By Bethany Blankley, The Center Square

In fiscal 2022, 70 percent of the largest cities in the U.S. did not have enough money to pay their bills.

In the latest comprehensive analysis of the fiscal health of the 75 most populous cities in the U.S., 53 did not have enough money to pay all of their bills, according to a Truth in Accounting analysis of the latest annual comprehensive financial reports from 2022.

In its eighth annual Financial State of the Cities report, TIA found that the 75 largest cities in the U.S. had $307.4 billion worth of assets available to pay bills but their debt, including unfunded retirement benefit promises, totaled $595.3 billion.

Pension and healthcare debt accounted for the majority of debt owed, according to the analysis. Pension debt totaled $175.9 billion; other post-employment benefits (OPEB), mainly retiree health care, totaled $135.2 billion.

All 75 cities are required by law to have balanced budgets. For those with debt, in order to claim their budgets were balanced, TIA argues elected officials didn’t include all government costs in budget calculations, thereby pushing costs onto future taxpayers. Instead, they used “accounting tricks,” including “inflating revenue assumptions, counting borrowed money as income, understating the true costs of government, and delaying the payment of current bills until the start of the next fiscal year so they aren’t included in the budget calculations.”

“The most common accounting trick” used to understate costs is excluding “true compensation costs” of employee benefits like health care, life insurance, and pensions, the report explains.

“While pension and other post-employment costs, such as health care, will not be paid until the employees retire, they still represent current compensation costs earned and incurred throughout their tenure.” Cities should include these contributions in their budgets, TIA says.

TIA also found that some elected officials “have used portions of the money owed to pension and OPEB funds to keep taxes low and pay for politically popular programs. Instead of funding promised benefits now, politicians have charged them to future taxpayers” to appear to have a balanced budget while city debt increases, TIA said.

Some of the financial woes can be attributed to the market value of pensions, the report explains.

“In 2022, the cities continued to receive and spend federal COVID-19 relief funds, and as the U.S. economy reopened, they took in additional tax revenue. Such economic gains were offset by increases in their pension liabilities, which were caused in large part due to decreases in the market value of pension investments,” the report states. “Over the past few years, investment market values have swung dramatically. In 2022, this volatility negatively impacted most cities’ pension investments and their financial condition, which demonstrates the risk to taxpayers when cities offer defined pension benefits to their employees.”

To show how taxpayers are impacted by cities not having enough money to pay their bills, TIA divides the amount of revenue needed to cover unpaid costs by the estimated number of taxpayers. This calculates “a taxpayer burden.” When cities have funds left over after paying their bills, TIA divides the amount by the estimated number of taxpayers to calculate “a taxpayer surplus.”

Cities are also graded according to their fiscal health, taxpayer burden or surplus, balanced budget requirements, and other factors.

Of the 75 cities evaluated, only 1% received an A grade for fiscal health. The majority received D grades, followed by C and B grades, according to the analysis.

The five cities with the greatest surpluses were Washington, D.C. ($10,700), Irvine, California ($6,100), Plano, Texas ($5,100), Lincoln, Nebraska ($4,100), and Oklahoma City ($2,900). Rounding out the top ten with greatest surpluses were Aurora, Colorado; Fresno, California; Raleigh, North Carolina; Virginia Beach and Corpus Christi, Texas.

Of 22 cities reporting surpluses, the majority, six, were in California.

Of the 10 cities with the greatest taxpayer burden, nine are run by Democrats. New York City has the greatest taxpayer burden (-$61,800), followed by Chicago (-$42,900), Honolulu (-$24,200), Philadelphia (-$20,400), Portland (-$20,100), New Orleans (-$18,200), Miami (-$15,500), Milwaukee (-$15,300), Baltimore (-$14,100), and Pittsburgh (-$13,000).

New York City, which has historically ranked as the worst for fiscal health, attributed much of its financial woes to “COVID-19,” mentioning it 38 times in its financial report, according to the analysis. “Despite receiving $6.5 billion in COVID relief grants and a $1.3 billion increase in tax revenues,” TIA points out that New York City still needed $6.1 billion to pay its bills.

