Trump To Scrap Crucial Obamacare Insurer Subsidy

Update: Late Thursday, the administration said it would immediately stop paying what are known as cost-sharing reduction subsidies. The payments go to health insurers in the Affordable Care Act to help lower-income people with co-pays and other cost sharing. Without them, insurers have said they’ll dramatically raise premiums or pull out of the law’s state-based markets.
According to Bloomberg, the White House said the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services both concluded that there is no appropriation for cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies under Obamacare. ‘The bailout of insurance companies through these unlawful payments is yet another example of how the previous administration abused taxpayer dollars and skirted the law to prop up a broken system,’ the White House said in the statement.
The payments will stop immediately, with no transition period, Acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement. They next payments were due next week.
‘Congress has not appropriated money for CSRs, and we will discontinue these payments immediately,’ the department said.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 13, 2017.

Chris Hedges On The End Of Empire: “The Death Spiral Appears Unstoppable”

The American empire is coming to an end. The U. S. economy is being drained by wars in the Middle East and vast military expansion around the globe. It is burdened by growing deficits, along with the devastating effects of deindustrialization and global trade agreements. Our democracy has been captured and destroyed by corporations that steadily demand more tax cuts, more deregulation and impunity from prosecution for massive acts of financial fraud, all the while looting trillions from the U. S. treasury in the form of bailouts. The nation has lost the power and respect needed to induce allies in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa to do its bidding. Add to this the mounting destruction caused by climate change and you have a recipe for an emerging dystopia. Overseeing this descent at the highest levels of the federal and state governments is a motley collection of imbeciles, con artists, thieves, opportunists and warmongering generals. And to be clear, I am speaking about Democrats, too.
The empire will limp along, steadily losing influence until the dollar is dropped as the world’s reserve currency, plunging the United States into a crippling depression and instantly forcing a massive contraction of its military machine.
Short of a sudden and widespread popular revolt, which does not seem likely, the death spiral appears unstoppable, meaning the United States as we know it will no longer exist within a decade or, at most, two. The global vacuum we leave behind will be filled by China, already establishing itself as an economic and military juggernaut, or perhaps there will be a multipolar world carved up among Russia, China, India, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa and a few other states. Or maybe the void will be filled, as the historian Alfred W. McCoy writes in his book ‘In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power,’ by ‘a coalition of transnational corporations, multilateral military forces like NATO, and an international financial leadership self-selected at Davos and Bilderberg’ that will ‘forge a supranational nexus to supersede any nation or empire.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 3, 2017.

Senate Republicans Defy Trump, Will Work With Democrats On Stabilizing Obamacare

In a troubling sign for the president, who over the past several days has threatened to end “bailouts” for insurers and, according to Rand Paul, is contemplating executive action to pursue his quest of repealing Obamacare, some Senate Republicans are now openly defying Trump’s directives.
As The Hill reports, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), head of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, announced Tuesday that he will hold hearings and would work with his Democratic colleagues to ‘stabilize and strengthen’ the individual insurance market under the Affordable Care Act, which the president has urged the Senate to keep trying to repeal. Alexander also urged the White House to keep up payments to insurers that help low-income consumers afford plans, which Trump has threatened to cut off.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 1, 2017.

Notes on covert information-ops

Ops involving information take many forms.
For example, let’s start with a simple ‘Sunday School’ version that any child could learn in an hour. A smear campaign can be carried out by highlighting people who, on their own, already claim an ‘extreme position’ – and then falsely tying those people, by association, to the person who is to be smeared.
Then there is the moving smear. When one charge you level at a person is proven false, or questionable, you add another one, and you keeping moving and piling on from many quarters.
This is more or less how the Russia-Trump story is being handled.
Let’s go to a ‘labeling op.’ In this situation, public persons are pictured and given titles and attributes which, on closer examination, are false.
For example, former Wall Street lawyer, and supposed ‘socialist,’ Eric Holder, rose to the position of US Attorney General. After his service in government, during which he prosecuted no one, no bank, for crimes committed in the 2008 financial meltdown, but instead judged them too big to fail and deserving of massive bailouts, Holder returned to the same Wall Street law firm to reap his rewards for services rendered.

