This article is a reminder of just how far this country has strayed from constitutionalism that the main author of the Constitution vetoed the spending bill related to roads. Today many people want to feds to do everything.
by Horatio Bunce
Sen. Richard Briggs has introduced a bill (SB-015) in an attempt to make consuming milk from hooved animals illegal if you own a partial interest in the animal. I guess it could be argued that if you own full interest you also own partial interest. Or if you and your husband/wife or you and your brother own a herd of dairy cows, you only own a partial interest in them. Or if you have a farm loan for the animals, you only have a partial interest. It doesn’t seem well thought-out, but the target is stealing the produce from the dairy animals of partial owners – specifically cow share arrangements that allow folks to consume raw milk. You do remember Richard don’t you? He’s the state Senator that didn’t live in the Senate district where he was running for election and had a fake “residence” apartment he used to qualify illegally. Stacey Campfield requested the utility bills for the apartment and found it was using almost no water and the gas service was not connected. Or, maybe Richard doesn’t take baths, wash his clothes or flush his toilet very often. Which makes it funny he is so concerned about this issue that boils down to cleanliness.
By Ron Paul Monday December 10, 2018
Washington is once again gripped by the specter of a government shutdown, as Congress and President Trump negotiate an end-of-year spending deal. A main issue of contention is funding for President Trump’s border wall. Sadly, but not surprisingly, neither Congress nor the administration is fighting to cut, or at least not increase, spending.
Federal spending has increased from 3.6 trillion dollars to 4.4 trillion dollars since Republicans gained control over both chambers of Congress in 2014. Some may try to defend congressional Republicans by pointing out that for two years the Republican Congress had to negotiate spending deals with President Obama. But federal spending has increased by 7.5 percent, or over 300 billion dollars, since Donald Trump become President.
A big beneficiary of the Republican spending spree is the military-industrial complex. Republicans have increased the “defense” budget by eight percent in the past two years. President Trump and congressional Republicans claim the increases are necessary because sequestration “decimated” the military. But Congress, with the Obama administration’s full cooperation and support, suspended sequestration every year but one, so the planned cuts never went into full effect. Congress and Obama also “supplemented” the official military budget with generous appropriations for the Pentagon’s off-budget Overseas Contingency Operations fund. Spending on militarism increased by as much as 600 billion dollars over the amounts allowed for under sequestration.
President Trump has proposed reducing the projected military budget for fiscal year 2020 to 700 billion dollars. This would be a mere two percent cut, yet the usual voices are already crying that this tiny reduction would endanger our security. If history is any guide, the military-industrial complex’s congressional allies and high-priced lobbyists will be able to defeat the president’s proposed reductions and convince President Trump to further increase the military budget.
This huge military budget has little or nothing to do with America’s legitimate security needs. In fact, as candidate Trump recognized, America’s military interventions in the Middle East have endangered our security by empowering terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda.
While the warfare state has been a big beneficiary of the Republican spending spree, the GOP has hardly neglected the welfare state. Domestic spending has increased seven percent since 2016. Except for a half-hearted attempt to repeal Obamacare and some food stamp reforms that were included in and then dropped from this year’s farm bill, Republicans have not made any effort to roll back or even reform the welfare state.
The farm bill, which Congress is expected to pass this week, will spend as much as 900 billion dollars over the next ten years. Much of that spending will be on taxpayer subsidies for wealthy farmers and even “farmers in name only.”
Trump’s budget deals have been supported by the majority of Democrats. Even those who have called for the president’s impeachment are more than happy to vote with him when it comes to increasing spending and debt. These Democrats are the mirror image of 1990s Republicans who made a big spending deal with President Clinton while simultaneously trying to impeach him.
We suffer from too much bipartisanship when it comes to the welfare-warfare state. This bipartisanship has resulted in a national debt that is rapidly approaching 30 trillion dollars. This will inevitably lead to a major economic crisis. The way to avoid this crisis is to replace the bipartisan welfare-warfare consensus with a new consensus in favor of limited government, peace, free markets in all areas including currency, and auditing then ending the Fed.
Recipient of last year’s Eagle Award, then Blount County Commissioner Tona Monroe, will be the speaker at the 4th annual Truth Radio Bill of Rights Banquet on Tuesday December 18th. The topic of the speech will be Proof of Authority and the Proper Role of Government: The Foundation of a Constitutional Republic.
