Middle road on Obamacare – eliminate red tape and penalties to start, not the health coverage

Wow. Trump won the election and stunned everyone. First up on his chopping block seems to be Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act). Mitch McConnell has already said bringing the repeal vote to the Senate floor will be his first item of business. In their meeting on Capitol Hill this week, Paul Ryan and Trump both stressed it will be a “repeal and replace” plan, not just a repeal.

paul-ryan-better-way

But when you begin to consider how entrenched the ACA is in the American Healthcare system, as well as all the individuals and families that are currently covered on the plans, I offer that an immediate repeal and replace strategy would create too much turmoil in these early days of a Trump administration. However, a good middle road would be to rollback or eliminate all of the red tape and penalties that accompany the law.

Currently individuals who choose not to have coverage, as well as businesses and organizations who don’t offer employer-sponsored coverage that is deemed “affordable” by the crazy formulas outlined in the law, face steep financial penalties. Let’s make those fees more forgiving, or eliminate them all together, first.

Eliminating these penalties would also have the natural result of rendering moot all of the painstaking tracking and reporting requirements that companies (and school districts) now face with tracking “offers of coverage” to all of their full-time employees, and subsequent reporting on Form 1095-C that each employee is required to receive at the end of each tax year. As the law stands now, even if an employee crosses into “full-time status” for only one month (works 130 hours), that employee is required to receive an “offer of coverage” for that month (and each subsequent month they meet the threshold), and the organization has to track these offers in order to report them to the IRS at year’s end. Along with the high administrative overhead of such tasks, this results in organizations purposely keeping employees at part-time so they don’t have to offer insurance as a way to avoid the ACA penalties.

So, bottom line, the Trump administration and Congress should focus first on scaling back the obtrusiveness of the law through elimination of red tape before scrapping people’s health plans all together. This will also have the effect of encouraging job growth (more full-time employees) or employees being allowed once again to work more hours — as the organization or business would no longer worry about employees exceeding the 130 hour threshold that requires an offer of health coverage.

Clear as mud?

As far as dealing with the issue of adverse selection in health insurance, that will need to be addressed with whatever long-term solution Congress and Trump’s team come up with — the ultimate “replace” part of the “repeal and replace” promise. What I propose here is temporary idea to allow people currently on their Obamacare plans to keep them, and those not on one to stop being penalized. So a “freeze” if you will on who currently has coverage on Obamacare. This would give a short window of time for Congress to work together on a more affordable and free-market driven solution.

From ‘Never Trump’ to ‘OK Trump, I guess, because Hillary is just so blah’

As I publish this post it’s November 3rd, 5 days before election day 2016, and the Cubs just played the Indians in Game 7 of the World Series… and won! America needed that World Series — Congrats to the Cubbies for finally getting it done!

But back to the issue at hand. By now most people know me as that annoying “Never Trump holier than thou” guy that won’t shut up on social media.

However, I’ve always been a little uneasy with being ‘Never Trump’ because of the natural side effect of it helping to elect Hillary Clinton. In fact, as recently as just about two and a half weeks ago I once again tried to make my case for hedging until 2020 in an effort to ease my conscience.

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My 4.5 year old insists on putting a Trump sign in our yard. Eh, why not.

But now, I’m moving toward Trump — and am pretty much there — but first let’s look at how I’ve gotten here.

At first, I was willing to leave the presidential line blank and only vote down ballot.

Then I was going to support the Libertarians to help with future ballot access. However, Gary Johnson has slowly imploded while Bill Weld has turned out to be a Clinton shill, so they’ve made it tough for me to throw my vote their way.

Then I was going to write-in Evan McMullin (or is it ‘David McMullin‘?) because of his momentum in Utah.

Then I realized a vote for Trump in ME-02 actually increases the possibility of sending the election to the House because it would take a delegate from Hillary’s quest for 270 (thereby ultimately helping McMullin’s chances — convoluted, I know).

The tide began shifting toward Trump for me when WikiLeaks began to show more and more of the dark underbelly that is the Clinton machine.

