Senate health bill would lower deficit, increase number of uninsured, estimate says

Senate Republicans health care bill would reduce the federal deficit and eventually lead to lower premiums, but would result in millions more Americans being uninsured a decade from now, according to a fresh analysis from Capitol Hills nonpartisan budget scorekeepers.

The bills highly anticipated score was released Monday afternoon and immediately became part of the Senates raging health care debate as GOP leaders scramble to win over reluctant Republicans and tee up a vote to repeal and replace much of ObamaCare as early as this week.

The Congressional Budget Office estimate is an important factor, but its impact could be mixed.

In terms of coverage, the CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation report said the proposal would increase the number of uninsured by 22 million in 2026 relative to current law.

This is primarily because the penalty for not having insurance would be eliminated, the analysis noted, adding lower Medicaid spending and smaller subsidies also would reduce enrollment in later years.

But the budget impact could be appealing to fiscal conservatives. In large part due to Medicaid changes, the report said the legislation would cut deficits over the next decade by $321 billion.

“Our plan will help address Obamacare’s ballooning costs for consumers by lowering premiums over time and cutting taxes, and today’s estimate confirms that,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said. “I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues this week as we get closer to finally replacing this failed law with better care at a cost that Texans will be able to afford.”

The White House immediately took issue with the CBO estimate, saying in a statement that the office “has consistently proven it cannot accurately predict how healthcare legislation will impact insurance coverage.

“This history of inaccuracy, as demonstrated by its flawed report on coverage, premiums, and predicted deficit arising out of Obamacare, reminds us that its analysis must not be trusted blindly,” the statement went on.

The report said the bill would increase average premiums in the nongroup market leading up to 2020 and lower average premiums after that year, relative to the current law.

In 2020, average premiums for benchmark plans for single individuals would be about 30 percent lower than under current law. A combination of factors would lead to that decreasemost important, the smaller share of benefits paid for by the benchmark plans and federal funds provided to directly reduce premiums, the estimate says.

In some ways, the score was better for the Senate bill than for the related House bill that passed last month, projecting more deficit savings and better enrollment.

But foes were not impressed.

Saying the Senate health care bill is less mean than the House bill is like saying you prefer small pox over the bubonic plague, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement.

Shortly after the CBO score came out, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said, “This bill is every bit as mean as the House bill. This CBO report should be the end of the road for Trumpcare. Republicans would be wise to read it as a giant stop sign.”

Right now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., faces a steep climb getting the votes for the bill.

At least five Republicans have come out against the bill in its original form, meaning McConnell would have to offer changes for the plan to have a chance at passage. Republicans hold a slim 52-seat majority and would need a minimum of 50 senators plus Vice President Pence as the tie-breaker to pass the bill.

Power players in the health care fight already were taking sides even before the CBO estimate was released. The American Medical Association (AMA) sent a letter to McConnell on Monday expressing concerns with Medicaid provisions of the bill.

It would be a serious mistake to lock into place another arbitrary and unsustainable formula that will be extremely difficult and costly to fix, AMA CEO and Vice President James Madara, M.D., wrote. We believe that Congress should be working to increase the number of Americans with access to quality, affordable health insurance instead of pursuing policies that have the opposite effect.

On the other side, Anthem Inc., the nations second-largest health insurer, endorsed the Senate plan.

We believe the Senate discussion draft will markedly improve the stability of the individual market and moderate premium increases, an Anthem statement read. The company announced last week it plans to pull out of ObamaCare exchanges in Indiana and Wisconsin next year.

Some Republicans have downplayed the CBOs reliability on health care from the start.

In a move widely criticized by Democrats, the House brought its version of the health care bill to the floor before a CBO score was even released. The House narrowly passed its version on May 4.

Weeks later, the CBO estimated the House bill would reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion by 2026, but also leave at least 23 million more Americans uninsured than under ObamaCare over that same time period.

Moments after the CBO score on the House bill was released last month, Republicans downplayed the figures. The Republican National Committee released a statement at the time slamming the CBO, saying they have a long track record of being way, way off in their modeling.

Senate Republicans rolled out modest revisions to their health care bill on Monday, including a penalty for Americans who have a lapse in insurance coverage.

McConnell is hoping to hold a vote before the July 4 holiday but currently does not have them.

Republican Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky.; Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Mike Lee, R-Utah; Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; and Dean Heller, R-Nev., have come out against the bill in its current form.

Paul told reporters on Capitol Hill last week the he didnt run on ObamaCare lite.

I think we can do better than thismy hope is not to defeat the bill, but to make it better, Paul said. Now the discussions beginI think it could take longer than a week.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram and Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.

Brooke Singman is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

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Transports coming upheaval

If you were given a penny for every minute people spent commuting in an average year, youd have a stack that was 1,433,400 miles high. Thats enough to stretch to the moon and back three times.

In terms of air-travel, US-based businesses spend more on it than any other employee expense. This works out at over $21 billion a year for Fortune 500 companies alone.

As for the average American household, they spend $9,004 on transportation per year. In some locales, this is enough cash for a down payment on a three-bedroom house that will rent for twice your mortgage payment. To all the New Yorkers and San Franciscans reading, this is where you can take a moment to stop hyperventilating.