TIA notes that cities not properly funding pension and retiree health care promises “burdens future taxpayers and puts retirees at risk of not receiving promised benefits.”

By Bethany Blankley, The Center Square

Texas has bused more than 50,000 people who’ve illegally entered the U.S. and were unlawfully released into the U.S., Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday.

The majority have been bused to New York City, followed by Chicago, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Denver and Los Angeles.

Abbott began the busing strategy in April 2022. He first sent foreign nationals who illegally entered the U.S. in Texas to Washington, D.C. Since then, over 12,500 people chose to be transported to the nation’s capital.

Last year, he expanded the strategy to send people to New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia. Since last August, Texas bused more than 18,500 people to New York City and over 13,500 people to Chicago. Since last November, Texas bused over 3,200 people to Philadelphia.

The majority have been bused to New York City, followed by Chicago, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Denver and Los Angeles.

This year, he began busing people to Denver and Los Angeles. So far, more than 3,200 people have arrived in Denver since May 18 and over 940 to Los Angeles since June 14.

The governor recently directed additional buses to Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas, after a surge of people came roughly two weeks ago. He said he was sending them to self-declared sanctuary cities to provide much-needed relief to overrun Texas border towns.

By Bethany Blankey, The Center Square

New Hampshire is the freest state in the U.S. compared to the rest of the country, while New York is the least free, according to the CATO Institute’s latest “Freedom in the 50 States” report.

The nonprofit think tank’s report provides an in-depth look into personal and economic freedoms on a state-by-state basis. It ranks all 50 states according to how their public policies affect individual freedoms economically, socially and personally, ranging from taxation to debt, from eminent domain laws to occupational licensing, and from drug policy to educational choice.

“Measuring freedom is important because freedom is valuable to people,” the report states, as “a means to their flourishing … and an end in itself. At the very least, it is valuable to those whose choices are restricted by public policy.”

“‘Freedom’ is a moral concept,” CATO argues, and its definition is grounded in individual liberties. “Individuals should not be forcibly prevented from ordering their lives, liberties, and property as they see fit, as long as they do not infringe on the rights of others.”

The overall freedom ranking assesses state policies related to fiscal, regulatory and personal categories within which are multiple criteria. According to its metrics, New Hampshire is overall the freest state in America.

Rounding out the 10 freest states are Florida, Nevada, Tennessee, South Dakota, Indiana, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona and Idaho.

New York leads in most categories in the 313-page report as one of the least free states. It’s the least free state overall, followed by Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Oregon, Maryland, Delaware, Vermont, New Mexico and Rhode Island.

When it comes to which state is the most fiscally free, Florida ranks first. In this category, states were assessed based on their policies related to taxation, government employment compared to private employment, spending compared to debt, and fiscal decentralization.

Rounding out the top ten freest states fiscally are Tennessee, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Missouri, Massachusetts, Indiana, and Nevada.

The least fiscally free states are Hawaii, New York, New Mexico, Nebraska, Vermont, Mississippi, Delaware, Iowa, Oregon, and California.

When it comes to regulatory policy, CATO assessed states’ liability system, property rights, health insurance, and labor market policies. In this category, Kansas is the freest state, followed by Nebraska, Iowa, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Georgia, Utah, Wisconsin and Indiana in the top ten.

The analysis notes, “As with fiscal policy, states that rank highest on regulatory policy are mostly conservative, but they tilt toward mid- western more than southern. In general, these are ‘good-government’ states.”

The least free states with the most government regulations, are California, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Oregon, Hawaii, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Washington.

When it comes to personal freedom, which CATO defines according to a range of categories such victimless crimes, guns, tobacco, and education, Nevada is the freest state. New Hampshire isn’t far behind, followed by Maine, Vermont, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Oregon and Alaska in the top ten.

The least personally free states are again New York followed by Texas, New Jersey, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, and Wyoming.

