Saturday, April 29, 2017

Everyone's Doing It, Here's Jake Tapper

Supporting the Wall in Upstate NY

Some wingnut group called Americans for Limited Government is pushing Elise to support the border wall. They do know it's on the southern border I hope. I'll just put my comments up here. Why mess with perfection.

Americans for Limited Government, a political advocacy group that focuses on property rights and free market policy, on Friday announced it is conducting an online marketing campaign to urge U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, to support including funding to build a southern border wall 

What about the people whose property is being snatched by eminent domain in order to build the wall. Good luck with your peeps there, Elise.


A little info on just how grassroots astroturf this organization is. The funding for ALG comes from three donors.

Americans for Limited Government, the tax-exempt organization that bankrolled a series of controversial ballot initiatives this year, raised 99 percent of its $5.4 million in total contributions in 2005 from just three donors, the Center for Public Integrity has learned.

Trump's First 100 Days

In a few words from Josh Marshall.

When we consider the 100 day marker, it is not so much that Trump has accomplished virtually nothing of substance. It is that nothing of substance is really underway either. That’s the key thing.

On Monday, President Trump’s 102 day in office, he will begin from more or less a cold start, as though the first three months hadn’t happened. The difference is that he’ll face a calendar that is far less friendly to legislation and he’ll have squandered whatever degree of good will, momentum or confidence he had from congressional Republicans in his ability to be an effective President.

I can't help but think the tax reform attempt is going to make the repeal and replace debacle look like a walk in the park. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Next Battle

I know the health care fight is not over. TPM has had a couple of posts on how "moderate" Republicans are getting knifed by the actions of the White House and their nuttier brethren.

After being steamrolled in the negotiations surrounding Obamacare repeal, House Republican moderates appear poised to be run over once more—and perhaps, a final time—as momentum grows behind a revived version of the repeal bill.

Their rival faction, the House Freedom Caucus, has backed the newest form of the legislation having received another round of concessions. That means the pressure is on the conference’s centrist wing to fall in line, despite having gained little throughout the negotiation process.

The Washington Post commentators have a few columns up today on the tax reform "proposal" by Trump. It seems like if the health care debacle was bad for supposed moderates, it's not gonna get better when the debate shifts to tax reform. 

Catherine Rampell has the most complete take down. There's lots of good stuff, but I'll just note her explanation of pass-though income since this seems to be an egregious evil inherent in the plan.

(P)ass-through income refers to business income that gets paid at individual income tax rates rather than corporate ones. Income earned by partnerships, sole proprietorships and S-corporations — the vast majority of all companies — falls into this category.

Lots of people, including White House officials, associate pass-through entities with small businesses. But plenty of ginormous companies get taxed this way, including hedge funds, big law firms, publicly traded partnerships and even — coincidentally? — the Trump Organization. In fact, according to the Treasury Department, more than 80 cents of every dollar earned by pass-throughs come from big firms (defined as companies with more than $10 million in income).

Soon we will all be Kansas.

In 2012, the state undertook a huge suite of tax cuts, including eliminating taxes on pass-through income. That overhaul, too, was supposed to “pay for itself.” 

Instead, many more people took advantage of the loophole than expected, the state economy and tax receipts slowed to a crawl, and a gaping budget hole forced legislators to close schools early. The state’s credit rating has been downgraded multiple times

Eugene Robinson with my favorite lie about the plan.

“The plan will pay for itself with growth,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. His rosy projection is that increased growth would produce $2 trillion in new revenue over 10 years. But the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, estimates the tax cuts would cost $6.2 trillion in revenue during that same period, leaving a $4 trillion gap. Even the conservative Tax Foundation, which has rarely seen a tax cut it didn’t like, foresees a $2 trillion gap. 

Max Ehrenfreund with another great lie from Steve Mnuchin. 

Pitching the plan on Wednesday evening, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said again it will not cut taxes on the rich overall: “Effectively, the effective tax rate will not be a reduction for the rich,” Mnuchin told Tucker Carlson. “This is really about a middle-income tax cut.”

But experts on taxation who have reviewed Trump's ideas say the wealthy would enjoy the greatest benefits, with uneven and uncertain savings for ordinary households.

The broad outline was generally similar to a proposal that Trump had put forward as a candidate, which the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimated would save a typical taxpayer in the richest 1 percent of households $317,000 a year. That amounts to 14.1 percent of the annual income of a typical household in that rarefied group. By contrast, typical households with middling income would save about $1,100 a year on average, which translates to only 1.5 percent of their yearly income.

Meanwhile, some could even pay more, especially single parents and large families. Trump's plan would eliminate certain provisions that currently work to these groups' advantage.

What's with the tax brackets being 10, 25 and 35%? Does that seem a little odd? Those just happened to be the best numbers?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

White House Extortion Exposed

I sound like the National Enquirer. Final draft of letter.

    Nice health insurance policy you got there. It'd be a shame if something happened to it. That sounds like the sort of protection racket the White House is running. "We'd offer them $1 of cost-sharing reductions for $1 of wall payments. Right now that's the offer we've given our Democratic colleagues." That's Mick Mulvaney from OMB. This is a tweet from President Trump. "Obamacare is in serious trouble. The Dems need big money to keep it going - otherwise it dies far sooner than anyone would have thought."
     Does that sound like low-income folks who depend on subsidies for their health insurance are represented by Democrats and not Republicans? "The Dems need big money to keep it going." The Republicans preference is to see it fail, that seems clear. Savings from the repeal of ACA are still needed to give tax reform any chance of succeeding. The wealthy still need their tax cuts. Both are more important than health insurance for the poor.
    This week Kaiser Family Foundation came out with an analysis of the effects of ending the CSR subsidies that are being held hostage. "The increased cost to the federal government of higher premium tax credits would actually be 23% more than the savings from eliminating cost-sharing reduction payments." It's worth losing money to eliminate every last vestige of President Obama and to build a big, beautiful wall. Maybe Mexico will pay for our health insurance, too.

The Money Was Laundered

So, no problem.

“I didn’t take any money from Russia, if that’s what you’re asking me,” Flynn said at first. Then, when asked who did him pay him, Flynn replied: “My speakers’ bureau — ask them.”

Blame-shifting seems to be a prominent feature of the Trump Administration. Along with money laundering, of course. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Never Know What You'll Find

I still want to know the back story on the red sports car, though.

A vast battlefield landscape of tunnels and trenches dug to train troops for the first world war has been discovered on army land being cleared for housing.

Archaeologists who worked on the site at Larkhill, in Wiltshire, said the century-old complex was a valuable discovery – although it posed hazards.

