About to retire - need answers        
[+1] Question by williamJo on 01/02/15 3:21 PM Replies: 9 Views: 7,109
Tags: Retirement, Obamacare
Last Post by Butrflynet on 01/03/15 9:09 PM
          Trump to McConnell: 'Mitch, get back to work'        
Trump slams Senate Republicans for failing to pass an Obamacare repeal plan.
          In Defense of Economic Noninterventionism         

A recent Wall Street Journal article has surprisingly good news: US companies are seeing the highest profit growth in two years with “two consecutive quarters of double-digit profit growth for the first time since 2011.” This surprisingly comes not from policies pursued in Washington, but the hard work of the private sector.

The fact that businesses and job creators can make such a phenomenal showing after years of regulatory uncertainty and continued political intervention reminds us of the power of the free market and that the best successes come from the work of the individuals, not collectivists in the public sector.

Perhaps the best reminding of what the last eight years brought us was President Obama’s infamous 2012 campaign speech “If you've got a business, you didn't build that.” Throughout the course of his administration saw a creation of routine legislative and executive actions that were designed to both micromanage business and supposedly “create” jobs. Unfortunately, none of this had the intended success.

Most prominently among the actions from the executive administration while Obama was presidents include significantly increased regulations. Among these have included the Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS), Dodd-Frank, the stimulus package, and, most spectacularly of all, Obamacare. All of these added a large interventions and onerous barriers in the economy that failed to achieve their stated goal.

WOTUS was probably one of the greatest power grabs by the EPA in recent history. The rule essentially sought to define “navigable waters” in the clean water Act which “brought nearly half of Alaska and a total area in the lower 48 states equivalent to the size of California under the CWA’s jurisdiction.” The proposal, had it not been blocked and rescinded, would have cost thousands of dollars for permits on land that was not previously under the EPA’s jurisdiction, delayed production since a permit can take up to months, and this would have resulted in reduced development and production as well as higher prices.

Though the WOTUS rule was not fully implemented, regulations that did have a massive negative impact on the economy include the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

As implemented, Dodd-Frank imposed various new regulations on the financial sector, including creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), designated firms as systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs), and instituted price controls on debit and credit card transactions. The result was a climate of over regulation with banks being incentivized to become as large as possible in the hopes of being bailed out while the CFPB became a revolving door for lobbyists and influence peddlers to regulate the market with little to no oversight.

Unsurprisingly, one fifth of the banks in the U.S. banks, totalling 1,708, went under between the law’s creation and 2016, which is about one per day, and by 2015 five large banks controlled 50 percent of the banking industry.

Outside of simple regulation, there was also so called “jobs creations” programs that were supposed to create jobs the President did not think businesses could such as the stimulus package. The program was sold as a job creation plan that would keep unemployment below 8 percent for the low price of $830 billion.

The next four years were marked by above 8 percent unemployment while the money ended up being wasted on worthless projects, including trees in wealthy neighborhoods, a study of erectile dysfunction, and the failed company solyndra which was run by a bundler for the Obama campaign. To make matters worse, though unemployment eventually went down long after the stimulus’s implementation, the labor participation rate reached its lowest in 38 years which shows that people still weren’t working.

However, the crowned jewel of overregulation and job destruction during the Obama administration was ObamaCare. Implemented to expand health insurance coverage, it has repeatedly failed to reach its goals as premiums went up, enrollment failed to reach its projections, and the legislation gave corporate welfare (including promised bailouts) to the insurance lobby. In the end, most of the coops failed and major companies pulled out of the exchanges, resulting in 1,000 counties, including five whole states, only having one insurer, a major failure in the goal of expanded coverage.

Inevitably, the phenomenal intervention in the economy by President Obama failed to achieve the job creation while it instead made made doing business that much harder. With record breaking numbers of regulations, Obama was the first President since the Great Depression to never see 3 percent GDP growth.

The Trump administration in the meantime has pursued a different approach than its predecessor. The Trump administration has seen sixteen regulations cut for every one it has created, had signed four resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to overturn regulation within two months as President, and rolled back the clean power plan which could have cost $40 billion per year. All of this marks a significant change in policy that will greatly open up business opportunities and expand economic growth.

However, policy alone does not explain why there has been high profit growth for the last two quarters. As the Wall Street Journal article admits, health care legislation and tax reform have been stalled in the senate. This has caused a climate of uncertainty which businesses have not been happy with.

Nevertheless, they have instead moved on from Washington and instead remained focused on doing business. Political events seem to have taken a backseat to actual business as the number of S&P 500 companies have mentioned the President or his administration during conferences is down by a third as the research firm Sentieo found out. To be blunt, the involvement of Washington and government policy is not driving the current profit growth and the lack of involvement may actually be increasing it.

For a better example of how reduced involvement can improve the economy, look no further than the Depression of 1920. At the time, war time debt had exploded, unemployment peaked at 11.7 percent in 1921, and inflation rates jumped above twenty percent. It had the potential to be even more catastrophic than the Great Depression that started in 1929.

However, the policies pursued were entirely different. The federal budget was severely reduced from $18.5 billion in FY 1919 to $3.3 billion for FY 1922. Taxes at the same time were cut by about 40 percent.

As a result, unemployment dropped to 2.3 percent by 1923 and a crisis had been averted. This was accomplished not by bailouts and and overregulation but by getting the government entirely out of the way. This is a radically different approach than was pursued during the financial panic of 2008 or even the Great Depression.

Overall, there has been a repeated belief that government involvement has made economic advancement harder. As was stated by former President Reagan, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” President Kennedy noted the same when he said “Our tax system still siphons out of the private economy too large a share of personal and business purchasing power and reduces the incentive for risk, investment and effort — thereby aborting our recoveries and stifling our national growth rate.”

It should come as no surprise then that business are fully prepared to run their own affairs and is best capable to address its own need, for as JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon noted, “We’ve been growing at 1.5% to 2%...because the American business sector is powerful and strong and is going to grow regardless.”

It remains the desire of others that the government should intervene in the economy to make improvements. However, this has always resulted in guaranteed failure. Be it raising the minimum wage in Seattle or increased taxation and regulations in Connecticut, the result is usually lackluster growth and decreased jobs. At the national level, Venezuela’s nationalization and China’s increased infrastructure projects have created the same results, which is to say none.

As history and current events have shown time and time again, the best results come not from government involvement and micromanagement, but from the hard work of free individuals in free markets. More and more, the adaptability of businesses to their consumer’s demands and their ability to whether adversity in the marketplace has always been more efficient than the micromanagement the state perceives. As a result, sometimes the best thing to do is to have the government do nothing so that those who can make the economy better will.


          FreedomWorks' Member of the Month for August 2017: Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.)        

FreedomWorks is proud to name Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) as Member of the Month for August 2017. Rep. Franks has supported lowering taxes and voting for policies that contribute to FreedomWorks’ pro-growth agenda.

Rep. Franks currently serves on the Judiciary and Armed Services committees. Before being elected to Congress, Rep. Franks spent his time working on children’s issues. He served in the Arizona State Legislature and later worked with the Governor as the cabinet-level director of the Arizona Governor’s Office for Children. Rep. Franks also had a hand in state and local advocacy, founding the Arizona Family Research Institute.

With his conviction to protect the Constitution and support policies to shrink government by cutting wasteful spending and bureaucratic over-regulation, he has maintained a lifetime score of 92 percent on FreedomWorks’ Congressional Scorecard. Our scorecard is calculated by tracking the votes of members of Congress on key issues of economic freedom and individual liberty.

In the 115th Congress, Rep. Franks co-sponsored H.R. 3167, the Debt Ceiling Alternative Act, sponsored by Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.). This bill would hold the federal government accountable for the money it borrows from the American people. It would take a fiscally conservative stance in response to reaching the debt ceiling by requiring the Secretary of the Treasury to issue GDP-linked bonds to pay the principal and interest on public debt.

Rep. Franks, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, has also held a principled stance on healthcare reform He said, "The federal government is not known for its ability to keep entitlement spending under control. ObamaCare has been the perfect example of what healthcare looks like in the hands of an unimaginably large bureaucracy. Premium cost hikes have crippled American families, Medicaid is failing those most in need, and regulation is stifling innovation.”

FreedomWorks is proud to honor Rep. Franks as Member of the Month for August 2017.


          Some Republicans Just Don’t Want to Repeal ObamaCare        

FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon released the following statement about the defeat of the skinny repeal of ObamaCare:

“Last night’s vote was a slap in the face to every conservative who has been promised that Republicans would repeal ObamaCare. Sens. John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins voted against the ‘skinny repeal’ of ObamaCare, theoretically the least repeal that can be achieved because so many Republicans went back on their votes for a 2015-style repeal. The Republican Party has been all about ObamaCare repeal for the better part of a decade, and now we see that they have been writing checks to voters that they knew the Bank of Obama wouldn’t cash. Now that President Trump would sign it, they have exposed themselves as frauds.”


          FreedomWorks Presents FreedomFraud Awards        

FreedomWorks today announced the FreedomFraud Award winners for this year: Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Dean Heller (R-Utah), and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). This is the counterpart to the FreedomFighter Awards.

The FreedomFraud Awards recognize the height of political fraud by senators who voted to defend ObamaCare by voting against a bill virtually the same as one they supported less than two years ago. While protected by Barack Obama’s veto, they supported ObamaCare and railed against it. Now that President Trump supports the bill, they have exposed themselves as political liars.

FreedomWorks Vice President of Legislative Affairs Jason Pye delivered the awards to senators’ offices Friday afternoon. You can see an archived live stream here. Eligibility for the award is based purely on whether senators campaigned on repeal and voted for this bill less than two years ago and opposed it when it could have passed.

“These people committed the greatest political fraud in American history,” said Jason Pye. “Republican politics has focused on repealing ObamaCare for the better part of a decade. There were frequent votes to repeal ObamaCare. These senators showed great contempt for their constituents by going against everything they’ve stood for on ObamaCare repeal.”

After the 2015 bill passed, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said, “I'm for repealing this broken law and replacing it with something better that gives patients more choice, decreases costs and increases access to quality, affordable care.”

After the 2015 bill passed, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.) said, “This law is not affordable for anyone in Alaska. That is why I will support the bill that repeals the ACA and wipes out its harmful impacts. I can’t watch premiums for Alaskans shoot up by 30 percent or more each year, see businesses artificially constrained, or see the quality of public education decline.”

After the 2015 bill passed, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said, “I am glad that a repeal bill will finally reach the president’s desk.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, “It is clear that any serious attempt to improve our health care system must begin with a full repeal and replacement of Obamacare, and I will continue fighting on behalf of the people of Arizona to achieve it.”

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) said, “This DC bureaucrat-driven healthcare system will only result in limited health care choices and higher costs for Nevadans.”

Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said , “The wisest course is to repeal Obamacare and replace it step by step with solutions that lower health care costs.”


          Six Senators Perpetrate One of the Biggest Political Frauds in American History        

FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon released the following statement after the Republican-majority Senate voted to save ObamaCare:

“Our activists have fought for the better part of a decade, led on by campaign promises and actual votes to repeal ObamaCare, to get Republican majorities in the House and Senate, as well as a Republican in the White House. Sens. Dean Heller, Lisa Murkowski, John McCain, Rob Portman, Shelley Moore Capito, and Lamar Alexander each voted for the very same bill in 2015.

“We now know that these six senators are ObamaCare repeal frauds. Even though we’re still wondering if Sen. Susan Collins is in the right party, at least she was consistent with her vote.”

Here are quotes from a few of these Senate Republicans who have heavily criticized ObamaCare and today voted to keep ObamaCare as the law of the land.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.): “The wisest course is to repeal Obamacare and replace it step by step with solutions that lower health care costs.”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.): “I have consistently voted to repeal and replace this disastrous health care law, and I am glad that a repeal bill will finally reach the president’s desk.”

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.): “This DC bureaucrat-driven healthcare system will only result in limited health care choices and higher costs for Nevadans.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska): “This law is not affordable for anyone in Alaska. That is why I will support the bill that repeals the ACA and wipes out its harmful impacts. I can’t watch premiums for Alaskans shoot up by 30 percent or more each year, see businesses artificially constrained, or see the quality of public education decline.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): “It is clear that any serious attempt to improve our health care system must begin with a full repeal and replacement of Obamacare, and I will continue fighting on behalf of the people of Arizona to achieve it.”

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio): “I'm for repealing this broken law and replacing it with something better that gives patients more choice, decreases costs and increases access to quality, affordable care.”


          Key Vote YES on the ObamaCare Repeal Reconciliation Act, Amendment 271 to H.R. 1628        

On behalf of FreedomWorks’ activist community, I urge you to contact your senators and ask them to vote YES on the ObamaCare Repeal Reconciliation Act. This language will be offered as an amendment to H.R. 1628.

This amendment is virtually identical to the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill – the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, H.R. 3762. This bill passed the Senate by a vote of 52 to 47, with only two unsurprising Republican defections.

For more than seven years, Republicans successfully campaigned on ObamaCare repeal. They made floor speeches in support of repeal, and they voted to pass a repeal bill less than two years ago. Grassroots conservative activists are not going to accept excuses if Republicans fail to pass a bill that they have passed once before.

The ObamaCare Repeal Reconciliation Act would repeal much of ObamaCare – including the tax and cost sharing subsidies, Medicaid expansion, and the taxes that came with the law – with a two-year delay to pass a replacement. This delay provides more than ample time to reach an agreement on a replacement bill or package.

President Donald Trump has indicated that he will sign a 2015-style ObamaCare bill into law. Senate Republicans should do as they did in December 2015 and pass a bill that delivers on their frequent promises to repeal ObamaCare.

FreedomWorks will triple-weight the votes for the ObamaCare Repeal Reconciliation Act. Additionally, FreedomWorks reserves the right to retroactively key vote any amendments during the so-called “vote-a-rama.” The scorecard is used to determine eligibility for the FreedomFighter Award, which recognizes Members of the House and Senate who consistently vote to support economic freedom and individual liberty.

Sincerely,

Adam Brandon, President, FreedomWorks


          Motion to Proceed: This Is a Step Forward in the Process        

FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon issued the following statement on the Senate's passing the motion to proceed on legislation related to ObamaCare:

“This is a step forward in the process. Republicans must remember that they campaigned on ObamaCare repeal for more than seven years. The 2015 repeal bill is what conservative activists were promised, and it's what they expect.

“We will do our best to hold wayward senators who want to defraud their constituents to their campaign promises and their voting record.”


          Capitol Hill Update: July 24, 2017        

Schedule:

The House and Senate are in session this week.

There are five (5) legislative days remaining for the House before the August recess and 53 legislative days remaining in the year. The Senate will supposedly work through the first two weeks of the August recess.

House:

The FY 2018 budget resolution, dubbed "Building a Better America," was marked up and approved by the Budget Committee on Thursday in a party-line vote. The budget would reduce the budget deficit by $6.5 trillion over the ten-year budget window and eventually come into balance in FY 2027, creating a $9 billion surplus.

Perhaps one of the most important components of the budget is that it begins the reconciliation process for fundamental tax reform. There are also reconciliation instructions for 11 House committees to find roughly $200 billion savings or reforms in mandatory spending.

The FY 2018 budget resolution isn't on the calendar for the week. It's unclear if House Republican leaders will bring it to the floor.

Additionally, the 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, H.R. 2997, introduced by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) could come to the floor for a vote this week. The bill reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and reforms the United States' out of date air traffic control (ATC) system. FreedomWorks has released a key vote in support of the 21st AIRR Act.

On Monday, the House will consider 17 bills on the suspension calendar. Most of the bills on the suspension calendar related to veterans or active military issues. There are three bills on the suspension calendar that relate to small businesses and investment. The House will also consider the Intelligence Authorization Act, H.R. 3180, sponsored by Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on suspension.

There are three bills on the suspension calendar for Tuesday, including the Medicare Part B Improvement Act, H.R. 3178, sponsored by Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), and a yet-to-be-numbered resolution that will impose sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

The House will also consider H.J.Res. 111, a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, to cancel the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) giveaway to trial lawyers. The rule put restrictions on the use of arbitration to settle disputes over consumer products. This would lead to more class-action lawsuits, benefiting trial lawyers and hurting consumers. FreedomWorks has signed a coalition letter in support of H.J.Res. 111 and will likely include the vote on our 2017 Congressional Scorecard.

For the balance of the week, the House will consider at least four more bills on the suspension calendar. The Make America Secure Appropriations Act, H.R. 3219, will also come to the floor. This is the consolidated appropriations bill, or "minibus," for the Department of Defense, the Legislative Branch, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Energy and Water. Like virtually every other bill to come to the floor this year under "regular order," the Make America Secure Appropriations Act is subject to a rule to limit or prevent amendments from the floor.

On Thursday at 10:00 am, the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing entitled "The Need for the Balanced Budget Amendment." The witness list for the hearing has not yet been announced. Twelve constitutional amendments have been introduced in the House that would require a balanced budget. Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is the sponsor of two of them, H.J.Res. 1 and H.J.Res. 2. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), the primary sponsor of H.J.Res. 15, is among the House conservatives who have introduced a balanced budget amendment.

The committee and subcommittee schedule for the week can be found here.

Senate:

Presumably, the Senate will vote this week on the motion to proceed to the House-passed version of H.R. 1628. It's still unclear on what happens next. A vote to proceed to the House-passed version has always been the first step. The next step will be for an amendment to the bill that will substitute the language of either the Better Care Reconciliation Act or language similar to the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill, now called the ObamaCare Repeal Reconciliation Act. FreedomWorks' key vote on the motion to proceed applies only if the base text that will be substituted is similar to the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill.

At least a few Senate Republicans have backed away from their votes for the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill, which was passed in December 2015 with the support of all but two Republicans, including Sen. Susan Collins. Moderate Republicans who refuse to vote for the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill have demanded $200 billion in Medicaid funding offered by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to get them to support the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

Some parts of the Better Care Reconciliation Act are in limbo, however, as the Senate parliamentarian has apparently ruled that provisions limiting funding for Planned Parenthood and tax credits for plans that cover abortion will require 60 votes. Other provisions that may require 60 votes include the State Innovation Waivers. Many of these provisions can be altered to make them withstand a Byrd rule challenge, as was done in 2015.

The Senate still has several nominees to consider and, on the legislative front, the FDA Reauthorization Act, S. 934; the National Defense Reauthorization Act; and the debt ceiling are among the items awaiting action.

Separately, Senate Democrats are rolling out their "better deal" economic agenda today, which is a rehashing and repackaging of virtually every leftist policy proposal in recent years. The agenda is Democrats' attempt to find a message after a string of special election losses around the country.

The full committee schedule for the week can be found here.


          Key Vote on Signatures to House Discharge Petition on 2015 Repeal Bill        

FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon released the following statement on the discharge petition by Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.) to bring the 2015 bill to repeal ObamaCare to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. FreedomWorks will triple weight the signatures. The bill passed with almost unanimous support from the Republican members less than two years ago.

“We are standing behind the members in the House and Senate who stand by their past votes on the 2015 repeal bill. They were not voting that way just to win elections. They honestly believe that ObamaCare is a scourge on our country, raising premiums and making affordable health insurance illegal.

“We are making signatures on this discharge petition part of our 2017 FreedomWorks Scorecard, triple weighting the signatures. We never got a clean repeal vote in the House, so we are considering this one.”


          The Weekly Fix: Rules for Thee, but Not for Me        

The fix is in. Did you know, members of Congress can exclude themselves from federal laws they don’t want to follow? Taxpayers are forced to play by the rules, while lawmakers in Washington get a free pass.

The Congressional Accountability Act (CAA) of 1995 was created to remedy some of these injustices. In theory, the CAA requires members of Congress to abide by some of the same employment and workplace safety laws as any other business or federal government entity.

But in reality, members of Congress continue to dodge their way around significant legislative policy.

Congress has the power to kick you off your health care plan, yet lawmakers excused themselves from the ObamaCare exchanges. Congress requires federal agencies to provide citizens with internal records, yet lawmakers exempted themselves from the Freedom of Information Act, along with numerous other record-keeping and transparency laws (including whistleblower protections).

Congress supports sending citizens to jail for insider trading, yet lawmakers are allowed to make stock trades based on non-public information. Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to protect citizens from dishonest private sector CEOs, yet lawmakers shamelessly lie about the costs of their policy agenda.

Not surprisingly, the Office of Compliance for the U.S. Congress revealed to the press that representatives often fail to produce records and information critical to investigations in a timely manner- or sometimes even at all. Compliance has no legal authority to subpoena information, leaving them at the complete mercy of legislative offices.

Why are members of Congress so tone deaf? Because they aren’t living in the same reality as the rest of America. They are shielded from the consequences of their actions. Forget equal treatment under the law, the official slogan of the Legislative Branch should be: Rules for thee, but not for me.

The American people aren’t being heard by government because the game is rigged. Washington isn’t broken. It’s “fixed.”


          FreedomWorks Announces FreedomFighter Award Winners        

FreedomWorks today announced the FreedomFighter Award winners for 2016. The FreedomFighter Awards recognize members of the House and Senate who consistently vote to support economic freedom and individual liberty. FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon and FreedomWorks Vice President of Legislative Affairs Jason Pye presented the awards Wednesday afternoon at the Capitol Visitors Center. Photos of the individual presentations are available here.

Eligibility for the award is based on votes on FreedomWorks’ Congressional Scorecard. In 2016, FreedomWorks scored key votes in favor of several issues, including repeal of ObamaCare through the 2015 reconciliation bill and the override of Obama’s veto, preventing IRS abuse and protecting free speech, protecting citizens from warrantless searches, spending cuts, and reducing regulation.

