Billions

A journalist uses his mobile phone to take a picture of the 5G logo prior to the auction of spectrum for 5G services at the Bundesnetzagentur head quarters in Mainz
A journalist uses his mobile phone to take a picture of the 5G logo prior to the auction of spectrum for 5G services at the Bundesnetzagentur head quarters in Mainz, Germany, March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

March 19, 2019

MAINZ, Germany (Reuters) – Germany launched its 5G mobile spectrum auction on Tuesday, finally going ahead after a court threw out legal challenges and regulators resisted U.S. pressure to ban Chinese network vendors from building out next-generation networks.

Four firms are vying for 41 blocks of spectrum in the 2 GHz and 3.6 GHz bands that are suited to running ‘connected’ factories – a priority for Europe’s largest economy as it seeks to remain competitive in the digital age.

“It is important for us that we have a focus on industry, and on better coverage,” Jochen Homann, head of the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) said ahead of the auction.

Germany’s three network operators – Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland – have been admitted into the auction.

Also participating is 1&1 Drillisch, a virtual mobile operator controlled by United Internet that wants to run a fourth network.

Bid teams surrendered their smartphones on entering the former army barracks in the southwestern city of Mainz where the auction is being held. They are bidding via a secure network from separate rooms and can only discuss strategy with their head offices via fax.

All 41 blocks will be auctioned simultaneously, with results posted online after each round. The government hopes to raise billions from the auction – a 4G auction in 2015 collected 5.1 billion euros ($5.8 billion) – which is likely to go on for weeks.

After months of uncertainty, the auction went ahead after a court last week threw out lawsuits from the operators, who had complained that a requirement to provide high-speed coverage to 98 percent of households by 2022 was too onerous.

Regulators also clarified ground rules applying to network equipment vendors following U.S. pressure on its allies to ban China’s Huawei Technologies on national security grounds.

Germany opted instead to impose tighter compliance requirements on all vendors, creating a level playing field and allaying the concerns of the operators – all of which already use Huawei equipment – that they would have to replace parts of their networks at great expense.

“The same rules apply, whether you are from Sweden or China,” Homann told reporters.

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

Source: OANN

David Hookstead | Reporter

“Billions” returned Sunday night on Showtime, and it was outstanding.

WARNING: THERE ARE GOING TO BE SOME VERY MINOR SPOILERS BELOW. DON’T KEEP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET.

Season four kicked off with “Chucky Rhoades’s Greatest Game.” There were two main storylines. First, Chuck is obviously no longer working in the government, but still is trying to prove that he has some muscle.

How does he do this? It’s simple. He’s acting as a middle man for powerful people to deliver on promises. Initially, he’s asked to deliver on a concealed carry permit, but can’t do so. Is old Chuck down and out? Not so fast, my friends. (RELATED: Watch The Electric First Preview For Season Four Of The Hit Show ‘Billions‘)

After some haggling, lubing up four or five deals, our favorite former villain was able to pull through on the carry permit. Sure, he might have had to involve a foreign ambassador over a baseball tournament to get it done, but he got it done. That’s all that matters. It was a lighthearted arc that reminded everybody Chuck is still in the game, and he’s not to be underestimated.

Secondly, Axe — who is now flanked by a massive security detail at all times thanks to the looming threat of Grigor — and Wags are all in on wooing a powerful sheik in order to run his money. There’s just one major problem. (RELATED: The Latest Season Of ‘Billions‘ Was An Electric Journey)

Taylor Mason is in play and she’s apparently incredibly convincing at pulling off a female look. That was just the beginning of the craziness. The Arabs abduct Wags and use him as a bargaining chip.

By the end of the episode a couple things are clear. Axe is still as hellbent on domination as ever, Mason and Grigor are the most unlikely alliance and Chuck hasn’t lost his edge.

Was it the greatest episode of the show ever? No, but it did a nice job of tying everything together from season three into the start of season.

