The Public Policy

The Public Policy

The Unintended Consequences of Credit Card Regulation

By 11.20.13

When you try to regulate things, you’re really regulating people. If there’s one crucial lesson to keep in mind about regulation, this is it. And these days, when regulations cost us over $14,000 per household each year, according to my colleague Wayne Crews’s calculations, it behooves us to consider the unintended consequences of each new regulation, however benevolent its intent. A good place to start is the new regulations on credit card interchange fees.

Counterintuitive as it may seem, merchants who accept credit cards have always paid credit card companies for their use, not the other way around. For an explanation why, watch the classic movie The Card, starring Alec Guinness, about a rakish young entrepreneur who invents an early version of a credit card, the Universal Thrift Club. The merchants who accept the card get more customers because of the availability of credit and the convenience of using a card, so they pay the people who provide that boost to their business.

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The Public Policy

Wallis Goes on Racism Attack

By 11.19.13

House Speaker John Boehner has announced the House will not go to conference with the U.S. Senate over the latter’s immigration legalization proposal, likely forestalling any immigration legislation this year. It’s not for lack of trying by many religious advocates of immigration “reform,” with special exertions by many evangelical elites. A tent has arisen on Capitol Hill to shelter evangelical immigration prayers for immigration legislation. One prominent Hispanic evangelical has announced he will fast until legalization is approved. And on November 13 President Obama met with a delegation of evangelical officials, plus a Catholic bishop, telling them predictably that Republicans are the problem.

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Entitlement Reform, Tea Party Style

By 11.13.13

The Tea Party/Republican House majority was elected in 2010 to stop the runaway Obama Progressive Democrat big government spending spree. And it has had a decisive effect in that regard, as recorded in the annual CBO budget report released last week.

Federal spending soared from $2.655 trillion in 2006, when the Democrat Congress was elected to replace the Republican Congress, to $3.6 trillion in fiscal 2011, reflecting the last spending legislation adopted by that completely Democrat Congress in the prior year, an increase of 36% in just four years of control.

But after the new Tea Party/Republican House majority forced a major budget showdown in 2011, total, actual, nominal federal spending actually declined in fiscal 2012 to $3.54 trillion. Such an absolute decline rarely ever happens with federal spending. But for the next 2013 fiscal year, which just ended September 30, it happened again, declining to $3.45 trillion. That is the first two year decline in federal spending since the end of the Korean War.

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Exemptions, Navigators, and New Members

By 11.8.13

In a “good enough for thee but not for me” display of pure hutzpah, the AFL-CIO is demanding ever increasing exemptions from Obamacare, a law it championed and helped pass.

Kaiser Health News reported on Nov. 6 that the Obama administration may finally be granting one of the demands of its union benefactors. According to Kaiser, “buried in rules issued last week is the disclosure that the administration will propose exempting ‘certain self-insured, self-administered plans’ from the law’s temporary reinsurance fee in 2015 and 2016.”

What are these “self-insured, self-administered plans”? Many are union healthcare plans, of course.

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An ‘New’ Program

By 11.5.13

Like so many things that seem new, Obamacare is in many ways old wine in new bottles.

For example, when confronted with the fact that millions of Americans stand to lose their existing medical insurance, as a result of Obamacare, defenders of Obamacare say that this is true only when those people have "substandard" insurance.

Who decides what is "substandard"? What is older than the idea that some exalted elite know what is good for us better than we know ourselves? Obama uses the rhetoric of going "forward," but he is in fact going backward to an age when despots told everybody what they had better do and better not do.

Obamacare is old in yet another way. One of the fundamental reasons why private medical insurance has gotten so expensive is that politicians in state after state have mandated what this insurance must cover, regardless of what individuals want.

Insurance covering everything from baldness treatments to sex-change operations is a lot more expensive than insurance covering only major illnesses that can drain your life's savings. Now these mandates have moved up from the state to the federal level.

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Breaking the Third Rail

By 10.28.13

Entitlements are broken and a once-impossible debate over retirement is finally happening. But will it matter?
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