A dinner will be held at 7 PM at RJ’s Courtyard located at 3749 Airport Hwy, Louisville, Tennessee 37777. Book your meal by calling WBCR at 984-1470.
Warning, there are graphic pictures but it’s worth reading and seeing.
Good evening my friends,
I know it has been a long time since a newsletter has gone out. For all purposes the “God and Country Petition” is a dead issue and will NOT continue. We gave it a good try but in could not come to fruition. However, a lot of what was in my petition, President Trump is trying to accomplish, such as the repeal of Obamacare, the repeal of the Dodd-Frank Bill, illegal immigration, building our military & defenses and more.
The proposed health care bill has been a major issue and confusing to say the least. I have been following the house version of the bill and now the proposed senate version of the bill, which may come to a vote and passage as early as this week. Personally I hope it does not, I feel it is being rushed and there are problems within the proposed Republican senate version!
Below are two attachments, the first attachment is the proposed Republican Party senate version of the bill, broken out section by section in a summary fashion, in short, this is not the garbled up actual proposed bill! This is a summery that was prepared by a US senators committee on health care for their constituents, it contains 142 pages. As simplified as it was mad in comparison to the actual bill, it is still confusing.
The second attachment is a proposal I created, with the help of many of you reading this newsletter, my version is only 6 pages long!
My feelings partially are as follows on the proposed Republican Party version before the senate to be voted on. I must say, there was not only a lot of reading in what is in the proposed Republican Party version in the first attachment above but dissecting it and understanding it was even more of a challenge for me, it may not be for many of you reading it!
I understood some of what I read but did not understand other parts of it as well. Section 102 I have many problems with, I feel it is discriminatory in many ways. I also feel the formula proposed will come back to haunt us many times over!
I felt this from the beginning as evidenced in my proposal in the second attachment above, the formula for calculating premiums, in my opinion, needed to be a blended actuary table based on the entire population of the American people.
By banding those in the senior age brackets or pre-existing conditions, or segregating other segments of the population is a bad thing. However, income brackets are an entirely different issue in itself. My proposal has subsidies based on income brackets. I feel very strongly that section 102 needs a lot of soul searching by each member of the senate as well as realizing the consequences that will go along with it!
Section 103 – 105, I don’t see any glaring problems. Please don’t take me wrong, this is an improvement over the house version and as far as Obamacare, that is not even on the table for discussion!
Section 106, good in some ways, bad in others. I feel the dollar amounts need to be higher, especially spread amongst 50 states.
The new subsection (I), which would establish a Long-Term State Stability and Innovation Program is good. It appears to make funding available to all 50 states and the District of Columbia from CY2019 through CY2026.
If I am reading this right, a state would be required to submit an application to the CMS Administrator to receive any federal funding to carry-out specified activities in the state, which were outlined in those 3 activities listed. That I felt was good.
Sections 107 through 119, I saw no problems with. Section 120, I am not sure of, too vague for me at this time, I need to research. Section 121 through 124 more in detail. If anyone reading this can help me out on it, I would appreciate it!
Sections 125 and 126 there are a lot of problems with it, in my opinion. I feel our senators need to go back to the drawing board and get their heads together on these issues. Hear again, I feel there are many discriminatory areas in these two sections that will come back to haunt us. These two sections need to be clarified re-worked and put in plain English for all to understand!
Section 133 in my opinion could cause more problems than it is worth. Hear again, we are using actuary tables based on individual states in many areas, rather than the aggregate of all 50 states and the entire US population. Section A however, does use aggregate and Federal averages of medical assistance matching percentages.
I also see threw out this proposal there are many areas that a state can opt out of participating in certain things that could take away benefits from its residents that other states may have. In short, I see a lack of a lot of uniformity with this proposal. In my opinion, it lacks the all for one, one for all approach!
I may be all wrong in my analysis, this is why I included my proposal above for all of you to view. This is a very complex issue facing this nation and the American people. We may not be able to push this through as fast as some would like it to be. It just seems like a lot of work needs to be done with this proposal to make it as palatable as possible for the American people.
I will say this in closing and I am not saying this because I am a senior but the elderly, especially the 50 to 65 year old, will have many pains to face with this proposal, as I read it, which I am the first that will say I am open to be corrected!