Technology is continuously reshaping our relationship with travel, and that change is accelerating to another inflection point. Advances in transportation technology reshape our lives and cities, and how and where we all settle. AndAmerican history guides us on whats to come.

The introduction of the railroad in the United States was one of the most important phenomena in the countrys short history. With their construction came new industry, towns, and cities in areas that were previously wild, barren and uninhabited.

Commercial flight innovation was the next step forward, quickening travel and further lessening the geographical divides of the country. And, in the 1950s, the Interstate Highway System allowed the quick and cheap transportation of goods between suburban and rural areas, benefiting farmers and consumers.

Rapid international travel gave rise to globalization which made the world small enough that a grocery store in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania could be selling Mexican-grown produce.

Each of these surges in transport technology created millions of new jobs, injected the equivalent of trillions of dollars into the economy, and changed the way people view time and space.

We are on the verge of a new leap forward.

The New Modes of Transport

In 2012, Elon Musk announced that he was working on a fifth mode of transport a new form of terrestrial travel using pod-like vehicles traveling over 700 mph in near-vacuum tubes. Musk named this new mode of transport, Hyperloop.

Shervin Pishevar, co-founder of Hyperloop One, saw the opportunity and assembled a team which is poised to have the first at-scale system in place before 2020. The concept of Hyperloop was dreamed up by futurists over 100 years ago, but thanks to Musks creativity and Pishevars execution, the idea has gone from a quasi-sci-fi imagining to a near-reality.

Hyperloop isnt the only disruptive innovation set to change the way we view travel forever.

Autonomous car technology is another idea thats existed in the collective imagination since the early 20th century. It has also recently taken huge strides forward and is predicted to be a major form of transport within five years.

Toyota, Ford, Mercedes, BMW, Tesla, Nvidia and Google are among a myriad of companies pursuing the concept of driverless car technology; to date, five states allow the testing of fully autonomous cars on public roads; and in August of this year, Singapore launched the worlds first self-driving taxi service. A future of autonomous cars is has from a possibility to an inevitability.

Like the transportation leaps before them, Hyperloop and autonomous cars will change the lives of millions and eventually billions. They will create wealth, jobs, industry and much more. Perhaps the most exciting opportunities that will come with these new modes of transport will be those that we cant even envision yet. However, as with all disruptive innovations, there are large pockets of dissent. But to what extent are these objections based on fact rather than fear? And can they outweigh the opportunities that these new technologies will bring?

Can We Trust Machines?

The biggest question mark outside of government regulation currently hanging over autonomous cars concerns safety and reliability. There is a worry that theyre unable to follow traffic laws, unreliable in bad weather and generally unpredictable. And the recent string of accidents involving driverless cars has only exacerbated these concerns.

Lets be clear that driverless cars have a far better driving record than we do Tesla autonomous cars alone have driven over 222 million miles with just one fatality. Compare this to the fact that human-driven vehicles result in one fatality per 94 million miles, and its easy to see why so many experts are suggesting that the advent of driverless cars will bring with it safer roads and fewer accidents.

According to a survey by the US Department of Transportation, 94 percent of road accidents are caused by human error, and in tests the safety of autonomous vehicles has met and surpassed all standards. The Virginia Tech Transport Institute has released a study with statistics that suggest driverless cars are safer than their human-operated counterparts.As of 2016, Googles driverless car, Waymo, traveled 2M miles; at an average speed (estimated by CNET) of 30mph, this equals: 66,667 hours or 7.6 years With all that road behind it, there hasnt been one major accident.

With regards to the recent accidents, it has been shown that these were caused by other human drivers on the roads, rather than the machines themselves.

Of course, with major change often comes suspicion. But the bulk of evidence points to a future where the dangers of driving are void if we embrace the coming of autonomous transport.

The Effect on the Job Market

Similar concerns over safety were prevalent with the introduction of the railroads. It seems strange now, but the advent of the new form of high-speed travel in the 19th century was considered unnatural and at odds with the status-quo.

The railroads also brought dissent from the existing transport industries. Coachmen worried that their jobs would be displaced by the new, more efficient, cost-effective mode of travel. This is a fear thats been raised regarding the prospects of both Hyperloop and autonomous cars. Its estimated that 10% of all jobs in America are driver-related. So, to what extent will these new modes of transport encroach upon the careers of millions?

In short, the answer is, not much. Of course, the industry will change. New routes will be created and the role of the driver is likely to change. But out of that a surge, new industries and careers will be born.

Its fair to say that many transport routes currently used by truckers can be replaced by Hyperloop. Like the railroads that came before, Hyperloop will offer the cheaper and quicker transportation of goods over long distances. This will transform supply chain economics and shrink lead times across the manufacturing eco-system. However, this doesnt paint the whole picture.

Cargo will still need to be transported from the Hyperloop station to its final destination. This is called the Last Mile problem. And this role will still be performed on the road by human drivers and, in for small items, via flying and driving drones.