“This is the first time anywhere in the world that archaeologists have had the chance to examine, excavate and record such an enormous expanse of first world war training ground,” said Si Cleggett, of Wessex Archaeology. “These men were being trained for the real thing, using live grenades – we know that because we found over 200 grenades in the tunnel and 50% of them proved to be still live. We had to work side by side with experts in dealing with live ordnance, or it could have got very tricky.”

Rough Draft of a Letter

     Nice health insurance policy you got there. It’d be a shame if something happened to it. That sounds like the sort of protection racket the White House is running. “We’d offer them $1 of cost-sharing reductions for $1 of wall payments. Right now that’s the offer we’ve given to our Democratic colleagues.” That’s Mick Mulvaney from OMB. This is a tweet from President Trump. “ObamaCare is in serious trouble. The Dems need big money to keep it going – otherwise it dies far sooner than anyone would have thought.”
     Does that make it sound like low-income folks who depend on subsidies for their health insurance are represented by Democrats and not Republicans? “The Dems need big money to keep it going.” And the Republicans preference is to see ACA fail. That seems pretty clear. There’s a smell of desperation as the 100 day mark draws near. I suppose pushing hard for a healthcare bill, even if worse than the original AHCA, is some sort of accomplishment. Savings from repeal of ACA are still needed to give tax reform any chance of working. The wealthy still need their tax cuts. That’s more important than health insurance for the poor.
     This week Kaiser Family foundation came out with an analysis of the effect of ending the cost of the CSRs being held hostage. “The increased cost to the federal government of higher premium tax credits would actually be 23% more than the savings from eliminating cost-sharing reduction payments.” It’s worth losing money to eliminate every last vestige of President Obama and to build a beautiful wall, though.

Let My Constituents Eat Cake

Or die from lack of health insurance.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), a deficit hawk and Freedom Caucus member who opposed the AHCA, said he would review the amendment. 

“Essential benefits and all the other mandates may be affordable in a wealthy state, but unaffordable in a poorer state like Mississippi or Alabama that causes people to go from some insurance to no health insurance,” Brooks said.

The only reason I can think of for his opposition to the original is because it was not draconian enough. 

The carrot for conservatives is the opportunity for states to apply for waivers from some of the ACA’s mandates, including its requirement for insurers to cover essential health benefits and its ban on swelling premiums for people with preexisting health conditions. Many conservatives don’t like leaving the law’s insurance regulations in place, but the waiver provision allows them to argue that they’re giving states more control over the situation.

But the revisions would also restore the law’s federal essential health benefits requirements for states that don’t obtain a waiver from them. The original bill would have turned over those regulations completely to the states.

Gee, I wonder how hard it'll be to get that waiver. Like buying a gun in a red state, I'm thinking. 

Carter Library Busts on Trump

Is this the greatest?

Amid Trump’s struggles, even the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library felt emboldened this week. On Monday, the library posted a tweet noting the laws and executive orders President Carter had signed in his first 100 days, before ending with the most devastating statistic of all — Carter’s approval rating of 63 percent. 

Trump, the least-popular new president in modern times, has an average approval rating currently hovering in the low 40s. 

Can you say Trump malaise? Or for our Spanish friends just say Trump mal. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Greatest Weasel Word Tweet of All Time

Congratulations Donald.

"Eventually, but at a later date so we can get started early, Mexico will be paying, in some form, for the badly needed border wall."

I don't believe you can make it much clearer than that. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Mexican Standoff Trump-Style

I can't help but think of the Blazing Saddles scene where Sheriff Bart does the standoff with the gun pointed at his own head.

President Trump is pushing Congress toward another dramatic showdown over the Affordable Care Act, despite big outstanding obstacles to a beleaguered revision plan and a high-stakes deadline next week to keep the government running.

And if there's a government shutdown it comes on his 100th day in office. Well, can't say he didn't accomplish anything. 

“The plan gets better and better and better, and it’s gotten really good, and a lot of people are liking it a lot,” Trump said at a news conference Thursday. “We have a good chance of getting it soon. I’d like to say next week, but we will get it.”

I'm not sure this gibberish is even funny anymore especially after reading Charles Pierce today. Not that what he's saying hasn't been at least in the back of our minds. And 96% of his voters are still happy with that choice. 

The confirmation of Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court — after Republican senators used a rule change to muscle the nomination through — remains Trump’s sole major accomplishment on Capitol Hill as the 100-day mark nears.

The only "accomplishment" Trump can point to was only achieved by ratfucking President Obama and Merritt Garland. Impressive! Big league!

We'll Do It Fuckin' Live! Please

Yeah, that's a lot better.

The cover alone — an image of a little girl with an expression of exuberant begging, her hands clasped almost in prayer — seems ready-made for Stephen Colbert’s show.

Other images in this picture book include one of a little girl, partially dressed, asking for help putting on the rest of her outfit. ... A hungry boy hovers over a plate of chocolate-chip cookies, his tongue hanging out in greedy expectation: “I really, really need a cookie!” says the caption. “Can we take them all?” asks a little girl of a litter of kittens. “Please?” Some of the children have already committed a no-no — a girl who has dipped her finger in a bowl of frosting, a little boy who has broken a dish — and are asking for forgiveness by saying “Please!” after the fact.

I believe the test for parental fitness may be whether you'd buy this book for your child. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Same As Trump's Contractors Get Paid

The check's in the mail.

On Sunday, however, Trump tweeted that Mexico would pay “eventually,” “at a later date” and “in some form” for his proposed wall. He did not specify a specific date or schedule for that payment, and did not say what kind of remuneration it would entail.

Ruining My Sunday

I use the socialist internet at my local library and have to drive 6 miles for it. I was going to skip out today and mow the lawn and whatnot. But no! Because of this story I was forced to come here and put up a post. Truth told, my arm never needs much twisting and I'm not staying on long.

A Kingsbury man had a unique proposal for Washington County Supervisors Friday — get rid of elections and political parties, and let God decide our leaders.

A teary-eyed Tony Cerro took the mic at Friday’s meeting to make his pitch to the county supervisors.
“We are in trouble,” Cerro told the board. “Our system is wrong.”

Cerro told the board he wanted to “get rid of political parties and elections, and turn back to God for guidance.”

Here's a surprise. He voted for Trump. Here's my comment.

I can't believe none of those supervisors asked any questions. I can think of quite a few.

He criticized the board for opening every meeting with a prayer, and then doing business “against God’s will right after.” He did not offer specific examples of what the county does that he feels goes against “God’s will.”

Yes, that would be one. I heard Cerro swapping 9/11 theories with Matt Funiciello on "Uncommon Sense." I do hope that show comes back on so maybe I can hear more about this. Maybe God will choose Matt for Congress in 2018. If he chose Trump he's got a sick sense of humor.

