means that 29,000 people — most of them female voters — are better informed about the most important measure on this year’s ballot.

In the last two weeks, we’ve also been able to drop our costs per view to under 25 cents a person. That means your immediate donation of $3, $33, $333 or even $3,333 will help us make sure this video is seen by 12, 132, 1332 or even 13,332 more voters.

Until next time,

Andy Matthews
NPRI President

P.S. If early voting is any indication, voter turnout will be at a record low this year. This means it’s more important than ever that each voter be an educated one.

Will you help our powerful video reach even more voters by donating $3, $33, $333 or even $3,333 right now? Your investment will help our video reach 12, 132, 1332 or even 13,332 more voters.

Thank you. 


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Week in Review: The end of Obamacare

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


In a recent interview, President Obama intoned that the upcoming election is all about him and his policies, saying, “I’m not on the ballot this fall. Michelle’s pretty happy about that. But make no mistake: These policies are on the ballot, every single one of them.”

The public knows this, and early indications are pointing to a striking rebuke of Obama’s policies. That’s why those behind Obamacare are doing everything they can to hide how destructive the un-Affordable Care Act is until after Election Day.

Instead of opening enrollment in the insurance exchange Oct. 1 as was done last year, the exchanges will not open until Nov. 15. And, it should come as a surprise to no one that the Obama administration will keep the extent of the 2015 premium increases under wraps until that date.

That calculated move prompted Robert Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, to say, “when it comes to the lack of openness and transparency about Obamacare, this administration has no peer.”

We knew before Obamacare was passed — when Nancy Pelosi infamously said, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it”— that it wouldn’t be a transparent piece of legislation and that, as a result, it would be a bad deal for taxpayers.

Going into its second year of implementation, numerous reports are estimating double-digit premium increases.

This comes on the heels of a Circuit Court decision that said only people who purchase insurance through state-based exchanges — which Nevada no longer has — are eligible for federal subsidies to offset the skyrocketing cost of the government-mandated insurance. Costs are going up.

That’s not the only way Obamacare is increasing costs. If you recall, Obamacare gave states the option to expand Medicaid eligibility to healthy, childless, working-age adults. And this week, it was reported that 71 percent of those who signed up for Obamacare took advantage of the expansion of Medicaid. Expect liberals to cite Nevada’s decision to expand Medicaid as a reason government needs to raise taxes in the next Legislative Session.

This week, two reports offered glimmers of hope on the Obamacare front. The first cited a new poll from Politico that shows, despite the withholding of information, Americans are getting wise to the ills of Obamacare. A plurality now believe their quality of care is worse under Obamacare and only 7 percent believe their premiums will decrease. You heard that right — fewer than 10 percent of Americans believe the Left’s broken promise that Obamacare would save families $2,500 per year.

The second bit of news that could signal the eventual end of this Obamacare nightmare is the release of an Obama administration-funded study that said Obamacare could fall into a “death spiral” if court decisions eliminating taxpayer subsidies stand.

A fundamental tenet at NPRI is our belief that education changes minds. Keep educating your friends, families, coworkers and employees about the reality that is Obamacare and in time, we will see this bad thing come to an end.

Until next time,

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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Week in Review: 10 biggest problems with the margin tax

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


Early voting begins tomorrow, and the biggest decision voters will face is Question 3. Question 3 would impose a 2 percent margin tax on all businesses with revenue over $1 million a year. This includes businesses that are losing money.

Over the last three years, NPRI’s team has done a lot of research on the margin tax, highlighted the stories of individuals the tax would force out of business and even released a video earlier this week explaining how the tax would prevent a Nevada mother from providing for her family. Thank you for sharing that video, by the way; it’s already received over 5,000 views, and the numbers keep climbing.

I know the volume of NPRI’s research can be hard to digest for folks who are busy with work and family, so I wanted to boil it down into a quick top 10 list that you can share with your circles of influence so that they can be informed before they vote on Question 3. Source information for these facts is available at NPRI’s margin-tax resource page.

Here are the 10 most destructive things about Question 3:

10. The initiative is so poorly written that it could force competing businesses to file joint tax returns.

9. Gross receipt taxes, like the margin tax, “pyramid,” which favors larger, consolidated businesses over smaller ones.

8. Passing the margin tax would probably doom revenue-neutral tax reform efforts, like NPRI’s proposal to lower the sales tax rate while broadening what is taxed.

7. Because of the types of exemptions contained in the margin tax, some businesses, like family farmers, would be taxed at a higher rate than other businesses, like law firms.

6. The tax would reduce real disposable income by $240 million annually and

decrease investment by $7.1 million annually.

5. Passing this ballot question would further entrench the myth that Nevada hasn’t dramatically increased education spending over the last 50 years.

4. Question 3 would kill over 3,600 jobs, which would prevent dads and moms from providing for their families.

3. Because of how complicated the margin tax would be, mom-and-pop businesses would be hit with substantial compliance costs just to compute the tax.

2. Question 3 would hit businesses that are losing money with a new tax. This could force business owners, like Renee Newman, to shut their doors.

