Why Obamacare has to be Replaced

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government continues its review of the reasons Obamacare had to be replaced.

Government mandates for the inclusion of coverage for treatment modes unwanted and unneeded by many serves to unnecessarily increase costs.

Cato Institute study notes:

“Like the federal government, all states increase the cost of health insurance by requiring consumers to purchase certain types of coverage, whether or not they want it. Many states require consumers to purchase coverage for services that many consider quackery, such as acupuncture (12 states), chiropractors (44 states), and naturopathy (4 states). Thirty-three states require consumers to purchase at least 40 types of mandated coverage. States have also required consumers to purchase coverage for medical treatments that later proved harmful to health, such as hormone replacement therapy (4 states) and high-dose chemotherapy with autologous bone marrow transplant for breast cancer (at least 1 state, Minnesota). States impose many additional regulations on insurance pools, from premium taxes to rules limiting insurers’ ability to manage utilization. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that, on average, state regulations increase the cost of health insurance by 13 percent. States prevent individuals (and employers) from avoiding unwanted regulatory costs by prohibiting them from purchasing health insurance from states with more consumer-friendly regulations.

Another approach ignored by those who enacted Obamacare was tort reform. A study by the South Carolina Policy Council analyzed the problem. “…medical malpractice tort reform…seeks to obtain a better balance between holding doctors accountable for mistakes and protecting physicians from frivolous lawsuits. In practice, medical tort reform seeks to cap the amount of monetary damages awarded in medical negligence cases. The impetus for this is escalating costs for doctors and insurance companies, on the heels of multimillion dollar settlements to individuals and multibillion dollar settlements to states…Estimates of the cost total of medical malpractice civil cases range from $252 billion (by the Tillinghast-Towers Perrin actuarial firm) to $865 billion by the Pacific Research Institute (PRI). PRI’s estimate includes $589 billion in wasteful spending that accounts for lost future productivity and lost sales ($367 billion) caused by less innovation. While not all tort costs are wasteful — tort law is imperative in a free market system to maintain the rule of law — there is plenty of room for reform…doctors feel they must practice defensive medicine in order to avoid being sued. This practice entails prescribing tests or treatments for patients whose symptoms would not ordinarily require such procedures…Dr. William Jackson, a radiologist at Beaufort Memorial Hospital, says most people would be amazed at how many defensive medicine lab tests are ordered every day.”

As the Republican majority in Congress moves to address the Obamacare crisis, conservatives are asserting that marketplace concepts such as interstate competition, tort reform, and consumer choice in treatment coverage is not being emphasized in the initial phase. GOP leadership is emphasizing a gradual approach, centered around tax credits for purchasing private policies.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) reintroduced… a bill to repeal most of the 2010 health law without replacing it, a measure that cleared the last Congress when President Barack Obama, a Democrat, was in office. Conservative groups view that bill, which Mr. Obama vetoed, as a gold standard. GOP leaders’ decision to back away from that bill now that Mr. Trump is president is causing friction. Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) amplified the message when he left a Thursday afternoon meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and a handful of other Republicans and said the House bill couldn’t pass the Senate and needed to be changed.”

But Congressional leadership favors a three-part approach, notes the Wall Street Journal. “The leaders plan to first pass the current bill repealing much of the law and offering some Republican-backed elements in their place…The second phase would have Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price use his administrative power to undo other ACA provisions. The third step would be the hardest—persuading enough Democrats to go along with a set of non-budget health-care bills that would take 60 votes to pass the Senate.Mr. Trump has said letting insurers sell policies in every state would be part of the third phase. But conservatives insist that proposal should be included in the current legislation, since they doubt the likelihood of winning over enough Democrats to pass it.”

Conservatives do approve of portions of the reform bill, reports Townhall, “Compared to Obamacare, GOPCare reduces the role of the federal government in the healthcare system, gives more authority and flexibility to states, spends less, taxes less, regulates less, and coerces less. The individual and employer mandates are gone. Infamous tax hikes like the medical device tax are gone (and in other cases, delayed or reduced). Obamacare’s subsidy system is dismantled by 2020 and supplanted with refundable tax credits for lower-to-upper-middle-income individuals and families, ranging from $2,000 to $14,000 annually…Caps on tax-free contributions to Health Savings Accounts are also raised considerably, almost doubling under this bill.  The conservative Republican Study Committee is out with a pretty balanced memo on the positives and negatives of the draft legislation, noting several shifts towards more coverage and more spending over the weekend.”