 “I want to go to Washington and explain to him the system I propose, but I’m afraid I would get arrested."

Where would we be if Jesus and Paul had been afraid of being arrested? Other than all being Jewish, I mean.

I can understand if they were all too dumbfounded to ask any questions. Good Lord, I gotta start going to these meetings. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

It Could Have Been Worse

Yes, we could have had President Graham.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said this week that he supported striking North Korea to stop it from developing the capability to reach the United States with a missile — even if that came at a huge cost for the region.

“It would be terrible, but the war would be over [in South Korea], it wouldn’t be here,” Graham said in an interview with NBC.

I guess the 28,000 US troops in Seoul don't count as "being here." Psychopath. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

New Healthcare Words

To me anyway.

There is a list of actions the administration must decide whether to take to keep the marketplaces humming, most of them through regulatory actions at the Health and Human Services Department or through the Internal Revenue Service.

The actions center on three programs: cost-sharing reductions, reinsurance and risk corridors. Cost-sharing refers to government subsidies to low-income Americans to help them pay for insurance. Trump threatened recently to let such subsidies lapse, but Democrats say they will shut down the government as part of the spending negotiations next week if the president follows through.

Incredibly I hadn't come across reinsurance and risk corridors before. 

Reinsurance and risk corridors are two programs set up under the ACA to redistribute funds from insurers with healthier enrollees to insurers with sicker, more expensive customers.

New day, learn something new. I wonder if Trump knows anything about them. What am I saying?

Lawrence Kudlow Back on the Hooch and Blow

That's all I can figure anyway.

Once the House passes the Republican health-care bill, it could become law very quickly, Larry Kudlow said on Thursday.

According to sources, Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows has "been in discussion and successfully negotiating" with Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, and they have been agreeing on a number of issues, Kudlow reported.

"So for the first time, as this person reported to me, if the House can get a vote next week or soon after, the Senate may jam it right through fast. It won't take weeks and weeks and weeks," the senior CNBC contributor said on "Closing Bell."

And then you've got Trump thinking Congress is going to get the healthcare bill passed along with the budget next week and he's going to get his tax reform package introduced. That will be a slightly faster pace than the first 91 days have been moving at.

Yes, I do feel bad making fun of an addict except ones that are smarmy dicks.

Strange Bedfellows at the Washington Post

It's a weird day when Eugene Robinson and Jen Rubin seem to have worked together to produce columns.

Ladies first:

The GOP 2.0 version of the American Health Care Act has about as much appeal as the original AHCA, or maybe less. It’s still a big tax cut for the rich, a hit to pocketbooks of older and more rural voters, and less generous than what recipients had received under Obamacare. Would a moderate in a district Hillary Clinton carried overwhelmingly go for this? It’d be a high-risk proposition. Would a conservative who sees more regulation (the essential benefits) going back into the deal be thrilled? Probably not. Moreover, it’s clear the Senate would reject the bill, because moderates previously said they’d refuse to go along with a Medicaid rollback.

The list of people who would not like it is long: right-wing activists; Republicans in swing districts; every Democrat; Karen Handel (the GOP candidate in the Georgia 6th Congressional District runoff election), who’d have to take a position on a cruddy bill; doctors; hospitals; and the AARP.

That's the short list, I guess. Add to it the 20 million that are insured as a result of ACA. 

Robinson covers the new and unimproved health care bill so well:

Having failed miserably to win passage of an abomination of a bill -- the American Health Care Act -- Ryan and his minions are back with something even worse. A draft framework being circulated this week would pretend to keep the parts of Obamacare that people like, but allow the states to take these benefits away.

Republicans don’t talk much about the practical reason for moving urgently on health care, which is to set the stage for so-called tax reform: They want to take money now used to subsidize health care for low-income Americans and give it to the wealthy in the form of big tax cuts. 

Nominally, the “MacArthur Amendment” would retain the Essential Health Benefits standard imposed by the ACA, which requires insurance policies to cover eventualities such as hospitalization, maternity and emergency care -- basically, all the things you’d ever need health insurance for.

The amendment would also appear to maintain the ACA’s guarantees that everyone can buy health insurance, including those who have pre-existing conditions, and that parents can keep adult children on their policies until age 26. That all looks fine -- but it’s an illusion.

After specifying that these popular provisions will stay, the amendment then gives states the right to snatch them away. States would be able to obtain waivers exempting them from the Essential Health Benefits standards. They would also be able to obtain waivers from the pre-existing conditions requirement by creating a “high-risk pool” to provide coverage for those who are unwell.

There would no longer be a prohibition, however, against charging “high-risk” individuals more -- so much more, in fact, that they would potentially be priced out of the market. We would go back to the pre-ACA situation in which serious illness could mean losing a home or filing for bankruptcy.

Paul Ryan and Tom MacArthur are bigger scam artists than Trump himself.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

GOP Can't Quit Obamacare

I know which one Elise is.

Now, when it comes to Obamacare, there are generally two types of Republicans: ones who despise everything about it, and ones who understand nothing about it. The first group are libertarians who want to get rid of the law root-and-branch. They don't think the federal government should play any part in helping people get coverage, or telling insurers what that has to be. Instead, they'd like to go back to a world where the sick are mostly on their own, and insurance companies are mostly free to discriminate against them.

The second group are so-called moderates who oppose Obamacare entirely because of politics, not policy. Which is to say that they attack the unpopular parts of the law, like penalizing people for not getting insurance, at the same time that they support the popular parts, like banning insurance companies from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions. What they don't get, though, is that you can't have the latter without the former.

Actually, I lied. I have no idea which group she's in because she won't give an opinion or hold a town hall. The choices are between venal and stupid. I'll be charitable and assume that she's in the stupid group. 

That brings us to the GOP's real problem. It's that a lot of Republicans secretly kind of like Obamacare, or at least they like what it does. They don't want to get rid of the way it's covered sick people or expanded coverage or let kids stay on their parent's insurance until they're 26 years old. The only thing they do want to change — well, other than the name and the individual mandate — is the way that premiums and deductibles have continued to march ever higher. But that, whether they realize it or not, is actually an argument that Obamacare hasn't gone far enough. That we need bigger subsidies so people can buy better coverage that doesn't make them pay as much out-of-pocket.

Somehow I don't think Paul Ryan of the Freedom Caucus is going to go for that idea. 

Elise Cheers MOAB

I'm kidding, of course. She actually didn't express much of an opinion at all. She's gotten so good at that.

“Gen. John Nicholson made the decision tactically that was the best ammunition to utilize,” Stefanik said in a telephone interview on Monday about a congressional delegation she led to the Middle East last week.

I am proud of her that she's become the chair of the what is it committee.

