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No One Likes IT

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By IT I mean the Senates Health Care bill passed on Christmas Eve.

Left or Right

The left doesn’t like the public option is removed.

The right doesn’t like it that it is forcing ALL Americans to buy health care insurance or face financial penalties.

The left blogs are slamming it. The right blogs are slamming it.  Anyone out there like it? Do you?

“Forcing every American to purchase a product is absolutely inconsistent with our Constitution and the freedoms our Founding Fathers hoped to protect,” said Senator DeMint.

Americans who fail to buy health insurance, according to the Democrats’ bill, would be subject to financial penalties.  The insurance mandate is not authorized by any of the limited enumerated powers granted to the federal government.

The Congressional Budget Office once stated “A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action. The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States.”

A legal study by scholars at the nonpartisan Heritage Foundation concluded: “An individual mandate to enter into a contract with or buy a particular product from a private party, with tax penalties to enforce it, is unprecedented– not just in scope but in kind–and unconstitutional as a matter of first principles and under any reasonable reading of judicial precedents.”

What could have or should have happened?

In my humble opinion T I M E and C O M P R O M I S E

The Wyden-Bennett bill proposed in 2007 and 2009 would have been a nice compromise. The Wyden-Bennett Bill would have required 15 Senate Co Sponsors with would have included five Republicans. Or even better Senator Tom Colburns Bill who is also a physician from Oklahoma Bill.

Senator Ron Wyden, from Blue State Oregon, is a long time Liberal, Bob Bennett, from Red State Utah, a Conservative. Under the Wyden-Bennett bill, health dollars would be controlled by the individual (conservative) and used within a restructured, heavily regulated, totally universal, insurance marketplace ( liberal goal).

Instead of achieving Bi-partisan support and a compromise for both sides, we are left with a Senate Bill that no one likes but was passed for political reasons on Christmas Eve. Now the House and Senate will fight it out, compromise? to get something on the table for President Obama to sign.

…and how about this?

Senator Jim DeMint pointed out some astonishing language on page 1020, subsection C of the Senate Bill concerning the Medicare Advisory Board that is can not be changed by future Congresses.

“it shall not be in order in the senate or the house of representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection.”

To my knowledge there has never been any legislation passed by any Congress that prohibits future Senates to change previously enacted laws.

Too bad, business is usual in Washington, not the nonpartisan, open debate, no earmarks legislation on one of the biggest issues facing us at this time. Yes, we all want Health Care Reform and that is a nonpartisan goal.

The fun continues into 2010… Happy New Year.

Flickr Photo Credit

Written by Missy Caulk, Associate Broker at Keller Williams Ann Arbor. Missy is the author of Ann Arbor Real Estate Talk and Blog Ann Arbor, and is also the Director for the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and Member of MLS and Grievance Committee's.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Real Estate Feeds

    December 27, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    No One Likes IT: By IT I mean the Senates Health Care bill passed on Christmas Eve.
    Left or Right
    The left doesn’… https://bit.ly/76lmjm

  2. kristin terry

    December 27, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    No One Likes IT:
    By IT I mean the Senates Health Care bill passed on Christmas Eve.
    Left or Right The left doe.. https://bit.ly/52WHtC

  3. RealEstate Babble

    December 27, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    AgentGenius: No One Likes IT https://bit.ly/57KpUj Full https://bit.ly/4QptUB

  4. Real Estate Ninja

    December 27, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    No One Likes IT https://bit.ly/52WHtC
    #RealEstate

  5. Gregory

    December 27, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    I was for it when the insurance companies were against it. Against when the insurance companies were backing it. And, now that they don’t like it again – I’m all for it.

    The right no longer stands for “fiscal responsibility” that they try to claim whenever it is convenient to them. They are share full responsiblity for the mess we are in. A complete over haul of the bandits is needed before we will ever succeed.

    Always remember the words of the rights modern day hero, ” I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.” He was such a funny guy.