Then the FBI re-opened the investigation against Hillary Clinton because of the discovery of new emails , some possibly containing classified information, on insecure devices belonging to Anthony Weiner (the estranged perve husband of top Clinton aide Huma Aberdin). How is it conceivable that we have a presidential candidate under not one, but two FBI investigations?!

And now, it looks like an indictment is looming for issues other than just these newly found emails.

Most importantly, polls are now moving in such a way that Trump could win this — or at least make it close. In ME-02, my home district, Trump is popular and my vote could make a difference in deciding who gets our one delegate. I had always told people earlier this year that if you showed me a poll near election day where Trump was within striking distance of Clinton, then maybe I would consider voting for him. Well, we’re definitely there now.

And finally, my gut and political radar just tells me Hillary is as corrupt as they come willing to do anything for power. I can’t be complicit in her rise to the presidency.

Is there still room on the train?

Let the Democrats try again in 2020, but I’m not going to sit idly by and let my vote aid in the election of Hillary Clinton. If she wins next week, so be it, but the blood won’t be on my hands.

Mike Pence, I’m coming home

I join Paul Ryan, Jason Chaffetz, and other begrudging Trump voters in helping to “Make America Not Clinton Again” — or whatever.

And then, there’s my 4.5 year old doing this to help put me over the top.

I know I said no more political posts, but this is too funny not to share. Max found the Trump sign I had put in the basement after someone stuck it on our lawn, and well, watch for yourself…

Posted by Aaron Prill on Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Gotta love kids!

Except in Utah, voting Trump is best way NeverTrump conservatives can help Evan McMullin

I’ve been a NeverTrumper from the moment Trump entered the race. Once he had locked up the Republican nomination, I even switched my party registration from Republican to Libertarian in disgust. As I’ve investigated how to justify voting in a way that would help elect Hillary, the Libertarian Party’s battle for ballot access nationally and in Maine has been the best avenue to this point. Furthermore, if they get 5% of the popular vote nationally, the Libertarians will qualify for federal matching funds in 2020.

The two-party system is broken, the nomination of both Trump and Clinton is proof of that. And the best way to start breaking that monopoly up is to help a third party gain traction. During the Libertarian Party primary, I was excited about Austin Petersen’s candidacy, but since Johnson became the official nominee I’ve been only been a lukewarm supporter of the libertarian ticket.

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Can Evan McMullin stand in the away of Trump and Clinton?

Therefore, the meteoric rise of Evan McMullin’s candidacy for President in recent Utah polls has me intrigued. If he were to win Utah and neither Clinton or Trump were able to secure 270 delegates, then McMullin, Clinton, and Trump would all be up for consideration by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to decide the next President of the United States. And since Speaker Ryan would be presiding over that historical event, there’s no guarantee Trump would automatically get the nod considering the recent tough love between those two.

Running the Numbers

So you probably see where I’m going with this, but if not I’ll spell it out. The only way to keep Hillary from getting to 270 is for Donald Trump to win in enough battleground states to stop her. So unless you live in Utah, a vote for Trump is in order for NeverTrump supporters who want to help Evan McMullin.

The only way to keep Hillary from getting to 270 is for Donald Trump to win in enough battleground states to stop her.

I live in Maine’s 2nd District (out of 2), and it is actually considered a battleground because it’s much more conservative than Maine’s 1st District, and our state awards one delegate for the popular vote winner in each district (then 2 more delegates to the overall statewide winner). Here’s an electoral scenario that deadlocks under 270 delegates — notice Maine’s 2nd District awarding one to Trump.

battleground_map_268_264_utahbg_tedit

 

As you can see in the above map, to finish at 268-264 I’ve allocated Utah (6) to McMullin, and awarded the battleground states of FL (29), OH (18), NC (15), AZ (11), IA (6), NV (6), NH (4), and ME-02 (1) to Trump. While he trails in most of those states, if NeverTrumpers and a large portion of Gary Johnson voters in each of those states broke to Trump then they are all back in play.