By Bethany Blankley, The Center Square

More children are likely to have increased access to educational options after state legislators across the U.S. advanced a slew of bills this year expanding school choice, according to several state-by-state surveys.

“This is a banner year for the educational choice movement. Hundreds of thousands of children nationwide will now have greater access to educational opportunities,” Jason Bedrick, director of policy at Ed Choice, a national nonprofit organization that promotes state-based educational choice programs, told The Center Square.

At least 50 school choice bills have been introduced in 30 states so far, designed to create or expand vouchers, tax-credit scholarships and education savings accounts, among other measures.

To date, 10 states have proposed five new programs and 10 states have expanded existing programs, Bedrick told The Center Square. They include the legislatures of Indiana and Nevada creating Educational Savings Accounts for the first time in their states, as well as Kentucky and Missouri creating tax-credit-funded Education Savings Accounts for the first time in their states.

Kentucky’s bill was the first school choice bill ever proposed in its legislature. And the majority of legislators passed the bill twice – first to make it to the governor’s desk, and second, to override the governor’s veto, creating the state’s first school choice program.

Arkansas’ legislature also created its state’s first tax scholarship program. In April, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the bill designed to help low-income families.

Arkansas is now the 20th state in the nation to adopt a tax-credit scholarship program.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice also signed into law “the most expansive school choice program in the country, a nearly universal option for education savings accounts,” the Heritage Foundation also reports in its analysis of states’ legislation.

“The events of the last year have demonstrated to many families that public schools are not always the reliable institutions many thought they were,” the Heritage Foundation reports. “It also opened their eyes to just how powerful the teachers unions are,” and as a result, legislatures responded to parents requests by undertaking one of the biggest expansions of school choice in history.”

Critics, particularly teachers unions and their supporters, that school choice programs drain resources from public school systems.

Several states expanded their existing voucher programs this year, including Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, and Maryland. Likewise, several states expanded their tax credit scholarship programs, including Florida, Indiana, Montana and South Dakota.

Notably absent on the list is Texas, whose Republican-controlled legislature has failed to advance school choice legislation.

Most of the Texas bills have been held up by the Calendar Committee Chairman, Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, who by not scheduling bills for committee assignments or votes ensures they never see the light of day.

Unlike Texas, “Even in California, hardly a school choice mecca, there is rumbling,” the Clarion Institute reports. “A revolutionary universal education savings account initiative is in the works for the November 2022 ballot. The ESA would give parents control of the money the state spends on educating their child. The funds would be spent on the school of their choice, and any money not spent would accumulate and could be used for college or vocational training.”

In March, a bill was read a second time in the California Assembly, AB 300, and referred to the Committee on Education. It would create a tax-credit funded Education Savings Account under an existing California education program to fund scholarships for private school tuition, online learning programs, tutoring, special needs therapies, transportation, textbooks, testing fees, and computer hardware and software.

And California State Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin, proposed “Cal Grant K-12” earlier this year. The privately funded grant program would “help parents who have been forced to pay out-of-pocket expenses to keep up with their children’s remote learning.” According to Kiley’s office, the bill “incentivizes individuals and businesses to make donations that will provide eligible students scholarship funds they can use for approved expenses to help reduce pandemic-induced learning loss.”

A new study from the University of Arkansas suggests that the more a state provides parents with freedom to choose their child’s school, the better the state’s students’ score on the National Assessment of Education Outcomes.

The Center Square

As states and school districts continue to change their back-to-school policies due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the national debate rages over in-person or virtual learning for instruction, some parents have taken their children’s education into their own hands.

A new form of quasi-homeschooling, called micro-schooling, is emerging. In this not-so-new format, neighboring families have decided to educate their children in a modern version of the 19th century era one-room schoolhouse.

But there’s a difference, Matt Candler, founder of 4.0 Schools, notes.

“What makes a modern micro-school different from a 19th century, one-room schoolhouse is that old school schools only had a few ways to teach?—?certainly no software, no tutors, and probably less structure around student to student learning,” Chandler says. “In a modern micro-school, there are ways to get good data from each of these venues. And the great micro-school of the future will lean on well-designed software to help adults evaluate where each kid is learning.”

