At the time Obamacare passed, most of you probably understood that (another) massive government intervention into health care wasn't going to reduce costs, but those folks who rely on the New York Times for news sure were in for a surprise this week.
Here's a Friday feel good from CNBC host Rick Santelli. I'm all about calm and detailed presentations showing how the federal government's spending is unsustainable, like this one from NRO's Yuval Levin, but after a week where so many of the"smart" people pretended a $62 billion tax hike was something significant, it's time for some righteous indignation.
Here are the charts from Levin's blog post. If I was Rick Santelli, I'd be yelling this next sentence, "It's a spending problem, stupid!"
On the right is our country's 2011 budget deficit. Way down on the left is the amount of the higher taxes that just passed through Congress.
So do we have a revenue problem or spending problem? You decide.
(h/t Zero Hedge)
Hope everyone had a joyous Holiday season and Happy New Year! The blogging was a little light over the past couple weeks because of vacations and such, but it's a new year and there's a ton to write about, so let's jump right in.
Take a moment a read Paul Takahashi's piece on how the Clark County School District repeatedly denied record requests from the Las Vegas Sun.
But despite its proclamations of being transparent with the community, the district has refused to grant repeated public records requests from the Sun for graduation data from the three schools. ...
For the past four months, the Sun has been requesting that the district provide a variety of student data to demonstrate quantitatively the gains made at the turnaround schools during the 2011-12 school year.
The district complied with most of the Sun's requests for data, such as the number of discipline incidents, teacher turnover and average daily attendance rates. However, it has declined to release a key indicator of the turnaround's success: graduation rates for the class of 2012. ...
Moreover, the preliminary graduation rates — even if unverified by the state — still are public documents financed by taxpayer dollars, Smith said. Open records law specifies the district must cite a legal statute that exempts it from releasing public information.
"All records are perceived to be open unless there is a specific exception by law," Smith said. "(Graduation rates) are a matter of public record."
Although the School District claims it has no legal obligation to release graduation data because it considers them "worksheets/workpapers," nowhere in its two-page letter does it cite a state law that prohibits it from releasing this data, Smith said.
This, as NPRI knows from first-hand experience, one example of which Takahashi cited, is a disturbing pattern at CCSD. Delay or deny public records they don't want released; trumpet records they want to spin positively.
Superintendent Dwight Jones has written that the District is "committed to transparency," but CCSD hasn't lived up to his promise.
It's a new year. A great resolution for CCSD would be to comply with Nevada's Public Records law and be transparent in both word and deed.
Why is stealing wrong?
Is it wrong because it’s illegal? Or is stealing wrong because individuals have a God-given or natural right to their own property?
To some people, that’s like asking, “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?” — in other words, they think the answer is unknowable.
But there’s an essential difference here: Unlike the chicken-and-egg question, we know that our God-given/natural rights precede government — both logically and historically.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard explains how Indianapolis addressed a $150 million shortfall and still improved city services, all without raising taxes.
Some obvious lessons abound for local government leaders in Nevada...
One of the most important lessons in public policy (and life) is that every action has both short- and long-term consequences — and often those consequences are contradictory.
Consider the housing bubble. We had Keynesians like Paul Krugman actually calling for a housing bubble to boost the economy in 2002. Then we had "the government's distortion of mortgage finance through the Community Reinvestment Act and the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac." And, of course, we had the Federal Reserve's manipulation of interest rates.
Those factors (and many more) contributed to an unprecedented rise in home prices until 2007, when the bubble burst and housing prices came crashing down. The factors that helped create the bubble in the housing market in the short term were the same factors that created the crash and decline in housing prices in the long term.
One Nevada-specific factor that is creating a mini-bubble in housing is AB 284. As Nevada Journal's Steven Miller details, under AB 284, a paperwork error can now send lenders and mortgage servicers to prison.
[Lenders and mortgage servicers] are now liable to be charged with a category C felony if, in their filing of the numerous new documents the law (AB 284) requires, a document contains what some government prosecutor might choose to see as a “false representation concerning title.”
The mandatory sentence set by statute for such a felony is imprisonment in the state prison for least one year and fines of up to $10,000.
AB 284 also, in the view of critics, gave virtual hunting licenses to lawyers representing defaulting borrowers. It did this by placing the equivalent of bounties on any lender’s failure to disclose every prior known beneficiary of the deed of trust in a notarized affidavit. Any such mistake by a lender is, to a borrower’s lawyer, worth the greater of $5,000 or treble the amount of actual damages, plus “reasonable” attorneys’ fees and costs.
As a result of AB 284, Notice-of-Default filings, which are a necessary step in the foreclosure process, fell dramatically in 2011 when the law went into effect.
This has led to thousands of houses that are in default, but where the mortgage holder is unable to foreclose on those houses and sell them. This is sometimes called the shadow inventory, whichhousing experts predict will delay Nevada's housing recovery by two to three years.
But in the short term, the lack of inventory is creating another bubble and driving up housing prices in an unsustainable way.
Since we just lived through a massive real-estate bubble, you would hope lawmakers would do everything possible to avoid creating another one.
Not Sen. Tick Segerblom. Instead of trying to defuse this government-created housing bubble, he's defending it.
John Restrepo, principal of RCG Economics in Las Vegas, called [the housing bubble created by AB 284] “a bit of an artificial spike not likely to be sustained as it is today, depending on how the law is changed.”
The politics of easing restrictions for banks (by changing AB 284) are dicey and likely to face opposition.
Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he’d listen (on changes to AB 284) to Cortez Masto, a fellow Democrat.
But, he said, “I’m extremely reluctant to change anything that everyone agrees has raised property values in the state of Nevada.” (Emphasis added.)
We know how the government-creating-a-housing-bubble story turns out. Would someone let Sen. Segerblom know it doesn't end well, even if it appears attractive in the short term?
There are a lot of reasons that expanding Medicaid, like Gov. Brian Sandoval announced he was going to do yesterday, is a terrible idea. As NPRI has pointed out, one of the most unfortunate is that expanding Medicaid to healthy adults above the poverty line will increase doctor shortages for the most needy, including children and disabled.
And that diagnosis has been confirmed by none other than Sandoval himself. Via Steve Sebelius:
Sandoval acknowledged one problem with the expansion — there likely won’t be enough doctors to treat all the new patients who will be seeking primary care. He said he would seek to expand scope of practice rules and enhance medical license reciprocity with other states to immediately allow more doctors to practice in the Silver State. “We definitely have identified that [reciprocity] as a method,” he said.
The case of 12-year-old Deamonte Driver speaks volumes about the impact of health-care rationing on Medicaid patients.
Driver, a beneficiary in Maryland, developed a toothache. It should have meant only an $80 extraction.
However, because only 900 of Maryland's 5,500 dental care providers were accepting Medicaid, and these providers faced a backlog of patients, the Driver family — after calling more than 20 providers — was unable to get a timely appointment for Deamonte.
Soon, the youth's tooth infection abscessed and the infection spread to his brain. Deamonte, after complaining of a headache, was rushed to the hospital. He received two brain surgeries, but tragically died less than a month later.
Why does anyone think subsidizing healthy adults above the poverty line is a good idea?
If a picture is worth a thousand words, these three charts shouldclearly show how unsustainable federal spending is.