This post was published at Jon Rappoport on August 1, 2017.

Rand Paul: Trump Considering Executive Action On Healthcare

After the Senate failed to repeal Obamacare on Thursday, when a critical “Nay” vote by John McCain crushed Trump’s biggest campaign promise shortly after midnight, on Saturday the President threatened to end key payments to Obamacare insurance companies if a repeal and replace bill is not passed. “After seven years of ‘talking’ Repeal & Replace, the people of our great country are still being forced to live with imploding ObamaCare!” Trump tweeted, followed by: “If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!.”
Now, in previewing what may be Trump’s next potential step to keep the fight against Obamacare alive, Reuters reports that Senator Rand Paul told reporters that Trump is “considering taking some form of executive action” to address problems with the healthcare system.
Paul said he spoke to President Donald Trump by phone about healthcare reform on Monday and told the president he thought Trump had the authority to create associations that would allow organizations to offer group health insurance plans.
Allowing groups like AARP, which represents retirees, to form health associations could enable individuals and small businesses to form larger groups to negotiate with health insurance companies for lower rates.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 31, 2017.

Trump Threatens To End Obamacare Payments And “Insurance Bailouts” Unless Repeal Passes

With the Senate having failed to repeal Obamacare, after a critical “Nay” vote by John McCain crushed Trump’s biggest campaign promise shortly after midnight on Thursday, Trump is plans to kill Obamacare slowly, and this time he has vowed to take insurance companies and members of Congress down with it.
The president on Saturday threatened to end key payments to Obamacare insurance companies if a repeal and replace bill is not passed. “After seven years of ‘talking’ Repeal & Replace, the people of our great country are still being forced to live with imploding ObamaCare!” Trump tweeted, followed by: “If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!.”
After seven years of "talking" Repeal & Replace, the people of our great country are still being forced to live with imploding ObamaCare!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2017

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 29, 2017.

To Fix Healthcare, We Need to Repeal a Lot More than Obamacare

I’ve always been willing to accept a repeal of Obamacare that was less than perfect, and I’ve never subscribed to the idea that only a total and complete repeal of Obamacare should warrant my support.
Even a small tax cut is better than no tax cut, and even a partial repeal of Obamacare is better than no repeal.
But, there’s been little reason to celebrate the GOP’s effort at an Obamacare repeal. And now that the effort appears doomed, there seems to be little reason for prolonged lamentation.
Indeed, right up until the apparent failure of the repeal effort this week. the whole affair has been marked by confusion, muddled messaging, and a clear lack of any direction beyond scoring some political points against the supporters of Barack Obama.
The Senate version, for example, only partially repealed the Obamacare tax while leaving much of the rest of the law untouched. Worse yet, the Senate version added bailout provisions for insurance companies.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on July 19, 2017.

Jail. Now. Not Bailouts

The latest Senate attempt to pass Obamacare Lite is now out.
It contains a number of provisions that are interesting but exactly zero of them address cost.
Notably, it does not include my one-sentence bill that would instantly destroy health insurance extortion rackets which are destroying the middle class and, if ended, would immediately force down costs for everyone in the system.
Nor does it include any of the other provisions that I have in my larger model legislative proposal that would force price transparency and end collusion — the very essence of which violates 100+ year old law.
It’s not like these provisions aren’t known to the Senate. They are. They’re also known to the House. And they’re known to Trump too, who has run a company for decades and is well-aware of the rank lawless nature of a “business” that refuses to quote you a price and charges people 5, 10 or 100x as much money based on whether or not you bought a “preferred” service from someone else.

This post was published at Market-Ticker on 2017-07-14.