As I had said, these are my opinions as I see it, you may see it differently and I am open to be corrected on anything I have stated in this newsletter. I do not like it in its present form! I hope and pray, the Republican Party senators do what is right for all the American people, equally, with this so critical bill before us all!
I ask each of you to please take an interest in reading my e-mail and the senate version of the proposed bill and my proposal, both attachments are above! If any of you feel what I am proposing has merit, will you please send out my newsletter and the attachments to everyone you know as well as posting it on Facebook, U-Tube or any other social media you may belong to, if you do, I will be beholding to you. This repeal and replacement of Obamacare is so critical to all of us, please don’t ignore this!!
God speed to all of you and thank you,
John A. Smaldone
God and Country petition
In the montly December Commission Report, I reported on the premiums and the claims of the stop loss policy for the county’s health care plan. FYI here is the claim limit amount where the stop loss policy kicks in.
From broker Cole Harris:
“It used to be $250,000 until July of 2015 when it was raised to $300,000. I requested for rates higher than $300,000, but the largest the carrier would go was $350,000 due to your size. The rates for $350,000 did not justify the increase in liability.”
This is the year of watermelons. We had about a dozen good watermelons with a couple of them being humongous. The biggest one weighed 38 pounds. A neighbor stopped by to tell me that he had been marveling at our watermelon patch, that the 38 lb. watermelon was the biggest he had ever seen and that I should post pictures of it online. Thus, here it is. Troy and I (Tona) enjoyed it.
By Ron Paul
The decision of several major insurance companies to cut their losses and withdraw from the Obamacare exchanges, combined with the failure of 70 percent of Obamacare’s health insurance “co-ops, ” will leave one in six Obamacare enrollees with only one health insurance option. If Obamacare continues on its current track, most of America may resemble Pinal County, Arizona, where no one can obtain private health insurance. Those lucky enough to obtain insurance will face ever-increasing premiums and a declining choice of providers.
Many Obamacare supporters claimed that the exchanges created a market for health insurance that would allow consumers to benefit from competition. But allowing consumers to pick from a variety of government-controlled health insurance plans is not a true market; instead it is what the great economist Ludwig von Mises called “playing market.”
Unfortunately, if not surprisingly, too many are drawing the wrong lessons from Obamacare’s difficulties. Instead of calling for a repeal of Obamacare and all other government interference in the health care market, many are calling for increased penalties on those who defy Obamacare’s individual mandate in order to force them onto the exchanges. Others are renewing the push for a “public option,” forcing private companies to compete with taxpayer-funded entities and easing the way for the adoption of a Canadian-style single payer system.
Even those working to restore individual control over health care via tax deductions, credits, and expanded health savings accounts still support government intervention in order to provide a “safety net” for the poor. Of course, everyone — including libertarians — shares the goal of creating a safety net. Libertarians just understand that a moral and effective safety net is one voluntarily provided by individuals, religious organizations, and private charities.
Government has no legitimate authority to take money from taxpayers to fund health care or any other type of welfare program. Government-run health care also does not truly serve the interest of those supposedly “benefiting” from the program. Anyone who doubts this should consider how declining reimbursements and increasing bureaucracy is causing more doctors to refuse to treat Medicaid and Medicare patients.
Medicaid patients will face increasing hardships when, not if, the US government’s fiscal crisis forces Congress to make spending cuts. When the crisis comes, what is more likely to be cut first: spending benefiting large corporations and big banks that can deploy armies of high-powered lobbyists, or spending benefiting low-income Americans who cannot afford K Street representation?
Contrary to myth, low-income individuals did not go without care in the days before the welfare state. Private, charity-run hospitals staffed by volunteers provided a safety net for those who could not afford health care. Most doctors also willingly provided free or reduced-price care for those who needed it. The large amount of charitable giving and volunteer activity in the United States shows that the American people do not need government’s help in providing an effective safety net.
The problems plaguing the health care system are rooted in the treatment of health care as a “right.” This justifies government intervention in the health care marketplace. This intervention causes increasing prices and declining quality and supply. Ironically, those who suffer most from government intervention are the very people proponents of these programs claim to want to help. The first step in restoring a health care system that meets the needs of all people is to start treating health care as a good that can and should only be provided via voluntary actions of free people.
