Obamacare Lite

The Republicans have finally revealed their “repeal and replace” plan for the wholly-misnamed Affordable Care Act:

Republicans’ Obamacare replacement bill: The winners and losers

by Tami Luhby March 7, 2017: 9:52 AM ET

Republican lawmakers have long vowed that they can make health care more affordable and accessible. Americans will now see if Congress can keep that promise.

The House finally revealed its plan to repeal and replace major portions of the Affordable Care Act on Monday. While the bill will likely change a lot before it lands on President Trump’s desk, it’s already possible to see whom the winners and losers in the individual market and Medicaid could be.

Titled the American Health Care Act, the legislation calls for providing refundable tax credits based on a person’s age and income. It keeps the Obamacare protections for those with pre-existing conditions, but it allows insurers to levy a 30% surcharge for a year on the premiums of those who let their coverage lapse. It lifts the taxes that Obamacare had imposed on the wealthy, insurers and prescription drug manufacturers. And it loosens one of the law’s strict insurance reforms so that carriers can offer a wider array of policies that pick up less of the tab for getting care.

The bill also eliminates the enhanced federal match for Medicaid expansion starting in 2020 and revamps the funding for the entire Medicaid program.

The most glaring weakness of the GOP bill is that it will likely leave millions uninsured, experts said. Republican lawmakers have repeatedly skirted that question, but reviews of preliminary drafts by the Congressional Budget Office confirmed the problem, sources said.

“With Medicaid reductions and smaller tax credits, this bill would clearly result in fewer people insured than under the ACA,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “The House GOP proposal seeks to reduce what the federal government spends on health care, and that inevitably means more people uninsured.”

Experts remain divided over the impact on the individual market. Some say insurers would flee or jack up their rates if millions of people drop out. Others contend that the Republican bill would stabilize the market and premiums because the reforms would give insurers more flexibility and entice more younger enrollees to sign up for coverage.

“If we let the ACA continue on its current trajectory, people really will lose coverage,” said Doug Badger, senior fellow at the Galen Institute, a free-market, health-care think tank.

There’s plenty more at the link, but, as I’ve said many times before, there are only three options:

  1. The government guarantees access to health care through some form of single-payer plan, such as extending Medicare to cover everybody;
  2. The government guaranteed access to health care via the private insurance system, which is how the current Affordable Care Act works and how the Republican proposal would work; or
  3. The government does not guarantee access to health care, which would mean that some people would not have it, other than through emergency room visits.

It was always easy for the Republicans to pass repeals of the ACA as long as Barack Obama was in office, because they knew the repeals would be vetoed, or, prior to 2015, the repeal bills would never pass the Senate. Now they are stuck: they have their ‘repeal and replace’ promise, often made, that they have to keep, but they don’t want any responsibility for the replace part.

I wrote, before the election:

The Democrats now want to ‘fix’ the ACA, but the Republicans want no part of that. ‘Repeal and replace’ has been the GOP mantra on this, but while Hillary Clinton will probably win the presidency, and the Democrats have a chance to take control of the Senate, the Republicans are almost certain to retain control of the House of Representatives, and all that they have to do is pass nothing, and the ACA doesn’t get ‘fixed.’ Given that it is really irretrievably broken, fixing it is highly unlikely to work.

There are only two practical options remaining:

  1. Some sort of single-payer system, which is what the Democrats really wanted all along; or
  2. Nothing, a return to the when the government did not guarantee access to health care.

I have already said that I prefer the second option; I do not want the government providing health care for people who cannot or will not pay for insurance themselves. Alas! The Editor is one of the few people who will actually say that, in public, and stand behind his statement. The Republicans have pretty much conceded the principle that the government will guarantee access to health care; the ‘repeal and replace’ theme does include the replace part, and accepting that principle means that the only debate is over how to best provide that access.

Eventually, we will have single-payer. Oh, it will be messy getting there, and the system will probably be as rotten and graft-ridden as the one Sachi ab Hugh described for her family in Japan. We will see the same cost-cutting measures that shocked so many people1 when the Veterans’ Administration Hospitals stories broke because that is what governments have to do under single-payer systems, control and cut costs. We won’t like the healthcare that we’ll get, but it will be all that we’ll have.

I turned out to have been very wrong about the outcome of the election, but I wasn’t exactly the only person who was surprised. But what the Republicans have come up with to ‘replace’ Obaminablecare is little more than tweaking the program, trying to find a way to provide guaranteed access to health care without going to single-payer. They have agreed with the principle that the government is responsible for this, and are now scrambling to find a way to placate their base by having it different enough from the ACA that they can call it something other than Obamacare.