Jailing Barclays bankers won’t save us from another financial crash — Joris Luyendijk

If you had told people in the City at the height of the financial crash in 2008 that it would take almost nine years for the first top bankers to face prosecution, few would have believed you. If you had then said that this first prosecution would relate to suspected fraud over one bank’s supposed attempt to avoid nationalisation – rather than the crash itself – the bankers involved in the crisis would have laughed in disbelief: surely, they aren’t going to let us get away with that?
But they did: the bankers who played a central role in the worst crash of the postwar era walked away with their fortunes and freedom intact. Even worse, the fundamentals of the system that made it possible were retained intact.
It is feasible that some of the top brass at Barclays will now go to jail for the way they raised billions from Qatar to avoid a government bailout – though the accused deny breaking any laws.
Yet ultimately it is of little consequence how this case plays out. The main outcome of the crash is that the DNA of the system that nearly destroyed the world economy is still there. In 2015 Andrew Haldane, the Bank of England’s financial stability chief, suggested that not even the regulator can know what banks really own and owe because they are still allowed to hide so much off the balance sheet.
It is worth recalling just how close we were to unimaginable disaster after Lehman Brothers failed in September 2008. Since nobody in the sector knew what other banks’ real status, pure panic broke out. The entire global financial system threatened to collapse. As the then president of the European council, Herman Van Rompuy, admitted (years later): ‘We came within millimetres of a total implosion’ – an implosion that would have meant hundreds of millions of people discovering that they had lost access to bank accounts, and that supplies to supermarkets, pharmacies and petrol stations had stopped.

This post was published at The Guardian

The U.S. Economy is a Perverted, Neo-Feudal, Rent-Seeking Abomination

The banker bailouts of the 2008/09 period changed my life forever. I was working on Wall Street at the time, and the way in which the government rallied around the financial institutions that torched the world and left its victims in the dust threw my entire delusional worldview into disarray. Prior to that, I had bought into the absurd assumption that I was financially successful at a young age primarily because I was hard-working and talented. The ensuing bailouts and the government’s emphasis on obsessively rescuing some of the most degenerate people in our society made me realize once and for all how completely rigged and sleazy the U. S. economy really is. As you might expect, it only got worse under Obama’s oligarch-coddling policies and will surely continue to deteriorate under Trump (Goldman Sachs is not your friend).
Ever since I left my cushy financial services job to do the challenging and often draining work of chronicling our ongoing crime scene, I’ve spent the vast majority of my free time trying to further educate myself on exactly how this system works. What I’ve discovered over and over again is that it is far more abusive than even I imagined.
Today’s post highlights two important articles that came to my attention over the past couple of days. Both are extremely disturbing, and both should be seen as completely unacceptable in a remotely ethical civilization (which we are not).

This post was published at Liberty Blitzkrieg on Michael Krieger | Posted Wednesday Jun 21, 2017.

How Donald Trump’s Presidency Could Inadvertently Lead to a Far Less Powerful Washington D.C.

Before I get started, I want to make it completely clear up front that while I will be discussing the Paris climate change agreement in this post, I am only doing so to make a much broader point about where we are as a species and where I think we need to go. In a nutshell, I believe a large percentage of people on this planet posses a slave mentality which essentially revolves around authority worship. I consider this to be comparable to a mental illness. It doesn’t matter whether that authority is Trump, Hillary or the UN, the sickness manifests itself in the same ways. There’s this conception that big government bodies, or powerful elected political figures, are indispensable when it comes to telling us what to do or how to think. Too many people prefer not work on themselves as individuals, and would rather be told what to do by an authority figure. This is perverse, unhealthy and it stunts the growth of the species.
I’m not in the camp that sees these United States as hopelessly divided. In fact, on many issues of existential importance, such as imperial militarism abroad, crony capitalism, Wall Street bailouts, the two-tiered justice system and some others, I think most Americans are very much on the same page. That said, there are definitely certain issues Americans are emphatically and passionately divided on, and divisiveness on these issues tends to prevent widespread unity on the others. Climate change, what causes it, how to stop it (or even if we can) is one of those issues.

This post was published at Liberty Blitzkrieg on Michael Krieger | Posted Friday Jun 2, 2017.

