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14 October 2017



The High Cost of Good Intentions -- A History of U.S. Federal Entitlement Programs,

From Amazon Review:

Federal entitlement programs are strewn throughout the pages of U.S. history, springing from the noble purpose of assisting people who are destitute through no fault of their own. Yet as federal entitlement programs have grown, so too have their inefficiency and their cost. Neither tax revenues nor revenues generated by the national economy have been able to keep pace with their rising growth, bringing the national debt to a record peacetime level.

The High Cost of Good Intentions is the first comprehensive history of these federal entitlement programs. Combining economics, history, political science, and law, John F. Cogan reveals how the creation of entitlements brings forth a steady march of liberalizing forces that cause entitlement programs to expand. This process―as visible in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as in the present day―is repeated until benefits are extended to nearly all who could be considered eligible, and in turn establishes a new base for future expansions. His work provides a unifying explanation for the evolutionary path that nearly all federal entitlement programs have followed over the past two hundred years, tracing both their shared past and the financial risks they pose for future generations.

Here is a nugget from the book:

In 2015, 41 percent of the nation’s nonelderly-headed households received entitlement benefits.

There is more:

The eligibility liberalizations from 1997 to 2008 produced sharp increases in the food stamp and Medicaid rolls. From 1998 to 2008, the food stamp rolls increased to 28 million people from 20 million and the Medicaid rolls increased to 59 million from 40 million people. The liberalizations enacted during the Great Recession have lasted well beyond the recession’s end in 2010. In 2016, the number of food stamp recipients ballooned to 44 million, and the number of Medicaid recipients rose to 73 million in 2016.


Let's be clear here that a CSR in itself isn't unconstitutional, George... it's the issuing of the check from the Treasury without an explicit funding from the Congress, which has never authorized the expenditure. One of the clearer explanations I've found is here:

In the exchanges, people whose household income falls between 100 and 400 percent of the poverty level qualify for two kinds of financial assistance. The first is a tax credit to reduce insurance premiums, authorized under ACA Section 1401. The ACA supports these premium reductions with a permanent appropriation — i.e., the appropriation is built into the law; Congress need neither appropriate funds in a separate statute nor renew the funds annually.

The second form of financial assistance on the exchanges is reduction in “cost-sharing,” under ACA Section 1402. “Cost-sharing” is made up of “deductibles, coinsurance, copayments, or similar charges.” Unlike the premium reductions, the cost-sharing reductions are not accomplished by tax credits. Instead, insurance companies are required to reduce what they would otherwise charge. Why would insurance companies do that? Largely because they are supposed to get paid back. Section 1402 authorizes the secretary of health and human services to reimburse the insurance companies the amount of these reductions — i.e., it sets up an arrangement whereby the companies can be made whole by shifting the cost to taxpayers. But there is no appropriation for this arrangement. If Congress wants to permit reimbursement, it must appropriate funds in a separate statute — such as an annual appropriations act.


Crabb's 'toon has all the depth we've come to expect from RL and his echo chamber has what it wants... and seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day. Michael P. Anderson's comment equating Trump with Hitler for following the law (and a finding in a Federal court) is just bizarre.

Todd Juvinall

Reading the screed by Anderson is sort of what he does. No smarts about the comparison. And he actually attacks Trump's followers, the voters, as his real target. Anyway, Anderson would be Stalin's right-hand man using his logic.


We shouldn't talk about Anderson's comment without sharing it in its entirety:
But at least the black man’s “crummy plan” is being wrecked. Trump promised that’s what he was going to do and now he’s doing it. The contents and recipients of the plan are completely and totally irrelevant. Hitler’s strongest supporters were those who suffered the most horrific consequences. Pretend it’s 1937, though of course things are moving much more quickly in the 21st century.

So, Mikey manages to bring race and Hitler into it.