And I’ve often wondered: if the GOP hadn’t hung the name Obamacare on the ACA, for political purposes — purposes which did, in fact, work — could they have lived with the legislation enough to simply offer whatever fixes could be made,2 and work with the President they hated enough to perhaps make it less of a failure, but leaving it a program for which President Obama would continue to get the credit.

I’ll be plain and clear about this: I am opposed to the principle that the government should guarantee access to health care, and I am fully aware that not guaranteeing such means that some people will not get it. More, I am opposed even knowing that such opposition would mean that some people who cannot or will not pay for their health care would suffer more and die earlier; I am completely honest about that, especially to myself.

But if the government is going to guarantee health care, some form of single-payer plan is the most logical way to do so. It evens out regulations between states, it (should) simplify paperwork, and it (should) lower administrative costs for doctors, hospitals and other health care providers. It would mean much higher taxes, but those (should) be offset by the elimination of health insurance premiums.3 Businesses would find it a real boon, no longer having to maintain private health insurance for their employees, thus both lowering costs and leveling the playing field in competition with businesses which do not offer insurance. Of course, that’s far too simple, because businesses would see their taxes increased, since the government loves to hide taxes from the public by pretending that they are taxing those wicked ol’ corporations instead.

Going to single-payer would be a huge mess, but it is one which would straighten itself out eventually. Sticking with some form of reliance on the private insurance system will never get straightened out; there will always be complications as insurers try to find profit margins.

I very much dislike the notion that the government is going to guarantee access to health care, but if it is going to happen, we ought to do so in the most efficient way possible.
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  1. They did not shock the Editor in the slightest, because the appointment-delaying techniques used by the VA were virtually identical to what Canada and the United Kingdom do to cut costs themselves.
  2. This statement does not mean that I believe the ACA can be fixed; I do not.
  3. At least, it would mean the elimination of premiums for those who now pay such premiums.

Kim Jong-un’s latest temper tantrum Harmlessly wasting four ballistic missiles is a good thing

From CNN:

North Korea fires four ballistic missiles into Sea of Japan

By Paula Hancocks and Ben Westcott, CNN | Updated 5:36 AM ET, Mon March 6, 2017

(CNN) North Korea fired four ballistic missiles in the early hours of Monday morning, in what Japan’s leader described as “an extremely dangerous action.”

Military authorities in South Korea, Japan and the United States all confirmed the launch of four projectiles, which traveled almost 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) towards the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea. One US official said they were intermediate range missiles.

Three landed inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, which extends 200 nautical miles from its coastline according to international maritime law.

The launch underscored the rapid evolution of North Korea’s missile program, which experts say has begun moving at a faster rate to develop and deploy missiles.

Speaking to the Japanese Parliament Monday, Abe said the launch was a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

There’s more at the original, which claims that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea launched the missiles in response to joint Republic of Korea/ United States military exercises, which the DPRK regards as practice for an invasion. Given that the armistice which ended the active phase of the Korean War1 was signed 64 years ago, that’s a whole lot of practice for something which hasn’t happened yet.

From The Washington Post:

China suspends North Korean coal imports, striking at regime’s financial lifeline

By Simon Denyer | February 18, 2017

BEIJING — China will suspend all imports of coal from North Korea until the end of the year, the Commerce Ministry announced Saturday, in a surprise move that would cut off a major financial lifeline for Pyongyang and significantly enhance the effectiveness of U.N. sanctions.

Coal is North Korea’s largest export item, and also China’s greatest point of leverage over the regime.

The ministry said the ban would come into force Sunday and be effective until Dec. 31.

China said the move was designed to implement November’s United Nations Security Council resolution that tightened sanctions against the regime in the wake of its last nuclear test.

But experts said the move also reflected Beijing’s deep frustration with North Korea over its recent missile test and the assassination of Kim Jong Un’s half brother in Malaysia.

Kim Jong Nam had been hosted and protected by China for many years, and his murder, if proved to be conducted on Pyongyang’s orders, would be seen as a direct affront to Beijing, experts said.

There’s more at the original.

These two stories are very much linked, because China still exports to the DPRK. Bloomberg noted that 85% of North Korea’s foreign trade is with China, and that “(n)ever has the trade composition been so lopsided in China’s direction.”

And thus, I find it a good thing that North Korea just wasted four ballistic missiles! The Communist Korean economy is in shambles, and has been for decades now; the military get priority for everything, but eventually, everything has to be paid, and Kim Jong-un will now have less money to pay for things. Those four ballistic missiles cost the DPRK valuable productive capacity, and with the suspension of anthracite coal production for China, there is now less production with which to pay to build new ballistic missiles. Supreme Leader Kim might not care that his non-military subjects have been living on grass and acorns, but eventually the soldiers have to be fed, housed and clothed, and those expenses take away from the ability to build more missiles. Expending four of the ones the DPRK already had in a show of pique — and pique is the usual reason for nuclear and ballistic missile tests in that country — means that four fewer remain for use against other countries.