Trump’s Justice Department Goes Easy on Citigroup Unit for Criminal Money Laundering

Citigroup, the Wall Street mega bank that taxpayers were forced to prop up in the largest bailout of a financial institution in U. S. history from 2008 to 2010, is also a recidivist lawbreaker that the U. S. Justice Department fails to tame regardless of who occupies the Oval Office.
Under the Obama administration, Citigroup was repeatedly fined by its Federal regulators for serious abuses of the law and its customers but only once was a felony count leveled against the bank. On May 20, 2015, Citicorp, a unit of Citigroup, pleaded guilty to a felony charge in connection with the rigging of foreign currency trading. (Three other banks, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays PLC and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) also pleaded guilty to felony charges in the same matter. UBS, at the same time, pleaded guilty to rigging the interest rate benchmark known as Libor.)
Trump’s Justice Department is now raising eyebrows for handing another unit of Citigroup a non-prosecution agreement yesterday for egregious money laundering violations.

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on May 23, 2017.

Trump’s Immigration Court Battle Just Became a States’ Rights Case

In 2008, when corrupt and insolvent financial firms on Wall Street were being bailed out by the U. S. taxpayer after a vote by Congress, the firms were simultaneously funneling millions of those bailout dollars as bonuses to the very executives who had played a role in the firm’s demise. The American people were told by our government that the bonuses had to be paid because they were part of a legally binding contract between the company and the employee and contract law is sacrosanct in the U. S.
Now flash forward to President Donald Trump’s Executive Order of January 27, 2017. The President issued a wide-ranging travel ban that set off chaos at the nation’s airports; disrupted thousands of lives; and presented lawful residents of the United States from returning to their families and homes after travel abroad. The President directed a 90-day suspension on entry to the U. S. by individuals from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen; a 120-day suspension on refugees from any country; and a permanent suspension of entry of Syrian nationals.
Like the bonus participants on Wall Street, tens of thousands of the affected individuals held legally binding contracts with our government – either green cards giving them permanent legal residence in the United States or legal visas. But the immigrants’ contractual agreements with the U. S. were trampled and ignored.
For those travelling outside the U. S. when the surprise order came, they were barred from re-entry, detained at airports or sent back to a foreign country. For those inside the United States from the seven countries when the order hit – even those with properly obtained visas and green cards – they now had been stripped of their ability to travel, to see family abroad, attend a funeral of a loved one abroad, take part in university research or lectures abroad.
According to the lawsuit filed against Trump’s actions by the Attorneys General of the States of Washington and Minnesota, this is what our government did to legal permanent residents of the United States:
‘On January 28, 2017, a spokeswoman for DHS [Department of Homeland Security] stated that lawful permanent residents, or green card holders, would be barred from entry pursuant to the Executive Order…
‘On January 29, 2017, DHS reversed its decision through a statement by Secretary Kelly that purported to exempt lawful permanent residents from the Executive Order… Two days later, however, on January 31, 2017, the U. S. Customs and Border Protection, a DHS sub-agency, issued a statement entitled ‘Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.’ Although it repeated Secretary Kelly’s earlier statement, it also confirmed in its ‘Questions and Answers’ section that the Executive Order applies to lawful permanent residents and that their entry would depend on receipt of a ‘national interest waiver consistent with the provisions of the Executive Order.’ ‘
Last Friday, Judge James L. Robart of the U. S. District Court for the Western District of Washington State held oral arguments on the case and issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) which effectively blocked the President’s Executive Order. (See video of the oral arguments below.)

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade By Pam Martens and Russ Marte.

Did Chuck Schumer Just Threaten Donald Trump?

