Various and sundry reactions to HB2 and the NBA All-Star game…

Little sampling of the reaction to the NBA’s decision to pull the 2107 All-Star game from Charlotte over HB2:

Gov. Pat McCrory:

“I strongly disagree with their decision. To put it bluntly it’s total P.C. BS. It’s an insult to our city and an insult to our state.”

Knicks forwrd Carmelo Anthony:

Aside from all the politics, I feel bad for MJ [Michael Jordan] because I knew what that was going to do for the city of Charlotte,” Anthony said. “It was definitely going to boost everything. For him being able to bring All-Star weekend to Charlotte. I feel bad for him and for the NBA, too. We as players didn’t think it was going to get to this. It’s unfortunate. It’s a big decision for the NBA to pull it away from Charlotte. I guess we’ll see what happens from here now.”

Sports Illustrated:

If Charlotte didn’t have the power to hold the state government accountable for its laws, the NBA and its billion-dollar business would. It was surprising because we rarely see corporations act on threats like this. It was encouraging because it comes at a time when hostile rhetoric has escalated all over the country, and in this case, hostility had real consequences.

Critics will complain that the NBA is advancing its own progressive agenda, injecting politics into entertainment that’s supposed to be an escape from the real world, etc. But this really wasn’t about Democrats and Republicans. This was about basic decency, and sanity.

Rep. Robert Pittenger, in a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver—wanting to know why the league is selling ticket in a country “who has flagrantly violated human rights.”

Attorney General Roy Cooper, via Twitter:

News & Record’s Doug Clark:

Speaking of the ACC tourney, we should anticipate losing those events, too — Charlotte in 2019, Greensboro in 2020 — if HB 2 remains state law.

No wonder Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski made national news when he called the law “embarrassing.”

Sure to be more.

Obamacare Wants States To Think They Can Restructure Health Reform To Their Liking With A 1332 Waiver

People like to take advantage of exceptions to the rule when they can – whether it’s for self-interest motives or for beneficence. So, naturally, it makes sense for market-minded policymakers to pursue waivers that sidestep big government health care laws like Obamacare.

One in particular that may seem appealing to limited government proponents is the “State Innovation Waiver.” As a part of section 1332 under Obamacare, the waiver supposedly grants states flexibility to restructure the way in which people obtain health coverage. States are effectively allowed to use federal funding that would otherwise finance certain of the law’s provisions, such as premium and cost-sharing subsidies for eligible exchange consumers. Section 1332 also allows for states to waive the employer mandate, the individual mandate, and provisions relating to the health insurance exchanges, such as their respective qualified health plans (QHPs) that must include the required ten essential health benefits (EHBs).

Could this really be a way to transcend Obamacare?

Should North Carolina decide to invest time and energy into section 1332 of Obamacare, there are quite a few exceptions to the exception to the rule as outlined in the Federal Register that ought to give pause. Any waiver must:

  • Have health plans provide coverage that is just as generous as Obamacare plans.
  • Cover the same number of lives as Obamacare’s projections.
  • Put a cap on out-of-pocket expenses for premiums and cost-sharing equivalent to Obamacare standards.
  • Not mess with the federal deficit.

By the looks of these constraints, any approved 1332 waiver would look awfully analogous to the status quo. The flexibility factor really only applies to states that are gunning for a single-payer system (or to states wanting to provide even more generous coverage levels). A White House conference call back in 2011 affirms my point:

The source on the call summarizes the officials’ point — which is not one the Administration has sought to make publically — as casting the new “flexibility” language as an opportunity to try more progressive, not less expansive, approaches on the state level.

“They are trying to split the baby here: on one hand tell supporters this is good for their pet issues, versus a message for the general public that the POTUS is responding to what he is hearing and that he is being sensible,” the source emails. (This CNN story reflects the public presentation.)

Leef documents counterattack against feds’ sex assault rules

George Leef’s latest Forbes column focuses on the fight against sexual assault rules instituted by the U.S. Education Department.

… [W]e have reached the point where federal bureaucrats are the true overlords of higher education and they get to decide what statutes mean. In particular, officials in OCR have pushed their ideas so far past the written law that we are now getting a strong legal counterattack.

One suit, Doe v. Lhamon, was filed June 16 in federal court in the District of Columbia. The unnamed plaintiff is a former University of Virginia Law School student who was accused of sexual assault in 2013. Doe maintained that the encounter was consensual and the evidence to the contrary was very weak. But the university, under pressure from OCR to use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, eventually found him guilty.

The case was heard by a retired judge who called it “very difficult” and emphasized that she was compelled by OCR to use “the weakest standard of proof.”

Doe’s degree from the law school was held up for a year by the proceedings. Because he was found (under that weakest standard of proof) to have committed an assault, he will suffer a lifetime ban from all University of Virginia property and activities and will also have a permanent stain on his record that may inhibit his employment prospects.

As Robert Shibley, executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which is sponsoring the suit, remarks here, “OCR has acted as though decreasing due process rights will increase justice. In fact, the opposite is true. Real people’s lives are being irreparably harmed.”

The crucial element in this case is its attack on the legitimacy of the process through which OCR has compelled colleges to obey its directives. Doe argues that the OCR’s 2011 “Dear Colleague Letter” that admonished schools to adopt its preferred low-evidence, high-conviction approach to allegations involving sexual misconduct did not comply with the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and is thus void.

Under the APA, all administrative agencies must notify the public of proposed substantive changes in rules, solicit feedback, and allow time for public comment before they make a rule binding.

OCR did none of that before sending out its “guidance” to colleges.

Sick enrollees, UnitedHealthcare, and Obamacare’s future

Robert King documents for Washington Examiner readers some disturbing news for those who support the Affordable Care Act.