  6. Phil Polizzotti

    December 27, 2009 at 9:36 pm

  7. Jay Williams

    December 27, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    @agentgenius No One Likes IT https://bit.ly/8tkeWX

  8. Natasha Hall

    December 28, 2009 at 12:27 am

    No One Likes IT – By IT I mean the Senates Health Care bill passed on Christmas Eve. Left or Right The left doesn't… https://ow.ly/16dUvo

  9. Tim Norris

    December 28, 2009 at 2:29 am

    No one likes it…Health Care Reform https://bit.ly/7CAq7B

  10. Portland Condo Auctions

    December 28, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    True reform is not in the cards. The insurance companies have too much money and they are throwing everything that they have into the special interests. They have many politicians on payroll (they call them “campaign contributions”) and so it is just not going to happen.
    -Tyler

  11. Janie Coffey

    December 29, 2009 at 8:27 am

    no one likes it, but you are right, without compromise, we will never get “there”. The problem is, “there” is different to everyone. To those who have insurance, “there” is keeping costs down and quality of care good. To those who don’t have insurance “there” is just getting it to start with. To others, it is not being rejected for a pre-existing condition, booted out because you’ve reached your limit or having to sell or loose your home just to pay for care of a loved one. The fear mongering on all sides has shut down reasonable debate. But, no matter what, any move forward, for me, is a step in the right direction, regardless. I personally want, for all of our citizens, health care for everyone where the sick are the ones who benefit, not insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Until those are really put in check, a great system that really meets everyone’s needs won’t be achievable and I am worried that we have let them go to far for us to ever have a chance of putting them back into the bottle (no pun intended).

    Universal Health Care has and always will be my biggest issue because, to me, it shouldn’t be a political issue at all but one of basic equality of human rights.

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Politics

California’s gig labor bill hurts the people it’s trying to protect

(POLITICS) The law has loopholes for industries with good lobbyists, but it’s costing independent contractors, freelancers, and creatives their jobs.

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Uber subverts ab5 bill

So, there’s a new bill in California, Assembly Bill 5, that’s doing immense harm to freelancers across the state and throughout the country. The bill was intended to prevent tech companies from taking advantage of their employees by branding them as freelancers. But the thing took too wild a swing, and a lot of people have gotten hit by it.

We’re going to talk about how and why, but let’s get one thing straight, right off the bat:

We absolutely need something to help workers in this country. When we talk about why AB5 doesn’t work, I want to be very clear that I’m not turning my nose up at the idea of something like it. Rather, it’s this specific law that’s hurting a lot of people.

Let’s take a quick review at the environment that gave rise to Assembly Bill 5:

We live in an incredibly rough economy for most people. The stock market is doing phenomenally! But the stock market isn’t the same thing as the economy. The economy is made of people who are barely getting by, propping up a class of billionaires who are hording an amount of wealth that is increasing at a mind-boggling pace, instead of “trickling down”.

Productivity and wages used to rise together, but they got divorced in the 70s, and productivity’s been doing a lot for herself while wages have just sort of lazed around on the sofa, getting drunk. Productivity has grown 6 times more than pay since 1979. In the last ten years, the costs of education, housing, and medical care have ballooned, while the minimum wage has held steady at $7.25/hour. Not only is this financial climate hard for the average American, it’s going to be hard for a LOT of people, when the purchasing power of the middle class dwindles away to nothing and the bottom drops out of the whole contraption.

And there’s plenty of room for it to keep dropping! Because it turns out that a LOT of tech’s “innovation” just means “circumventing labor laws in ways that nobody’s made illegal yet”. Sometimes the tech world finds cools ways to get money and opportunities to people. Think of crowdfunding, or subscription services like Patreon that let middle-class artists do their thing sustainably.

But often, you instead wind up with companies like Uber, Lyft, and Favor. Rideshare apps view their drivers several different ways. They tell the government that they’re independent contractors. Drivers often claim that they’re running a small business, with the rideshare app’s help. Internally, (and to the SEC) they think of their drivers as the customers. The people who call for rides aren’t the customers—they’re the product that the app delivers to their customer, the driver.

What all of this means is that rideshare companies don’t have to pay minimum wage. They don’t have to offer benefits, like time off or healthcare. If the people who work for you are your customers, instead of your employees, you don’t have to take care of them the same way. (Funny how that works out, right?)
And in some ways, I can see the temptation to do things this way. Insurance is expensive, and it’s kind of wild that we make employers pay for it. Somehow saddling small businesses with that expense is considered the “conservative” option; I’ll never understand how that’s supposed to be good for the market. We’re the wealthiest nation in the world, and yet we’re just about the only country that puts the burden of healthcare on business owners instead of the government.