Micro-schooling can involve 10 students or less, all at varying ages. The structure allows for extreme flexibility, proponents argue, and the content and approach to learning is determined by the parents.

“The model of a micro school is evolving,” the Micro School Network states. “Most are characterized by small learning communities made up of students working in mixed age groups. Teachers in micro schools do more guiding and less lecturing, and there is extensive use of digital and online resources to create personalized learning paths. Micro schools tend to emphasize project-based learning and community involvement.”

The network provides a platform for families to locate the right school for their children, as well as educational resources. Its “school finder” tool helps parents locate the best microschool for their child’s needs. They can search according to a student’s age, type of school, school attributes, and zip code.

Microschooling allows for personalized learning and individual attention with teachers, while also enabling students to learn in a multiage environment, Nevada Action for School Options explains. Instruction includes core classes of English language arts, math, science, and social studies, but also includes outdoor and other activities tailored to meet the students’ needs.

Nevada Action recently launched MicroschoolingNV in June and created a survey to help match parents and families with schooling options that best fit their needs.

“Families can do this, parents can lead microschools,” says Ashley Campbell, chief of staff at Nevada Action for School Options. “While opening up a schooling group might seem intimidating, parents leading these groups are doing amazing things all over the country, and it really is easier than you might think.”

Campbell says that while there are many licensed teachers opening micro-schools this fall, parents don’t have to be licensed teachers to lead or participate in one.

Micro-schooling takes different forms in different states depending on state laws. In Arizona, they operate as charter schools, in other states, as private schools.

Some families view micro-schooling as a permanent solution to their ongoing frustration with traditional schools not meeting their children’s needs. Others see it as a flexible, temporary solution to an immediate problem.

A recent Ipsos poll found that more than half of the respondents who are parents with a school-aged child said they were very or somewhat likely to switch to at-home learning. 

By Bethany Blankley, The Center Square

As the nation struggles with record high unemployment, extended job losses, continued statewide shutdowns, and crippling national debt, a new report reveals that congressional leaders will receive an estimated $1 million each in retirement payouts on top of their lifetime pensions, fully funded by taxpayers.

First published by Forbes,’s report, “Why Are Taxpayers Providing Public Pensions To Millionaire Members Of Congress?” compares the financial benefits that both top leaders in Congress receive.

“We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – Congress is an exclusive club where members vote for their own benefits,” Adam Andrzejewski, CEO and founder of the nonprofit watchdog organization, says.

By law, all 535 members of Congress receive a public pension plan and a taxpayer-funded, five-percent of salary 401(k)-style savings plan, in addition to salaries of $174,000 and higher. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s net worth is reportedly between $50 million and $72 million; Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s net worth is reportedly roughly $22 million. Their current salaries are $223,500 and $193,400, respectively.
Pelosi has received $5.7 million in total salary for the 34 years she has been in office. McConnell has received $5.5 million for the 36 years he’s been in office.

Both the Speaker and the Majority Leader voted for several spending packages this year, including the CARES Act and the Families First relief bill, which will increase the national debt by $1.76 trillion, and $192 billion, respectively, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The small business relief act added $480 billion to the total.
Spending increases and tax cuts in coronavirus legislation may increase debt initially by roughly $2.4 trillion.
Chris Edwards, an economist at the Cato Institute, estimates that the effect of the recession will reduce federal revenues a further $2.2 trillion over the next few years. With higher spending and lower revenues, federal borrowing costs are expected to be approximately $1.2 trillion higher over the next decade.

The basic CBO estimates exclude these costs, Edwards notes. All told, these decisions will add an estimated $5.8 trillion to the national debt.
And both leaders are expected to vote on another stimulus bill, which will add to this total.

Part of the spending problem contributing to this debt, notes, is the taxpayer-funded lifetime pension and taxpayer-matched savings plans members of Congress receive.

“Critics question the necessity of such a system,” Andrzejewski writes. “Why are U.S. taxpayers providing public pensions to millionaire members of Congress on top of a 401(k)-style plan? (The median net worth for a member recently exceeded $1.1 million.)”