Weapons tests are really the only way that Kim Jong-un can get anybody outside of his country to pay attention to him, unless he manages to find more brothers to have assassinated. When he wants to stir the pot, he has something fired off or blown up, and the more civilized countries quite naturally condemn his actions, but nothing really changes. When children have temper tantrums, the wiser course is to ignore them, unless they start causing actual damage. Right now, wasting missiles into the water doesn’t hurt anybody.
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Cross-posted on RedState.
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  1. My mother was in the Women’s Army Corps, serving in General Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters in Tokyo, and one of her jobs was writing those very unfortunate letters to the families of soldiers killed in the war. She told me that she was to use the phrases “police action” or “Korean conflict,” but, because it was not a declared war under the Constitution, she could not use the word “war” in those letters.

Most economists oppose President Trump’s immigration policies

Heather Long tweeted:

To which I responded:

And the story:

Over 200 economists say Trump is wrong on immigration

by Heather Long | @byHeatherLong | March 6, 2017: 2:18 AM ET

President Trump’s restrictive immigration policies are a mistake, say the vast majority of economists at America’s major corporations.

The National Association of Business Economics (NABE) surveyed 285 economists at America’s big companies like Wells Fargo (WFC), AT&T (T, Tech30) and FedEx (FDX) shortly after Trump took office.

The economists were asked what they thought of Trump’s policies. The response was clear: They disagree with Trump on immigration, NAFTA and how to handle the debt.

Unlike Trump, these business experts favor “relaxed immigration policies” to boost the economy.

Nearly half (49%) support an increase in U.S. immigration. Another 27% don’t think Trump should make any changes to immigration policy. In other words, 216 leading business economists don’t think the U.S. needs to crack down on the number of people coming into America.

“Panelists especially favor expanding the H-1B visa program for high-skill workers,” says Richard DeKaser, corporate economist at Wells Fargo and NABE survey chair. Businesses continue to complain that they cannot find enough skilled workers.

Why economists favor more immigration

Last week, Trump proposed the idea of a merit-based immigration system similar to Canada and Australia’s where people with more degrees and specialized skills would get priority to get into the U.S. The NABE survey didn’t ask specifically about that kind of a system, but the general view of business economists is that fixing the H-1B visa should be the priority of Congress and the White House, not going after illegal immigrants1 already in the U.S.

Only 5% of the economists surveyed believe the U.S. should spend more to deport illegal immigrants.

There’s more at the original.

We noted, earlier this morning, that:

(I)f sending more illegal immigrants back to Mexico “means lower wages for everybody in blue-collar industries (in Mexico) such as construction and automobile manufacturing, where competition for jobs is likely to increase,” then that is also true the other way around: allowing the illegal immigrants to remain in the United States means lower wages in the United States.

Why, I have to ask, do these more than two hundred economists oppose President Trump’s immigration policies if the President is supporting an immigration plan which favors those prospective immigrants who have the education and skills to benefit American industry? After all, the President isn’t trying to exclude legal immigrants, but to exclude the illegal immigrants2 who have few skills beyond manual labor, and deport those who have criminal convictions. Shouldn’t that be a benefit to the United States, raising wages for those Americans who have few skills beyond basic labor, and making our country safer by getting rid of criminals?

Unless, of course, the 285 economists surveyed are looking at keeping lower-end wages down to benefit their companies. Nothing else makes any sense.

The most excellently named former Press Secretary tweeted:

If you click on the article Miss Perino linked, you’ll read about five particular cases of long-term unemployment among Americans. Three of those five cases involve knuckleheads to abused drugs, two of whom wound up with felony convictions due to such. If there were no illegal immigrants in the United States to take the lower-end jobs, not only would lower-end wages increase, but some of those Americans who’ve made themselves unemployable due to their own stupidity might be able to find jobs again due to the labor shortage.

I have no problem at all with legal immigration, and the President’s proposal to favor immigrants who have valuable skills and can support themselves in the American economy is a wise one.3 Those are the kind of immigrants to whom the surveyed economists referred, and, perhaps, those are the kind of immigrants with whom the surveyed economists are familiar. After all, “285 economists at America’s big companies like Wells Fargo, AT&T and FedEx” aren’t the people interacting with the low-skilled illegal immigrants, other than from whom to buy their morning coffee or perhaps serve them at a restaurant, and those 285 economists aren’t the ones whose jobs are in jeopardy in part due to the large pool of low-skill workers.