George Rebane

Gregory 1136am - My apologies, I thought I was being very clear since the ONLY way CSRs have been and are funded is through the unconstitutional (i.e. without congressional imprimatur) issuance of checks from the Treasury. Your argument reminds me of a fellow who once wanted to clarify someone's claim that pigs couldn't fly by pointing out that the only reason for that limitation was their lack of wings ;-)


Millions quitting The Black Man's Health Plan!!!*** and getting their Medicare entitlements!



No, George, it is not the same as your Pig analogy.

There are a plethora of ways the Congress and the President can spend money unconstitutionally even with a proper funding bill. The CSRs are mentioned in law and the legality of that sort of transfer wasn't challenged... only the issuing of the check without Congress' explicit funding was.

Now, could the constitutionality of that sort of transfer be challenged? Probably not without shrinking the Interstate Commerce clause back to the plain meaning of the text which would cause all sorts of problems for Washington DC's main industry.

George Rebane

Gregory 1239pm - We disagree. The legality of the ACA CSR transfers was challenged specifically on its being illegal under our Constitution. Any transfer of funds from the Treasury without the House first having the opportunity to exercise its power of the purse violates specific constitutional provisions. To wit -

"In the federal government of the United States, the power of the purse is vested in the Congress as laid down in the Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 (the Appropriations Clause) and Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 (the Taxing and Spending Clause)."

Specifically -

"On May 12, 2016, Judge Rosemary Collyer of the federal district court for the District of Columbia decided that the Obama administration cannot constitutionally reimburse insurers for the costs they incur in fulfilling their obligation under the ACA to reduce cost sharing for marketplace enrollees with incomes below 250 percent of the poverty level. Judge Collyer found that Congress has not specifically appropriated money for this purpose. The judge stayed her order enjoining the administration from reimbursing insurers absent a specific appropriation pending appeal."


Yes, George. The unauthorized checks without backing appropriations, not the legality of the CSR in concept. Perhaps the issue is just a bit too deep for you.

It's money that the insurers have been told to expect, and as soon as Congress gets the appropriations in place, they may get them again. And pigs may fly.

Now, about those federal funds to boost the aging white male vote... how might those get blocked were they to be appropriated?


Now, to continue, I think it's perfectly clear that Pelosi & Reid would have put the CSR authorization into the Obamacare law(s) in the first place when they had their ruling majority but that hole was not identified until after Pelosi lost her majority in the House. Haste makes mistakes.

I think the CSR blocking by Trump is, at it's core, a negotiating tactic. You won't repeal it? I won't violate the law by continuing to paper over your oversight with an expenditure without the appropriation in place. Your move, Chuck and Nancy and Paul and Mitch.


Lefty hate for Trump is not being tolerated any more.

George Rebane

Gregory 252pm - I think that what you may be missing in the current news about President Trump's actions is that he is not arguing the "legality of the CSR concept", but simply stopping the unconstitutional CSRs that have attempted to keep the ACA afloat. I have no idea why you gratuitously introduced the generalization where none was needed. (Loved the "too deep" remark.)


George, nothing was missed here. The Congress passed a law that required a separate budget authorization to be made to work, and Obama was willing to direct the papering over the issue despite the lack of his power to do so. Trump didn't... but he waited months to move on it... also extraconstitutional.

The "too deep" was just your snark of your 1221 thrown back atcha.

Todd Juvinall

Actually, it seems quite simple. Congress did not appropriate, Obama diverted funds from elsewhere to subsidize and all is deemed illegal. Trump is stopping the illegal acts and now we see the democrats and California's AG going bonkers.


Give that Todd a cigar.

Todd Juvinall

Thanks but they make me sick. LOL!

George Rebane

Gregory, in your usual argumentative approach what you didn't do is point out what in my original commentary was in error. Perhaps your tutoring could have begun from there.


"Gregory, in your usual argumentative approach..."

George, I think you're "projecting" here.

Bill Tozer

Let’s pick on CNN. They read from the lefty script issued forth from on high from Industrial Liberal Media and Entertainment Complex,

“CUOMO: Jim, why aren't you saying the President is acting like an emperor and his job is to execute laws that are passed not write his own and Congress must hold him into account for doing so.

