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Volume 18, Issue 52: December 22, 2016

  1. How Republicans Can Escape the Obamacare Trap
  2. Peace on Earth...We Hope
  3. Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminar Now Taking Applications
  4. Independent Institute’s Year in Books
  5. Building Bridges to Unite a Divided Nation
  6. Independent Updates


1) How Republicans Can Escape the Obamacare Trap

In a matter of weeks, Republicans will control the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Oval Office. The incoming politicians will inherit a fragile healthcare system—at once glued together and weakened by Obamacare. They will then own the problem. If they don’t fix it, they will shoulder the blame for rising deductibles and premiums, narrowing provider networks, and local insurance markets that are becoming increasingly dominated by a single insurer. And it will be very easy for them to worsen the problem.

Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman calls the predicament a “four-directional vice from which Republicans seem unable to extricate themselves.” Repealing Obamacare outright is a no-go, given the number of Democrats in the Senate. Even if the GOP tried to repeal Obamacare through the alternative method of budget reconciliation, “it would leave tens of thousands of pages of Obamacare rules and regulations intact,” writes Independent Institute Senior Fellow John R. Graham. Moreover, immediate repeal would cost 20 million people their coverage—an outcome unacceptable to both Trump and Republican leaders. Delaying the repeal of Obamacare could also worsen the problem, by creating more uncertainty and scaring insurers into hastening their exit from unprofitable markets. Bailing out insurers is also a political non-starter, according to the Republicans.

The Obamacare trap is formidable, but not inescapable. The best bet for a smooth transition from the Affordable Care Act to a sound replacement, according to Goodman, is for Republicans to use Obamacare revenues to fund a phasing-in of the Cassidy-Sessions Health Plan or some other proposal that features a universal tax credit. (Goodman favors a three-year phase-in to ensure that any necessary corrections could be made before the replacement is fully implemented.) If enacted, such reforms would ensure that people can maintain coverage. “They would also get Republicans out of the trap,” Goodman concludes.

Republicans Are in a Nasty Obamacare Trap, by John C. Goodman (Forbes, 12/7/16)

It’ll Take at Least Two Years to Repeal and Replace Obamacare, by John R. Graham (The Hill, 12/7/16)

A Better Choice: Healthcare Solutions for America, by John C. Goodman

Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, by John C. Goodman

The Sessions-Cassidy Health Plan, by John C. Goodman (8/25/16)

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2) Peace on Earth...We Hope

This holiday season America’s most visible competitors on the world stage—but hopefully not on a battlefield—have given President Obama a farewell gift: the gift of grief. Russia has long been a thorn in the side of the forty-fourth U.S. president, but with official confirmation of Russian responsibility for the Democratic Party email leaks, Obama has promised to retaliate in kind, “at our own time and choosing.” Meanwhile China has provoked Obama by swiping (but later returning) an underwater U.S. Navy drone. What’s a superpower to do?

According to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland, the United States cannot let Russia’s brazen political interference go unpunished. To those who remind us that the U.S. government has also meddled in other countries’ political processes—including helping to overthrow democratically elected governments—such criticisms are valid but in this context, irrelevant. Eland writes, “The U.S. response should be measured, confined to the cyber arena, and initiated before President Obama leaves office.” Such action would not only deter future cyber mischief, but it would also allow the Trump administration to push “reset” on U.S.-Russia relations and perhaps work closely on matters of mutual interest.

China’s confiscation of an underwater military drone is a different matter. It may or may not have been in response to Trump’s affront to the “One China” policy, via his phone call with Taiwan’s leader. Although Beijing’s provocation was unwarranted—the drone was well within international waters—Eland urges the United States to avoid any retaliation, let alone threaten a military showdown, lest President-elect Trump feel compelled to stop pressuring wealthy allies in the Pacific to better provide for their own defense. Despite the grief they’ve caused Obama, the drone incident and Trump’s unorthodox telephone diplomacy could lead to favorable outcomes if they spark discussion about the goals of U.S. foreign policy, given, as Eland puts it, America’s “$20-trillion-dollar national debt and desperate need for economic renewal.”

Stop the Petty Jousting with China at Sea in East Asia, by Ivan Eland (Huffington Post, 12/19/16)

A Brazen Russia Must Face U.S. Retribution, by Ivan Eland (CNN.com, 12/18/16)

Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the President’s on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty, by Ivan Eland

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3) Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminar Now Taking Applications

Independent Institute is pleased to announce the 2017 Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminar. Geared toward college students, this exciting event will be held June 26 through June 30, on the beautiful campus of Santa Clara University, in the heart of Northern California’s Silicon Valley.

Taught by an enthusiastic team of highly regarded college professors and public-policy analysts, the Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminar covers a vast terrain of subjects about the free society, including vital foundational topics such as the following:

  • Liberty and the Rise of Western Civilization
  • Moral Foundations of Society
  • Property Rights and the Rule of Law
  • Principles of a Market Economy
  • Growth of Government and Its Consequences

More topical and “applied” subjects include healthcare, the environment, business cycles, entrepreneurship, and the future of liberty. (See our website for updates to the curriculum, as some of the particulars may change.)

Students who have attended past sessions say the Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminar helped them immensely by strengthening their understanding of the economics, history, and ethics of liberty, and by connecting them with others interested in a free society and eager to make a difference. This sampling of student comments from 2016 is typical:

  • “I am new to the ideas of liberty, economics, and free societies, so this seminar was very educational for me. I now feel I’ve been able to ‘connect the dots’ and form ideas that will help preserve my liberty.
  • “It has been a great place to connect with like-minded people and solidify my feelings towards the importance of liberty.”
  • “This has been an absolutely amazing experience. I’ve learned plenty about the philosophy and history behind uninhibited liberty in our country and culture.”

Plan ahead for a fulfilling summer—and lifetime—of learning, connecting, and making a difference. Enroll now!

For details on the curriculum, faculty, or enrollment and scholarships, visit our Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminars page.

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4) Independent Institute’s Year in Books

Now for a very quick look at the books Independent Institute released in 2016, along with praise from luminaries on those subject:

  • Future: Economic Peril or Prosperity?, edited by Christopher J. Coyne, Michael C. Munger, and Robert M. Whaples. “Fascinating.”—Garry K. Kasparov, Chairman, Human Rights Foundation; 13th World Chess Champion

Stay tuned for more Independent Institute books in 2017 and beyond!

Independent Institute books

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5) Building Bridges to Unite a Divided Nation

America’s 2016 election season revealed a nation divided into opposing factions based on our differences, rather than united around our shared values and our hope for a better world. Fortunately, the differences are not irreconcilable.

Independent Institute is based on the premise that the timeless values of liberty and free societies can bring together people from all walks of life. By providing innovative solutions grounded in tested principles, Independent reaches across the partisan divide to show diverse audiences how freedom promotes human flourishing, especially for the poor and marginalized.

Please join us by making a tax-deducible contribution today. By supporting Independent Institute, you are helping to carry the torch of liberty toward a world of greater prosperity, freedom, and human flourishing. Together we can make a difference!

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6) Independent Updates


The Beacon: New Blog Posts
MyGovCost: New Blog Posts
Featured Video
News Alert

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