Do they even see those people? Do the working-class Americans, the ones who surprised them by electing Donald Trump, make any real impression on these professional economists?

Well, perhaps not: the professional class never saw the results of the election coming, never understood what was happening among the American working class. Hillary Clinton was surprised, genuinely surprised, that she wasn’t fifty points ahead, and the vast majority of her support came from the cities, came from the professional class and minorities, and seemed totally oblivious that there really are other people in the United States. The division between the urban professionals — which surely includes those 285 economists — and those of us outside of metropolitan areas has never seemed greater, and that division has existed for a lot longer than Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
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  1. I note here that Miss Long used the term “illegal immigrants” rather than “undocumented” or some other euphemism. She did, however, use it in reference to a group, rather than to an individual illegal immigrant.
  2. The First Street Journal does not use the mealy-mouthed term “undocumented,” other than for prosaic concerns, because “undocumented” has been meant, by those who use the term, to obscure the fact that illegal immigrants are here illegally, are in violation of the laws. The First Street Journal does not go along with obscuring the fact that “undocumented” immigrants are here illegally.
  3. Full disclosure: my dentist is a legal immigrant, from India.

Two stories about illegal immigration

From CNNMoney:

Mexican company: We’ll provide cement for border wall

by Patrick Gillespie and Fidel Gutierrez | March 2, 2017: 10:58 AM ET

Irony alert: One of Mexico’s biggest corporations says it’s willing to provide the cement for President Trump’s proposed border wall.

Cemex, one of the world’s largest providers of building materials, said Wednesday that it would provide building materials for a border wall — if a client asks for it.

“If one of our clients requests a quote for materials, we have the responsibility to do so,” the company said in a statement. “But this does not imply that Cemex will participate in the project.”

If Cemex does get involved, that could test Trump’s promise to “buy American, hire American.”

That’s because Cemex has a huge presence in the U.S., with offices in Houston and New York. Its cement is being used to build the largest building in San Francisco, the Salesforce Tower, and an 83-story skyscraper in Miami.

The U.S. is the company’s biggest market, accounting for 28% of its sales. About 20% of its revenues come from Mexico and 22% from northern Europe.

There’s more at the link. 1

Cemex is a Mexican company, but it operates many plants in the United States, employing Americans, which produce the Portland cement and aggregates used in the production or concrete; Cemex could provide every bit of concrete for the proposed wall, and never use any material produced outside of the United States. Ready-mixed concrete is one of the products which simply cannot be imported: the ‘shelf-life’ of concrete in a mixer truck is simply too short, and construction projects have specifications which require the concrete to be fully discharged from the mixer fairly soon after the cement and water come together.2 Even with the use of chemical retarders, specifications for commercial work are normally sixty to ninety minutes from mixing to complete unloading of the truck. The warmer the weather and the concrete itself, the faster it will set, and our border with Mexico is in a very hot, dry area.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post is trying to tell us that deporting illegal immigrants3 will cause economic problems for Mexico:

After decades in America, the newly deported return to a Mexico they barely recognize

By Antonio Olivo | March 3, 2017

The deportees stepped off their flight from El Paso looking bewildered — 135 men who had left families and jobs behind after being swept up in the Trump administration’s mounting effort to send millions of undocumented immigrants back to their economically fraught homeland.

As they filed into Mexico City International Airport recently, government employees handed them free ham-and-cheese sandwiches, Mexican ID cards and information directing them to social services in the capital.

“Welcome back!” a cheerful government worker called out, taking down names and phone numbers.

Then the men, who had spent as many as 20 years in the United States before being caught and held in detention for several weeks, walked out into a Mexico many of them barely remember, where job opportunities are scarce and worries about the worst inflation in a decade await them.

In the wake of new enforcement policies announced by the Trump administration recently that dramatically expand the pool of undocumented immigrants targeted for deportation, Mexico is bracing for an influx of men and women like them. Their arrival — along with a surge of undocumented immigrants leaving the United States voluntarily — promises to transform Mexican society in the same way their departure did.

But the money lines are further down:

“Many of these people come not knowing how to speak Spanish,” said Amalia García, secretary of Mexico City’s labor department, which serves as a point of contact for the deportees. “They come feeling very bitter, very ashamed and very hurt.”

More returnees means lower wages for everybody in blue-collar industries such as construction and automobile manufacturing, where competition for jobs is likely to increase, economists say.