1. Pouring more money into Nevada’s broken education system would lead to a more expensive, but still broken, system that would fail tens of thousands of our children.

Remember, if Question 3 passes, the legislature can’t modify the language of the initiative for three years, so the stakes are even higher than normal.

Would you forward this email to 10 friends, family members or associates before they vote? You can help them make an informed decision.

Until next time,

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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Case study: How CCSD avoids transparency

There's a very interesting story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal today about the Clark County School District writing a $100,000 check to remove CCSD Board president Erin Cranor from a lawsuit.

The lawsuit story is interesting in its own right, but the story also contains two examples of how CCSD avoids transparency.

First, CCSD's offer of a $100,000 settlement meant it wouldn't have to obtain board approval for the check. Per its regulations, the board votes on settlements over $100,000. When reporter Trevon Milliard asked school board vice president Linda Young about the settlement check, which was issued over one month ago, she didn't even know the check had been sent out.

School Board Vice President Linda Young, who said she expected a board vote on the settlement, was flabbergasted when she learned the check was cut more than a month ago. Other board members did not return calls for comment.

“It’s hard for me to respond because I don’t know anything about it,” Young said after the Review-Journal told her of the payment. “The only information we’re (the School Board) getting right now is it’s ‘in the process.’ ”

Second, there's a tidbit at the bottom of the story that shows exactly how CCSD responsed to many of NPRI's requests for information.

The Review-Journal reported on Aug. 19 that Business Benefits had accepted $100,100 to drop Cranor as an individual defendant, subject to board approval. On Tuesday, after four weekly board meetings had come and gone, the newspaper asked when the settlement would come up for a public vote.

[CCSD spokeswoman and chief of staff Kirsten] Searer’s response: “The Business Benefits lawsuit is still pending. I will let you know when we have additional information on this.”

When asked Wednesday why she didn’t disclose the payment had already been sent without board approval, Searer said: “That’s not what you asked.”

In 2013, taxpayers paid Searer over $150,000 in total compensation to have her hide information from reporters and taxpayers. If you're looking for school district waste, stopping CCSD from spending hundreds of thousands or millions per year fighting transparency is an obvious place to start.

Unfortunately, hiding information and misleading about embarrassing incidents is par for the course for many CCSD officials.

 

 

Video: Mom talks about how the margin tax would hurt her family

In recent weeks, I’ve stressed the importance of communicating the stories behind the free-market policies we hope to advance.

It’s not enough to tell your friends and neighbors that the margin tax will hurt the economy; you have to show them how their lives will change for the worse if voters approve the new tax this November.

To help that effort along, NPRI has just released this short, 90-second video highlighting the story of a Nevada mom struggling to make ends meet, fearing that she may be one of 3,610 people who will be laid off if voters approve the margin tax.

I urge you to watch this video and then forward this email to your friends, family, neighbors, coworkers and anyone else you think needs to hear the truth about the margin tax.

Use this video to help them see how a destructive policy proposal can affect individuals personally.

Until next time,

Andy

P.S. Speaking of the margin tax, did you know we’ve compiled all our margin tax publications in one easy-to-navigate place? Check it out here: http://www.npri.org/issues/page/margin-tax-resources

 

Week in Review: ‘Fact checker’ full of spin

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.


‘Fact checker’ full of spin

One of Groucho Marx’s best lines was this quip: “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”

That’s the thought that echoed through my head as I read Mark Robison’s recent “Fact checker” column in the Reno Gazette-Journal. Robison decided to examine a statement Lt. Gov. candidate and current state Sen. Mark Hutchison made about the so-called Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as Obamacare.

During a debate with his opponent and current Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, Hutchison said, “Obamacare has not been right for Nevada. We’ve seen prices go up for the government, for patients who are insured.”

Government (a.k.a. taxpayer) costs have certainly gone up — from Nevada’s decision to expand Medicaid to ACA being projected to cost the federal government $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years.

But Robison didn’t look at that. Instead, he contacted the Hutchison campaign for details on the statement that prices have gone up for “patients who are insured.” Hutchison’s campaign pointed to an excellent study conducted by the Manhattan Institute that examined the price difference between the lowest-cost plans before ACA and after ACA’s mandates.

The Manhattan Institute found that premiums for the lowest-priced individual plans in Nevada had increased by a whopping 94 percent to 289 percent.

So it should be a simple decision for a fact checker, right? Premiums were lower before ACA, they’re higher after ACA, so therefore, pointing out that prices have gone up for “patients who are insured” is an accurate statement.

It should have been an easy call, but instead, Robison started spinning. He cites Jake Sunderland, a spokesman for the Nevada Division of Insurance, who claims it is “irresponsible” to compare pre- and post-ACA plans, because ACA mandates that plans cover so much more.

That’s not irresponsible. That’s the point Hutchison made. ACA required more expensive health plans, so premiums went up. You may think that’s a bad or good trade-off, but that’s for policymakers and political pundits to debate, not for a fact checker to label as true or false.

