Are You a Wounded Healer?

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Are You a Wounded Healer?   Wounded Healers God’s Secret Weapon:

Wounded Healers God’s Secret Weapon

Dear Friend,

It is clear that a new breed of weapon is about to emerge.  They are the wounded healers.  Who are these people?  Well, they do not have every hair in place or a clean record.  They are not the sanitized, prissy version of the Body of Christ.  They have messed up and then gotten back up.  Trampled and left for dead, God restored them! They have no image to protect or ego to wound.  They are the most dangerous people that Satan will ever face!

They gained all new appetites in the furnace of affliction. They do not need the glory and they eschew titles and awards.  Their unswerving passion is to show compassion and take prisoners of love.  You cannot get them to fight over doctrine because they have been to the Cross.  They know the Blood that bought and then brought them back to life.

They are like Peter at Pentecost.  Only a soul handed another chance after denying the Lord three times will understand the inner fire of a wounded healer.  Who could write such a dangerous song as Amazing Grace but John Newton whose plaque says “Once an infidel and libertine A servant of slaves in Africa, Was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour JESUS CHRIST, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the Gospel which he had long laboured to destroy.

 You cannot find such zeal in religious do-gooders who never brave beyond ivied halls of respectability.  You will not find this flame in the bleachers where the cold souls sit and keep score but will never take the field.

Wounded healers do not boast of clean uniforms and of battles evaded, but of scars and gates of hell invaded.  They have no preaching pedigree but a song that sets the captive free.

We all know of the verse in Daniel 11:32 that says,” Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. “    What we tend to overlook is the verse that comes later that speaks of the wounded healers.  Daniel 11:35 says,” And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.

 This is a word for you my friend!  Your attack is not to destroy you but to refine you!  Your rejection and your abandonment are not meant for shame but for purity.   It does not matter how your garments appear to Pharisees when they are white before God.

The most incredible news is this… though religious voices have disqualified you; your destiny is yet for an appointed time!   The door that God holds open stays open!

Now let us look at another aspect of the Wounded Healer.  They are able to reach the masses that the regular church cannot.  Therefore, they are the perfect weapon for this moment in the end of all things. If only these special ops believers could see who they are and lose their need for the approval of cookie cutter Christians then they will become God’s tractor beam for lost souls.

Getting rid of the fear of man was the principal prize that so many of you gained in adversity.   So many of you wrote to me about the horrific events of your life and in the face of everything else, it became so real, how much God meant everything and the approval of your judges meant nothing.  Truly, you shouted, “If God is for us, who can be against us!”

Many wrote of the life of power that rose out of the ashes of despair. They felt equipped to do more than ever. They felt useful and lethal!! AMEN!!    This has to be the purest meaning of  2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

 Look around you and you will see how a new generation of leader is coming to the fore.  They do not wait for committee approval.  They rent a school auditorium in a bad area and just start preaching.  They preach raw sermons with an open heart and crowds come from everywhere.

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Their frontline ministry is unlisted in the who’s who of the council of Churches but Jesus feels just fine showing up every time they meet! Look again and see others who carry “unlicensed weapons”.  They open their homes to youth.  They send out food, clothes and love in the most unconventional ways imaginable all with the smile of God.

Wounded healers may not wear denominational labels.  They do not schmooze in the right rooms but they carry the fight to where it matters the most.  They operate under direct orders of the King of Kings!

When you see one you will know them.  They will not judge you and no matter how far gone you feel they will see you through the lens of the Holy Spirit.  They will see you as you will look after your miracle has come.  You will feel welcome in their presence and you will look priceless in their eyes.  They do not view the sinner as a commodity but as kidnapped royalty.

Someone told me that a certain section of the church would never listen to me again.  I did the math, subtracted that group, and found that there were still another 240 million souls in the United States alone.  I fully intend to go after every one.

What about you?  What will you do with your adversity, pain and shame?  All I can do is tell you what I did.  At the lowest point of my life, God was waiting for me to make a choice.  My choice is to minister wherever the door opens and preach from now time on as if each message is my last.

Deciding to go on when you feel nothing but agony is the greatest victory that you will ever win.   Not caring who gets the credit will rip the lid off your limits.

What are you and I waiting for?  We have loved ones to snatch back!  We have miracles to unleash on lost souls.   There is a whole world out there that has never even heard of church fights or legalistic regulations.

When Elijah told the widow to go and get as many containers as she could and God would fill them with oil, she realized that the condition of the cans, bottle, pails, or pots was not important.  God put oil in all of them.   Wounded healers are not perfect containers, they are simply full of oil and that is all that truly matters.

God knows what he is doing.  Saul of Tarsus was the wounded healer of all of the twelve disciples.  He felt unworthy to be a disciple and said so in no uncertain terms.  Yet, he attributed his surpassing labor for Christ to a sense that he was a broken vessel.

Jesus showed another power of the wounded healer in Luke 7:44- 47 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head.  You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.

Therefore, to all you wounded healers I say you will not get credit from the religious peanut gallery so you will have to be content with accomplishing more than any of them will for Christ and loving the Lord more than they can ever imagine.

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The worst attacks of Satan I have ever heard of are striking God’s people right now. Here is what you do.

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 The letters in my mail bag   lately have shaken me to my core. These are the most vicious attacks I have ever heard of.  More of you than ever are locked in the battle of your life.  With breathtaking suddenness, Satan has stripped people of everything but their soul.

Dear Friend,

I read your letters.  It is a cherished part of my ministry. Yes my prime directive is to “Preach the Gospel to this generation with ever increasing effectiveness”, but there is another urgent calling on my life.  I am called to our partners. You are an important part of my calling.