An author a bit more aware of what he was writing would realize that he just made the argument for deportation: if sending more illegal immigrants back to Mexico “means lower wages for everybody in blue-collar industries such as construction and automobile manufacturing, where competition for jobs is likely to increase,” then that is also true the other way around: allowing the illegal immigrants to remain in the United States means lower wages in the United States. President Trump is concerned about the economic conditions for American workers, about the prosperity of the United States, and not how good things are in Mexico. Somehow, the left don’t seem to be aware of that.
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  1. Full disclosure: I know at least one of the managers at Cemex in the United States, but did not contact him for this story.
  2. The chemical process of hydration begins as soon as the cement and water are mixed together. Hydrated cement forms a crystalline lattice which binds the cement, sand and stone together to form hardened concrete.
  3. The First Street Journal does not use the mealy-mouthed term “undocumented,” other than for prosaic concerns, because “undocumented” has been meant, by those who use the term, to obscure the fact that illegal immigrants are here illegally, are in violation of the laws. The First Street Journal does not go along with obscuring the fact that “undocumented” immigrants are here illegally.

Going to Court with a Legal Advocate by Your Side

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Why Hire a Lawyer?

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In fact, a case that centers on a disease like mesothelioma tends to be far more complicated and contentious in nature. Your employer does not want to admit that it put you in harm’s way and perhaps purposely exposed you to asbestos and other materials that caused your lung disease. Admitting that in court and to the public would be devastating to the company’s bottom line and reputation in the business world.

As such, it will fight your claim and your case with its team of skilled corporate lawyers. The lawyers may attack you personally and say that you exposed yourself by living in a house full of asbestos or maintaining habits like smoking or working with toxic materials in your time away from work. Even if their claims are not true, you have the burden of proving it before a judge and jury.

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The appearance of impropriety

President Donald Trump alleged that his predecessor, then-President Barack Hussein Obama, ordered wiretapping of Mr Trump during the campaign, something CNN called “baseless.”

From Dr Strangelove:

From The New York Times:

Intercepted Russian Communications Part of Inquiry Into Trump Associates

By Michael S Schmidt, Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo | January 19, 2017

WASHINGTON — American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, current and former senior American officials said.

The continuing counterintelligence investigation means that Mr. Trump will take the oath of office on Friday with his associates under investigation and after the intelligence agencies concluded that the Russian government had worked to help elect him. As president, Mr. Trump will oversee those agencies and have the authority to redirect or stop at least some of these efforts.

It is not clear whether the intercepted communications had anything to do with Mr. Trump’s campaign, or Mr. Trump himself. It is also unclear whether the inquiry has anything to do with an investigation into the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computers and other attempts to disrupt the elections in November. The American government has concluded that the Russian government was responsible for a broad computer hacking campaign, including the operation against the D.N.C.

The counterintelligence investigation centers at least in part on the business dealings that some of the president-elect’s past and present advisers have had with Russia. Mr. Manafort has done business in Ukraine and Russia. Some of his contacts there were under surveillance by the National Security Agency for suspected links to Russia’s Federal Security Service, one of the officials said.

There’s more at the original, but one thing is clear: while the Times article does not state, specifically, that Trump Tower or Mr Trump’s campaign itself had been wiretapped, it does state, specifically, that “at least” three Trump campaign advisers were “under scrutiny.” The President’s allegations are not exactly something created out of whole cloth, but something which is just an extension of what has already been reported, in public, by The New York Times.

Just what was President Trump shown that led to his tweet, and who showed it to him? The left will try to claim that the President made this up completely, but that makes little sense: the election is long over, and no purpose is served by Mr Trump stirring this pot now. It’s obvious that something was brought to his attention, though we don’t know what, or by whom, or whether that whom is a reliable source.

I’m old enough to remember when the Democrats were condemning President Nixon for the “appearance of impropriety,” stating that that alone was reason for an investigation. It seems to me that the publication of stories telling us that the Justice Department was investigating campaign associates of the Republican presidential nominee is itself the appearance of impropriety on the part of the Obama Administration.

There will be more to this story; I just wonder when it will emerge.

Democrisy: The hypocrisy of The New York Times

From William Teach of The Pirate’s Cove:

NY Times Tells Cities To Violate Federal Law And Be Sanctuaries For Illegal Aliens

March 3, 2017 – 6:58 am

Lawrence Downes is a long time member of the NY Times Editorial Board, whose focus is on immigration. One would think that he is aware of federal statues against sheltering people who are unlawfully present in the United States, and that federal immigration law takes precedence over state and local law. Yet, we get this bit of insanity, which tells other cities and states to follow the example of Santa Clara, Ca., and be sanctuary cities.

A ‘Sanctuary City’ Seizes the Moment, and the Name

Cities of immigrants, it’s time. Time to declare yourselves sanctuaries. To wear the label proudly, defiantly, even if the White House and its allies threaten you and utter all kinds of falsehoods against you.

