Giving thanks for property rights

I wasn’t going to do a Thanksgiving post this year. But I was reminded of this great video from ReasonTV and decided to post it:

Property rights, now that is something to be thankful of! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

PS. Well, it is Thanksgiving. Can’t let this day go by without the Thanksgiving Song:

Lora Hubbel event hosted by SDSM&T College Libertarians on Dec 6

Lora Hubbel picture from
Lora Hubbel picture from

Those living in the Rapid City area will have a chance to find out more about Republican gubernatorial candidate Lora Hubbel at an event sponsored by the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology  College Libertarians. Here is the Facebook event details:

SDSM&T College Libertarians are hosting Lora Hubbel to speak about ObamaCare, Common Core, and States Rights. Lora Hubbel is the Republican candidate for governor of South Dakota. Join us on December 6th in the McKeel Conference Room!

The event will be 6PM MST.

I would urge anyone that plans on voting in the Republican primary to hear her stances on ObamaCare, Common Core and States Rights. Even if you support Daugaard it would be worth going; it is always good to hear varying viewpoints.

Curtis Strong will officially announce as a Governor candidate this Saturday in Rapid City

CP150x150This last weekend I mentioned the Constitution Party would have an entry in the South Dakota Governors race with Curtis Strong. The Strong team has released the details for the official announcement this upcoming weekend in Rapid City. Here are the details:

  • Date: November 30, 2013
  • Time: 2:00 P.M. MST
  • Location: West River Electric-3250 Hwy., 44, Rapid City, SD 57703

I noticed the campaign site is now up at That gives us a chance to see what his campaign will revolve around. Here is the a checklist is of his issues from the website:

First 90 Days
  • Common Core out of South Dakota
  • Agenda 21 out of South Dakota
  • Arial spraying funding no longer funded by any county or the State of South Dakota
  • All EB 5 projects stopped in the State of South Dakota
  • Stop The Affordable Care Act in South Dakota
  • Supply the People of South Dakota an itemized budget
  • Constitutional Carry in South Dakota

It could be an interesting Governor’s race if Mr Strong is able to pick up enough west-river steam.

A closer look at the ACA reinsurance tax and the Union Tax Fairness Act

scales-of-justiceTwo days ago Senator Thune’s office sent out a press release about the Obama administration’s proposed rule to exempt Unions from the reinsurance tax. For those unfamiliar with the reinsurance tax here is a brief definition from the press release:

The ObamaCare reinsurance tax is scheduled to begin in 2014 and requires all self-insured plans to pay a tax for each person covered under a health plan. The tax was designed to provide funds to health care plans in the ObamaCare exchanges to help absorb the cost of care for people with pre-existing conditions.

Many Unions utilize what is known as Taft-Hatley plans. Taft-Hatley plans are multi-employer and usually industry specific. These plans are great for union workers that change employers often due to nature of their work. These plans also happen to be administered between the union and the employers; no third-party is usually involved. The lack of a third-party is where the problem comes from.

Here is the 42 U.S.C. 18061(b)(1)(A), the portion of ACA in question:

(b) Model regulation
(1) In general
In establishing the Federal standards under section 18041 (a) of this title, the Secretary, in consultation with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (the “NAIC”), shall include provisions that enable States to establish and maintain a program under which—
(A) health insurance issuers, and third party administrators on behalf of group health plans, are required to make payments to an applicable reinsurance entity for any plan year beginning in the 3-year period beginning January 1, 2014 (as specified in paragraph (3);

This paragraph has the wording that allows Obama to give special favor to unions. According to this the reinsurance tax applies to “health insurance issuers” and “third party administrators”. It could technically be argued that Taft-Hatley plans do not fall under either of these categories. In fact here is the finding from the HSS in the Federal Register (p. 71):

Therefore, we propose that for the 2015 and 2016 benefit years, a “contributing entity” would mean: (a) a health insurance issuer; or (b) a self-insured group health plan (including a group health plan that is partially self-insured and partially insured, where the health insurance coverage does not constitute major medical coverage) that uses a third party administrator in connection with claims processing or adjudication (including the management of appeals) or plan enrollment. The proposed modification for the 2015 and 2016 benefit years would exclude from the obligation to make reinsurance contributions those self-insured plans that do not use a third party administrator for their core administrative processing functions – adjudicating, adjusting, and settling claims (including the management of appeals), and processing and communicating enrollment information to plan participants and beneficiaries.

