Volume 20, Issue 6: February 7, 2018
- Congress Balks at Reforming Childrens Health Insurance Program
- State Mismanagement Makes Case for Privatizing Dams
- Super Bowl Wrap-Up
- White House Takes Wrong Turn on Salvadoran Refugees?
- Job Opportunity: Publications Project Manager
- Independent Updates
1) Congress Balks at Reforming Childrens Health Insurance Program
Last month the Republican Congress extended the Childrens Health Insurance Program (CHIP) another six years and increased its annual funding by approximately $1,400 per child. Signed into law in 1997, and with GOP support, CHIP has succeeded in greatly reducing the number of uninsured children. Unfortunately, the program was the wrong way to serve a worthy goal, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman in a recent op-ed at Forbes.
The same year that Congress passed CHIP, it also enacted the child tax creditan amount originally about equal to the health insurance premium for a childagain with GOP support. However, the tax credit came with no strings attached: parents were not required to apply the refundable credit toward health coverage for their children. As healthcare costs rose over the years, pressure for more government funding of CHIP also rose; last months increase in CHIP funding was thus unsurprising. The 2017 tax overhaul signed in December doubled the child tax creditagain without necessarily increasing the percentage of children with health coverage.
Whats truly disheartening, according to Goodman, is that Congress failed to reform CHIP. It remains the must-go-to single-payer health insurance for children. Parents arent able to use their CHIP funds to enroll in a private plan, Goodman writes. There is no expansion of Health Savings Accounts. No opportunity for low-cost, very efficient concierge (direct pay) care. As far as healthcare taxes and children are concerned, it was business as usual.
What Republicans Don't Understand about Health Insurance, Taxes and Children, by John C. Goodman (Forbes, 1/24/17)
Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, by John C. Goodman
A Better Choice: Healthcare Solutions for America, by John C. Goodman
2) State Mismanagement Makes Case for Privatizing Dams
The Oroville Dam spillway collapse last February in Northern California, which forced the evacuation of 180,000 people and cost millions in property damage, was a public relations nightmare for the agency that runs itthe state Department of Water Resources. Subsequent reports of bureaucratic mismanagement have only lowered the publics already-low esteem for the agency. The best way to move forward is therefore to privatize the dam and 43 other dams currently under the agencys purview, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Lawrence J. McQuillan.
Government ownership of infrastructure such as the Oroville Dam comes with little accountability and the automatic assumption of taxpayer bailouts when problems arise, which increases the likelihood that they will, write McQuillan and co-author Hayeon Carol Park in a new op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Along with the collapsed spillway and years of poor disclosure regarding the Oroville Dams safety problems, McQuillan and Park note another data point in support of their claim: the agencys estimates for repairing the dam have soared since its initial projection. As for critics skeptical about privatization, McQuillan and Park note that, in the 1990s, the Clinton administrations reinventing government initiative led to the sale of 19 federal water projects to nonfederal owners by 2006.
No More Patch and PrayPrivatize Oroville Dam, by Lawrence J. McQuillan and Hayeon Carol Park (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/31/18)
The California Department of Water Resources Wins Dishonor of California Golden Fleece Award for Its Patch and Pray Approach to Dam Safety, by Lawrence J. McQuillan 10,17/17
Oroville Dam Costs Soar to $870 Million, by K. Lloyd Billingsley (MyGovCost News & Blog, 1/31/18)
Aquanomics: Water Markets and the Environment, edited by B. Delworth Gardner and Randy T Simmons
3) Super Bowl Wrap-Up
Quickwho were the biggest losers in Super Bowl LII? If you think its the New England Patriots, youre not thinking hard enough. According to Independent Institute Research Fellow Craig Eyermann, who writes regularly at MyGovCost News & Blog, the biggest losers are the taxpayers who paid for the stadium. But thats just one of the ways in which political economy intersects with the Super Bowl.