Our main intercessors have been involved with MMM for over 30 years! We rarely talk about it, but we have watched your children grow up, wept with you over your losses, fought for marriages and rejoiced in your victories.  We have helped some of you find a home church, a college for your kids and even jobs!

Some are surprised when I answer their letters, emails and phone calls personally.  As a matter of fact, as the ministry grew, I was advised many times to turn this part of my ministry over to others because I was so busy. Those that know me well know that I will never stop pastoring our partners.

Your letter is important because we can pray over your need.  They are just as important because they let me know how the enemy operates.  It is impossible to answer every letter.  This is why I work hard to make Fresh Fire a personal letter that answers the needs I read about in your prayer requests. Yes, Fresh Fire is a window to our work worldwide and a vital source of love gifts to win souls but to me it is so much more than that!

The letters in my mail bag lately have shaken me to my core. These are the most vicious attacks I have ever heard of.  More of you than ever are locked in the battle of your life.  With breathtaking suddenness, Satan has stripped people of everything but their soul.

I took your letters, my Bible and a deeply burdened heart to prayer.  I asked the Lord to open my understanding.  I asked Jesus to rise up and rebuke the devourer. What you are about to read emerged from that time of prayer.

When my understanding was opened I saw something strange. This new attack is like a dragon with three heads.  I want to warn you that you may see yourself in the portrait that I am about to paint.  Be prayerful over this letter. God wants to use it to identify your attack and to arm you to slay it.  This letter will not spell the end of attacks on you but it will give you the divine edge you need right now! Remember, these attacks are not reported by weak or carnal Christians, but by warriors of God on the front line!

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Here are the three heads of the dragon.  The first attack I see is like a poisonous bite, the second is like suffocating squeeze and the last is like claws tearing lives apart.  This is the trifecta of tribulation!

1. The serpent’s bite.  You feel toxic. Something has bitten you.  You feel that you are gradually losing control of your body and mind.  Your heart races and fearful images flood your mind. You reel under a cloud of confusion. You jump from one solution to another trying to get the upper hand but all the while feeling that something outside you has taken control of your life.  You are exhausted. The least demand of your day can drain you.  You find yourself alone and crying and unable to explain your emotions to even your closest friend.  The people you love are drifting away.  You are gripped with paralyzing feelings of dread.  You feel helpless to make important decisions. You sense disaster is just around the corner.

2. The serpent’s squeeze.  This attack is sudden and crippling. Something came out of nowhere and changed your life in an instant. Your crisis is mummifying you.  You want to run but you cannot move.  You want to scream but your voice is trapped within you.  This attack often strikes at a time when all is going well.  It feels as if everything that could go wrong has gone wrong and there is no way out.  You cannot breathe.  The point of this attack is panic.  The enemy wants you to do something rash.  The devil wants you to abandon your place in God.  He wants to do permanent damage.

3. The serpent’s claws:  This attack is designed to tear people apart.

For silly reasons, people take offense. Disagreements that should be settled easily escalate into name calling, abuse of power, and end in incurable breaches.  Marriages are breaking up over trivial matters.  Churches are splitting over inane issues.  Children are turning on their parents without provocation or prior history of problems. Friends who once walked together suddenly become worst enemies bent on each other’s destruction. A disgusting wave of believer on believer hatred is spreading.

Yes, these three shocking attacks are everywhere.  Not a day passes where I do not hear of each and everyone.  From all quarters I am getting desperate prayer requests.  People say, “Please pray I am so down I cannot get out of bed,” or “I am drowning in fear,” or “I do not know what is going on, friends and family are tearing each other apart!”

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There is not doubt that we must take drastic action!  We must not panic or cave into the trap of Satan.  We must not forget our God and the power of His word.  So please take a deep breath and listen to this strategy to neutralize your Satanic attack!

The word react kept coming back to me again and again.  The Holy Spirit kept saying, “Learn how to react to your attack.” Victory and defeat are not decided by what happens to me. I choose the result. It kept coming over and over…react, react, and react. Then it turned into REACT, REACT, and REACT!  Finally, it was R.E.A.C.T.   An acronym for: Remember Enforce Abandon Continue Train. Here is a 5 step strategy to stop these vicious new attacks and launch a withering counterattack!

Remember!  You must remember the amazing victories of your past and how you won those battles.  Psalm 20 “some trust in chariots but we will remember the Lord our God.”You must remember your God.  Nehemiah 4:14 says “remember the awesomeness of God and fight…”  You must remember who you are and what your future is. Abigail reminded David that he was a king and to judge himself against 1Sam:25:29 his future.  Finally Paul said, in Romans 8:18 “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us!”   The thing you want to do most now is to get relief from the pain of raging storm.  The devil would gladly give you peace.  You simply have to give up on what you were born to do.

Enforce! You must enforce the victory of the Cross on Satan! Things are not what they seem.  You know that Satan is the master of disguise.  If you leave it to Lucifer to define your reality defeat is certain. The devil relies on your weakness of mind to keep the lie going.  Our enemy kills through special effects.  Bending reality is his stock and trade. The goal of his smoke and mirrors is to get you to accept disaster.  He cannot kill you but he can get you to kill yourself through a fatal panic attack.  (insert Luke 21) It is up to you to impose reality on the evil one.  He must know that he cannot win. He must suffer the results of 2 Corin 10:4. You must put your foot where it rightfully belongs; on the small of his neck!  No matter how out of control your crisis feels the truth is that God is in control and you are His einforcer!

