ObamaCare includes so many taxes that it's hard to keep track, but one of the worst takes effect on Jan. 1. This beaut is a levy on health insurance premiums that targets the small business and individual markets.
At $8 billion in 2014 and $101 billion over the next decade, the insurance tax is larger than ObamaCare's taxes on medical devices and prescription drugs combined. The Internal Revenue Service classifies the tax as a "fee" but it functions like an excise tax on premiums. The IRS collects an annual flat amount specified by the Affordable Care Act to be allocated among the insurers according to market share.
But not all markets. IRS regulations published in November excluded "any entity that is a self-insured employer to the extent that such employer self-insures its employees' health risks." Since about four of five employers with more than 500 workers and most union-negotiated health plans are self-insured, they are spared from the tax. So is insurance on behalf of "government entities," such as original Medicare (but not privately run Medicare Advantage).
This political selectivity means the most gold-plated public, private and labor plans are exempt and the tax burden falls on the saps who work for small businesses, the self-employed and individuals—i.e., the people who can least afford it.
The White House tells business that the tab will be picked up by deep-pocketed insurers, which is good for a laugh. The Congressional Budget Office reports the tax will be "largely passed through to consumers in the form of higher premiums" and "would ultimately raise insurance premiums by a corresponding amount." The Joint Tax Committee and private economists, such as former CBO director Doug Holtz-Eakin, say the tax will boost insurance costs about 2% to 2.5%. The consultant Oliver Wyman estimates the take will rise to as much as $500 per covered worker by decade's end.
Wasn't the Affordable Care Act supposed to be about expanding coverage in part by lowering premiums, not slapping on more overhead? By this liberal logic taxing cigarettes should create more smokers.
Oh, and to salt the wound, this "fee" is not deductible for corporate income tax purposes. In other words, health plans pay the tax and then federal and state taxes on the taxed amount. Mr. Holtz-Eakin estimates this unusual taxes-on-taxes rule means that the effect on premiums is 54% larger than the dollar amount of the tax itself.
The research arm of the National Federation of Independent Business calculates that the higher insurance costs will shrink hiring by 146,000 to 262,000 jobs over the next decade, with 59% of those losses hitting small business. They'll also be further encouraged to dump coverage and send their workers to the mercies of the ObamaCare exchanges. The latter was probably a main liberal purpose from the start.
Louisiana Republican Charles Boustany and Utah Democrat Jim Matheson's repeal bill already has 229 cosponsors, or a House majority, including some dozen Democrats. The White House naturally promises a veto. Happy New Year.

Gay Couple Marrying in Rose Parade Admits Making Political Statement

Contrary to the claim of AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) President Michael Weinstein that the gay wedding of Danny LeClair and Aubrey Loots on a float in the Tournament of Roses parade is 2330 intended as a political statement, check out the real story from the blissful couple themselves.
According to the aidshealth.org website:
Leclair and Loots, who own three LA hair salons together, had planned to wed after the Supreme Court in June allowed same-sex marriages to resume in California. But they sped up their plans once they realized the vast platform the Rose parade presents.
Not a political statement?

Chicago pension crisis called worst in nation

 By Rick Moran
The city's underfunded pension system for teachers, firefighters, police, and transit workers threatens to punch a hole in the city budget that would devastate city services. The teachers' alone are $1 billion short of funds, while the city as a whole is looking at a whopping $27 billion shortfall.

The state of Illinois is even worse off with more than $100 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. Where is the money going to come from to fix the problem?

Financial Times:

But this month, after years of inaction, Illinois passed a bill to tackle its unfunded pension liability. The state hopes the new law will save $160bn over the next 30 years - savings that will come from cuts in retirement benefits for state workers and forcing the state to make its pension contributions. The law has won plaudits as a first step towards fiscal reform. But it comes only after repeated downgrades that have left Illinois with the lowest credit rating of any US state.
Now it is up to Mr Emanuel, the hard-nosed former Obama administration official, to do the same for Chicago. Any proposal to solve the city's pension problem is bound to look much like the state deal - cutting benefits for public workers and raising contributions.