All the power players are where they need to be, and all of them are angling for success. If that’s not what “Billions” is all about, then I have no idea what we’re doing here.

Tune in this upcoming Sunday to see the newest one. Axe and company should be entertaining as always.

Follow David Hookstead on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

Two Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft are parked at a Boeing production facility in Renton, Washington
FILE PHOTO: Two Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft are parked at a Boeing production facility in Renton, Washington, U.S., March 11, 2019. REUTERS/David Ryder

March 18, 2019

By Maggie Fick and Tim Hepher

ADDIS ABABA/PARIS (Reuters) – The world’s biggest planemaker faced escalating pressure on Monday after Ethiopia pointed to parallels between its crash and one in Indonesia, sharping the focus on the safety of software installed in Boeing 737 MAX planes.

The Ethiopian Airlines disaster eight days ago killed 157 people, grounded Boeing’s marquee MAX fleet worldwide, and sparked a high-stakes inquiry for the shaken aviation industry.

Ethiopian Airlines, whose reputation also hinges on the investigation, said at the weekend initial analysis of the black boxes showed “clear similarities” with a Lion Air flight from Jakarta in October which crashed killing 189 people.

Both planes were MAX 8s and crashed minutes after take-off with pilots reporting flight control problems.

Under scrutiny is a new automated system in the MAX model that guides the nose lower to avoid stalling.

Lawmakers and safety experts are asking how thoroughly regulators vetted the system and how well pilots around the world were trained for it when their airlines bought new planes.

Ethiopian Transport Ministry spokesman Muse Yiheyis said on Sunday that data recovered from the black boxes by investigators in Paris demonstrated parallels with the Lion Air crash and had been validated by U.S. experts.

U.S. officials did not corroborate that.

With the prestige of one of the United States’ biggest exporters at stake, Boeing has said the MAX series is safe, though it plans to roll out new software upgrades shortly.

The grounded 737 Max fleet: https://tmsnrt.rs/2u5sZYI

Ethiopian Airlines crash: https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hn6V4k

SHADOW OVER 737 MAX

Boeing has lost billions of dollars of market value since the crash, and halted deliveries of its best-selling model, one intended to be the industry standard but now under a shadow.

There were more than 300 MAX airplanes in operation at the time of the Ethiopian crash, and nearly 5,000 more on order.

Media reports heaped further pressure on Boeing.

The Seattle Times said the company’s safety analysis of a new flight control system known as MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) had crucial flaws, including understating the power of the system.

It also said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) followed a standard certification process on the MAX rather than detailed extra inquiries. The FAA declined to comment, but has said the process followed normal process.

The Wall Street Journal reported that federal prosecutors and U.S. Department of Transportation were scrutinizing the FAA’s approval of the MAX series, while a jury had issued a subpoena to at least one person involved in its development.

Boeing and the FAA declined to comment on that.

Last week, sources told Reuters that investigators found a piece of a stabilizer in the Ethiopian wreckage set in an unusual position similar to that of the Lion Air plane.

Ethiopia is leading the probe, though the black boxes were sent to France and U.S. experts are also participating.

It was unclear how many of the roughly 1,800 parameters of flight data and two hours of cockpit recordings, spanning the doomed six-minute flight and earlier trips, had been taken into account in the preliminary Ethiopian analysis.

In Addis Ababa, a source who has listened to the air traffic control recording of the plane’s communications, said flight 302 had an unusually high speed after take-off before it reported problems and asked permission to climb quickly.

CLOSURE?

The inquiry is not only crucial to give some closure to the families of the victims, who came from nearly three dozen countries, but also has huge financial implications for Boeing and its many customers worldwide.

The MAX is Boeing’s best-selling model ever, with a backlog of orders worth well over $500 billion at a list price of $121 million each.

Norwegian Airlines has already said it will seek compensation after grounding its MAX aircraft, and various companies are re-considering orders.

Some airlines are revising financial forecasts, too, given the MAX had been factored in as providing some maintenance and fuel savings.

Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg sought to allay some fears at the weekend.

“While investigators continue to work to establish definitive conclusions, Boeing is finalizing its development of a previously-announced software update and pilot training revision that will address the MCAS flight control law’s behavior in response to erroneous sensor inputs,” he said.

Dozens of aviation authorities had grounded the MAX series before acting U.S. FAA boss Daniel Elwell said the United States would do the same.

One source close to the probe said Ethiopian officials had been reluctant to share information with U.S. investigation teams and the planemaker.

“There was a lot of distrust, especially at first, but it is easing,” the source said, asking not to be named.

There have also been arguments over access to the crater left by the explosive high-speed impact of Flight 302.

The agony for families of the dead in Ethiopia has been compounded by their inability to bury remains. Charred fragments are all that remain and DNA testing may take months.

(Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; editing by Jason Neely)

Source: OANN

People attend a celebratory event marking the fifth anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea in Sevastopol
FILE PHOTO – Russian navy sailors walk past an installation resembling the state emblem of the Soviet Union as they attend a celebratory event, organised by members of the motorcycling club “Night Wolves” and marking the fifth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, in Sevastopol, Crimea March 16, 2019. REUTERS/Alexey Pavlishak

March 18, 2019

By Anastasia Lyrchikova

SEVASTOPOL, Crimea (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin inaugurated two new power stations in Crimea on Monday after flying into the Black Sea peninsula to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of the region from Ukraine.

The power stations, in the cities of Sevastopol and Simferopol, were partially launched last year, but Monday’s inauguration marked the moment they began working at full capacity.

The same facilities were at the center of an international scandal after German engineering company Siemens said its power turbines had been installed at them without its knowledge and in violation of European Union sanctions. Russia denied that.

Putin, who has poured billions of Russian taxpayer dollars into Crimea since Moscow seized control of it in 2014, attended the launch of the Sevastopol power station. He oversaw the launch of the Simferopol facility by video conference.

Earlier on Monday, Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, said the ceremony would show that Crimea was able to meet all of its own energy needs for the first time. Before annexation, Ukraine supplied 80 percent of the peninsula’s electricity needs.

Ukraine says it wants Crimea, which most countries still recognize as Ukrainian territory, back.

Russia says the matter is closed forever and that a 2014 referendum held after Russian forces secured the peninsula, showed Crimeans want to part of Russia.

Putin is due to speak at a celebratory music concert later on Monday and to hold talks with local people and businesses about what Russia has achieved in Crimea in the last five years and where it has fallen short.

Russia has spent heavily to try to integrate Crimea and reduce its dependence on Ukraine, including building a giant bridge to link the peninsula to southern Russia. But Western sanctions designed to punish Moscow for its annexation have helped isolate the peninsula, pushing up prices and slowing its development.

Putin’s approval rating soared on the back of Russia’s Crimean annexation, which stirred national pride in many Russians. But despite remaining high at over 60 percent, his rating has since declined due to public unease over falling wages, rising prices and unpopular pension reforms.

Russian enthusiasm for the annexation also appears to have cooled with an opinion poll from the FOM pollster this month showing that 39 percent of Russians believe it brought more good than harm, down from 67 percent in 2014.

(Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Tom Balmforth)

Source: OANN

The Goldman Sachs company logo is seen in the company's space on the floor of the NYSE in New York
The Goldman Sachs company logo is seen in the company’s space on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 17, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

March 18, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysian prosecutors on Monday said they would issue summonses to units of U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs in London and Hong Kong, requiring them to respond by June to criminal charges filed against them last year.

Soon after being elected in May, 2018, a new government charged three units of Goldman Sachs for misleading investors by making untrue statements and omitting key facts in relation to bond issues totaling $6.5 billion for state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

On Monday, only the Singapore unit of Goldman Sachs appeared at a pre-trial hearing in a Kuala Lumpur court as a respondent.