Abandon:  In every attack there is something you must abandon, something that you are holding onto that is actually holding onto you.  2Tim 2:24 (insert).  You may want something bad to happen to someone else.  You may be fantasizing about a destructive relationship.  You may be entertaining suicidal images.  You cannot hold these and gain victory.  Forgive your enemy; cut of the parasites, lighten your load so that you can attack with speed and clarity.  There may be someone that is no longer supposed to be in your life. As T.D. Jakes said, “their part of the story is over, let them go.”

Continue: You were doing something that forced the devil to attack you.  Some harbor the illusion that Satan will let up if we stop doing what riled him up in the first place.  The opposite is true.  You must redouble your efforts to do whatever you did that made Satan mad.  If you cave in, it will embolden him to do this to you again.  On the other hand, if you press on, it will show him that future attacks are futile.  The secret to your victory is to declare your intention to do more than you did before.  Look at Peter.  He was beaten for the healing of the man at the gate beautiful and ordered not to preach about Jesus.

What was his reaction? To pray for boldness to preach and for more miracles! Acts 4:29 “Lord Behold their threats and grant unto your servants boldness that we may preach your word while You stretch forth your hand to heal and let signs and wonders be done in the name of your holy Child Jesus.”

At the moment that you least want to you must get up and rage against the dragon.  He must understand that you are not going to back down, back up or back out of your marriage, ministry, family, career and your life.  Figure out what it is that you were doing that this dragon hated most.  Tell him you will to do it again, do it more and better do it than ever.  The humiliation that Satan hurled at me through the pastor’s lunch only forged a deeper determination to get workers to win souls.

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Train:  Yes, you will see victory.  However, victory is no time to let up. It is the scourge of our flesh that we do not like to get ready for future attacks.  Our flesh takes no thought for intense prayer or setting in place a strategy for future attacks.  George Barna said that the majority of pastors today preach motivational sermons but they do not teach strategy.  When Paul said in 2Cor 2:11 (insert) he was training the Corinthians to fight and to be ready for the next fight.

When General Patton said, “no amount of courage will avail against an educated bullet,” he was talking about the urgency of training.  Spirit-filled bravado is useless unless it is backed up by a life that is an educated bullet.

After every attack every believer needs to go through a debriefing! Now is the time to ask urgent questions. What did you learn from your last attack?  What were the mistakes and pitfalls you will avoid next time?  What weakness in me does the enemy use to get in and disrupt my life? What will I do now to keep friendships strong, my body healthy, my children safe, my marriage loving and my money secure against future assaults?

So here is the bottom-line.  You are not crazy.  Your attacks are vicious, intense, and completely unfair.  The essence of your crisis is supernatural. This is why your counterattack must be supernatural! These 5 steps are not human wisdom, or soothing psycho-gooblygook.  You can rest in the power of God and the Word of God for victory if you will REACT!!

UNDER THE GLARE: COMPROMISING BEFORE THE MEDIA AND THE CULTURE.

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By Mario Murillo

Thomas Jefferson said, “in matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

America has changed so fast that many believers wonder if they should change with the times.  Indeed, some of our most famous Pastors have stunned the faithful by saying that they now endorse gay marriage and openly state that the Bible is wrong about hell.

There is a phrase that echoes in my spirit, “either it is always true or it was never true.”  Truth has a stubborn way of staying the same.  Righteousness is timeless.  It does not flex, bend, or twist in the wind of modern thought.  Likewise, love is unchangeable:  full of mercy but it cannot rejoice in a lie.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be stripped of any part of its message if it is to impart eternal life. The central place of signs and wonders wrought by the Holy Spirit also does not change.  Jesus irrevocably welded miracles to the preaching of the Gospel when He said, “these signs will follow those who believe.”

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Either it was always true or it was never true. Here are examples of the timeless advice of the Bible for preachers today.

1. Integrity in the media:  Proverbs 25: 26 Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked.   This warns Pastors who suddenly lose their moral compass under the hot lights of a talk show studio. You must quote the Bible and be quick to answer questions about the Cross, hell, sin, marriage and repentance.  America needs to hear the truth… you can be poison instead of healing if you betray  your calling!

2. Changing because of the success of compromise.  It is easy for a preacher to envy the wealth and prestige of secular celebrities and media pastors who have built empires in the name of God.  Psalm 73:1 Truly God is good to Israel, To such as are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the boastful, When I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”

3. When you leave out truth from your sermon you are dooming the younger generation:  When the Psalmist realized how he was slipping because of envy he also saw that he could take down a generation with him.  Psalm 73:15 If I had said, “I will speak thus, “Behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children.

4. Don’t make any decision until you see the Glory of God in prayer where you will get a true perspective.  Psalm 73: 16 When I thought how to understand this, It was too painful for me—17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end.

5.  Make sure your pulpit is selfless.  Preach what helps them not your career. Acts 20:20 how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house.

Now some final advice for all of us:

Either it was always true or it was never true applies our hope:

Now some final advice for all of us:

If ever there were verses that were designed to encourage conviction and standing in times that screamed for panic or compromise it is these verses:

Psalm 62: 5-12  My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. 6 He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. 7 In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God. 8 Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah 9 Surely men of low degree are a vapor, Men of high degree are a lie; If they are weighed on the scales, They are altogether lighter than vapor. 10 Do not trust in oppression, Nor vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, Do not set your heart on them. 11 God has spoken once, Twice I have heard this:That power belongs to God. 12 Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy; For You render to each one according to his work.

I SHALL NOT BE MOVED! Either it is always true or it was never true that He will heal us, protect us, guide us, restore us, and multiply our giving.    Honesty, integrity, fidelity, faithfulness and purity are always valid or they were never valid.  Those who move away from the demands of the Bible will also lose the mighty results of obedience.  Standing like a rock on our principles will release God’s best!