Left is getting desperate over Pajama Boy

By Thomas Lifson
....The resulting sting obviously has psychologically wounded the Left.
How else to explain this from the Foward: "Obamacare 'Pyjama Boy' Controversy Wrapped in Anti-Semitism."

Jay Michaelson of that site (a loose affiliate of the Socialist Party of America) writes:

What's interesting about the Right's freakout about men who don't measure up to the standards of the 1950s is how Pajama Boy's obvious Jewishness has been subsumed by...other characteristics.

Obvious Jewishness? Subsumed? This language sounds like that of a Jew-hater. I have read a LOT about Pajama Boy, and nowhere have I seen religion mentioned. One has to be on the prowl to identify Jewishness to even think about imputing a religion to this character.

Jewishness, obvious or not, was not subsumed, it was not mentioned. Not considered. Not occurring to anyone but Mr. Jay Michaelson. That author keeps on the digging the hole he has just excavated:

Yes, Virginia, Pajama Boy is a member of the tribe. Look at him. Pale Ashkenazic skin, Jew-fro'd black curls, Woody Allen specs. Even the smart-ass expression on his face screams of the Wise Son from the Passover Seder.

So Jews are to be identified by a smart-ass expression? Spot the Jew-hater.

Michaelson goes on to attribute all sorts of evil to those who mocked Pajama Boy. Toward the end, he even calls it a "fascistic outlook."

This desperation involves a lot of projection. If Mr. Michaelson is interested identifying anti-Semites, he need only venture as far as the nearest mirror.

The 10 Worst Regulations of 2013

There are many things 2013 will be remembered for, not least the miles of red tape that were imposed on Americans. It has been a very busy year indeed for regulators, who imposed new dictates on everything from the food we eat to the loans we obtain and the health insurance we buy.
Which are the worst? There are no objective standards to measure such things, but here is our take:
1. Failed health mandates. Finalized early in 2013, these rules — a key part of the Obamacare health insurance scheme — impose coverage requirements for individual health insurance policies. Required services for all policies range from maternity care (regardless of sex) to substance-abuse treatment to pediatric care (even for the childless). This mandate famously caused millions of Americans to lose their insurance policies, despite presidential assurances that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan.” For that, it earns our recognition as the worst rule of 2013.
2. Finance for lawyers. The 900-plus page “Volcker Rule,” adopted by five separate financial regulatory agencies in early December, limits bank “proprietary” trading, meaning trades on their own accounts, rather than on behalf of clients. For three years, the rule was stalled as regulators tried to separate undesirable speculation from economically essential investment. It’s still doubtful they got it right. What it does do is create a boon for lawyers in the inevitable litigation to follow.
3. Mortgage micromanagement. The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau went into high gear this year, issuing hundreds of pages of new rules restricting mortgage writing. Virtually every aspect of financing a home will be governed by rules set in Washington.
4. Diet dictates. The diet dictators at the Food and Drug Administration want to ban trans fats in food under the notion that any ingestion of any amount of this food additive is inherently unsafe. The cost of the ban is estimated at about $8 billion, in addition to Americans’ loss of some of their favorite foods.
5. Carbon inflation. In June, government regulators, not supported by economics or science, increased by a whopping 50 percent their estimates of the value of decreased carbon-dioxide emissions. This bloated estimate, while not in itself a regulation, will allow regulators to “justify” a host of new carbon dioxide restrictions, even if their benefits do not really outweigh the costs to the economy and consumers.
6. Pay-cap populism. The Securities and Exchange Commission in September proposed to require companies disclose the ratio of CEO compensation to the median earnings of all employees. This was among several dictates in the Dodd-Frank law with no purpose other than to stoke populist anger about wage “inequality.”
7. Billions for boilers. The Obama administration in January finalized a punishing set of regulations controlling emissions from some 17,000 boilers nationwide used to generate electricity and provide heat for factories. The Environmental Protection Agency estimated upfront costs of the rule at nearly $5 billion, although this is disputed as absurdly low by those affected.
8. Mail mandates. The U.S. Postal Service is hardly known for its efficiency. Part of the reason is that this government-owned enterprise operates under strict limits imposed by Congress. Thus, for instance, plans this spring to move to five-day-per-week delivery were blocked by congressional rules. No wonder the U.S. Postal Service is losing loads of money and putting taxpayers at risk.
9. Genetic-testing gag order. In early December, the Food and Drug Administration ordered a company called “23andMe” to stop marketing its home genetic-testing kits. There was nothing unsafe about the product; the FDA simply says that the tests might not be accurate and could prompt other, unnecessary, medical testing. Surely, that is a decision Americans can make for themselves.
10. Forced flacking for Christmas trees. In its latest version of the $1 trillion farm bill, the House approved a provision to require the Department of Agriculture to impose a tax of 15 cents on every fresh Christmas tree to fund a promotion campaign for the industry. This is a reincarnation of a program USDA wanted to impose in 2011, scotched as a result of a public outcry.
As active as regulators were in 2013, do not look for them to slow down next year. Already in the pipeline are dozens of new rules covering health care, finance, global warming, and more. It is anybody’s guess which will be on the 2014 list. The only safe bet is that consumers will lose choices and that all Americans will emerge with less freedom.

