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Obamacare's Enemy No. 1 Says This Is the Wrong Way to Kill It

March 28, 2019 in Economics

By Michael F. Cannon

Michael F. Cannon

In a dramatic reversal, the Trump administration has asked a
federal appellate court to uphold a lower-court ruling striking
down all of ObamaCare as unconstitutional.

You might expect me to be happy. The New Republic calls me
“ObamaCare’s single most relentless antagonist.”
The Week says I’m “ObamaCare’s fiercest
critic.” Give me five minutes, and I’ll explain how the
so-called “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”
ironically makes health insurance less ­affordable and reduces
protections for the sickest patients. I seethed when the US Supreme
Court unilaterally rewrote ObamaCare first in 2012 and again in
2015.

But rather than experience elation at this latest ruling,
I’m seething again, and for the same reason. In Texas v.
Azar, federal judge Reed O’Connor did ­exactly what Chief
Justice John Roberts did at the high court: jettison the rule of
law to achieve a politically desired outcome.

If opponents want to
strike down ObamaCare, they need better legal arguments than what
Judge O’Connor offered in Texas v. Azar, which is no different from
what Chief Justice Roberts did in his own rulings. Two wrongs don’t
make a right.

O’Connor followed the John Roberts playbook all the way
down to the tortured reasoning. He pretended the ObamaCare law
still mandates the purchase of health ­insurance, when it no longer
does. He pretended this phantom mandate injures the plaintiffs,
when it clearly does not. And he pretended Congress considered the
mandate inseverable from the rest of ObamaCare, even though
Congress itself had already severed the two.

To set the table, ObamaCare originally said taxpayers
“shall” obtain health insurance or else pay a
“penalty” of potentially thousands of dollars per year.
A command plus a penalty equals a mandate. Right there in the
statute, Congress claimed its authority to impose those provisions
come from its constitutional power “to regulate
Commerce.” The Supreme Court nearly struck down the whole law
in 2012, when a five-justice majority concluded the
Constitution’s Commerce Clause grants Congress no such
power.

The statute survived because one of those five justices —
Roberts — argued that one can interpret this penalty
“as a tax . . . on those without health ­insurance” and
therefore a constitutional use of Congress’ taxing power.
Roberts thus voted with four other justices to ­uphold
ObamaCare.

He was so busy rewriting the statute to achieve his desired
outcome that Roberts failed to notice the Constitution forbade such
a tax.

Back in 2009, ObamaCare’s authors initially sought to
impose a “tax” on those who failed to purchase health
insurance. But when they realized such a tax would have prevented
the bill from passing, they ­replaced it, invoking the Commerce
Clause to issue a command backed up by a …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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There Are Two Marylands, and One Refuses to Listen to the Other

March 28, 2019 in Economics

By Walter Olson, Ryan Bourne

Walter Olson and Ryan Bourne

On the map, Maryland is not a large state, but economically it’s
big enough to encompass a stark contrast between a prosperous
midsection and a deeply depressed periphery two hours’ drive to the
east or west. One thing we’ve learned in this year’s debate over a
statewide $15 minimum wage, now set to become law after the
legislature overrode Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) veto today, is that
affluent central Maryland doesn’t want to listen to hard-hit rural
Maryland.

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, average wages in Montgomery County ($1,333 a
week), Howard County ($1,220), and Baltimore City ($1,183) are more
than twice as high as those in Worcester County on the Eastern
Shore ($588 a week). Weekly wages in the three westernmost counties
ranged from $641 in Garrett to $736 in Allegany to $776 in
Washington, all figures being from the second quarter of 2017.

Affluent sections of
Maryland can vote for $15 without much worry that a large share of
their job base will disappear. Poor counties can’t.

In the debate over the $15 minimum wage, lawmakers from
Montgomery County, Baltimore City and Howard County were nearly
unanimously in favor, with most delegates supporting strong
versions of the scheme. Meanwhile, most lawmakers from depressed
parts of the state were passionately opposed.

Guess who had the numbers to outvote whom?

Both chambers rejected the rural lawmakers’ plea to depart from
a uniform $15 in favor of letting the rate vary by county or region
within the state. Behind this regional divide is a simple fact:
Affluent sections of Maryland can vote for $15 without much worry
that a large share of their job base will disappear. Poor counties
can’t.

Even if you set aside the greater prevalence of seasonal and
part-time work in the outlying parts of the state, a direct
job-vs.-job comparison shows why. In Columbia (average salary per
PayScale.com:
$63,327), jobs that pay less than $15 an hour
represent the low end of the employment curve, and many are paying
at $12 or $13 already, even for entry-level jobs.

In Cumberland ($39,800), a $15 minimum is likely to upend the
economics of hiring for positions such as sales associate ($9.16).
In mountain Maryland, even job categories requiring certification
in specialized medical skills often pay well below $15. That would
include certified nurse assistant and certified pharmacy
technician, both around $12.10 in Cumberland. As for hiking
restaurant, clinic or carwash prices by a few bucks to make up the
difference, that’s something that may run into more customer
resistance in Hagerstown (average home value …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Africa and the Blood of Christians

March 28, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

ABUJA, NIGERIA — Nigeria has the largest economy and
population in Africa. Unfortunately, it is also home to growing
violence against Christians.

The Religious Liberty Partnership recently hosted a conference
of international activists in Abuja to both show solidarity with
Nigeria’s Christians and consider strategies to battle
discrimination and persecution. Stories told by Nigerian
participants highlighted the threat posed by violent extremism in a
country that otherwise seems destined to become a regional and
perhaps world leader.

Unfortunately, Nigeria is not alone. Africa has become an
epicenter of religious persecution. Much of the continent is
inhospitable to those who worship a different god or the same god
differently. Open Doors estimates that 245 million out of 631
million African Christians currently experience high levels of
persecution, up from 215 million last year.

Religious persecution
there is horrific. And America’s military interventions have only
made things worse.

Africa remains far from the center of U.S. foreign policy.
However, it has begun a long march forward, with democracy
expanding and economies growing. That makes the fight against
religious extremism and intolerance ever more important. Otherwise
stability and peace are likely to remain out of reach, including in
Nigeria.

The status of religious freedom varies widely by region and
country. The most obvious difference is between the Arabic north
and largely black Africa.

For instance, the latest report from the Aid to the Church in
Need cites significant violations of religious liberty in Algeria,
Egypt, Eritrea, Kenya, Libya, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia,
Sudan, and Tanzania. The United States Commission on International
Religious Freedom focuses on the worst of the worst, highlighting
the cases of the Central African Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Nigeria,
and Sudan.

Open Doors also lists the world’s 50 worst persecutors.
They include 14 African countries, home to “extreme” or
“very high” levels of persecution: Algeria, the Central
African Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Mali,
Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, and Tunisia.

The Pew Research Center separates government restrictions from
social hostility, rating a dozen nations as having high or very
high levels of state control on religion: Algeria, Comoros, Egypt,
Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania,
Tunisia, and Western Sahara. Eleven were on the high and very high
social hostility lists: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the
Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt,
Kenya, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, and Uganda.

Egypt is on every list. Nigeria, Eritrea, Somalia, and Sudan are
on all but one list. Algeria, the Central African Republic,
Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Mauritania, and Tunisia are on multiple
lists.

Nigeria may face the greatest challenge. Christians in some of
its Muslim-majority states are treated like second-class citizens.
Boko Haram and other radical forces, most notably …read more

Source: OP-EDS