“Fresh summonses will be served on the United Kingdom and Hong Kong offices of Goldman Sachs ahead of the next court hearing on June 24,” prosecutor Aaron Paul Chelliah told reporters.

The 1MDB scandal played a major role in the electoral defeat that ended Najib Razak’s near decade in power, and a new government led by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad promptly re-opened corruption investigations.

Najib, who has consistently denied wrongdoing, is facing multiple criminal charges, mostly linked to 1MDB, and has been barred from leaving the country.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has estimated that a total of $4.5 billion was misappropriated by high-level 1MDB fund officials and their associates between 2009 and 2014, including some of the funds that Goldman Sachs helped raise.

Malaysia has said it was seeking up to $7.5 billion in reparations from Goldman Sachs, including $600 million in fees paid to the bank for the bond issues.

Goldman Sachs has consistently denied wrongdoing and said certain members of the former Malaysian government and 1MDB lied to it about how proceeds from the bond sales would be used.

A separate Kuala Lumpur court also set April 15 for prosecutors to serve documents to the defense for former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng.

Ng, a Malaysian, was charged on Dec. 19 last year with abetting the bank to provide misleading statements in the offering prospectus for the 1MDB bond sales.

Prosecutor Zaki Arsyad told the court he needed more time to obtain documents as most of them were overseas.

Ng was originally set to be extradited to the United States to face money laundering charges filed against him by the DoJ.

Malaysia, however, has said it may postpone the extradition until Ng can face a domestic trial first.

Tim Leissner, another former Goldman Sachs official, and Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho have also been charged in the United States over the alleged theft of billions of dollars from 1MDB. Leissner has pleaded guilty.

Low, whose whereabouts is unknown, has issued denials of any wrongdoing and has refused to return to Malaysia, saying that the case against him is politically motivated.

(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Source: OANN

A Wells Fargo logo is seen in New York City
A Wells Fargo logo is seen in New York City, U.S. January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

March 17, 2019

By David French

(Reuters) – Principal Financial Group Inc is in advanced talks to acquire Wells Fargo & Co’s retirement plan services business, in a deal that could exceed $1 billion, people familiar with the matter said on Sunday.

Wells Fargo has been seeking to streamline its business as it grapples with the fallout of customer abuse scandals. The bank is prohibited from growing in size after the Federal Reserve slapped it with an unprecedented asset cap in February 2018, citing “widespread consumer abuses and compliance breakdowns.”

The bank’s retirement plan services unit, which includes Wells’ 401(k) savings accounts business, would expand a similar business of Principal Financial. If the negotiations are concluded successfully, a deal could be announced later this month, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity as the information is confidential.

Wells Fargo and Principal Financial declined to comment.

Based in Des Moines, Iowa, Principal Financial is a life insurance and financial services group with a market capitalization of $14.5 billion.

It is the latest in a series of divestments pursued by Wells Fargo.

In 2018, Wells Fargo announced deals to sell 52 branches spread across Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin to Flagstar Bancorp Inc, as well as a $1.7 billion deal to offload its Puerto Rico auto finance business to the local unit of Popular Inc.

The disclosure three years ago that Wells Fargo created millions of fake customer accounts prompted regulatory probes into mortgage foreclosures, auto insurance sales and its wealth management businesses, resulting in billions of dollars in fines.

(Reporting by David French in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Source: OANN

A woman mourns next to coffins during the burial ceremony of the Ethiopian Airline Flight ET 302 crash victims at the Holy Trinity Cathedral Orthodox church in Addis Ababa
A woman mourns next to coffins during the burial ceremony of the Ethiopian Airline Flight ET 302 crash victims at the Holy Trinity Cathedral Orthodox church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 17, 2019. REUTERS/Maheder Haileselassie

March 17, 2019

By Maggie Fick

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia said on Sunday the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane that killed 157 people had “clear similarities” with October’s Lion Air crash, according to analysis of the black boxes recovered from the wreckage of the March 10 disaster.