But here’s the thing: That’s how health care works in this country! It’s what we have. We have a public option, technically. But it’s been systematically gutted to the point of uselessness, intentionally, by people who resent it being passed in the first place. So until we get some kind of national healthcare system, it’s on business owners to make sure that their employees don’t die because they can’t afford medical care. That’s the law, and that’s the ethical thing to do in our current situation.

And tech companies tend not to like that. So we get situations like Uber, where people who are clearly employees are being framed as literally anything else. Because the companies hiring them would rather burn millions trying to render their employees obsolete than spend that money keeping them alive. (Fun side note: Remember when one of those self-driving cars killed a woman because Uber forgot to tell their AI that humans can exist outside of crosswalks?)

And just like I understand why companies would try to dodge those costs (even if it’s clearly wrong), I also understand what AB5 was trying to do. They’re trying to close that loophole. They’re trying to stop companies from BSing about who is an employee and who isn’t. That makes sense.

So the bill defines freelancers with help from a court case, Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court (2018). The main features are

1. Is the worker free from the control and direction of the hiring entity. Is the person who hired them telling them where, how, or when to do the work?
2. Is the work being performed outside of the normal course of business for the hiring entity?
3. Is this work that the worker normally does, independently of this one business relationship? Do they genuinely have their own business in this field? Or is this “freelancing” something they’re just doing for one company?

You can immediately see some huge questions raised here. Among them:

– How strict do you define “telling someone how to do their work?” Because I’ve never had a creative assignment that didn’t come with some sort of deadline, right?
– How do you define “the normal course of business?” The normal course of business for a magazine involves hiring dozens of writers to write hundreds of pieces. Does that stable of writers suddenly get smaller if you can’t afford to give them all benefits?

And we’re already seeing fallout from this. Large multimedia platforms, from Vox to CollegeHumor, are laying off huge swaths of their staffs. Under the new law, writers aren’t allowed to submit more than 35 pieces in a year and still be considered freelancers. That means that these outlets were going to have to either cast a much wider net for their bullpens, or cut their staff and focus on a core group of (presumably grotesquely-overworked) people. Unsurprisingly, they chose the latter pretty universally.

And it’s not just writers. Musicians are getting hit, too. A petition to secure an exemption is nearing 50,000 signatures on change.org. Any creative endeavor other than “a day job with a desk at Disney” is going to involve a network of people floating in and out as projects start and end. There’s a lot of room for exploitation, and there’s a lot of room for quashing that exploitation. But right now, this bill is mostly just putting people out of work.

And just like California’s (much-needed, fantastic) privacy protection laws are having an impact across the country, (because you never know if the data you’re collecting is on a Californian!) so too is their (terrible) freelancing law rippling out. Because work doesn’t happen in offices anymore. It happens everywhere. I recently released a song with musicians from six countries performing on it. That wasn’t even something I was trying to do. That’s just where my friends were!

Now, my piece was just me getting together with some friends to have fun. But professional recordings happen that way, too, all the time. And right now, if the person on either the hiring or performing side of that equation is in California, that relationship is in jeopardy.

And of course, the really fun thing is, that a lot of the industries that were intended as targets of the bill are sidestepping it with court challenges. And many industries lobbied for exemptions, meaning that real estate agents, CPAs, lawyers, surgeons, referral agencies, and lots of others were exempt from the get-go.

So what we’re left with is a law that’s meant to protect people. But many of the people it should’ve protected aren’t covered by it. And many legitimate freelancers are getting screwed out of business relationships that they used to rely on. The big publications that they used as cash cows to pay their bills are either capping them at 35 articles, or letting them go altogether. It’s not hard to see that this is wildly misguided, and that it’s causing more harm than help. We’ve got to pump the brakes on AB5 and try to figure something else out.

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Politics

How USMCA is different than NAFTA and if/when it will finally be passed

(POLITICS) The USMCA should be set to replace NAFTA early in the year, which will help small business and real estate alike with easier trade.

