Posts Tagged healthcare

This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: National School Choice Week


Radio Program Schedule for the week of January 24, 2015 – January 30, 2015

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Eric Boehm has news headlines from PAIndependent.com
  • Lowman Henry talks about National School Choice week with Otto Banks of the REACH Alliance and former NFL player Ricky Watters
  • Joe Geiger has Peter Stinson of Operation Home Front in the Community Benefit Spotlight
  • Beth Anne Mumford of Americans for Prosperity-PA has a Lincoln Radio Journal commentary on the legislature getting down to business.

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Shawn DuBravac of the Consumer Electronics Association about digital security
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on the latest Supreme Court challenge to Obamacare
  • Eric Boehm of Watchdog.org and Lindsay Burke of the Heritage Foundation have a Watchdog Radio Report on President Obama’s plan for free community college
  • Col. Frank Ryan, USMC (Ret.) has an American Radio Journal commentary on a failure of leadership in the wake of Ferguson

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: Challenges Facing the New Governor


Radio Program Schedule for the week of November 22, 2014 – November 28, 2014

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  •  Eric Boehm has news headlines from http://www.PAIndependent.com
  • David Taylor from the PA Manufacturers Association hosts a Capitol Watch look at the old challenges facing the new governor with Gene Barr from the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry and Neal Lesher from the PA Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business
  • Lowman Henry has a Town Hall Commentary on why government gridlock can be good

This week on American Radio Journal:

  •  Lowman Henry talks with Robert Graboyes from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University about the current Obamacare open enrollment period
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story behind defeat of the Keystone KL pipeline
  • Eric Boehm and Rob Nikolewski have a Watchdog Radio Report on the impact of falling gasoline prices on state budgets
  • Col. Frank Ryan, USMC (Ret.) has an American Radio Journal commentary on improving mental health care for children

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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PA Business Climate Improving…But Obamacare a drag on employment, pay


For the first time in a decade, by a narrow margin, more Pennsylvania employers say business conditions in the commonwealth are improving than say the state’s economy is getting worse.  But, that optimism is tempered by a lack of job creation and lower wage hikes due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

George W. Bush was president and on the verge of re-election in 2004, the last time respondents to the Lincoln Institute’s Keystone Business Climate Survey thought the business climate was getting better rather than worse.  Since then the nation has experienced the Great Recession and subsequent slow recovery.

But, the current survey finds 20% of the business owners and CEOs responding say over the past six months business conditions in Pennsylvania have gotten better, while 19% say the state’s economy has gotten worse.  By comparison, one year ago 31% felt business conditions had gotten worse and just 14% saw an improvement.

There is not, however, optimism for the immediate future.  Looking ahead six months, 27% expect business conditions in Pennsylvania to get worse, while 16% expect conditions to get better.

Driving the current burst of optimism are increasing sales.  Thirty-six percent of the companies said sales have increased over the past six months as 24% reported decreased sales.  Looking ahead, 32% project sales will increase, 13% expect sales to drop.

Employment levels dropped over the past six months, with 20% reporting higher employment and 24% saying employment at their business has decreased.  Looking ahead six months, 21% project adding employees, while 9% plan to employ fewer workers.

Impact of the Affordable Care Act

It is clear the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, is having a negative impact on both the number of jobs that are being created, and on wages and pay hikes. Twenty-five percent of the business leaders participating in the survey said they have decided not to hire additional employees due to the requirements of Obamacare.  Ten percent said they have actually reduced the number of employees because of ACA; while another 3% said they hired, but did so later than they had planned.  Less than 1% said they hired sooner than planned because of Obamacare. Fifty-eight percent said ACA has had no impact on their hiring plans.

In terms of wages/salaries, 33% said they have delayed giving pay raises due to the costs of Obamacare.  Twenty-eight percent indicated they reduced the amounts of pay raises, while 26% said they paid new hires less to compensate for the costs associated with compliance of the Affordable Care Act.  Five percent reduced the pay of current employees, while 2% said they increased employee pay in response to ACA requirements.  A total of 42% said Obamacare has no impact on their wages/salaries.

State Issues

Education spending has been a major issue in the gubernatorial campaign. But, unlike the electorate at-large, business owners and CEOs participating in the Fall 2014 Keystone Business Climate Surveysay the state spends too much money on public education.  Forty percent think state government spend too much on public education, 29% say the state spends too little, while 27% say state spending on public education is about the right amount.

By a large margin, 78% to 19%, the employers say they are not willing to pay higher taxes to provide additional funding to public education.  There is, however, strong support for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) which businesses can claim for donating money to K-12 educational institutions.  Forty-seven percent think the General Assembly should allocate more month to the tax credit fund so more businesses can participate; 36% say the fund should be kept at current levels.