Some of the very few popular portions of Obamacare would be maintained. “People with pre-existing conditions are protected…Also, lifetime expenditure caps from carriers remain disallowed, and adult children are permitted to remain on their parents’ plan through age 26.

 On the other hand, conservatives are concerned that the growth in Medicaid may be unchecked. Fiscal conservatives opposed the expansion…Obamacare’s status quo would remain in place until 2020, at which point the new law would ‘transition Medicaid into a system in which each state receives a certain amount of money for each of its residents in the program and has more flexibility over how the program functions. That allocation would revert to per person spending levels from 2016 and then grow each year at the rate of medical inflation. However, states would still receive enhanced Obamacare-levels of spending for individuals who were grandfathered in by having enrolled in expanded Medicaid before 2020…Many conservatives want the Medicaid expansion done away with entirely.”

One conservative source, The Daily Signal, emphasizes: “The key problem with the draft House health care bill is that it fails to correct the features of Obamacare that drove up health insurance costs. Instead, it mainly tweaks Obamacare’s financing and subsidy structure. Basically, the bill focuses on protecting those who gained subsidized coverage through the law’s exchange subsidies and Medicaid expansion, while failing to correct Obamacare’s misguided insurance regulations that drove up premiums for Americans buying coverage without government subsidies.”

 

Obamacare Repeal Delayed

As we went to press, The House of Representatives has announced that it will delay its vote on repealing and replacing Obamacare.

The debate over how to replace the already collapsing Obamacare system has been one of the most contentious in the current Congress. There is little dissent in the need to undo the Affordable Care Act, (ACA) passed in relative secrecy. (Former speaker Nancy Pelosi’ comment “We have to pass the bill before you can see what’s in it” ranks as one of U.S. history’s most memorable examples of legislative incompetence.)

The reality is, no matter which party took control of the federal government in 2016, Obamacare would have required major surgery—or perhaps even a mercy killing. A Heritage analysis outlines the massive problems:

  • 5 million lost prior insurance plans—President Obama’s promises that “you can keep your plan” and “you can keep your doctor” were completely untrue, and private sector enrollment increased by only 2.7 million, and exchange enrollment is only half of what was projected.
  • Average deductibles are $12,000
  • Premiums have increased by 25%
  • 70% of counties have no choice of insurance providers
  • 78% of Obamacare co-ops have failed, at a cost of $1.9 billion
  • Medicaid spending has increased by $1 trillion—paid for by an equal amount of tax increases. Medicaid patients under Obamacare have received a lesser quality of care
  • 5 million full time jobs were lost because the Affordable Care Act actually serves as a disincentive to hire full time employees

Obamacare hurt both young and old.

Although allowing young people to remain covered under their parents’ coverage until age 26, once they aged out, they were forced to buy policies that were overpriced due to mandated coverage of issues not typically affecting them. Indeed, a key part of the financing strategy for Obamacare was the subsidization of young, healthy individuals for the rest of the covered population.

At the other end of the age spectrum, seniors were hurt because, as Heritage outlines, Obamacare cuts $716 billion  from Medicare over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and uses these “savings” from Medicare to fund other entitlement expansions mandated by Obamacare. Medicare becomes a cash cow for Obamacare, and the Medicare “savings” from payment cuts are not put back into making Medicare solvent. Such massive payment cuts do impact Medicare benefits, as well as seniors’ access to those benefits.

Dissent against Obamacare by seniors, unless repeal occurs, is expected to grow dramatically. As noted by Modern Healthcare:  in December: “A bipartisan coalition of hundreds of healthcare organizations is urging the new Congress to immediately repeal an advisory board that has not yet been filled but would be charged with finding cuts to Medicare. The Independent Payment Advisory Board was created by the Affordable Care Act. During debate of the ACA, some opponents labeled the board a ‘death panel’ that would make decision about end-of-life treatment. It is actually meant to make cuts to Medicare in the case that spending growth exceeds projections.”