Basically since self-insured plans without a third party administrator are not mentioned in 42 U.S.C. 18061(b)(1)(A) the HHS finds the reinsurance tax does not apply to those plans. Reading the text it isn’t hard to see how they are able to interpret it that way. I disagree with their interpretation, but that doesn’t mean their interpretation is wrong. The Obama administration actually appears to have found legal backing for giving special treatment to Union plans over other plans.

Thune explains in his newsletter why these Taft-Hatley plans would indeed be getting special treatment and why that is bad for other Americans:

The reinsurance tax, which is scheduled to begin in 2014, was designed to provide funds to health care plans in the ObamaCare exchanges to help absorb the cost of care for people with pre-existing conditions. This tax is scheduled to raise a total of $25 billion by 2016. If unions are granted this special carve out by the president, the burden will shift to all other self-insured plans, requiring them to pay more to meet the amount of revenue required by law.

I disagree that this was a “special carve out by the president”. Rather I believe this section is an ‘oops’ found by the Obama administration and being used to keep favor with Unions. Whether intentional or not, the removal of self-insured plans without administrators means the reinsurance tax will take in much less revenue than projected. With less revenue coming in it will mean the costs of ACA will have to be made up in other places.

Another option would be to add self-insured plans without a third party administrator to the reinsurance tax. That is what Thune is trying to do with the Union Tax Fairness Act 0f 2013 (S. 1724). Here is Section 2 of the bill:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the payments required to be made by health insurance issuers and third party administrators (on behalf of group health plans) under section 1341(b)(1)(A) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (42 U.S.C. 18061(b)(1)(A)) shall be applied equally to all such issuers and administrators and may not be waived on behalf of any such issuer, administrator or group health plan.

I’m not sure this would ‘fix’ the problem. Nothing in Thune’s bill directly addresses the self-insured group plans without a third party administrator. I think to actually ‘fix’ the problem Thune has to add language for self-insured group plans without a third party administrator. Thune’s bill seems aimed at preventing the Obama administration from waiving groups having to pay the reinsurance group. The approach being taken by the Obama administration is not about waiving the law for a special group; rather the approach being taken by the Obama administration is that self-insured group plans without a third party administrator are not included in this portion of the law. Thune needs to address this issue before pushing too hard for this bill, or he will simply be pushing a bill that reinforces what is already in the law.

Hopefully DC politicians will find a way to make the reinsurance tax apply equally to all groups. But I have no hope that will happen. Obama wants to reduce the cost for Unions going into the 2014 election, so he will get it. There is very little anyone can do about it. Taking the matter to court will end up in a DC Federal Court; which recently Senator Reid went nuclear on the filibuster so Obama could add three unnecessary judges (who also are likely loyal to the Obama administrations goals). Right now I still feel the best tool against Obamacare will be nullification at the state level. We simply can’t expect DC to keep from giving special treatment to large lobbying groups (such as Unions).

In 2014 the South Dakota legislature should follow Obama’s example and nullify parts of Obamacare

nohcgovA couple of week ago I took a look at the actual text of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to determine where Obama got the authority to unilaterally ‘fix’ people losing their existing health insurance coverage. Of course there is no portion of ACA that allows the President to change the law; and there also happens to be no place in the Constitution that allows this either. Essentially the move is asking state insurance regulators to ignore the law because the Obama administration simply won’t enforce it for the next year. A portion of me is angered that the President would once again openly ignore rule of law in favor of gaining political points. But a bigger portion of me is glad Obama took this approach because it shows states what they can and should do moving forward: nullification!

Earlier this week South Dakota took a first step when the State Insurance Director Meirle Scheiber released this statement:

“The South Dakota Division of Insurance will allow healthcare insurers the flexibility to extend current plans in 2014. The decision came down to protecting South Dakotans who would have lost their health insurance coverage through no fault of their own, even though the federal government is only allowing this flexibility for an additional year.”

