Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Another GOP Stealth Bill Moves Toward Passage - While We're Distracted By The Senate Health Bill

You have to hand it to the Machiavellian Repukes who love to make legislative moves of a dastardly nature, and now more covertly than ever before.  This is especially true with the cynically named 'Better Care Reconciliation Act. of 2017.'   which has now been scored by the CBO.  Let's also note that  the Director of the Congressional Budget Office is  Keith Hall - a card carrying Republican - not a Dem!  This is important to reference as assorted 'pukes try to blast Hall's report as "inaccurate" or "incomplete".

What the CBO scoring found is that an estimated 22 million Americans would lose their health insurance under the "Better Care" Act the Senate GOP is trying to foist on the country.  Worse, no fewer than 15 million would lose out next year alone. How would this occur, by what processes? As noted on p. 8, the biggest attrition would arrive by massive increase in deductibles for low income people.   Thus, a deductible soaring to $10,000 a year for a low income family would mean they simply wouldn't purchase health insurance, hence they'd be left out in the cold - with the only option to go to ERs.

The other aspect concerns the soaring premiums which the CBO report estimates will spike as much as 74 percent.  While the "individual market" premiums would average about "20 percent lower" this is precisely because these markets would be composed almost entirely of the young and healthy who'd make few annual health visits or exact much cost.  Meanwhile, older Americans - say 64 years of age and earning $56 k/yr. - would see their premiums go to $16,000 year from $4,400 currently under the ACA formula.

The 74 % premium  increase figure outside the individual market is based on an 'apples to apples' comparison between what ACA covered citizens have now and what they'd get under "Trump Care".  To fix ideas, if ACA insured folks (say for a family of 4)  are currently paying a $500 a month premium they'd pay $870 if the GOP "Better Care" scam passes.   This spike would also clear many off health care rolls, which is exactly what the GOP's free market denizens hope for.

Left unreferenced amidst all the distraction with the "Better Care"  bill is how another disastrous GOP stealth regulatory bill is working its way toward manifestation. This "Financial Choice Act" - so called-  would give Trump the automatic power to fire the heads of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency.  The former keeps oversight over the behavior of players in the financial market place to ensure they don't screw you, overcharge you for services or unload Ponzi schemes masquerading as proper investments. The latter oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which oversees housing matters to ensure consumers aren't buying bogus mortgages, overpaying in interest or processing charges and generally ensuring that realtors, sellers are abiding by the laws.

This "Financial Choice Act" - unknown to most - also gives congress the power over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's budget,  which means lawmakers could defund the agency entirely.  In other words, it would literally give Trump and the GOP congress absolute power to wreck consumers' credit and financial stability - by leaving them open to all manner of shyster exploitation with zero protections.  (The CFPB has cracked down on debt collectors, the credit card industry, payday lenders, for profit colleges, banks and mortgage lenders)

For reference, in the past six years the CFPB has provided nearly $12 billion in relief for more than 29 million consumers - many victims of financial or credit card scams. Trump and the GOP may sympathize with the plight of possible future shyster victims, but the bottom line is that they don't want to shell any money out to victims.   Recall here that the CFPB was created out of the Dodd-Frank banking legislation to enforce federal consumer financial laws and protect consumers in the financial marketplace.  The agency's main goals have been to:

- Root out unfair, deceptive or abusive practices by writing appropriate rules, supervising companies and enforcing laws.

- Solicit and respond to consumer complaints.

- Enhance financial education.

- Research consumer experiences for assorted financial products, e.g. annuities.

- Monitor financial markets for new risks to consumers.

All of these have been found to be more than warranted, which is why the CFPB reaped $12 billion in relief for more than 29 million consumers the past six years. Had the assorted financial outfits been adhering to the existing laws the CFPB would not have been needed by all those citizens. The fact that 29 million got screwed shows the need for thorough regulation and an agency to oversee such. That Trump and the Republicans would destroy this agency shows they have no more concern for the financial welfare of their voters than they do for wayward bugs that might invade their vacay homes.

Section 841 of the Financial Choice Act has been particularly noteworthy in its potential to undermine and overturn the interests of investors, especially retirement savers.   Under Sec. 841 the Labiior Department's fiduciary rule would e repealed. To refresh memories, that rule stipulates that anyone handling retirement assets - and gives financial advice to savers - has a duty to work in their clients' best interests and disclose any conflicts where and when they exist.   By Jan. 1, 2018, under the impetus of the GOP's Sec. 841 of the "Financial Choice Act", the fiduciary rule will no longer likely to be enforced.

If your financial planner doesn't inform you of his conflicts, or takes you for a ride by selling you some mutual fund that is front loaded with fees he can make $$$ off of, it's all on you. Added to your new healthcare spiking premiums, welcome to Trump World, Year II.

This elicits the question of what new nightmares await us next year compliments of Trump and his Reptiles.

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