Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have published data which projects that 1,332 counties (over 40%) will have only one health insurer on Obamacare in 2018 and 49 will have none. According to CNSNews, “the data comes from the Health Insurance Exchanges Issuer County Map, which shows projected issuer participation on the Health Insurance Exchanges in 2018 based on the issuer public announcements made prior to late July of 2017.”
Successful healthcare systems do not continuously lose insurers, accumulate massive debt, and leave citizens with little to no choice. Obamacare has continued to wreak havoc on our citizens. It has to go. We can do better.
Last week, the Social Security Board of Trustees released their annual report on the long-term financial status of the Social Security Trust Funds. The news does not continue to bode will for the long-term survival of Social Security — but on the other hand, this is nothing that we haven’t heard before. Unfortunately, no one really wants to tackle the problem of reform.
“The Social Security Board of Trustees today released its annual report on the long-term financial status of the Social Security Trust Funds. The combined asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds are projected to become depleted in 2034, the same as projected last year, with 77 percent of benefits payable at that time. The DI Trust Fund will become depleted in 2028, extended from last year’s estimate of 2023, with 93 percent of benefits still payable.
In the 2017 Annual Report to Congress, the Trustees announced:
- The asset reserves of the combined OASDI Trust Funds increased by $35 billion in 2016 to a total of $2.85 trillion.
- The combined trust fund reserves are still growing and will continue to do so through 2021. Beginning in 2022, the total annual cost of the program is projected to exceed income. (emphasis added)
- The year when the combined trust fund reserves are projected to become depleted, if Congress does not act before then, is 2034 – the same as projected last year. At that time, there will be sufficient income coming in to pay 77 percent of scheduled benefits.
“It is time for the public to engage in the important national conversation about how to keep Social Security strong,” said Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security. “People understand the value of their earned Social Security benefits and the importance of keeping the program secure for the future.”
Other highlights of the Trustees Report include:
- Total income, including interest, to the combined OASDI Trust Funds amounted to $957 billion in 2016. ($836 billion in net contributions, $33 billion from taxation of benefits, and $88 billion in interest)
- Total expenditures from the combined OASDI Trust Funds amounted to $922 billion in 2016.
- Social Security paid benefits of $911 billion in calendar year 2016. There were about 61 million beneficiaries at the end of the calendar year.
- Non-interest income fell below program costs in 2010 for the first time since 1983. Program costs are projected to exceed non-interest income throughout the remainder of the 75-year period.
- The projected actuarial deficit over the 75-year long-range period is 2.83 percent of taxable payroll – 0.17 percentage point larger than in last year’s report.
- During 2016, an estimated 171 million people had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes.
- The cost of $6.2 billion to administer the Social Security program in 2016 was a very low 0.7 percent of total expenditures.
- The combined Trust Fund asset reserves earned interest at an effective annual rate of 3.2 percent in 2016.
The Board of Trustees usually comprises six members. Four serve by virtue of their positions with the federal government: Steven T. Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury and Managing Trustee; Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security; Thomas E. Price, M.D., Secretary of Health and Human Services; and R. Alexander Acosta, Secretary of Labor. The two public trustee positions are currently vacant.”
View the 2017 Trustees Report at www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/TR/2017/.
Check Withholding Now to Avoid Surprises at Tax Time
The federal income tax is a pay-as-you-go system. Employers generally withhold tax from workers’ wages. Taxpayers also often have taxes withheld from certain other income including pensions, bonuses, commissions and gambling winnings.
People who do not pay tax through withholding, like the self-employed, generally pay estimated tax. In addition, those who earn income such as dividends, interest, capital gains, rent and royalties are usually required to make estimated tax payments.
Each year, because of life events like changes to household income or family size, some people get a larger refund than they expect while others find they owe more tax.
To prevent a tax-time surprise, the IRS offers these tips:
- New Job. When starting a new job, an employee must fill out a Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. Employers use this form to calculate how much federal income tax to withhold from regular pay, bonuses, commissions and vacation allowances. The IRSWithholding Calculator tool on IRS.gov is easy for taxpayers to use to figure how much tax to withhold to avoid surprises.
- Estimated Tax. People who have income not subject to withholding may need to pay estimated tax. Those expecting to owe $1,000 or more than taxes withheld from their wages may also need to make estimated tax payments to avoid penalties. The worksheet in Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, helps to figure the tax.
- Life Events. A change in marital status, the birth of a child or the purchase of a new home can change the amount of taxes a taxpayer owes. The Managing Your Taxes After a Life Event page on IRS.gov provides resources to explain the tax impact of these changes. In most cases, an employee can submit a new Form W–4 to their employer anytime.
Avoid scams. The IRS will never initiate contact using social media or text message. First contact generally comes in the mail. Those wondering if they owe money to the IRS can view their tax account information on IRS.gov to find out.
Additional IRS Resources:
- Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax
- IRS Tax Map, Withholding of Tax
- Topic 753, Form W-4 – Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate
IRS You Tube Videos:
Daniel Mitchell from CATO put together a round-up over of articles over the last few days from various sources chiming in their opinion of Session’s expansion of asset forfeiture. It was published on International Liberty. The list is below; you should also read the article its entirety.
Writing for USA Today, Professor Glenn Reynolds correctly castigates the Attorney General for his actions.
David French of National Review is similarly disgusted.
In a column for Reason, Damon Root of Reason adds his two cents.
Last but not least, the editors of National Review make several important points.
One last point of note that Mitchell included is that “the first two administrators of the federal government’s asset forfeiture program now want it to be repealed.”