It is reasonable to assert that Obamacare’s failure is attributable to the imposition of government-centric solutions to a health insurance affordability problem significantly caused by government action.

Laws and regulations that prohibit competition by health care insurers across state lines guarantee monopoly practices and prices. The National Conference of State Legislatures  reports that “Insurance firms in each state are protected from interstate competition by the federal McCarran-Ferguson Act (1945), which grants states the right to regulate health plans within their borders. …The result has been a patchwork of 50 different sets of state regulations; the cost for an insurer licensed in one state to enter another state market is often high.”

The Report continues tomorrow

Nuclear Terrorism Threat Grows, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its look at nuclear terrorism.

NATO officials are not alone in their concern about nuclear terrorism.  Last year, at the Nuclear Security Summit  U.S. officials expressed concern that atomic weaponry could be obtained by terrorists, particularly from Pakistan.

Heather Von Behren, The U.S. State Department’s chief of the counter nuclear smuggling unit in the International Security and Nonproliferation bureau during the Obama presidency, noted:nuclear terrorism is a threat to our collective security… The seizure of weapons-grade nuclear material in Georgia in 2010 and Moldova in 2011 suggests that these types of materials could still remain in illegal circulation.  In addition to locking down material under government control, the international community is working together to investigate smuggling networks, remove nuclear and other radioactive material from the black market, and arrest individuals involved.”

The threat is not new, nor restricted just to ISIS. The Combatting Terrorism Center reported in 2009 that “Al-Qa`ida has made numerous statements about a desire to obtain nuclear weapons for use against the United States and Western interests [1]. While many of these statements are rhetorical hyperbole, the scale of the potential destructiveness of nuclear weapons, the instability and “nuclear porosity” of the context in Pakistan, and the vulnerabilities within Pakistan’s nuclear safety and security arrangements mean that the risks of terrorist groups gaining access to nuclear materials are real. Moreover, militants have recently attacked a number of Pakistan’s nuclear facilities, including an August 21, 2008 incident at the Wah cantonment, widely understood to be one of Pakistan’s main nuclear weapons assembly sites.

“When Pakistan was developing its nuclear weapons infrastructure in the 1970s and 1980s, its principal concern was the risk that India would overrun its nuclear weapons facilities in an armored offensive if the facilities were placed close to the long Pakistan-India border. As a result, Pakistan, with a few exceptions, chose to locate much of its nuclear weapons infrastructure to the north and west of the country and to the region around Islamabad and Rawalpindi—sites such as Wah, Fatehjang, Golra Sharif, Kahuta, Sihala, Isa Khel Charma, Tarwanah, and Taxila . The concern, however, is that most of Pakistan’s nuclear sites are close to or even within areas dominated by Pakistani Taliban militants and home to al-Qa`ida.

“The Pakistani Taliban and al-Qa`ida are more than capable of launching terrorist attacks in these areas, including within Islamabad and Rawalpindi. They have also proved that they have good intelligence about the movement of security personnel, including army, ISI and police forces, all of whom have been routinely targeted. A series of attacks on nuclear weapons facilities has also occurred. These have included an attack on the nuclear missile storage facility at Sargodha on November 1, 2007, an attack on Pakistan’s nuclear airbase at Kamra by a suicide bomber on December 10, 2007,and perhaps most significantly the August 21, 2008 attack when Pakistani Taliban suicide bombers blew up several entry points to one of the armament complexes at the Wah cantonment, considered one of Pakistan’s main nuclear weapons assembly sites. The significance of these events is difficult to overstate.”

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP)  uses radiation portal monitors, a detection device that provides a passive, non-intrusive means to screen trucks and other conveyances for the presence of nuclear and radiological materials. These systems are capable of detecting various types of radiation emanating from nuclear devices, dirty bombs, special nuclear materials, natural sources, and isotopes commonly used in medicine and industry. CBP notes that “As the nation’s primary border enforcement agency, CBP must do everything in its power to prevent terrorists and terrorist weapons, including weapons of mass destruction, from entering this country.”