The largest insurer in the U.S. expects to lose more money in Obamacare because enrollees were sicker this year than in previous years, a new development as other insurers plan to raise rates next year.

UnitedHealth said in an earnings call Tuesday that it has generated more losses from its Obamacare business in the second quarter of this year. It has lost about $200 million this quarter and expects to lose $600 million by the end of the year.

The company said the latest losses are because of the Obamacare population getting sicker over the past year.

“The reality is the severity of chronic conditions inside the population actually increased on a year-over-year basis,” said Daniel Schumacher, chief financial officer for United, on the earnings call. He said the prevalence of people with conditions such as hepatitis C, diabetes and HIV have increased from 2015, but he did not specify by how much.

Losing money in Obamacare’s exchanges is not new for UnitedHealth, which has said it plans to leave a majority of the 30-plus markets where it offers Obamacare plans next year.

The explanation is unique, though, as some experts believe the Obamacare enrollee population is becoming healthier.

When Obamacare was implemented in 2014, insurers generally “underestimated how costly this population was going to be,” said Katherine Hempstead, who covers health insurance issues for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. As a result, Obamacare insurers set prices too low, which resulted in higher claims costs, eating into any potential for profit.

A new study from the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund found that a majority of Obamacare insurers lost money in 2014, the first year the exchanges operated.

Global warming science is not settled

In light of recent attacks from Capitol Hill, it seems fitting to highlight Michael Bastasch‘s latest Daily Caller article.

A former NASA climate scientist has put out a new report criticizing the argument that global warming is settled science.

“It should be clear that the science of global warming is far from settled,” said Dr. Roy Spencer, a former NASA scientist who now co-runs a major satellite temperature dataset at the University of Alabama-Huntsville.

“Uncertainties in the adjustments to our global temperature datasets, the small amount of warming those datasets have measured compared to what climate models expect, and uncertainties over the possible role of Mother Nature in recent warming, all combine to make climate change beliefs as much faith-based as science-based,” Spencer wrote in a report published by the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation.

“Until climate science is funded independent of desired energy policy outcomes, we can continue to expect climate research results to be heavily biased in the direction of catastrophic outcomes,” Spencer wrote.

Hillary’s policies and their impact for women

Abby McCloskey writes at National Review Online about the likely effect of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s preferred policy proposals.

She enjoys the highest level of support from women of any presidential candidate in four decades. She leads Trump 59 percent to 35 percent among Democratic and Republican female voters, according to Pew Research. She is likely to smash “the final, hardest glass ceiling,” according to the betting markets and most public polling.

Which raises the question: Is Hillary Clinton actually good for women?

When it comes to the economy and jobs — voters’ No. 1 concern — the answer is probably not.

Hillary has rejected her husband’s New Democrat platform, which led to one of the most successful economic periods for American women. Free trade, fiscal responsibility, and welfare reform were followed by rising wages in the 1990s and by the highest labor-force participation rate among women ever reached in America: 60 percent in 1999.

Instead, she has taken a page from President Obama’s playbook for economic growth, accepting as the new normal the weakest economic recovery since World War II.

That means that Obama-era weakness would continue, which isn’t great for women (or men, for that matter). Median weekly earnings for women working full-time increased by less than 1 percent from 2009 to 2015. The labor-force participation rate for women is 56.6 percent and trending downward. And economic growth is trundling along at 1.1 percent, with projected growth rates not expected to surpass 2 percent, which will do nothing to create new opportunities for working women.

Followers and leaders

Kevin Williamson of National Review Online ponders the latest developments in Donald Trump’s march toward the head of the Republican Party.

That Trump should be a partisan of the “all publicity is good publicity” faction is not surprising. Before Trump became a tabloid celebrity in New York for his tawdry adultery and subsequent divorce(s), there were about 22 people on Earth who gave a damn what a Donald Trump was. There is no denying that he is a kind of idiot savant when it comes to self-promotion: He took an episode that would have made a normal, functional adult human being want to keep his head down for the next 40 years or so and parlayed it into a series of successful licensing agreements, a reality-television program, and, now, the Republican nomination. One cannot fault Trump for that any more than one faults L. monocytogenes for causing literiosis or raccoons for digging through your trash. It’s what they do. …

… All publicity is good publicity. All followers are good followers, and they’re the only thing that really matters. It doesn’t matter what’s being said — it only matters that people are talking about you. Etc. That those views are childish and borderline insane does not mean that they are not useful. Donald Trump, Paris Hilton, and Kim Kardashian all are rich for the same reason, and Trump is the Republican presidential candidate for the same reason that he’s rich. He is the parasite, and we are the host, because we, as a culture, have agreed to be the host. Maybe we did not set out to do that, but that is what we have done, in much the same way that while nobody ever sets out to become a drug addict, nobody becomes one exactly by accident, either.

“Populism” isn’t much more than a polite term for mob rule, but it is the mood of the moment, and Republicans are, to their discredit, embracing it with great energy. They may even make something of it. But they’ll lose something, too. The presence of followers does not, as it turns out, imply the existence of leaders, properly understood. Political liberty under the rule of law is a fragile condition, and it requires us to be better than this.

This weekend on Carolina Journal Radio

Democratic U.S. senators launched an attack on the John Locke Foundation and other groups recently because of disagreements about climate change. Kory Swanson discusses JLF’s response to the attacks during the next edition of Carolina Journal Radio.

Terry Stoops analyzes key education-related accomplishments during this year’s N.C. legislative session. Campbell Law School professor Zachary Bolitho responds to the FBI’s recent news conference about Hillary Clinton’s email controversy.

Christopher Chung describes the work of the nonprofit Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. Plus you’ll hear highlights of a legislative debate over increasing transparency for “private-letter rulings” from the N.C. Department of Revenue.