Taxes have also been a major campaign issue in 2014.  When asked whether Pennsylvania should retain the current “flat” income tax or move to a “graduated” income tax where low income earners are exempt and higher income earners pay a higher rate 84% said they support the current “flat” income tax, 14% would like to see a “graduated” rate.

A proposal to exempt the first $30,000 from state income taxes and raise the rate for money earned above that level from 3.07% to 5% drew strong opposition from the business leaders.  Seventy-three percent oppose such a system with 60% saying they are strongly opposed.    Twenty-three percent said they would support such a change.

Mandating paid sick leave for employees was opposed by three-quarters of the business owners and CEOs who participated in the Lincoln Institute survey.  Seventeen percent said they would support mandating paid sick leave for businesses with over 50 employees. Another 6% support mandating paid sick leave for all businesses regardless of size.

Job Approval Ratings

Mirroring the national trend, President Obama received a highly negative job approval rating from the business owners and CEOs.  Eighty-five percent voiced a negative view of the president, while 13% offered a positive assessment.

U.S. Senator Pat Toomey is viewed favorably by 51% of the survey participants while 24% have a negative view.  The numbers reverse for U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. as 60% offered a negative view of his job performance against a 21% positive rating.   Fed Chairman Janet Yellen received a 38% negative / 28% positive rating; and, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew scored a 42% negative / 8% positive.

At the state level Governor Tom Corbett sports a 52% positive rating while 35% disapprove of the job being done by the Republican governor.  The CEOs and business owners turned thumbs down on Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who received a 49% negative rating against just 16% positive.  Most offered no opinion on the job performance of Auditor General Eugene Depasquale and State Treasurer Rob McCord.  Of those who did, Depasquale had a 20% negative / 11% positive rating and McCord scored 21% negative / 17% positive.

Participants in the Fall 2014 Keystone Business Climate Survey took a dim view of the job being done by both Congress and by the Pennsylvania General Assembly.  Eighty-nine percent offered a negative assessment of the U.S. Senate, with 7% having a positive view.  The U.S. House of Representatives fared slightly better scoring a 72% negative / 22% positive rating.  Sixty-three percent have a negative view of the job being done by the Pennsylvania Senate, 19% approve.  The Pennsylvania House of Representatives turned in a marginally higher score, with a 62% negative / 23% positive rating.

And, Governor Tom Corbett finally came out ahead in one poll.  Sixty-five percent of the business owners and CEOs said they plan to vote for the incumbent governor in the November 4th General Election, 20% say they will cast their ballot for Democratic challenger Tom Wolf.  However, 53% expect Wolf to win the election, while 29% predict a Corbett victory.

Methodology

The Lincoln Institute’s 2014 Keystone Business Climate Survey was conducted electronically from September 26, 2014 through October 17, 2014.  A total of 316 responses were received.  Of those, 69% are the owner of their business, 24% are the CEO/COO or CFO, another 4% are a state or local manager. Twenty-seven percent of the respondents are located in southeastern Pennsylvania, 18% in southwestern Pennsylvania, 14% in the northwest section of the state, 17% in south-central Pennsylvania, 11% in northeastern Pennsylvania, 6% in the Lehigh Valley, six percent in north-central Pennsylvania and 1% in the Altoona/Johnstown area. Complete numeric results are available at www.lincolninstitute.org.

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Moving the Goal Posts


A football field is 100 yard long.  That makes the 50-yard line the center of the field.  Suppose we were to change the rules and make the football field 120 yards long.  That would make the center of the field the 60-yard line.  Despite changing the center, the 50-yard line is still 50 yards from the goal line even though it is now ten yards away from the middle of the field.

Simply put, we moved the goal posts.

That is what has happened to American politics.  Policies and positions that at one time were considered moderate, are now denounced as extreme.  This is because the field was not lengthened ten yards on each side; rather all 20 yards were added to the Left side of the field making formerly centrist positions seem further to the Right.

Conservatives who espouse low taxes, personal freedom and a strong national defense are now portrayed as the “radical Right,” despite the fact such positions occupied the nation’s mainstream for generations.  The Democratic Party, establishment Republicans and a liberal dominated news media all view it in their best interests to claim the center is now the extreme.

But voters are not buying the argument.

The upset of this year’s primary season was the defeat of U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia’s 7th congressional district.  It was the first time in history a sitting Republican majority leader lost his own party’s primary.  Many factors contributed to Cantor’s defeat, but the fact is a TEA party conservative put together a message that resonated with voters and despite being massively outspent won the election.

Another incumbent is on the verge of being ousted in Mississippi where long-time U.S. Senator Thad Cochran has been forced into a run-off election by TEA party conservative Chris McDaniel who actually received more votes than Cochran in the first round of balloting. McDaniel has been ahead in polls leading up to the run-off election.