“FreedomWorks activists across the country can be proud of these members’ votes last year. They showed a commitment to economic liberty and individual freedom,” FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon said. “With a Republican in the White House and so many big legislative items on the to-do list in this Congress, including fundamental tax reform and reducing regulation, conservative grassroots activists are watching our scorecard to see who delivers on their campaign promises and who changes their tune.”

“These defenders of liberty get this award to thank them for their critical votes on legislation important to our activist community,” FreedomWorks Vice President of Legislative Affairs Jason Pye said. “This event allows us to thank them on behalf of our activists to thank these members and encourage them to keep fighting for limited government, lower taxes, and fewer unnecessary job-killing regulations.”

FreedomFighter Award Winners for 2016 Voting Record

Senate (5)

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) , Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.)

House (56)

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas), Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), Rep. Trent Kelly (R-Miss.), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.V.), Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.), Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa), Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.), Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Rep. Rick Allen (R-Ga.), Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.), Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Rep. John Duncan (R-Tenn.), Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.), Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.)


          An N.C. Congressman Tries to Defund the Congressional Budget Office        
Possibly related: the CBO has said the GOP’s efforts to repeal Obamacare would cost tens of millions of people access to health care On Monday—the same day the president attacked political rivals in a speech to Boy Scouts and the U.S. Senate prepared to vote on a health care bill that no one had actually seen—Mark Meadows, chairman of the Freedom Caucus and representative of North Carolina's Eleventh Congressional District, proposed his own means of undermining democratic norms. His big idea: gut the Congressional Budget Office, the agency that has consistently projected that GOP efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare would leave more than twenty million Americans without coverage.…
          Five Things You Need to Know About the Senate’s Health Care Hail Mary        
No. 1: The Obamacare repeal isn’t really a repeal On Monday night, senators Jerry Moran of Kansas and Mike Lee of Utah announced that they would not support the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the Senate's attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act. Without their votes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is shy of the fifty he needs.…
          6-Month Update for Trump Voters        
So after six months, has he delivered what he promised you?1. He told you he’d repeal Obamacare and...
          New York's Attorney General Vows Court Action Against ACA Repeal        
New York’s top elected Democrats rallied against the Republican Congress’s proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, saying they will take legal action, if necessary, to stop it. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, speaking before a crowd of unionized health care workers at Mount Sinai hospital, says if the plans to repeal and replace Obamacare in the GOP led Senate and House do become law, he will sue on behalf of New Yorkers. “I’ve developed a bit of a reputation since January as the guy who sues Donald Trump and the federal government,” Schneiderman said, to cheers. “Always on the merits, and boy, have we got a lot of merits on our side.” This is not the first time that Schneiderman has made the threat. The Attorney General said after the house passed its version of the Obamacare repeal and replacement that court action was likely. The AG says provisions in both the Senate and House plans to defund Planned Parenthood services, “would
          (RPI) Restaurant Stock Outlook – February 2013 – Zacks Analyst Interviews        
The year 2012 started on a relatively positive note for U.S. restaurants. That scenario changed gradually as sales momentum slackened in the sector as the macroeconomic tension, presidential election and the “Fiscal Cliff” raised uncertainties in the market. Even this year, the industry remains on the receiving end of global economic concerns, fragile consumer confidence, a more expensive food cost environment in the U.S., a sluggish labor market, “Obamacare” and an excess of restaurants in the industry. As a result, […]
          After Low-Key Lobbying Effort, Trump Says He Was 'Let Down' By Senators        
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypALjI7MEWI Blindsided by the latest collapse of a Republican health care bill, President Trump took to Twitter to voice his frustration. Trump complained of being "let down" by a handful of Republican lawmakers. And he insisted that the fight over the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is not over. Trump had just finished discussing health care with seven Republican lawmakers over dinner Monday when Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Jerry Moran, R-Kansas — who were not at the meeting — announced they would be voting against the measure to repeal and replace Obamacare. With two other Republican senators already on record in opposition, the Monday-night development effectively killed the Senate bill. Trump acknowledged he was caught off guard by the latest GOP defections. "For seven years, I've been hearing repeal and replace from Congress," Trump said. "And then when we finally get a chance to repeal and replace, they don't take advantage of it. So
          GOP Senators Postpone Vote On Health Care Bill        
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: And let's bring another voice now into the conversation. NPR's White House correspondent Scott Horsley has been covering this debate for years and years and years... SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: (Laughter). INSKEEP: ...And is here with us and has been listening to Matt Schlapp. Scott, what did you hear there that was noteworthy? HORSLEY: Well, he is right that Republicans have spent more time demonizing Obamacare than they have really selling their own plan. And part of the challenge is philosophically, the Republicans, at least in Congress, envision a health care system where the government plays a smaller role, where there is more consumer skin in the game, that is, consumers bear more of the responsibility. They feel like that'll inject market forces and help to keep costs down. But you have a president, Donald Trump, who has been marketing great care at low costs for everyone. Everyone's going to be taken care of. So there is a
          GOP Sen. Susan Collins Firmly Opposes Senate Health Care Bill        
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: Congressional forecasters say a Senate bill that aims to repeal and replace Obamacare would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026. That's only slightly fewer than a House version that passed last month. This forecast comes as Senate Republican leaders press for a vote on the bill later this week, and it has already led one Republican senator to firmly oppose the bill. NPR's Scott Horsley joins us now. And, Scott, these numbers come from the Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan bean counters on Capitol Hill. So where do they think these coverage reductions are coming from? SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Ari, the biggest drop would be in Medicaid. Remember, Obamacare expanded Medicaid. This bill would shrink it. And the forecasters anticipate by 2026 you would have 15 million fewer Americans getting their coverage through that safety net program. They're also anticipating a drop of about 7 million people getting coverage
          How The Senate Health Care Bill Could Disrupt The Insurance Market         
Senate Republicans have little margin for error as they prepare for a vote this coming week on a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act . Some lawmakers are already raising concerns that the bill could aggravate the problem of healthy people going without insurance, driving up costs for everyone else. "If you can get insurance after you get sick, you will," Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told NBC's Today Show . "And without the individual mandate, that sort of adverse selection, the death spiral, the elevated premiums, all of that that's going on gets worse under this bill." The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, tried to address that problem by requiring all Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty. But that so-called "individual mandate" is one of the least popular provisions of the law. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and his colleagues are determined to get rid of it. "We agreed on the need to free Americans from Obamacare's mandate so
          Visualizing Health Policy: U.S. Public Opinion on Health Care Reform, 2017        
This slideshow supports a Visualizing Health Policy infographic with JAMA, spotlighting public opinion on health reform in the United States as of 2017, including priorities and views of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) and its provisions.
          Visualizing Health Policy: U.S. Public Opinion on Health Care Reform, 2017        
This Visualizing Health Policy infographic with JAMA spotlights public opinion on health reform in the United States as of 2017, including priorities and views of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) and its provisions.
          With Cameras Banned in the Supreme Court, Undercover Video Emerges        

People are discovering a recently-posted YouTube video that apparently shows both a portion of the oral argument in a campaign finance case in October 2013 and Wednesday's interruption of an oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The first half of the video says that it is shows the argument is in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, No. 12-536, a case argued on Oct. 8, 2013 which challenges the constitutionality of federal limits on contributions to non-candidate political committees. The date stamp on part of the video matches the date that the case was argued. While the audio of the Justices and lawyers speaking can be heard, its impossible to make out the words. The scene, however, is clearly the courtroom of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The video then cuts to the interruption, during the Feb. 26, 2014 argument in Octane Fitness v. Icon Health & Fitness, No. 12-1184, a patent case. This half of video shows Kai Newkirk, a member of the group 99Rise -- which takes credit for the interruption in a press release  -- interrupting the argument to state that the court's 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010) should be overturned, and that the contribution limits at issue in McCutcheon should be upheld. The video also shows Newkirk being removed from the courtroom.  (He was subsequently arrested and charged under 40 U.S.C. § 6134, which makes it illegal to "make a harangue or oration, or utter loud, threatening, or abusive language in the Supreme Court Building or grounds.")

Both portions of the video are jumpy and haphazard, and were apparently shot with hidden cameras in violation of the the court's strict prohibition on cameras in the courtroom. The video acknowledges this, beginning with the text, "What you're about to see have never been seen before. This is video from inside the chamber of the U.S. Supreme Court. Under their arcane rules, no one is allowed to record the proceedings. Not even C-SPAN ... (sic) in the year 2014." Other videos uploaded by the same YouTube user show what appear to be the full videos shot during the Octane Fitness argument. From the datestamps, it appears that three separate cameras were used. None of the words said in the videos are discernible, except for Newkirk's statement. A 23-minute video of the McCutcheon argument is also posted.

There has been growing pressure for the Supreme Court -- which controls it own rules -- to allow still and video cameras to cover its proceedings, including in an ad campaign launched last week. But there has been little movement on the issue, with federal trial courts conducting a second "trial" of cameras in selected courtrooms. When an attorney was indirectly tweeting from an overflow room at the court during oral arguments in the 2012 case challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the court asked her to stop. 

The new videos may be less remarkable for what they show, than that they exist at all.  They demonstrate that not everyone is prepared to wait for the Court to reform its own procedures. It will be interesting to see how the Court reacts.

Eric P. Robinson is co-director of the Program in Press, Law and Democracy at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. He has taught media law and ethics at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, Baruch College, and the University of Nevada, Reno, where he was also Deputy Director of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Courts and Media. He has also been a  staff attorney at the Media Law Resource Center and a legal fellow at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. In addition to his posts here, he maintains his own blog at bloglawonline.com.

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 


          Comment on Obamacare and Lower-Income Workers by david doon        
The key to this health care working if for the middle income earners being insured.Keep up the good fight.
          An Adult Conversation About Medicare For All ... by gimleteye        
NOTE: What the hell is going on with Republicans in Congress? The GOP is spending itself on health care like waves on a beach; a great surge then slide back out to sea.

GOP leadership believes that its base is motivated by only one idea: overthrow Obamacare. What was a popular net to corral voters turns out to be much less popular, and not at all effective, as a matter of protecting people, jobs, family and income.

It would be far better for sober adults in the GOP majority in Congress to look at the outcomes of health care in the U.S. As Dr. Carol Paris and many others report: the United States lags health care metrics compared to nearly every other industrialized nation. "Compared to ten other wealthy countries, the U.S. ranks dead last for life expectancy, and access to care. We even have the lowest number of hospital beds per capita, a way that health experts measure the capacity of a nation’s health system. It’s as if our system was designed to deny care."

The only metric where U.S. health care exceeds beyond imagination: empowering and enriching intermediaries in the health care supply chain.

I understand that this point grossly simplifies a massively complex process, but if other Western nations can effectively institute a single-payer system, why can't we?

Published on
Friday, July 28, 2017
by Common Dreams
It's Time for the Adults in This Nation To Talk Seriously About Medicare for All
Today, we breathe a quick sigh a relief. But we cannot celebrate a return to the failed status quo.
by Dr. Carol Paris

Ruby Partin, 63, and her adoptive son Timothy Huff, 5, wait for a free clinic to open in the early morning of July 22, 2017 in Wise, Virginia. Hundreds of Appalachia residents waited through the night for the annual Remote Area Medical (RAM), clinic for dental, vision and medical services held at the Wise County Fairgrounds in western Virginia. The county is one of the poorest in the state, with high number of unemployed and underinsured residents. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

Hundreds of people slept overnight in cars, or camped for days in a field. They told stories of yanking out their own teeth with pliers, of reusing insulin syringes until they broke in their arm, of chronic pain so debilitating they could hardly care for their own children. At daybreak, they lined up for several more hours outside a white tent, waiting for their chance to visit a doctor. For many, this was the first health care provider they’ve seen in years.

Is this a place torn by war, famine or natural disaster? No, this charity medical clinic was last weekend in southwest Virginia, in the wealthiest country in the world, where we spend nearly three times as much money on health care as other similar countries.

"It’s as if our system was designed to deny care."

And what do we get for our money? The very definition of health care rationing: 28 million Americans without insurance, and millions more insured, but avoiding treatment because of sky-high deductibles and co-pays. Compared to ten other wealthy countries, the U.S. ranks dead last for life expectancy, and access to care. We even have the lowest number of hospital beds per capita, a way that health experts measure the capacity of a nation’s health system. It’s as if our system was designed to deny care.

America does hit the top of the list in some areas. Compared to other nations, American doctors and patients waste the most hours on billing and insurance claims. We have the highest rate of infant mortality, and the highest percentage of avoidable deaths—patients who die from complications or conditions that could have been avoided with timely care.

Clearly, this system is broken. Like a cracked pipe, money gushes into our health care system but steadily leaks out. Money is siphoned into the advertising budgets of insurance companies and the army of corporate bureaucrats working to deny claims. Even more dollars are soaked up by the pockets of insurance CEOs who have collectively earned $9.8 billion since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010. Nearly a third of our health care dollars go to something other than health care.

President Trump recognized voters’ frustration and campaigned on a promise of more coverage, better benefits, and lower costs. We couldn’t agree more with these goals. However, instead of trying to fix our broken system, GOP leaders are acting more like toddlers, mid-tantrum, smashing our health system into smaller and smaller pieces, threatening to push even more Americans—the most vulnerable among us—through the cracks. Last night, a few Senate Republicans stood up and acted like adults, putting an end to this dangerous game.

Today, we breathe a quick sigh of relief. But we cannot celebrate a return to the status quo, a system that rations health care based on income and allows 18,000 Americans to die each year unnecessarily.

Where do we go from here?

Republicans had eight years to come up with a plan that achieves more coverage, better benefits and lower costs. Have our elected leaders simply run out of ideas?

"The good news is that we already have a proven model for health financing that is popular among both patients and physicians."
The good news is that we already have a proven model for health financing that is popular among both patients and physicians. It provides medically-necessary care to the oldest and sickest Americans with a fraction of the overhead of private insurance. It’s called Medicare, and I can tell you as a physician that it has worked pretty darn well for more than 50 years.

Not only do we have a model, we have a bill that would expand Medicare to cover everyone and improve it to include prescriptions, dental, vision, and long-term care. It’s called H.R. 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, a single-payer plan that would provide comprehensive care to everyone living in the U.S. The bill would yield about $500 billion annually in administrative savings while covering the 28 million currently uninsured. Medicare for all is gaining steam with a record 115 co-sponsors, a majority of House Democrats.

Now that Republican senators have finally worn themselves out, Sen. Bernie Sanders plans to file his own single-payer Medicare for all bill. Senators from both parties will be asked to choose a side: Do you support the current system of health care rationing, medical bankruptcies and unnecessary deaths; or a program proven to work both here and in every other developed country?

A majority of Americans now believe that health care is a human right, and that it is our government's responsibility to achieve universal coverage. We’ve tried everything else except Medicare for all. What are we waiting for?

          Obama Speaks Up On New Trumpcare Healthcare Bill        

The recent GOP health care bill has unmuted former President Barack Obama, who before now has not commented on the Donald Trump presidency, or any of Trump previous allegations. The reason Obama is coming out now is to speak against the current released GOP health care bill.

Barack Obama and Donald Trump disagree over the cost and insurance rates of the new health care bill for Americans. This also includes argument over the world mean.

                      

In a long Facebook post by Obama, the rushed-through Republican health care bill "would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it," he then added "Small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation."

Trump during his interview with his favourite TV cable network, Fox and friends, confirmed that he also denounces the GOP health care bill, and said he had told that "I want to see a (health care) bill with heart."

According to Trump's secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price while speaking to CNN, said that the goal of the new Trumpcare goal is to decrease premiums, even though few republicans believes this is not feasible under their new proposed plan.

Read Obama write up here;

Our politics are divided. They have been for a long time. And while I know that division makes it difficult to listen to Americans with whom we disagree, that’s what we need to do today.

I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican Party. Still, I hope that our Senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did.

We didn’t fight for the Affordable Care Act for more than a year in the public square for any personal or political gain – we fought for it because we knew it would save lives, prevent financial misery, and ultimately set this country we love on a better, healthier course.

Nor did we fight for it alone. Thousands upon thousands of Americans, including Republicans, threw themselves into that collective effort, not for political reasons, but for intensely personal ones – a sick child, a parent lost to cancer, the memory of medical bills that threatened to derail their dreams.

And you made a difference. For the first time, more than ninety percent of Americans know the security of health insurance. Health care costs, while still rising, have been rising at the slowest pace in fifty years. Women can’t be charged more for their insurance, young adults can stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26, contraceptive care and preventive care are now free. Paying more, or being denied insurance altogether due to a preexisting condition – we made that a thing of the past.

We did these things together. So many of you made that change possible.

At the same time, I was careful to say again and again that while the Affordable Care Act represented a significant step forward for America, it was not perfect, nor could it be the end of our efforts – and that if Republicans could put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I would gladly and publicly support it.

That remains true. So I still hope that there are enough Republicans in Congress who remember that public service is not about sport or notching a political win, that there’s a reason we all chose to serve in the first place, and that hopefully, it’s to make people’s lives better, not worse.

But right now, after eight years, the legislation rushed through the House and the Senate without public hearings or debate would do the opposite. It would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it. That’s not my opinion, but rather the conclusion of all objective analyses, from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which found that 23 million Americans would lose insurance, to America’s doctors, nurses, and hospitals on the front lines of our health care system.

The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care, or expensive prescriptions. Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.

Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family – this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.

I hope our Senators ask themselves – what will happen to the Americans grappling with opioid addiction who suddenly lose their coverage? What will happen to pregnant mothers, children with disabilities, poor adults and seniors who need long-term care once they can no longer count on Medicaid? What will happen if you have a medical emergency when insurance companies are once again allowed to exclude the benefits you need, send you unlimited bills, or set unaffordable deductibles? What impossible choices will working parents be forced to make if their child’s cancer treatment costs them more than their life savings?

To put the American people through that pain – while giving billionaires and corporations a massive tax cut in return – that’s tough to fathom. But it’s what’s at stake right now. So it remains my fervent hope that we step back and try to deliver on what the American people need.

That might take some time and compromise between Democrats and Republicans. But I believe that’s what people want to see. I believe it would demonstrate the kind of leadership that appeals to Americans across party lines. And I believe that it’s possible – if you are willing to make a difference again. If you’re willing to call your members of Congress. If you are willing to visit their offices. If you are willing to speak out, let them and the country know, in very real terms, what this means for you and your family.

After all, this debate has always been about something bigger than politics. It’s about the character of our country – who we are, and who we aspire to be. And that’s always worth fighting for.

Categories:


          Rick Perry to 11 Democratic reps: No Medicaid expansion — even for Texas veterans        
Gov. Perry UPDATE: Perry spokesman Josh Havens said by email: “Gov. Perry and a majority of the Texas Legislature have sent the very clear message that they do not support expanding Medicaid under Obamacare.” Eleven Texas Democrats in Congress are taking a new tack on urging Gov. Rick Perry to add Medicaid expansion to the
          Florida judge likely to rule against administration on ObamaCare        
Just a few days after a federal judge in Virginia found the individual mandate to be unconstitutional, Judge Roger Vinson heard similar arguments in a challenge by 20 states against the health care reform law:
          QotD: Unintended consequences        
Sometimes I think of the political blogosphere as a huge commons. An individual blogger can gain in readership or influence by attacking or ridiculing some enemy, but at the cost of making that enemy stronger in the world as a whole. I also believe that every time the words “stimulus” or “fiscal policy” are blogged […]
          Political Roundup: 10/29/09        

Spending, schmending...

The Wall Street Journal has a great op-ed out today looking at government spending, as in how high it already is, and how much more the DC crowd wants to pile on top of it.

"The White House disclosed the other day that the fiscal 2009 budget deficit clocked in at $1.4 trillion, amid the usual promises to do something about it. Yet even as budget director Peter Orszag was speaking, House Democrats were moving on a dozen spending bills for fiscal 2010 that total 12.1% in more domestic discretionary increases. "

Yep, you read that right.  12.1%  And how much of that do you think is "one time only" spending, instead of "systemic"?  (hint: none)

They point out that from 2001-2008, the GOP raised spending at about double the rate of inflation...while the current crop of Democrats are besting inflation by six to one.

Quote of the Week:

The big spending ways of Congressional Democrats brings us to this quote of the week from New York's Church Schumer on Meet the Press.

He stated that:  "Barack Obama and we Democrats-this is counterintuitive but true-are really trying to get a handle on balancing the budget and we're making real efforts to do it."

No shame.

Poll: 33% Say U.S. Is Heading In The Right Direction (67% really paying attention...)

Believe it or not, according to the latest Rasmussen poll, 33% of the people in this country actually believe we are "heading in the right direction".  Which pretty much identifies either hard core Obama supporters and/or people who don't pay taxes.  Just think of it as a Democrat voter ID project.

Twenty Questions for the "opt out"

The Heritage Foundation has put together a list of twenty questions on Harry Reid's "opt out" version of Obamacare.  Probably the most important is number 18:

"If a state opts out of the public plan, will the citizens of that state still be required to pay the requisite federal taxes that would subsidize the citizens of other states?"

(three guesses and the last two don't count)

AP confirms abortion covered by Obamacare

The Associated Press has finally confirmed what people in the pro-life movement have been saying since the first version of Obamacare rolled out of a congressional committeee - that the current legislation which stops federal funding for abortion (the Hyde amendment), doesn't apply to any of existing versions of Obamacare.  (via Lifenews)

"Currently a law called the Hyde amendment bars federal funding for abortion - except in cases of rape and incest or if the mother's life would be endangered - and applies those restrictions to Medicaid," AP writer Erica Werner reports. "Separate laws apply the restrictions to the federal employee health plan and military and other programs."

"But the Democrats' health overhaul bill would create a new stream of federal funding not covered by the restrictions," AP confirms.

(Click here and let your members of Congress know how you feel about it!)


          Political news and nuggets: 10-9-09        

from 'round the sphere...

Democracy, shlemocracy...