Auditors at evaluated the financial benefits Pelosi and McConnell receive from taxpayers.

When Pelosi retires, she will receive $153,967 a year in public pension and Social Security benefits, in addition to an estimated $1 million lump sum through her federal saving account, OpenTheBooks auditors found. They explain this “is just the portion of the account that was taxpayer-funded.”
Taxpayers also paid $282,965 into Pelosi’s federal Thrift Savings Plans, which OpenTheBooks estimates grew to $1.03 million if invested in an S&P 500 index fund, as of Dec. 31, 2019.

Similar to Pelosi, taxpayers invested $273,700 into McConnell’s federal Thrift Savings Plans, which OpenTheBooks auditors estimates grew to $1.1 million if invested in an S&P 500 index fund as of Dec. 31, 2019. They add, this “is just the portion of the account that was taxpayer-funded.”
Researchers at the National Taxpayers Union estimate that McConnell’s pension and annuity package will be $142,902 annually if he retires after the 2020 November election.

U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, R-Indiana, has proposed a bill to change the law, arguing that members of Congress have the “option to forego the generous retirement plans offered to representatives and senators and opt instead for a more conservative, savings-based plan like those of the Americans they represent.”

The bill, S.439, passed the U.S. Senate on Dec. 19, 2019, and sits in the House.
Braun notes that the median minimum net worth of members of the 115th Congress was $511,000, while the median net worth of a U.S. household in 2016 was $97,300.

The collective wealth of members of the 115th Congress was at least $2.43 billion, with 43 members who were millionaires, he said.
Even factoring in federal employees, only 23 percent of all U.S. workers contribute to a traditional pension, Braun adds, down from 38 percent in 1980, as traditional pensions continue to be phased out by private sector companies in favor of 401ks and other savings plans.

By Bethany Blankley, Market Square

The U.S. economy added far more jobs than expected in November according to the latest numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The joblessness rate also reached another 50-year low.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 266,000 in November. Job growth has averaged 180,000 per month so far in 2019, BLS reports, compared to the average monthly gain of 223,000 in 2018.

Overall, the private sector added 254,000 new jobs in November, far more than the 178,000 expected jobs, and the 163,000 added in October.

Education and health services industries added 74,000 jobs, more than double the numbers added in October. Business services and leisure also added 38,000 and 45,000 positions, respectively.

The manufacturing sector added 54,000 jobs, exceeding the estimated 40,000 jobs initially projected by economists.

“This is a blowout,” Maria Bartiromo, Fox Business Global Markets Editor Mornings, said. “Look at these manufacturing numbers, a blowout.”

The unemployment rate also dropped to 3.5 percent, matching September’s, the lowest level since 1969.

“The incredible job growth we saw in November is more evidence that now is the perfect time for work-focused welfare reform,” said Kristina Rasmussen, senior fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountabily, of making sure those who can work, are able to get off the sidelines and into “the hottest job market in a generation.”

By Bethany Blankley, Central Square

Montana’s economic freedom demonstrated the very slightest of improvements over the past year, according to the 2019 Economic Freedom of North America report.

Historically, economic freedom has been declining in North America, according to a new report published by the Economic Research Center at The Buckeye Institute in partnership with Canada’s Fraser Institute.

However, the report indicates that several U.S. states are faring better.

The most economically free state in the U.S. is New Hampshire, followed by Florida, Tennessee, Virginia and Texas, according to the report. Montana ranks 16th, reflecting a four-year trend of improvement.

The least economically free state is New York, followed by West Virginia, Alaska, Vermont, and Oregon.

“As the size of government expands, less room is available for private choice,” the authors of the report conclude. “When the government taxes one person in order to give money to another, it separates individuals from the full benefits of their labor and reduces the real returns of such activity.

“When government owns what would otherwise be private enterprises and engages in more of what would otherwise be private investment, economic freedom is reduced,” they add. ““Policymakers should seize the chance to prioritize workers by lowering their tax burdens and level the private sector playing field with smart regulatory reforms that promote job creation and business investment.”