Check out the state-by-state polling averages for yourself (use dropdown box at the top-left to change state, and keep an eye on Johnson’s numbers in each).

Bottom Line

TL;DR — If you are a NeverTrump conservative, Evan McMullin is your best bet because he’s on track to secure some delegates by winning Utah. However, if you live in a battleground state (or battleground district as is the case with my ME-02 district) that’s not Utah, then the best way to propel McMullin’s chances is to vote Donald Trump to keep Hillary from 270. So given the current electoral map, the best NeverTrump option is to vote for Donald Trump (assuming you also don’t want Hillary).

Trust me, I didn’t believe it at first either. I was in denial for a few minutes. But the more I thought it through, the more I realized it was true. A vote for Donald Trump is likely the very best way to increase Evan McMullin’s chances of victory.

Trust me, I didn’t believe it at first either… A vote for Donald Trump is likely the very best way to increase Evan McMullin’s chances of victory.

It’s been a crazy election year already so you never know. As always, vote your conscience.

Gary Johnson delivers principled speech at Liberty University, stumbles on abortion question

Libertarian candidate for President Gary Johnson was the guest speaker at Liberty University’s weekly convocation. With 13,000 in attendance and thousands more watching online and on television, the LU convocation is likely the largest crowd Gary Johnson has addressed this campaign season — and the national media largely ignored it.

Because of the large platform it offers, visiting LU’s convocation has become somewhat of a “new norm” for candidates this election season. Ted Cruz — somewhat controversially — officially launched his presidential bid from an LU convocation last year, while Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, and Mike Pence have all been guest speakers there in that past year.

I’m going to give my analysis of how Gary Johnson did below, while trying to hit the major policy points. But if you don’t care about my take and just want to watch for yourself — here you go:

13K in attendance for Gary… Sort of

Somewhat ironically, Johnson was only invited to fill a last minute vacancy that opened up after Tim Tebow had to cancel (thanks, Tim!). Apparently Gary and his team didn’t get the memo, though, that students are required to attend the weekly convocations. Johnson opened his remarks clearly moved that so many were in attendance.

GJ: “Unbelievable, you honor me. I saw that this was like a 12,000 person auditorium and I’m thinking 500 might show up and, wow — you have no idea, no idea — thank you…”

As someone who knows how LU convocations work, watching him open that way made me cringe a bit — but no real harm done. Then, quite humorously, the subject of attendance came back around as he was wrapping up the Q & A session. At that point the moderator finally corrected him. Here’s how that went.

GJ: “But obviously you had the option to be here today, and you’ve decided to come, and I’m so grateful, so honored… umm… OH, IT’S REQUIRED?! HA, HAAAA…” [sticks out tongue, continues to awkwardly laugh]

The moderator, obviously feeling bad for Johnson, did try to soften the blow to his ego.

Moderator: “But Governor, they each get a couple of skips per year, and they could have used that skip today and they chose not to use it — so they are here for ya!”

Sigh… Well, with that misstep aside, let’s move on to the substance of his speech.

After opening with some personal and family background, Johnson launched into his familiar stump speech of limited government and personal rights. I’d say it took him about 5-8 minutes to get over the nervousness of speaking in such a large venue, but once he hit his stride he delivered a compelling speech. Quite admirably, he didn’t try to pander to the crowd by sidestepping issues that might be received unfavorably — such as his “welcoming” view on immigration and familiar theme of describing himself as “fiscally conservative and socially inclusive.”

I’ll get to abortion later, as that came up in the Q&A, and will elaborate on how I felt he could have done better on that issue.

First, a quick rundown of the policy points of his speech with time markers for where they occur in the above video.

Opening Advice to Students (10:08)

After the opening biographical information, Johnson began with a few points of advice.

GJ: “Apply whatever it is that you know ‘entrepreneurially’. There will never be a bigger reward in your life than applying what you know to creating your own job, or creating jobs for others — it’s a huge reward. And government plays a role in all this — they can make it easy, or they can make it difficult — and they are making it more and more difficult to be an entrepreneur.”