Ted Cruz Kneels in Prayer Outside the White House

Photo: Ted Cruz Kneels in Prayer Outside the White House

Here’s a shot of Sen. Ted Cruz praying in front of The White House yesterday.

No, he’s not praying that Barack Obama will overturn Obamacare and no, he’s not praying that he will occupy the presidency one day. Instead, he’s alongside Rev. Rob Schenck (from Faith and Action) and Rev. Frazier White (a Democrat and Obama supporter) praying for Saeed Abedini, who has been in an Iranian prison for one year. He is being persecuted for his faith to Jesus Christ.

Who says Ted Cruz isn’t bipartisan?

I have not only interviewed Ted Cruz many times, but I have spent time with him and his family. He is true Bible-believing Christian who is not ashamed of the Gospel. Of course the liberals don’t want to hear that nonsense. They’ll now be busy trying to figure out how to distort this picture in Adobe Photoshop.

Below are the words of Rev. Rob Schenck, the man who organized the prayer.

“In the image you see me at the center with my prayer stole as we intercede in Jesus’ name for our brother in Christ and imprisoned pastor, Saeed Abedini, who has suffered in an Iranian prison for one year because of his faithful witness to Christ. Kneeling with me on my left (the significance of the placement should be noted) is the U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a tea party Republican from Texas. Sen. Cruz just made wall-to-wall headlines for his 20+ hour filibuster opposing Obamacare, the President’s signature legislative achievement.

On my right (again, note the orientation) is Rev. Frazier White, a Democrat community organizer from my neighborhood of Capitol Hill, and a huge supporter of President Obama. At the moment the photo was taken, though, the politically polar opposite positions of the Senator and the Pastor were irrelevant.

We were bowed before the Holy, the Supernal, the highest Lord in the universe, and the One and Only Eternal King. Everything else: party labels, policy positions, job descriptions, accents, zip codes, skin color, filibusters and organizing, were all utterly and completely dwarfed. In that moment of prayer–especially for a fellow Christian, a persecuted believer, whose circumstances are for most us unimaginable–our political and cultural squabbles seemed petty.

Pastor White, Sen. Cruz, Rev. Pat Mahoney, Jordan and Anna Sekulow, myself, and so many others, were there in front of the White House to do the really and truly important business of crying out to God for one of our own that was suffering for his faith.

Family, Feelings, Finances

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Open Bathrooms and California’s War on Kids: A Daddy’s Perspective

Open Bathrooms and California’s War on Kids: A Daddy’s Perspective

 

This is not the sort of post I normally write, but I have a daughter. So, here goes. California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law yesterday establishing an open bathroom policy in the state’s public schools. This policy is the first in the nation to allow students to choose which bathroom they will use based on their gender identity. So, little boys who consider themselves transgender are now allowed to use the little girls’ room at school. I won’t get into the details of the law; you can read that at CNN. I’ve got more important things to say.
First, as a daddy, there is no way – let me say that again – no way! my little girl will ever – ever! – attend a school in which little boys, particularly of the adolescent variety, are given entry to the girls bathroom. No way. No how. No sir. Any father who allows his daughter to darken the doors of such a place is colluding with the powers that have abandoned their responsibility to protect children in favor of putting children at obvious risk.
Second, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that there will soon be a significant escalation in the number of pubescent boys who are suddenly experiencing confusion about their gender identity and discovering, after all, that they themselves are transgender students. “Yes, yes,” Johnny will say, “I’m beginning to feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body. May I have the hall pass? I need to use the restroom.” We are fools, if we think boys who have no question about their gender identity will not abuse this law in order to take advantage of girls.
Third, given what I’ve just said, we must conclude that California has it out for its children. This law will not only create further confusion for students, it will also create situations in which kids will get hurt. And it comes from the halls of the state legislature. Make no mistake. California has codified it’s war on children.
Finally, I’m not really surprised by this, and you shouldn’t be either. You can tell a lot about a society by the way it treats its kids, and in this society we’ve been sacrificing children to the false gods of convenience and consequence-free sex for decades. We now have laws on the books that will make it easier and easier for children to inflict exceedingly significant (sexual) damage on one another. Truly, we have received the penalty for our error. We have been given over.
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Poll: Obama approval drops to 43%

CBS NEWS/ September 25, 2013, 6:30 PM

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Poll: Obama approval drops to 43%

By Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto and Fred Backus

President Obama’s job approval rating is just 43 percent now, down slightly fromearlier this month and the lowest since March 2012. Forty-nine percent disapprove, the highest it has been in two years.

His approval rating among women has dropped since earlier in September, from 49 percent to 43 percent now.

Positive assessments of the president’s handling of the economy has also dropped five points in the last two weeks, to 41 percent now. Just 40 percent approve of his handling of foreign policy, while 49 percent disapprove – the highest disapproval he has ever received on this measure.

This poll finds an uptick in evaluations of President Obama’s handling of the situation in Syria since the announcement of a plan to eradicate Syria’s chemical weapons; still, a majority disapproves of that as well.

Personal evaluations of the president are also down. Thirty percent say he cares a lot about people like themselves – the lowest level measured since he took office.

Despite the other setbacks for the president in this poll, a majority of Americans (58 percent) see him as a strong leader; those views have remained consistent for a few years, but are substantially lower than in the early years of his presidency.