Both planes were Boeing 737 MAX 8s, and both crashed minutes after take off after pilots reported flight control problems. Concern over the plane’s safety caused aviation authorities worldwide to ground the model, wiping billions of dollars off Boeing’s market value.

Investigators are trying to determine why the aircraft plunged into a field shortly after take off from Addis Ababa, searching for possible similarities to an October Lion Air crash that killed 189 people.

“It was the same case with the Indonesian (Lion Air) one. There were clear similarities between the two crashes so far,” Ethiopian transport ministry spokesman Muse Yiheyis said.

“The data was successfully recovered. Both the American team and our (Ethiopian) team validated it. The minister thanked the French government. We will let you know more after three or four days,” he told Reuters.

In Washington, U.S. officials told Reuters that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. National Transportation Safety Board have not validated the data yet.

When investigators, after reviewing black box data, return to Addis Ababa and start conducting interpretive work, the NTSB and FAA will assist in verification and validation of the data, an official said.

In Paris, France’s BEA air accident investigation agency said data from the jet’s cockpit voice recorder had been successfully downloaded. The French agency said in a tweet it had not listened to the audio files and that the data had been transferred to Ethiopian investigators.

In Addis Ababa, a source who has listened to the air traffic control recording of the plane’s communications said flight 302 had an unusually high speed after take-off before the plane reported problems and asked permission to climb quickly.

Ethiopian Airlines crash: https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hn6V4k

SAFETY ANALYSIS

A preliminary report on the crash is to be released within 30 days, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing the transport minister.

The Seattle Times reported that Boeing’s safety analysis of a new flight control system on 737 MAX jets had several crucial flaws.

The analysis of the system called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) understated the power of this system, the Seattle Times said, citing current and former engineers at the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The FAA also did not delve into any detailed inquiries and followed a standard certification process on the MAX, the Seattle Times reported citing an FAA spokesman.

The FAA declined to comment on the Seattle Times report but referred to previous statements about the certification process. It has said the 737-MAX certification process followed the FAA’s standard certification process.

The report also said both Boeing and the FAA were informed of the specifics of this story and were asked for responses 11 days ago, before the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX last Sunday that killed all 157 people on board. The same model flown by Lion Air crashed off the coast of Indonesia in October, killing all 189 on board.

Last Monday Boeing said it would deploy a software upgrade to the 737 MAX 8, a few hours after the FAA said it would mandate “design changes” in the aircraft by April.

A Boeing spokesman said 737 MAX was certified in accordance with the identical FAA requirements and processes that have governed certification of all previous new airplanes and derivatives. The spokesman said the FAA concluded that MCAS on 737 MAX met all certification and regulatory requirements.

In Addis Ababa, aviation staff gathered at Bole International Airport to remember the two pilots and six crew, who perished along with the 149 passengers.

Weeping women held single stems in their shaking hands. Banks of the white flowers, the traditional color of mourning, were placed in front of a row of empty coffins at the ceremony.

The grounded 737 Max fleet: https://tmsnrt.rs/2u5sZYI

(Additional reporting by David Shepardson, Gaurika Juneja, Editing by William Maclean)

Source: OANN

Alexander Markovsky | London Center for Policy Research

Welcome to Venezuela, the latest shining exemplar of the triumphant socialism.

In 2013, David Sirota summarized the prevailing sentiment of the left in his article “Hugo Chavez’s economic miracle.” He wrote, “The Venezuelan leader was often marginalized as a radical. But his brand of socialism achieved real economic gains.”

It was then. Today, “real economic gains” resulted in complete collapse of the economy; hyperinflation, the blackouts, shortages of food and medicines, lack of basic services and three million of refugees. It proves what should be self-evident — democratic socialism, loved and revered by American socialists, is substantively no different from any other socialist brands.

Yet the true believers do not relinquish ideas that have been disproved repeatedly by historical precedents, and no amount of reality can shake their convictions. For them, acceptance of reality equates to a denial of faith.