For his part, Cochran has laid waste to establishment claims that TEA party candidates must be defeated in primaries because they suffer from foot-in-mouth disease causing them to lose winnable general elections.  At a recent campaign appearance Cochran claimed he grew up “doing all kinds of indecent things with animals.”  His claims of barnyard exploits proved candidates from all parts of the political spectrum can say stupid things.

Here in Penn’s Woods even Democrats are not buying the progressive spin. In what one Left wing blog termed “the worst Primary night for PA progressives in recent memory,” Democrats nominated a wealthy “one percenter” over more Leftist candidates for governor.  Self-described liberal lion state Senator Daylin Leach finished third in a congressional primary in which the most centrist candidate on the ballot prevailed.  Progressive rising, now fallen star State Representative Erin Molchany lost to an old-line Democrat and State Representative Margo Davidson, a pro-life Democrat defeated her progressive challenger.

The bottom line is this: although the progressive/mainstream Republican/news media echo chamber would have you believe conservative positions are now extreme voters in both parties are, at the ballot box, proving otherwise.  Essentially, both political parties have become disconnected from their grassroots.  Thus the political division in America today is more between those who govern and those who are governed than it is between Republicans and Democrats.

For Republicans this is an opportunity to appeal to Democrats turned-off by their party’s ultra-progressive wing much as Ronald Reagan did in assembling a winning coalition back in the 1980s.  The war establishment Republicans are waging against the GOP’s TEA party base provides a division that can be exploited by Democrats.

With internal strife abundant in both parties, the one which does the best job of minimizing their internal divisions will prevail at the ballot box both in this November’s race for Governor of Pennsylvania and in the 2016 Presidential campaign now getting underway.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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A Taxing Tale


President Obama’s claim that “If you like your health care plan you can keep your health care plan” was dubbed by pundits as the 2013 lie of the year. Fast forward to this year’s gubernatorial campaign and two lies are competing for top honors.  Take your choice between: Governor Tom Corbett has slashed spending on public education; and Marcellus Shale gas drillers, unlike other states, are not paying high enough taxes.

Pollsters for the four remaining Democratic candidates for governor seem to have all discovered that education funding has surpassed unemployment and the melting polar ice caps as the main issue concerning likely voters in the upcoming primary.  Thus a happy convergence of the two lies has occurred.  The candidates can promise voters their cake – more education spending – and they can eat it too because they will tax the robber baron gas drillers to pay for it.

Setting aside the fact more state dollars are being spent on public education than at any time in the history of the commonwealth, let’s focus on whether or not companies drilling in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale reserve are paying their fair share.  One candidate claims on his website that we are giving “. . . away our state’s valuable resources without generating revenue for critical investments like schools . . . ”  His television ads point out that gas drillers in Penn’s Woods do not pay a severance tax as do companies operating in every other state in the union.

That is a true, but misleading statement.  Pennsylvania does not levy a severance tax, which is a tax applied on gas as it leaves the well, but the commonwealth does charge gas companies – as it does all other businesses – both a Corporate Net Income Tax and a Capital Stock & Franchise Tax.  We are the only state in the nation that levies both of those taxes.  That alone would place Marcellus shale drillers on an equal footing with the 49 other states.

But, it doesn’t stop there.  Act 13 of 2012 imposed an impact fee on natural gas wells in Penn’s Woods.  It is called a fee because Republicans supporting the measure did not want to be accused of raising taxes.  A rose by any other name, however, is still a rose.  The dictionary defines the word tax as “a sum of money demanded by a government for its support, or for specific facilities or services.” Thus, the Marcellus Shale impact fee is, by definition, a tax.

The impact tax is levied based upon the price of natural gas traded on the market and on the age of the wells.  Thus the amount of revenue generated each year fluctuates depending on market performance and number of wells drilled.  According to the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy in Pittsburgh, the impact tax generated $204.2 million in revenue in 2011 and $202.5 million in revenue in 2012.  Less was generated in 2012 because the market price of the gas had decreased.

So, to put this into perspective, an industry that supposedly is not paying its fair share over the past two years paid every tax every other business in the state paid plus an additional $406.2 million.  What sort of outrage would there be if, for example, we asked farmers to pay an impact tax? They use natural resources – soil and water – to produce their product.  Or, perhaps to make it fair we should enact a “success tax” – in addition to Corporate Net and Capital Stock & Franchise taxes – on any business in Pennsylvania that expands rapidly and reaps higher profits?

The current political debate focused on adding another layer of tax on Marcellus Shale drillers implies, and in some cases outright states, that the gas companies are taking a natural resources and we are left with no benefit.  But the Allegheny Institute’s analysis of where dollars from the impact tax have gone shows that a wide range of state agencies, county and local governments have received revenue from the tax.  These funds have gone to repair and replace local bridges, improve water and sewer projects, clean up acid mine drainage, pay for green space initiatives and watershed projects. Money has been set aside in the Environmental Stewardship Fund to pay for any future problems which may arise, and into community and economic development.  Counties – all 67 of them – have shared in over $21 million in revenue.