Congress and the President: Strengths and Weaknesses

In his dealings with Congress in general and on key issues, the president fares better. He receives credit from about half of Americans for reaching across the aisle and trying to work with Republicans in Congress – but that represents a drop from 60 percent in January 2012.

However, far fewer Americans see Republicans in Congress reciprocating. Just 23 percent say they are trying to work with the president, and 70 percent say they are not.

And on some key issues, the President holds an advantage over the Republicans in Congress; more say they trust him to handle the economy (47-33 percent), health care (45-40 percent) and the budget deficit (44-38 percent).

Also, the policies of the Republicans in Congress are widely viewed as favoring the interests of the rich (65 percent), while a quarter of Americans say the same for those of the Obama administration. A quarter also says the administration’s policies favor the middle class.

Views of Congress

Most Americans disapprove of the job both Republicans and Democrats in Congress are doing overall, but Republicans receive more criticism. Just 21 percent now approve, down from 25 percent over the summer. Approval ratings for the Democrats in Congress are also down by five points, to 31 percent.

After an uptick earlier this month, Congress’ job approval rating is about where it has been for the last few years – just 14 percent approve, and four in five disapprove.

Reducing the Deficit

Most Americans continue to seek a balanced approach to deficit reduction – both through tax increases and spending cuts. Sixty percent advocate a combined solution, compared to the 33 percent who think the deficit should be reduced by cuts in spending alone. Just 4 percent think taxes should be raised without a cut in spending.

Most Republicans (53 percent) want the deficit reduced with spending cuts alone, while most Democrats (77 percent) and independents (58 percent) want a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.

Respondents were asked to choose what to cut from the largest items in the federal budget, and more Americans are far more willing to cut government spending in the military (49 percent), over Medicare (20 percent) or Social Security (14 percent). Cutting military spending is the top choice of Democrats (62 percent) and independents (50 percent), while Republicans slightly favor cuts in Medicare (33 percent) to cuts in the military (28 percent).

The Economy

As they have for over five years, Americans pick the economy and jobs as the most important problem facing the country today, far ahead of health care and the budget deficit.

Most Americans continue to have a negative view of the condition of the national economy. Nearly two thirds say the economy is bad, including nearly one in four who says it is very bad.

Twenty-nine percent of Americans think the economy is getting better, though nearly as many – 27 percent – think it is getting worse. Forty-four percent think it is about the same.

Direction of the Country

Amidst a struggling economy and the impending possibility of a government shutdown, the percentage of Americans who think the country is headed in the wrong direction has risen. Just 29 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the right direction – down six points since July – while the percentage who says it is off on the wrong track has risen six points, from 60 percent in July to 66 percent today. The percentage who says the country is off on the wrong track is now the highest it has been in over a year.

Views of the Affordable Care Act are reflected in views on the direction of the country as a whole. While 54 percent of those who approve of the 2010 health care law think the country is headed in the right direction, an overwhelming 86 percent of those who disapprove of that law think the country is headed off on the wrong track.

The 2008 Bailout

Next week marks five years since the federal government “bailout” of the financial industry – formally, the Troubled Asset Relief Program – was passed amid the 2008 financial collapse. Looking back on it now, a majority of Americans (59 percent) still disapproves of government money having been used to rescue banks and financial firms.

At the time, Americans were also opposed; just three in 10 in an early-October 2008 poll approved of the relief package after it was passed. Americans doubted it would be effective, though many economists have called it necessary under the circumstances.

The measures were passed by Congress and signed into law by then-President George W. Bush. Today’s Republicans and tea party supporters, in particular, disapprove in retrospect, while Democrats are more mixed.

Looking back on 2008, Americans widely believe (79 percent) that more bankers and financial executives should have been prosecuted following the collapse.

The 2008 crisis wasn’t the first in U.S. history, and Americans expect there will be yet another banking crisis someday: almost eight in 10 think this is likely.

Today, Americans voice mixed confidence in another key economic institution, the Federal Reserve, and its ability to promote growth. Just under one-third express confidence in it, 38 percent have not much or no confidence, and another three in 10 don’t know enough about it to say.

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This poll was conducted by telephone from September 19-23, 2013 among 1,014 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News/The New York Times by Social Science Research Solutions of Media, Pa. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

At U.N., Brazil’s Rousseff blasts U.S. spying as breach of law

At U.N., Brazil’s Rousseff blasts U.S. spying as breach of law

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 24, 2013. REUTERS-Shannon Stapleton

By Daniel Trotta

Tue Sep 24, 2013 12:14pm EDT

(Reuters) – Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff used her position as the opening speaker at the U.N. General Assembly to accuse the United States of violating human rights and international law through espionage that included spying on her email.

Rousseff had expressed her displeasure last week by calling off a high-profile state visit to the United States scheduled for October over reports that the U.S. National Security Agency had been spying on Brazil.

In unusually strong language, Rousseff launched a blistering attack on U.S. surveillance, calling it an affront to Brazilian sovereignty and “totally unacceptable.”

“Tampering in such a manner in the lives and affairs of other countries is a breach of international law and, as such, it is an affront to the principles that should otherwise govern relations among countries, especially among friendly nations,” Rousseff told the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations.

She also proposed an international framework for governing the internet and said Brazil would adopt legislation and technology to protect it from illegal interception of communications.

“Information and telecommunication technologies cannot be the new battlefield between states. Time is ripe to create the conditions to prevent cyberspace from being used as a weapon of war, through espionage, sabotage, and attacks against systems and infrastructure of other countries,” Rousseff said.

U.S. President Barack Obama was en route to the United Nations while Rousseff spoke. Speaking immediately after Rousseff, he avoided direct reference to her criticism.