In fact, if we accept that Hyperloop routes will replace freight carried by air, then this will mean more cargo carried terrestrially, and therefore an influx of opportunity for the trucking industry.

[The] market will prefer the more comfortable offerings that will be created and include an operator.

The fear that driverless trucks will take away jobs is also unfounded. Human operators will still be required to manage cargo, maintain security and, for local deliveries, they may increase efficiency by executing assembly on-the-go.

As for the arrival of autonomous cars, the concern is that Uber, Lyft and cab drivers will be left by the wayside in favor of machine-driven vehicles. Again, this aspersion doesnt exactly stand up to the reality of how the transition would likely happen.

As with the future of the trucking, the passenger-service industry is likely to be disrupted, but its unlikely to immediately threaten jobs, if ever at all. Like driverless trucks, autonomous cabs will, for various reasons including insurance, still require a human operator, meaning that the jobs currently held by drivers will simply change rather than be removed entirely.

Thats not to say there wont be some low-cost point-to-point autonomous transport. Im saying the market will prefer the more comfortable offerings that will be created and include an operator.

And this change will not only maintain existing jobs and strengthen the passenger-service industry, but it will create an entirely new economy altogether.

The New Mobile Service Economy

According to Karl Iagnemma, the CEO of nuTonomy (which is exhibiting self-driving cabs
in Singapore and Boston), the role of drivers in autonomous cars will become more customer-centric. This means focusing on customer care and satisfaction, which in turn means an incredible expansion for the entire industry.

With fewer people traveling in their own vehicles and an influx of passenger travel, there will be fresh opportunities for businesses to reimagine the mobile service industry entirely. Train companies and airlines have been profiting from this for years, selling goods and premium experiences to passengers to boost sales and improve the customer experience.

Autonomous vehicles will take this industry to the next level, and open it up to a myriad of new entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Coffee shops, movie theatres, massages, medical care, legal services, food, and your neighborhood pub may all be summonable to you and your friends.

This service could go much further than simply offering snacks and refreshments.

For a start, the increased size and space that will come with autonomous vehicles will allow for multiple-levels of luxury, and many service-based businesses could adapt to accommodate both the new modes of transport and the growing number of people who will be traveling longer distances by terrestrial means.

Consider the transformation of our cities small businesses to a mobile context. Coffee shops, movie theatres, massages, medical care, legal services, food, and your neighborhood pub may all be summonable to you and your friends.

For those who recall the app explosion of the late 2000s, we should see another transport service proliferation in the coming years.

Clearly, its not just the likes of Tesla and Google who would profit from a rise in these forms of travel. It would provide businesses with the opportunity to adapt their products and services to an entirely new, lower fixed-cost context.

Reimagining the Commute

Beyond the direct wealth that will come with Hyperloop and autonomous car technology, there are other resources that will become more plentiful with the rise of these new forms of travel. In 2014, Americans alone spent 29.6 billion hours commuting.

That works out to be 106 hours per year for the average commuter. Currently, this is time most spend at the wheel of a car or crammed into an overfilled train. With the advent of this new travel, not only would commuting time be cut, but it would generally be more luxurious with the passengers free to spend the time as they wish.

This freed-up time could be spent however the passenger liked: working, in meetings or simply for leisure or connecting with loved ones. In terms of economy, this time would be worth a fortune. According to an independent economic analysis of the effects the autonomous car could have in Europe, 0.16 cents will be added to the continents annual growth rate, equating to nearly $18 trillion by 2050.

However, lets not just consider the financial benefits that this new commute would have. There have been many studies done into the impact that commuting has on a persons well-being, health and happiness. Those who commute on a regular basis have been shown to exhibit higher levels of stress and anxiety, and those with the longest commutes have the lowest overall satisfaction with life.

More than anything though, less time spent commuting, or time spent commuting in more agreeable surroundings, would give people more options. And with this would come more possibility for everyone.

Image: CurvaBezi/Getty Images

The Mile-High Impact

Benefits that would come from the new mobile economy and the shift in how we commute would likely lead to a major increase in terrestrial travel. This would move passengers away from short-distance domestic flights towards autonomous vehicle alternatives.

According to travel expert, Jim Loomis, a large number of flights in and out of most of the major hub cities are to and from cities less than 400 miles away. This includes 30-40 percent of arriving flights from Chicagos OHare Airport. Judging by the comparative speeds of short-haul air travel and Hyperloop, many of the passengers of these flights would be drawn to terrestrial travel alternatives.

The convenience of driverless cars would be far superior to that of airlines. Neither mode of transport would be as sensitive to extreme weather conditions, resulting in fewer cancellations and delays, and the flexible schedules would allow passengers to travel at their own leisure. Driverless cars would be summoned directly and transport passengers door-to-door, drastically improving passenger flexibility.

The convenience of driverless cars would be far superior to that of airlines. Neither mode of transport would be as sensitive to extreme weather conditions, resulting in fewer cancellations and delays, and the flexible schedules would allow passengers to travel at their own leisure.