Newt Gingrich points
out the undemocratic way the health care reform bill is being put
together...as in by just a few senators and their staff members.

Think about it: All of the power of the United States Senate to
transform one-sixth of our economy will be in the hands of three men
and their aides. It's government by staff, aided by lobbyists, for the
benefit of bureaucrats.

No wonder so many Democrats in Congress are so dead set against having
members read - and more importantly, allowing the American people to
read - bills before they vote on them. ...

Just 5 more days for that Specter refund

The Washington Examiner
notes that October 15th is the last day you can get a refund from Arlen
Specter if you happened to give him a campaign contribution before he
jumped ship and became a Democrat.  The Club for Growth has made the
generous effort of contacting all such Specter donors by mail (over 6,000 of them) and providing them with a form they can fill out and tell Specter they want their money back.

We're sure Specter appreciates their kind assistance.

Could Obamacare be repealed?

That's the question Stephen Spruiell is asking over at National Review Online.  He
points out that many of the "reforms" being considered under various
versions of health care reform have been tried at the state level in
places such as Kentucky and Vermont...and all with disastrous
consequences.  As in driving the costs of individual insurance through
the roof and causing the majority of insurers to leave those state
markets.  He then points out that a few states that made such mistakes,
(like Kentucky and Washington), have since repealed those "reforms". 
The question becomes, if it passes at the national level, could it be
repealed?

Time for Obama to make a decision on Afghanistan

Charles Krauthammer points out that Obama's dithering over whether to accept General McChrystal's report and go with a surge of 40,000 troops in Afghanistan just underlines the cynical nature of the Democrat's mantra of condemning the war in Iraq and lauding the war in Afghanistan as the "good war".

...championing victory in Afghanistan was a contrived and disingenuous
policy in which Democrats never seriously believed, a convenient
two-by-four with which to bash George Bush over Iraq -- while still
appearing warlike enough to fend off the soft-on-defense stereotype.
    
Brilliantly
crafted and perfectly cynical, the "Iraq War bad, Afghan War good"
posture worked. Democrats first won Congress, then the White House. But
now, unfortunately, they must govern. No more games. No more pretense.
    
So
what does their commander in chief do now with the war he once declared
had to be won but had been almost criminally under-resourced by Bush? ...

Less than two months ago -- Aug. 17 in front of an audience of veterans
-- the president declared Afghanistan to be "a war of necessity." Does
anything he says remain operative beyond the fading of the audience
applause?

Right now the answer doesn't look promising.


          New Coalition Poll: Your Main Concerns About Obamacare?        

Cast your vote in our latest poll...then add your comments.

What are your main concerns about recently proposed health care reforms?

Your options:

  • The costs
  • Potential rationing of health care
  • Public funding of abortion
  • Loss of personal liberty
  • The government run "public option" in general
  • All of the above
  • Other

 Click here to cast you vote and comment.

***

TAKE ACTION: contact your members of Congress and let them know how you feel.


          Video: Kids Singing for Obamacare on CNN        

This whole using kids as props / tools for Obama (and Obamacare) is really getting out of hand...  (By the way, I'm sure CNN "fact-checked" these kids song, just like they did the SNL skit that lampooned Obama).


          Little Suzie Newsykins remembers to forget        
Happy New Year from Little Suzie Newsykins!  Find out what Little Suzie is resolving to forget this New Year.  She’d like to make sure that Benghazi story keeps feeding the right wing storyline in 2014.  She also is resolving to forget anything positive resulting from Obamacare. I’ll gladly criticize Obamacare and the Healthcare.gov rollout, but
          Small business sweating Obamacare        
The second open enrollment period which began over the weekend is the first time small businesses will be enrolling. CNBC's Kate Rogers reports the businesses will face a fine of $2,000 per worker, per year for failing to comply with the Affordable Care Act.
          Poor People Don’t Need Blue Cross Insurance, They Only Need True Cross Insurance        

As the Senate prepares to repeal ObamaCare and insure 22 million people don’t ‘run up the bill’ trying to take care of their ‘ailments’, America is in a unique position to remind poor people of the nation of one simple fact:  you don’t need Medicaid, Medicare or even Blue Cross, you only need True Cross. The science is simple:  prayer is a more powerful and affordable health insurance for poor people than any commercial insurance plans in the market place. […]

The post Poor People Don’t Need Blue Cross Insurance, They Only Need True Cross Insurance appeared first on ChristWire.


          New Report on German Choir School Abuse        
A report into a world-famous Catholic choir school in Southern Germany has found that more than 500 pupils were subject to physical or sexual abuse over a period of nearly 50 years. We hear from Alexander Probst who was a pupil at the choir school and was one of the first people to speak publicly about the abuse there. Also on the programme: Is Obamacare here to stay? or go? And the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex is no longer the fast runner it was thought to be. (Photo: Picture of the logo of the Regensburger Domspatzen boy's choir at a building of the choir's secondary school in Regensburg, southern Germany. Credit: ARMIN WEIGEL/AFP/Getty Images)
          Republican Healthcare Bill Collapses        
President Trump's latest effort to approve new healthcare legislation has collapsed after Republican senators acknowledged that the party could not muster enough votes to approve his planned reforms. Mr Trump now says that Obamacare, his predecessor's healthcare system, should be allowed to fail before a replacement has been agreed. So what is the way ahead for efforts to repeal Obamacare? We hear from a Republican strategist. Also in the programme: Amnesty International activists remanded in custody in Turkey; and the premiere of "Dunkirk" and the history behind the Hollywood blockbuster. (Image: A protester against the Republicans' healthcare bill holding a sign that reads "Don't Pass #Trumpcare" . Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty)
          Free Online Health Insurance Quotes - Medical Insurance Plans        
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          ObamaCare Repeal: Now Is the Time for Senate Republicans to Deliver        

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has indicated that he will bring an ObamaCare repeal bill to the floor early next week for a motion to proceed. For those not familiar with a motion to proceed, it's a procedural vote that allows the Senate to consider a piece of legislation on the floor.

Eventually, though, the Senate will vote on language similar to the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, which repealed much of the 2010 health insurance law and passed both chambers of Congress before being vetoed by President Barack Obama.

There are some uncertainties regarding what legislative language the motion to proceed will cover. Presumably, the motion to proceed will be based on the House-passed version of H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act, and vote on the 2015-style repeal language as an amendment. The amendment would become the base text of H.R. 1628.

FreedomWorks has issued a key vote in support of the motion to proceed, which we will triple-weight on our 2017 Congressional Scorecard, to begin the amendment process, starting with the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill as the base text.

Now, some may be wondering what the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill entails. First, it must be noted that this bill can't be considered "full repeal" because it doesn't touch Title I of ObamaCare, which includes the costly mandates that are driving up the cost of health insurance premiums on the nongroup market. The bill, however, did repeal most of the other significant parts of ObamaCare.

Here are some of the major aspects of ObamaCare that the 2015 bill repealed or altered:

  • Premium tax credit (Section 202)
  • Cost-sharing subsidies (Section 202)
  • Small business tax credit (Section 203)
  • Individual mandate (Section 204)
  • Employer mandate (Section 205)
  • Medicaid expansion (Section 207)
  • Cadillac tax (Section 209)
  • Tax on health savings accounts (Section 211)
  • Prescription drug tax
  • Medical device tax (Section 214)
  • Health insurance tax (Section 215)
  • Tanning tax (Section 219)
  • Net investment tax (Section 220)

The full section-by-section of the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill is available on the House Budget Committee website. There are a few things to note about the bill, though. The repeal of the reinsurance, risk corridor, and risk adjustment programs are no longer applicable, as these programs were transitional and expired at the beginning of 2017. Additionally, the individual and employer mandates weren't repealed, at least not in the true sense of the word. The penalties were zeroed out, though the mandates technically remained in statute.

At this point, there is a small group of moderates -- Sens. Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) -- who have gone on record saying that they would vote against a motion to proceed on a bill that repeals ObamaCare without a replacement. On December 3, 2015, Sens. Capito, Murkowski, and Portman voted to pass the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, without a replacement. Sen. Collins, to no one's surprise, was one of two Republicans to vote against the bill. (There's a reason we have a press release template ready to go for when Sen. Collins votes against conservative priorities.)

From FreedomWorks perspective, and undoubtedly the minds of conservative grassroots activists, a vote against the motion to proceed is a vote to keep ObamaCare. There are no more excuses. With a Republican president urging the Senate to pass the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill and pledging to sign it into law, we finally have the opportunity to accomplish a big victory. Don't let this moment pass.


          The CBO Reviews Trump's Budget        

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released its analysis of the President’s Budget Proposal. In collaboration with the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), the CBO reviewed the President’s proposals to see what the likely impact would be were they implemented. What it found was a major reduction in spending that would reduce the deficit and promote economic growth.

President Trump has requested total discretionary appropriations of $1.15 trillion for 2018, but excluding the proposed net reduction the total comes to $1.17 trillion. Of that amount, defense spending will receive $668 billion which is a net increase of 5 percent from last year while nondefense spending will receive $499 billion which is a net decrease of 13 percent. Overall, that is 3 percent less than last year.

Between 2018 and 2027, the White House’s budget is projected to eliminate $3.3 trillion from the federal deficit. With these cuts in place, the amount of interest payments will be reduced by $300 billion. The totals to $4.2 trillion in its entirety, but there is a projected revenue decline of $900 brillion so that will result in the original reduction which is still a significant cut.

There are some other key reforms in the budget as well. Case and point, the proposal for “lowering the premiums paid by providers for medical liability insurance” and “reducing the use of health care services prescribed by providers when faced with less pressure from potential malpractice suits” would drive down costs by about $64 billion. Another part meanwhile would increase infrastructure spending by $200 billion. In addition, the largest savings will come from repealing Obamacare, which will total $1.25 trillion off the deficit. It also reduces subsidies for student loans which would save $100 billion and possibly drive down college costs as well.

It seems this would have an overall net positive impact on the economy. The percentage of the debt held by the public would total 80 percent by 2027, which is actually a decrease of 11 percent from the CBO’s current baseline. With that in mind, GDP growth would be higher as a result of the budget cuts by 0.2 percent than current projections in 2022 and 0.7 percent higher in 2027. That is a significant increase for economic productivity, though smaller GDP growth than the White House projected.

The new budget proposal significantly cuts spending. This would help spur economic growth which will be good for the country. The CBO highlights its positive impacts so this is definitely a step in the right direction.


          Capitol Hill Update: July 17, 2017        

Schedule:

The House and Senate are in session this week.

There are nine (9) legislative days remaining for the House before the August recess and 57 legislative days remaining in the year. The Senate will work through the first two weeks of the August recess.

House:

After the passage of the nearly $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act on Friday, it'll be a relatively slower week in the House, at least on the floor of the chamber. Committees and subcommittees will be very active this week.

Today, the House will take up three pieces of legislation on the suspension calendar, two of which relate to mass transit the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. One resolution, H.J. Res. 92, allows the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia to amend Washington Area Transit Regulation Compact, which regulates transit D.C. and its suburbs. The other resolution, H.J.Res. 76, allows D.C., Maryland, and Virginia to create the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission. After all, what Metro needs is another layer of bureaucracy. (Yes, that was sarcasm.)

Three more bills will be considered on the suspension calendar on Tuesday. The Ozone Standards Implementation Act, H.R. 806, sponsored by Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas), will also be considered, though likely under a rule to limit or prevent amendments, much like virtually every other bill the House has brought the floor under "regular order" this year.

On Wednesday, the House will take up the Promoting Interagency Coordination for Review of Natural Gas Pipelines Act, H.R. 2910, introduced by Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), and the Promoting Cross-Border Energy Infrastructure Act, H.R. 2883, introduced by Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.). Both bills will likely be brought to the floor under a rule.

Finally, on Thursday, the only bill currently scheduled to hit the floor is the King Cove Road Land Exchange Act, H.R. 218, sponsored by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska). The bill will likely to come to the floor under a rule.

Though it's not currently on the calendar, the 21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, H.R. 2997, introduced by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) could come to the floor for a vote this week. The bill reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and reforms the United States' out of date air traffic control (ATC) system. FreedomWorks has released a key vote in support of the 21st AIRR Act.

Outside normal legislative business, there is increasing chatter about the FY 2018 budget. The House Majority Whip's office hosted a briefing on the budget on Friday. As of now, it's unclear what to expect from the budget.

The House Appropriations Committee will complete its work on the 12 appropriations bills this week. The Whip team will be talking to House Republicans today about lumping all 12 appropriations bill into yet another omnibus. Of course, this is because the last one went over so well with conservatives. (Yes, that's more sarcasm.)

The committee schedule for the week can be found here.

Senate:

The Senate was supposed to bring the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), H.R. 1628, to the floor this week for a procedural vote. Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has delayed legislative action because Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is set to have eye surgery, giving Leader McConnell one less vote that he will almost certainly need to advance the bill. Additionally, the Congressional Budget Office's score of the bill has been delayed by at least a day. The score was supposed to come out today.

The latest iteration of the BCRA was rolled out on Thursday. FreedomWorks explained some of the major changes to the bill. Our friends at the Texas Public Policy Foundation have a solid overview of the latest version compared to previous versions. Though there are questions that need to be answered, the bill appears to be a slight improvement over existing law.

The biggest question that needs to be answered is whether the Consumer Freedom Option will work in single risk pools, as mandated by the BCRA. The Consumer Freedom Option, which was included thanks to the efforts of Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), would work best with bifurcated risk pools, where health insurance companies could price a traditional risk pool differently, with lower premiums, than the ObamaCare exchanges, which would effectively function as a high-risk pool, with access to more than $180 billion in subsidies.

It's unclear whether there are enough Republican votes to get past the initial motion to proceed. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have gone on record as no votes. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) is facing pressure back home, as Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval opposes the bill. Similarly, Republican Gov. John Kasich, who also opposes the bill, could influence Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to vote against it.

FreedomWorks believes the bill may be a mild improvement over existing law, but there are serious concerns over how the Consumer Freedom Option will work, or if insurers will even bother to offer such plans because of the single risk pool mandate. The mindset right now is protecting what gains conservatives have made. Once the Senate gets past the motion to proceed, if it does, FreedomWorks expects to key vote against amendments that will undermine the Medicaid modernization, HSA reforms, and other positive reforms.

If a 2015-style repeal amendment is offered by a conservative senator, FreedomWorks will key vote in support of it, triple-weighted.

In addition to a backlog of nominations, the Senate still has several pieces of legislation awaiting floor action, including Coast Guard Authorization Act, S. 1129; the FDA Reauthorization Act, S. 934; the National Defense Reauthorization Act. The debt ceiling is rumored to be a top item either before the August recess or while the Senate works through the first two weeks of the recess.

In committees this week, the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on the reappointment of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday. Chairman Pai unveiled the FCC's plans to roll back Title II regulation of the Internet at a FreedomWorks' event in April. The reappointment of FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, and nomination Brendan Carr, a Republican, to serve on the commission.

The Judiciary Committee will also take up the nomination of Christopher Wray to serve as the next director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

The full committee schedule for the week can be found here.


          Consumer Freedom Option Included in Senate Health Insurance Bill, but ObamaCare Remains Law of the Land        

After a long wait, the Senate Budget Committee finally unveiled the latest iteration of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, H.R. 1628. There are a few things to like, but, on the whole, the Senate is bill still fails to live of to more than seven years of promises to repeal ObamaCare. It remains an amendment to the 2010 health insurance reform law.

The reason the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) fails to live up to Republicans’ promises to repeal ObamaCare is because many Republicans, in the House and the Senate, support the law. These Republicans believe they can “fix” ObamaCare. Some less than principled Republicans are even naïve enough to believe that they can work with Democrats, who are increasingly embracing single-payer, government-run insurance, to address the healthcare system.

The question is whether the BCRA is an improvement. That is hard to determine. On the surface, it may be a slight improvement. The latest version does include Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee’s Consumer Freedom Option in the base text. But there are some details worth diving into that make an already complicated issue even more complicated.

Ultimately, the Congressional Budget Office will provide some insight on the effects of these provision on health insurance premiums. Of course, the coverage estimates, assuming the CBO will still use the March 2016 baseline, will be largely useless. Again, though, the bill, regardless of the impact on premiums, is still a very big disappointment and risks upsetting conservatives who have been expecting Republicans to keep their word.

Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to bring the bill for a procedural vote next week. Whether he has the votes, though, is unclear at this moment. Below is a brief overview of some of the more notable changes in the latest iteration of the BCRA.

Inclusion of the Consumer Freedom Option: This is actually more of a mixed bag. The inclusion of the amendment is what organizations like FreedomWorks wanted. The Consumer Freedom Option allows health insurance companies to sell plans that aren’t compliant with most of ObamaCare’s onerous and costly mandates and requires that they sell at least one gold and silver metal-tier plan compliant with ObamaCare.

The problem is that the Consumer Freedom Option works best when risk pools are split, or bifurcated. This means keeping those consumers who choose plans that reflect the Consumer Freedom Option into one risk pool and those who have a higher utilization of care and choose plans compliant with ObamaCare into another risk pool.

Unfortunately, the BCRA mandates single risk pools, which means that the premiums for those who choose noncompliant plans will be more expensive that they otherwise would have been in a separate risk pool. “[I]t will be difficult to combine non-community-rated plans and community-rated coverage into one risk pool,” healthcare policy expert Chris Jacobs explained, “and unlikely to achieve significant premium reductions.”

The Consumer Freedom Option may now be in the BCRA, but it’s much less impactful than conservatives hoped.

Using HSAs to Pay Health Insurance Premiums: The BCRA now allows consumers to use their health savings account (HSA) to pay the premiums for high-deductible health insurance plans on the nongroup market. High-deductible plans offered by an employer aren’t eligible. Consumers who receive tax subsidies for nongroup plans can pay their premiums out of an HSA for only the amount remaining after tax subsidies. This is a positive reform for which FreedomWorks has advocated during the discussion over health insurance reform.

More Subsidy Funding: The original version of the BCRA had a total of $112 billion in subsidies to stabilize the health insurance markets ($50 billion over four years) and help cover high-risk consumers ($60 billion over eight years). The revised version of BCRA more than doubles the amount of subsidies to help cover high-risk consumers, bringing the eight-year total to $132 billion. Part of these subsidies will be used to help cover those in states that utilize the Consumer Freedom Option. The two funds combined represent $182 billion.

BCRA Keeps Some ObamaCare Taxes: In the original version of the BCRA, and consistent with the 2015 repeal bill, almost all of ObamaCare’s taxes were repealed, delayed, or zeroed out. Unfortunately, the new version of the BCRA keeps some ObamaCare taxes in place, including the Medicare tax increase and the net investment tax. This is to satisfy the demands of moderates who have gone back on their word to repeal ObamaCare. Unfortunately, after eight years of President Obama’s bad economic policies, some Republican senators, including Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), are fighting to keep anti-growth taxes in place. Making matters worse, Leader McConnell is allowing them to do so.


          FreedomWorks Foundation Offers Trump Administration Suggestions to Reduce ObamaCare Regulatory Burden        

On July 12, FreedomWorks Foundation's Regulatory Action Center (RAC) responded to a request for comment from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on how to reduce the regulatory burden of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as ObamaCare.

FreedomWorks Foundation ultimately believes ObamaCare must be repealed and replaced with policies that create more direct markets between patients and their healthcare providers. However, the RAC was able to identify three specific regulations and potential reforms that will lower the cost of both health insurance and healthcare itself. Per the formal comment:

"The ACA is a bill designed to increase the usage of third-party payments in the healthcare sector, which has the effect of increasing healthcare costs, not lessening them, because consumers do not see the true costs of their care. ACA not only expanded Medicaid and mandated insurance coverage for those not qualifying for Medicaid, subsequent regulations have raised the minimum standard of what qualifies as health insurance and thereby further reduced the already-limited presence of direct markets between patients and providers in certain areas of care. For these very basic reasons, ACA will do nothing to ultimately solve America’s healthcare problem. Emulating the problem it further institutionalized, ACA is nothing more than an extremely expensive bandage."

The comment goes on to highlight Essential Health Benefit standards, Actuarial Value standards, and Medical Loss Ratio rules as the three most damaging regulations HHS should seek to scrap or weaken to the greatest extent possible under law. HHS should implement these changes in the interim, until a more permanent legislative solution is passed. Read FreedomWorks Foundation's suggestions on reducing the regulatory burden of ObamaCare here or in the attached document below.


          Obama Dropped the Ball on Economic Freedom        

President Obama presided over one of America’s darkest, anti-capitalist, pro-federal government administrations in decades. The federal expansion of power was at levels only previously seen perhaps since the Great Society of LBJ or the New Deal programs under FDR.

Obama hindered the ability for American ingenuity to grow with his countless regulations, executive orders, higher taxes, and all around harsh and un-American treatment of the private sector. Now to some, this may seem like a step in the right direction; it’s not. America is no longer the free, capitalistic, liberty orientated land our founding fathers dreamed of and worked tirelessly to achieve.

In fact, we have been losing freedom for a long time. Every year, several studies are published that grade the economic freedom of almost every country on Earth. These studies show the same thing, American economic freedom and prosperity is not what it used to be, and it was increasingly getting worse.

The most recent Fraser Institute Index of the Economic Freedom of the World, a report put together by a consortium of think tanks, has the United States ranked 16th in the world with a score of 7.75 out of 10. The Heritage Foundation’s 2017 Index of Economic Freedom ranked the United States as the 17th which Heritage categorized as mostly free.

These rankings take into account factors that affect the free being of the country's citizens like property rights, government integrity, free trade, monetary freedoms, tax burdens, and the regulatory state.

Relatively, these rankings don’t seem too disgraceful, but only 10 years ago, the same studies ranked the United States as the 5th most economically free nation. In the year 2000, the United States was ranked 2nd, just behind Hong Kong.