“We have begun to review the way that we gather intelligence, so as to properly balance the legitimate security concerns of our citizens and allies, with the privacy concerns that all people share,” said Obama, who concentrated mostly on the crisis in Syria and the prospects for a diplomatic opening with Iran.

Rousseff rejected the U.S. government reasoning that the NSA surveillance was aimed at detecting suspected terrorist activity and she accused the agency of engaging in industrial espionage.

Rousseff said she had asked Washington for explanations, an apology and promises the surveillance would never be repeated.

Postponing the state visit was a rare and diplomatically severe snub by Brazil. While foreign leaders frequently visit the White House, state visits are reserved for special occasions and include an elaborate state dinner. No new date has been set.

Rousseff’s state visit was conceived to highlight cooperation between the two biggest economies in the Americas and Brazil’s emergence over the past decade as a regional power.

Ties between the United States and Brazil had been improving steadily since Rousseff took office in 2011. The cancellation could harm cooperation on trade, regional affairs and other issues at a time of growing influence from China, which has surpassed the United States as Brazil’s leading trade partner.

The trip had been seen as a platform for deals on oil exploration and biofuels technology, and Brazil’s potential purchase of fighter jets from Chicago-based Boeing Co.

A report by Brazil Globo’s news program Fantastico on National Security Agency spying was based on documents that journalist Glenn Greenwald obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, was one of the journalists to first report Snowden’s leaks of classified information on previously secret U.S. telephone and internet surveillance efforts.

The report also said the United States intercepted communications of Brazilian state oil company Petrobras and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto before he assumed office.

“Personal data of citizens was intercepted indiscriminately,” Rousseff said in her U.N. speech.

“Corporate information, often of high economic and even strategic value, was at the center of espionage activity. Also, Brazilian diplomatic missions, among them the permanent mission to the United Nations and the office of the president of the republic itself, had their communications intercepted.”

No, Obamacare Is Not A Good Deal For Young People In The Long Run, Not Even Close

Obamacare

No, Obamacare Is Not A Good Deal For Young People In The Long Run, Not Even Close

Chris ConoverChris Conover, Contributor
A Picture of an Staples, Inc. easy buttonA Picture of an Staples, Inc. easy button (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Progressives are becoming increasingly concerned at the prospect of millions of uninsured young people deciding to push the easy button next year by simply paying a very small fine[1]rather than obtain health coverage. Consequently, they have turned to a new argument to get those under 30 to act against their self interest by signing up for the Exchanges. Now we are being told that Obamacare will be a good deal for young people in the long run since whatever short-term losses they incur in the form of higher premiums will be more than made up later when they are older and get to pay lower premiums than they would in today’s market.

But those making these arguments haven’t offered any analysis to back up their claims. The conceptual point evidently is supposed to be intuitively obvious. As Ezra Klein puts it:

Young people grow old. Healthy people get sick. Rich people become poor. The people overpaying to keep costs low today are the people underpaying 10 or 20 years from now.

As a health policy skeptic, I know that lots of intuitive ideas—such as thatprevention saves money—turn out to be false upon closer examination. So when I did some actual analysis of this latest idea, it did not surprise me to learn that this claim is dead wrong.  Once the time value of money is taken into account, the average young person will be worse off under Obamacare even if they live long enough to be a near-elderly person who pays premiums that are well below actuarially fair rates.

In the short run, millions of young will be better off without Obamacare

recent study by the National Center for Public Policy Research shows that:

  • About 3.7 million of those ages 18-34 will be at least $500 better off if they forgo insurance and pay the penalty.
  • More than 3 million will be $1,000 better off if they go the same route.

Consequently, many more will opt to pay the extremely modest tax rather than fork over many thousands of dollars to purchase coverage that became substantially more expensive for young people thanks to the misguided pricing rules imposed by Obamacare. The risk that the law will fail in an “adverse selection death spiral” thus has gotten much larger. This claim is not in dispute. Instead, progressives argue it is too narrow. If only young people would consider the long run—when they too are old—they would discover that enrolling in Obamacare is in their self-interest.

But in the long run, the story is the same

It is relatively straightforward to test this claim empirically. My purpose is not to compare today’s premiums with those that will exist under Obamacare, since at least part of the expected increase in premiums is related to filling in purported gaps in coverage, such as eliminating lifetime limits and providing preventive health services without any cost-sharing. I don’t want to cloud the discussion with claims that these added benefits are somehow “worth” the higher premiums. Instead, I want to focus on the claim that the “pay me now, we’ll pay you later” adjusted community rating structure under Obamacare actually is a good deal when considered on a lifetime basis.

My strong preference for health reform—shared by highly reputable health economists such as Mark Pauly and Patricia Danzon at Wharton School, several others at Harvard (Amitabh Chandra, Michael E. Chernew, Anupam B. Jena Stanford (Jay Bhattacharya), University of Chicago (Anup Malani, Tomas J. Philipson) and University of Southern California (Dana Goldman, Darius Lakdawalla)[3]—is that health insurers be allowed to price risk. Community rating can be shown (both theoretically and empirically) to be both inefficient and unfair. It is inefficient because it encourages low risk individuals (think young people) to remain uninsured rather than over-pay for health insurance. It is unfair because it ends up transferring resources from healthy poor people to unhealthy wealthy people. But this unfairness aspect might be undercut considerably if it turned out that from a lifetime perspective, young people who overpaid when young were more than compensated by their future savings from community rating once they got old.

