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Trump’s Nomination Means Trouble For Obamacare; New System Coming?

resident-Elect Donald Trump vowed during his campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Then after winning, Trump said he just wanted to “modify” it. But what can we expect to take its place?

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President-Elect Donald Trump vowed during his campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Then after winning, Trump said he just wanted to “modify” it. Now, Trump has nominated a staunch Obamacare critic to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, most likely signaling the end of the Affordable Care Act. But what can we expect to take its place?

Trump’s Nomination Means Trouble For ObamaCare… What is the Future of Healthcare?

Since The Affordable Care Act passed, there’s been a constant debate over the plan’s merits, and whether Obamacare helps or hinders citizens. While there are more insured Americans than at any other time throughout U.S. history, many critics of the program insist it’s a broken system limiting options for Americans. Chief amongst those critics is Georgia Representative Tom Price, President-Elect Trump’s new Secretary of Health and Human Services.

This appointment by Trump should placate much of his supporter base, who have been angry with Trump for backing off big promises made during his campaign, such as building the wall between Mexico and prosecuting “crooked Hillary”. And while Trump backpedaled and said he would only modify Obamacare instead of repealing it, his new picks suggest Obamacare has run its course. What exactly is Tom Price likely to put forward?

Price, an orthopedic surgeon from Atlanta, has already introduced his own legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare not just in the current Congress, but the last three sessions, as well. Price calls his plan the Empowering Patients First Act, and now he’ll have the platform he needs to push it through. So what does the EPFA look like?

Price’s major complaint about Obamacare is that it puts the government in the middle of the doctor-patient relationship. Price points to most Americans’ premiums going up, not down, and many Americans having fewer options and losing coverage as proof of this. His plans have focused on age-adjusted tax credits for the purchase of individual and family health insurance policies. Americans will soon be incentivized to contribute to health savings accounts.

Democrats have criticized Price’s nomination saying Price would remove programs which have given millions of “at risk” citizens access to safe affordable healthcare. Price’s solution is to offer grants to individual states to subsidize insurance for those populations who can’t afford it.

But the biggest change would be in the way people choose and purchase their plans. Under the current system, options are limited to insurance options within a person’s home state. Those costs may or may not be the best value for said person. However, that person is constrained by law and cannot look outside her state for other options. Under Price’s  Empowering Patients First Act, Americans would be able to purchase the insurance plan which suits them best, regardless of to which state that plan belongs.

What could be the replacement for Obamacare? Watch this news report from CBS This Morning:

The nomination comes as no surprise. While many politicians criticized Obamacare with nothing to put in its place, Price is one who criticized the program and offered an alternative. And that alternative matches Trump’s healthcare promises very closely. The goal of the plan is to provide more stimulus to the economy. Donald Trump promised to allow individuals to fully deduct insurance premium payments from their tax returns, allowing everyone to afford insurance by allowing them to write off expenses and receive tax credits based on age. And if the EPFA mirrors Trump’s plans, Americans can also expect price transparency for services, allowing price shopping between hospitals and clinics to save patients money.

It all ties back to the economy for Trump, especially with his nomination of Tom Price.

Are Trump’s Threats Serious, Or Are They Just For Bravado? Check the news here!

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Automobiles

Pump Prices to Edge up After Attack on Iranian General, but Long-Term Effect Unclear

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By Jeff Ostrowski, The Palm Beach Post, Fla.

Motorists soon will see the effects of President Donald Trump’s decision to kill a prominent Iranian general. Whether pump prices rise a little or a lot depends on how quickly international tensions intensify.

Florida gas prices climbed an average of 7 cents a gallon in the past three days and could increase an additional 5 cents, AAA – The Auto Club Group said Monday.

The 7-cent increase was coming even before the U.S. air strike Thursday that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. That hike was a result of a rise in the price of crude oil in December.

News of the targeted killing of Soleimani sent crude oil surging nearly $2 per barrel on Friday. An increase of that magnitude typically translates to a 5-cent hike at the pump, AAA said.

The U.S. benchmark for crude oil traded Monday just above $63 per barrel, the highest level since May 2019. The price of oil makes up about half the price of a gallon of gas.

“What happens in the Middle East can have a direct impact on Americans’ daily lives by influencing what they pay at the pump,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins. “Crude prices rise when there’s a threat of war, because of concerns over how the conflict could hamper supply and demand.”