Nuclear Terrorism Threat Grows

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government takes a two-part look at the threat of nuclear terrorism. 

NATO is warning  that the West should consider the potential danger of an attack by terrorist using weapons of mass destruction.

The organization is not being overly cautious. An Economist study notes that  “24 states still have 1kg or more of weapons-usable nuclear materials, and nearly 2,000 tonnes of weapons-usable nuclear materials (1,400 of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU), 500 of plutonium) remain stored around the world, much of it still vulnerable to theft… A terrorist group would not need much fissile material to make a nuclear bomb–about enough HEU to fill a 2kg bag of sugar.”

A National Interest examination   warns “As North Korea’s economic position worsens, the risk that it sells its nuclear weapons technology grows… Over the years North Korea has created a web of foreign connections to peddle its missiles and components. As talks on denuclearization remain non-existent and foreign sanctions against the regime tighten, there are startling concerns that a cash-strapped Pyongyang may resort to dealing with its finances through the black-market with terrorist groups or organized crime syndicates.”

Iran, too, must be taken into consideration. While it has not yet constructed an actual nuclear bomb, its’ possession of nuclear materials, as well as its intimate ties with (and support for) terrorist organizations is disturbing. A Brookings review details how  “Iran’s leaders have used terrorism since they took power in 1979. Over 35 years later, Iran continues to use terrorism and to work with an array of violent substate groups that use terrorism among other tactics.”

According to NATO, “There is a very real – but not yet fully identified risk – of foreign fighters in ISIL’s ranks using chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) materials as “weapons of terror” against the West… Hundreds of foreign fighters, some with solid academic and educational backgrounds and intellectual knowledge, have joined the cause and continue to do so every day. Furthermore ISIL’s success is based on an effective media strategy of looking at the utmost possible “news effect” of their attacks. Together with their access to high levels of funding, these three elements bear the real risk of the group turning into practice what up to now has been largely a theoretical possibility: to actually employ weapons of mass destruction or CBRN material in terrorist attacks.

“We might thus soon enter a stage of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) terrorism, never before imaginable. Worrying reports confirm that ISIL has gained (at least temporarily) access to former chemical weapons storage sites in Iraq. They might soon do so in Libya. They allegedly used toxic chemicals in the fighting around Kobane. Even more worrying, there are press reports about nuclear material from Iraqi scientific institutes having been seized by ISIL. This demonstrates that while no full scale plots have been unveiled so far, our governments need to be on alert. Generating improved military and civil prevention and response capabilities should be a high priority and should not fall victim to limited budgets in times of economic crisis…

“Most of the declared chemical weapons (CW) material has been removed from Syria in the past few months and destroyed. However, there are indications that some material still remains in the country and is potentially accessible to ISIL. In addition, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) suggested that chemical material not qualifying as CW and not subject to being declared under the CW convention, such as chlorine, has actually been used by the Assad regime in the fight against the Syrian opposition. Some press reports indicate that ISIL might have done the same. Even more worrying, ISIL actually controlled the so-called Al Muthanna site in Iraq for some months during 2014. At this site, according to UN reports, bunkers from the past Iraqi CW programme contained “2,000 empty artillery shells contaminated with mustard agents, 605 one tonne mustard containers with residues and heavily contaminated construction material.”

The Report concludes tomorrow.

Danger on the Korean Peninsula includes China, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its review of the danger on the Korean Peninsula.

The extremely uncomfortable question that remains unanswered about North Korea’s nuclear and missiles programs is why does China object to reasonable defense measures by South Korea and the United States?

The Washington Post notes, “Given how angry Beijing gets about [the U.S. anti-missile system] THAAD, you may be forgiven for thinking that the U.S. missile system, deployed to South Korea, is primarily aimed at China. However, Washington and Seoul have justified the system by saying it is necessary to defend South Korea from North Korean aggression.”