President Trump is in power; his nativist ideology is now fully armed and operational. He laid it out with alarming clarity in his “America first” address to Congress this week, painting unauthorized immigrants as vicious criminals, and refugees as dangerous undesirables, using both groups as scapegoats and targets. The homeland security secretary, John Kelly, has given his boss a battle plan. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol are carrying it out, combing the country, seizing and terrifying the innocent.

If they’re “unauthorized”, that means they’re in the country illegally. Which means they shouldn’t be here. Which means they should be fearful, because they aren’t innocent. And a high ranking member of the NYTEB just proclaimed, in print, that cities should violate federal immigration law.

Now comes the typical lies and distortions:

The sweeps, arrests and intimidation share a brutal randomness. A young “Dreamer” gives a news conference after her father and brother are detained — and is arrested herself. ICE stakes out a courthouse to grab a survivor of domestic violence. Border agents ask a planeload of passengers — on a domestic flight — to show their papers.

We still aren’t 100% sure why the first, Daniela Vargas, was detained, other than she allowed her DACA to lapse back in November, and, after a raid which saw her brother and father detained, an illegal handgun was found in the house.

The survivor of domestic violence? Ervin Gonzalez is a criminal absconder, having been deported six times and coming back illegally. Those deportations were for crimes including possession of stolen mail, false imprisonment and assault.

There’s more at Mr Teach’s original. As for me, I remember when the Editors had a very different opinion of states and localities trying to set immigration policy on their own. From the editors of The New York Times, July 28, 2007:

Humanity v. Hazleton

A federal judge has dealt what we can only hope is a decisive blow against a dangerous trend of freelance immigration policies by local governments. Judge James M. Munley of the central Pennsylvania district, struck down ordinances in the town of Hazleton that sought to harshly punish undocumented immigrants for trying to live and work there, and employers and landlords for providing them with homes and jobs.

The ruling was a well-earned embarrassment for Mayor Louis J. Barletta and his proclaimed goal of making Hazleton “one of the toughest places in the United States” for illegal immigrants. In doing so, Judge Munley laid down basic truths that every American should remember.

First, immigration is a federal responsibility. State and local governments have no right to usurp or upend a vast, “carefully drawn federal statutory scheme” that governs who enters the country and the conditions under which immigrants stay, study, work and naturalize. Congress may be botching the job, but it has not delegated it.

And there you have it, from the Editors of the Times: “(I)mmigration is a federal responsibility. State and local governments have no right to usurp or upend” it. The immigration laws currently on the books are the will of the Congress, as signed by the President, and if those were different Congresses and different Presidents, they are still the laws, still on the books, and will be the laws until Congress and the President change them.

The Editors concluded:

Mayor Barletta says he is angry at the federal failure to control immigration. Good for him; he should join the club. But he should realize that it was his side — his restrictionist soul mates in the United States Senate — that last month took the most ambitious attempt in a generation to restore lawfulness and order to immigration, loaded it with unworkable cruelties, then pushed it into a ditch. They celebrated their victory, but their shortsighted insistence on border enforcement above all else will leave places like Hazleton to grapple with a failed immigration policy for years to come.

In 2007, both Houses of Congress were controlled by Democrats; the Editors declined to mention that.

As we have previously noted, illegal immigrants commit more crimes than just being in the country in violation of the law. To live in the United States requires doing certain things which an “undocumented person” cannot do.1

The Editors were perfectly fine with federal supremacy . . . as long as the result of federal supremacy happened to be the courses of action they favored. Today? Not so much.

Really, it’s pretty simple: if it weren’t for double standards, the left would have no standards at all. The left simply cannot help being hypocrites.
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Cross-posted on RedState.
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  1. The First Street Journal does not use the mealy-mouthed term “undocumented,” other than for prosaic concerns, because “undocumented” has been meant, by those who use the term, to obscure the fact that illegal immigrants are here illegally, are in violation of the laws. The First Street Journal does not go along with obscuring the fact that “undocumented” immigrants are here illegally. This was one of those prosaic reasons.

Why didn’t the Democrats see this before the election?

From CNNMoney:

Rust Belt voters made Trump president. Now they want jobs

by Heather Long | @byHeatherLong | March 3, 2017: 7:26 AM ET

The United States is making more things than ever before.

Yes, you read that right. Manufacturing output is at an all-time high, according to one government statistic (others indicate it’s near a record).

Evidence of the boom is visible when you drive around America’s muscle town: Detroit. The giant Ford (F), GM (GM)and Chrysler (FCAU) factories are buzzing to try to keep up with record levels of U.S. car sales. Yet a deep sense of unease is palpable in Michigan.