Stefanik led the delegation in her new role as chairwoman of the House Defense Committee Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities.

That's certainly a mouthful. Hope she enjoyed the election results in Georgia last night.

Monday, April 17, 2017

President Non-Negotiable

I love to hear right wing types boast on how much President Blameless has accomplished.

We haven't seen too much in the way of deals. As a matter of fact, we haven't seen any deals, at least not any of consequence. Is it possible that Donald Trump was never such a great dealmaker in the first place?

That's one way to look at it. Trump has made some lucrative deals; in fact, in recent years his company has been increasingly dependent on licensing deals, in which he sells the rights to use his name to a developer putting up an apartment building or a resort in some far-flung locale.

His particular style of dealmaking often involved seeing how he could get over on people dumb enough to trust him. As he has made amply clear, he has a zero-sum worldview about nearly everything: Either you're getting screwed, or you're the one doing the screwing. In some contexts, it works. Trump could shaft a piano supplier, safe in the knowledge that the guy was just a small business owner who wouldn't have the means to fight him. That left him with a bunch of free pianos, and if he ever needed any more, he could get them from somebody else who wasn't aware that Trump was likely to stiff him on the deal.

When you bring that approach to politics, you find that things don't work quite the same way. You can launch Trump University, scam the customers, and then move on to the next group of suckers (until the courts catch up with you, that is). But in politics, you have to keep making deals with the same people.


Speaking of trade, you might also have noticed that Trump has not yet renegotiated NAFTA to bring back all the manufacturing jobs the country has lost in the last few decades. And he can't seem to decide whether he's going to take another shot at negotiating a health-care deal, or move on to an equally difficult negotiation over tax reform.

It'd Be a Shame If Something Happened to Your Healthcare

Winning is all that matters, not insuring people.

“OBAMACARE IS dead next month if it doesn’t get that money,” President Trump told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday in a barely veiled threat to defund a crucial part of the Affordable Care Act. The president delivered this threat even though he has no viable replacement plan. 

Winning and tax breaks for the rich. 

The president’s comments came after he reanimated the drive to repeal and replace Obamacareon Fox Business earlier Wednesday: “We have to do health care first to pick up additional money so that we get great tax reform,” he said. “So we’re going to have a phenomenal tax reform, but I have to do health care first.”

I believe he hates the average American more than he does Assad or Kim.

The indecency of Mr. Trump taking millions of Americans’ health care hostage is compounded by his suggestion that repeal-and-replace is about freeing budgetary space for Republicans to tinker with the tax code rather than about fixing health care. Even posing his threat, meanwhile, is astonishingly reckless.

What Trump should do, number infinity.

Continuing these payments is only the first and most obvious step Mr. Trump must take to shore up the health-care system. The president should continue fighting a lawsuit charging that spending on these cost-sharing subsidies is illegal absent further congressional appropriations, and he should press lawmakers to make those appropriations. He should also direct his administration to enforce Obamacare’s individual mandate, which requires Americans to obtain health-care coverage, so long as the system depends on the mandate to keep markets viable.

CSI : ACA. Trump's fingerprints are gonna be all over it

“The evidence is strong that the ACA is not dying of natural causes, but with the president’s recent comments it’s clear that it could die of suspicious causes,” says Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan outfit that studies health care. In the current environment, insurers “are just not going to stick around and take big risks,” Levitt tells me. “They’ll just take their marbles and invest elsewhere. It would be a very rational decision.”

The health-care system Trump is now destroying was healthy. A report this month by Standard & Poor’s, the credit-rating agency, found “marked improvement” in the individual market for most Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers, the largest players in the market. They were forecast to be “close to break-even margins” in 2017. The “ACA individual market is not in a ‘death spiral,’ ” S&P reported.

From the Standard and Poor's link.

Looking forward, we expect insurers, on average, to get close to break-even margins in this segment in 2017.

  • The U.S. ACA individual market shows signs of improvement, as most insurers' 2016 results were better than 2015 results.
  • But the market is still developing and will need a couple more years to reach target profitability.
  • 2016 results and the market enrollment so far in 2017 show that the ACA individual market is not in a "death spiral."
  • However, every time something new (and potentially disruptive) is thrown into the works, it impedes the individual market's path to stability.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

On Trump Blowing Things Up

To celebrate my new Kindle subscription to the Guardian:

No plausible explanation has been forthcoming for why General John Nicholson, the US Afghanistan commander, suddenly decided to deploy this previously unused weapon of mass destructive power at this particular moment, or whether additional MOAB attacks are planned.

So, we dropped $16 million worth of MOAB on an obscure part of Afghanistan and $60 million on an obscure airbase in Syria to probably little effect in either case. No one, least of all Trump, can say whether this is part of any strategy. And there's an armada headed toward North Korea. At least Kim Jong Un is no Francis Drake. 

(Trump) has in effect let the US military off the leash. In Iraq and Syria, civilian casualties are rising as a direct result.

If things go wrong, Trump can distance himself, which is what he did in January after his debut military operation – a foolhardy special forces operation in Yemen – ended badly.

Given free rein, the US air force seems to be behaving particularly recklessly. It has yet to accept full responsibility for its disastrous bombing of an apartment building in Mosul last month, which killed as many as 150 people. This week, US-directed coalition airstrikes blew up 18 allied Syrian fighters by mistake.

I can't believe his military commanders don't realize they are going to be the fall guys if when things go wrong. If they don't, they shouldn't be military commanders. Francis Drake would have known. 

As with the Syria missile strikes, the MOAB attack is unlikely to have any significant impact on the course of the Afghan conflict. These kinds of “shock and awe” tactics rarely do. Isis has been making important territorial gains. The Taliban is also resurgent. One bomb, however big, will not change that dynamic.

Not that I know anymore than Trump, but it seems like if we just left things to the Taliban the ISIS problem would sort itself out. We've been there for 15 years and the Taliban are now re-taking power. I can see why GWOT was going to be a long war.

Along this line is Robert Bateman at Esquire:

The SM-3 missile (technically the RIM-161, Standard Missile -3) can shoot down other missiles, even ballistic ones. Even satellites in outer space for that matter. And although we do not know if those type of missiles are loaded aboard the Lake Champlain at this instant (information like that would be classified), if I was a betting man, I would probably lay some money that they are.

Why does this matter? Because in addition to being pretty loud lately, you might have noticed that North Korea has been testing a lot of missiles. On top of that, the North Koreans just hosted another one of their big self-congratulatory military parades. Sometimes they like to fire off hardware around the time of these events, international treaties and sanctions be damned. Usually those missiles are fired to the east, into the Sea of Japan, and sometimes into Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone. According to preliminary reports, this hasn't happened yet. But if it did?