It’s always the same — this time it is different; this time socialism is democratic. So, what is this mysterious democratic socialism? The defining characteristic of democratic socialism is its relation between power and legitimacy. Democratic socialists use legitimacy to gain power and then use power to validate their legitimacy. They took a page from their Bolshevik predecessors whose peculiar relation between power and legitimacy was defined by Yaakov Sverdlov, the chairman of the Bolshevik Central Executive Committee, who famously declared, “power is always legitimate because power makes laws.”

Regardless of how the socialists came to power, and despite some differences in interpretation between Christian democratic socialism, Soviet-style revolutionary socialism, social democratic socialism or any other kind of socialism, they all are branches of the same egalitarian tree that produced Marxism, Leninism, and Stalinism and share the common mantra, “fair and equitable.”

The differences are superficial. The goal of socialism is economic equality. The ultimate irony is that economic equality can only be achieved in poverty. There is no equality in wealth. In this context, socialism always works, it works as it supposed to. Venezuela is not socialism’s failure; it is actually a fulfillment.

Democratic socialism is the Marxist’s Trojan horse. It enacts socialism by installing the Hugo Chavezes of this world through the democratic process.

Whether the Venezuelans voted for socialist serfdom knowingly or not is irrelevant. In a democracy the will of the majority is supreme. Hugo Chavez was a democratically elected leader of Venezuela and enjoyed wide popular support. Nicolás Maduro is his legal successor. We have to respect the people’s will and let them have it. They deserve it. Elections have consequences. For Americans who haven’t learned much in school or suffered a memory loss and voted for Democrats in the last elections, Venezuela is a foretaste of what is yet to come.

Some hotheads in Washington are contemplating military intervention. Whatever the underlining justification for intervention may be, there is no inevitable necessity for it, neither from security nor from political considerations.

Although the United States has every reason historically and geopolitically to prevent Latin America from going socialist, the most efficient way to do so is nurture and preserve Venezuela’s socialist rule as an example for other psychopaths calling for equality and left-wing lunatics willing to vote for it. But, most importantly, from geopolitical point of view, what would be the lesson? If irresponsible voters need fear no consequence other than a return to status quo ante, would a recurrence of democratic socialism somewhere else including the US not be likely?

A military intervention may turn into another unmitigated disaster costing American lives and billions of dollars. We will undoubtedly end up morally invested in Venezuela helping to rebuilt failed nations at the expense of American taxpayers.

I do not personally regard the whole of Venezuela, even if it burns down to the ground, as worth the life of a single American marine.

The great axiom of political science is to never interfere with an enemy that is about to destroy itself.

Alexander G. Markovsky (@AlexMarkovsky) is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, a conservative think hosted at King’s College, New York City, which examines national security, energy, risk-analysis and other public policy issues, He is the author of “Anatomy of a Bolshevik” and “Liberal Bolshevism: America Did Not Defeat Communism, She Adopted It.” He is the owner and CEO of Litwin Management Services, LLC.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Source: The Daily Caller

Andrew Wilford | National Taxpayers’ Union Foundation

In the wake of the release of the president’s budget, media outlets quickly seized on changes to entitlements included in the proposal. Numbers like “$845 billion in cuts to Medicare” and “$1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid” started popping up in summary articles. These numbers are very misleading, and taxpayers should not be fooled by them.

All of these numbers utilize a common gimmick that spend-happy politicians employ to make budget “cuts” look extreme: calling reductions in the growth of spending a “spending cut.” Take the aforementioned “$845 billion in Medicare cuts” — under the Office of Management and Budget’s baseline (i.e., not factoring in the president’s budget changes), Medicare spending is projected to increase from $582 billion in FY 2018 to a staggering $1.385 trillion in FY 2028. Under the president’s budget, Medicare spending would still increase to $1.251 trillion in FY 2028.