The new possibilities of luxury would also play a part in luring passengers away from airline travel. As we discussed when looking at the new mobile service economy, driverless cars would bring new levels of passenger comfort, greatly surpassing those of airlines. As we all know, the Wifi and Internet of airlines is notoriously poor and expensive; this is something that certainly wont be a problem for the new modes of terrestrial travel, particularly seeing as autonomous cars are likely to use onboard wifi technology.

But also, the increase in onboard space compared to that of airplanes would be another game-changer. Audis senior strategist, Sven Schuwirth, has already proposed shape-shifting interiors for driverless cars, meaning that their function could change depending on the type of journey and the passengers needs. This would allow groups of friends or business colleagues to travel together, spending leisure time or continuing their work on the road.

All of this is bad news for airlines, particularly those that specialize in short-distance flights. However, as were about to see, the environmental effects of this passenger shift will have a hugely positive impact on all of us.

A Green Alternative

Not only would an influx in terrestrial travel be more environmentally-friendly than airplane travel, both driverless cars and Hyperloop will provide sustainable, green energy across the board.

Lets first consider autonomous cars. They will be a greener alternative than our current manual vehicles. For a start, its likely that many driverless cars will be electric or will at least be hybrids. GM, Tesla and Google are among many companies making this push.

But also, autonomous vehicles will mean more carpooling and therefore less congestion and traffic on the roads. The machine-driven vehicles will also result in more efficient driving as they will use energy-optimizing controls to reduce emissions. Moreover, in as recently as 2013, a UK study showed that drivers spent upwards of 6 minutes and 45 seconds to find a parking space. Reducing or removing that time circling neighborhoods looking for spots will remove a major cause of traffic for city roads.

Hyperloop, too, will be a major tool in the fight against climate change. Musk believes its possible to mount the tubes with solar panels meaning that, in terms of energy, the transportation system will be almost entirely green and sustainable.

Image: DrAfter123/Getty Images

Changing the Cityscape and Beyond

The new transportation mediums also have the potential to positively disrupt our very notion of urban living, affecting the use of city space and satellite towns.

Currently, parking in the US alone uses 1,713 square miles thats nearly six times the size of New York City. In LA, parking space takes up 14% of incorporated land. The transportation transformation would drive this figure down.. Fewer people would own private vehicles, and driverless cars would be more efficiently stored in company lots on the outskirts or below cities.

In a time when city space is more valuable than ever, its not hard to imagine the benefits that would come from freeing up this space. This land could be repurposed as green space, parks, housing or new commercial centers. All this infrastructure work would create jobs.

The new modes of transport wont just be beneficial for larger cities and their inhabitants. The new commuting paradigm created by Hyperloop and driverless cars will enrich rural areas and even create new urban centers in the same way that the Interstate Highway System did before. For example, it may be possible to work in San Francisco and live in a suburb of Reno, Nevada.

Over the past decade, the Washington DC Metro has been extending further into Mclean and Tysons Virginia. As it moves outwards, like veins from the heart, the metro line feeds new regions wealth as people move to the more affordable, less densely populated, stops down the line.

The Hyperloop will have a similar pattern of impact at a greater scale.

It can extend the reach of a city hundreds of miles. Hyperloop should accelerate the transport of goods. It will connect warehouses to major cities for same day delivery. You could imagine them feeding the cities like an artery. As a byproduct, everywhere they connect theyll allow people to live at drastically lower cost while still being able to commute to the city center quickly.

More and more people will have the option of living in satellite towns and traveling to major conurbations for work. The Hyperloop stations that will allow for this new commute will bring with them wealth and industry, which as were about to see could do far more than just create jobs for millions of people.

The Unintended Side Effects

The growing divide between urban and rural areas has been well-publicized in recent months, not just in America but across the globe. The surprising result of Trumps recent election and the British referendum on Europe are thought to be caused by this fragmentation of society.

It has seen an increasing disconnect between left and right political factions. While bigger cities have continued to thrive in recent years, smaller rural areas have struggled due to a lack of new industry and wealth.

That begs the question, is it possible that new transport could be the answer to our split societies? Its not a panacea but it will surely extend the coastal wealths reach inland. Their arrival could create the same effect that has been felt with each historical surge in transportation. Globally, new towns and cities were created thanks to the success of the railroad, airports and highways, and existing areas began to flourish.

We only have to look in America to see the amount of wealth and opportunity that came with the Transcontinental railroad; huge numbers of businesses were created and thrived; information and knowledge spread with greater ease; a new country recovering from civil war was brought together. By pushing forward with the new modes of transport, we are likely to see a similar progression in society in the years to come.

The Best is Yet to Come

Perhaps the most exciting prospect of Hyperloop and autonomous cars is the many open doors that well get to explore.

Here, weve discussed how these innovations will bring wealth, create new industries, allow more time to innovate, connect with the people they love, decrease carbon emissions and free up thousands of square miles of space; but were just beginning to scratch the surface. Other benefits include easier mobility for those who cant drive, less congestion, and the jobs that these burgeoning modes of transport have already created.

More than anything though, by embracing the coming innovations in transportation, we open ourselves up to new worlds of opportunity. By introducing this technology to billions of people worldwide, we invite new applications and innovations previously thought unimaginable.