Let's get back to our battlegroup, equipped with the SM-3s aboard an Aegis cruiser, operating in international waters well away from North Korea itself. What would international opinion be if we shot an illegally fired missile out of the sky when it was headed towards Japan? It would mean demonstrating at one stroke both North Korea's inability to actually use those missiles they are trying so hard to develop, and enforcing the sanctions against those same launches that are already in place from the international community.

If we shoot down Korean missiles I'll be more impressed than I was by the Syrian or Afghanistan strikes.

Some Good News on ACA

But where's our AG Schneiderman? I'm sure he'll eventually sign on.

Trump said he would let the Affordable Care Act "explode" after Republicans failed last month to pass their own repeal bill in Congress, and told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that he may withhold billions of dollars of payments to insurers to force Democrats to negotiate on healthcare.

Public statements like that led to judges blocking Trump's proposed travel bans earlier this year, and could prove to be one line of attack in legal attempts to protect the healthcare bill, according to a handful of liberal US lawyers and state attorneys general. They said they are waiting to see what action the administration ultimately takes on the healthcare law before they will officially respond.

Massachusetts Attorney General Healey said Trump is legally bound to enforce the ACA. But his words make it clear he is willing to sabotage it, in her view. 

"He is intent on setting the dynamite and blowing this up," Healey told Reuters.

She said it is too early to speculate about specific legal action but said Trump's remarks about the law "suggest he is out there not just hoping that it fails but working to see it fail."

I hadn't heard of the "take care clause," but I like the idea. And I like the idea that Trump's mouth is being held against him.

One such legal challenge being discussed is suing the Trump administration for failing to abide by the "take care clause," which requires that the president faithfully execute laws enacted by Congress, according to Deepak Gupta, a Washington lawyer who often works on public interest cases.

"That the president is operating in good faith … is pretty critical to how the law works. That good faith is legitimately in question," he said.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Devastation of Republican Healthcare

From a link at ACA Signups to American Progress. This is on the House bill AHCA which is, who knows for sure, being resurrected and not in a good way like Jesus. It's a joke OK, God.

The House bill’s effects are staggering, even at a local level. Within a decade, on average, an additional 55,000 more individuals in each congressional district, or nearly 8 percent of each district’s entire population today, would lack coverage. In the table below, we provide estimates of coverage losses for all 435 congressional districts of the 115th Congress as well as the District of Columbia.

For each district, we provide an estimated number of people who would be uninsured under the House bill instead of having health insurance through the workplace, Medicaid, and the exchanges and other private coverage. Our numbers reflect that states that have expanded Medicaid to low-income adults under the ACA would face drastic cuts to federal matching funds for the program starting in 2020 and that expansion would no longer be a viable option by 2026 for states that have not already done so. 

In my district, NY 21st, that's 64,400. I don't remember what the previous number with a full repeal was, but I believe it was 58,000 and something. That is 8.97% of the population of the district for sticklers about accuracy. I'd just go with 9% or 1 in 11.

Elise, Are You Down With Privatizing Medicare?

Rep. Bueller what say you?

Referencing the proposal oft-floated by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to privatize Medicare by transforming it into what’s known as “premium support,” Mulvaney told CNBC’s John Harwood that his “guess is the House will do either that or something similar to that.”

Strategy Number 89 to See Trump's Returns

And it's on us.

Easier way for state lawmakers to force the disclosure of Trump’s tax information: publishing the state tax returns already in their possession, which would reveal much of the same information appearing in his federal documents.

New York, New York

Trump’s New York state resident income tax returns show his salary, dividends, capital gains, rental real estate income and other income from all sources — including sources outside New York. If Trump fills out a “Resident Itemized Deduction Schedule” — as most high-income individuals in New York do — he also reports his gifts to charity. And if he is using phantom losses from previous years to offset tax on his current-year income, then the New York state return shows that too.

New York’s Department of Taxation and Finance keeps copies of Trump’s state returns from as far back as 1990. Current New York law prohibits state tax officials from disclosing an individual’s returns, but the New York legislature could amend that law to require the state tax authority to post the president’s returns from the past quarter-century on its website. For the sake of evenhandedness, the legislature might apply the same rule to its other elected officials. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is unlikely to object: He releases his returns every year, as do the state’s two senators, fellow Democrats Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Might be worth a LTTE.

Fund the CSRs!

Have I said that before? Anyway here's an article in today's Wash Po saying Fund the CSRs!

The payments were challenged in court by House Republicans, who won their case, under the previous administration. The Obama administration appealed the case, and Trump inherited the case, which has been put on pause as Republicans tried to craft a replacement plan. The payments are continuing to be made, and will be until the lawsuit is resolved, an administration official said.

The ongoing uncertainty has the potential to undermine a key part of the Affordable Care Act's efforts to expand coverage, even if Republicans fail to deliver on their pledge to repeal the law.

And look at the states where 65% or more receive cost-sharing reductions. Go look at the chart on who's getting the largest premium increases, too. Trumpgrets anyone?

Wright called the lawsuit a “wrecking ball” that, if it goes through, would raise premiums not just for lower-income people, but for everyone.

I'm sure the average voter in the Southeast US can be convinced it's Obama's fault.

He said that consumers may not be aware of how much they benefit from the federal payments unless they are revoked.

“My sense is that it might be one of those things they may not fully understand the mechanism now; once it’s taken away, they’ll understand it fairly quickly,” Wrobel said.

You don't know what you got til it's gone.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Lale Davidson on Healthcare

Local professor at ACC, Lale Davidson, writes one of the best histories I've seen of the healthcare mess. I read a lot of them and look right here in my back yard.

They were supposed to be looking for solutions, working on compromises, and being proactive. That’s what governing means. When we pointed out that they were being obstructionist, they said, “No, you are,” like irritating little brothers. But Friday, Ryan wasn’t even embarrassed to admit they had been simply opposing Dems for the last eight years. He was only embarrassed that they didn’t yet know how to govern, as if it was a new requirement that only comes with being a majority.

The sooner they go back to being a minority party the better. Hopefully that starts today. C'mon Kansas and Georgia. Send a big, fat message. 

So, for the last eight years, the GOP–the opposition party–been focused on opposing everything Obama and the Dems did, and they just admitted it. What they didn’t admit was that they have been busy sabotaging the ACA so they could justifiably say how broken it is.

I hope she likes my latest letter as much as my buddy Al will. 