JORDAN: Not with these CSR payments. The courts have said, just like with DACA, this president said, “I’m not going to continue something the courts have said is unconstitutional.”

CUOMO: The litigation is not complete. You are right. A district court did hold that. The appeal is on hold because the parties have held it.

JORDAN: The money was never appropriated, Chris. It’s not constitutional plain and simple.

CUOMO: Listen, I get that that’s your opinion. I’m just saying that the litigation isn’t over.

JORDAN: Everything that the Democrats told us about this [ObamaCare]law has turned out to be false.

CUOMO: That’s Not true.



Where was Cuomo's bitch when "O" was handing out waivers to "O" care ? That was "emperor" stuff pure and simple.


RL Crabb decided to answer points taken here in his own blog, writing "As usual, the sourpusses over at Rebane’s Ruminations have dismissed my etching as knee-jerk liberalism. Ho ho! The fix has been in on destroying the ACA since it was enacted."

RL, I didn't see anyone call your sketch "knee-jerk liberalism", and I wouldn't call it that. A "shallow reactionary caricature" would be my takeaway, with a big dollop of Godwin Forfeit Pudding from Michael Anderson who can now post in your echo chamber without anyone calling him on it. Neither your scribbles or Anderson's rant have anything to do with 20th century liberalism.

Trump had promised to halt the illegal payments soon after taking office, he waited, making a number of illegal payments himself. The action taken this week had to be done at some point.

The ACA was, by a number of observers, designed to fail and cause a clamoring for a single payer system, and were a Democratic Party majority in the Congress and a Democrat in the White House, that is what would happen.


Posted by: Gregory | 15 October 2017 at 11:51 AM

"The fix has been in on destroying the ACA since it was enacted."

The ACA arrived with its death sentence pre-approved! There was never any reason to do anything else except wait for it to implode. I imagine that the democrats felt that their block of voters would be so overwhelming at that point that single payer would be fait accompli!

Todd Juvinall

Funny how he calls those who post here "sourpusses". Every single cartoon he draws is of a negative nature and complaining about something he dislikes. You cannot make up this kind of hypocrisy. As far as ACA's demise. If I recall, RL used it to help cure his wife's ailments. Which makes his views neutrality suspect.

Bill Tozer

The “Democrats” have gotten along quite well simply by yelling, screamiing, stomping their feet, and making a big fuss over...fill in the blank.. Add being the town crier proclaiming the death of 20 million people dying in the streets, some protesting and riots, and it has worked like a charm for them.....until The God Emperor Trump arrived at the party, aka, the America First Nationalist Culture Warrior.

“No means no, children.” No is a complete statement. Has nothing to do with how things should be, or how you were told they would be. Hang tight Green Libertarians and others with a pocket full of promises along with the bedwetting daydream believers. Best to buckle up and try not to upchuck on yourselves. There are barf bags located in the seat rest in front of you. Enjoy your flight on Emperor Airways, an American corporation.

Don’t know how many times Trump said Obamacare is busted, needs to be fixed or thrown on the garage heap and try it again. Put a bill on my desk and I will put my John Hancock on it. But noooo, the libs are stomping their feet, pounding their spoons, and staging a group mass hysteria temper tantrum. Yawn. That gets old after 50 years.

Don’t know how many times Trump said (referring to Congress playing games and dragging their feet on fixing The Unaffordable Bankrupt Care Act) that he should just let it implode and then Congress will get busy and do their job description. He often followed up by, “Nah.....”. Well, the hour approaches. Poop or get off the porcelain throne, RINOs and the entire Left. Just like DACA, make it legal and put it on our wonderful combative President’s desk.
Do your job, Congress. Resist Trump all you want. Bust out more windows and join hands and form a circle around the NRA. Sue the crap out of everything about Trump that moves, including his shadow. But, just get busy and earn your paychecks, Legislative Branch.

If you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat. Do like how Trump goes after the Democratic Socialists’ sacred cows. :). Boardman will go nuts and his true colors will pop out...again.

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