Technically it is not legal for Scheiber to make this move. Yet it gives the South Dakota legislature a good starting point for making this temporary ‘fix’ a permanent solution. Our legislators should have the LRC draft up a law that would permanently allow carriers in South Dakota to sell plans that were in existence before 2014. This legislative fix would codify the action taken by Obama. It would also be a nullification victory for those of us that believe in the 10th Amendment. And most important it would also be a victory in the battle to reduce the impact of Obamacare on the economy.

It is almost certain the Obama administration would oppose such an action and the law’s constitutionality would be questioned in federal court. That is a good thing! States need to be more proactive in keeping the power of the federal government in check. Similar nullification laws could be  created for other parts of federal law that are in dispute. Instead of trying to nullify the all of Obamacare it may be easier to get smaller portions nullified.

Unfortunately since Reid went nuclear with the filibuster it is quite likely the federal courts are going to be filled with judges sympathetic to a large federal government. But the fact that this route will be hard and may potentially fail should not prevent the South Dakota legislature from trying. The alternative of doing nothing about an overreaching federal government certainly isn’t going to work any better.

Remy releases the If You Like Your Plan You Can Keep It rap

Remy has created another great video. This one takes on the “If you like your plan you can keep it” line repeated many times by President Obama. Even if you don’t like rap I would give the video a view, there are a few good lines in there!

Because sometimes one video is not enough. Here are three other videos worth watching from Remy about Obamacare.

This was released this last Halloween, and is truly scary:

This song was released as an ‘entry’ in the Obamacare video contest:

And finnaly, this video goes back to the Sandra Fluke Congressional Hearing testimony. This is one of my favorite Remy videos.

Reagan’s 11th Commandment and the US Senate race in South Dakota

During election seasons it is not uncommon to hear Ronald Reagan’s “11th Commandment” invoked in the primary process (this ‘Commandment’ was actually created by Gaylord Parkinson):

Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.

I believe this often-touted unofficial commandment within the Republican Party to be misunderstood by many that invoke it. And I believe misconceptions of this commandment are showing in the current US Senate race in South Dakota (full disclosure I am openly supporting Stace Nelson in this race, but my views on the ’11th Commandment have remained the same for at least 20 years).

Looking back at Reagan’s career he was constantly questioning and attacking the political policies of other Republicans. This was especially true after he started to follow the ’11th commandment’. Reagan had no problem at all questioning the philosophical problems with Ford’s brand of conservatism or Ford’s less than conservative actions taken as President. But there is one line he did not cross when battling it out with Ford: Reagan never made any personal attacks upon Ford. All of Reagan’s attacks at Ford were based upon actions taken by Ford or policy stances touted by Ford. These were NOT personal attacks and thus did not break the 11th commandment. If Reagan had not taken these actions it is quite likely Ford would have won the ’76 Presidential election; and even more likely that Reagan would never have become President in ’80. A short-term loss of one Presidential election made for a much stronger Republican Party in the 80’s.

During the current US Senate race in South Dakota I have seen many people invoking the 11th commandment in regards to Stace Nelson’s attacks upon Mike Rounds record and actions. I believe invoking Reagan’s 11th Commandment in this situation is completely unfounded. Yes, Stace is attacking the record of Rounds during his tenure as a legislator and Governor. However none of these are personal attacks; Rather they are invoked in much the same way Reagan did against Ford. As long as Stace keeps these attacks about policy, actions, and records it would be hard to say he is speaking ill of Rounds.

The election process is a time to hold politicians accountable for their past performance. Since Rounds has a fairly long political career there is a lot of performance to hold accountable (good or bad). Primaries are meant in part to create debate within the party for the direction of the Republican Party. Open debate simply cannot happen if candidates are not allowed to discuss the records or policies of their opponent.

It is also worth mentioning that any candidate choosing to attack the record and policies of another candidate had better tread carefully. There is sometimes a thin line between policy attacks and personal attacks. Words much be chosen carefully. Candidates choosing to attack the records or policies of another candidate should also make sure they are offering solutions to the shortcomings of the opponents viewpoints. I have yet to see any attacks Stace has made upon Rounds that I would consider personal. But if that day happens I will likely message him to let him know what I see and ask him to realign with no speaking ill of an opponent personally.