As far as I can glean from Talking Points Memand the New York Times, the creators of the ACA knew that there would be start-up costs and shortfalls in insurance profits as the program was implemented. The sickest people would sign up first, and this would be hard on insurance companies. The tax penalty on people not signing up was meant to offset that and speed up the growth process. In order not to freak people out and give them time to adjust, the penalties started low, and were intended to increase over time, so that we’d get buy-in from everyone, eventually. To combat these growing  pains, the  ACA had a provision to use government funds to cover some of the insurance cost shortfalls until everyone got signed up. Then, the idea was, costs could be mitigated by the funds from healthy people.

Yeah I know, it's funny, a government program that's not perfect right out of the blocks. 

Now we know who’s responsible for the hike: not the ACA; Republican obstructionism with the intent to destroy the ACA.

And that’s another thing that burns me up. The Republicans have been saying that this bill is “wealth redistribution,” and that it’s so unfair, because healthy people’s premiums are being used to pay for the sick.

Um…that’s how insurance works (never mind the fact that health insurance CEOs are paid ridiculous amounts of money not because they are worth it, but because they can get away with it). But I digress.

When was the last time you used your house insurance or your car insurance? And what happened when you used it? Probably you were given the run around, and then, you basically had to pay it back in the form of higher premiums. But when disaster strikes, you get back far more than you paid in. 

The only way that’s possible is because of all the people who don’t use their insurance. The GOP likes to pretend they never heard of this concept before the ACA.

And on single-payer.

I’m just not sure how. Michael Moore, on MSNBC on Friday, said we need to dog the insurance companies like we’ve been dogging our representatives. But he also said we should call our reps and insist on a single payer system.

I’m not so sure that’s a productive route, unless Republicans are willing to caucus Democrats. So far, they’ve shown themselves to be completely unwilling to work on even moderate change. So I just don’t know.

One way or another, a lot of work still needs to be done, and as Ryan said Friday, “Are we willing to say yes to the good even if it’s not perfect?”
That’s what we’ve been saying all along.

I agree that the insurance companies are going to have to be allowed to enrich themselves for awhile longer. This was the thing that drove me insane with Funiciello's nonsense about the Dems being as bad as the Reps because Obama didn't get us single-payer. He must have believed he was as magical as Rush Limbaugh did. The Right was only calling ACA socialism, I wonder what they would have called that. 

"You Lie"

That's in South Carolina, Elise!

President Bannon Replaced

Apparently by President Haley.

All the chaos inside the Trump administration over the past 80 days has allowed Haley to get away with the kind of freelancing that would ordinarily cause someone in her position to be rebuked. In fact, she’s been left alone. As she said on ABC the weekend before last, “The president has not once called me and said, ‘Don’t beat up on Russia.’ He has not once called me and told me what to say.”

Monday, April 10, 2017

Steve King Freudian Slips

Saw this at TPM.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on Sunday tweeted at President Donald Trump that embattled White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is the "lynchpin" to his support base.

Or as those of us who are not racist assholes would spell it, linch pin. But hey, we know what he means. 

Representative Bueller of NY's 21st

     This is in response to the editorial suggesting that President Trump work with the Democrats on healthcare. That certainly can't be any less productive than working with the Republicans. It shouldn't have taken John Boehner to point outthe futility of their trying to pass a healthcare bill. There are 30 of them on the Freedom Caucus who are more concerned about ideological purity than the well-being of the average American. The same might be said of Paul Ryan.  Yes, essential benefits should be maintained and those with pre-existing conditions covered. Trump should kill his executive order invalidating the individual mandate as well. It's the stick that makes the carrots possible. There's no coverage until 26 or pre-existing conditions without it. He should also commit to funding cost-sharing reductions to reduce deductibles for lower-income Americans and the House should drop the lawsuit against those payments. Kaiser says the absence of these subsidies will raise the cost of silver plans 19%.
     Republicans are in charge of everything now. If people are going bankrupt or dying because of lack of coverage, it's their fault. If the industry "explodes," it's their fault. They can fix the ACA (my choice), maintain it the best they can (until we elect people capable of governing) or destroy it on purpose or through neglect. Replacement is not an option, as amusing as the attempts are. Last I heard from our rep she was talking about R and R over 3 years. Anyone know if that's still an operative opinion? Bueller?
     Thanks for the shout-out, Al. I was indeed LOLing as the kids used to say, but now I've got Maggie May stuck in my head.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Not-Friends of Elise Gather

It was a little cold in City Park yesterday, but that didn't stop a million people from turning out to hear the indictments against Elise.

a group of about 100 gathered on Saturday afternoon to express their discontent and publicly indict the congresswoman for her actions.

Yeah, don't believe the fake news. 

“I think we needed to expose Elise Stefanik’s voting record and the underlying consequences of these votes written in such legalese that they needed to be broken down,” said Agata Puccio Stanford, Glens Falls, the founder of The New Resistance USA. “She has refused to hold public town hall meetings. She has to be accountable to our questions as they come to her.”

Elise's supporters say how accessible she is.

At the same time, Stanford started visiting Stefanik, R-Willsboro, at her Glens Falls office to express her concerns. But Stefanik’s lack of response and public availability, led Stanford and others to take action.

Accessible like that phony baloney snake oil healthcare plan she and Ryan are pushing. 

“Representative Stefanik, we have today, April 8, 2017, presented in a public forum at City Park in Glens Falls, NY, the charges against you through the reading of your voting record to date from the convening of the 115th Congress,” Stanford read. “You took an oath of office … having failed to uphold your oath, the consensus of the people is to hand down this indictment. The following are the charges against you.”

Stanford and Drew Monthie took turns reading 24 legislative votes and the implication of each vote.

It's possible that she'll win re-election, I don't think it'll ever be comfortable again, tho.

According to Flanagin, on Friday Stefanik met with Schuylerville residents, CEG business Growth Service, Queensbury residents, Stillwater residents, League of Women Voters of Saratoga County, Eagle Bridge residents, Greenfield Center residents. 

What did they discuss? Is there a transcript? It might answer some questions I and others who weren't there have.

Attempts to reach Stefanik in Washington, D.C. and Glens Falls were unsuccessful.

Isn't she on spring break now? Must've gone to Florida.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Elise on Syria

A couple from the PS today on Rep. Stefanik's take on Syria. I'm putting her down as a full-throated supporter of any action Trump takes. I could be reading it wrong, but facts don't matter anymore.

First up, the statement:

“This week the world watched in horror as the Assad regime used chemical weapons to murder dozens of men, women and children. The Obama administration policy toward Syria has failed and we need a new strategy. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, this will be an important part of our work and I will be monitoring the situation closely with my colleagues.”

My comment there:

In August 2013, the Syrians conducted a chemical attack outside of Damascus. There were reported 1,429 deaths with 426 of them children. Obama sought Congressional approval to respond and was met with Republican obstruction. Here's Rep. McCaul, "Lobbing a few Tomahawk missiles will not restore our credibility overseas." And what did Trump just do. Lobbed $84 million worth of Tomahawks onto an obscure air base and didn't even shut it down. There are still planes flying from it. In this attack, there were 72 deaths with 20 of them children. Trump was against Obama taking action. Four days ago he was cool with any actions Assad took.