As the financial crisis jolted the nation in September, Senator Charles E. Schumer was consumed. He traded telephone calls with bankers, then became one of the first officials to promote a Wall Street bailout. He spent hours in closed-door briefings and a weekend helping Congressional leaders nail down details of the $700 billion rescue package.
The next day, Mr. Schumer appeared at a breakfast fund-raiser in Midtown Manhattan for Senate Democrats. Addressing Henry R. Kravis, the buyout billionaire, and about 20 other finance industry executives, he warned that a bailout would be a hard sell on Capitol Hill. Then he offered some reassurance: The businessmen could count on the Democrats to help steer the nation through the financial turmoil.
‘We are not going to be a bunch of crazy, anti-business liberals,’ one executive said, summarizing Mr. Schumer’s remarks. ‘We are going to be effective, moderate advocates for sound economic policies, good responsible stewards you can trust.’

This post was published at Liberty Blitzkrieg on Wednesday Jan 4, 2017.

Ukraine Nationalizes Its Largest Bank, Which Holds 36% Of All Domestic Deposits

It was just a few short days ago, on Wednesday of last week, that Ukraine’s largest lender, PrivatBank, said that reports it will be nationalized were “attempts to create panic and destabilize the political situation in the country.”
Local media, quoted by Reuters, speculated that Privatbank, which is part-owned by one of Ukraine’s richest men, billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky, could be privatized if it does not meet a year-end deadline for Ukraine banks to reach a capital ratio requirement agreed under an International Monetary Fund bailout program. However, what made Privatbank unique, is that with some $6 billion in private deposits – or 36.5% of Ukrainian banks’ total – it puts America’s own TBTF banks to shame: the bank is an absolute giant which controls nearly half of the local banking sector.
On Wednesady, the bank’s deputy chairman reaffirmed that there was nothing to worry about and said its customers had received phone calls and messages telling them the bank would be taken under state control due to a failure to meet the required capitalization level. “Exploiting the ignorance of citizens about nationalization, they stir up panic,” Oleg Gorokhovsky said, without saying who was behind the reports.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 18, 2016.

The Mainstream Media is Asking for a Government Bailout Via Censorship

The current controversy is different. Many people in Washington are irate over Wikileaks – not because the email were untrue but because they proved what many had long suspected . . . that Washington is a highly corrupt place full of truly despicable people. For people who make their living on controlling media and information, it was akin to the barbarians breaching the walls of Rome. So the answer is to call for government regulation to combat what will be declared ‘fake’ news or propaganda. It is only the latest effort to convince people to surrender their rights and actually embrace censorship.
– From Jonathan Turley’s: Washington Post Issues Correction To ‘Fake News’ Story
Watching Hillary Clinton attack ‘fake news’ and calling for legislative action against free speech she doesn’t like got me thinking. Why is she doing this? Yes, it’s obviously related to her notorious personality trait of never taking responsibility for anything and attaching herself to an invented controversy in order to deflect blame for her monumentally embarrassing loss to Donald Trump. But there’s more going on here. A lot more.

This post was published at Liberty Blitzkrieg on Michael Krieger | Posted Friday Dec 9, 2016.

New WikiLeaks Email: Podesta May Have Cost Democrats the Election With Push for Obama Legacy

Yesterday, WikiLeaks released a new email that synthesizes why Hillary Clinton and the Democrats suffered such devastating losses in Tuesday’s election, losing states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that should have been easy wins for the Democrats.
The email clarifies how Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Chairman, John Podesta, had created an impossible conflict in how he was running Clinton’s campaign: he wanted it to serve the dual role of embellishing President Obama’s legacy, thus muzzling Clinton on criticizing the President’s policies. It should have been readily clear that this was a losing gamble as tens of thousands turned out at Senator Bernie Sanders’ primary rallies as he called for a ‘political revolution’ against the establishment in Washington while Clinton attracted modest crowds with her stay the course mantra.
The email shows that on October 7, 2015, Hillary Clinton’s advisers were working on an OpEd that would map out her position on needed reforms of Wall Street. The OpEd would come within a week of the first presidential primary debate where both Senator Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley were expected to endorse the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act. The repeal of that 1933 legislation, sacked by President Bill Clinton and his pro-Wall Street administration in 1999, caused the Wall Street collapse and unprecedented bailout in 2008 by allowing banks holding trillions of dollars in taxpayer-backstopped insured deposits to gamble those funds away in exotic securities and derivatives. (See related articles below.)
In the email thread, Mandy Grunwald of Grunwald Communications said she liked the opinion piece ‘a lot’ and made the following suggestions:
’1. I am concerned about the Glass Steagall paragraph. I would recommend cutting it. Three things will antagonize: 1) saying she respects those who support it, is kind of patronizing; 2) calling it ‘old’ is an insult to the work done on the new version and 3) saying it will have unintended economic consequences will annoy. Why not just skip this?