“You don’t get paid enough to put up with them (referring to several commissioners). Thanks for looking out for the taxpayers.” Comment from a citizen to me (Tona Monroe) after the September 17, 2015 Commission meeting
The Agenda Committee meeting was so poorly run that it was chaotic at times. The rules went out the window. The last time that I witnessed a meeting run this poorly was during former Chairman Kenneth Melton’s reign of tyranny. Thankfully Agenda Committee Chairman Steve Samples isn’t as heavy handed as Kenneth Melton was when he served as Chairman of the Commission.
Leadership and committee assignments mostly stay the same
The machine walked in ready to go, nominating the same people to serve in leadership positions. The committee assignments will stay mostly the same, except where people resigned from their seats.
Human Resources (HR) Committee
County employee Gary Farmer wanted off the HR Committee. He was replaced with Rick Carver. All 10 of the members of the HR Committee are either government employees or have worked for a company having a business relationship with the county. There isn’t a single person serving on the HR Committee who hasn’t worked for a local government or been employed by a company doing business with the county. There isn’t a single, independent business person who has never had a conflict of interest on the HR Committee.
3 commissioners shut out of committees with authority
Appointments to committees/boards are done by the Mayor and the Commission. The Mayor hasn’t nominated any women or teachers, currently serving on the commission, to any of the committees that he makes nominations to. The Commission has done some better but not enough.
Commissioners Dodd Crowe and Karen Miller only serve on the Education Committee, which has little, if any, authority because it can not supersede the decisions made by the School Board. The Education Committee was expanded in size to relegate commissioners there, so that the machine can say they didn’t shut any commissioners out. Commissioner Jamie Daly also serves on the Education Committee as well as the Beer Board. She volunteered for the Beer Board because so few commissioners wanted to do it. The Beer Board has little discretion because its actions are tightly governed by state law. These three commissioners aren’t serving on any committee/board positions where they have authority to make significant policy decisions.
Blount County didn’t wait to be the last county in the state to form an audit committee, just next to last. According to Chairman Jerome Moon there will only be one county without an Audit Committee.
Don’t look for much to come from the two commissioners appointed to the Audit Committee. Commissioners Andy Allen and Mike Caylor usually vote against any attempts to obtain more information before making decisions on spending your money. I can only recall one question, during the past year, from either of these commissioners pertaining to spending over $175 million of your money.
The commission put two foxes in charge of the hen house. Hopefully the citizens nominated to the Audit Committee will do what these two have failed to do as commissioners, namely look out for the taxpayers.
Commissioners Tom Cole, Kenneth Melton and Karen Miller were absent. Commissioner Ron French left early.
Committees voted on altogether
The commission voted on most of the committees in a single vote. This allows for commissioners to vote for the own appointments and also gives cover for commissioners who vote for someone they might not otherwise vote for because they were all lumped together. A commissioner can always tell people that they were against a nomination but because the commission chose to vote on the committees/boards altogether, they didn’t want to vote against the other appointments.
Commissioners Caskey and I each requested that a committee be pulled out of the motion and voted on separately. No one objected to Commissioner Caskey’s request but Commissioner Andy Allen objected to mine. What commissioner Allen fails to realize is that he doesn’t save any time by doing this because I can and did make a motion to divide the question. That requires a vote, as does voting on the item separately. It’s just one of the petty ways that the good ole’ boys (nothing good about what they do) think they can show you that they have the upper hand.
Crony zoning deal complete
The RAC-2 zone was originally proposed so that a public official could rezone his land to build a Dollar General store and provide for possible development in the future. After some conservationists voiced objections about the proposal, it was amended to ensure that the elected official would get his deal with most of the other roads being removed from potential future rezoning. Our zoning regulations have become a tool for those who have connections to shut out those who don’t have connections. The special deals continue and property rights are now government granted privileges.
Health care benefits
The commission approved increases in the rates that employees will pay for their health care benefits but the plan is still projected to lose money during FY16. Several attempts were made to reduce what the employees will pay and they all failed. I proposed an amendment that would have added about $35,000 in revenue, which is about half of what the plan is projected to lose this fiscal year, in an attempt to bring the plan closer to solvency but that failed as well. The current plan does nothing to address future unfunded health care obligations.
Commissioner Tom Stinnett made the comment that the plan is delicate. That’s nonsense. For far too long the health care benefits have been treated like the sacred cow of Blount County. There is nothing delicate or sacred about the county health care plan. Politicians forget what really is sacred, the rights of the people.