Even factoring in things like inflation and normal growth in spending, Medicare spending is projected to explode over the next ten years. In that context, “$845 billion in cuts” is actually a moderate reduction in the explosive growth of Medicare spending. In fact, even the $845 billion number is misleading, as $269 billion of that $845 billion is redirected into two new grant programs for the Department of Health and Human Services. In effect, the president’s budget slows the massive growth in Medicare spending by $575 billion over ten years.

The numbers being bandied about for Medicaid are somehow even more misleading. The president’s budget would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with a proposal from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) that eliminates the ACA’s premium subsidies and replaces the Medicaid expansion with block grants to states. When factoring in these block grants, the $1.5 trillion number media outlets are referencing gets sliced roughly in half, to $777 billion 10 ten years.

But once again, that doesn’t really mean what it sounds like. Medicaid costs are growing rapidly, partly fueled by the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. Under current law, Medicaid costs are projected to increase from $389 billion in FY 2018 to $664 billion in FY 2028. Under the president’s budget, Medicaid costs will still increase substantially, hitting $585 billion in FY 2028.

The last entitlement that spending addicts are accusing Trump of going after is perhaps the most absurd. The budget proposal grows Social Security spending by $25 billion less than the baseline over the next ten years. For context, a $25 billion “cut” would not make much of a dent in one year of Social Security spending, let alone ten. Over ten years, that’s around a 0.2 percent “cut.”

And that’s not even considering where the president proposes to find that $25 billion. Despite Vox’s claim that “the intent is unambiguous: These are cuts to benefits,” well, they’re not. The president is proposing to find these savings from improved program integrity, or cutting down on waste, fraud and abuse. Unless we count fraud as a Social Security benefit, savings from cracking down on improper payments cuts no one’s Social Security benefits. And unlike some other fanciful claims to hundreds of billions in wasteful spending, identifying $25 billion of waste and abuse to cut is modest and achievable without magical thinking.

None of this is to suggest that the budget is perfect. Given the enormity of our looming entitlement crisis, the budget does not do nearly enough to curb our overspending problem. A 5 percent increase to military spending, with increasing reliance on spending gimmicks like the “Overseas Contingency Operation” fund, is likewise questionable.

However, no one should buy the characterization of the president’s budget as an entitlement slasher. Washington is going to have to get over its tendency to describe reductions in the growth of out-of-control spending as “spending cuts” if our fiscal problems are ever to be resolved.

Andrew Wilford (@PolicyWilford) is a policy analyst with the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to fiscal policy analysis and education at all levels of government.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: Ricardo Hausmann from Harvard University
FILE PHOTO: Ricardo Hausmann from Harvard University speaks on Day 1 of Securing Sport 2015 – the annual conference of the International Centre for Sports Security (ICSS). Photo Andrew Kelly for ICSS/File Photo

March 15, 2019

By Lesley Wroughton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Inter-American Development Bank on Friday ousted the representative of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro and replaced him with an economist backed by opposition leader Juan Guaido, a major setback for the Maduro government.

The decision makes Latin America’s largest regional lender the first financial institution to back Guaido and would free up development lending to Venezuela if Maduro steps down.

Guaido, who has the support of over 50 countries, including the United States and many in Latin America, named Harvard University economist Ricardo Hausmann as his representative to the IADB.

Washington has said that billions of dollars of financing from multilateral banks will be needed to rebuild Venezuela’s economy, which has been crippled by years of hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine.

The IADB said in a statement the appointment of Hausmann was effective immediately, following a vote by the lender’s 48-member board of governors.

The Washington-headquartered lender said a sufficient number of members had voted “to meet the requirements of quorum and favorable votes for a decision.”

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund’s board of member countries agreed to delay a discussion on recognizing Guaido until next week, board sources with knowledge of discussions told Reuters.

The board meeting, which was scheduled for Thursday, was delayed at the request of several European countries which needed to consult with their governments, the sources said.

Maduro retains the support of China, Russia, and some regional countries, including Cuba and Bolivia, whose leftist President Evo Morales criticized foreign meddling in Venezuela earlier on Friday.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN


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