The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Archive for the ‘Liberty’ Category

Federal Health Care Legislation: We Really Don’t Know What’s In It

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Everyone already knows the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is more than 2,000 pages long. (2,562 pages and 511,520 words when

both the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act are combined, notes Michael Tanner.)

But what isn’t publicized much is that through July 31, 2010, there were already 3,833 new pages of regulations added to the Federal Register directly relating to the new law’s implementation.

That means that a bill that was signed into law on March 30, 2010, generated almost 4,000 pages of new regulations in four months. 1,000 pages a month – and counting.

Here are some examples:

1)      Medicare: Updated rules regarding Medicare payments to hospitals. This 95-page section pertains to the policies and price levels for hospitals seeking reimbursement for Medicare patients. So instead of focusing on providing high quality of care to patients, hospitals must devote significant resources to reading and understanding these new rules.

2)      Hospice care: This rule, among other things, updates payment rates and capitalization requirements for hospice and home health agencies. The rule is 106 pages long.

3)      Electronic medical records (EMR): Most doctors will likely tell you that EMR improves patient care. It cuts down on paperwork, and reduces the likelihood of errors (ever heard of a doctor with good handwriting?). But this rule adopts standards, specifications, and certification criteria for health care facilities to implement EMR in their facilities. In other words, 153 pages of new regulations and rules to facilitate a process that is supposed to reduce compliance costs and paperwork. Huh? On top of that, the rule adds new regulations and requirements for offices that already have EMR. These early adapters now need to obtain government certification in order to receive reimbursements for Medicare/Medicaid. But what if the EMR system they have is already working fine? Why force them to switch? This rule could also stifle market innovation in this area by locking in all health care facilities to the module that the government requires.

No doubt, this is just the start of literally entire libraries of rules that are going to dictate everything from how much health care providers charge to how many x-ray machines are found in each hospital.

And we wonder why lawyers love Obamacare.

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Written by Geoff Pallay

November 19, 2010 at 7:47 am

How to Make Trial Lawyers Rich: H 4478

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It is a curious thing that even as legislators complain about massive budget cuts, they have passed an omnibus economic development tax credit act that provides an array of targeted credits and subsidies ostensibly aimed at stimulating South Carolina’s ailing economy. The so-called “Economic Development Competitiveness Act of 2010” (H 4478) is the brainchild of House Speaker Bobby Harrell and a team of high-powered consultants.

According to Harrell’s office, the bill represents a “proactive economic development strategy” that includes such recommendations as eliminating the corporate income tax and restoring funding to the Closing Fund. The strategy, in other words, is to stimulate the economy both by enacting broad-based tax cuts and by doling out subsidies to special interests. Except there are no broad-based cuts that would benefit taxpayers who don’t have well-connected lobbyists.

Indeed, the degree of special interest handouts in H 4478 reminds us of the BAT bill (H 3722) that passed the House and Senate last year … only to die in conference committee.  In any event, Senate leadership seems to have sent up a warning signal regarding the bill, boding ill for any future conference committee and, perhaps, suggesting the bill wouldn’t survive a gubernatorial veto.

Voting no on H 4478, here is what Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell (R-Charleston) had to say about the bill:

Statement by Senators McCONNELL and BRIGHT

Unfortunately, we were forced to vote against H. 4478. We voted against it even though we believe in what the Bill attempts to do and help with economic development in South Carolina. However, the Bill became a Christmas tree on which many amendments were added on varied subjects such as grease and algae biodiesel, dredging of canals, changes to the State’s hospitality tax, and nuclear power plants. Our State Constitution is very clear that each Bill relate but to one subject. This Bill, as amended, clearly does not. We have all sworn to uphold the Constitution of this State even when it means voting against Bills that are popular and that we support. All this Bill would do, as drafted, is get the State sued, costing our taxpayers money and make some trial lawyers rich. For that reason, we voted “no.”

Written by Jameson Taylor

June 8, 2010 at 7:56 am

Ten Tips for a Better Tea Party … and Tools You Can Use

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Couldn’t pass up mentioning this piece from WPRI, which is making the rounds today.

One point bears repeating. “Tell us what to do.” In other words, the challenge for the Tea Party Movement is to translate feel-good political bashing into action. After all, the Founding Fathers did a lot more than have a tea party.

In fact, they made ongoing and significant sacrifices for freedom – sacrificing their money, time and, even, lives in some cases. We aren’t being called to do that. But, still, there is plenty we should – and can do.