A lot of people are nervous. They see that U.S manufacturing has roared back, but the jobs — especially $30-an-hour jobs — have not. There’s a huge debate about why these jobs disappeared: Some blame robots and machines for replacing humans; others say the jobs went to Mexico, China and beyond.

There’s much more at the original. Miss Long continues to tell us about the long-term loss of good manufacturing jobs, but those job losses were there before the election. We noted, last September, another article by Miss Long, entitled Problem: Most Americans don’t believe the unemployment rate is 5%, and proceeded on this site to note how Americans seemed to feel that unemployment was around the U-6 unemployment rate, defined as “Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force,1 plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force.”1

The Democrats had been claiming that unemployment had fallen dramatically during President Obama’s eight years in office, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the other Democrats, were running on that.

Did the Democrats fool themselves? Mrs Clinton thought that she should be fifty points ahead, but her husband, a man who had won two presidential elections, seemed to be the only one in the campaign staff who understood that the working class was not smiling at the official U-3 unemployment number, and his advice was ignored. The guy who lost a $25.00 an hour job, but managed to find another one for $9.75 an hour was still counted as employed, but he sure wasn’t happy about it, and his home was still threatened. Somehow, it took the billionaire son of a millionaire developer to understand what working-class Americans were feeling in their bones, while very few of the Smart People in the Intellectual Party could see it.
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  1. Persons marginally attached to the labor force are those who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached, have given a job-market related reason for not currently looking for work. Persons employed part time for economic reasons are those who want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for a part-time schedule.

Things are looking up, but are things looking better than they really are?

I absotively, posilutely despise CNNMoney’s term “Trumponomics.” Nevertheless, this is a completely fair and unbiased article from them:

Trump’s economic boom: 3 red flags

by Heather Long | @byHeatherLong | March 2, 2017: 3:29 PM ET

President Trump is already taking a victory lap on the economy.

“Since November 8th, Election Day, the Stock Market has posted $3.2 trillion in GAINS and consumer confidence is at a 15 year high. Jobs!” Trump tweeted Thursday morning.

His facts are correct. Optimism is sexy again on Wall Street and Main Street.

Frankly, he could have tweeted even more good economic news: Jobless claims just hit the lowest level in 44 years, a sign businesses aren’t doing much firing. Small business optimism is the highest it’s been in over 12 years.

Even manufacturing is bouncing back. The closely watched Institute for Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing index came out this week and showed the best number in two years.

But all of this good economic data comes with three red flags.

1. Trump and Congress have to deliver the goods. Investors have sent the stock market up nearly 15% since Trump’s election because of his promises to deliver “bigly” on tax cuts, infrastructure spending on roads and bridges and a total health care overhaul.

And, as usual, I’ll let you follow the link to the rest of the article.

Stocks are up, a lot, since Donald Trump’s election, but, as Matt Egan put it:

A lot has to go right, in both Washington and the U.S. economy, to justify the meteoric market rise. That’s because the gains on Wall Street have been built mostly on expectations and optimism, not fundamentals.

President Trump has accomplished a few things since his election — some of them occurred before he was inaugurated — which have indicated a more American focused economy, but, looking at things broadly, those accomplishments were small ones, narrowly focused; they simply hinted at the President’s policies being able to accomplish more, and more widely. When I noted the sixty new coal mining jobs in Knott County, Kentucky, those were really only a few jobs, looked at nationally, but for a depressed area, losing population,1 sixty jobs, sixty good jobs, is a big story.2 This is the kind of thing which can increase optimism in other places: if President Trump can encourage American businesses in Knott County, maybe other places can see better growth as well.

Mr Egan is right: the expectations and optimism are there, but they’re going to have to be fulfilled, partly in ways that the government does not control. That CNNMoney is pointing out these things, without a bunch of biased hooey, is an important thing.
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  1. Knott County’s population was 17,649 according to the 2000 census, declined 7.4% to 16,346 in the 2010 census, and was estimated to be down another 4.0% in 2015, to 15,693.
  2. Knott County’s ‘official’ U-3 unemployment rate for December, 2016, was 8.7%.

Three stories from the Lexington Herald-Leader

From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Eatery gains world attention hosting Beshear’s reply to Trump speech

If this were a GOP response, using people as a backdrop, left would have criticized lack of diversity.

By Cheryl Truman | ctruman@herald-leader.com | March 1, 2017 3:06 PM EST

The first Karin West knew of her diner’s impending worldwide exposure was when someone from Lexington Mayor Jim Gray’s office called to ask whether Lexington Diner could host a Steve Beshear event.

