Weekend Review, 4/12 – 4/19

The Mendenhall‘s “Weekend Review” relays articles, videos, and other media from the past week that contributors to The Mendenhall have found promising, frustrating, or simply interesting. We hope you enjoy our selections and the accompanying commentary.

President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul continues to receive bad press, this week from the Huffington Post. Not only did the linked article note that Obamacare “increased insurers’ costs by forbidding denial of coverage to consumers with pre-existing conditions and by imposing taxes and fees to fund aspects of the new law” (which this publication has been noting all along), but it also discovered that insurers are suffering from narrower networks of doctors and hospitals. As it turns out, President Obama’s argument that everyone needs to sacrifice a little for the “greater good” has not proven to be particularly popular among medical professionals.
Article: “How Obamacare Leaves Some People Without Doctors” by Kathleen Miles

Obamacare received somewhat more positive press this week when the CBO announced that Obamacare would cost the government “less than projected,” according to the linked editorial from the Washington Post. The report (which can be read here) maintained that Obamacare would cost $5 billion less than expected in 2014 (which still leaves $36 billion in costs) and $164 billion less in the next decade. Good news for the Obama Administration? Not really. The fine print of the report notes that the reduction comes as a result of Obamacare’s “lower payment rates for providers, narrower networks of providers, and tighter management of their subscribers’ use of health care” than what the CBO had expected when assuming that Obamacare would be like employer-provided plans (see page 16 of the report). Thus, the plans become “less attractive” to consumers and make them less likely to enroll, though the net effect on enrollment would be minimal due to these constraints keeping costs lower (which encourages enrollment) provided that the trend continues into the future. Of course, the CBO does not account for the diminished quality of healthcare as a result of such tight management. We doubt such changes will be lost on American voters in the long term.
Editorial: “Lower premiums (yes, really) drive down Obamacare’s expected costs, CBO says” by Jason Millman

Politico reports that Hillary Clinton took a hit this week as her favorability rating fell to a six-year low to 49 percent among registered voters in a Fox News poll with 45 percent unfavorability, the first time her favorability has fallen below 50 percent among registered voters since the Democratic presidential primaries in April 2008. However, that still places Clinton higher than potential Republican challengers. This, however, is likely attributable to pre-primary Republican infighting (whereas the Democrats seem fairly decided on Clinton) and to the relative obscurity that many of those candidates have among low-information voters compared to Clinton. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, for example, had just 32 percent favorability and 34 percent unfavorability among registered voters, but that leaves some 34 percent of registered voters undecided with just 6 percent undecided on Clinton. 22 percent of registered voters, in fact, do not so much as recognize Sen. Paul’s name compared to 1 percent for Clinton.
Article: “Hillary Clinton favorability slides” by Lucy McCalmont

US and EU officials reached an initial agreement with Russia this week towards a deescalation of tensions and violence in Ukraine. As linked below, Politico reports that the conference in Geneva resulted in a joint statement calling upon the disarmament of illegal groups in Ukraine, the return of seized buildings, amnesty for protesters (save for those guilty of capital crimes), and a total refrain from “violence, intimidation or provocative actions” by both sides. The report also makes a special condemnation of racism and religious intolerance, “including anti-Semitism” — undoubtedly a result of increased concerns after a flyer surfaced demanding that Ukrainian Jews register with the separatist government (see here). Unfortunately, no one seems confident that the agreement will last long-term, especially as western and Russian officials remain sharply divided over the status of Crimea. We share in that skepticism, and paraphrase the advice of Ayn Rand in saying that the best solution for Ukraine would have been to have never let it get to this state in the first place.
Article: “Obama: ‘Glimmer of hope’ in new Ukraine plan” by Edward-Isaac Dovere

In the wake of the Bundy Ranch debacle ending earlier this week, representatives of nine state governments convened Friday in Salt Lake City at the Legislative Summit on the Transfer of Public Lands to discuss strategies to return the vast tracts of federal lands in the West to state control. Citing their superior ability to manage property, resource, and environmental issues on said lands as well as the federal government’s fiscal problems and growing national debt, representatives of Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming took the first steps toward requesting the transfer of titles to what are currently federal lands, excluding certain instances such as government facilities and national parks. Though Utah would be the only state to officially demand the abrogation of federal claims to  its lands, other states are still deliberating and may yet follow its example.
Article: “Western lawmakers strategize on taking control of federal lands” via FoxNews.com

Thank you for joining us this week! Look forward to more cutting analyses and unique perspectives on current events here at The Mendenhall. Have a great weekend.

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