This column isn’t a review of Monday’s debate. By now our readers all have their opinions of who won and who lost, what nefarious fixes were put in and what polls were spammed. Frankly, the debate was little more than a short-term boon to a cable news industry that is busily debauching itself in a way similar to Colin Kaepernick’s burial of the NFL’s TV appeal.
No, this is about what wasn’t discussed on Monday, and frankly we have a problem. When the five items below don’t rate any discussion in a presidential debate, it’s a disservice to the American people who are already poorly served by two of the least qualified presidential finalists in the nation’s history.
Before the debates are over, some network TV face-man had better bring these up — or else the electorate will be flying blind into a hurricane.
The Great Obamacare Treasury Heist
That the outgoing president’s corrupt, designed-to-fail remake of the American healthcare system is collapsing is hardly news to anyone, but a report released this week by the Government Accountability Office shed some light on just how bad things have gotten.
Namely, that Barack Obama’s Health and Human Services Department essentially robbed the American taxpayer by spending billions of dollars not appropriated by Congress to pay off insurers who, predictably, were drowning in red ink.
The Obama administration failed to follow its own health care law by directing funds to insurers instead of taxpayers, nonpartisan government investigators said Thursday, chalking up a win for GOP critics and denting the White House’s ability to satisfy insurers who are losing money under the overhaul.
The Affordable Care Act established a three-year “reinsurance” program to collect funds from participating insurers and then pay a portion to plans that took on costlier enrollees. Yet it was supposed to allocate some of its collections to the Treasury, too.
The administration projected it would take in $10 billion for reinsurance purposes and $2 billion for the Treasury in 2014, the program’s first year.
When collections fell short of estimates, the Health and Human Services Department prioritized payments to insurers over the Treasury, angering Republicans who said the agency put its contentious program over taxpayers, who got nothing.
The Government Accountability Office sided with those lawmakers in a legal opinion Thursday.
The GAO’s findings agreeing with congressional Republicans weren’t out on Debate Night, but the subject of Obamacare and its collapse has been a live one for some time. It requires more attention than the size of Alicia Machado’s appetite, no?
The Stock Bubble, Which Is Going To Break
Trump, to his credit, did slip this in. But it wasn’t picked up on by Hillary Clinton, and there were no questions about it Monday.
There should have been. It’s becoming absolutely clear to anyone who’s watching that the Federal Reserve’s practice of printing money to keep interest rates low is moving more and more investment capital into the stock market at the expense of the rest of the American economy.
Ruchir Sharma, who is chief economist at Morgan Stanley, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal Wednesday that echoed Trump’s concerns. “Leave the conspiracy theory aside and look at the facts: Since the Fed began aggressive monetary easing in 2008, my calculations show that nearly 60% of stock market gains have come on those days, once every six weeks, that the Federal Open Market Committee announces its policy decisions,” he said. “Put another way, the S&P 500 index has gained 699 points since January 2008, and 422 of those points came on the 70 Fed announcement days. The average gain on announcement days was 0.49%, or roughly 50 times higher than the average gain of 0.01% on other days.”
MarketWatch had an interesting piece on the stock bubble, including a graph showing S&P 500 price/earning ratios are at 27.07, which is the highest in a long time. Know when they were last this high?
2007. Know what happened starting in 2007? Of course you do.
The problem with pumping stock prices up the way the Fed is doing – the prime benefit of which is that those low interest rates insure the federal government’s debt service burden is at a minimum – is that it trashes the value of almost every other investment. Worst of all, it directs investment capital toward market incumbents and away from startups; there might be a healthy amount of the latter in Silicon Valley, but the fact is that in virtually every other economic sector a lack of available capital has poisoned the entrepreneurial well. There are several reasons there have been fewer American businesses extant in every year since Obama took office, and this is a major one.
DOJ’s Political Witch-Hunt Against Peter Thiel
You may not have heard of the lawsuit filed by the Justice Department against the artificial-intelligence and digital security firm Palantir, but it’s suspicious to say the least.
The lawsuit alleges that Palantir is discriminating against Asians in its hiring practices, apparently based on 21 job applications the company filled, 17 of the hires in which were white and four were Asian. Because 73 percent of the 130 or so applicants were Asian, this is somehow indicative of an invidious and nefarious practice on the part of Palantir and Peter Thiel, the celebrated tech financier who spoke at this summer’s Republican National Convention.