Fortunately, we here at the Policy Council have provided the tools South Carolinians need to reform their state government.

And, as we announced at the tea parties last week, the newest of these tools is South Carolina Votes. This new website will allow ordinary South Carolinians to easily track and comment on legislation being considered in Columbia.

Along with South Carolina Votes, there is also The Nerve. This is not just a news site – it’s a citizen journalist movement that gives concerned citizens across the state an opportunity to report on what is happening in their local communities.

Finally, scpolicycouncil.com provides in-depth analysis on important issues while unleashingcapitalismsc.com is becoming a nexus for independent business leaders.

Want to know what you can do to make South Carolina better? Get involved. We’ve given you the tools for success. The rest is up to you.

Written by Jameson Taylor

April 20, 2010 at 10:07 am

Eminent Domain Case Reaches Sad Conclusion

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Susette Kelo, a homeowner in Connecticut, lost the now infamous Kelo v. New London court case in 2002 — where the city seized her house through eminent domain.

Typically, eminent domain is reserved for public use — building a public road for example. But New London was handing Kelo’s property (among others) to a private company, Pfizer, under the premise of a “public use.”

The city sold-out its citizens to appease one special interest group. But now, it seems the story has come to an unfortunate close.

Pfizer announced in November that it is pulling out of New London — all that remains on Kelo’s property is some grass and dirt.

Check out the Policy Council’s update on property rights legislation here in South Carolina.

Written by SC Policy Council

December 23, 2009 at 10:50 am

Posted in Liberty, Taxes, Transparency

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Unleashing Capitalism will Unleash Potential of South Carolina

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Last night the Policy Council released a new book – Unleashing Capitalism – in addition to a new website unleashingcapitalismsc.org.

More than 200 South Carolinians attended the launch party, where Policy Council President Ashley Landess introduced the video below and discussed the book. A compilation of chapters written by local economists, the book details a prescription for economic activity in South Carolina.

While at the event, it was clear how many residents of our great state have been waiting to take back the economy. People expressed their frustration with the secrecy of government economic planning, and the burden of taxes and regulations. Our residents are ready to unleash their ambition, talent and creativity.

We need to remember that we have capitalism to thank for so many innovations and luxuries of our society. Air conditioning, refrigerators, canned food – all a result of capitalism at work. If we get back to basics and unleash capitalism, the economy will prosper once again.

This fact sheet gives a breakdown of what’s actually in the book. An excerpt:

  • Reforming the tax code. The state’s tax code is inefficient and unfair. Each dollar of tax revenue collected costs the South Carolina economy between $1.60 and $1.82. High taxes also reduce economic freedom and discourage entrepreneurship. In addition to depoliticizing the tax code by eliminating special-interest tax breaks, the state should eliminate the corporate income tax and lower sales and income taxes. See Chapter 4, Chapter 5 and Chapter 12.
  • Lowering the personal income tax to 3 percent and fully indexing for inflation. South Carolina has the highest effective marginal income tax rate (7 percent) in the Southeast. Failing to fully index brackets for inflation also guarantees an automatic tax increase for most South Carolina families, with the top bracket kicking in at $13,351. By comparison, North Carolina’s top bracket begins at $60,001. An even better alternative would be to implement a flat-rate income tax at about 3 percent. See Chapter 5 and Chapter 12.
  • Reducing the manufacturing property tax to 1 percent. South Carolina has, by far, the highest industrial property taxes in the Southeast. This tax should be lowered from an effective rate of 3.73 percent to 1.00 percent. Doing so, however, will require a state constitutional amendment. See Chapter 5.

In fact, this blog is coming to you courtesy of capitalism. We use the Internet that was created by entrepreneurs, and my computer that was built by companies trying to make a profit and add value to society. All parts of capitalism.

Capitalism never stops. Now, we have wireless internet on airplanes. Thank you wi-fi access that is now available on planes. This blog was written live from 30,000 feet in the air, and courtesy of capitalism. Not government-planned economies.

Written by Geoff Pallay

November 13, 2009 at 1:51 pm

SCPC Launches Drive for Free Enterprise, Economic Growth

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Unleashing coverSixty years ago, South Carolina ranked No. 45 in terms of per capita personal income. Today, we remain the sixth-poorest state in the nation, even though we’ve thrown billions of dollars in tax incentives at companies and spent tens of billions on public education.