Over regulation is Montana’s greatest threat to freedom.

“Residents of Big Sky country enjoy ample personal freedom and good fiscal policy, but regulatory policy has seen a worrying, long-term decline in both absolute and relative terms,” said the report.

The report ranks every state and province in North America based on economic freedom, as measured by government spending, taxation, and labor market restrictions. The current rankings are based on data from 2017.

“Economically free states encourage and allow families and businesses to pursue economic prosperity,” the Ohio-based Buckeye Institute said in a statement accompanying the report. “Although governments can never ensure economic success for every citizen, policymakers can take meaningful steps to make success more likely.”

Montana’s tax burden is well below the national average. Insurance freedom is middling, as the state imposes some restrictions on rating criteria but has gone to “file and use” for most lines. It joined the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Compact in 2013–14. There is a general ban on sales below cost, and medical facilities and moving companies both face entry barriers. On lawsuit freedom it is slightly above average (less vulnerable to abusive suits). State taxes have held steady over the last several years at about 5 percent of adjusted personal income. Local taxes spiked in FY 2009 but have settled down since to about 3.1 percent of income. Montanans have virtually no choice in local government, as counties control half of local taxes. Montana’s debt burden has fallen from 20.2 percent of income in FY 2007 to 12.2 percent now. Government employment and consumption have fallen since the Great Recession and are now slightly better than average. Overall, Montana has posted consistent gains on fiscal policy over the time period we analyze.

Land-use freedom and environmental policy have deteriorated since 2007. Building restrictions are now more onerous than average. Eminent domain reform has not gone far. The state’s renewable portfolio standards are among the toughest in the country, raising the cost of electricity. The state has a fairly high minimum wage for its median wage level. Overall, Montana is one of the least free states when it comes to the labor market. Health insurance mandates are extremely expensive. Montana has gone from one of the least regulated states for occupational licensing in 2000 to one of the more regulated today. However, licensing was trimmed in 2016, and nurses enjoy substantial practice freedom. Montana is one of the better states for gun rights, although it has fairly extensive limits on where one may carry within cities. Montana also does well on gambling, where it has an unusual, competitive model for video terminals that does not involve casinos. On criminal justice, Montana is above average. Drug arrests are more than one standard deviation below the national average, but the incarceration rate is about average, when adjusted for crime rates. The state is schizophrenic on cannabis, with a reasonably liberal medical marijuana program but also the possibility of a life sentence for a single cannabis offense not involving minors and a one-year mandatory minimum for any level of cultivation. Montana reformed its terrible asset forfeiture law in 2015 but has not touched the equitable sharing loophole. Tobacco and alcohol freedoms are subpar, with draconian smoking bans, higher-than-average cigarette taxes, and state monopoly liquor stores. Educational freedom is slightly better than average, with fairly light regulation of private schools and homeschools and, since 2015, a strictly limited tax credit scholarship law. The state was forced to legalize same-sex marriage in 2014, and its oppressive super-DOMA was therefore also overturned.

The institute argues that policymakers can improve a state’s economy by reigning in government spending, reducing “needless regulations,” and simplifying a state’s tax structure.

The Fraser Institute has measured economic freedom in every state and province in the United States, Canada, and Mexico for 15 years, “creating a comprehensive assessment of trends in economic freedom.” The Buckeye Institute and its Economic Research Center co-published the report for five years in a row.

By Bethany Blankley, The Center Square

A new report by the nonpartisan think tank The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) says that Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act is like “Medicare for All Lite,” which has created nothing but “disastrous results.”

If the remaining non-expansion states were to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, FGA argues, about 2 million able-bodied adults risk losing their private insurance. They would then be shifted onto Medicaid and receive less quality care, placing a larger financial burden onto taxpayers.

In “Forced Into Welfare: How Medicaid Expansion Will Kick Millions Of Americans Off Of Private Insurance,” the authors note that the majority of able-bodied adults targeted to enroll in Medicaid already have affordable private insurance through an exchange program.