One final thought: the 11’th Commandment should not be used only for Republicans against Republicans. It should be used by all politicians when dealing with opponents from inside or outside their party. Policy debates are healthy and should be encouraged. Yet at the same time I believe all politicians should try to keep it about issues and policies and keep personal attacks away from public eyes. If that were to be followed I wonder how many prior elections would have ended differently?

PS. For examples of real personal political attacks I would watch this video:

DC Republicans should be embracing the Iran Nuclear Deal

Iran by Fran Hogan
Iran by Fran Hogan

This past weekend a deal was struck between Iran and six countries over the future of Iran’s nuclear program. The deal is far from perfect, but I believe it is as close as can be diplomatically expected. According to BBC the key bullet-points of this deal include:

  • Iran will stop enriching uranium beyond 5%, and “neutralise” its stockpile of uranium enriched beyond this point

  • Iran will give greater access to inspectors including daily access at the Natanz and Fordo nuclear sites

  • There will be no further development of the Arak plant which it is believed could produce plutonium

  • In return, there will be no new nuclear-related sanctions for six months if Iran sticks by the accord

  • Iran will also receive sanctions relief worth about $7bn (£4.3bn) on sectors including precious metals

It is the ability to enrich uranium beyond 5% that is being contested by DC Republicans. Even though the Arak plant is being stopped there may be more nuclear infrastructure to worry about in Iran. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released a statement that included this:

“This agreement will not ‘freeze’ Iran’s nuclear program and won’t require the regime to suspend all enrichment as required by multiple UN Security Council resolutions. By allowing the Iranian regime to retain a sizable nuclear infrastructure, this agreement makes a nuclear Iran more likely. There is now an even more urgent need for Congress to increase sanctions until Iran completely abandons its enrichment and reprocessing capabilities.

The problem with Rubio’s statement is he wants the nuclear program to be frozen. That is not likely or even a reasonable expectation. Iran has invested a lot of resources in its nuclear infrastructure and it would be hard to imagine them suddenly giving that up and find alternative power sources any time soon. Yes, leaving the infrastructure in place does lead to a risk of Iran getting nuclear weapons, but that doesn’t mean a possibility of future nuclear weapons from Iran should be our top diplomatic concern.

The top diplomatic concern should be the people of Iran. This also from Rubio’s press release:

“This agreement is a blow to our allies in the region who are already concerned about America’s commitment to their security and it sends the wrong message to the Iranian people, who continue to suffer under the repressive rule of their leaders who have only their own self-preservation in mind.

I’ve seen many DC Republicans today make similar statements (many of whom I support on other issues). The problem is this statement hinges upon the belief that Iranian people understand why they are suffering. The average Iranian citizen watches the state-run television, reads the state-run newspapers, or browses the state-censored internet and thus believe the economic problems in Iran are all caused by the United States. Sanctions placed upon Iran have not made the leaders of the country suffer one bit. Rather the sanctions have made the average Iranian suffer in an economy that has been devastated. If anything continued sanctions will make it easier for the current Iranian administration to keep their total power over the people.

There is one thing missing from Rubio’s press release. What is the real reason DC Republicans are fighting against this Iran nuclear deal? Over at the Reason blog there is a post from Matthew Feeney that points to this quote from Fred Kaplan (Slate):

The Iranian nuclear deal struck Saturday night is a triumph. It contains nothing that any American, Israeli, or Arab skeptic could reasonably protest. Had George W. Bush negotiated this deal, Republicans would be hailing his diplomatic prowess, and rightly so.

Yep, this is a simple case of DC partisanship overriding critical thinking. To be fair if this had been a GW Bush negotiated deal the Democrats would likely be making the same arguments against it as the Republicans are now. Some things in DC never seem to change…

A short chat with Independent Gubernatorial candidate Mike Myers

1174543_360115780787822_439616176_nMike Myers, the Independent candidate for South Dakota Governor, was among those at the Constitution Party meeting in Sioux Falls this last Saturday. I was quite pleased to see him in attendance at the event as it shows he is a man who is willing to learn about different viewpoints. It also gave me the opportunity to have a short chat with Mr Myers before the meeting. I plan on doing a full interview with Mr Myers in the future, but thought I would post some of my initial thoughts on him now and pass them on.