As in most political campaigns truth is the first casualty.  Candidates can certainly propose higher taxes, but they should at least not mislead voters. Instead they should tell the whole story and not just those parts of it that fit their campaign narrative.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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Fool’s Errand


In announcing its plans to ignite a Republican civil war on the eve of the 2014 election cycle Scott Reed of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the goal is “no fools on our ticket.”  He made this announcement while donning a $50 million court jester suit. That is the amount of money the group plans on spending in the upcoming GOP primaries.

Apparently believing congressional leadership – whose job approval rating makes President Obama’s 39% approval look robust – needs a bit of shoring up as the new cycle commences, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has decided the enemy is not the Democrats who visited Obamacare and an unprecedented era of government regulation upon business. No, the enemy is the Tea Party.

Yes, the Tea Party, the grassroots movement of Americans who still believe in the principles of limited, constitutional government.  That movement, you may recall, which returned the GOP to majority status in the U.S. House of Representatives providing at least some modicum of counterbalance to the President’s rigid ideological agenda.

Reed’s strategy is classic minority think.  Rather than expand the coalition into a diverse – and yes, sometimes contentious majority, he would rather the ineffective GOP establishment in congress retain control over a diminished, but tightly controlled minority conference.  This is not about what is best for business, or for the Republican Party, or for the good of the nation: it is about controlling the levers of power in congress.

We’ve seen this act before. Newt Gingrich’s conservative revolution led the GOP into majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994.  He floundered and in 1998 the establishment took control of the Republican conference, only to cede control back to the Democrats in 2006.  That happened because the GOP establishment proved itself to be Democrat lite, so voters opted for the real thing.  Lest Mr. Reed forget, it took the grassroots fervor of the Tea Party to sweep the GOP back into power in 2010.

With establishment figures like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell holding top GOP leadership positions in the House and Senate respectively, public approval of the legislative branch has fallen to single digits.  Again, the American public is rejecting their approach to governance, but the U.S. Chamber is rushing to the rescue.

At issue is control of the U.S. Senate.  Reed says the chamber’s goal is “to make sure, when it comes to the Senate, that we have no loser candidates.”  Those are nice sounding code words for “make sure we have no Tea Party candidates.”   Recent election cycles have produced senators not willing to bend to the will of establishment leadership.  Senators like Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin come to mind.

Under the chamber’s current strategy even Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, who chased establishment U.S. Senator Arlen Specter from the party and then claimed that seat in the 2010 General Election would have been in that year a chamber target under the new Reed strategy.  Toomey has chosen a more workman-like approach than the senators mentioned above, eschewing the spotlight for what has proven to be highly effective behind-the-scenes legislating,

Reed and the Washington GOP establishment have seized on Tea Party missteps to make their case in the upcoming primaries.  But, for every Tea Party loss like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, there has been an establishment melt-down like George Allen in Virginia.  Simply put, Reed and his allies have supported their share of losing nominees.

All of this plays out against the backdrop of the GOP’s failure to win control of the U.S. Senate in 2012.  The party’s chances looked promising, but missteps by both Tea Party-backed and establishment-backed candidates overlaid by the inept Presidential campaign of establishment favorite Mitt Romney scuttled the opportunity.

With nearly twice as many Democrat as Republican seats up for election in 2014 and an electoral climate poisoned by the Obamacare fiasco the GOP’s chances of winning a senate majority are good, very good.  But groups like the U.S. Chamber declaring war on the party base are a bad omen.  Because it doesn’t matter who is nominated, no Republican candidate in any state can win without the active support of voters who identify with Tea Party principles.

The Tea Party and the chamber should be natural allies, but a power driven desire for insider control has led the business group to choose conflict over collaboration.

It is, to adopt their term, a fool’s errand.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

 

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: Union Issues Poll


Radio Program Schedule for the week of November 9, 2013 – November 15, 2013

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry gets election analysis from former Virginia Governor now President & CEO of Free Congress Foundation Jim Gilmore
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on an upcoming battle for the soul of the Republican Party
  • Benjamin Yount and Eric Boehm analyze the New Jersey governor race along with key state and local ballot questions
  • Col. Frank Ryan, USMC (Ret.) has an American Radio Journal commentary on why in the private sector Obamacare would be considered to be fraud

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Eric Boehm and Benjamin Yount have news headlines from www.paindependent.com
  • David Taylor of the PA Manufacturers Association and Kevin Shivers from the PA Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business have a Capitol Watch look at the Lincoln Institute’s Union Issues Poll
  • Lowman Henry has a Town Hall Commentary on why Penn State should be included in the Open Records Law

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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