China’s semi-official newspaper, the Global Times,  proclaimed: “China has not been able to prevent THAAD from being set up in South Korea…Beijing should keep calm and adopt resolute and efficient measures to minimize its threat toward China. ..We should start from increasing sanctions toward Seoul…we can take the current opportunity to squeeze South Korean cultural products out of the Chinese market. This is the price the country must pay for the THAAD deployment. China should also focus on military countermeasures and strategically deal with more threats. The deployment of THAAD in South Korea has two consequences – it directly threatens military activities within China, moreover, it sets a precedent that Washington can arbitrarily implement its anti-missile arrangements around China. Both will jeopardize China’s security.Can we neutralize THAAD technically? Research in this field must be enforced. If possible, Beijing must realize it at all costs. One thing is for sure, China’s related strategic weapons must target South Korea’s Seongju County, where THAAD will be installed.”

The “threat” that China sees, therefore, is that it believes the THAAD system could have an application against its own growing nuclear arsenal—aimed at the U.S.

China’s complicated relations with North Korea is this: it is not bothered that the “hermit Kingdom” threatens its neighbors and the U.S. Beijing just doesn’t want the threat to prompt South Korea, Japan or the United States to strengthen regional defenses.

Russia, too, has objected to the THAAD deployment, notes Townhall: “Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that the ThAAD deployment would escalate tensions in the region: ‘Such actions, no matter how they are explained, very negatively affect global strategic security, adherence to which is so often discussed by Washington. They may also result in escalation of tensions in the region, new difficulties for resolving acute problems of the Korean Peninsula, including the task of its denuclearization.’”

While China takes public steps apparently indicating that it wishes to discourages North Korean advances in strategic weapons, it clandestinely assists those same activities. Commerce Secretary Wilbur R. Ross recently announced that China’s Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment Corporation and ZTE Kangxun Telecommunications Ltd., known collectively as ZTE, has agreed to a record-high combined civil and criminal penalty of $1.19 billion, pending approval from the courts, after illegally shipping telecommunications equipment to Iran and North Korea in violation of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR).

Some key observers believe there is more than a passing relationship between the technological military personnel of China and North Korea. 38 North explains:

“Some analysts are skeptical that Pyongyang could have achieved success at such an impressive rate without aid from a more technologically capable benefactor—namely, China. These analysts have noted similarities between the KN-11, North Korea’s indigenous SLBM, and the Chinese-made JL-1. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that China offered the North direct technical assistance in recent years. As Henry Kissinger once stated, Beijing is fully aware of the costs of complicity in helping advance Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. A nuclear North Korea risks the nuclearization of East Asia—most notably, Japan and South Korea. Such proliferation would shift the balance of military power in Asia, boding poorly for Chinese interests. China has, however, tolerated indirect assistance to North Korea that likely helped to accelerate its nuclear and missile program. The recent US indictment of Ma Xiaohong, the CEO of Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Company, demonstrates both the scale and nature of Chinese complicity. By one estimate, the Hongxiang Group’s trade with North Korea totaled in excess of $500 million over the last five years. The concern is that the company’s subsidiaries have exported dual-use commodities with nuclear and missile applications. Beijing’s early cooperation on this matter suggests that it may not have provided direct support to Pyongyang’s weapons program and that it is willing to enforce the US Treasury Department’s sanctions against North Korean companies, at least for the time being.”

Danger on the Korean Peninsula includes China

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government takes a two-part look at the growing danger on the Korean Peninsula. 

The most basic outline of the situation on the Korean peninsula is this:

North Korea, contrary to international agreements, has developed and launched missiles capable of delivering the nation’s illegal nuclear arsenal to regional U.S. forces, U.S. allies in the region, and possibly the American homeland itself.  Its leadership openly threatens to do just that. The nation continues on an imminent war footing, starving its population while devoting vast sums to its advanced armaments programs, which it engages in with the assistance of Iran, which also is testing nuclear capable rockets. The only country with the influence to deter North Korea is China, which, instead of doing so, criticizes the U.S. for engaging in reasonable defensive measures with purely defensive technology that in no way poses a threat to either China or North Korea, except that it might prevent those nuclear weapons from killing millions of GIs and allied civilians.

