Nato and Trump

Nato leaders are playing down President Trump’s first visit to the Brussels HQ.

Trump’s Policies May Cost The U.S. $1.3 Billion, And That’s Just In Travel

The U.S. will likely miss out on more than $1.3 billion in travel-related expenditures this year, in part due to the Trump administration?s policies, one international business travel group predicts.

A loss in that range could mean thousands of lost jobs, and some other analysts project the overall monetary losses will be much higher.

Political events like Brexit, President Donald Trump?s executive order ?travel bans,? new laptop bans in the U.S. and U.K. and rumors of an expanded U.S. laptop ban have created ?uncertainty? that?s keeping some international travelers from visiting the U.S., according to a new report from the Global Business Travel Association, which represents corporate travel managers and professionals.  

The organization?s researchers analyzed airfare bookings, figures like GDP and oil prices and a Department of Commerce survey to come up with an ?uncertainty forecast? of $1.3 billion in losses in hotel, food, rental car and shopping spending related to travelers. The figure also includes $175 million in lost business travel-related wages for Americans during 2017.

?This devastating economic impact could take years to recover from,? wrote GBTA?s executive director & COO Mike McCormick. 

Staff at Oxford Economics said that projection is far too low. The global advisory firm is predicting an even bigger drop in travel to the U.S. this year, one that would result in a total loss of over $2.4 billion. The cause, they say, is Trump?s harmful rhetoric affecting perceptions abroad.

??America first? rhetoric, which was pronounced during the campaign and Trump?s inauguration speech, is finding consistent expression in policy,? said Adam Sacks, president of Oxford Economics?s tourism department. ?International markets are receiving a message that America is no longer a welcoming destination.?

The federal government estimates the value of international travel and tourism to the U.S. at about $250 billion annually, with three percent growth projected every year, said Patrick Surry, chief data scientist at travel site Hopper. The GBTA?s forecasted $1.3 billion loss represents about a .5 percent shift. But that?s too conservative in Surry?s eyes: Hopper?s recent research shows a more pronounced drop in U.S. travel interest since Trump took office. Chinese travelers, for example, have searched for flights to the U.S. 40 percent less than average since Trump took office.

The Middle East represents a particularly big hit, according to both the GBTA and Oxford Economics.

?We?re seeing a 30 percent decline in travel to the U.S. from the Middle East at the moment,? Sacks said. ?This means that the U.S. economy stands to lose about $1 billion from Middle East travelers alone [this year].? 

Emirates Airlines recently cut service to the U.S. after demand weakened in the wake of Trump?s travel bans and the Department of Homeland Security laptop ban, which was enacted in late March. And in a GBTA poll conducted after Trump?s initial travel ban, about half of European business executives said they would plan their travel elsewhere.

Amid Trump?s review of certain work visas and rumors of an expanded laptop ban, ?global travel markets will take further cues that the U.S. is not as welcoming as it once was,? Sack said.


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News Roundup for May 23, 2017

News gives the blues.

1. Three more lawsuits alleging racial discrimination and sexual harassment have been brought against Fox News. Nobody is surprised. More here.

2. An explosion in Manchester last night killed 22 and injured 59 people. Children are among the dead and ISIS are once again first in line to claim responsibility. More here.

3. Jury selection has begun for the Bill Cosby trial. Hope they have Jello pudding pops in jail. More here.

4. Trump asked intelligence chiefs to help him push back against the FBI probe into his links with Russia. Is it time for impeachment yet? More here.

5. Sir Roger Moore has died at 89, making 2017 the year of B-list celebrity deaths. More here.

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What’s The Senate To Do With The House Health Care Legislation?

The party in power often overreaches. House Republicans did just that when they voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a flawed alternative that threatens the health coverage of millions of Americans.

The Republicans? replacement would make insurance more expensive for most seniors, limit federal assistance to those middle-income families who struggle the most to pay for coverage and give states the ability to cover fewer people under Medicaid.

Instead of threatening coverage for those Americans who need to most help securing health insurance, Republicans would have been smarter to fix some of the obvious flaws in the Affordable Care Act. And Democrats would have been just as wise to join them.

First, eliminate the Independent Payment Advisory Board. IPAB was established to slow the growth of Medicare. The Affordable Care Act gives the panel broad discretion to reduce Medicare spending once the program eclipses a certain threshold. IPAB is unnecessarily bureaucratic and should be scrapped. Arbitrary price-setting is rarely successful.

Republicans and Democrats oppose IPAB because it threatens to limit what Medicare covers. Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the number two Senate Republican, and Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, introduced separate bills this year to block the board from forming. Sen. Wyden warned ?it would be a huge mistake? to allow the panel to push ?harmful cuts to Medicare with minimal input from Congress.?

Now, time is running out for Congress to correct this mistake because Medicare spending is soon expected to blow past the target that will force the president to set this process in motion.

Second, the Affordable Care Act created an imperfect formula to achieve those savings, essentially pegging reimbursement rates to much broader measures of inflation. But health care spending is climbing much faster than the rest of the economy, driven by unique demographic and financial variables.

Congress too often relies on arbitrary targets to slow the growth of federal programs, particularly Medicare. In 1997, former President Bill Clinton and congressional Republicans agreed to use the Sustainable Growth Rate to control Medicare costs.

In total, Congress voted 17 times to shield doctors from these cuts and ensure seniors continued access to their physicians. The annual ritual even earned a nickname, ?The Doc Fix.? Republicans and Democrats finally abandoned that routine in 2015, saving doctors from a 21 percent pay cut under Medicare.

The bill also changed how doctors are reimbursed under the program. Instead of tying reimbursement rates to arbitrary targets, the new law transitions Medicare to a payment system that rewards doctors for the quality of their care, not the quantity of procedures they perform or patients they see. But these are not enough.

To control health care costs, we must eliminate fee-for-service medicine. Buying health care is not like buying a car. The free market cannot work in a field where consumers cannot control costs or make informed choices without the assistance of those who benefit financially from their choices. The only way to have predictable budgets for consumers and payers, both private and public, is to replace fee-for-service with an all-inclusive fee that covers all health care services.  We know this works, and it is the only cost-containment approach that does.

We have to move away from a model that has fueled the dramatic rise in health care costs for more than 30 years.  The Affordable Care Act established the seeds of this approach, which is one of reason I oppose efforts to repeal it. As Democrats, we should highlight the best parts of this law to show why it should be fixed, not eliminated.

Repealing President Barack Obama?s signature health law has become a crusade for Republicans. But yanking health insurance from millions of Americans is not the best way for President Donald Trump to help people who depend on it, including many who voted for him. Trump has many failings, but he is not ideological. So, it doesn?t make sense for him to govern that way.

Democrats should do everything in their power to prevent the president and his Republican allies in Congress from repealing the Affordable Care Act ? even if that means agreeing to changes that will strengthen the program for Americans who depend on government health care programs.

Howard Dean is the former Governor of Vermont and an advisor to Dentons. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect the firm or its clients.

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