Weve seen a major change in how we move every half century since the Industrial Revolution. Every shift was preceded by fear and resulted in a brave new world of possibility.

We cant know whats to come but I choose to be hopeful. I choose to believe its possible to see a light around the next corner shining a future where we are more connected and comfortable.

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Pot Industry Deals With Ultimate Buzzkill: Self Regulation

The rules have to come from somewhere. For some cannabis industry leaders, theyd rather be the ones to set the rules and regulations for their businesses.

Its a double-edged sword when they say they just want to be treated like any other legitimate industry.

Equal treatment could of course be good for legal weed, especially if businesses were taxed at typical rates instead of double or even triple those rates, as mandated by IRS tax section 280E. But if federal regulators were to reschedule marijuana and treat medical cannabis products similar to pharmaceutical or agricultural products it would, as I wrote last year, add costly and timely steps to the pot-selling process that some say could bankrupt most of these businesses.

As Rolling Stone explained further: If the federal government determines that medical marijuana must be subjected to FDA approval, companies would have to enter a process that can take years to complete and cost more than $1 billion per product. Few, if any, cannabis companies in the U.S. have the resources for that, which might open the door for Big Pharma to muscle in and take over the business.

The current rules for any modern cannabis business can be found in the all-important regulations, from the federal governments IRS Tax Code and Controlled Substances Act to the many state and territory regulations that direct more than 30 U.S. markets, from Hawaii to Guam.

Not all industries are subject to federal regulators. Films, for example, are mostly self-regulated by the Motion Picture Association of America, which rates films based on their content (G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17) to help consumers make educated decisions. The organization was created in the 1920s to resist mounting calls for government censorship of American films, and the MPAAs well-known voluntary movie-rating system shields the filmmaking industry from what they see as unnecessary government interference.

The pot industry is also starting to see a number of independent agencies putting forth their own suggested standards and regulations, including the 119-year-old standards organization ASTM International, the 121-year-old National Fire Protection Association, and the brand new Cannabis Certification Council, announced earlier this month as a merger between the Organic Cannabis Association and the Ethical Cannabis Alliance.

Of course the industry itself has plenty of ideas on best practices and regulations, and thats where the just-announced National Association of Cannabis Businesses enters the conversation. Calling itself the legal marijuana industrys first self-regulated organization (SRO), the NACB has assembled an impressive team to create uniform national standards that its founding membersincluding marijuana brands Buds & Roses, Cresco Labs, Etain, Green Dot Labs, Local Product of Colorado, Matrix NV, Mesa Organics and othersand future paid members will eventually abide by.

Its an entirely new industryan entirely new legal industry, ratherand its so rare that that happens, said Doug Fischer, the NACBs D.C.-based chief legal officer and a former associate at Wall Street law firm Cadwalader Wickersham and Taft. There are all these historical precedents of industries that have done a good or bad job or regulating themselves. But given the uncertain state of play at the federal level and the fragmented situation at the state level, the time is now for an organization like this in the legal cannabis industry.

Heading up the NACB is president Andrew Kline, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and senior advisor to then-Senator Joseph Biden, and CEO Joshua Laterman, who served as the longtime U.S. general counsel of global investment bank Natixis. NACB advisors are industry heavyweights with deep experience in regulated markets including Colorado, California and D.C.

Writing comprehensive regulations for a still-new industry is a daunting task, but the NACB has identified five or six areas as primary ones wed like to focus on now, said Fischer, and some are addressed by state law to varying degrees of effectiveness and some are not.

The organization will soon begin conversations with members on setting regulations for advertising cannabis products, where they will borrow from tobacco and alcohol in deciding how, where and to whom marijuana can be marketed.

NACB will also look at regulations for packaging and labeling restrictions, which will inevitably address child-proof containers, edible weeds single serving size, and comprehensive on-package language containing all pertinent information and warnings. The organization will also address reputable financial integrity and accounting practices, a.k.a. audited and verified financial statements that fairly reflect the state of a cannabis business finances, including cost of goods sold, revenues, tax liabilities and assets including inventory.

The industry needs to demonstrate that it takes these things seriously, said Fischer.

Self-regulated organizations traditionally develop and enforce regulations for a specific industry, and some of the better-known SROs include the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the National Association of Realtors and the American Medical Association.

People wouldnt want to do business with a broker who is not in good standing with FINRA, said Fischer, and we hope that will also be the case with the NACB.

Of course the SRO concept has its detractors, especially given some of their cozy relationships with the industries theyre regulating. But in actuality many self-regulatory schemes have been effective precisely because the self-regulated have recognized that complying has been in their interest, former Federal Trade Commission chairman Deborah Platt Majoras told a gathering of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in 2005.

Platt Majoras continued in her speech: In response to public concerns about the violent content of their products and its suitability for children, the motion picture (MPAA), music recording (RIAA), and electronic game (ESA) industries each have in place a self-regulatory system that rates or labels products in an effort to help parents seeking to limit their childrens exposure to violent materials. Their systems govern the placement of advertising for Restricted (R)-rated movies, Mature (M)-rated games, and Explicit-Content Labeled recordings in media popular with teens and require the disclosure of rating and labeling information in advertising and on product packaging.