Claudia Rosett, writing for Security Affairs, described North Koreas military buildup in 2014. the situation has only grown worse since then: “Not only does North Korea still qualify as one of the most dangerous countries on the planet, but as the country heads into its fourth year under the rule of Kim Jong Un, the dangers emanating from Pyongyang have continued to grow. Indeed, the threats have been expanding in such dazzling variety and abundance that it might help to sort them into three rough categories. There are the weapons programs themselves, including conventional, chemical, biological and nuclear, as well as an increasingly adept program for cyber warfare. There are the precedents—corrosive to any civilized 21st century world order—that North Korea’s regime sets for other rogue states, most notably Iran, by grossly abusing and exploiting both its own people and international rules and norms, and demonstrating that with enough threats, weapons and lies, it is possible to get away with it. And then there are North Korea’s global networks for illicit trafficking, through which the Pyongyang regime sustains itself and in some cases makes common cause with other despotisms that double as business partners, including Iran, Syria, China, Cuba and, increasingly in recent times, Pyongyang’s old patron, Russia. Put together, all this amounts to a menace that extends far beyond Northeast Asia.”

The Russian News source RT states that “the missiles [North Korea] fired toward Japan were part of an exercise targeting US military bases there…The test launches of four missiles, fired by North Korea into the Sea of Japan on Monday morning, were a drill carried out by an army unit commissioned with attacking US military bases in Japan, the country’s official news agency KCNA said…North Korean leader Kim Jong-un personally supervised the drill….”

The U.S. has responded to Pyongyang’s intensive drive to develop a nuclear arsenal which they have repeatedly threatened to use by deploying the THAAD anti missile system. In July, the Pentagon stated  that “Based on recent consultations, the United States and South Korea have made an alliance decision to deploy a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense [THAAD]missile battery to U.S. Forces Korea as a defensive measure to ensure the security of South Korea and that of its people, and to protect alliance military forces from North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile threats…North Korea’s nuclear test and multiple ballistic missile tests, including the recent intermediate-range ballistic missile launches, highlight the grave threat that North Korea poses to the security and stability of South Korea as well as to the entire Asia-Pacific region…THAAD provides the ballistic missile defense system with a globally transportable, rapidly deployable capability to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during the final phase of flight…The THAAD deployment will be focused solely on North Korean nuclear and missile threats and would not be directed towards any third-party nations.” In fact, as a defense-only weapon, THAAD’s only use is to discourage a nuclear assault.

The Report concludes tomorrow

Trump Releases 2018 Budget, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government continues its presentation of excerpts from the just-released 2018 federal budget.  Today, an overview is provided of individual agencies. 

Agriculture

The President’s 2018 Budget requests $17.9 billion for USDA, a $4.7 billion or 21 percent decrease from the 2017 annualized continuing resolution (CR) level (excluding funding for P.L. 480 Title II food aid which is reflected in the Department of State and USAID budget).

 Commerce

 The President’s 2018 Budget requests $7.8 billion for the Department of Commerce, a $1.5 billion or 16 percent decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level.

   Defense

    The President’s 2018 Budget requests $639 billion for DOD, a $52 billion increase from the 2017    annualized CR level. The total includes $574 billion for the base budget, a 10 percent increase from the 2017 annualized CR level, and $65 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations.

Education

Increases investments in public and private school choice by $1.4 billion compared to the 2017 annualized CR level, ramping up to an annual total of $20 billion, and an estimated $100 billion including matching State and local funds. This additional investment in 2018 includes a $168 million increase for charter schools, $250 million for a new private school choice program, and a $1 billion increase for Title I, dedicated to encouraging districts to adopt a system of student based budgeting and open enrollment that enables Federal, State, and local funding to follow the student to the public school of his or her choice.

Energy

 The President’s 2018 Budget requests $28.0 billion for DOE, a $1.7 billion or 5.6 percent decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level. The Budget would strengthen the Nation’s nuclear capability by providing a $1.4 billion increase above the 2017 annualized CR level for the National Nuclear Security Administration, an 11 percent increase.

Health and Human Services

 The President’s 2018 Budget requests $69.0 billion for HHS, a $15.1 billion or 17.9 percent decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level. This funding level excludes certain mandatory spending changes but includes additional funds for program integrity and implementing the 21st Century CURES Act.

