The U.S. travel technology firm Sabre may not ring an immediate bell, and perhaps you’ve not yet heard…
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On Sabre/Farelogix Merger, DOJ Mustn’t Undertake a Misguided Antitrust Boondoggle

The U.S. travel technology firm Sabre may not ring an immediate bell, and perhaps you’ve not yet heard of its proposed acquisition of Farelogix, but it looms as one of the most important antitrust cases to approach trial since AT&T/Time-Warner. The transaction’s most significant aspect is the way in which it offers a perfect illustration of overzealous bureaucratic antitrust enforcement, and the way that can delay and also punish American consumers. Specifically, the transaction enhances rather than inhibits market competition, and will benefit both travelers and the travel industry by accelerating innovation.  That’s in part because Sabre and Farelogix aren’t head-to-head market competitors, but rather complementary businesses.  While Sabre serves customers throughout the…[more]

January 13, 2020 • 03:53 pm

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The Infomercial President Print
By Troy Senik
Thursday, October 24 2013
Though the Administration will surely set too optimistic a time-line for fixes to the website, it will inevitably become at least serviceably functional. The same cannot be said for ObamaCare as a whole.

Government interventions in the private sector are inevitably pockmarked by unintended consequences. Given both the scale and scope of ObamaCare, it is thus unsurprising that the program’s rollout has been met with a bevy of unforeseen shortcomings. The worst one of all: the President of the United States has been transformed into an infomercial hack.

On October 1, the day that launched, Barack Obama, deploying the false confidence of a carnival barker, stepped into the Rose Garden and declared that the federal government’s new online marketplace would make shopping for healthcare as easy as “shop[ping] for a plane ticket on Kayak or a TV on Amazon.” One assumes the error here lies with the speechwriters, who surely meant to claim that it would be as easy as kayaking on the Amazon.

If there is something unbecoming about a Commander-in-Chief using the same grounds where Abraham Lincoln once agonized his way through the Civil War to pitch his new website, it is doubly so when he’s forced, only days later, to use the same real estate to issue a discomfited mea culpa.

So it was on Monday when Obama — a man perpetually irritated by reality’s refusal to conform to his ideology — was forced to apologize for the widespread failures that marked the first few weeks of ObamaCare’s online exchanges.

His head bloody but unbowed, the president proceeded to recommend that health- care applicants having a tough time with the online process dial a toll-free number (where the vast majority of callers were unable to reach anyone).

He also went on to proclaim that “the Affordable Care Act is not just a website.” Take this tact any further and he would have been offering to throw in a free flatware set with every new health-insurance policy. 

The president’s remarks were ostensibly intended to be reassuring. That he announced that a “surge” of the tech sector’s “best and brightest” would be hard at work on up to five million lines of code that need rewriting didn’t exactly accomplish that goal. An executive looking to soothe a restive nation is generally ill advised to employ language most closely associated with the wars in Iraq and Vietnam.

The president’s underlying contention, however, is correct. ObamaCare is more than a website … and therein lies the rub for the White House. Though the Administration will surely set too optimistic a time-line for fixes to the website, it will inevitably become at least serviceably functional. The same cannot be said for ObamaCare as a whole.

In a way, those technical shortcomings have been a godsend for the Administration. Consumers who are able to scale the website’s ramparts will not often like what they find. Because ObamaCare is, in essence, a tremendous wealth transfer from the young and healthy to the elderly and infirm, the results will tend to be higher premiums and higher deductibles.

The Manhattan Institute’s Avik Roy has noted that “on average, the cheapest plan offered in a given state, under ObamaCare, will be 99 percent more expensive for men, and 62 percent more expensive for women, than the cheapest plan offered under the old system. And those disparities are even wider for healthy people.”

Those who, upon seeing these numbers, seek solace in the president’s repeated promise that people who like their insurance may keep it may be succumbing to irrational exuberance.

For the 14 million Americans who purchase their insurance on the individual market, the choice is not theirs to make. Because ObamaCare effectively outlaws policies that don’t carry its mandate benefits — which include maternity care, mental health services and substance abuse treatment — many of those policies are now being cancelled. Kaiser Permanente has already discontinued coverage for about 160,000 of its customers in California. Florida Blue has cut approximately 300,000 policies.

Though a novice to the world of business rollouts, President Obama has already learned the evasions of the hapless CEO — blame the marketing and the IT. Soon enough, however, he’ll learn the same lesson as his feckless counterparts in the private sector: No amount of tinsel can conceal the shortcomings of a product that is, at its core, inherently flawed.

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