So I first created a set of experience-rated premiums for every single year of age between 18-64).[2] I then calculated the present value of these premiums over a lifetime—which in this case meant ages 18-64 since even under Obamacare, people are assumed to enroll in Medicare at age 65. I examined 4 different groups of young adults (age 18, 22, 25, and 30) using different discount rates. I then created a parallel set of premiums that were constrained to meet the Obamacare modified community rating rules, namely, that the premiums for the oldest plan members can be no more than 3 times as high as the premiums for the youngest members. If the present value of the Obamacare premiums is lower than the comparable figure for experience-rated premiums, then one could reasonably say that the intuition of Obamacare enthusiasts is correct: young people are better off under Obamacare since they ultimately will save enough on their premiums in old age to offset whatever “excess” premiums they are forced to pay in their young adult years. But as you can plainly see, for most age categories and most discount rates, the reverse is true. The lifetime cost of Obamacare is higher than under market-driven premium rates.

The only instance in which Obamacare is consistently a better deal is using a 0% discount rate. But a 0% discount rate implies that young people are indifferent about getting $1,000 today or $1,000 50 years from now. I challenge readers to find just one person who, when confronted with such a choice, would choose to take the payment 50 years from now instead of today. Most people—young or old—are not that patient. They would far prefer to have money today than to receive the comparable amount far in the future. Which is why banks, corporations and the U.S. government have to pay interest to people in order to induce them to put their money into bonds rather than spend it. Interest rates simply represent the time value of money. In a present value calculation, the discount rate is what is used to a future dollar into an amount comparable in value to today’s dollars.

Individuals Generally Have a High Rate of Time Preference (They Are Impatient). Many economists think U.S. society has a long-run discount rate (i.e., social rate of time preference) of 3% since that figure is comparable to the inflation-adjusted rate of return on long-term U.S. Treasury bills. But individual rates of time preference typically are much higher than societal rates, with double-digit rates not being at all uncommon in the vast literature that has sought to estimate their size.[4] This makes sense because, for example, the U.S. government presumably has a lifespan longer than that of individuals. If someone is uncertain about living long enough to get their money back in 40 years, they will generally expect to be paid a higher interest rate than if survival were a certainty. Thus, from the standpoint of the average young adult adversely affected by Obamacare, I would argue that the figures using a 10% discount rate come much closer to the truth than do the figures using a 3% rate. And you can see from the chart that using that 10% rate, Obamacare is not a good lifetime deal even for people as old as 30 [and if I had used a much higher discount rate of say, 17%, Obamacare would turn out to be an even worse deal for young people]. For 18 year olds, Obamacare essentially is imposing a tax of 18.3% on the premiums they would otherwise pay under the more market-oriented reforms favored by many conservatives and Republicans.

These estimates are very conservative

I cannot emphasize enough how conservative my estimates are. I have ONLY accounted for for the “pure” effects of modified community rating–i.e., the fact that young people on average pay higher premiums while older people pay lower premiums. In calculating the increase in premiums required for young people to make this transfer work (i.e., for the number of extra premium dollars needed among young people as a group to exactly balance the amount of premium reductions given to older people) I have taken into account the first order impacts on how many people will demand health insurance (i.e., fewer young people and more older people will sign up for coverage under modified community rating than if insurers been allowed to fully price risk the way they do in auto, life and homeowners insurance). This meant I had to adjust the rates for the young even higher in order to provide enough additional premium reductions to finance the additional number of older people in the pool. However, I did NOT account for adverse selection at all: that is, I assumed that average spending by year of age among pool members remained the same. In reality, it would be the healthy young who would be most likely to drop out as premiums for that age group rose and the unhealthy old who would be most likely to join as premiums for that age group fell.

In short, I have bent over backwards to prove the claim of progressives andstill found their hypothesis wanting. If I were an actuary capable of incorporating the adverse selection effects, the increase in lifetime premiums for the average young person would be considerably higher than shown in my chart.  This is why the various estimates of rate shock estimated by Avik Roy (64-146% in California, for example) and others provide a much more accurate depiction of the premium increase for 18 year olds, for example, than the 35.4% figure I derived from my more limited calculations.[5]

What’s so bad about modified community rating?

Modified community rating essentially is an excise tax on people who buy health insurance. Those who choose to go bare avoid the tax entirely, but for those who do buy coverage, the tax is highly discriminatory, imposing the highest burdens on those who are young. Can anyone name another tax that works this way? Imagine a state that tried to impose a sales tax in this fashion, where everyone would have to show an ID card and the amount of tax charged to 18 year olds would be 18% while those age 30 would only have to pay 5% and seniors would get a rebate!)[5]  How kooky is that?  If we as a society have decided that some group needs help in paying for their health insurance, shouldn’t we make those subsidies visible for all to see instead of burying them in someone’s health insurance bill? Moreover, shouldn’t we be relying on taxes that are visible and fairly distributed rather than using “taxation by regulation” of health insurance? If older people need subsidies, why should young people (who are far from being the wealthiest in society) be disproportionately burdened with bankrolling what should be a social responsibility?

People rationalize modified community rating on grounds that what goes around comes around. “Don’t worry kid. Someday you too will be old enough to enjoy premiums subsidized by youngsters your age. It all works out in the wash.”  But it is now plainly evident that for typical young adults who have very reasonable time preferences, it does not all work out in the wash after all.Obamacare is a bad deal, plain and simple.