Booze, Pole Dancing, and Luxurious Hotels: Top 10 Examples of Government Waste in 2013

The latest budget deal, passed by a bipartisan majority in both the House and the Senate, suggests that Washington agrees with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) when she said that “the cupboard is bare. There’s no more cuts to make.”
The cupboard, however, is overflowing with liquor, crystal glassware, and more.
Here is our list of the top 10 examples of wasteful government spending this year, serving as a reminder that there is no shortage of excessive spending in Washington.

10. Outhouse in Alaska: $98,670. The Interior Department spent nearly $100,000 to install an outhouse on an Alaskan trail, which includes a single toilet with no internal plumbing.

9. A bus stop with heated pavement for the Washington area: $1 million. A lavish bus stop with heated pavement was built in Arlington, VA, but it has failed to keep commuters warm or dry.

8. Grant for a pole dancing performance: $10,000. Utility poles, that is. The National Endowment for the Arts provided a grant to PowerUP for Austin Energy employees to perform an artsy dance with 20 utility poles, accompanied by a live orchestra. 

7. Pizza — from a printer: $124,995. NASA gave a six-figure grant to a company that aspires to make pizza from a 3-D printer.

6. Study to find out if couples are happier when the woman calms down after argument: $335,525. “[M]arriages that were the happiest were the ones in which the wives were able to calm down quickly during marital conflict,” found a study of 81 couples funded by the National Institutes of Health.

5. Booze and crystal for the State Department: $5.4 million. The State Department went on a bender the week before the government shutdown, purchasing $5 million of “exquisite” crystal glassware to presumably drink the $400,000 in booze they purchased in 2013.

4. Monitoring depression on Twitter: $82,000. The National Institutes of Health is funding a study “to use Twitter for surveillance on depressed people,” according to the Free Beacon.

3. Seven-figure stack of rocks at the London Embassy: $1 million. The American Embassy in London will be receiving a granite sculpture from an artist “whose work resembles stacked piles of paving stones,” according to the Daily Mail.

2. Artwork for Veterans Affairs offices: $562,000. The Department of Veterans Affairs went on a spending spree during “use it or lose it” season, purchasing over half a million in artwork and millions in furniture in a single week.

1. Government employee trip to luxury hotel in the Caribbean: priceless. Federal employees took a taxpayer-funded trip to the Buccaneer Hotel in St. Croix—the same hotel made famous on TV’s “The Bachelor.” The bill was divided among a number of agencies, making a final tally difficult to come by.

Honorable Mention
A Super Bowl champion Obamacare campaign: $130,000. The Baltimore Ravens were paid $130,000 in taxpayer money to sponsor the Affordable Care Act.

An overwhelming, bipartisan majority of Americans thinks that Congress can find more ways to cut government spending, and there are numerous programs of questionable value that Congress should eliminate.
America did not end up $17 trillion in debt overnight. Congressional refusal to cut spending and prioritize taxpayer money more appropriately year after year got the nation to this point. Congress will have another opportunity before January 15, when considering the 2014 spending bill, to do better. Fiscal restraint is long overdue.
For other examples of government waste, see Heritage’s 2013 edition of Federal Spending by the Numbers and Senator Tom Coburn’s 2013 Wastebook.