In July analyst Paul Westra of the brokerage firm Stifel Nicolaus warned of a looming “restaurant recession,” noting that it might be the first sign of a more widespread U.S. recession in 2017. He said this in a bearish report that downgraded 11 restaurant stocks.

The facts on the ground support his gloomy forecast. Restaurant traffic has declined 2.8% from the start of the year through September, according to the Restaurant Industry Snapshot, a survey of some 25,000 restaurants by research firm TDn2K. At this pace, the firm said, “2016 would be the weakest annual performance since 2009, when the industry was recovering from the recession.”

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Rising health care costs have become the hallmark of a partisan Obamacare law that was sold with promises to lower them. The Obama White House just announced that health care premiums will rise again this year for millions of Americans by an almost unbelievable 25% under Obamacare. And that’s just a national average. Many Pennsylvanians face hikes in their health premiums as high as 55%; Oklahomans up to 69%, and Arizonans as much as 116%.

Behind these numbers are the stories of families and individuals struggling just to make ends meet already.

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The final Obamacare open enrollment of President Obama’s presidency starts Tuesday with enrollees facing fewer insurers and higher premiums for health coverage.

However, the impact will largely depend on where the enrollee lives, as some states are faring far worse than others in plan offerings and rates.

The administration wants to get 13.8 million people to sign up between Nov. 1 and Jan. 31, and it hopes about 11 million will pay for coverage throughout 2017. However, some experts doubt whether the administration can reach that goal because of higher plan costs.

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House lawmakers are angry that one of the last taxpayer-funded Obamacare plans wants to move to for-profit status, saying that the millions of dollars provided in startup loans were meant to go to nonprofits.

Republican leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee wrote to the Obama administration and the Maryland consumer-oriented and operated plan Evergreen Health, which wants to become a for-profit health insurer.

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President Barack Obama leaves the White House in 12 weeks, but the law that bears his name will polarize politics long after he’s gone.

Big price hikes to Affordable Care Act premiums announced this week mean that Obama’s proudest legislative achievement will fail to resolve the decades-old controversy surrounding the government’s role in managing the cost of and access to health care.
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On Tuesday the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced some tax benefits will increase in 2017 in order to adjust for inflation. According to the IRS the standard deduction for married couples in 2017 will be $12,700, up from $12,600, and both the earned income tax credit and the amount exempt from the estate tax will also see slight increases. The top individual tax rate will apply to those making $418,400 or more as opposed to $415,050 or more in 2016.

Yesterday the American Action Forum released an analysis of Donald Trump’s proposal to cut 70 to 80 percent of U.S. Regulations. The analysis finds that in order to achieve this goal, between $700 and $800 billion in regulatory costs would need to be cut. The analysis further shows that it would likely take a generation in order to accomplish this goal.

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A new poll conducted for POLITICO and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health finds that 54 percent of likely voters think Obamacare is working poorly. Ninety-four percent of self-identified Donald Trump voters hold that view, while 79 percent of Hillary Clinton supporters believe the law is working well.
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President Obama promised that the Affordable Care Act would increase competition and choice in insurance markets. In a 2009 speech to a joint session of Congress, for example, the president said, “Individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices. Insurance companies will have an incentive to participate in this exchange because it lets them compete for millions of new customers.” This claim, along with many othersmade by ACA supporters, have proven to be wrong. In fact, Americans have far fewer choices for individual market coverage today than they had before the ACA took effect and there is a rapidly declining number of insurers now offering coverage in the ACA exchanges.

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The Obama administration hasn’t done enough to ensure that the right people get Obamacare subsidies, according to a new report from congressional Republicans.

The report details earlier investigations into Obamacare’s verification process for income eligibility, which screens whether a person is eligible for tax credits. It also criticizes the administration for relaxing standards for income eligibility.

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The architects of the Affordable Care Act thought they had a blunt instrument to force people—even young and healthy ones—to buy insurance through the law’s online marketplaces: a tax penalty for those who remain uninsured. The full weight of the penalty will not be felt until April, when those who have avoided buying insurance will face penalties of around $700 a person or more. But for the young and healthy who are badly needed to make the exchanges work, it is sometimes cheaper to pay the Internal Revenue Service than an insurance company charging large premiums, with huge deductibles. The IRS says that 8.1 million returns included penalty payments for people who went without insurance in 2014, the first year in which most people were required to have coverage.

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