But once Obama took office, in his first year, the United States fell to 9th. By the start of his second term, the United States was down to 13th, putting countries ahead of us like Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Chile, the UK, Jordan, UAE, Qatar and many others.

In these reports, the drop in ranking is attributed to the Obama administration's increase in regulation, government spending, bureaucratic cronyism, and liberal policies that increasingly enriched the wealthy while economically costing middle class, average Americans trillions of dollars.

America, the country that was once a bastion of freedom for those across the world stuck under economically oppressive and restrictive governments has now started to join those ranks, or was at least headed in that direction under Obama.

American’s have caught on though, and the 2016 election was an eye opener to the DC swamp. Republicans took control of the House, the Senate, the Presidency, Governorships, and a majority of state seats in the 2017 election season.

The great, hardworking citizens of the America realized that the ideals of freedom, capitalism, liberty, and economic prosperity were being taken away by President Obama and his bureaucrats.

Congressional Republicans now hold a majority of seats due to campaigns that ran almost unanimously on platforms dedicated to repealing the vast federal overreach of Obama’s administration, they need to keep their word and get to work.

President Trump is nearing his first half year as President after running on a campaign dedicated to stopping the federal intrusion into Americans daily lives. Trump promised jobs, economic freedom, law and order, tax reform, and ObamaCare repeal, but Congress needs to take part in the responsibility to enacting this robust agenda.

As of now, Congress has still yet to pass an ObamaCare repeal or replacement. Fundamental tax reform has been discussed, but no real action has been taken on the floor. Bill’s like Sen. Rand Paul’s REINS Act have been proposed to limit federal regulation in the future, but haven’t been passed. It is these sort of bills Congress needs to prioritize and pass to get America moving in the direction of economic freedom.

President Trump has kept his promises of repealing regulations, approved the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines, while also beginning to pull back Obama era federal land grabs to spark the energy sector once again. He has signed air traffic privatization reforms, and the Paris Climate Agreement, and cut federal agency budgets and staff.

The opportunity is there to fix Obama’s mess. Congress needs to do its part in returning America back to the great, free nation we so long held the title of, and they need to support President Trump’s robust agenda in order to move America in that direction of the world’s most economically free and prosperous nation.


          Fewer Health Insurers Are Participating in the ObamaCare Exchanges        

Continuing the theme of ObamaCare repeatedly failing to meet its goals, another report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has come out with more grim news.

The report from the CMS actually shows that the number of enrolled carriers is projected to drop significantly going into 2018. ObamaCare has actually been squashing choice and competition so this is only going to make things much worse.

The CMS asked carriers if they intended to remain in the exchanges for plan year 2018. The number dropped from 217 for PY 2017 to 142 for PY 2018, a decline of 38 percent. This is a continued trend as the number dropped from 281 for PY 2016, which is a decline of 19 percent. However, the decline for 2018 is much steeper at double the rate.

As has been noted by Secretary Tom Price, the new number is only slightly above half of the number of carriers who had initially joined. He stated in a press release, “Americans are continuing to lose what health coverage they have and are forced to choose from fewer options or pay the IRS for the right to go without. This further limits their access to the doctors and healthcare services they need.” Unsurprisingly, 12 percent of the country is still uninsured, according to Gallup.

Unsurprisingly, competition and coverage options have significantly declined under ObamaCare. At the moment, 1,000 counties, including five whole states, only have one insurer while others have no insurers at all. It was also projected in 2016 that this year nearly a third of Americans would only have one option for health insurance under ObamaCare. If more carriers drop out of the exchanges, as they are supposed to, then a lot of people are going to end up stuck in lackluster plans.

ObamaCare has consistently failed to meet its goals and is now seeing more and more insurers leaving the exchanges. The program was supposed to expand coverage and it has instead reduced competition. In the long run, the program is hurting the healthcare market and will only continue to do so. If more variety and expanded coverage is a goal, then the program needs to be removed and far better reform is necessary.


          By: Anonymous        
The US Chamber of Commerce is times past tended to run a few ads supporting Republicans of whatever flavor in the general election. They supported limited government positions like less regulation.<br /><br />In recent years, however, the Chamber has tilted heavily toward crony capitalism and corporate welfare, and become just another special interest group clamoring for pork. They say they are okay with Obamacare, and support our floated federal budgets, more debt, and deficit spending. One of their biggest goals is amnesty for illegal aliens so that they can get cheap foreign labor to drive down wages for American citizens.<br /><br />In short, the Chamber has abandoned small government conservatism and has become just another parasite on the back of the taxpayer. They show that by a change in their political stance. The Chamber is now on an open mission against conservatives in GOP primaries. They played in several primaries in NC and others around the country.<br /><br />Many of us in NC are sick and tired of the Chamber meddling in our primaries supporting Big Government Republicans. The Chamber's flavor of ''Republicans'' is not what we need in either Washington or Raleigh because they support Obama Republicans.
          The Republican Party Gets Slapped With Fraud Lawsuit Over Obamacare Repeal        
A GOP donor is suing the party for fraud after promising to rid the nation of Obamacare for over seven years, but failing in spectacular fashion.
          Trump attacks Senate leader for second straight day on health policy failure        
BEDMINSTER, N.J. (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump attacked his own party's Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, for a second day on Thursday, complaining from the steps of his private New Jersey golf club about Republicans' failure to repeal and replace Obamacare.

          House of Representatives Passes Bill to Repeal and Replace Obamacare        
The House of Representatives voted on Thursday in favor of the American Health Care Act, which would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which is commonly known as Obamacare. Congressional Republicans took a step forward in their years-long quest to repeal the Obamacare, the 2010 law that reshaped the country's individual health insurance market. Continue reading…
          Trump renews attacks against McConnell over healthcare debacle        
The Trump administration, thwarted in several attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, notably shifted tone Wednesday, opening the door for a bipartisan plan to "fix" the law."Both folks in the House and the Senate, on both sides of the aisle frankly, have said that Obamacare doesn't work, and...
          Trump renews attacks against McConnell over healthcare debacle        
The Trump administration, thwarted in several attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, notably shifted tone Wednesday, opening the door for a bipartisan plan to "fix" the law."Both folks in the House and the Senate, on both sides of the aisle frankly, have said that Obamacare doesn't work, and...
          Health Care Update        
As of Tuesday morning, it looks as if the Republicans in the Senate--like those in the House--will have to delay their initial scheduled vote on their health care measure.  The situation is exactly parallel to the House, insofar as both conservatives and moderates have refused to go along with the bill as written.  Once again, the mainstream media is jubilantly suggesting that the plan is bound to fail.  I  am sure however that the recess will become the occasion for an all0oyut pressure campaign against all the Republican Senators in an effort to reduce opposition to 2 and allow the Vice President to break the tie. There will be more cosmetic changes in the bill, as in the House, but I still think something like it will pass.  If it doesn't, we will have years of chaos as the Administration tries to destroy Obamacare from within.
          Whom is health insurance for?        
I was not planning to make another post this weekend, but my New York Times this morning includes an op-ed by a physician and medical school professor named Marc K. Siegel.  [Don't miss the post on Trump and Andrew Jackson, below.]  Dr. Siegel ran into an ambush when his thoughts reached my eyes, because he said something in simple, clear language, which had already occurred to me as the dirty secret of the Republican health care bill in general and the issue of "pre-existing conditions."  This is what he said.

"In addition to limiting the menu of essential benefits, the House bill would let states create high-risk pools for patients with pre-existing conditions who had let their insurance coverage lapse, and who could then be charged premiums more in keeping with their health care needs. This is the only way to make insurance affordable for most consumers; pre-existing conditions will continue to drive up premiums if everyone is compelled to pay the same price."

Now my idea of health insurance is that we all pay into it because we will all become sick from time to time, and we may become very seriously ill.  Many of us will never need extremely expensive treatments, but many will, and we can't tell who they will be. Thus our investment is very bit as reasonable as our investment in fire insurance.  But Dr. Siegel has a very different view.

What, in fewer syllabus, as a "patient with a pre-existing condition?"  Answer: a sick patient, one who needs treatment right now, and may need it for a long time. Alternatively, it may be someone whose medical history substantially increases the likelihood that they will get sick and need treatment in the future.   And I had realized as I read a news story about the House bill last week that this was the key to debate.  The insurance industry, bless their hearts, loves insuring healthy people but hates insuring sick people.  Like just about every other corporation in America they are focused on their bottom line, which healthy people improve and sick people make worse.  Somewhere in the course of his medical career Dr. Siegel seems to have forgotten the point of health insurance: to pay for treatment when people need it.  He doesn't think that healthy people's premiums ought to be high enough to pay for treatment for people who are actually sick. [Incidentally, Dr. Siegel, if this post comes to your attention and you want to reply to it here, you can have all the space you want.)

I have heard other stories over the years about the insurance industry's point of view.  A dear friend of mine who co-owned a thriving small business got cancer many years ago, and needed an expensive procedure.   The procedure was an unqualified success in the short and medium run, and he survived for 8 years of happy and productive life as a result.  But no sooner had he initially gotten well, than the insurance company that provided a group plan for his business (of a couple of dozen employees) hit the company with a tremendous increase in its premium.  Now that he had turned out actually to need the insurance, they wanted him and the company, in effect, to pay the claim.  Fortunately he was able to get insurance through his spouse instead, which solved the company's problem.  

Now, of course, if people waited, as many do, to seek  insurance until they are already sick, that's a problem about which insurers have the right to complain.  One solution is a mandate requiring them to buy it, which Obamacare includes but the new Republican bill does not.  A second solution which the Obama administration did not try to adopt is the Medicare solution in which payroll taxes (or conceivably other taxes) fund the health care system.  But the idea of "high risk pools," even if they work--which they generally have failed to do--is in my opinion a travesty that ignores the whole point of health insurance, by separating those who really need it from the rest of us.

It is quite possible that the Obamacare premium increases over the last couple of years reflected the need to include sick people, as well as the end of some payments to make such coverage more affordable that apparently ended after 2014.  And it is certain that health insurance is too expensive because of problems inherent in American medicine that Dr. Siegel also mentions, such as the cost of new devices.  (He does not mention overdiagnosis and overtreatment, or the enormous amounts spent on end-of-life care.)  Attacking those problems should have come next on our list.  But the fantasy that we can solve the health insurance problem by taking sick people out of the normal health care system needs to be abandoned.  It is unworthy of a civilized society.
          When ‘Single Payer’ Won’t Pay        
Medicaid used to be the program providing health care and medical services to the poor. Before Obamacare, Medicaid covered primarily poor retirees, children in poor families, and the disabled living in poverty — the “truly needy.”
          In The Tank (ep98) – “Net Neutrality” is BAD, and Repeal and Replace of Obamacare Flounders        
With John Nothdurft MIA, Heartland's Justin Haskins joins Donny Kendal to present episode #98 of the In The Tank Podcast. Today’s podcast features work from the Hudson Institute, the Cato Institute, and the Pacific Research Institute.
          Heartland on Television: Dr. Jane Orient on Newsmax TV        
On July 19, Heartland Institute Policy Advisor Dr. Jane Orient joined Newsmax TV headquartered in New York to discuss the latest Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.
          The Fault Lies Not In The Speaker's Plan -- It's Due In Part To The House's Rugged Math        
Speaker Ryan's inability to get Obamacare repeal through the House shows the challenge in managing an ideologically-diverse Republican caucus. Why did Nancy Pelosi succeed, in getting Obamacare passed, whereas Ryan failed? Credit a larger majority caucus in 2010, with more room for party defectors.
          Trump resumes taunts of Senate GOP leader over health care        
WASHINGTON (AP) " President Donald Trump resumed his taunts of the Senate's top Republican on Thursday, expressing disbelief that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell couldn't persuade a GOP majority to pass a health care bill."Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn't get it done. Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!" Trump tweeted Thursday.Hours later, Trump used Twitter to target McConnell again, even as much of Washington was more [...]
          Trump renews attacks against McConnell over healthcare debacle        
The Trump administration, thwarted in several attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, notably shifted tone Wednesday, opening the door for a bipartisan plan to "fix" the law."Both folks in the House and the Senate, on both sides of the aisle frankly, have said that Obamacare doesn't work, and...
          NIHCM Health Care Digital Media Award: the Finalists        
Thanks to NIHCM for including “Obamacare’s Victims” parts 1 and 2 on the list (see below for a brief description of this two-part post) , and congratulations to all of the finalists. The award recognizes excellence in digital media that … Continue reading
          Will the Supreme Court Scuttle Obamacare Subsidies? (No. What Can’t Happen, Won’t. )        
Not long ago, I ran across a photo of the Supreme Court captioned: “Maybe this will turn out to be . . .  Obamacare’s death panel?”   The caption refers to the widespread belief that when the Supreme Court rules on … Continue reading
          The Individual Mandate: Has the Obama Administration Silently Repealed the Rule that Virtually Everyone Must Have Health Insurance?        
Obamacare’s critics continue to argue that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will self-destruct.  Now, some claim that the mandate that uninsured Americans must purchase coverage– or pay a stiff fine— is so riddled with new “loopholes and exemptions,” that it no longer … Continue reading
          Obamacare Fines: How to Escape a Hefty Penalty If You Really Can’t Buy Insurance        
Already, the fear-mongers are sounding the alarm: If you don’t purchase exactly the type of health insurance that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires, come tax-time the IRS will slap you with a stiff penalty. As I explain in the post … Continue reading
          It’s not too late to sign up for Obamacare- But if you wait much longer you could face a fine        
 Note to HealthBeat readers: I have recently begun writing posts about healthcare and healthcare reform for Consumer Reports. Below, an excerpt from my latest post. M.M It’s still not too late to sign up for insurance in your state’s marketplace. … Continue reading
          Democratic groups target vulnerable Republican House members over 'age-tax' Trumpcare vote        

Democrats intend to make House Republicans pay for passing a Zombie Trumpcare bill that would have taken insurance away from 23 million people in the next decade, destabilizing insurance markets and making healthcare costs unaffordable for all but the youngest and healthiest individuals. That part, in particular, two Democratic groups are highlighting, the 800 percent increase in costs people over age 50 would incur. The House Majority PAC and Priorities USA, two outside groups working to elect House Democrats, have a new ad campaign directed at older voters targeting 10 Republicans in vulnerable seats.

The message of the ads, first shared with TPM, is clearly aimed at older voters whose premiums could have spiked dramatically if congressional Republicans’ plans had become law. The House GOP plan would have loosened the current law’s limit on insurance companies only being able to charge older people three times what they charge younger people to a limit of five times as much.

House Majority PAC Executive Director Charlie Kelly said House Republicans “decided to throw their constituents under the bus by voting for a disastrous healthcare bill that imposes a devastating ‘Age Tax’ on older Americans,” while said Priorities USA Executive Director Patrick McHugh called it “simply unforgivable” that they backed a plan that does so while “cutting taxes for millionaires.”

Their target list is a mix of Republicans in Democratic-leaning districts, like Reps. David Valadao (R-CA) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), congressmen from older, heavily blue-collar areas like Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), and some where both factors are at play, like Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ), who represents one of the more senior-heavy areas in the country and one of the most Democratic-friendly. One fifth of her district's constituents are over the age of 65, and Trump lost the district by 5 percentage points.

Everyone knows, older voters are the ones who show up reliable every two years. It's not just Democrats who want these voters to know what Republicans have been trying to do to their health care and their pocketbooks. The juggernaut advocacy group, AARP, has tracked the votes of both the House and the Senate, and promised to educate and inform their members—all 38 million of them—about how their representatives voted.

Let's join in. Every dollar you contribute to a Democratic Nominee Fund on this page will be transferred to the Democratic nominee when they win their primary next year.


          Your Obamacare insurance premiums went up? Thank Trump and the Republicans        

All those threats of Obamacare sabotage from popular vote loser Donald Trump have actually been sabotage in and of themself, a new study shows, and the only people being punished by that are the people on Obamacare. The administration's actions have trigged double-digit premium increases in Affordable Care Act policies, the study concludes.

The analysis released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that mixed signals from President Donald Trump have created uncertainty "far outside the norm," leading insurers to seek higher premium increases for 2018 than would otherwise have been the case. […]

Researchers from the Kaiser foundation looked at proposed premiums for a benchmark silver plan across major metropolitan areas in 20 states and Washington, D.C. Overall, they found that 15 of those cities will see increases of 10 percent or more next year.

The highest: a 49 percent jump in Wilmington, Delaware. The only decline: a 5 percent reduction in Providence, Rhode Island.

About 10 million people who buy policies through HealthCare.gov and state-run markets are potentially affected, as well as another 5 million to 7 million who purchase individual policies on their own.

Most of the people who buy their policies through the ACA exchanges will be insulated from those premium hikes because of the federal subsidies provided to them under the law. It's those 5-7 million who have their own individual policies who are going to be hit the hardest. There will also be less choice for individual market shoppers—there will be an average of 4.6 insurers participating in the states studied in 2018, as opposed to 5.7 insurers this year.


          Trump's Twitter war on McConnell continues        

He just can’t seem to let this one go, the fact that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thinks popular vote loser Donald Trump “had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.” Or maybe it was the part where he said he’s not a fan of the tweeting, and that he thinks it “would be helpful if the President would be a little more on message.”

One huffy tweet wasn’t enough to get the diss out of his system, and apparently Trump woke up still stewing. Because here we go again.

x

But hey, it’s not like he’s got an international crisis to be dealing with, or anything. However, his ongoing feud does raise one interesting question.

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Thursday, Aug 10, 2017 · 4:56:55 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

He’s still at it, but now he’s giving a pep talk. The “get back to work” part is particularly good. I wonder if he fired this one off from between holes at the golf course.

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          Mitch McConnell doesn't appreciate his party's president interfering in government        

Just another day in the Republican civil war. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who's been notoriously tight-lipped about everything these days, has some words for popular vote loser Donald Trump. Some patronizing words.

"Our new president, of course, has not been in this line of work before," said McConnell according to CNN affiliate WCPO which covered the event. "I think he had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process."

McConnell made the case that the Congress is working as it should and that voters should allow the process to play itself out before passing judgment.

"Part of the reason I think people think we're under-performing is because of too many artificial deadlines unrelated to the reality of the legislature which may have not been understood." […]

"I've been and I will be again today, not a fan of tweeting and I've said that to him privately," McConnell said. "I think it would be helpful if the President would be a little more on message."

Coming from Mr. Repeal-Obamacare-root-and-branch, that bit about excessive expectations versus reality is rich. That said, it's pretty mild criticism, as far as it goes. But it got one prominent Trump backer absolutely enraged.

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So that’s fun. 

Trump himself is distracted today by continuing his loud talk and small stick swinging over North Korea, and hasn't yet responded to McConnell. With Hannity all over it, it's not going to be too long until it makes Fox & Friends, and then all bets are off.

Wednesday, Aug 9, 2017 · 3:34:44 PM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

And Trump’s social media director/attack dog steps in.

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          Health Care Navigators @ the Library        
affordable care act

Open enrollment on the Insurance Marketplace ends March 31, 2014. This is also the date by which individuals must be enrolled to avoid the penalty.

For those who still do not have health insurance or have questions about the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), the Tulsa City-County Library and area organizations are available to help.

From now until the end of March, individuals and businesses can get answers to question and find help enrolling in the Marketplace and choosing health coverage from trained Health Care Navigators. Plan to attend one of these upcoming events:

  • Friday, February 14
    1-3 p.m. -- Nathan Hale Library, 6038 E. 23rd St., Tulsa
  • Tuesday, February 18
    10 a.m.-Noon -- Rudisill Regional Library, 1520 N. Hartford Ave., Tulsa
  • Wednesday, February 19
    3:30-5:30 p.m --
    Maxwell Park Library, 1313 N. Canton, Tulsa
    7-8 p.m. -- Kendall-Whittier Library, 21 S. Lewis, Tulsa
  • Friday, February 21
    10 a.m.-Noon --
    Peggy Helmerich Library, 5131 E. 91st St., Tulsa
    3-5 p.m. -- Bixby Library, 20 E. Breckenridge, Bixby

     

 


          Obamacare and the 3.8% Surtax Here to Stay…for Now        

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. In addition to health care exchanges and a personal mandate to have health insurance, one of the most visible features of Obamacare is the 3.8% surtax on net investment income for wealthier taxpayers. This health care legislation […]

The post Obamacare and the 3.8% Surtax Here to Stay…for Now appeared first on American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.


          3.8% Surtax Here to Stay…for Now        

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. In addition to health care exchanges and a personal mandate to have health insurance, one of the most visible features of Obamacare is the 3.8% surtax on net investment income for wealthier taxpayers. This health care legislation […]

The post 3.8% Surtax Here to Stay…for Now appeared first on American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.


          CHD Expert Assesses the 2014 US Healthcare Foodservice Industry Market Landscape        

Due to Obamacare the healthcare industry in 2014 is changing dramatically, and CHD Expert evaluates the status of the foodservice industry within our nations hospitals and healthcare facilities.

(PRWeb January 29, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/HealthCare_Foodservice/Market_Landscape/prweb11532861.htm


          Francisco D’Anconia published in Ecuador        
When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion–when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing–when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors–when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you–when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice–you may know that your society is doomed.

The above quote was published in Ecuador to protest the imprisonment of newspaper publishers and editor for an op-ed critical of the Equadorian president. Freedom of speech and economic statism can not co-exist. In Ecuador, statism is expanding.

What will we tolerate in the U.S.?

If you think it is far fetched, remember Sebelius' threats and Waxman's subpoena to companies who revealed inconvenient truths about the effects of ObamaCare.