One thing I like about Mr Myers is that he does not seem to have any hidden agenda. Actually he mentioned the governor’s office would become much more open and transparent in his administration. Mike spoke of having weekly town-hall meetings where anyone could tell the Governor how he is doing (good or bad) and ask questions of him. I really like this idea. Even if it is not workable on a weekly basis I believe it would be good for the Governor’s office to do a monthly or quarterly town-hall meeting with actual constituents.

“I can’t be bought” is something Mr Myers said in many different ways. He doesn’t feel obligated to any particular special interest group and doesn’t foresee that changing in the future. Mike also referred to himself as a ‘free floating maverick’. That would best explain why he is an independent candidate. His business card says he has the best side of Republicans and Democrats (a very libertarian-like approach). From my talk with him I believe he wants the people of South Dakota to set the direction of State; as opposed to letting high dollar donors and special interests set our States direction.

Soon I hope to have a longer interview with Mr Myers. But for now I feel confident saying that Mr Myers is an interesting and welcome addition to the South Dakota Gubernatorial race. Hopefully the mainstream media in South Dakota will give him some press time to give his campaign a fair chance.

It is time to get serious about reducing corporate welfare, including farm subsidies

Over at there is a good post reminding us that more money goes to corporate welfare than social welfare programs.  How much more goes to corporate welfare than social welfare? points to a report at for the answer:

About $59 billion is spent on traditional social welfare programs. $92 billion is spent on corporate subsidies. So, the government spent 50% more on corporate welfare than it did on food stamps and housing assistance in 2006.

I’m no fan of any government welfare programs, whether they be corporate or social. I do however think it makes many fiscal conservatives look hypocritical when they attack social welfare programs and ignore the billions of dollars used in wealth-redistribution done for special interest groups in rich industries.

The energy industry (oil, coal, wind, solar, etc..) is often a target for those of us opposed to corporate welfare. And right fully so, they account for a large portion of corporate welfare. Yet that industry is not the biggest corporate welfare recipient. It is actually the agricultural industry. This from the ThinkByNumbers report:

However, the largest fraction of corporate welfare spending, about 40%, went through the Department of Agriculture, most of it in the form of farm subsidies. (Edwards, Corporate Welfare, 2003) Well, that sounds OK. Someone’s got to help struggling family farms stay afloat, right? But in reality, farm subsidies actually tilt the cotton field in favor of the largest industrial farming operations. When it comes to deciding how to dole out the money, the agricultural subsidy system utilizes a process that is essentially the opposite of that used in the social welfare system’s welfare system. In the corporate welfare system, the more money and assets you have, the more government assistance you get. Conversely, social welfare programs are set up so that the more money and assets you have, the less government assistance you get. The result is that the absolute largest 7% of corporate farming operations receive 45% of all subsidies. (Edwards, Downsizing the Federal Government, 2004) So instead of protecting family farms, these subsidies actually enhance the ability of large industrial operations to shut them out of the market.

Graph Source:

As the Farm Bill takes center stage again it is time to look at truly getting rid of corporate welfare subsidies for the agricultural industry. Now I don’t think it would be a good idea to cut the subsidies cold turkey. The unintended consequences of that would cause undue short-term hardship on the economy. As a nation we are already experience enough government-produced hardship upon the economy. Instead we need to get back to a five-year plan that will remove farm subsidies. Doing so would allow the agricultural industry to plan accordingly. It would also remove the largest corporate wealth-redistribution scheme and allow food prices to closer reflect free-market prices.

Personally I don’t believe the current majority of DC politicians will be willing to take on the lobbying power of the agricultural industry. But if the fiscal conservatives in DC want to be taken seriously they have to look at all forms of welfare. Supporting corporate welfare over social welfare is not just hypocritical, it makes them appear to be ‘bought and paid for’ by special interest groups.