Audit of health care administrator
The commission rushed through approval of an audit for the health care plan administrator without having all the facts to make a good judgment on the matter. The county is self insured but the claims are processed through our administrator, which is currently Humana but will become Allegiance at the first of the new year. About $44,000 will be spent to audit Humana, who administers the claims, to see if the county has been overpaying the providers. 300 claims will be audited. See pages 69-125 for more information.
An audit is usually a good thing but the way the commission handle this is not. As usual the commission was told that we had to do this now and few commissioners questioned it. As usual the commission was presented with something that didn’t go through a county initiated competitive bid process and I was the only one who questioned it.
The county health care broker, CBIZ, provided the bid information. Broker provided recommendations don’t have to go through the county Purchasing Department. However, this doesn’t neglect the fiduciary responsibility of the commission.
There were 3 proposals in the packet. One was from the broker. Yes, one of the three proposals that CBIZ provided was from CBIZ. It was substantially higher than the other two and was a range of $80,000-100,000 rather than a set amount plus travel expenses. CBIZ didn’t recommend itself, even though it provided a proposal.
The recommended proposal by HMS is about $44,000 with travel expenses. That is a lot less than the CBIZ proposal but it also a lot more than the other proposal which is $24,500 plus travel expenses.
Section 7.3 of the HMS proposal says (page 87), “As is apparent, our clients have a large range of employees. For every one of our clients, HMS has always provided a positive Return on Investment—no matter the population size. We would be glad to provide more history upon request.” I made a request for more history since the examples in the proposal have much larger numbers of employees than the county. The answer I received from the man who signed the proposal was stunning. He said, the part about providing more history upon request probably shouldn’t be in the proposal.
I pressed on, asking to be provided with what HMS had specifically want to know what companies close to us in size of employees and/or those covered and using the same administrator (Humana) have reclaimed from audits. An email sent to me from Steve Noury with HMS a few hours before the meeting said, “we don’t currently aggregate the type of information you requested (results by carrier). We have the data in our system, and we are actually working on that capability as we speak.”
Since the data exists but hasn’t be aggregated in a useable form, I made a motion to postpone voting on the audit until the information was made available to the commission to see what kinds of comparable results HMS is getting out of its audits. Only commissioners Archie Archer, Grady Caskey, Jamie Daly and I (Tona Monroe) voted to wait until we had the information to make an informed decision.
There are plenty of companies available to do medical claims audits. One of proposals was from the broker itself and it was substantially higher than the other two, without giving a specific quote. The broker could have easily obtained several more quotes without using his own company.
These are not good business practices. I would not run a company this way, making rushed decisions without full information and without a thorough bid process. As such, I can’t in good conscience vote to spend taxpayer money this way. It is possible that the county will reclaim more than it spends on the audit but your commission has failed to do its due diligence in ensuring that they obtained the best and most cost effective company to do the audit.
It appears to me that most commissioners don’t want to put the time in that is required to do a good job. They simply want to trust the “experts”, without bothering to make sure that the people they trust are actually competent enough to do a good job. You don’t have to be an “expert” to know that haste makes waste and that someone coming with a proposal from their own company isn’t likely to be the best deal available.
Refinancing of nearly $80 million in variable rate debt.
While we enjoy some personal freedom, there is a lot of room for improvement.
When is the Mayor going to be true to his word to the Smoky Mountain Tea Party Patriots (SMTPP) and appoint new people to the water board? He told the SMTPP that he knew water fluoridation is harmful, because Linda King kept him informed on the latest research.
If the Mayor knows that water fluoridation is harmful why does he reappoint the same people and allow the practice to continue?
There are some in the community who think that everything on this website is written by me (Tona Monroe). That is not the case. This site was never intended to be a website solely with material written by me. I own domains with my name and could just as easily write the material there.
There are some in the community who think that I agree with everything written on this website. That is not the case either. My intention in creating this website was never to have complete and total agreement with every word posted here.
The litmus test for content on this website was never complete and total agreement with my views and is not the case now. My goals are to promote freedom and transparency in government. Those are the reasons why I started this website and why I continue publishing on this website. Those are also the reasons that I ran for office and what I hope to achieve while in office.
The content here is intended to be thought provoking while promoting freedom and openness in government. Everything that is posted here should no more be viewed as my opinions than letters to the editors are viewed as being the opinions of the editors at newspapers.
As I’ve said many times before and will continue saying, let freedom ring!