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          Gene Lyons: What's really at stake in Obamacare ruling        
"There was a society of men among us, bred up from their youth in the art of proving, by words multiplied for the purpose, that white is black, and black is white, according as they are paid.
          #Resist complacency        
On Monday, Sens. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran went on record as the third and fourth votes against the Senate’s latest version of Obamacare, denying Republicans the 50 votes they needed to proceed and effectively killing the bill. By Tuesday morning, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he would introduce the repeal bill passed by the […]
          Don’t be fooled by reports that say Republicans’ health care act is on life support        
In 2010, the Tea Party used congressional recesses to hammer members of Congress on the evils of “Obamacare.” Though it eventually passed, energized activists carried Republicans to sweeping victories in the midterm elections, and have kept repeal (and replace?) at the forefront of conservative politics ever since. Having ridden the same wave to become majority […]
          The ACA has never been more popular        
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed with no Republican votes. It’s a favorite talking point of the right, or was until Tuesday. Obamacare is now bipartisan, thanks to 20 Republicans who voted against the American Health Care Act (AHCA) that squeaked through the House of Representatives by 217-213. Did those 20 Republicans, who ran on […]
          Venezuela's Chaos Is the Logical End of Democrats' Vision for America        

Venezuela's Chaos Is the Logical End of Democrats' Vision for America


President Nicolas Maduro has no tolerance for dissent. For months, he’s used brute force to silence his critics, and most recently, families of opposition leaders have alleged that Maduro’s political rivals have been seized and shipped off to an unknown location. However, long before the current political turmoil, a number of economic crises created the civil unrest Venezuela now faces.
Venezuela wasn’t always this chaotic, and although absolutely none of the politicians in Washington, D.C. deserve to be put in the same camp as a tyrant like Maduro, it’s worth remembering that the very same political philosophies serving as the foundation of the Democratic Party are the philosophies that have utterly destroyed Venezuela: price fixing, centralized economic controls, a nationalized economy, and an emphasis on expanding the role of government in nearly every aspect of life.

The promises of charismatic Venezuelan leaders of both today and the past vary little from the promises now offered by Democrats. They, too, demanded the “rich” pay “their fair share,” that the government provide health care for all, that through various economic controls and manipulations, the economy could work for everyone. The result? Economic calamity.
And yet, the example Venezuela has set, as well as countless similar examples throughout history, has not deterred Democrats in Congress from doubling down on socialistic policies. At the end of July, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rolled out portions of the Democrats’ “Better Deal” plan, in which the Democrats promise to stop big businesses from merging, control drug prices through the power of the federal bureaucracy, and manipulate the economy by picking winners and losers using tax credits.


Many Democrats are now also calling for the creation of a public health insurance option -- which would almost certainly run traditional health insurance companies out of business -- and to raise taxes on virtually everyone, but especially the wealthy. In recent months and years, Democrats have arbitrarily raised the minimum wage dramatically in numerous cities and states, placed massive taxes on “sin” products like sugar, and provided billions of dollars in government handouts to renewable-energy companies.


These policies have failed over and over again, both in the United States and throughout the world, but because the basic concept behind them -- that the government is here to help -- seems compassionate and caring, millions of voters continue to buy what Democrats are selling.
When asked about the numerous failures of socialism and liberal policies, Democrats always respond, in one form or another, in the same way: It’s never the philosophy that’s the problem, only the way in which the philosophy has been translated into policy.

Most recently, we’ve seen this with Democrats’ attempt to improve the U.S. health care system. Obama promised Americans their insurance prices would improve, that they would have more high-quality health insurance options, and that people would finally be protected from evil health insurance companies. After about seven years of ObamaCare, prices have skyrocketed, millions of people have been forced into joining the low-quality Medicaid system, and millions more have lost insurance policies and/or doctors they wanted to keep.

Even the number of health insurance options have been greatly reduced. In June, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services updated its county-level projections for ObamaCare exchanges in 2018 and found more than 40 percent of all counties are expected to have only one ObamaCare health insurance provider available on their health insurance exchange, leaving 2.4 million people in the unfavorable position of having to choose between buying an incredibly expensive health insurance plan they don’t want and likely can’t use without paying a huge deductible, or paying a government fine for not having a “qualifying” health insurance plan.

As always, Democrats say the way to solve these problems is to “tweak” and “fix” ObamaCare, not to reject the flawed ideology behind it, which is the same ideology that has pushed Venezuela into chaos.

Some might suggest Democrats might share a basic principle with the extremists of Venezuela, an emphasis on using the government to “help” people, but no more. While it’s true the degree to which the Venezuelans have engaged in price controls and economic manipulations is more extreme than the Democrats’ platform, this does not serve as evidence of a different political philosophy, but rather a difference in circumstances and consistency.

Even if Democrats wanted to transition the economy to a full-blown socialized system, the American people wouldn’t let them. After ObamaCare was passed in 2010, pro-liberty Americans voted Democrats out of power in the House of Representatives, the Senate, and eventually dozens of state houses across the country. If Democrats had absolute power for a significant period, it’s likely they would adopt much more socialistic economic policies than what we have today.

Democrats are also wildly ideologically inconsistent. In one instance, Democrats support strict government controls, while in another, they opt for a more moderate approach. Consider guns and alcohol. Not a single high-profile Democrat in Congress supports banning the consumption of alcohol, but the vast majority of Democrats do support restricting or even banning legal gun ownership, despite the fact alcohol is far more deadly than legal gun ownership, especially once you take suicide out of the picture.

Philosophically, the same arguments Democrats use when opposing gun rights could be used to ban alcohol, but because the political will to create another national prohibition doesn’t exist, Democrats oppose such a policy.

No, Americans today are in no danger of being dragged from their homes in the middle of the night by Democrats, and I suspect they won’t be at any time in the near future. But that’s not because the Democrats’ political philosophy, especially for the left wing of the party, is different than that of the Maduro regime. Maduro is just far more consistent about how he applies his philosophy to policy. Philosophically consistent Democrats, if given enough power for a long enough period, would likely destroy the U.S. economy in much the same way the socialists of Venezuela have.



          6.5 million pay fine to avoid Obamacare...        
https://ballotpedia.org/Scott_Rasmussen's_Number_of_the_Day
NOTD 8-09-17.png
By Scott Rasmussen
August 9, 2017: The individual healthcare mandate requires every American to buy health insurance or pay a fine. In 2016, 6.5 million Americans chose to pay the fine rather than sign up for insurance on the Obamacare exchanges.[1]
The mandate has always been the most unpopular part of President Obama’s healthcare law, officially known as the Affordable Care Act. In addition to those who pay the fine rather than buy the mandated levels of insurance, 15 million people would drop their Obamacare coverage if it were legal to do so.
This does not necessarily mean that these individuals want to go without insurance. Obamacare requires every insurance policy to cover a set of what it defines as Essential Health Benefits.[2] The more benefits that a plan covers, the more expensive it is. Some people might prefer to buy less comprehensive insurance at a lower cost. For example, one option might be to buy insurance only for major healthcare costs such as surgeries or hospitalizations.
Since most Americans receive health insurance from their employer, the rising cost of healthcare is a key factor holding down wage growth. If the cost of benefits were the same today as a generation ago, the average pay for full-time workers would be more than $3,300 higher annually. Some people might prefer a bigger paycheck and less comprehensive coverage.
Healthcare policy analyst Bob Laszewski believes the ongoing unpopularity of Obamacare insurance coverage raises questions about “stability in the individual-health-insurance market.” He notes that “only about 40 percent of those eligible for subsidies have signed up for coverage. In what other business or government program would such a dismal acceptance by those it was targeted to serve be considered a success?”[1]
Laszewski was named the Washington Post's Wonkblog "Pundit of the Year" for 2013 for his coverage of the Obamacare rollout.[3] Laszewski does acknowledge that “things may well be looking more stable if insurance-company profits are the only measure.” Hospital revenue has increased significantly since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Additionally, there has been a growing consolidation of the healthcare industry through mergers and acquisitions.

          Considering the Not-So-New Normal for Unemployment        

In case you missed it with a burger belly and hangover from a long day of patriotic festivities, the June (un)employment report was released last Friday morning with little fanfare. The lack of inspired commentary isn't surprising -- the new unemployment numbers are largely unchanged, reflecting yet another month of just enough economic activity to keep the country humming above negative growth levels but not enough to be considered a robust recovery. But the fact that we keep getting similar, limp labor market reports is interesting in and of itself.

First, let's consider the headline numbers: official unemployment (U3) was unchanged at 7.6% from May to June. However, the more accurate measure of unemployment (U6) that includes workers who have recently been dropped from the labor force actually increased dramatically from 13.8% to 14.3%. In relative terms, that is a movement not seen in many, many months. As the below figure shows, the last few employment reports were more mild for U6:



This increase is an indication that the jobs created and filled over the past few months are not the type of full time jobs that are going to get the unemployed back on their feet. Some headlines pointed to the 195,000 jobs added as a sign of "steady" growth, but there can be no real growth as long as the U6 unemployment number remains high. More revealing than the number of nominal jobs added in June is the fact that the number of discouraged workers in June was 1 million workers -- up 20% from last year in June.

Ideally, we want the U3 unemployment number to rise in the short-term because workers are re-entering the labor market and increasing the labor force portion of the unemployment ratio. Then as the number of unemployed is reduced relative to a larger labor force we want to see the U3 number come back down again. But a persistently high U6 number while U3 remains in the mid 7% range means a new normal of high unemployment and even higher underemployment is assimilating into our culture.

Second, sharper reflections of where the labor market is trending remained unexciting speaking to the depth of how bad job prospects are for the unemployed. Both the labor force participation rate and the employment population ratio (which we discussed last month) technically improved by a tenth of a percentage point in June compared to May. But don't get too excited -- as the next figure shows both measures are still terribly low. Bureau of Labor Statistics data has a pretty high margin of error and a 0.1 percentage point shift is statistically insignificant. In practical terms the numbers remain the same as the last few months.

For those that do see a glimmer of light in the 0.1 percentage point increase in labor market participation, consider that if we continued at that monthly pace it would take 4 years for the employment-population ratio to get back to its pre-recession level and over 2 years for the labor force participation rate to bounce all the way back.

Finally, the persistent bland reports suggest that the jobs being added aren't very desirable jobs. The most significant part of the June report was the continued upward trend in part-time jobs being added instead of full-time work. Since March of this year the number of people working part time "for economic reasons" -- meaning people who have to take a part-time jobs to pay the bills -- has increased from 7.6 million to 8.2 million.

There is a disparate range of reasons for this, some cyclical, but others structural. Some companies feel uncertain about the future for tax or regulatory reasons and are less likely to add full-time jobs. This can change with time. However, some employers are only hiring part-time workers to avoid coming Obamacare requirements and fees. Still others have figured out how to be more productive with less labor as a result of the economic downturn and just don't need the same amount of workers. These are more structural. The first because Obamacare isn't going away any time soon. The second because the labor market is largely educated for yesterday's labor needs and human capital is in serious need of learning to adapt to future labor demands.

This is not to suggest we can't be optimistic about the future. Part of the challenge of analyzing the unemployment rate is that the numbers reflect an inconsistent labor market. Some sectors are like fireworks shining bright in the sky, like health care, computer systems design, and information technology. Others just can't get fully launched off the ground, like hospitality (which has seen rising unemployment numbers over the past year), manufacturing (which has improving unemployment numbers but a shrinking role in the U.S. economy), and construction (which also has been improving but still has one of the highest unemployment rates of any industry).

If growth continues in sectors like health care and IT there may very well be a positive turn for unemployment. But if hopes for manufacturing jobs to coming roaring back continue to hold the labor market to the ground, and human capital doesn't adapt to the future, then our present new normal for unemployment may no longer appear so "new" anymore

 

 

 


          Morning Briefing        

'Repeal and replace' morphing into 'repair' -- NY TImes: Republicans in Congress bypass Trump to shore up health care


          Obamacare’s violation of the Origination Clause should not go unredressed        

Today, we filed the final paperwork asking the Supreme Court to take our lawsuit on behalf of Matt Sissel, which argues that the Individual Mandate “tax” is unconstitutional because it originated in the Senate, instead of the House of Representatives, … Continue reading

The post Obamacare’s violation of the Origination Clause should not go unredressed appeared first on PLF Liberty Blog.


          Senators, Congressmen, States and others urge Supreme Court to take PLF Obamacare lawsuit        

During the Thanksgiving holiday, several prominent members of Congress, ten state governments, as well as several national civil rights groups filed amicus curiae briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court urging the justices to hear our lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of … Continue reading

The post Senators, Congressmen, States and others urge Supreme Court to take PLF Obamacare lawsuit appeared first on PLF Liberty Blog.


          Matt Sissel explains “why I’m taking a stand against Obamacare”        

PLF client Matt Sissel explains in today’s Washington Times why he’s continuing to challenge the constitutionality of Obamacare. Excerpt: I’m simply an average man taking a stand. I’m a self-employed artist and small-business owner, living in Washington state. I have no political involvement … Continue reading

The post Matt Sissel explains “why I’m taking a stand against Obamacare” appeared first on PLF Liberty Blog.


          Myths about Obamacare litigation: Why the ACA is not “here to stay”        

As Timothy Sandefur announced this week on Liberty Blog, PLF has filed a long-anticipated petition for certiorari on behalf of Matt Sissel asking the Supreme Court to decide his Origination Clause challenge to Obamacare. Tim’s blog post is the most … Continue reading

The post Myths about Obamacare litigation: Why the ACA is not “here to stay” appeared first on PLF Liberty Blog.


          PLF asks Supreme Court to review Origination Clause challenge to Obamacare        

This morning, we filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of PLF client Matt Sissel asking the justices to review our challenge to the constitutionality of Obamacare. We argue that if, as the Court said three years … Continue reading

The post PLF asks Supreme Court to review Origination Clause challenge to Obamacare appeared first on PLF Liberty Blog.


          Obamacare: The Origination Clause issue isn’t a conservative-liberal thing        

Obamacare remains a partisan issue. Although most Americans have never supported it, and still don’t, supporters and opponents line up along predictable conservative/liberal lines. But the constitutional issues involved in Obamacare, not so much. Liberals have as much at stake … Continue reading

The post Obamacare: The Origination Clause issue isn’t a conservative-liberal thing appeared first on PLF Liberty Blog.


          Obamacare and the Origination Clause: What’s a bill “for”?        

Four D.C. Circuit Court Judges, led by Judge Brett Kavanaugh, dissented from their colleagues’ decision not to reconsider their ruling against our Origination Clause challenge to Obamacare. Here’s a quick summation. The Origination Clause says, “All Bills for raising Revenue … Continue reading

The post Obamacare and the Origination Clause: What’s a bill “for”? appeared first on PLF Liberty Blog.


          Obamacare: PLF’s next stop is the Supreme Court        

In a lengthy opinion today, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied our request for rehearing of our Origination Clause challenge to Obamacare. On behalf of our client, Matt Sissel, we argue that if the Individual Mandate is a tax, … Continue reading

The post Obamacare: PLF’s next stop is the Supreme Court appeared first on PLF Liberty Blog.


          PLF’s Timothy Sandefur on today’s Obamacare ruling: Of course it’s not over        

I talked this afternoon with Fox’s Tom Sullivan about today’s ruling in the King v. Burwell case, and explained why this is far from the end of Obamacare’s legal troubles. You can listen here. … Continue reading

The post PLF’s Timothy Sandefur on today’s Obamacare ruling: Of course it’s not over appeared first on PLF Liberty Blog.


          Supreme Court rules for government in Obamacare exchanges case        

This morning the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of the Obama Administration in the latest Obamacare lawsuit, King v. Burwell. PLF was not involved in the case. The question was whether the long, intricate, poorly-written statute allows the federal … Continue reading

The post Supreme Court rules for government in Obamacare exchanges case appeared first on PLF Liberty Blog.


          Â¿Es Donald Trump un nuevo Hitler?        
Es una pregunta que cada vez más gente se hace, pero para empezar comencemos con lo primero.



¿Podrá terminar Trump su primer periodo cómo presidente de los EEUU?

Pues tal como se ven las cosas está de dudarse. Su arribo a la Casa Blanca no fue bienvenido por muchos; pero ya una vez instalado en la oficina oval se ha encargado de encontrar nuevos enemigos, aparte de los que ya traía arrastrando desde que inició su campaña electoral, emitiendo decretos a diestra y siniestra que afectan directamente a intereses muy poderosos.

Hacer un resumen de todas sus acciones de gobierno controvertidas sería un poco largo, así que sólo mencionarélas más importantes.

La primera fue sacar a los EEUU del Acuerdo Transpacífico de Cooperación Económica, TPP, situación que afectó gravemente a las corporaciones industriales y de comercio globales.

La segunda fue decretar la renegociación del tratado de libre comercio de América del norte, TLCAN, acción quéafecta directamente a importantes conglomerados industriales estadounidenses, amén de a la economía mexicana.

La tercera es colocar al ultra derechista, racista y supremacista blanco, Steven Bannon, cómo estratega en jefe de la geopolítica estadounidense; así es, lo ha puesto al frente del consejo de seguridad nacional. Éste sujeto es el gurú de Trump y su mano derecha. Es la mente "maestra" detrás del programa de gobierno de Trump, pero es un tipo bastante peligroso por su extremismo.

Cuando Trump fue a visitar la sede de la CIA inmediatamente después de ser investido cómo presidente, fue a advertirles que Bannon sería su jefe, pues el consejo de seguridad nacional es el órgano ejecutivo que está por encima de todos ellos, inclusive sobre el pentágono. Así que en realidad fue a enfrentarlos por su agresividad mostrada hacia su persona, aunque la nota de prensa dijera que sólo fue una reunión amistosa.

Recuerdo que cuando la polémica llamada telefónica de Trump a Peña Nieto, estaban ahí presentes, "asesorando" al presidente yankee, precisamente este sujeto, Steven Bannon, y el yerno de Trump, el judío Jared Kushner.

La cuarta es acusar a China de practicar un comercio desleal con los EEUU a través de mantener artificialmente depreciado el Yuan con respecto al Dólar, situación que lo ha llevado a considerar seriamente la devaluación de la moneda estadounidense por considerar que, "su valor elevado es un obstáculo que está llevando a la ruina a los EEUU", según sus propias palabras.

También el estratega en jefe de Trump, Steven Bannon, habría declarado que en 5 o 10 años los EEUU entrarían en guerra militar contra China e Irán; guerra cuyo objetivo sería mantener la supremacía del imperio yankee en el mundo.

Dentro de los EEUU estaría llevando a cabo reformas fundamentales como derogar el obamacare, así como el 70% de los demás decretos de su predecesor, incluyendo el acuerdo nuclear con Irán. También estaría limpiando los altos mandos de los órganos de poder cómo la CIA, el FBI y el pentágono.

También estaría quitando la financiación estatal a las clínicas que practican abortos, así como a los programas del gobierno anterior que promovían la agenda gay o LGTB y, estaría prohibiendo las ONG'S que promueven tales prácticas. Llegando al extremo de pedir a los funcionarios de gobierno del sexo femenino vestirse como mujeres.

Ésta última medida ya raya en el fanatismo religioso, recordándome a los fanáticos extremistas musulmanes takfirís que quieren imponer la sharía a todos.

Otra de sus medidas controvertidas es el rechazo a la teoría del cambio climático provocado por la actividad humana y, por consiguiente, el rechazo a los protocolos de Kyoto, así como a los acuerdos alcanzados en la reciente cumbre sobre cambio climático celebrada en París. Para muchos ésta medida de Trump representa el apocalipsis climático, poniendo en peligro la supervivencia de la especie humana.

Como verán, Trump representa lo que muchos teóricos de la conspiración desearon ver en un líder, pero también representa una amenaza para muchos otros.

Y esos muchos otros eventualmente buscarán como eliminar a Donald Trump.

Esa es una percepción que comparte mucha gente, no solo los de la élite que se ve perjudicada por las acciones de Donald Trump, pues, como en el caso de los mexicanos, sus medidas afectarán directamente a millones de ellos.

Trump encarna el moderno nacionalismo, pero no un nacionalismo sano, al menos no lo parece así en muchas de sus acciones de gobierno que ha emprendido, como la discriminación a algunos sectores de la sociedad estadounidense y a determinados grupos de extranjeros, como los inmigrantes musulmanes de los países a los que ellos han invadido y destruido, a excepción de los aliados de Israel como Arabia Saudita y Egipto.

Otro hecho delicado es la petición de Trump a los empleados de gobierno de sexo femenino a vestirse como mujeres. Y es preocupante porque eso ya es meterse con la vida privada de la gente, además, ¿Quién tiene el derecho a decidir que es vestirse como hombre o mujer?; eso es algo subjetivo. De ahí a prohibir determinada religión, tradición o costumbre, solo por el hecho de que a él no le guste, sólo le separa un paso.

Y así lo han entendido algunas comunidades indígenas autóctonas estadounidenses al advertir que Donald Trump las quiere exterminar.

Así empezó Hitler, discriminando a ciertos sectores de la sociedad alemana como los gitanos, los comunistas, los gays y los judíos. Pero antes de ellos, comenzó a discriminar a los propios alemanes que padeciesen alguna discapacidad; incluso con ellos empezó a ensayar sus métodos de exterminio en masa como lo fueron las cámaras de gases.

Cuando Hitler comenzó a amenazar a sus vecinos nadie hizo nada, pues pensaron: no somos nosotros, a nosotros no nos pasará. Así que cuando Hitler invadió Checoslovaquia el mundo no reaccionó, y cuando atacó Lituania tampoco actuó, y cuando invadió Polonia tampoco hicieron nada. Solo hasta que vieron afectados directamente sus intereses fue cuando se movilizaron.

Pues así está el día de hoy el mundo respecto a Donald Trump; no digo que Trump sea un nuevo Hitler, pero el perfil lo cubre, al menos en algunos aspectos. Y lo afirmo por lo anteriormente expuesto, y porque así como Hitler empezóa amenazar a sus vecinos, así lo está haciendo Donald Trump.