National Review’s Kevin Williamson had the proper reaction to the Palantir suit…
Palantir says that the government is engaged in “flawed statistical analysis.” It seems more likely that the Obama administration is engaged in straightforward political retribution and intimidation: Peter Thiel is an increasingly vocal Republican activist who spoke on Donald Trump’s behalf at this year’s Republican National Convention. (In the interest of disclosure, I should note that he is a contributor, both editorially and financially, to National Review.) Democrats prefer being opposed, if they must be opposed at all, by southern biblioplangists who lend themselves to caricature; cerebral California technology billionaires, on the other hand, are the kind of opposition they could do without, hence the desire to make examples of those who step out of line. Given the current administration’s long, nasty, and criminal history of using agencies of the federal government to go after political enemies, that seems a perfectly reasonable explanation.
This wasn’t discussed at all in the presidential debate, but it damn well should have been. We are at the point in this country where we need to have a discussion about the extent to which we as a people are going to tolerate the weaponization of government against people who disagree with the party in power. Because at some point these abuses are going to start ending in the same level of lawlessness among normal Americans as we’re seeing among our ruling class.
Weimar-Level Street Violence
Back during the primaries a whole lot was made of the bad behavior by some Trump supporters toward those who showed up at his rallies with an intent to heckle and disrupt. The former, naturally, were castigated as thugs and racists — while nothing was said about the poor form shown by the anti-Trump leftists. That didn’t even change when a sizable crowd of Black Lives Matter and neo-communist types descended on a Trump event at Chicago State and created such an unsafe environment that it was shut down.
Since then, the media has gone fairly quiet about the street violence and incivility surrounding this election cycle, but so you’ll know it’s worse than it’s been in a long time. Just this week you can see examples here, here and here where Trump supporters who haven’t even provoked their Democrat neighbors with uncivil behavior have been verbally or even physically attacked.
This isn’t going to get a lot of attention, naturally, because for one thing Democrat “protesters” heaping abuse on their political foes carries with it dog-bites-man commonality. That it’s even more frequent now than in decades means it gets less, rather than more, coverage.
But if Trump had to spend the spring fending off questions about the pugilism of some of his supporters, why shouldn’t Hillary be made to answer for the unhinged and savage behavior her crowd increasingly has on offer?
Easy Citizenship. Really Easy Citizenship
Last weekend it came out that the Obama administration “mistakenly” naturalized almost 1,000 immigrants who had been flagged as security risks.
The U.S. government has mistakenly granted citizenship to at least 858 immigrants from countries of concern to national security or with high rates of immigration fraud who had pending deportation orders, according to an internal Homeland Security audit released Monday.
The Homeland Security Department’s inspector general found that the immigrants used different names or birthdates to apply for citizenship with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and such discrepancies weren’t caught because their fingerprints were missing from government databases.
DHS said in an emailed statement that an initial review of these cases suggest that some of the individuals may have ultimately qualified for citizenship, and that the lack of digital fingerprint records does not necessarily mean they committed fraud.
The report does not identify any of the immigrants by name, but Inspector General John Roth’s auditors said they were all from “special interest countries” — those that present a national security concern for the United States — or neighboring countries with high rates of immigration fraud. The report did not identify those countries.
That’s what’s known as a “scandal,” and in a sane world those responsible would be “fired,” or perhaps even “prosecuted” and “imprisoned” in the event it could be proven corrupt motives contributed to such a result. It would seem to be a plausible topic for a presidential debate.
And particularly given what happened in Washington State, where a Turkish immigrant named Arcan Cetin opened up with a rifle at the Cascade Mall, killing five shoppers before going home unscathed. He was later arrested, and in the ensuing investigation it emerged that Cetin (it is so difficult not to call him Cretin, for obvious reasons) had voted in three elections despite not being a citizen.
Until the story was clarified. Relax, everyone — he was naturalized after all! And then he became a jihadist and shot up a mall.
Trump is obviously a racist for taking such controversial stands on immigration, and his followers are obviously racists for not rejecting such xenophobia as he offers. Right?
After all, who would talk about immigrant control while what we need is gun control, no? Doesn’t everybody know that?