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on November 10, 2016.

Here’s the WikiLeaks Bombshell on Clinton that Is Still to Come

Two partners at major law firms have likely been holding their breath since WikiLeaks released an email on November 1 showing that Obama had vetted Hillary Clinton for Vice President and the review came back ‘too critical,’ thus leading Obama to select Joe Biden as his Vice Presidential pick during the 2008 campaign. The vetting memorandum on Clinton shows in the email thread to have been transmitted with the email but WikiLeaks has not provided it – yet.
According to the email, which carries a capitalized heading of ‘CONFIDENTIAL,’ the vetting of Clinton had been done by James Hamilton, then a law partner at Bingham McCutchen LLP. Hamilton is now a partner at Morgan Lewis, a firm with a long history of ties to Wall Street. His official bio shows that he ‘served as the Clinton-Gore transition counsel for nominations and confirmations,’ ‘as the principal Clinton White House vetter for Supreme Court nominations,’ ‘was in charge of vetting vice presidential candidates in 2000 for Al Gore,’ did the same for John Kerry in 2004 and for Obama in 2008. His bio also indicates that he ‘vetted candidates for Cabinet, the Department of Justice, White House, and Supreme Court for the Obama administration.’
Upon receipt of the email and memorandums on September 4, 2008, Michael Froman issued an email to other members of Obama’s Transition Team stating: ‘Per our discussion, please do not circulate any further.’ Froman was an executive at the insolvent Wall Street behemoth, Citigroup. At the time of this email, Citigroup had been secretly receiving tens of billions of dollars in below-market-rate loans from the Federal Reserve to prop up its insolvent carcass and stood as the poster child for gross mismanagement. Citigroup would go on to receive the largest taxpayer bailout in U. S. history. Froman was employed at the very division of the bank that blew it up before the year was out.
Notwithstanding Froman’s ties to Citigroup, Froman was in charge of staffing the cabinet and subcabinet positions for Obama’s first term. Among the emails released by WikiLeaks, there are 351 emails which show the tight reins Froman held in the selection of Obama’s administration. (See related articles below.)

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade By Pam Martens and Russ Marte.

New York Times Writer Suggests Donald Trump is an Anti-Semite for His Reference to Banking Conspiracy

One would have had to have been in a coma for the past eight years not to realize there has been an ongoing Wall Street banking conspiracy in the United States. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) tallied it up and found it amounted to $16 trillion in secret loans from the Federal Reserve – an unfathomable bailout never approved by Congress. On May 20 of last year the U. S. Justice Department documented a vast conspiracy by global banks in the foreign currency markets with the banks admitting to the felony charges. The former heads of Federal regulatory agencies have written books about the conspiracy. Frontline and Sixty Minutes have produced documentaries on it. Banking whistleblowers have organized to fight it in an effort to save the country. A major motion picture, The Big Short, was released this year which put one aspect of the conspiracy into layman’s language and was based on a book by Wall Street veteran, Michael Lewis. Wall Street On Parade has chronicled the ongoing banking conspiracy for the past decade.
But yesterday, after Donald Trump made a reference to a banking conspiracy in his speech in West Palm Beach, Florida, a writer at the New York Times quickly pointed the anti-Semite finger at Trump, quoting Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and others. The Times wrote:
‘The remarks drew criticism from some who said they resembled prejudicial language used by anti-Semites. ‘Whether intentionally or not, Donald Trump is evoking classic anti-Semitic themes that have historically been used against Jews and still reverberate today,’ Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, a group that fights discrimination, said in a statement.’

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on October 14, 2016.