The NACBs Fischer understands the differences between his organization and the MPAA: Theres no federal law on rating movies because the industry took it upon themselves to do that. With something like cannabis, this is a drug that has such obvious public health and safety concerns, and it wouldnt be realistic that the government would stay out of it as they have with motion picture ratings.

But another section of Platt Majoras 2005 speech to the Better Business Bureaus acknowledges that the NACBs early focus on universal cannabis advertising regulations is a solid place to start this particular SRO conversation: The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), as well as two other alcohol industry trade associations, the Beer Institute and Wine Institute, have adopted voluntary advertising codes governing the placement and content of alcohol advertising. The three codes have provisions designed to ensure that alcohol ads are not targeted to minors under 21, who cannot legally purchase alcohol, as well as to address other advertising and marketing issues.

The NACB only launched on Thursday, and it has a long way to go before it can hold court with more established SRO counterparts in the alcohol and tobacco industries. But Fischer and his colleagues want consumers and potential members to know that they plan on growing into the kind of organization that can create meaningful, positive change for the cannabis industry and its millions of customers.

At the outset, were a small organization and dont have dedicated staff to inspect all our members, said Fischer. But over time we hope to move toward more robust enforcement mechanism, because to give governments and stakeholders assurances that our members are complying with relevant laws and our national standards, we will need to be able to back it up.

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Clinton: GOP will become the ‘death party’ if Senate bill passes

Former presidential nominee Hillary Clinton came out swinging in a tweet Friday, saying if Senate Republicans pass their current healthcare bill, they will become the death party.

Clintons post referenced an article from the Center for American Progress, an independent nonpartisan policy institute, which cited Harvard researchers as saying the Senate bill could result in 18,000 to 28,000 deaths in 2026.

The tweet from Clinton follows an earlier tweet urging her supporters to “speak out against” the bill.

In a lengthy Facebook post on Thursday, former president Barack Obama offered his take on the bill, saying “if theres a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family this bill will do you harm.”

Former vice president Joe Biden also tweeted his opinion of the GOP health care bill on Friday evening, labeling the legislation a “wealth transfer.”

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Future Family wants to give women a more affordable option in fertility treatments

In 2016, the scales tipped toward more moms having kids in their 30s than in their 20s for the first time. However, those closer to 40 than 30 face higher risks than their younger counterparts. Add to that one in every eight couplesin the U.S., regardless of age, have some type of fertility issue. More couples are now looking at their options with IVF and other fertility treatments.

The problem is those treatments can come with a hefty price tag. The typical costs range from $12,000 to $20,000 for IVF, plus another few thousand for the genetic testing involved to ensure the fetus is chromosomally normal. Its not something couples with an average salary can afford.

A new Bay Area startup, Future Family, hopes to change that by offering to finance more affordable options including a newly launched fertility age test you can do in the privacy of your own home to determine how much time you might have left to make a few babies.

The startup was co-founded byformer Solar City exec Claire Tomkins and Eve Blossom after Tomkins went through six rounds of IVF and spent more than $100,000 to finally get her baby.It was then she had the idea to create a better way for more women and couples to have more affordable options in planning for the family they wanted.

The cost is reallyprohibitive and it was really eye-opening for me, she told TechCrunch. I personally hadnt had any health issues before and what I learned was that it was so expensive that if you dont have resources you probably couldnt afford treatment.

She started hearing from women whod gone through the same thing she had and decided to do something for them.

But fertility financing isnt anything new, and most fertility clinics offer some type of financing, combined with whatever your insurance if you are lucky enough to have good insurance might cover. A rudimentary search on Google alsooffers plenty of options advertising affordable financing. However, the startup extends a 24/7 nurse concierge service and zero-down financial packages for IVF and egg freezing, and it aims to find less expensive services to help keep the costs down. The new fertility age test, for instance, will cost $300, or about half the typical cost for the same type of test in the doctors office.

A woman freezing her eggs with Future Family could pay as little as $75/month, which includes all clinic costs, medications and storage in the first year, according to the startup. Those looking to go through IVFcould pay as little as $125/month, all-inclusive.

And, despite a lot of competition in the space, Future Family may have come at a good time. The baby-making industry has ballooned to nearly $3 billion in the U.S., providing fertile ground for growth.

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Trump Blames Democrats For Obstructing Health Care Bill They Haven’t Seen Yet

President Donald Trump again blamed Senate Democrats for blocking the passage of a health care bill that no one outside of a handful of GOP lawmakers has actually seen yet.

Speaking Wednesday at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Trump lamented criticism that his administration hasnt accomplished much yet and pointed a finger at Democratic lawmakers for slowing the passage of a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

If we went and got the single greatest health care plan in the history of the world, we would not get one Democrat vote, because theyre obstructionists, Trump claimed. If we came to you and said, Heres your plan, youre going to have the greatest plan in history, and youre going to pay nothing, theyd vote against it, folks.

Trump tweeted similar complaintsearlier Wednesday.