 Homeland Security

 The President’s 2018 Budget requests $44.1 billion in net discretionary budget authority for DHS, a $2.8 billion or 6.8 percent increase from the 2017 annualized CR level. The Budget would allocate $4.5 billion in additional funding for programs to strengthen the security of the Nation’s borders and enhance the integrity of its immigration system. This increased investment in the Nation’s border security and immigration enforcement efforts now would ultimately save Federal resources in the future.

 HUD

 The President’s 2018 Budget requests $40.7 billion in gross discretionary funding for HUD, a $6.2 billion or 13.2 percent decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level.

 Education

The President’s 2018 Budget provides $59 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Education, a $9 billion or 13 percent reduction below the 2017 annualized CR level

Interior

The President’s 2018 Budget requests $11.6 billion for DOI, a $1.5 billion or 12 percent decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level.

 Justice

 The President’s 2018 Budget requests $27.7 billion for the Department of Justice, a $1.1 billion or 3.8 percent decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level. This program level excludes mandatory spending changes involving the Crime Victims Fund and the Assets Forfeiture Fund. However, significant targeted increases would enhance the ability to address key issues, including public safety, law enforcement, and national security. Further, the Administration is concerned about so-called sanctuary jurisdictions and will be taking steps to mitigate the risk their actions pose to public safety.

 Labor

 The President’s 2018 Budget requests $9.6 billion for the Department of Labor, a $2.5 billion or 21 percent decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level.

 Department of State, USAID, and Treasury international programs

 The President’s 2018 Budget requests $25.6 billion in base funding for the Department of State and USAID, a $10.1 billion or 28 percent reduction from the 2017 annualized CR level. The Budget also requests $12.0 billion as Overseas Contingency Operations funding for extraordinary costs, primarily in war areas like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, for an agency total of $37.6 billion. The 2018 Budget also requests $1.5 billion for Treasury International Programs, an $803 million or 35 percent reduction from the 2017 annualized CR level.

 Department of Transportation

 The President’s 2018 Budget requests $16.2 billion for DOT’s discretionary budget, a $2.4 billion or 13 percent decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level.

Department of the Treasury

 The President’s 2018 Budget requests $12.1 billion in discretionary resources for the Department of the Treasury’s domestic programs, a $519 million or 4.1 percent decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level. This program level excludes mandatory spending changes involving the Treasury Forfeiture Fund.

Department of Veterans Affairs

 The President’s 2018 Budget requests $78.9 billion in discretionary funding for VA, a $4.4 billion or 6 percent increase from the 2017 enacted level. The Budget also requests legislative authority and $3.5 billion in mandatory budget authority in 2018 to continue the Veterans Choice Program.

Environmental protection agency

 The President’s 2018 Budget requests $5.7 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency, a savings of $2.6 billion, or 31 percent, from the 2017 annualized CR level.

 NASA

 The President’s 2018 Budget requests $19.1 billion for NASA, a 0.8 percent decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level, with targeted increases consistent with the President’s priorities.

 SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION

 The President’s 2018 Budget requests $826.5 million for SBA, a $43.2 million or 5.0 percent decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level.

 

 

Trump Releases 2018 Budget

President Trump has released his first budget, for the 2018 fiscal year.   The New York Analysis of Policy and Government has reviewed the document, and provides these excerpts. Today’s section provides an overview.  Tomorrow, specific agencies will be examined.

 General Outline

• provides for one of the largest increases in defense spending without increasing the debt;

  • significantly increases the budget for immigration enforcement at the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security;
  • includes additional resources for a wall on the southern border with Mexico, immigration judges, expanded detention capacity, U.S. Attorneys, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Border Patrol;
  • increases funding to address violent crime and reduces opioid abuse; and
  • puts America first by keeping more of America’s hard-earned tax dollars here at home. The core of my first Budget Blueprint is the rebuilding of our Nation’s military without adding to our Federal deficit. There is a $54 billion increase in defense spending in 2018 that is offset by targeted reductions elsewhere. This defense funding is vital to rebuilding and preparing our Armed Forces for the future.