I checked the PS archives and couldn't find any statement from Elise Stefanik on the 2013 attack. Wow, no opinion from our rep. Shocker. Can we take this as she's totally behind any actions Trump takes? If she's expecting a coherent policy from the WH I've got a Trump University course to sell her. Shooting cruise missiles from naval ships is not a strategy. It's a tactic and an ineffective one at that. I would think someone on House Armed Services would recognize the difference. And BTW, Obama is not in office anymore.

Trump said the other day that it was his responsibility now. I'll guarantee you that when things go south he'll blame the military brass. He already did it in Yemen.

This is the other article with Schumer, Gillibrand and Stefanik. None of whom spellcheck likes. Sen. Gillibrand: 

However, unilateral military action by the U.S. in a Middle East conflict causes grave concern, given the lack of any Authorization for Use of Military Force from Congress and the absence of any long-term plan or strategy to address any consequences from such unilateral action. Furthermore, there is no ‘military only’ solution to the suffering in Syria. The American people need answers from the administration about their plan here and how they will bring coalition partners to the table for a long-term diplomatic solution.”

Sen. Gillibrand gets the brass ring. Trump has no strategy and likely never will have. How many factions are fighting in Syria: United States, Russians, Iranians, Turks, ISIS, Hezbollah, Kurds (several groups), Assad's forces, rebels against Assad (several groups), maybe an al-Qaeda group. Trying to figure out who's fighting whom on any given day is impossible.

 Four days ago, Trump and Tillerson were saying they were cool with Assad staying in power. After much larger attack in 2013, Trump said Obama shouldn't get involved and should go to Congress for approval if he was going to launch an attack.

 Dropping $84 million worth of cruise missiles on an obscure air base and not even preventing planes from continuing to use it is about the extent of what we can do without getting much more involved than the average American wants to. And up until now Assad has been ignoring our troops and aircraft in Syria. What happens when they both come under attack? Trump said the other day that he has responsibility now. I doubt he'll take it. He already blamed the brass for Yemen.

Another comment for Elise at the "monitoring" article.

The Obama Administration policy towards Syria has failed and we need a new strategy.

Let's throw a link on the barbie.

Trump laid part of the blame for the chemical attack on former President Barack Obama, saying the deaths were a "consequence of the past administration's weakness and irresolution."

Sounds kind of like our rep.

Republicans, however, who controlled Congress then as they do now, were adamant that Obama should not act without their approval, Obama aides said. Trump also had called for Obama to get congressional approval before any attack on Syria.

Here's Trump's tweet.

"What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval," the businessman tweeted in 2013.

Because Obama did not have the support of the American people, Congress or allies he didn't attack Syria.

He opted instead for a Russian-backed plan that was supposed to lead to the removal and elimination of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles.

I'm glad that our congresswoman is so confident in Trump's strategy. If anyone has a statement from 2013 on whether Obama would have had her support in doing the same as Trump did, I'd love to hear it.

And another comment at the troika article:

Just to share another opinion. Here's James Mattis from 2013 after that chemical attack:

When Blitzer asked Mattis about his views on military intervention against Syria’s government, the former general sounded a stern note of caution. He stressed that the United States should not intervene without a serious and well thought-out plan, and that it would be an enormous commitment.

 “On Syria, ladies and gentlemen, we are going to have to determine what is the end state we want. This war needs to be ended as rapidly as possible. That’s the bottom line,” Mattis began. “But if the Americans go in, if the Americans take leadership, if the Americans take ownership of this, it’s going to be a full-throated, very, very serious war. And anyone who says this is going to be easy, that we can do a no-fly zone and it’ll be cheap, I would discount that on the outset.”

That's OK. I'm sure Trump has a serious and well-thought out plan.

Thanks for that quote, Shaw!

This is partly to make sure these get published. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

An Al Scoonz Sighting

It's always a good day when there's an Al Scoonzarielli letter on the editorial page. They've been too infrequent lately.

There's a political letter brewing in me but I don't want to get into it yet. Where to start?

I could do 600 words on Stiling Knight alone. I really wanted to start one with "Wake up Maggie I think I got something to say to you" and even though Madame Alitz wouldn't get it, I'll bet my man Kevin Robbins is cracking up! 

There's more, but I just want to put that bit up because it's so good for my ego to get a shout out from my original idol when it came to writing letters to the editor. 

May as well include here the draft of one I'm working on.

     This is in response to the editorial suggesting that President Trump work with the Democrats on healthcare. That can’t be any less productive than working with the Republicans. It shouldn’t have taken John Boehner to point out the futility of their trying to pass a healthcare bill. There are 30 of them on the Freedom Caucus who are stuck in opposition mode no matter the level of cruelty to the average American. Yes, essential benefits should be maintained and those with pre-existing conditions covered. Trump should kill his executive order weakening the individual mandate as well. It’s the stick that makes the carrots possible. He should also commit to funding cost-sharing reductions to reduce deductibles for lower-income Americans and the House should drop the lawsuit against those payments. Kaiser says the absence of these will raise the cost of silver plans 19%.
     Republicans are in charge of everything now. If people are going bankrupt or dying because of lack of insurance, it’s their fault. If the industry “explodes,” it’s their fault. They can fix the ACA (my choice), maintain it the best they can, as is (until we elect people capable of governing), or destroy it purposely or through neglect. Replacement is not an option, as amusing as the attempts are. I suppose we could interrupt our rep’s Spring break to ask her opinion, but what’s the point.
     Thanks for the shout-out, Al. I was LOLing as the kids used to say, but now I can’t get Maggie May out of my head.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Congressman Inside Trader

It's lucky for Tom Price that the Russia story and the general incompetence of Republicans is the major story.

On the same day the stockbroker for then-Georgia Congressman Tom Price bought him up to $90,000 of stock in six pharmaceutical companies last year, Price arranged to call a top U.S. health official, seeking to scuttle a controversial rule that could have hurt the firms’ profits and driven down their share prices, records obtained by ProPublica show.

Well, sometimes one's luck changes. Hopefully, Tom's will. 

Sending This Out to Steve Bannon

Wonder if he sang it to Donny at word of his demotion. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Promises Are Made to Be Broken

Here's five:

1. The federal government would implement a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the U.S. "until our country can figure out what the hell is going on."