If we had even a little Democrat support, just a little, like a couple of votes, youd have everything. And you could give us a lot of votes and wed even be willing to change it and move it around and try and make it even better, he continued at the Iowa rally. But again,They just want to stop, they just want to obstruct. A few votes from the Democrats, seriously, a few votes from the Democrats, it could be so easy, so beautiful, and youd have cooperation.

What Trump failed to mention is that Senate Democrats havent actually had the opportunity to even read the bill, which Republican senators have written almost entirely behind closed doors. The unprecedented lack of transparencyhas drawn outrage from Democrats, the media and the public, while Republicans have falsely claimed that Democrats engaged in similar secrecy while writing the Affordable Care Act in 2009 and 2010.(Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he plans to release the text of the bill Thursday.)

Trump, who described the House version of the bill as mean, said Wednesday that he hopes Republicans will surprise the public with a plan with heart.

Reports, however, indicate that the Senate bill will be substantially similar to the one passed in the House last month. An estimated 23 million fewer people would have health care coverage under that bill, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis of it.

And as HuffPosts Jeffrey Young points out, the bills intent, regardless of what the Senate version looks like, is already clear. The purpose of this bill is to dramatically scale back the safety netso wealthy people and health care companies can get a massive tax cut, Young wrote this week.

The president also mocked Democrats for failing to pick up seats in special elections in Georgia and South Carolina on Tuesday, singling out Jon Ossoff, the Democrat who narrowly lost in Georgias 6th Congressional District.

They thought they were going to win last night in Atlanta, he said. And theyve been unbelievably nasty, really nasty. They spent close to $30 million on this kid, who forgot to live in the community he was in.

Trump then acknowledged that his criticism may not be doing Senate Republicans any favors in winning over their Democratic colleagues.

I am making it a little bit hard to get their support, but who cares? he said.

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Republicans Hold On To Mick Mulvaney’s Old House Seat In South Carolina

Republican Ralph Norman won Tuesdays special election in South Carolina for a U.S. House seat, defeating Democrat Archie Parnellin the solidly GOP 5th Congressional District, according to The Associated Press.

Norman, a 63-year-old real estate developer and former state lawmaker, replaces fellow Republican Mick Mulvaney, who left Congress to become President Donald Trumps budget director.

Parnell, a 66-year-old tax attorney, mounted an unusually ambitious challenge in the district where the conservative Mulvaney cruised to re-election in 2016.His scrappy campaign, and the support it received from the national Democratic Party, excited local activists accustomed to being written off by party leaders.

Michele Horne, 42, a Rock Hill-based supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) who volunteered for Parnell, blamed the outcome on her fellow constituents strong identification with the Republican Party.

South Carolinians still have not gotten to the point where they can look at issues versus keeping it strictly partisan politics, said Horne, a co-founder of the progressive #DemEnter group. On the issues, Archie is clearly a better choice for anybody who lives in the state other than very wealthy people.

Norman is likely to add to the strength of the Houses contingent of fiscal hard-liners. He has said he would consider joining the House Freedom Caucus, a group Mulvaney helped found and which is comprised of the chambers most conservative Republicans.

Norman campaigned heavily on his commitment to helping Trump enact his agenda, including the repeal of Obamacare. He has also embraced raising the Social Security retirement age and, following last weeks shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and others at a baseball field, said he believes more members of Congress should carry guns.

In addition, Norman touted the endorsements of high-profile national conservatives, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Trump recorded a robocall for Norman over the weekend and tweeted his support for the GOP candidate on Monday:

The district, a largely rural swath of the state that stretches from Sumter in the south to the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina, was always going to be difficult territory for a Democrat.

Mulvaney was reelected there in 2016 by 20 percentage points, and Trump defeated DemocratHillary Clinton among the districts voters by 18.5 points.

But in a year when Democrats have been champing at the bit to humble Trump with upset victories in special election races, including Georgias 6th Congressional District, which they also lost late Tuesday, Parnell ran his partys most formidable campaign in the district since 2010. That was when Mulvaney unseated veteran Rep.John Spratt, ending the Democrats more-than-century-long hold on the seat.

Parnell raised $763,000 for his bid, including $305,000 that he either lent or donated to the campaign. Norman raised $1.3 million, much of which also came from his own pocket.

The national attention and resources showered on what polls showed to be a neck-and-neck special election Tuesday in Georgias 6th congressional district overshadowed the race in South Carolina.

But Democrats in Washington did not ignore Parnell entirely.

Shortly after Parnell released an internal poll at the end of May showing that he had narrowed Normans lead to 10 percentage points, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee contributed $275,000 to his bid.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, DNC Associate Chairman Jaime Harrison and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten canvassed for Parnell as part of the kickoff of the DNCs Resistance Summer. Former Maryland Gov. Martin OMalley and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan also campaigned for Parnell in person, while former Vice President Joe Biden taped a robocall for him.

Ralph Norman for Congress
Republican Ralph Norman, right, campaigns in South Carolina’s 5th District.