He also challenged students to live debt free, and then outlined how he has lived that principle out personally as well as in politics.

School Choice (13:36)

Johnson wants to bring competition to public education.

GJ: “As Governor I was more outspoken than any governor in the country regarding ‘school choice’ — believing that we needed to bring competition to public education. And in that regard, competition to anything is an improvement!”

War on Drugs (13:52)

Johnson says drugs is first a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue.

GJ: “The fact that half of what we spend on law enforcement, the courts, and the prisons is drug-related — and what are we getting for that? Well, we’re not getting anything for that… We need to first recognize drugs as a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue.”

Fiscal Reform (16:00)

Johnson doesn’t believe the weight of our government programs should be on the backs of young people.

GJ: “I don’t think it’s Constitutional to have a 20 Trillion dollar debt! … Right now, in polls I’m tied with Hillary Clinton among the millennial demographic… I think what it has to do with is, nobody is standing up and saying we have to reform Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. And in the case of President Obama’s ‘affordable health care’ — that is a formula that relies on young healthy people paying for those who aren’t so healthy. So I’m going to get my healthcare, I’m going to get my retirement, I’m going to have my health insurance on the back of young people? It’s not fair! These issues have to be reformed… It’s about the future of this country!” 

The Military / Foreign Policy (17:15)

Johnson believes in defense, not offense.

GJ: “Look, we should have a military — we should have an invincible National DEFENSE. When we are attacked, we should attack back. But when we involve ourselves in regime change, in my lifetime none of those regime changes have worked out.”

Later in the speech Johnson circled back to this point claiming that in poll after poll of active duty military personnel they overwhelming pick him as the next Commander-in-Chief. He attributes this support to his policy of not putting them in harms way for unnecessary reasons — not being the “world’s policemen.”

Economy (18:40)

Johnson wants to eliminate the middle-man (re: get government out of the way).

GJ: “I think the model of the future is ‘Uber-everything’ (referring to the online taxi service). It’s the sharing economy. It’s eliminating the middle man. It’s allowing you and me as entrepreneurs to directly give out the goods and services that we’re providing to the end user, the end user ends up paying less, and you and I as the provider end up making more because we eliminate the middle-man…” 

He also promoted AirBnB —  a peer-to-peer online marketplace that enables people to list and rent short term lodging — saying, “this is the role that government can play — it can either promote the ideas that empower us, or get in the way of empowering us.” (he chooses the former).

Free Markets (19:50)

As most libertarians do, Johnson believes free markets are the solution to everything.

GJ: “Make it easy to be self-employed… There is a magic to free markets. Free markets is the opposite of ‘crony-capitalism’. Crony-capitalism is when the government picks winners and losers. Healthcare reform has everything to do with opening up healthcare to free markets.” (he then expanded with examples on how free markets would work in regards to healthcare reform)

Immigration (21:25)

In regards to immigration, Johnson outlined his position humbly and clearly. He is against building a wall, and was met with favorable applause by many in attendance when making that point.

GJ: “This country is a country of immigration. I think we should embrace immigration in this country… We should make it ‘as easy as possible’ for someone to come across the border and work, to be able to get a work visa. And a work visa should entail a background check and a social security card [so] that applicable taxes get paid.”

He then stated to resounding applause:

Let’s not build a wall across the border. We will be on the wrong side of history building a wall across the border!
— Gary Johnson

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Johnson’s 7 Principles of Good Government (23:50)

Johnson concluded by listing off, and in some cases expanding upon, what he called his “7 Principles of Good Government.”

  1. Always become reality-driven.
  2. Always be honest and tell the truth.
  3. Always do what’s right and fair.
  4. Don’t procrastinate — determine your goal, develop a plan to reach your goal, then act!
  5. Communicate — make sure everyone who ought to know what you’re doing knows what you’re doing.
  6. Don’t hesitate to deliver bad news.
  7. Be willing to do whatever it takes to get your job done.