As Independent Policy Fellow K. Lloyd Billingsley suggests in his latest column at the Daily Caller, the differences between the NFL and electoral politics can be as significant as their similarities. Unlike in politics, what happens on the playing field is about substance, not form. Its all about players who deliver value whenever theyre on the field, and its about their commitment to actionnot rhetoric.
Billingsley also offers interesting observations about college football. The players are, in some respects, unpaid serfs. While their academic-related expenses are often taken care of, their work on the gridiron typically goes uncompensated. Politicians prohibit college players from earning money for their play on the field, even though they risk serious injury every game, Billingsley writes. By one count, only 1.5 percent of more than 20,000 college football freshmen will make an NFL roster.
Politicians Could Learn a Thing or Two from the Super Bowl, by K. Lloyd Billingsley (The Daily Caller, 2/2/18)
Super Bowl Stadium Scam, by Craig Eyermann (MyGovCost News & Blog, 2/4/18)
4) White House Takes Wrong Turn on Salvadoran Refugees?
Barring an abrupt reversal in policy, the White House appears to have sealed the fate of the approximately 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants who came to the United States after two major earthquakes devastated El Salvador in 2001. The administration is ending their Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and sending them back to a country plagued with economic problems and gang violence. The decision is a perfect example of whats wrong with U.S. immigration policy, writes Independent Institute Senior Fellow Alvaro Vargas Llosa in a new op-ed at US News & World Report.
After years of living in the United States, many Salvadoran immigrants have stronger ties in the United States than in El Salvador. With 88 percent participation in the U.S. workforcecompared to 63 percent for the general U.S. populationits safe to say they contribute more value to world economic output by working in the United States than they would in El Salvador. (They also send remittances to family back home.) The Salvadoran TSP-ers also follow the standard cycle of U.S. immigrant assimilation. Thats why, for instance, the children of Salvadoran immigrants complete high school at a rate five times higher than their parents, Vargas Llosa writes.
The plight of the Salvadorans who have been working and raising their children here for two decades under a periodically renewed TSPa consequence of the failure to pass immigration reform and create a legal mechanism for immigrants to come out of the shadows permanentlyis further proof that U.S. immigration policy is absurdly contradictory, lacks a comprehensive view of how the moving parts of the economy fit together, and shows little historical awareness of how immigrant groups assimilate and help make the United States the dynamic economic and cultural powerhouse it is today, Vargas Llosa continues. America is better than this.
The Problem with U.S. Immigration Policy, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (US News & World Report, 2/2/18)
Global Crossings: Immigration, Civilization, and America, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa
The Economics of Immigration: Market-Based Approaches, Social Science, and Public Policy, edited by Benjamin Powell
5) Job Opportunity: Publications Project Manager
The Independent Institute is currently seeking a Publications Project Manager to provide production and editorial support and manage the detailed aspects of producing publications and marketing collateral. This is an exciting opportunity for the right candidate to help run the production end of an award-winning book program
6) Independent Updates
The Beacon: New Blog Posts
- Surprise: Obamacare Projections on Student Loan Profitability Hit a Snag, by Mary Theroux
- Trump: The State of Our Union Is Strong, by Randall Holcombe
- Review: Darkest Hour Probes Depths of Political Courage, by Sam Staley
- The Full Cost of the Anti-Immigrant State, by Robert Higgs
MyGovCost: New Blog Posts
- The Return of Trillion Dollar Deficits, by Craig Eyermann
- A Super Bowl Stadium Scam, by Craig Eyermann
- Government Finally Violates No-Fire Zone, by K Lloyd Billingsley
- Building Californias Stonehenge, by Craig Eyermann
- Oroville Dam Costs Soar to $870 Million, by K Lloyd Billingsley
- Attack of the Bridge-Eating Microbes?, by K Lloyd Billingsley
- Should Taxpayers Pay Tab for Government Sexual Abuse?, by K Lloyd Billingsley