Parnell was previously a tax adviser for Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs. Before entering the private sector, he served as a tax attorney for the Department of Justice and staff director of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Rather than shy away from his lucrative Hong Kong-based stint at Goldman Sachs, Parnell claimed that experience gave him the expertise needed to cut middle-class families taxes and close corporate tax loopholes. He even laughed about it on more than one occasion.

I know enough about our crazy tax code to absolutely bore you to tears, Parnell said in Know-How, one of two ads he aired on television.

You have no idea, Parnells wife Sara deadpanned.

Seeking the support of Republicans and independents, Parnell emphasized his commitment to compromising with lawmakers on the other side of the aisle and rejected a push for single-payer health insurance in favor of fixing Obamacare.

At the same time, he didnt back away from more progressive Democratic positions, such as calling for importation of safe prescription drugs and opposing all cuts to Social Security benefits. He also went on record supporting the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, abortion rights and closing the default to proceed loophole that allows guns sales without background checks if the FBI fails to complete the screening within three days.

With positions like those, Parnell managed to attract the enthusiastic backing of the local Sanders supporters.

I like the idea that he understands how business works, said Susan Maxson, a 54-year-old Sanders enthusiast and campaign volunteer. Im not gonna hold his previous employer against him by any means.

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Trumpcare bill is like Star Wars, says GOP staffer wait, what?!

'Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational health care bill.'
Image: Lucasfilm

As Republican Senators craft their version of the AHCA bill better known as Trumpcare in secrecy, the waiting can be frustrating.

The Democrats don’t know what’s in it. The White House doesn’t know what’s in it. Even the House GOP, which passed its own version of the AHCA earlier this year, doesn’t know what’s in it.

And that has House GOP staffers reaching for strained metaphors, like this one unearthed by a reporter for the conservative Independent Journal Review:

To which we say: wait, what?

First of all, that knock on Disney. Has this staffer even seen the two movies released since Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012? The Force Awakens and Rogue One? They were, you know, kind of well-reviewed, with 92% and 85% on Rotten Tomatoes respectively.

Also, if you’re comparing the Senate bill to Disney-era Star Wars, that means the House bill is the prequels and we’re not sure you really want to go there.

Star Wars is just in another galaxy far, far away from the legislative abomination known as the AHCA. Star Wars movies are crafted with care and love over a three-year period; the result delights millions of children and inner children.

The AHCA, on the other hand, was slapped together in a matter of weeks. Far from delighting anyone, it will (at last count) throw at least 23 million people off the health care rolls and leave anyone with a pre-existing condition as untouchable as a Tatooine moisture farmer.

With under 30% support in the polls, trailing in blue and red states alike, Trumpcare is even less popular than Attack of the Clones. You could pass a bill mandating that every primary care physician has to talk like Jar Jar Binks and it would be more of a vote-winner than this. (If you like your Gungan, you can keep your Gungan.)

One part of Star Wars is applicable here, at least. The absolute secrecy in which this bill is being crafted the Senate reportedly has not seen a bill rammed through like this, without hearings, since Pearl Harbor makes it a dead ringer for the Death Star and its giant battle station successors.

The original Death Star would have caused outrage in the Senate had its existence been known during construction, so the Emperor kept it a secret until he was ready to disband the Senate. It was only the brave squad led by Jyn Erso that brought DS-1’s existence to light by stealing the plans. (Felicity Jones, we have another mission for you.)

The second Death Star was deliberately designed to look half-finished and shoddy just like Trumpcare. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s only hope of passing it is if the American people don’t realize the bill is armed and fully operational.

And then there’s Starkiller Base from The Force Awakens, the existence of which was perhaps the weakest aspect of Disney-era Star Wars. It was revealed halfway through the film with no foreshadowing, then killed millions of unsuspecting people.

The parallels to Trumpcare are obvious, except for this: Star Wars is fiction. No one actually died filming it. If this total turkey of a bill goes into wide release, the results will be far, far more dangerous than sitting through a stiff story with poor CGI.

Help us, moderate GOP senators. You’re our only hope.

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Beyonc’s Dad Publicly Confirms Twin Birth And He Isn’t The Only One Celebrating On Social Media!

The twins have officially arrived!

Beyonc gave birth to two bouncing Bey-Beys this week, and like the rest of the world, WE ARE SHOOK with excitement.

Related: Beyonc’s Pregnancy Style Was LIT!

Twitter went ablaze as soon as the news dropped, and they basically haven’t shut up since. And even though Queen Bey and the twins are still in the hospital right now with what’s being termed as a “minor issue,” things are still looking up for the growing family — and all of their fans!

It all was confirmed publicly by Bey’s dad, Matthew Knowles, when he tweeted a couple hours ago (below):

So cute! But he was far from the only one celebrating on social media!

Fans took to Twitter and elsewhere to publicly, happily celebrate the birth of the boy and girl!

Ch-ch-check out the best reactions (below) — with a fair amount of people dragging Matthew online because he confirmed the birth before Beyonc could announce it!!

Never a dull moment on Twitter!

Let’s just hope those twins get home soon and the family can enjoy and love on their new additions!!

[Image via Instagram.]

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‘You are sick’! This guy’s response to Alexandria shooting may be the worst yet

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