Question and Answer Session

Are you a ‘throw away’ vote? (26:08)

Q (paraphrased): What do you say to those that say you are a ‘throw away’ vote?

GJ: “Throwing away your vote is voting for someone you don’t believe in… The two-party system is broken and the only way to change it is to vote for who you believe in.”

Racial Reconciliation (27:20)

Q (paraphrased): How will you work to heal the racial division in our country?

GJ: “The roots of the racial divide lie in the war on drugs. And I’ve been more outspoken regarding [bringing an end to] the war on drugs than anyone else. As President, I will recognize this issue [and not ignore it].”

Abortion / Sanctity of Life (30:04)

Now the elephant in the room — abortion. Even though it was a tough crowd for his views, he could have done better here. I will include the exact wording of both the question and Johnson’s long-winded answer as to not take anything out of context.

Question: “On your website, it states that you personally believe in ‘the sanctity of life’, but that individuals should have the right to choose, and that the government shouldn’t be a part of that decision. How will this effect the kind of Supreme Court justices you will nominate, and why should a pro-life Christian vote for you?”

GJ: “Well, first of all, how could there be a more difficult choice in anyone’s life — and by ‘anyone’s life’, the woman involved?  And I personally believe that that is a choice that lies with the woman involved. Now, with regard to the ‘law of the land’, the ‘law of the land’ is KC vs. Planned Parenthood, and the ‘law of the land’ actually echos my own beliefs on the issue, and — came to them separately. I did not realize what the ‘law of the land’ was, which is KC vs Planned Parenthood. And the ‘law of the land’ says that a woman has the right to an abortion up to the viability of the fetus. And the viability of the fetus, as defined by the Supreme Court, is the ability to sustain the life of the fetus outside of the womb even if by artificial means. So there’s a scientific component to all this that is going to be moving for forward…”

“Also, as a Libertarian — libertarians are all about personal choice, all about personal liberty,  all about personal freedom. So Libertarians ideally would have a tax form that would say, “Check off what you would like to fund: bombs, abortion.” …In that context, as Governor of New Mexico, I did try to eliminate the funding from Medicaid to abortion… The Supreme Court overruled me in that decision, but that was the recognition that so many people abhor the notion of government funds being used for abortion, and I did not find that to be an issue.”

“So with regard to Supreme Court Justices — it would be an issue with justices ruling on the basis of ‘original intent’ of the Constitution. I think that Judge [Clarence] Thomas has probably been at the forefront of the kind of a judge that I would like to appoint.”

Ugh, where do I start?

The question actually gave him an out, and he failed to identify it. The question focused on the phrase “sanctity of life” used on his website, and then pivoted to the Supreme Court justice question. In short, the question was asking, “What does ‘santity of life’ mean to you, and how will your appointment of Supreme Court justices reflect that?”

The question actually does not mention the word abortion! I could tell whomever decided on phrasing the question that way was being kind. So when Johnson led with his rambling view on abortion, I just closed my eyes and couldn’t watch.

It is my view that being a “pro-life Christian” means much more than seeking to overturn Roe v. Wade. Recent studies show criminalizing abortion does not even result in less abortions — all politicians would do well to become familiar with those studies, especially libertarians. But I’ll save the nuance of that position for a later blog post.

Let’s get back to his answer — specifically how it could have been much better.

Johnson should have led with his answer on justices — which was very strong given the conservative crowd in attendance — regarding “original intent” and even citing the pro-life Clarence Thomas as his ideal.

He then could have shared the story of how he’s against government funding of abortions — also a position shared by most, if not all, in attendance.

Next, he could have pivoted to the point that for libertarians “sanctity of life” also means being against the death penalty — a point many Christians in the room would have supported.

Lastly, he could have weaved in the bit about it being “such a difficult and personal choice”, and simply say Libertarians always lean toward less government involvement whenever possible, and that includes in not wanting to look over a woman’s shoulder with regard to her private healthcare decisions.

For bonus points, he could have reiterated his opposition to late-term abortions, and at that moment brought in the scientific point about the”‘law of the land/viability of the fetus” argument he was trying to make (as late-term is well passed any definition of viability).

