Paul Ryan’s Health-Care Vise

As with the majority of House Republicans, most members of the Freedom Caucus have only ever served under a Democratic President. They were elected to oppose Obama and everything he stood for and they spent most of his Presidency attacking Republican leaders who they believed thwarted those efforts. They have no experience legislating.

.. An early version of the Ryan plan replaced these subsidies with less generous refundable tax credits, which many conservatives dislike because Americans who pay no taxes would still be eligible for the credits.

.. Ryan’s response was to leave the expansion in place until 2020

.. Proponents of the Medicaid expansion see the deadline as creating a health-insurance time bomb that will detonate in a few years.

.. Health-care reform has long been stymied by the insurance industry. Bill and Hillary Clinton took on the industry in 1994 and were badly defeated. In 2009, Obama decided to buy the industry off by including a provision forcing every American to buy its product—the dreaded individual mandate.

.. Ryan and Trump have insisted they would keep those popular regulations while killing the mandate, which forces the uninsured to pay a tax penalty. Their solution is that the uninsured would pay a penalty to insurance companies. Specifically, insurers would be allowed to charge anyone with a two-month gap in coverage up to a thirty-per-cent surcharge on a new policy. For many Americans, the surcharge in Trumpcare could end up being more than the current tax penalty in Obamacare.

.. When Lyndon Johnson created Medicare he essentially made up and lowballed the long-term costs of the program. Without a true estimate, it was difficult for fiscal conservatives, medical groups, and other opponents to attack the plan, and it sailed through Congress.

.. In 2009, Obama became so frustrated by the C.B.O., whose cost estimates had an enormous impact on the health-care debate, that during an Oval Office meeting he said he didn’t want to hear the C.B.O. mentioned, so his aides referred to it as “banana.”

.. Ryan needed to shape a bill that would survive this process, and as a result, he left out some of conservatives’ most long-standing health-care-policy ideas. (For instance, most conservatives support changing a law that prevents insurance from being sold across state lines, arguing it would make markets more competitive and bring down costs, but Ryan didn’t include the change in his plan.)

.. Ryan has produced a bill that nobody would ever propose as a sane solution to the problems with Obamacare. Its only chance is speed. If Ryan can rush and muscle it through the House and Mitch McConnell can do the same in the Senate, it might end up on Trump’s desk. But the more scrutiny this House bill is subject to, the more likely it is to share the fate of most efforts at health-care reform and die somewhere on its journey to the Senate

Paul Ryan: The Flimflam Man

the Ryan plan would reduce revenue by almost $4 trillion over the next decade. If you add these revenue losses to the numbers The Post cites, you get a much larger deficit in 2020, roughly $1.3 trillion.

.. And that’s about the same as the budget office’s estimate of the 2020 deficit under the Obama administration’s plans. That is, Mr. Ryan may speak about the deficit in apocalyptic terms, but even if you believe that his proposed spending cuts are feasible — which you shouldn’t — the Roadmap wouldn’t reduce the deficit. All it would do is cut benefits for the middle class while slashing taxes on the rich.

.. The Tax Policy Center finds that the Ryan plan would cut taxes on the richest 1 percent of the population in half, giving them 117 percent of the plan’s total tax cuts. That’s not a misprint. Even as it slashed taxes at the top, the plan would raise taxes for 95 percent of the population.

.. most of the alleged savings in the Ryan plan come from assuming zero dollar growth in domestic discretionary spending, which includes everything from energy policy to education to the court system. This would amount to a 25 percent cut once you adjust for inflation and population growth. How would such a severe cut be achieved? What specific programs would be slashed? Mr. Ryan doesn’t say.

.. After 2020, the main alleged saving would come from sharp cuts in Medicare, achieved by dismantling Medicare as we know it, and instead giving seniors vouchers and telling them to buy their own insurance.

.. There’s also the unwillingness of self-styled centrists to face up to the realities of the modern Republican Party; they want to pretend, in the teeth of overwhelming evidence, that there are still people in the G.O.P. making sense. And last but not least, there’s deference to power — the G.O.P. is a resurgent political force, so one mustn’t point out that its intellectual heroes have no clothes.

But they don’t. The Ryan plan is a fraud that makes no useful contribution to the debate over America’s fiscal future.

Trump Administration Considers Change in Calculating U.S. Trade Deficit

Tweak in counting exports could bolster president’s case for redoing Nafta, other trade deals

The Trump administration is considering changing the way it calculates U.S. trade deficits, a shift that would make the country’s trade gap appear larger than it had in past years, according to people involved in the discussions.

.. The leading idea under consideration would exclude from U.S. exports any goods first imported into the country, such as cars, and then transferred to a third country like Canada or Mexico unchanged

Economists say that approach would inflate trade deficit numbers because it would typically count goods as imports when they come into the country but not count the same goods when they go back out, known as re-exports.

 .. A larger trade deficit would give the Trump administration ammunition in arguing that trade deals need to be renegotiated, and might help boost political support for imposing tariffs.
.. these employees at the U.S. Trade Representative’s office complied with the instructions, but included their views as to why they believe the new calculation wasn’t accurate.

.. A spokeswoman for the Census Bureau, which calculates the trade deficit numbers, said she wasn’t aware of discussions about changing the data.

.. With their focus on domestic manufacturing, Trump administration officials want to measure exports of American-made products, not items shipped from abroad and re-exported.
.. “As a statistician, you generally want symmetry,” said Steve Landefeld, former BEA director. “If you’re going to begin to exclude re-exports from the U.S. export figures, you probably for reasons of symmetry” would want to adjust import figures as well.
.. He has repeatedly cited the $63.1 billion U.S. trade deficit with Mexico last year. Under the new approach the trade deficit with Mexico would be nearly twice as high, at $115.4 billion. The difference is mostly due to the treatment of re-exports.