Oil analyst Tom Kloza of energy firm OPIS agreed that pump prices in Florida likely will rise about 5 cents a gallon in the coming days.

“Then I have a hunch that things are going to calm down,” Kloza said Monday. “I don’t think we’re looking at $3 gas.”

The national average pump price Sunday was $2.585, while the Florida average was $2.526, AAA said.

Kloza expects only modest increases in part because of the timing of the attack. January is always a slow month for gas consumption in the United States.

There’s also the reality that sanctions leave Iran unable to export oil. Complicating the calculus is Iraq’s response to the U.S. attack. The drone strike on Soleimani took place in Baghdad, and some Iraqi politicians considered the assault an affront to Iraqi sovereignty.

While there’s no Iranian oil supply to be disrupted by a war, Iraq is an important producer.

Trump keenly watches oil prices and realizes that a price spike might erode his support in this year’s presidential election, Kloza said.

At the same time, Kloza added, “This president has proven to be unpredictable.”

Trump’s response has been typically uneven. Delivering an official statement at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Trump’s tone was measured. He said the targeted killing was designed to pre-empt Soleimani’s planned attacks on American diplomats and soldiers.

“We took action last night to stop a war,” Trump said Friday. “We did not take action to start a war.”

However, over the weekend, Trump took to Twitter to threaten attacks on Iranian cultural sites.

“The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment,” Trump wrote Sunday on Twitter. “We are the biggest and by far the BEST in the World! If Iran attacks an American Base, or any American, we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way…and without hesitation!”

##IFRAME_1##Iran has vowed vengeance, but military experts say the nation isn’t powerful enough to wage a direct war against the U.S.

“It’s still far too early to know how much of an impact this conflict will have overall on prices at the pump,” AAA’s Jenkins said.

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Economy

Stocks Rally Despite Impeachment News

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Stocks rose on Thursday as investors looked past the news of President Donald Trump’s impeachment as well as mixed U.S. economic data.

The Dow Jones Industrials advanced 53.85 points to begin trading at 28.293.13

The S&P 500 recovered 4.93 points to 3,196.07

The NASDAQ added 19.39 points to Wednesday’s all-time record, at 8,847.12.

The S&P 500 is up nearly 7% since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched a formal impeachment inquiry in September.

Cisco Systems was the best-performing Dow component, rising 1.6%. The consumer staples and real estate sectors led the S&P 500 higher, gaining 0.4% each. Micron Technology shares also contributed to Thursday’s move higher. Conagra shares surged more than 14% and were on pace for their biggest one-day gain since Oct. 16, 1989.

Micron shares climbed 3.5% on the back of strong quarterly results. The chipmaker posted earnings per share and revenue that topped analyst expectations.

On the economic data front, weekly jobless claims fell to 234,000 from 252,000 the week before. However, economists expected claims to fall to 225,000.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s business conditions index fell to 0.3 in December from 10.4 in the previous month. Economists expected the index to slip to 8.

The Democrat-led House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Trump became only the third president to be charged with high crimes and misdemeanors and will now face a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Prices for the 10-Year U.S. Treasury were lower, raising yields to 1.94% from Wednesday’s 1.93%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices gained seven cents to $61.00 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices moved forward $1.80 at $1,480.50 U.S. an ounce. Copyright © 2019 Baystreet.ca Media Corp. All rights reserved.

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401 K

Senator Rand Paul: Pay Off Your Student Loans With Your 401k

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Senator Rand Paul says you should pay for your student loans with your 401k. Paul’s new legislative proposal, the HELPER Act (Higher Education Loan Payment and Enhanced Retirement), would allow benefits like tax-free money for college, tax-free employer-sponsored plans, no cap on student loan interest deduction, and many others. Essentially, it would allow students and parents to withdraw retirement funds to settle expenses for college.

The act “would allow Americans to take out up to $5,250 from a 401(k) or IRA tax- and penalty-free each year to pay for college or make monthly student loan payments,” explained CNBC.

According to Forbes, “Paul seeks to reshape the way people save and pay for higher education, driven through tax and savings incentives.” He notes that “the current student loan interest rates can be as high as 7% for graduate students and parent borrowers.” Student loan refinancing rates, on the other hand, have dropped to below 2%.

Paul’s critics will likely note objections such as removing money from a retirement account for any purpose that is not related to retirement may not be a wise financial move; many students cannot both save for retirement and pay off student loans; and the annual amount may not be enough to help borrowers make a meaningful impact.

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