Not only have these failed strategies not helped the average South Carolinian, they have actually made things worse by increasing taxes and stifling entrepreneurship.

To help rouse South Carolina from its economic lethargy, the Policy Council is beginning a year-long campaign to promote a new path for free enterprise and economic growth in the Palmetto State.

This effort begins tonight with the release of Unleashing Capitalism, published by the South Carolina Policy Council Education Foundation.

“Our state needs a complete paradigm shift in its thinking and government policies if we’re truly going to compete and create wealth for our citizens,” says Policy Council President Ashley Landess. “Unleashing Capitalism provides a compelling roadmap for why and how to do so.”

The release of the book – edited by noted economists Peter T. Calcagno of the College of Charleston, Joshua C. Hall of Beloit College and Russell S. Sobel of West Virginia University – is the first phase of an ongoing three-part campaign by the Policy Council to promote free enterprise in South Carolina.

The book includes contributions from more than a dozen economists and other experts. Among its findings and recommendations:

  • While South Carolina has an overall mid to low tax burden, our tax structure is detrimental to economic growth. For example, South Carolina has the highest manufacturing property tax in the country. Unleashing Capitalism recommends a flatter and simpler tax structure.
  • Politically popular policies like “clustering” and targeted “economic development” incentives are discredited by the reports as inefficient and ineffective at generating long-term economic growth.
  • The state’s recent spending increases on education have done little to improve educational performance. To reverse this trend and produce real results, the book recommends increasing educational choices and implementing weighted student funding in the public school system.

South Carolina has ranked near the bottom of the nation in economic growth pretty much since the end of the Civil War, but, as Unleashing Capitalism points out, it doesn’t have to be that way.

By embracing the ideas laid out in Unleashing Capitalism, the Palmetto State can open its doors to economic progress unparalleled in state history.

Written by Cotton Boll Conspiracy

November 12, 2009 at 8:11 pm

Smoking Bans Represent Creeping Threat Against Personal Liberty

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bogart3The State paper last week continued its push for comprehensive smoking bans, arguing that cities and towns throughout Lexington and Richland counties should enact smoking prohibitions.  

The State, of course, would like to see the General Assembly institute a statewide ban on workplace smoking.

The paper contends that in addition to protecting workers from secondhand smoke, such a move “would create a level playing field for businesses by addressing concerns that patrons might leave an establishment in a jurisdiction that bans smoking to spend money at bars, restaurants and other establishments where smoking is allowed.”

So much for the free market and letting patrons decide where they want to spend their hard-earned dollars.

As the Policy Council wrote in The S.C. General Assembly: Best & Worst of 2009, smoking is universally accepted as unhealthy, but what is even more unhealthy is ceding power to the government over such personal matters.  

Using the force of law to restrict a proprietor’s rights to run their business as they see fit violates that individual’s right to decide how their property is to be used.

What the busybodies who push for smoking bans refuse to accept is that the market can decide the issue. 

If a non-smoker doesn’t want to work in an environment where smoking is permitted, an employer’s private property rights shouldn’t be violated to accommodate that worker. While not always the easiest course of action, there are other jobs available for those unhappy with their workplace environment.

If a business owner who allows smoking loses enough talented employees because they don’t want to put up with cigarette smoke, he can either suffer the consequences, install appropriate ventilation equipment to remedy the situation or change his policy.

But the choice should be his, not rammed down his throat by government mandate.

Rather than something as draconian as a smoking ban, why not require businesses to determine their own smoking policies. Establishments can choose whether to be all-smoking, have separate smoking and non-smoking sections, or prohibit smoking.

By requiring a place of business to indicate near its entrance whether it’s a smoking establishment, customers and potential employees would be aware of the environment they’re walking into.

The other difficulty presented by the concept of a smoking ban is that it represents a creeping tyranny.

As the American Spectator pointed out, “Smoking bans have gone from California oddity to standard practice, creeping to ever more absurd extremes. Outdoor bans are increasingly common, extending to wide open beaches, parks, and golf courses. Dedicated cigar bars and tobacco shops are under fire. Even the home, the last refuge for many smokers, is no longer free from the government’s encroachment in some cities.”

Reasonable people may or may not like smoking at a restaurant, bar or place of work, but most probably feel competent to make their own choices without having the government micromanage their lives.

Written by Cotton Boll Conspiracy

October 21, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Posted in Capitalism, Liberty

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