Instead of spending millions of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to bankroll vacuous appeals (“make you feel like a winner.“ Seriously?) and trot out sports stars and Hollywood celebrities to fast-talk young people into signing up for Obamacare, how about instead using that money to educate them about the truth of how the health law treats them as a cash cow for older folks? Sadly, this administration can’t handle the truth since they know that once  young people wake up and smell the coffee, it’s game over for Obamacare. Far better to stay the course with a mad scramble to put the law into place even though a) the bureaucrats responsible for implementing it arebegging for more time; and b) haste will greatly inflate the risks of privacy violations on a wide scale.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, is this really the best we can do? Perhaps we owe it to young adults to delay the entire law for a year so we can straighten out some of these problems. At minimum, it would give them an extra year to save up for the rate shock they will face on Day One of the exchanges.  If young people knew as much about Obamacare’s adverse impact on them as they know about how to work their cell phones, this law would be in deep doo-doo. Sadly, this is the very demographic that is most ignorantabout the freight train headed their way. Until and unless these same young adults get educated on the facts quickly and start urging their members of Congress for a one year delay, that train may be headed for a wreck.

Obamacare Will Increase Health Spending By $7,450 For A Typical Family of Four.

Obamacare Will Increase Health Spending By $7,450 For A Typical Family of Four

Chris ConoverChris Conover, Contributor
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 26:  Ron Kirby holds a ...Ron Kirby holds a sign while marching in protest of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on March 26, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Image credit: Getty Images North America via @daylife)

It was one of candidate Obama’s most vivid and concrete campaign promises. Forget about high minded (some might say high sounding) but gauzy promises of hope and change. This candidate solemnly pledged on June 5, 2008: “In an Obama administration, we’ll lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year….. We’ll do it by the end of my first term as President of the United States.”  Unfortunately, the experts working for Medicare’s actuary have (yet again[1]) reported that in its first 10 years, Obamacare will boost health spending by “roughly $621 billion” above the amounts Americans would have spent without this misguided law.

What this means for a typical family of four

$621 billion is a pretty eye-glazing number. Most readers will find it easier to think about how this number translates to a typical American family—the very family candidate Obama promised would see $2,500 in annual savings as far as the eye could see. So I have taken the latest year-by-year projections, divided by the projected population and multiplied the result by 4.

 

Simplistic? Maybe, but so too was the President’s campaign promise. And this approach allows us to see just how badly that promise fell short of the mark. Between 2014 and 2022, the increase in national health spending (which the Medicare actuaries specifically attribute to the law) amounts to $7,450 per family of 4.

Let us hope this family hasn’t already spent or borrowed the $22,500 in savings they might have expected over this same period had they taken candidate Obama’s promise at face value. In truth, no well-informed American ever should have believed this absurd promise. At the time, Factcheck.org charitably deemed this claim as “overly optimistic, misleading and, to some extent, contradicted by one of his own advisers.”  The Washington Post less charitably awarded it Two Pinocchios (“Significant omissions or exaggerations”). Yet rather than learn from his mistakes, President Obama on July 16, 2012 essentially doubled-down on his promise, assuring small business owners “your premiums will go down.” He made this assertion notwithstanding the fact that in three separate reports between April 2010 and June 2012, the Medicare actuaries had demonstrated that the ACA would increase health spending. To its credit, the Washington Post dutifully awarded the 2012 claim Three Pinocchios (“Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions.”)

The past is not prologue: The burden increases ten-fold in 2014

As it turns out, the average family of 4 has only had to face a relatively modest burden from Obamacare over the past four years—a little over $125. Unfortunately, this year’s average burden ($66) will be 10 times as large in 2014 when Obamacare kicks in for earnest. And it will rise for two years after that, after which it hit a steady-state level of just under $800 a year. Of course, all these figures are in nominal dollars. In terms of today’s purchasing power, this annual amount will rise steadily.

But what happened to the spending slowdown?

Some readers may recall that a few months ago, there were widespread reports of a slow-down in health spending. Not surprisingly, the White House has been quick to claim credit for the slowdown in health spending documented in the health spending projections report, arguing that it “is good for families, jobs and the budget.”

On this blog, Avik Roy pointed out that a) since passage of Obamacare, U.S. health spending actually had risen faster than in OECD countries, whereas prior to the law, the opposite was true. Moreover, to the degree that U.S. health spending was slowing down relative to its own recent past, greater cost-sharing was likely to be the principal explanation. Medicare’s actuarial experts confirm that the lion’s share of the slowdown in health spending could be chalked up to slow growth in the economy and greater cost-sharing. As AEI scholar Jim Capretta pithily puts it:

An important takeaway from these new projections is that the CMS Office of the Actuary finds no evidence to link the 2010 health care law to the recent slowdown in health care cost escalation. Indeed, the authors of the projections make it clear that the slowdown is not out of line with the historical link between health spending growth and economic conditions (emphasis added).

Obamacare poison

In the interests of fair and honest reporting, perhaps it is time the mainstream media begin using “Affordable” Care Act whenever reference is made to this terribly misguided law. Anyone obviously is welcome to quarrel with the Medicare actuary about their numbers. I myself am hard-put to challenge their central conclusion: Obamacare will not save Americans one penny now or in the future. Perhaps the next time voters encounter a politician making such grandiose claims, they will learn to watch their wallet. Until then, let’s spare strapped Americans from having to find $657 in spare change between their couch cushions next year. Let’s delay this law for a year so that policymakers have time to fix the poorly designed Rube Goldberg device known as Obamacare. For a nation with the most complicated and expensive health system on the planet, making it even more complicated and even more expensive never was a good idea.

Footnotes

[1] The Medicare actuary first issued a report carefully estimating the cost impact of Obamacare on April 22, 2010. Its annual national health expenditure projections reports for 2010, 2011 and 2012 all have contained tabulations showing that Obamacare will increase health spending over the next 10 years compared to a counterfactual scenario in which the law was never enacted.