Hitler decía que los demás se habían aprovechado de Alemania y hacia reclamaciones territoriales a sus vecinos porque presuntamente los alemanes tenían derecho sobre esas tierras al haber una importante comunidad germana allí. Es así como invadió a sus vecinos y se anexó parte de su territorio.

Así está Trump, dice que los mexicanos nos hemos aprovechado de los estadounidenses y ha amenazado con enviar fuerzas militares a México para “combatir el narcotráfico”, porque según él, “no permitirá que sigan destruyendo sus ciudades”, toda una retórica falaz y tendenciosa, encaminada a lograr una ocupación militar de México y su posterior desmembramiento. Claro, el gobierno mexicano salió a decir que era falsa la noticia, pero la duda quedó ahí.

Sumando ésto a los reclamos de Donald Trump hacia China y Alemania a los que ha acusado de aprovecharse de los EEUU, la similitud entre ambos casos toma más fuerza.

A china le ha recriminado la supuesta devaluación artificial del Yuan para darle una ventaja competitiva a las manufacturas chinas; a Alemania la ha acusado de algo similar, pues según Trump Alemania utiliza el Euro para darle una ventaja competitiva a sus productos, pues según él, Alemania mantiene artificialmente bajo el precio del Euro respecto al Dólar, es decir, lo mantiene por debajo de su valor real.

Por estas razones estamos ante una incógnita, pues aunque Trump ha venido a cumplir muchos de los deseos de los conspiracionistas (entre ellos yo), es decir, ha hecho posible la anulación del TTP, la eliminación de la agenda LGTB, ha acabado con la promoción y financiación estatal del aborto, parece promover los valores judeo-cristianos, ha deslegitimado la hipótesis del cambio climático provocado por la actividad humana (en ésto no estoy del todo de acuerdo pues creo el factor humano es clave) etcétera; también ha tomado medidas que van en el sentido contrario, como las que ya comenté.

Algunos dicen que Hitler fue el resultado de una profunda crisis económica que vivía Alemania por causa de las sanciones económicas impuestas por las naciones vencedoras de la primera guerra mundial, y que Trump es el resultado de la crisis económica que padece Estados Unidos, pero en realidad casi nada tiene que ver una cosa con la otra, a excepción de la personalidad de ambos personajes, pues la crisis estadounidense no se compara en nada a lo que vivía la Alemania pre-nazi; aquello si era verdaderamente desastroso, con un marco alemán sufriendo una devaluación descomunal, todo lo contrario al Dólar actual; también los problemas económicos germanos eran consecuencia directa de las sanciones económicas internacionales, en cambio la crisis económica estadounidense es consecuencia directa de la mala administración de sus autoridades, específicamente de la pésima política monetaria de la FED, y no por sanciones internacionales o como consecuencia de medidas tomadas por terceros.

Por todo lo anterior se vale preguntarnos: ¿es Donald Trump la reencarnación de Hitler? Pues no hay una respuesta hasta el momento, pero lo podría ser; pero de lo que no hay duda es que su reinado marcará un punto de inflexión en la historia humana reciente; ya lo estamos viendo.



          La élite está furiosa con Donald Trump y promete acabar con él        
Trump está decidido a cumplir sus promesas de campaña, contrario a lo que hacen los políticos tradicionales.



Con el arribo de Donald Trump a la presidencia de los Estados Unidos el mundo entra de lleno en una nueva era, una era que podrá durar mucho tiempo, o ser de corta duración, todo dependerá de si Trump podrá mantenerse en el poder, o de si se lo permitirán.

Durante su campaña electoral prometió mucho, se salio de todos los límites establecidos, alardeó y ladró; prometió cosas que a muchos les parecieron fuera de toda realidad, pero esas promesas fueron las que le llevaron a ganar la carrera por la presidencia.

Muchos analistas no creyeron que Trump alcanzara la victoria, y mucho menos pensaron que pudiera poner en practica sus ideas una vez electo, que a decir verdad, no son ideas sólo suyas, son ideas pensadas en su mayor parte por miembros de su equipo de campaña, mas específicamente por su asesor personal, es decir, por Steve Bannon.

Este sujeto, Steve Bannon, es el líder ideológico de la ultra derecha nacionalista estadounidense; él fue quien realmente formuló las promesas hechas por Trump durante la carrera presidencial.

Trump prometió sacar a EEUU de los tratados globales de libre comercio; construir un muro en la frontera con México y lograr que los mexicano lo paguen; derogar el 70% de los decretos de Barak Obama, como el Obamacare; abolir el tratado nuclear con Irán; acabar con la reforma pro LGTB; derogar las leyes pro aborto; aliarse con Rusia para combatir el terrorismo internacional; acabar con el Estado Islámico; derogar los tratados de Kyoto sobre cambio climático; impedir la entrada al país de emigrantes musulmanes y acotar sus libertades en suelo estadounidense; deshacerse de los paraísos fiscales, etcétera. Estos son solo algunos ejemplos de sus mas controvertidas propuestas.

Pero al parecer pretende cumplir todas y cada una de ellas; por el momento ya empezó sacando a los EEUU de las negociaciones del acuerdo transpacífico de libre mercado (TTP); ha firmado una ley que deroga el Obamacare, etcétera. Todo apunta a que se prepara para cumplir los demás puntos de su agenda de campaña, pues así lo demuestran las acciones que está tomando para transformar la pagina web oficial de la Casa Blanca; por lo pronto acaba de eliminar el apartado dedicado a la comunidad gay; al cambio climático, ha eliminado la lengua española, etcétera.

Estando así las cosas todo apunta a que realmente cumplirá con lo que prometió, y es por eso que ha causado tanta preocupación en la élite, tanta que ha salido el defensor del globalismo, George Soros, a decir que detendrá a Donald Trump para impedir que éste acabe con el proyecto del Nuevo Orden Mundial elaborado por las élites a las que él representa.

Sólo falta por conocer si las reformas emprendidas por Trump realmente tendrán el efecto esperado por él, o si por el contrario, serán un lastre para la economía de los EEUU y del resto del mundo. Claro que si fracasan será en gran medida gracias a las intrigas de la élite.



          Wall Street 27.3. - víra v reformy je neotřesitelná, jen to vÅ¡e asi déle potrvá        
Páteční neúspěšný pokus prezidenta Trumpa o zrušení Obamacare zamával americkými akciovými trhy, i když jenom v úvodu. Ještě před otevřením trhů ukazovaly futures kontrakty na procentní ztráty u hlavních indexů, a to se i dělo po otevření.1
          Ranní kafe 24.3.2017 - Trumpcare má potíže se schválením        
Americký dolar mírně posiloval a americké futures také poté, co po počátečním zklamání z neschválení Trumpova zákona o zrušení Obamacare volatilita prudce vyskočila. Objevily se informace, že dnes bude probíhat další pokus o schválení.1
          Your Health Connection Explains The Affordable Care Act        
Your Health Connection on WCLK Wednesday evening November 20th featured an informative discussion about the Affordable Care Act and its implications for cancer detection, prevention, and treatment. Host Jaquitta Williams was joined by Affordable Care Act experts including U. S. Health and Human Services Regional Director Pamela Roshell and Linda Blount, Vice President of Programmatic Impact for the United Way of Greater Atlanta. Our experts took your Obamacare/ACA calls and tweets and made this landmark health insurance legislation more easily understandable. Your Health Connection is presented by the Center For Cancer Research and Therapeutic Development at Clark Atlanta University and the National Institutes of Health. You can listen to Your Health Connection by clicking below:
          It’s Time to Repeal and Replace the Republican Party        
President Trump attempted Friday to put a smiley face on the defeat of the American Health Care Act (ACHA), known to its opponents as “Obamacare Light.” From his perspective, the failure to secure enough Republican votes to pass the AHCA will lead to a “better bill” in the long run, because that future bill will […]
          The Culture of Entitlement in Medicine        
Senator Rand Paul has introduced an alternative bill to what he calls, “Obamacare Lite,” a.k.a. the American Health Care Act, introduced by House Speaker Paul Ryan. Paul’s criticism of Ryan’s bill was mild compared to Rep. Thomas Massie’s. Massie called Ryan’s bill a “stinking pile of garbage.” While Paul’s plan is more free-market oriented than […]
          U.S. Chamber points out problems with FATCA website        

The Next Obamacare? FATCA Roll Out Flounders

Thursday, January 9, 2014 - 8:45am — Written by David Kinkade

Website Woes Raise Concerns
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is responsible for the law’s implementation and enforcement, has faced serious technological difficulties in launching the FATCA online registration portal, where foreign financial institutions are required to register and report information on their account holders. The IRS estimates that between 200,000 and 400,000 financial institutions will register.
The initial Foreign Financial Institution Registration System (FRS) was developed and near deployment in 2012 at a cost of $8.6 million—then summarily terminated in November 2012 due to regulatory changes and policy issues arising amid the law’s implementation, the Wall Street Journal reports.
A modified and expanded registration site launched in August. The new release entailed an additional cost of $8 million, according to a September report from the IRS Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). The TIGTA report suggests the new FRS is improved, but still faces potential problems. The TIGTA audit found that the redesigned FRS suffers from “poor management controls,” including inadequate planning, potential security flaws, and cost overruns, which “puts the system at risk of not functioning as intended once it is moved into production.”
The portal’s questionable security safeguards are particularly troubling, given that the site will be used to share sensitive information on account holders. James Jatras, a Washington, D.C., attorney who spearheads a movement to repeal the tax law notes that financial institutions and their clients should be concerned about how their data will be protected and used.
“There is nothing about the security protection of the data in the regulations,” Jatras tells Thomson Reuters in an assessment of how FATCA’s implementation woes are affecting stakeholders. “FATCA data is not treated as private and the data will be passed on to the intelligence agencies. If I was the [National Security Agency], I would love to get information on American accounts elsewhere, and what other account information looks like.”
While the FATCA technological challenges haven’t been a debacle on the scale of the botched launch of the Healthcare.gov site this fall, it’s worth wondering why the IRS should have such difficulty in launching a well-performing website with three years’ lead time. 
Hurry Up and Wait: More FATCA Delays
The numerous delays to the law’s implementation raise additional questions about the law’s soundness. Initially slated to take effect in January 2013, the start date has been pushed back repeatedly—it’s now set for July 1, 2014.
But even that date could be a moving target. The IRS Information Reporting Program Advisory Committee (IRPAC), an advisory council to the agency composed of tax professionals, just this month proposed delaying FATCA implementation to January 2015, a view shared by various banking and financial organizations. 
Some say the repeated delays are fostering additional uncertainty about the law.
“The law is very broad, with many moving parts. It is evolving as Treasury (rightly or wrongly) changes its implementation by using [intergovernmental agreements (IGAs),” tax analystJeremy Scott writes at Forbes. “If IRPAC and the financial industry want Treasury to wait for all the significant guidance to be finalized before the withholding regime is put into force, FATCA will be waiting a very long time to become law.”
Scott concludes that financial services providers will never be satisfied with FATCA, and argues the Treasury Department should let the law take full effect without delays. However, an equally strong case can be made that the endless delays and revisions are evidence that the law was poorly conceived and likely to suffer shoddy implementation.
Full text in https://www.uschamber.com/blog/next-obamacare-fatca-roll-out-flounders



          Comment on Why Puerto Rico Will Never Become the 51st State by Luis Arroyo        
In another blow to the ficticious 'Commonwealth' and its 'sovereign Fiscal Autonomy' ( ability to exempt itself from US Federal taxes) Puerto Rican based insurance companies recently began paying a new federal earnings tax for Obamacare. 'Commonwealth 'party (Populist Democrat Party/populares) Governor Padilla asked Obama to exempt Puerto Ricans from Obamacare. Obama wound up allowing ALL 4.7 million US citizens in overseas US territories exemption. Gov. Padilla claimed that 'The Islands Fiscal Autonomy' withstood against Congress. (The real reason Padilla wanted Obamacare out of PR is because the federal taxes that come with it would betray the whole 'Fiscal Autonomy Myth!) The TRUE reason Congress went along with exempting US territories from Obamacare was to CUT FEDERAL SPENDING THERE,ON THE BACKS OF TERRITORY RESIDENTS. What are they going to do? Vote congress out of office? OOPS! THEY CANT VOTE FOR CONGRESS. NOR THE PRESIDENCY!! YET, the healthcate providers ARE STILL required to PAY THE OBAMACARE FEDERAL EARNINGS TAX. That's passed along to the costumer buying health plans! Read about it... The Puerto Rico Report. www.puertoricoreport.com
          Should health insurance be mandatory?        
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta doesn’t think so. Last week it struck down the individual mandate central to Obamacare in hearing a lawsuit filed by Texas and 25 other states. This ruling sets up split verdicts between different federal courts that is considered necessary to advance the question to the U.S. Supreme Court. The plaintiffs
          As POTUS Visits Kentucky, Paul Drums Up Votes Against GOP Health Plan In D.C.        
Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul is not happy with the current Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. The plan comes from House Speaker Paul Ryan and has the support of President Donald Trump.
          Rand Paul Might Stop An Obamacare Repeal. Here’s How        
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday that he would not vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known to many as Obamacare, without voting for a replacement plan on the same day. He made the comments on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
          Sarah Palin Should Start a 'Freedom Party' (within the GOP?)        
For the first time since the mid 1800s we hear today liberty voices rising from elected state officials including governors. But they're not in D.C.; instead they're in Kansas, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri and dozens of other states, making their own decisions on abortion, guns, constitutional law, ObamaCare, and practically everything. But no leader yet emerges, and no center. It is, like Pirandello’s play, with actors in search of a theater and a leader. Actually a leader is emerging: Sarah Palin. But new ideas need new forms to start again the conversation and bring in a new generation. For a fresh...
          Comment on North Carolina Obamacare Agent by Jake Drexler        
Useful post , Incidentally if you want a a form , my boss used a template form here <code>http://goo.gl/v6zHo2</code>
          Comment on North Carolina Obamacare Agent by Coral Greyser        
Useful ideas , Speaking of which if you are looking for a 14 Day Notice to Quit for Nonpayment of Rent , my secretary filled out a blank document here <code>http://goo.gl/bMa76a</code>
          Comment on North Carolina Obamacare Agent by Get Obamacare South Carolina: A video tutorial | SChealthconnector.org        
[…] start to finish via our remote meeting service! As a certified South Carolina Obamacare agent and North Carolina Obamacare agent, we can help you in ways that Navigators cannot. As a marketplace certified agent, we can make […]
          Comment on North Carolina Obamacare Agent by Get Obamacare: A video tutorial from myhealthplansubsidy.comYour Guide for Health Plan Subsidies for South Carolina & North Carolina residents!        
[…] to finish via our remote meeting service! As a certified South Carolina Obamacare agent  and North Carolina Obamacare agent, we can help you in ways that Navigators cannot. As a marketplace certified agent, we can make […]
          If Trump Wants To Do Better Than Obamacare, He'd Better Pay Attention To This        
If Trump and the Republicans really want to improve upon Obamacare, they need to make insurance more affordable for low and middle income people, for whom healthcare insurance is often beyond their financial means.
          Re:Politics - USA        
Oi... this has a potential to shatter the PPACA:
Judge rules in favor of Republicans in Obamacare challenge
Spoiler:
A federal judge ruled Thursday against the administration in a challenge to a portion of the Affordable Care Act brought by the House of Representatives.

At issue is the "cost sharing" provision in the law that requires insurance companies offering health plans through the law to reduce out-of-pocket costs for policy holders who qualify. The government offsets the added costs to insurance companies by reimbursing them.

But lawyers for the House argued that Congress did not properly approve the money for those reimbursements.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, sided with the challengers but said that she would stay her ruling pending appeal.

"Congress is the only source for such an appropriation, and no public money can be spent without one," she wrote.

The Obama administration is expected to appeal the decision.

Jonathan Turley, a lawyer for the House, said the ruling shows that the President's signature health care law "violated the Constitution in committing billions of dollars from the United States Treasury without the approval of Congress."

"Judge Collyer's opinion is a resounding victory not just for Congress but for our constitutional system as a whole," Turley said in a statement. "We remain a system based on the principle of the separation of powers and the guarantee that no branch or person can govern alone. It is the very touchstone of the American constitutional system and today that principle was reaffirmed in this historic decision."

White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday characterized Republicans' efforts as unprecedented, and predicted the administration would prevail.

"This suit represents the first time in our nation's history that Congress has been permitted to sue executive branch over a disagreement about how to interpret a statute," Earnest said during his daily briefing. "These are the kinds of political disputes that characterize a democracy. It's unfortunate that Republicans have resorted to a taxpayer-funded lawsuit to re-fight a political fight they keep losing."

An announcement on appealing Thursday's decision would come from the Justice Department once the ruling is fully assessed, Earnest said.

Former House Speaker John Boehner, who led the effort on the suit, called the decision "a victory."

"Today's Obamacare decision is a victory for the American people, and for House Republicans, who have stood firm for the rule of law," he tweeted.
Today's Obamacare decision is a victory for the American people, and for House Republicans, who have stood firm for the rule of law.

— John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) May 12, 2016

"This case is far from over," said Timothy Jost, a supporter of the law at the Washington and Lee University School of Law.

He said that last fall the judge was wrong to rule that the House had the standing to bring the case in the first place and that he expects the appeals court to reverse on that threshold issue.

"Ultimately, if her opinion holds, and it is unlikely that it would, it would mean that insurers will have to come up with a way of providing the cost sharing reductions, and that would probably mean increased premiums down the road," he said.

Keep in mind that the plantiff's attorney is Jonathan Turley: Turley is widely regarded as a champion of the rule of law, and his stated positions in many cases and his self-proclaimed "socially liberal agenda", have led liberal and progressive thinkers to also consider him a champion for their causes, especially on issues such as separation of church and state, environmental law, civil rights, and the illegality of torture. Politico has referred to Turley as a "liberal law professor and longtime civil libertarian".
          Re:Politics - USA        
 whembly wrote:
Oi... this has a potential to shatter the PPACA:
Judge rules in favor of Republicans in Obamacare challenge
Spoiler:
A federal judge ruled Thursday against the administration in a challenge to a portion of the Affordable Care Act brought by the House of Representatives.

At issue is the "cost sharing" provision in the law that requires insurance companies offering health plans through the law to reduce out-of-pocket costs for policy holders who qualify. The government offsets the added costs to insurance companies by reimbursing them.

But lawyers for the House argued that Congress did not properly approve the money for those reimbursements.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, sided with the challengers but said that she would stay her ruling pending appeal.

"Congress is the only source for such an appropriation, and no public money can be spent without one," she wrote.

The Obama administration is expected to appeal the decision.

Jonathan Turley, a lawyer for the House, said the ruling shows that the President's signature health care law "violated the Constitution in committing billions of dollars from the United States Treasury without the approval of Congress."

"Judge Collyer's opinion is a resounding victory not just for Congress but for our constitutional system as a whole," Turley said in a statement. "We remain a system based on the principle of the separation of powers and the guarantee that no branch or person can govern alone. It is the very touchstone of the American constitutional system and today that principle was reaffirmed in this historic decision."

White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday characterized Republicans' efforts as unprecedented, and predicted the administration would prevail.

"This suit represents the first time in our nation's history that Congress has been permitted to sue executive branch over a disagreement about how to interpret a statute," Earnest said during his daily briefing. "These are the kinds of political disputes that characterize a democracy. It's unfortunate that Republicans have resorted to a taxpayer-funded lawsuit to re-fight a political fight they keep losing."

An announcement on appealing Thursday's decision would come from the Justice Department once the ruling is fully assessed, Earnest said.

Former House Speaker John Boehner, who led the effort on the suit, called the decision "a victory."

"Today's Obamacare decision is a victory for the American people, and for House Republicans, who have stood firm for the rule of law," he tweeted.
Today's Obamacare decision is a victory for the American people, and for House Republicans, who have stood firm for the rule of law.

— John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) May 12, 2016

"This case is far from over," said Timothy Jost, a supporter of the law at the Washington and Lee University School of Law.

He said that last fall the judge was wrong to rule that the House had the standing to bring the case in the first place and that he expects the appeals court to reverse on that threshold issue.

"Ultimately, if her opinion holds, and it is unlikely that it would, it would mean that insurers will have to come up with a way of providing the cost sharing reductions, and that would probably mean increased premiums down the road," he said.

Keep in mind that the plantiff's attorney is Jonathan Turley: Turley is widely regarded as a champion of the rule of law, and his stated positions in many cases and his self-proclaimed "socially liberal agenda", have led liberal and progressive thinkers to also consider him a champion for their causes, especially on issues such as separation of church and state, environmental law, civil rights, and the illegality of torture. Politico has referred to Turley as a "liberal law professor and longtime civil libertarian".


Maybe my logic circuits are broken, but if Congress passed the ACA, then, by extension, Congress approved the commitment to the spending of that money. If you order a pizza, you don't get to get out of paying for it by claiming you didn't budget for it.
          Re:Politics - USA        
 Tannhauser42 wrote:
 whembly wrote:
Oi... this has a potential to shatter the PPACA:
Judge rules in favor of Republicans in Obamacare challenge
Spoiler:
A federal judge ruled Thursday against the administration in a challenge to a portion of the Affordable Care Act brought by the House of Representatives.

At issue is the "cost sharing" provision in the law that requires insurance companies offering health plans through the law to reduce out-of-pocket costs for policy holders who qualify. The government offsets the added costs to insurance companies by reimbursing them.

But lawyers for the House argued that Congress did not properly approve the money for those reimbursements.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, sided with the challengers but said that she would stay her ruling pending appeal.

"Congress is the only source for such an appropriation, and no public money can be spent without one," she wrote.

The Obama administration is expected to appeal the decision.