Cuts

the Budget eliminates and reduces hundreds of programs and focuses funding to redefine the proper role of the Federal Government. The Budget also proposes to eliminate funding for other independent agencies, including: the African Development Foundation; the Appalachian Regional Commission; the Chemical Safety Board; the Corporation for National and Community Service; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the Delta Regional Authority; the Denali Commission; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the Inter-American Foundation; the U.S. Trade and Development Agency; the Legal Services Corporation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation; the Northern Border Regional Commission; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; the United States Institute of Peace; the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness; and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Management

The President’s Management Agenda will set goals in areas that are critical to improving the Federal Government’s effectiveness, efficiency, cybersecurity, and accountability. The Administration will take action to ensure that by 2020 we will be able to say the following: 1. Federal agencies are managing programs and delivering critical services more effectively. The Administration will take an evidencebased approach to improving programs and services—using real, hard data to identify poorly performing organizations and programs. We will hold program managers accountable for improving performance and delivering high-quality and timely services to the American people and businesses. We will use all tools available and create new ones as needed to ensure the workforce is appropriately prepared. 2. Federal agencies are devoting a greater percentage of taxpayer dollars to mission achievement rather than costly, unproductive compliance activities. Past management improvement initiatives resulted in the creation of hundreds of guidance documents aimed at improving Government management by adding more requirements to information technology (IT), human capital, acquisition, financial management, and real property. Furthermore, these Government-wide policies often tie agencies’ hands and keep managers from making commonsense decisions.

As a result, costs often increase without corresponding benefits. The Administration will roll back low-value activities and let managers manage, while holding them accountable for finding ways to reduce the cost of agency operations. As part of this effort, OMB will review requirements placed on agencies and identify areas to reduce obsolete, low-value requirements. 3. Federal agencies are more effective and efficient in supporting program outcomes. Delivering high-performing program results and services to citizens and businesses depends on effective and efficient mission support services. However, despite years of efforts to improve these critical management processes, managers remain frustrated with hiring methodologies that do not consistently bring in top talent, acquisition approaches that are too cumbersome, and IT that is outdated by the time it is deployed. The Administration will use available data to develop targeted solutions to problems Federal managers face, and begin fixing them directly by sharing and adopting leading practices from the private and public sectors. Among the areas that will be addressed are how agencies buy goods and services, hire talent, use their real property, pay their bills, and utilize technology. 4. Agencies have been held accountable for improving performance. All Federal agencies will be responsible for reporting critical performance metrics and showing demonstrable improvement. OMB will also regularly review agency progress in implementing these reforms to ensure there is consistent improvement.

Regulation

  1. Regulatory freeze. On January 20, 2017, the President’s Chief of Staff issued a memorandum to all agencies, directing them to pull back any regulations that had been sent to, but not yet published by, the Office of the Federal Register; to not publish any new regulations unless approved by an Administration political appointee; and to delay the effective date of any pending regulations for 60 days to provide the Administration time to review and reconsider those regulations. Federal agencies responded by pulling back, delaying, and not publishing all possible regulations. 2. Controlling costs and eliminating unnecessary regulations. On January 30, 2017, the President signed Executive Order 13771, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs.” This Executive Order represents a fundamental change in the regulatory state. It requires Federal agencies to eliminate at least two existing regulations for each new regulation they issue. It also requires agencies to ensure that for 2017, the total incremental cost of all new regulations be no greater than $0. For 2018 and beyond, the Order establishes and institutionalizes a disciplined process for imposing regulatory cost caps for each Federal agency. The significant structural reforms instituted by this Executive Order provide the necessary framework for Federal agencies to carry out the President’s bold regulatory reform agenda. 3. Enforcing the regulatory reform agenda. As a successful businessman, the President knows that achievement requires accountability. That basic principle is the reason the President signed Executive Order 13777, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” on February 24, 2017. This Order establishes within each agency a Regulatory Reform Officer and a Regulatory Reform Task Force to carry out the President’s regulatory reform priorities. These new teams will work hard to identify regulations that eliminate jobs or inhibit job creation; are outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective; or impose costs that exceed benefits.

The Report continues tomorrow with outlines of individual agency budgets