2. Mexico would pay for a wall sprawling nearly 2,000 miles across the southern border.

3. The new administration would "immediately" repeal and replace Obamacare.

4. Speaking of Twitter, Trump said he'd stop using the social platform after becoming president.

5. No vacations, no leaving the White House, and definitely no golf. 

Not that I'm complaining about the breaking of any of those.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Reminder to Myself

To read all in the LA Times series of editorials on Dear Leader. Day two is today. Lies and damned lies.

But he is not merely amusing. He is dangerous. His choice of falsehoods and his method of spewing them — often in tweets, as if he spent his days and nights glued to his bedside radio and was periodically set off by some drivel uttered by a talk show host who repeated something he’d read on some fringe blog — are a clue to Trump’s thought processes and perhaps his lack of agency. He gives every indication that he is as much the gullible tool of liars as he is the liar in chief.

He has made himself the stooge, the mark, for every crazy blogger, political quack, racial theorist, foreign leader or nutcase peddling a story that he might repackage to his benefit as a tweet, an appointment, an executive order or a policy. He is a stranger to the concept of verification, the insistence on evidence and the standards of proof that apply in a courtroom or a medical lab — and that ought to prevail in the White House.

President Bannon has done well attaching himself like a lamprey to Trump's prodigious back-side.

Our civilization is defined in part by the disciplines — science, law, journalism — that have developed systematic methods to arrive at the truth. Citizenship brings with it the obligation to engage in a similar process. Good citizens test assumptions, question leaders, argue details, research claims.

Investigate. Read. Write. Listen. Speak. Think. Be wary of those who disparage the investigators, the readers, the writers, the listeners, the speakers and the thinkers. Be suspicious of those who confuse reality with reality TV, and those who repeat falsehoods while insisting, against all evidence, that they are true. To defend freedom, demand fact.

Be a good citizen. Dissent often. 

Less Popular Than Trump

And deservedly so.

The speaker of the House might not survive his inability to find enough Republicans to vote for his deeply unpopular and poorly crafted American Health Care Act—a gratuitously cruel bill that Donald Trump, for no apparent reason, had embraced so completely that Ryan's bill became Trump's bill (TrumpRyanCare, as I called it) and Ryan's failure became Trump's failure.

I still like GOPCare, just to spread the blame to each and every one of the moral imbeciles. 

If anything, Trump should be thanking Ryan for being unable to deliver the votes. Nothing good politically was going to happen for any Republican if the House had passed the bill, starting with a huge intra-party civil war in the Senate and—if the bill somehow became law—hanging ownership of every complaint about health care on Trump and the Republicans forevermore.

I guess we should not be surprised that the Republicans have already started talking about having another run at the repeal-and-replace windmill. And if Ryan stays on, he will surely put his transparently regressive policy preferences into a bill that will improve Democrats' political fortunes whether it passes or not.

In all fairness, I believe they are going to correctly be blamed for every complaint about healthcare anyway. 

How the Right Learned to Love the Russians

Actually I don't know how, but I'm guessing it has something to do with a pseudo-billionaire with weird hair.

An Economist/YouGov poll in December found that while only 9 percent of Trump voters had a favorable view of Obama, 35 percent had a favorable view of Putin. In February, Gallup reported that the proportion of Republicans viewing Putin favorably rose from 12 percent in 2015 to 32 percent this year.

Not surprisingly, given what Putin did to defeat Hillary Clinton, his favorability among Democrats dropped, from 15 percent in 2015 to 10 percent now. But note how unpopular Putin was with Democrats in both surveys. What's striking is that a 3-point gap between the two parties in 2015 is now at 22 points.

Bear? What Bear?

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Quote of the Day

Charles Pierce.

If nothing else, in a little over two months, this administration has pushed the limits of American absurdity, which I always thought were almost boundless. It has done so in a cheap and grimy way. This is an administration of the sidewalk grift, not the big con. It's three-card monte on the A train, not an epic swindle on the order of Ocean's 11. For all his alleged millions, and for every one of his gold-plated commodes, the president* is a glorified street hustler. It's almost a shame that he may have a congressional committee and/or the FBI running him to ground. He should get hooked up by a 60-year old bunco cop waiting out his pension in a leaky precinct house. He is not right. He is not plausible. And that's beneath even the past crimes of the office he holds.

Feeling the Pelosi Love in This Hometown

Bless you, Nancy Pelosi. BTW, for Pelosi, spell check suggests plosive which I had no idea was a word. And after looking it up was reminded of its meaning. Blogging is so educational. Anyway, after that short digression.

Pelosi is canvassing her caucus to identify areas in which to improve the Affordable Care Act – such as finding ways to lower the cost of prescription drugs, something Mr. Trump has advocated, and to shore up the individual insurance marketplaces. Prices have risen sharply and choices diminished in these exchanges in many parts of the country.

She is also going to keep a bright spotlight on Health Secretary Tom Price to see if he tries to further erode Obamacare by pulling federal subsidies that help consumers pay for coverage and by not enforcing penalties associated with the individual mandate.

“Speaking to the president or even speaking to the Republicans, they hear it better if it goes through the public,” she said, in an answer to a reporter’s question about how she could work with Republicans if they stick to a replace-and-repeal strategy.

Additionally, insurers could well sue the administration if it tries to remove the federal supports that make coverage viable, she said.

I can guarantee she's not the only one watching them, but she has a bigger soap-box than most of us. Sounds like she's gonna climb up on it, too.  

Letter to the president

As Republicans led by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan gear up for a second swing at health care reform, Democratic senators say they’re willing to work with the president – if he stops attacking their party’s landmark health care law.

In a letter signed by 44 of the Senate’s 48 Democrats, the bulk of the party calls on President Trump to rescind his efforts to completely abolish the Affordable Care Act, the legislation, known as Obamacare, passed in 2010. The call comes as Democrats are emboldened by the defeat of the Republican-backed reform effort, which was pulled from the House floor last Friday after Republicans failed to come to a consensus.

“Members of the Democratic caucus remain ready and willing to work with you on policies that would improve the stability of the individual insurance market,” the senators write in the letter, which was shared with The Washington Post. “We ask that you begin the work of improving health care for millions of Americans by rescinding your January 20th executive order.”

BTW, can we get primary opponents for Senators Manchin and Heitkamp. I'll never understand the utility of having a Democratic senator who sides with Republicans 99% of the time.

And how's the national love for the House Majority Leader?

In fact, the PPR poll shows Ryan is currently the least popular politician in the country, with an approval rating of just 21% and a disapproval rating of 61% – a precipitous drop from his previous approval rating of 33% at the very beginning of Trump's term.
Voters also hold Ryan more culpable than Trump for the failed healthcare push. According to the poll, 54% of Republican voters blame Ryan compared to just 13% who blame Trump.

I don't expect to see him on a national ticket again anytime soon.