Jonathan Turley, a lawyer for the House, said the ruling shows that the President's signature health care law "violated the Constitution in committing billions of dollars from the United States Treasury without the approval of Congress."

"Judge Collyer's opinion is a resounding victory not just for Congress but for our constitutional system as a whole," Turley said in a statement. "We remain a system based on the principle of the separation of powers and the guarantee that no branch or person can govern alone. It is the very touchstone of the American constitutional system and today that principle was reaffirmed in this historic decision."

White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday characterized Republicans' efforts as unprecedented, and predicted the administration would prevail.

"This suit represents the first time in our nation's history that Congress has been permitted to sue executive branch over a disagreement about how to interpret a statute," Earnest said during his daily briefing. "These are the kinds of political disputes that characterize a democracy. It's unfortunate that Republicans have resorted to a taxpayer-funded lawsuit to re-fight a political fight they keep losing."

An announcement on appealing Thursday's decision would come from the Justice Department once the ruling is fully assessed, Earnest said.

Former House Speaker John Boehner, who led the effort on the suit, called the decision "a victory."

"Today's Obamacare decision is a victory for the American people, and for House Republicans, who have stood firm for the rule of law," he tweeted.
Today's Obamacare decision is a victory for the American people, and for House Republicans, who have stood firm for the rule of law.

— John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) May 12, 2016

"This case is far from over," said Timothy Jost, a supporter of the law at the Washington and Lee University School of Law.

He said that last fall the judge was wrong to rule that the House had the standing to bring the case in the first place and that he expects the appeals court to reverse on that threshold issue.

"Ultimately, if her opinion holds, and it is unlikely that it would, it would mean that insurers will have to come up with a way of providing the cost sharing reductions, and that would probably mean increased premiums down the road," he said.

Keep in mind that the plantiff's attorney is Jonathan Turley: Turley is widely regarded as a champion of the rule of law, and his stated positions in many cases and his self-proclaimed "socially liberal agenda", have led liberal and progressive thinkers to also consider him a champion for their causes, especially on issues such as separation of church and state, environmental law, civil rights, and the illegality of torture. Politico has referred to Turley as a "liberal law professor and longtime civil libertarian".


Maybe my logic circuits are broken, but if Congress passed the ACA, then, by extension, Congress approved the commitment to the spending of that money. If you order a pizza, you don't get to get out of paying for it by claiming you didn't budget for it.

It's broke. Lemme fix it for ya...

Congress, in addition to passing statuatory laws, must appropriate the fundings as well. It's a two step process.

1) Here's a bunch of laws
2) Here's the fundings for the laws in #1

That's a general rule.

The exceptions are those legally mandated to be funded (ie, SS, MediCare, Essential Services...)

So, in section 4102 of PPACA that covers the risk mitigations to the insurers, Congress did NOT appropriate fundings.

There's no ambiguity here.
          Re:Politics - USA        
 whembly wrote:
 Tannhauser42 wrote:
 whembly wrote:
Oi... this has a potential to shatter the PPACA:
Judge rules in favor of Republicans in Obamacare challenge
Spoiler:
A federal judge ruled Thursday against the administration in a challenge to a portion of the Affordable Care Act brought by the House of Representatives.

At issue is the "cost sharing" provision in the law that requires insurance companies offering health plans through the law to reduce out-of-pocket costs for policy holders who qualify. The government offsets the added costs to insurance companies by reimbursing them.

But lawyers for the House argued that Congress did not properly approve the money for those reimbursements.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, sided with the challengers but said that she would stay her ruling pending appeal.

"Congress is the only source for such an appropriation, and no public money can be spent without one," she wrote.

The Obama administration is expected to appeal the decision.

Jonathan Turley, a lawyer for the House, said the ruling shows that the President's signature health care law "violated the Constitution in committing billions of dollars from the United States Treasury without the approval of Congress."

"Judge Collyer's opinion is a resounding victory not just for Congress but for our constitutional system as a whole," Turley said in a statement. "We remain a system based on the principle of the separation of powers and the guarantee that no branch or person can govern alone. It is the very touchstone of the American constitutional system and today that principle was reaffirmed in this historic decision."

White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday characterized Republicans' efforts as unprecedented, and predicted the administration would prevail.

"This suit represents the first time in our nation's history that Congress has been permitted to sue executive branch over a disagreement about how to interpret a statute," Earnest said during his daily briefing. "These are the kinds of political disputes that characterize a democracy. It's unfortunate that Republicans have resorted to a taxpayer-funded lawsuit to re-fight a political fight they keep losing."

An announcement on appealing Thursday's decision would come from the Justice Department once the ruling is fully assessed, Earnest said.

Former House Speaker John Boehner, who led the effort on the suit, called the decision "a victory."

"Today's Obamacare decision is a victory for the American people, and for House Republicans, who have stood firm for the rule of law," he tweeted.
Today's Obamacare decision is a victory for the American people, and for House Republicans, who have stood firm for the rule of law.

— John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) May 12, 2016

"This case is far from over," said Timothy Jost, a supporter of the law at the Washington and Lee University School of Law.

He said that last fall the judge was wrong to rule that the House had the standing to bring the case in the first place and that he expects the appeals court to reverse on that threshold issue.

"Ultimately, if her opinion holds, and it is unlikely that it would, it would mean that insurers will have to come up with a way of providing the cost sharing reductions, and that would probably mean increased premiums down the road," he said.

Keep in mind that the plantiff's attorney is Jonathan Turley: Turley is widely regarded as a champion of the rule of law, and his stated positions in many cases and his self-proclaimed "socially liberal agenda", have led liberal and progressive thinkers to also consider him a champion for their causes, especially on issues such as separation of church and state, environmental law, civil rights, and the illegality of torture. Politico has referred to Turley as a "liberal law professor and longtime civil libertarian".


Maybe my logic circuits are broken, but if Congress passed the ACA, then, by extension, Congress approved the commitment to the spending of that money. If you order a pizza, you don't get to get out of paying for it by claiming you didn't budget for it.

It's broke. Lemme fix it for ya...

Congress, in addition to passing statuatory laws, must appropriate the fundings as well. It's a two step process.

1) Here's a bunch of laws
2) Here's the fundings for the laws in #1

That's a general rule.

The exceptions are those legally mandated to be funded (ie, SS, MediCare, Essential Services...)

So, in section 4102 of PPACA that covers the risk mitigations to the insurers, Congress did NOT appropriate fundings.

There's no ambiguity here.


Again, Congress has ordered a pizza, and the bill has come due, and regardless of what Congress has budgeted for, services rendered have to be paid for. Shenanigans like this is why Congress's approval ratings are so pathetic. Change the law, but don't default on an obligation you made a promise for. If anything, perhaps Congress should be sued for failing to pay for what they ordered.
          Re:Politics - USA        
 Tannhauser42 wrote:
 whembly wrote:
 Tannhauser42 wrote:
 whembly wrote:
Oi... this has a potential to shatter the PPACA:
Judge rules in favor of Republicans in Obamacare challenge
Spoiler:
A federal judge ruled Thursday against the administration in a challenge to a portion of the Affordable Care Act brought by the House of Representatives.

At issue is the "cost sharing" provision in the law that requires insurance companies offering health plans through the law to reduce out-of-pocket costs for policy holders who qualify. The government offsets the added costs to insurance companies by reimbursing them.

But lawyers for the House argued that Congress did not properly approve the money for those reimbursements.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, sided with the challengers but said that she would stay her ruling pending appeal.

"Congress is the only source for such an appropriation, and no public money can be spent without one," she wrote.

The Obama administration is expected to appeal the decision.

Jonathan Turley, a lawyer for the House, said the ruling shows that the President's signature health care law "violated the Constitution in committing billions of dollars from the United States Treasury without the approval of Congress."

"Judge Collyer's opinion is a resounding victory not just for Congress but for our constitutional system as a whole," Turley said in a statement. "We remain a system based on the principle of the separation of powers and the guarantee that no branch or person can govern alone. It is the very touchstone of the American constitutional system and today that principle was reaffirmed in this historic decision."

White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday characterized Republicans' efforts as unprecedented, and predicted the administration would prevail.

"This suit represents the first time in our nation's history that Congress has been permitted to sue executive branch over a disagreement about how to interpret a statute," Earnest said during his daily briefing. "These are the kinds of political disputes that characterize a democracy. It's unfortunate that Republicans have resorted to a taxpayer-funded lawsuit to re-fight a political fight they keep losing."

An announcement on appealing Thursday's decision would come from the Justice Department once the ruling is fully assessed, Earnest said.

Former House Speaker John Boehner, who led the effort on the suit, called the decision "a victory."

"Today's Obamacare decision is a victory for the American people, and for House Republicans, who have stood firm for the rule of law," he tweeted.
Today's Obamacare decision is a victory for the American people, and for House Republicans, who have stood firm for the rule of law.

— John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) May 12, 2016

"This case is far from over," said Timothy Jost, a supporter of the law at the Washington and Lee University School of Law.

He said that last fall the judge was wrong to rule that the House had the standing to bring the case in the first place and that he expects the appeals court to reverse on that threshold issue.

"Ultimately, if her opinion holds, and it is unlikely that it would, it would mean that insurers will have to come up with a way of providing the cost sharing reductions, and that would probably mean increased premiums down the road," he said.

Keep in mind that the plantiff's attorney is Jonathan Turley: Turley is widely regarded as a champion of the rule of law, and his stated positions in many cases and his self-proclaimed "socially liberal agenda", have led liberal and progressive thinkers to also consider him a champion for their causes, especially on issues such as separation of church and state, environmental law, civil rights, and the illegality of torture. Politico has referred to Turley as a "liberal law professor and longtime civil libertarian".


Maybe my logic circuits are broken, but if Congress passed the ACA, then, by extension, Congress approved the commitment to the spending of that money. If you order a pizza, you don't get to get out of paying for it by claiming you didn't budget for it.

It's broke. Lemme fix it for ya...

Congress, in addition to passing statuatory laws, must appropriate the fundings as well. It's a two step process.

1) Here's a bunch of laws
2) Here's the fundings for the laws in #1

That's a general rule.

The exceptions are those legally mandated to be funded (ie, SS, MediCare, Essential Services...)

So, in section 4102 of PPACA that covers the risk mitigations to the insurers, Congress did NOT appropriate fundings.

There's no ambiguity here.


Again, Congress has ordered a pizza, and the bill has come due, and regardless of what Congress has budgeted for, services rendered have to be paid for. Shenanigans like this is why Congress's approval ratings are so pathetic. Change the law, but don't default on an obligation you made a promise for. If anything, perhaps Congress should be sued for failing to pay for what they ordered.

Guys... stop.

Then why do we have budget appropriations?

EDIT: here's a good summary:
http://www.scotusblog.com/2016/05/judge-billions-spent-illegally-on-aca-benefits/#more-242495

IMO, the bigger deal out of this case is the fact that this judge ruled that the House "had standing" to sue in Federal courts.
          A Children’s Treasury of CEOs Throwing Very Grown-Up Tantrums Over Obamacare        
If we were the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, we would happily make ten cents less per unit in order to make sure that our employees have health care coverage. This would be DOUBLY true if we were the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company in the food industry, given that we would not […]
          RUSH: Were Republicans Ever Really Fully Behind Trump And The Repeal And Replacement Of Obamacare?        
RUSH: My question is that December 6th story makes it sound like Mitch McConnell and a lot of the other Republicans were eager to go, they couldn’t wait to get in there, say, and repeal and replace Obamacare. It doesn’t specifically say it. That’s what you infer from the way the story is written, that […]
          Harvard Law, the Commerce Clause, and the Obamacare Mandate        
Harvard Law School Professor Einer Elhauge published an article in The New Republic titled, “If Health Insurance Mandates Are Unconstitutional, Why Did the Founding Fathers Back Them?” The foundation of his argument is the belief that the Militia Act of 1792 was a mandate to purchase a firearm, and the 1790 and 1798 acts by Congress […]
          Stein Derangement Syndrome        

There are 41 names included in the document requests sent to Donald Trump Jr.’s lawyer, Alan Futerfas, and Paul Manafort’s lawyer, Reginald Brown, by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The requests include communications involving many individuals known to be ensnared in the Russia investigation, from President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But while this roster of characters would have made for a fine John Le Carré novel, one name included therein immediately attracted online speculation: that of former Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein.

This is the article that sealed it for me.  I'll never be a Democratic party member ever again, and I'll find myself hard-pressed to vote for Democrats (even temperate judicial candidates who wave the pom poms and cheer on their teammates) in the future.  But because the only other alternative is more messed up than this, there will be an enormous number of undervotes on my ballot in elections to come.  That's sure going to suck, isn't it?  When you stop 'voting to block', so to speak, you're not left with many people to vote for.

There's been a long piece outlining the dysfunction of the Green Party in draft status for almost a month, but David Collins did a better job, and Gadfly had his take, not all of which I agree with -- he doesn't care for Stein and David Cobb too much, and I do, for openers -- but it's good enough to fill in some of the blanks from an outsider perspective (Collins is the insider, I am the former insider).  The topic of intra-Green squabbling is, however, clearly not of interest to most people; I had difficulty making the effort to put thoughts on the screen, and not because I didn't have any.  And not because they weren't strong thoughts, either.

It's worth repeating my premise that Texas has the worst Republicans in the country because it also has the lamest, weakest, worst Democrats.  (Greg Abbott campaigns against Nancy Pelosi and California because of this.)  By extension, Texas Democrats have their own little dog to kick, and it's Texas Greens.  This analogy extends, generally, to the nation at large.  When Democrats are feeling particularly bad about themselves, or need to feel better by being petty, mean, and vindictive toward others ... the Greens, from Ralph Nader to Jill Stein, are always there for them.

What, exactly, Stein has to do with Trump Jr.’s meeting last summer with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya is unclear, as the Senate Judiciary Committee provided no context for its demands, which are to be honored by August 2. A request for an explanation to Stein’s former campaign manager remains unanswered at this time. And though she is active on Twitter, Stein has made no acknowledgement on that social media network of her name’s appearance in the Trump Jr. inquest.

None of this, of course, prevented some on Twitter from rejoicing at the prospect, however unfounded, that Stein was herself the subject of investigation. The glee is premature but understandable. (sic) Stein’s self-righteousness (sic) exasperated many supporters of Hillary Clinton, as did her portrayal of Clinton as effectively no better a choice for true liberals than Donald Trump. Some have blamed Stein for “spoiling” the election (sic), doing for Clinton what her fellow progressive Ralph Nader had done 17 years before for Al Gore. Her demand for a recount—a demand for which she reaped $7 million in donations—struck some as a pointless publicity ploy.

Author's insertions of 'I know better than this' should suffice for those who've read this blog in the past, and maybe later I'll go dig out the links to myself that re-explain it to those that need it.  Let's take the 'pointless political ploy' part and debunk that.  I can assure you that the vast majority of the money Stein raised for the recount -- over $2 million in 24 hours, almost $7 million in a week -- came from the very same Clinton-voting Democrats who hold her in such aggressive contempt (and did so before, for that matter).  I read their posts declaring they donated on various social media fora, and I looked at the financial reports.  News coverage at the time was demonstrative of the fact that the effort was no "ploy".  As a contributor at Bradblog, I saw and read the daily posts there as the recount effort was hindered, blocked, and finally halted ... by mostly Democratic election officials and judges in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

These are also the same people who have smeared her with the false accusation about winking, nodding, playing footsie with, or otherwise giving tacit support to the anti-vax community.  Because that's what a person with a Harvard magna cum laude medical degree -- and 25 years of practicing and teaching medicine -- does, after all.

That’s all to say that, as the curiosity about her involvement with the Russia investigation plainly demonstrates, there remains remarkable ill will toward Stein and her role in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The questions about Stein’s ties to Russia are not new. They stem from a single photograph of Stein’s trip to Moscow in 2015. The image shows her dining at a table with Putin and Michael Flynn, the disgraced Trump adviser at the heart of the Russia probe.

Stein had never made any attempts to hide her trip to Russia or its purported intentions. “After this meeting I am more sure than ever that the ideas I'm bringing into the presidential race will allow the US and Russia to work together to address problems that would otherwise be intractable,” Stein said of the meeting on her campaign website.

More recently, she has defended herself against accusations that she was somehow involved in a joint effort with the Trump campaign and its Russian comrades to smear Clinton. When, last month, CNN’s Michael Smerconish asked Stein why she’d attended the dinner with Putin, she responded by deflecting blame. (sic)

“That picture didn’t start to circulate until long after the election,” Stein said, adding a little later: “It’s funny, Michael, you have to ask why is that picture kicking up a storm right now? I think it’s very related to the fact that the Democrats are looking for someone to blame.”

It is laugh-out-loud hilarious for a Democrat to accuse someone else (anybody else in the whole wide world) of 'deflecting blame'.

The political cartoonists get it, have always gotten it.

It’s unclear if members of the Senate Judiciary Committee know something of a previously undisclosed Stein "backchannel" to the Trump campaign or are simply reaching out to anyone who had contact with Russian officials during the presidential race. Whatever the case, her surprising cameo in the Trump Jr. letter gave some on Twitter occasion to rejoice.

And we'll stop there with that.  When Caitlyn Johnstone -- an Australian, so she can be excused, I suppose -- suggests "the left" should perform some outreach to the right, it's clear to me that she does not get that the left needs to perform some outreach to itself.

The fact is that Democrats hate the left more than they hate the right.

Their hatred is most evident when people who are truly on the left dare to make the case for political change. When Al Gore and Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost presidential races in the Electoral College, Democratic Party scorn was directed solely at the Green Party and their voters. In both elections there were far more instances of registered Democrats voting for George W. Bush and Donald Trump respectively. One would think that they would be marked for condemnation.

Instead the Democrats show their true colors, excusing and placating the turncoats in order to make the case for “lesser evil” neo-liberalism and imperialism.

The Russiagate phenomenon makes Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein an even bigger target. Stein visited Russia in 2015 and attended the RT network’s anniversary dinner. She was seated at the same table with Vladimir Putin, although the two never spoke. This simple act is now being included among the flimsy so-called evidence that the Russian government interfered in the election. The war party is an important part of the duopoly and leading Democrats are reveling in their opportunity to make political hay.

With all of the other excuses they could use for losing an election they should have won handily, blaming Jill Stein is, frankly, unhinged.  The self-examination and remediation needs to come from within Team Jackass, and by all appearances they haven't learned a goddamned fucking thing from 2016.  I'll put on my "sexist AND racist" flak jacket now, for when I eventually have to start criticizing the next Chosen One, Kamala Harris, who is following in Hillary Clinton's footsteps all the way to the Hamptons for fundraisers.  Already.

The Democrats are a lost cause; hopelessly lost, without a clue as to how clueless their latest rebranding is.  And this shit isn't funny.  It's the reason we have Justice Neil Gorsuch instead of Justice Merrick Garland, for one small thing.  Imagine being so weak that Mitch McConnell can kick your ass every single day, even as a dying John McCain kicks his.

They could, of course, seize the initiative and run on single-payer, but even those hideous California Democrats Greg Abbott complains about can't get on board with that, and when a Republican senator proposed it as an amendment to the repeal of Obamacare last night, Bernie Sanders convinced Schumer and company that the move was a trap.

(T)he amendment was meant to expose ideological differences among the Democratic party and its supporters — and distract from efforts to stop the repeal of Obamacare.

Indeed:

Fifty-seven Senators voted against the amendment, while 43 voted simply “present.” Four Democrats voted against the amendment: Senators Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Jon Tester of Montana.  

That's four-for-four on senators up for re-election in 2018 in states Trump won in 2016.  If I weren't so nauseated thinking about shitty Blue Dogs, I'd Google up some polling about the popularity of Obamacare and single-payer in their states.  Instead I'll just send up the chant for their campaigns: "We're not stupid! We're not stupid!"

No.  Just no.  Not today, not next year, not in 2020.

          Trump to Sessions: "You're fired (sort of)"        
Makes you kinda wish our wee attorney general would file a complaint under the EEOC against an abusive boss who created a hostile working environment, doesn't it?


In a twist none of us saw coming, President Trump has now declared war not on Iran or North Korea (that’s probably being held back for sweeps week), but rather on his own attorney general.

After ramping up his criticism of Jeff Sessions in the past week, going as far as to say he wouldn’t have appointed the former Alabama senator had he known that Sessions would recuse himself from the investigation into Trump’s Russian contacts, Trump took his case to Twitter, which is how you can always tell this president is serious about something.

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!” Trump tweeted. A word spelled out in all capital letters is how you know this president is really serious about something.

A reminder to those who have noticed how Trump's consistent and over-arching demand from subordinates has been loyalty: no one has been more loyal to this president, right from the jump, than Sessions, and this is what he's earned for it.

Sessions was the first senator to embrace Trump when he joined the campaign just after the South Carolina primary, at a crucial moment. But his symbolic value to Trump ran deeper than that.

A culturally conservative lawman in the tradition of the old, segregationist South, Sessions embodied a powerful, nostalgic current in Southern Republican politics. When he stepped up to a podium in Alabama, just before Super Tuesday, and acknowledged that “we don’t get everything we want” in a candidate while embracing Trump, he sent a signal that religious Southerners could trust a coarse New York billionaire to hold the line against immigrants and liberal chauvinists.

Sessions took the “Make America Great Again” slogan that Trump slapped on a hat and gave it meaning in parts of the country where Trump could easily have seen the nomination slip away.

Later, when a lot of Trump’s allies distanced themselves from the man overheard deriding women on a hot mic, there was Sessions on the Sunday shows and in the debate spin rooms, uncompromisingly vouching for the candidate’s inner morality.

Now here’s Trump talking to the Wall Street Journal this week: “When they say he endorsed me, I went to Alabama. I had 40,000 people. … He looks at 40,000 people and he probably says, ‘What do I have to lose?’ And he endorsed me. So it’s not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement.”