The rest of the column is filled with Robison’s attempts to spin, explain and justify why health insurance costs have increased, and he concludes with this laugher:

Hutchison's source for his claim isn't a horrible one, but it is limited in scope and outdated.

For the small percentage of people Hutchison was referring to who buy their own individual health coverage, the available data for 2014-to-2015 plan changes shows premiums to be generally increasing more slowly than they did before the ACA, in Nevada and across the country.

Truth Meter: 3 out of 10

So here Robison attempts to ignore the changes that took place from 2013 to 2014, which are most pertinent, because that’s when ACA’s mandates first took effect, and focus on just changes happening this year after premiums doubled, tripled or even quadrupled last year. Even in doing so, though, he admits that health insurance prices are going up, which is what Hutchison claimed in the first place.

Who are you going to believe, a spinning “fact checker” or your lying eyes?

Until next time,

Andy Matthews
NPRI President


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Flores attacks Hutchison for ‘false facts’ using falsehoods

On Monday, Lt. Gov. candidate and Assemblywoman Lucy Flores put out a press release attacking Lt. Gov. candidate and Sen. Mark Hutchison. Entitled “Hutchison Campaign Running on False ‘Facts.’” The release stated:

Furthermore, claims that he [Hutchison] joined forces with Governor Sandoval to expand the education budget by $500 million are downright false. $1 billion had already been stripped from the education budget; the $500 million “added” barely covers rollup costs associated with expanding numbers of enrolled pupils. Sen. Hutchison’s position as a fighter for education is nothing but misleading. (Emphasis added.)

As I’ve shown before, even a casual look at Nevada’s education budget documents show that state education spending has increased in each of the last four years. While Flores claims $1 billion was “stripped” from the education budget, state education spending through the DSA has increased to its highest levels ever.

As I wrote yesterday,

A review of Nevada’s education budget, however, shows that Nevada’s state education spending through the Distributive School Account will increase from $5,374 per-pupil in Fiscal Year 2013 to $5,676 per-pupil in FY 2015. In addition, state spending on special education and class-size reduction will grow from $263.9 million in FY 2013 to $295 million in FY 2015.

Less than $28 million of Nevada’s increased education spending in FY 2014 and 2015 comes from projected increases in student enrollment at FY 2013 spending levels.

So where did Flores come up with this claim? I don’t know, and I wonder if her campaign does either.

I have called the Flores campaign seeking documentation of this “$1 billion” claim four times. I was even promised an email with documentation. The campaign has provided nothing. I will provide an update if documentation is ever provided.

It is impossible to overstate how important it is to get the facts right here.

Liberal’s solution to education — spending more — hasn’t worked and won’t work, but it won’t be defeated in the court of public opinion if liberals can get away with claiming that record-high spending equals a $1 billion spending cut.

 

Proposed CCSD teacher contract contains five types of pay increases

Pay increases are unrelated to performance, highlight need for collective bargaining reform

Clark County School District officials love secrecy. In the last month, they held invite-only meetings to consider teaching kindergartens about masturbation. CCSD is fighting a public-records lawsuit filed by NPRI seeking government email addresses. They also routinely provide little notice about how they plan to spend tax dollars.

That’s exactly what’s happened with the new contract between CCSD and the Clark County Education Association, which negotiates a single contract for over 18,000 teachers.

On the agenda for tomorrow’s board meeting is approving this new contract. As CCSD officials routinely complain that they don’t have enough money, even scoring a recent New York Times piece featuring administrators fretting about the growth in student population, the public might expect that this contract pinches pennies.

After all, if old facilities are really harming the learning of CCSD students, wouldn’t CCSD negotiators insist on a contract that reflects that priority?

Nope.

The proposed one-year contract for teachers contains five separate pay increases — none related to how effect a teacher is helping students learn.

These include:

  • A “step” increase for experience, including new “steps” for CCSD’s longest tenured teachers
  • A “column” increase for earning advanced degrees
  • Paying for teachers’ share of increased PERS contributions
  • A 1 percent increase to the salary table effective March 2015
  • Eliminating employer and employee contributions to the Retiree Health Plan

Teachers will also have to pay $20 a month more per employee and dependent(s) for health insurance. The District is continuing to negotiate a district-wide health plan, which the public should make sure doesn’t consist of putting all CCSD employees in union-controlled Teachers Health Trust.

In total, these raises will cost the district over $43 million. These additional expenditures will also do nothing to increase student achievement.

Contracts like this, which feature spending increases without any additional accountability, are part of the reason why Nevada’s inflation-adjusted, per-pupil spending has nearly tripled in the last 50 years, while results have declined for decades.

This kind of spending is hardly an isolated incident. Last year’s contract with teachers contained six different types of pay increases.

This contract also gives a preview of how — without substantial reforms to NRS 288 — additional education funding from the margin tax or legislative action will be wasted without increasing achievement.

Fortunately there are dozens of ways to increase student achievement without spending more.

Victor Joecks is executive vice president of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a non-partisan, free-market think tank. For more visit http://npri.org.

Total Records: 1836

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