According to an earlier FGA analysis, nearly 54 percent of potential Medicaid expansion enrollees were already insured, and in some states like Wisconsin, the number was as high as 71 percent.

Chris Jacobs, senior fellow at the New Orleans-based Pelican Institute for Public Policy, reported on the crisis of Louisiana residents being forced to drop their private insurance to enroll in Medicaid, creating a phenomenon known as “crowd out.” After reviewing public records from the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), Jacobs found that 15,000 people dropped their private insurance to enroll in Medicaid every month throughout 2017.

“Crowd out populations pose big potential costs for Louisiana taxpayers,” Jacobs said. “In 2015, the Legislative Fiscal Office assumed that if Louisiana expanded Medicaid, the state would spend between $900 million and $1.3 billion over five years providing Medicaid coverage to individuals with prior health coverage.”

The average expansion enrollee cost per person is $6,286.20 per year in Louisiana, Jacobs calculates based on LDH testimony given to the House Appropriations Committee earlier this year.

Multiplying this average cost-per-enrollee by the number of individuals who dropped private coverage, according to last year’s LSU Health Insurance Survey, the Pelican Institute estimates the potential cost to state and federal taxpayers is $461.6 million per year.

Similar patterns are occurring nationwide, the FGA report notes. Economists, including Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber, have concluded that Medicaid expansions in the late 1990s and early 2000s created a crowd-out effect of roughly 60 percent. In other words, for every 10 new Medicaid enrollees, six left private insurance plans, FGA said.

By Bethany Blankley, The Center Square

A continuing robust job market has also boosted U.S. consumer confidence to an all-time high in nearly two decades, according to data released by The Conference Board’s index.

Bloomberg News reports the data exceeded all estimates in its survey of economists, with the highest views on the current economic climate at their highest since November 2000.

The index “shows hiring and income gains are keeping consumers upbeat and assuaging concerns about the economy’s prospects in light of slowing global growth, volatile financial markets and escalating U.S.-China trade tensions,” Bloomberg reports.

The majority of respondents saying jobs are plentiful jumped to 51.2 percent, the highest since September 2000, according to the index, while those saying jobs are hard to find declined to the lowest level in three months.

“While other parts of the economy may show some weakening, consumers have remained confident and willing to spend,” Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement. “However, if the recent escalation in trade and tariff tensions persists, it could potentially dampen consumers’ optimism regarding the short-term economic outlook.”

The report comes after record job numbers were published by the U.S. Department of Labor and record highs were reached by the Dow Jones and S&P 500 in mid-July.

Within a record-setting 24-hour period, the S&P 500 surpassed 3,000 for the first time since its founding in 1896, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 27,000 for the first time since its founding in 1885.

In the first six months of 2019, the Dow rose by 16 percent and the S&P 500 by 20 percent.

In April, 263,000 nonfarm jobs were added to the economy, with hourly wage growth up by two-tenths of a percent and unemployment at 3.6 percent, its lowest level since December 1969. In June, 224,000 nonfarm jobs were added, far more than what economists predicted.

In July, nonfarm payroll employment rose by 164,000, with an unchanged unemployment rate of 3.7 percent.

Positive responses also came after President Donald Trump said in August that he was considering indexing capital gains to inflation. Conservative groups argue this will build on the success of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that spawned economic growth, job creation and wage increases.

“Indexing is something that a lot of people have liked for a long time and it is something that would be very easy to do,” Trump said. “I can say that a majority of the people in the White House, at the level that does this kind of thing, they like indexing. So it is something I’m thinking about.”

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) President Grover Norquist said, “Taxing inflation is wrong and unfair,” adding that ending the taxation of inflation on capital gains would strengthen the economy.

A coalition of 51 conservative groups sent President Trump a letter earlier this year urging him to end the inflation tax on savings and investment. They maintain, “American families and job creators should not have to pay taxes on phantom income.”

ATR notes that because of the TCJA, 90 percent of American wage earners have higher take-home pay.

Read More