Monday, December 19, 2011

Another Reason Lugar Must Go #INSen

Dick Lugar (R-IN) has been a Senator for so long, he's lost touch with the way things work outside the Senate cloakroom.

Lugar called for the House to pass the Senate's bill that extends the current payroll tax rate by two months because it was "best for the country".

Yet as The Right Sphere reports, that will cause huge problems for the businesses who have to implement it.

A little common sense would show why. Businesses that calculate payroll taxes do so with accounting payroll software. It takes time for these non-trivial changes to software and business practices to be implemented. A payroll tax switchover is already cooked in to most accounting packages, so that the planned payroll tax changes will happen automatically when current law would have them change (Jauary 1). Because payroll software needs accuracy, any significant alteration will take weeks to plan and execute, passing the window for the extension.

As Rep Renee Ellmers (R,NC02) said in her press release:

Last week we passed a bill here in the House that extends the payroll tax cut for a full year. But instead of passing the House bill, or another bill which extended the payroll credit for a year, the Democrats in the Senate opted for a meager two month extension…that's the definition of uncertainty!

The Senate refuses to do the job they were elected to do and is being irresponsible. They have not even passed a budget in over 950 days and now are kicking the can down the road again by only extending the payroll tax for a mere two months. A two month payroll tax extension is a disgrace. Americans have enough uncertainty with their jobs and homes. Senator Reid is kicking them while they're down with this proposal.

Senator Lugar has ceased to understand the needs of Indiana, and should yield the floor to a new generation.

Amplify’d from

GOP's Lugar: House should pass tax bill for the good of the country

By Daniel Strauss


12/19/11 01:22 PM ET

Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) on Monday said House Republicans need to pass the Senate's two-month extension of the payroll tax cut for the good of the country.  

"I'm hopeful there are a majority of Republicans and Democrats today who will proceed, because it seems to me this is best for the country, as well as for all the individuals who are affected," Lugar said Monday on MSNBC.  


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Friday, December 16, 2011

HHS ObamaCare Targets Insurance Companies Again

The Department of Health and Human Services is sprinting like mad to get ObamaCare implemented ahead of the 2013 inauguration of President Obama's successor, trying to cement as much of the law as possible state and federal bureaucracy. Today they promulgate more in their ever-expanding set of regulations about what is and is not insurance. The result will limit consumer choice and force more and more onto Medicaid.

HHS says state governments should pick one of the health plans available in their state as a "benchmark", but by that they mean "baseline": plans offered after the determination is made could only be more generous than the selected plan.

This approach, like the rest of ObamaCare, can only serve to narrow the number of choices consumers have, forcing more and more insurance companies out of the marketplace altogether.

The end result will be more and more people who are forced to choose Medicaid as their health insurance, while many others are unable to afford insurance altogether.

Amplify’d from

HHS to give states more flexibility to implement health reform

Under the Department’s intended approach announced today, states would have the flexibility to select an existing health plan to set the “benchmark” for the items and services included in the essential health benefits package.  States would choose one of the following health insurance plans as a benchmark:

  • One of the three largest small group plans in the state;
  • One of the three largest state employee health plans; 
  • One of the three largest federal employee health plan options;
  • The largest HMO plan offered in the state’s commercial market.  

The benefits and services included in the health insurance plan selected by the state would be the essential health benefits package.  Plans could modify coverage within a benefit category so long as they do not reduce the value of coverage.  Consistent with the law, states must ensure the essential health benefits package covers items and services in at least ten categories of care, including preventive care, emergency services, maternity care, hospital and physician services, and prescription drugs.  If a state selects a plan that does not cover all ten categories of care, the state will have the option to examine other benchmark insurance plans, including the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan, to determine the type of benefits that will be included in the essential health benefits package.   


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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

NTSB Power Grab

In a move well outside its charter, the National Transportatation Safety Board on December 13 called for the 50 states to ban the use of texting and other electronic communications in moving vehicles.

NTSB couches its outrageous power grab in terms few would dispute, that "No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life."

But the bargain the texter faces is not to trade his life for a single call, text, or update, but rather an increased risk that he will be insufficiently attentive to the driving task while engaged with the portable device.

According to the NTSB's press release itself, there are more cell phones in use in the U.S. than there are people. So (taking the NTSB's causality statistics arguendo) if there are 3,100 deaths per year due to cell phone use while driving, then less than 1 in 100,000 cell phones "causes" a traffic death every year.

More precisely, suppose, given the statistics here:

that roughly 20% of drivers are regular texters. That would mean that of the 930 billion vehicle miles driven by Americans every year,


about 180 billion miles are driven by regular texters.

Over the course of 180 billion miles, 3,100 deaths yield one death for every 58 million miles.

Yes, talking on the phone is risky, as is texting, updating Facebook, or changing radio stations.

But every time we allow the government to restrict our ability to take risks, we take one more incremental step toward a soft, pillowy totalitarian world in which we exist endlessly and live not at all.

Amplify’d from

NTSB and Electronic Devices: Regulation by Anecdote

But the National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendation is a classic example of regulatory overreach based on anecdote.  The NTSB wants to use one tired driver’s indefensible and extreme texting (which led to horrific results) as an excuse to ban all use of portable electronic devices while driving – including hands-free phone conversations.  Before states act on this recommendation, they should carefully examine systematic evidence – not just anecdotes — to determine whether different uses of handheld devices pose different risks. They should also consider whether bans on some uses would expose drivers to risks greater than the risk the ban would prevent.

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