Zach Montanaro

Obamacare Leading to Higher Health Costs

Posted by Zach Montanaro on Wednesday, May 8th, 2013, 3:52 PM PERMALINK

If you were hoping that the state of America’s health care system would have gotten better by now, a long three years after Obamacare was put into law, then you won’t like what you are about to read.

Remember the good old days when President Obama kept reassuring the American people at every turn that Obamacare was really a good thing and people would learn to love it once it was implemented more? Even during his State of the Union he said that his law was “helping to slow the growth of health care costs”. Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but we’re seeing the exact opposite start to happen.

According to a Washington Post article found here, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield has recently proposed in Maryland raising premiums on individual policies by an average of 25% next year. On the surface, that just seems like greedy fat-cats trying to grab more money, right? Well, let’s take a step back. Remember, Obamacare forces insurance companies to provide coverage to people no matter if they have pre-existing conditions or not. While a noble gesture, this forces insurance companies to spend more resources in covering these less-healthy individuals, which means higher costs for them, which translates into higher costs for us. But they aren’t alone. Insurance companies have proposed similar plans in Rhode Island and Vermont as well, with slightly smaller increases.

Let’s also not forget the provision in Obamacare that says that if businesses have more than 50 employees who work more than 30 hours a week, then the business is required to provide health insurance to those people or face a hefty fine. Companies from Papa Johns to Hardees to Boeing have already said that this requirement could slow expansion and lead to pricier production costs, and already we are seeing a lot of companies starting to hire more part-time workers or rework schedules in an effort to keep employees under the 30 hour requirement to try and keep costs down. How’s that for “change we can believe in”?

If this hasn’t been painful enough to read, there have recently even been Democrats who have started to “see the light,” if you will, and started voicing their discomfort about the law. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), who helped jam the bill through the Senate back in 2009, recently said that he “just sees a huge train wreck coming.” Strange how it took him until the prospect of facing a tough reelection to notice something the majority of Americans could point out. If that wasn’t bad enough, the always-fun Harry Reid tried to defend Baucus as best he could, but instead of admitting that Obamacare is just a train wreck waiting to happen, he tried to make the point that the law needs even more money or face a train wreck. In a CBS article found here, Reid says “Max said 'Unless we implement this properly, it's going to be a train wreck.' And I agree with him.” Because the multi trillion dollar mess that Obamacare is just isn’t enough already, right?

President Obama and the Democrats set out to try and fix the country’s health care system by jamming Obamacare down the throat of Americans, and instead have created a giant bundle of red tape that will make it harder for businesses to hire and expand, as well as make it even more expensive to receive health care in the first place. When the very architects of Obamacare are worried about it now creating a train wreck, you know that something has gone terribly wrong.

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Straight Talk About the Wage Gap

Posted by Zach Montanaro on Friday, May 3rd, 2013, 3:12 PM PERMALINK

When Equal Pay Day came upon us, the Independent Woman’s Forum released a bold video explaining many facts and statistics that you most likely did not hear in the media. Now with May Day celebrations abound, it’s a good time to once again look at one of the most popular arguments used by self-proclaimed “champions” of worker’s rights, equal pay for women.

The prevailing wisdom is that women earn 77 cents for every dollar that men earn. While that is technically true, IWF points out how that percentage is reached by calculating the average of all male workers and all female workers no matter what profession they are in. So instead of comparing teachers to teachers, or doctors to doctors, the “77 cents for every dollar” argument is based off of every worker in the overall workforce, in effect comparing jobs like plumbers and construction workers to other professions such as real estate agents and professors when in fact they are completely different jobs.

IWF also points out how more regulations from Washington that try to “close” this wage gap, while well intentioned, can actually have bad economic consequences and even make it harder for women to earn better pay. That seems to be a recurring theme with regulations, doesn’t it? Very well intentioned laws quickly become cumbersome and burden businesses even further.

If women’s groups around the country wanted to change something that actually made a difference for women, one would think they would focus on something that has real world implications, such as the marginal tax rate for second earners. For those who don’t know, a married couple’s income is taxed together. The unfairness behind this is that the first earner’s income (usually the husband’s) is taxed at a normal rate for a specific amount of income, and everything after that income is taxed at a higher rate. The second earner’s income, however (typically the wife’s) is completely taxed at that higher rate. So while the husband gets a generous tax relief, the wife is left with substantially less income than her husband. 

To make this easy to understand, here’s a hypothetical situation. Let’s assume there are two tax brackets, one at 10% and another at 25%, both husband and wife make $125,000 each, and any income after the first $100,000 is taxed at the 25% rate. For the husband, the first $100,000 of his income would be taxed at 10%, while the remaining $25,000 would be taxed at 25%, leaving him with $108,725. For the wife, however, her entire income would be taxed at the larger 25%, leaving her with only $93,750, a difference of almost $15,000! So even with the same exact pay, the wife is still left with less money in the bank than her husband.

There’s no denying women deserve equal pay in the workplace and play an extremely important role in our economy, not only with the work they contribute but also with the time they put in to look after their families. The solution for this, however, is not to try and force fair pay, which can only create burdensome red tape, but to look at solutions that will actually have real world effects for women around the nation. Fixing the idea of secondary incomes being taxed at much higher rates would immediately allow women to keep more of their own, hard-earned money. Demanding equal pay is a good first step, but if women want to be able to actually keep that money, they need to demand much more from their leaders in Washington, and from the groups that claim to represent them.

If you want to check out the video, as well as learn more about the IWF in general, click here.


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IRS Star Trek Video a Facepalm for Taxpayers

Posted by Zach Montanaro on Friday, April 5th, 2013, 2:50 PM PERMALINK

In a move that has left many people either scratching their heads in confusion, or just chuckling at its sheer stupidity, it has recently come to light that the IRS has spent $60,000 of your hard-earned taxpayer dollars to help fund two training videos for new agents on how to find tax evaders.

Originally brought to light by the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee's oversight chairman, Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., R-La, not only do these videos deserve one of Captain Picard’s famous face-palms, it is a perfect insight to how Washington simply can’t help itself anymore when they have money in front of them. Instead of trying to save money where they can, the IRS seems content to spend your hard-earned money on videos meant to spoof Star Trek and Gilligan’s Island. Poorly too, I might add.

While on the surface $60,000 doesn’t seem like a lot of money compared to other wasteful Washington programs, here’s a graph that might put things into better perspective


Average Salary

Police Officer


Elementary School Teacher


Sergeant in the Army


President of the United States


Now, for their part, the IRS has come out with an apology of sorts, saying "The IRS recognizes and takes seriously our obligation to be good stewards of government resources and taxpayer dollars… There is no mistaking that this video did not reflect the best stewardship of resources." Anyone could have told them that.

It’s almost funny, in a tragic sort of way, how the agency in charge of taking your money seems all too willing and eager to spend and waste it.  While hard-working Americans continue to try and “live long and prosper” in a struggling economy, Washington is once again busy wasting their money on useless things like this. Sadly, this abuse of money just seems to be the norm these days, and it’s up to the people to demand their representatives stop voting to take more of their money away from them.

If you happen to be curious, the Star Trek video can be found here. The Gilligan’s Island video hasn’t been released to the public yet.

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