Instead, by focusing on the “libertarians are all about personal choice, personal liberty, personal freedom…” he set himself up for what the moderator said next —

Moderator: “And so, do you see sir how for us, how a woman’s right to choose also includes a baby’s right to ‘choose life’? ”
(in other words, what about the unborn’s right to a choice, liberty, and freedom?)…

To which loud cheering and a 30 second standing ovation ensued (while also making Johnson feel very small).

Religious Liberty (33:40)

In the next question on religious liberty — a topic in which Johnson took criticism from others within his own ranks due to answers earlier this year — he was pragmatic at best.

Q (paraphrased): How would you respond to evangelical Christians who believe they are being discriminated against in the public square because of their faith?

In summary, he says he is for fervently defending your rights to practice your religion as you see fit, and cited Utah legislation as an example. But there’s some nuance in his answer that seeks to protect the LGTBQ community from what he referred to as “religious freedom legislation that creates discrimination where it doesn’t already exist.” Go to the time marker above to hear his entire answer for yourself.

Video Question from Ken Bone (36:39)

The final question ended things on a light note as they had “internet sensation” Ken Bone submit a question via video. Ken Bone is the undecided voter from the 2nd Presidential debate whose red sweater went viral on social media.

Q: What was, in your opinion, the highlight of last week’s [Trump vs. Hillary] debate?

Johnson answered that the highlight for him was when the candidates were asked to share something positive about the other. He then went on to share some closing remarks concerning his candidacy. This is also the point where Johnson profusely thanked the students for coming (even though they had to be there).

All in all, Gary Johnson gave a strong speech in front of a large group of voters who for the most part probably wont be voting for him. Kudos to him for entering the lion’s den, and kudos to Liberty University for letting another voice be heard. As I outlined above, he could have done better on the pro-life question, but it is what it is.

As I’ve said previously, I’m likely voting for the Johnson/Weld ticket because the only way to break the two-party duopoly is to help the Libertarians get to 5%. Check out my previous post for why I am still comfortably #NeverTrump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I’m still #NeverTrump and hedging my bets until 2020

In my previous post, I gave a quick rundown on why my fellow Christians don’t need to vote Trump if they don’t want to, despite what they tell me most days. In this post, I’m going to share my explanation of why I’m willing to hedge my bets until 2020 for the better good.

still-nevertrump

Let’s say — for the sake of argument — that Donald Trump defies all odds on November 8th and taps into enough fear and anger, as well as disdain for Hillary Clinton, to pull off a narrow victory in 2016. I offer that for the conservative movement and values — as well as the Republican Party — the long-term outlook would be much more grim than were he to lose.

Hear me out…

In 2020, Trump would be running for re-election against an eager field of Democratic candidates — all NOT Hillary Clinton — in a political climate that will undoubtedly include an American electorate fed up with Trump’s antics, and a GOP likely decimated from carrying his water or outright opposing him for 4 years.  These conditions would allow a Democratic president to again take power in 2020 likely holding office two terms (as long as they’re a reasonable and well-spoken human being). So by 2028, counting Trump’s 4 years, we will have had 12 more years of total chaos and upheaval within conservatism and the Republican Party.

If you think there’s going to be some Supreme Court picks in the next 4 years, what about the next 8-12?!

The alternative, which I’m counting on, is to hunker down and support a Republican party hopefully UNITED in opposition to a President Hillary (and able to block any extreme liberal Supreme Court nominees), who will then offer up a strong field of non-Trump candidates in 2020. Having experienced 3 terms of Obama/Hillary one-party rule, the American electorate will then be ready for a change (just like in 1992 after 3 terms of Reagan/Bush).

Again, to each his own, vote for Trump if that’s what you feel is best. I just have an alternative viewpoint and will likely be supporting the Johnson/Weld Libertarian ticket in 2020 to help the libertarian party with ballot access in future elections. As I’ve said before, one of the best ways forward in this country is to break the two-party stranglehold.