The event was Tuesday night’s Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s address to Congress, delivered by former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear.

The 49-seat diner at 124 North Upper Street opened in 2014. Beshear and his wife, Jane, had met diner chef and co-owner Ranada Riley at a Greenhouse 17 event in 2016. The nonprofit was previously known as Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program.

The televised response aired about 10:15 p.m. It showed Beshear sitting in the Lexington Diner with about 24 other people seated around the restaurant. West said she served beverages and some Mardi Gras fare including grits, gumbo, muffins and cake to the crowd before the segment aired.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/news/business/article135755343.html#storylink=cpy

Personally, I wondered why the Democrats would have selected former Governor Steve Beshear (D-KY) to give the rebuttal. After all, in his two terms, he paved the way for TEA Party Republican Matt Bevin to win the gubernatorial race in 2015, and win the majority in the state House of Representatives in 2016; the state House had been the last state legislative chamber controlled by the Democrats in the South prior to that.

But the more important story from the Herald-Leader is below:

Company plans to reopen Knott County mine, hire 60 workers

The Associated Press | March 1, 2017

Hindman, Ky. — A mining company is planning to reopen an eastern Kentucky coal mine within the next week and hire 60 workers.

WYMT-TV reports that Kingdom Resources plans to take over operations one of the old Enterprise mines in Knott County.

Kingdom Resources CEO Mark Wilson says the mine will be known as Kingdom Coal.

Knott County Judge Executive Zach Weinberg says he was told the company plans to hire 60 workers within the next two weeks.

It is unclear how long the mine has been closed.

The obvious question: did President Trump’s actions on undoing President Obama’s policies hurting the coal industry have anything to do with King Resources’ decision to reopen the old Enterprise #9 mine? I have thus far been unable to find a direct statement to that effect from Kingdom Resources, but the President’s actions sure couldn’t have hurt.

So, which is more important to Kentuckians: a speech made by a former governor, which might bring in a few more customers to the Lexington Diner, or sixty new jobs, sixty well-paying jobs, in the depressed coal region of eastern Kentucky?

Chapter 6: Coal jobs gone, perhaps for good

Thousands of unemployed coal miners are confronting the latest in a century of booms and busts in the Eastern Kentucky coal industry. This time, experts warn, the backslide looks permanent.

By Bill Estep and John Cheves | June 16, 2013

HINDMAN – Kyle Thacker’s bloodline in the underground coal mines of Eastern Kentucky goes back decades.

His grandfather Willard Thacker raised 16 children on a miner’s pay, beginning in the days when the back-breaking job involved blasting down coal and loading it into carts with a shovel.

Thacker’s father, Curby, went to work in the mines in the 1970s. He was rarely out of work during his 35 years underground.

“You could quit one day at one mine … and you could get a job the next day at another one,” said Curby Thacker, 66, of Knott County.

All five of Curby’s sons followed him into the mines, but their experience has been different. All five were laid off in 2012; Kyle, 26, the youngest, lost his job in June and hasn’t been able to find work at another mine.

“I’ve looked about everywhere. You can’t pay them to let you work now,” Kyle Thacker said.

Thacker, who is married and has two young children, cashed out his 401(k) retirement account to pay off some bills. He had started remodeling his front porch but stopped when the money ran out, and he is going without health insurance because it would cost more each month than he receives in unemployment payments. He might have to let the bank take back the white 2011 Ford Taurus he bought when times were better.

Thacker and thousands of other miners are confronting the latest in a century of booms and busts in the Eastern Kentucky coal industry. This time, experts warn, the backslide looks permanent.

Driven down by competition from cheap natural gas and other factors, coal production fell 27.6 percent throughout Eastern Kentucky in 2012, to the lowest level since 1965. The slide in Knott County was worse: 45 percent.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/news/special-reports/fifty-years-of-night/article44429487.html#storylink=cpy

Had Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election, you could have bet your last euro that the regulations President Trump relaxed would not have been relaxed in the slightest, and might have even been made stricter. Would that have stopped Kingdom Resources from reopening the #9 mine? I suppose there’s no way to know, for certain, but my guess is that yes, the Democrats’ continuing war on fossil fuels would have made the #9 mine seem less profitable, and thus less likely to be reopened.

This is why the Democrats, for so long the party of the working class, has lost the votes of the working class so decisively: the wealthy leadership of the party has been so isolated from the people who voted for them for so long, that they have forgotten that their policy proposals have real world effects on people’s jobs. Somehow, some way, Donald Trump, the billionaire son of a millionaire father, did manage to understand working people, in a way that the Democrats of today do not. And that’s why he is President, and Hillary Clinton is not.