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USMCA signing

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which has been a priority for President Trump, is one step closer to replacing NAFTA. Amid the impeachment hearings, the House of Representatives passed the USMCA by a vote of 385-41. The Senate must still approve the agreement, but according to CNBC, once the Senate gets back in session in January 2020, the agreement will pass.

The USMCA is a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It was informally agreed upon by President Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in 2018. However, each country’s legislature must approve the agreement before it is ratified. Mexico’s legislature has ratified the agreement, but Canada has not. It is anticipated that the agreement will be re-introduced to the Canadian Parliament this session.

What’s the difference between USMCA and NAFTA?

NAFTA was created to reduce restrictions on trade between Mexico, Canada and the United States. It was to increase market access and investments between the North American countries. President Trump has referred to NAFTA as “the worst trade deal ever made.” The USMCA builds on NAFTA, but does alter some of the provisions. It’s unknown when the agreement will go into effect. Canada has not ratified the agreement.

How will the USMCA affect small businesses?

The official text of the USMCA hasn’t been released, but we do know a few of the provisions. The biggest impact for businesses may be in the automobile industry. Under USMCA, 75% of auto components must be manufactured in Mexico, U.S. or Canada to be eligible for zero tariffs. Under NAFTA, the figure was 62.5%. In addition, by 2023, 40% of workers who assemble cars or trucks must make at least $16/hour.

The USMCA reduces the timeline for brand-name biologic prescription drugs to be produced as generics. Some popular biologics include Humira, Lantus and Botox. Another key component of the agreement is opening the Canada dairy market. US farmers can now export up to 3.6% of Canada’s dairy market. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) supports the USMCA because it will make it easier for real estate investors to travel between the countries.

Although the USMCA is not in effect yet, it does seem likely that it will be ratified this year to provide more opportunities between Canada, Mexico and the United States.

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Politics

FFEE Act wants to save you from having to pay to freeze your credit

(POLITICS NEWS) The FFEE Act wants to help give consumers more rights more control over how credit agencies use their data.

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impulse ffee

Taking action

Following the compromise of consumer data from credit reporting bureau Equifax, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) have introduced the Freedom From Equifax Exploitation (FFEE) Act.

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This act aims to give consumers more rights more control over how credit agencies use their data.

The bill

The bill is available here, but here is a few of the bill’s highlights:

  • Create a uniform, federal process for obtaining and lifting a credit freeze.
  • Preventing credit reporting agencies from profiting off the use of consumer information for the duration of a credit freeze;
  • Strengthening the fraud alert protection from 90 days to a one year, with a year renewable.
  • In ID theft cases, a 7 year fraud alert is created.
  • Require any credit reporting agency who charged a fee to freeze credit in response to the data breach to refund those fees,
  • Allow for an additional free credit report (consumers already get one under the Fair Credit Reporting Act through annualcreditreport.com)

Freezing credit

The most important feature here is the removal of any fee to freeze your credit. Currently, agencies like Equifax charge nominal fees to freeze credit (anywhere from 3-10) dollars. If this bill passes – not only will that service be free, but it will restrict the way credit agencies use that information while the freeze is active.

The idea behind making this free also keeps credit companies, whom many believe are responsible for the security of credit information, from profiting off information breaches. Given that many financial advisors have advised those impacted to freeze their credit, this would be a benefit to consumers.

It is important to note here that Equifax has suspended the fees to freeze credit for the next month.

A credit freeze restricts access to your credit report. Simply put, it requires the credit agency to contact you first to ensure it was you who applied for credit, thus making it harder for you to apply for credit. You would need to unfreeze your account to apply for new credit. You must also freeze credit with each bureau, which can lead to some expenses as you must pay anytime to lift a freeze.

Remember: a credit freeze doesn’t impact current accounts or your credit score. If you apply for credit often, or open new accounts often, then a credit freeze may not be for you.

Lots of names

The bill has several original co-sponsors, including Senators Sanders, Franken, and Blumenthal. Companies like the National Consumer Law Center, Americans for Financial Reform, CREDO, and the Consumer Federation of America all have also endorsed the bill.

#CreditFreeze

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