Oh. So I guess it’s like that.


Before some haughty neoliberal wants to say I'm being sympathetic to our Confederate General Beauregard Sessions, let me point out that anybody else Trump appoints to be the nation's top lawman -- such as Rudy Giuliani or Ted Cruz -- would not a) recuse from the Russian investigation, thus be in place to stonewall or derail it; and b) would be Robert Mueller's new boss, which is to say that Mueller wouldn't be special prosecutor for very long after the FNG's swearing-in.

(Here) is the larger lesson of Trump’s public breach with Sessions. Once again, the guy who held himself out on TV as the world’s toughest and most successful CEO turns out to be, in real life, a surprisingly whiny and ineffectual manager.

I mean, Trump has now publicly charged that his own attorney general — the seventh public servant in the line of succession to the presidency — is weak, delinquent in his duties and damaging to the institution of the presidency. If that’s even partly true, the American legal system is in grave peril.

So what does the blustery president do, this guy whose catchphrase, “You’re fired!,” catapulted him to national celebrity?

He complains. He tweets. He talks smack and waits for someone else to act, like a high school kid too scared to break up with his girlfriend.

So because Trump is quite literally so weak a man that he cannot actually fire Sessions ... he wants to see if he can make him quit.  (Sessions says he ain't quittin', FWIW.)  It's left the experienced hands in the DOJ reeling.

Mr. President, you chose this AG. He reports only to you. If he’s so terrible for the country, then man up and find the stones to fire him.

That’s what TV Donald Trump would have done. But this Trump we have now — the one with a real job in the real world — seems paralyzed by insecurity. He wants other people to make the tough calls.

Sessions can’t stay in his job for long — that seems clear enough. Trump wants an AG who will move to shut down the independent counsel, and somewhere out there is a legal scholar craven enough to do it. (Look up “Bork, Robert” in your history book.)

It’s only a question now of whether Sessions can stomach the abuse long enough to get himself pushed aside, or whether he’ll do Trump’s bidding one last time and ultimately stand down.

I don't suppose anybody reading this has ever had a boss like this, have you?  I've only had a few myself, but they weren't overall quite this bad.

Probably can't replace him via recess appointment (remember, Obama tried that and the SCOTUS shot him down).  This week's latest constitutional crisis wasn't, of course, enough for President Orangutan; he had to throw in a few insults at the Republican senators who so far haven't managed to repeal Obamacare, regale the Boy Scouts with a bawdy tale about a rich man's yacht party, declare transgendered soldiers unfit for duty,  and ... I must be missing a few things.

Even as news breaks this morning that Scaramooch is trying to push Reince Priebus out -- demanding he prove that he is not the White House leaker -- we have to wonder how this president and this administration would handle a real crisis, such as an incident involving North Korea.  I'm concerned they would behave as poorly as they have with these manufactured ones.

          The Weekly Wrangle        
With another mega-roundup of the best lefty blog posts and news from last week, the Texas Progressive Alliance wants to stress that it does not delete its old, and possibly contradictory, Tweets.


Off the Kuff notes the two Democratic candidates who have emerged so far to run for Governor.

SocraticGadfly looks at Mitch the Turtle's ongoing Senate manueverings on Trumpcare.

Texas Democrats who can't support Tom Wakely for governor may be stuck with having to draft Joe Straus, according to PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes that Texas Republicans are all about encouraging polluters and not about the health and well-being of people.

Texas Leftist sees Ashley Smith making THE point about the bathroom bill debate in her selfie with Greg Abbott.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston posts the fundraising totals for the seven candidates in the running for CD-7, and the best news is that four-time perennial James Cargas is badly losing that race also.

Stace at Dos Centavos follows up on Harris County's stance on SB4, seeing county attorney Vince Ryan filing a brief against enforcement despite the commissioners' reticence to do the same.

Texas Vox is stumped by Abbott's anti-tree agenda.

With a vacancy in the Denton County district clerk's office, the Lewisville Texan Journal collects some of the candidate filings for the position.

jobsanger joins the question of what Puerto Rico should be going forward: state, nation, or territory?

Neil at All People Have Value promoted the half-year mark of the weekly protest at the Houston office of terrible Senator John Cornyn. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

================

The San Antonio Current reports that in the aftermath of the tragedy discovered in an Alamo City Walmart parking lot -- where several people were found dead and others stricken by heat in the back of a semi-trailer -- it's worth underscoring what SAPD Chief William McManus said:


“This is not an isolated incident; this happens quite frequently," he told reporters. "Fortunately, we came across this one. Fortunately, you know, there are people who survived.”

The Texas Observer explains what a ban on abortion means for women with high-risk pregnancies.

The Rag Blog co-hosts authors Steve Early and Nick Licata on July 27 at Scholz Biergarten in Austin, who will speak about the progressive alliances in their respective cities (Richmond, CA and Seattle) ahead of the Local Progress conference in Austin's AT&T Center this weekend.


RG Ratcliffe at Burkablog reveals Greg Abbott's million dollar donor, which helps explain why he's veering his wheelchair ever more to the right.

 Houston Justice Coalition is back and ready to get to work building up and not tearing down.

Robert Rivard calls the bathroom bill a choice between social justice and discrimination, and PoliTex quotes some anonymous Texas Republicans in the Lege as saying they don't want to have to vote on the bill ... but are afraid they might have to.

Grits for Breakfast updates on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's latest court loss, requiring the state jail system to address the stifling heat inmates are forced to live in, and posits the next legal avenues.

DBC Green Blog took note of the racial strife that rose to the fore at the GPUS annual meeting earlier this month.

Better Texas Blog reminds us that the state relies an awful lot on local property taxes to fund our schools.

The Texas Election Law Blog flags a Rick Hasen editorial about the perils to our democracy.

Fort Bend ISD school board president Kristin Tassin explains how Greg Abbott's voucher plan hurts kids with disabilities.

And Keith Babberney at Trib Talk speaks for the trees.

          Re:Politics - USA        
Well just saw this and thought it looks like a good read, until it took a very hard turn into the twilight zone:

Spoiler:
Phil Alba
March 9 · Amityville, NY ·
Although I have some reservations about Donald Trump, this article below by Bill Bennett articulates unimpeachable realities and deserves a few of your minutes to read and consider....


BE CAREFUL OUT THERE

Written by the distinguished Bill Bennett about Donald Trump.
I think you will find it very interesting and alarming.
You might want to take the time to read it.

[cid:3D8E143E5278495885E4EE1F1D6DC3E8@LaptopHP]
PHD - Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan
Cultural studies at the distinguished and renowned Heritage Foundation

Interesting take on Trump.
William J. Bennett, Host of Bill Bennett's Morning in America Show, is one of America's most important, influential, and respected voices on cultural, political, and education issues.He has one of the strongest Christian worldviews of any writer in modern times.

What I See Happening In a Trump Presidency
By Bill Bennett

They will try to kill him before they let him be president.
It could be a Republican or a Democrat that instigates the shutting up of Trump.
Don’t be surprised if Trump has an accident. Some people are getting very nervous: Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett, Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton and Jon Corzine, to name just a few.

It's about the unholy dynamics between big government, big business, and big media. They all benefit by the billions of dollars from this partnership, and it's in all of their interests to protect one another. It's one for all and all for one.

It’s a heck of a filthy relationship that makes everyone filthy rich, everyone except the American people. We get ripped off. We’re the patsies. But for once, the powerful socialist cabal and the corrupt crony capitalists are scared. The over-the-top reaction to Trump by politicians of both parties, the media, and the biggest corporations of America has been so swift and insanely angry that it suggests they are all threatened and frightened.

Donald Trump can self-fund. No matter how much they say to the contrary, the media, business, and political elite understand that Trump is no joke. He could actually win and upset their nice cozy apple cart.

It's no coincidence that everyone has gotten together to destroy The Donald. It's because most of the other politicians are part of the a good old boys club. They talk big, but they won’t change a thing. They are all beholden to big-money donors.

They are all owned by lobbyists, unions, lawyers, gigantic environmental organizations, and multinational corporations – like Big Pharmacy or Big Oil. Or they are owned lock, stock, and barrel by foreigners like George Soros owns Obama or foreign governments own Hillary and their Clinton Foundation donations.

These run-of-the-mill establishment politicians are all puppets owned by big money. But there's one man who isn't beholden to anyone.

There's one man who doesn't need foreigners, or foreign governments, or George Soros, or the United Auto Workers, or the teacher's union, or the Service Employees International Union, or the Bar Association to fund his campaign.

Billionaire tycoon and maverick Donald Trump doesn’t need anyone’s help. That means he doesn’t care what the media says. He doesn’t care what the corporate elites think. That makes him very dangerous to the entrenched interests. That makes Trump a huge threat to those people. Trump can ruin everything for the bribed politicians and their spoiled slave masters.

Don’t you ever wonder why the GOP has never tried to impeach Obama? Don’t you wonder why John Boehner and Mitch McConnell talk a big game, but never actually try to stop Obama?

Don’t you wonder why Congress holds the purse strings, yet has never tried to defund Obamacare or Obama’s clearly illegal executive action on amnesty for illegal aliens? Bizarre, right? It defies logic, right?

First, I'd guess many key Republicans are being bribed. Secondly, I believe many key Republicans are being blackmailed. Whether they are having affairs, or secretly gay, or stealing taxpayer money, the National Security Agency knows everything.

Ask former House Speaker Dennis Hastert about that. The government even knew he was withdrawing large sums of his own money from his own bank account. The NSA, the SEC, the IRS, and all the other three-letter government agencies are watching every Republican political leader. They surveil everything.

Thirdly, many Republicans are petrified of being called racists, so they are scared to ever criticize Obama or call out his crimes, let alone demand his impeachment.

Fourth , why rock the boat? After defeat or retirement, if you’re a good old boy, you’ve got a $5 million-per-year lobbying job waiting. The big-money interests have the system gamed. Win or lose, they win.

But Trump doesn’t play by any of these rules. Trump breaks up this nice, cozy relationship between big government, big media, and big business. All the rules are out the window if Trump wins the Presidency. The other politicians will protect Obama and his aides but not Trump.

Remember: Trump is the guy who publicly questioned Obama's birth certificate. He questioned Obama's college records and how a mediocre student got into an Ivy League university. Now, he's doing something no Republican has the chutzpah to do. He's questioning our relationship with Mexico; he's questioning why the border is wide open; he's questioning why no wall has been built across the border; he's questioning if allowing millions of illegal aliens into America is in our best interests; he's questioning why so many illegal aliens commit violent crimes, yet are not deported; and he's questioning why our trade deals with Mexico, Russia and China are so bad.

Trump has the audacity to ask out loud why American workers always get the short end of the stick. Good question!

I'm certain Trump will question what happened to the almost billion dollars given in a rigged no-bid contract to college friends of Michelle Obama at foreign companies to build the defective Obamacare website. By the way, that tab is now up to $5 billion.

Trump will ask if Obamacare's architects can be charged with fraud for selling it by lying. Trump will investigate Obama's widespread IRS conspiracy, not to mention Obama's college records. Trump will prosecute Clinton and Obama for fraud committed to cover up Benghazi before the election. How about the fraud committed by employees of the Labor Department when they made up dramatic job numbers in the last jobs report before the 2012 election?

Obama, the multinational corporations and the media need to stop Trump. They recognize this could get out of control. If left unchecked, telling the raw truth and asking questions everyone else is afraid to ask, Trump could wake a sleeping giant.

Trump's election would be a nightmare. Obama has committed many crimes. No one else but Trump would dare to prosecute. He will not hesitate. Once Trump gets in and gets a look at the cooked books and Obama's records, the game is over.

The jig is up. The goose is cooked. Holder could wind up in prison. Jarrett could wind up in prison. Obama bundler Corzine could wind up in prison for losing $1.5 billion of customer money.

Clinton could wind up in jail for deleting 32,000 emails or for accepting bribes from foreign governments while Secretary of State, or for misplacing $6 billion as the head of the State Department, or for lying about Benghazi. The entire upper level management of the IRS could wind up in prison.

Obamacare will be de-funded and dismantled. Obama himself could wind up ruined, his legacy in tatters. Trump will investigate. Trump will prosecute. Trump will go after everyone involved. That’s why the dogs of hell have been unleashed on Donald Trump.

Yes, it's become open season on Donald Trump.

The left and the right are determined to attack his policies, harm his businesses and if possible, even keep him out of the coming debates. But they can't silence him. And they sure can't intimidate him.

The more they try, the more the public will realize that he's the one telling the truth.

          Re:Politics - USA        
Asterios wrote:
Well just saw this and thought it looks like a good read, until it took a very hard turn into the twilight zone:

Spoiler:
Phil Alba
March 9 · Amityville, NY ·
Although I have some reservations about Donald Trump, this article below by Bill Bennett articulates unimpeachable realities and deserves a few of your minutes to read and consider....


BE CAREFUL OUT THERE

Written by the distinguished Bill Bennett about Donald Trump.
I think you will find it very interesting and alarming.
You might want to take the time to read it.

[cid:3D8E143E5278495885E4EE1F1D6DC3E8@LaptopHP]
PHD - Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan
Cultural studies at the distinguished and renowned Heritage Foundation

Interesting take on Trump.
William J. Bennett, Host of Bill Bennett's Morning in America Show, is one of America's most important, influential, and respected voices on cultural, political, and education issues.He has one of the strongest Christian worldviews of any writer in modern times.

What I See Happening In a Trump Presidency
By Bill Bennett

They will try to kill him before they let him be president.
It could be a Republican or a Democrat that instigates the shutting up of Trump.
Don’t be surprised if Trump has an accident. Some people are getting very nervous: Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett, Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton and Jon Corzine, to name just a few.

It's about the unholy dynamics between big government, big business, and big media. They all benefit by the billions of dollars from this partnership, and it's in all of their interests to protect one another. It's one for all and all for one.

It’s a heck of a filthy relationship that makes everyone filthy rich, everyone except the American people. We get ripped off. We’re the patsies. But for once, the powerful socialist cabal and the corrupt crony capitalists are scared. The over-the-top reaction to Trump by politicians of both parties, the media, and the biggest corporations of America has been so swift and insanely angry that it suggests they are all threatened and frightened.

Donald Trump can self-fund. No matter how much they say to the contrary, the media, business, and political elite understand that Trump is no joke. He could actually win and upset their nice cozy apple cart.

It's no coincidence that everyone has gotten together to destroy The Donald. It's because most of the other politicians are part of the a good old boys club. They talk big, but they won’t change a thing. They are all beholden to big-money donors.

They are all owned by lobbyists, unions, lawyers, gigantic environmental organizations, and multinational corporations – like Big Pharmacy or Big Oil. Or they are owned lock, stock, and barrel by foreigners like George Soros owns Obama or foreign governments own Hillary and their Clinton Foundation donations.

These run-of-the-mill establishment politicians are all puppets owned by big money. But there's one man who isn't beholden to anyone.

There's one man who doesn't need foreigners, or foreign governments, or George Soros, or the United Auto Workers, or the teacher's union, or the Service Employees International Union, or the Bar Association to fund his campaign.

Billionaire tycoon and maverick Donald Trump doesn’t need anyone’s help. That means he doesn’t care what the media says. He doesn’t care what the corporate elites think. That makes him very dangerous to the entrenched interests. That makes Trump a huge threat to those people. Trump can ruin everything for the bribed politicians and their spoiled slave masters.

Don’t you ever wonder why the GOP has never tried to impeach Obama? Don’t you wonder why John Boehner and Mitch McConnell talk a big game, but never actually try to stop Obama?

Don’t you wonder why Congress holds the purse strings, yet has never tried to defund Obamacare or Obama’s clearly illegal executive action on amnesty for illegal aliens? Bizarre, right? It defies logic, right?

First, I'd guess many key Republicans are being bribed. Secondly, I believe many key Republicans are being blackmailed. Whether they are having affairs, or secretly gay, or stealing taxpayer money, the National Security Agency knows everything.

Ask former House Speaker Dennis Hastert about that. The government even knew he was withdrawing large sums of his own money from his own bank account. The NSA, the SEC, the IRS, and all the other three-letter government agencies are watching every Republican political leader. They surveil everything.

Thirdly, many Republicans are petrified of being called racists, so they are scared to ever criticize Obama or call out his crimes, let alone demand his impeachment.

Fourth , why rock the boat? After defeat or retirement, if you’re a good old boy, you’ve got a $5 million-per-year lobbying job waiting. The big-money interests have the system gamed. Win or lose, they win.

But Trump doesn’t play by any of these rules. Trump breaks up this nice, cozy relationship between big government, big media, and big business. All the rules are out the window if Trump wins the Presidency. The other politicians will protect Obama and his aides but not Trump.

Remember: Trump is the guy who publicly questioned Obama's birth certificate. He questioned Obama's college records and how a mediocre student got into an Ivy League university. Now, he's doing something no Republican has the chutzpah to do. He's questioning our relationship with Mexico; he's questioning why the border is wide open; he's questioning why no wall has been built across the border; he's questioning if allowing millions of illegal aliens into America is in our best interests; he's questioning why so many illegal aliens commit violent crimes, yet are not deported; and he's questioning why our trade deals with Mexico, Russia and China are so bad.

Trump has the audacity to ask out loud why American workers always get the short end of the stick. Good question!

I'm certain Trump will question what happened to the almost billion dollars given in a rigged no-bid contract to college friends of Michelle Obama at foreign companies to build the defective Obamacare website. By the way, that tab is now up to $5 billion.

Trump will ask if Obamacare's architects can be charged with fraud for selling it by lying. Trump will investigate Obama's widespread IRS conspiracy, not to mention Obama's college records. Trump will prosecute Clinton and Obama for fraud committed to cover up Benghazi before the election. How about the fraud committed by employees of the Labor Department when they made up dramatic job numbers in the last jobs report before the 2012 election?

Obama, the multinational corporations and the media need to stop Trump. They recognize this could get out of control. If left unchecked, telling the raw truth and asking questions everyone else is afraid to ask, Trump could wake a sleeping giant.

Trump's election would be a nightmare. Obama has committed many crimes. No one else but Trump would dare to prosecute. He will not hesitate. Once Trump gets in and gets a look at the cooked books and Obama's records, the game is over.

The jig is up. The goose is cooked. Holder could wind up in prison. Jarrett could wind up in prison. Obama bundler Corzine could wind up in prison for losing $1.5 billion of customer money.

Clinton could wind up in jail for deleting 32,000 emails or for accepting bribes from foreign governments while Secretary of State, or for misplacing $6 billion as the head of the State Department, or for lying about Benghazi. The entire upper level management of the IRS could wind up in prison.

Obamacare will be de-funded and dismantled. Obama himself could wind up ruined, his legacy in tatters. Trump will investigate. Trump will prosecute. Trump will go after everyone involved. That’s why the dogs of hell have been unleashed on Donald Trump.

Yes, it's become open season on Donald Trump.

The left and the right are determined to attack his policies, harm his businesses and if possible, even keep him out of the coming debates. But they can't silence him. And they sure can't intimidate him.

The more they try, the more the public will realize that he's the one telling the truth.


So...immediately, then?

:p
          Re:Politics - USA        
 Spinner wrote:
Asterios wrote:
Well just saw this and thought it looks like a good read, until it took a very hard turn into the twilight zone:

Spoiler:
Phil Alba
March 9 · Amityville, NY ·
Although I have some reservations about Donald Trump, this article below by Bill Bennett articulates unimpeachable realities and deserves a few of your minutes to read and consider....


BE CAREFUL OUT THERE

Written by the distinguished Bill Bennett about Donald Trump.
I think you will find it very interesting and alarming.
You might want to take the time to read it.

[cid:3D8E143E5278495885E4EE1F1D6DC3E8@LaptopHP]
PHD - Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan
Cultural studies at the distinguished and renowned Heritage Foundation

Interesting take on Trump.
William J. Bennett, Host of Bill Bennett's Morning in America Show, is one of America's most important, influential, and respected voices on cultural, political, and education issues.He has one of the strongest Christian worldviews of any writer in modern times.

What I See Happening In a Trump Presidency
By Bill Bennett

They will try to kill him before they let him be president.
It could be a Republican or a Democrat that instigates the shutting up of Trump.
Don’t be surprised if Trump has an accident. Some people are getting very nervous: Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett, Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton and Jon Corzine, to name just a few.

It's about the unholy dynamics between big government, big business, and big media. They all benefit by the billions of dollars from this partnership, and it's in all of their interests to protect one another. It's one for all and all for one.

It’s a heck of a filthy relationship that makes everyone filthy rich, everyone except the American people. We get ripped off. We’re the patsies. But for once, the powerful socialist cabal and the corrupt crony capitalists are scared. The over-the-top reaction to Trump by politicians of both parties, the media, and the biggest corporations of America has been so swift and insanely angry that it suggests they are all threatened and frightened.

Donald Trump can self-fund. No matter how much they say to the contrary, the media, business, and political elite understand that Trump is no joke. He could actually win and upset their nice cozy apple cart.

It's no coincidence that everyone has gotten together to destroy The Donald. It's because most of the other politicians are part of the a good old boys club. They talk big, but they won’t change a thing. They are all beholden to big-money donors.

They are all owned by lobbyists, unions, lawyers, gigantic environmental organizations, and multinational corporations – like Big Pharmacy or Big Oil. Or they are owned lock, stock, and barrel by foreigners like George Soros owns Obama or foreign governments own Hillary and their Clinton Foundation donations.

These run-of-the-mill establishment politicians are all puppets owned by big money. But there's one man who isn't beholden to anyone.

There's one man who doesn't need foreigners, or foreign governments, or George Soros, or the United Auto Workers, or the teacher's union, or the Service Employees International Union, or the Bar Association to fund his campaign.

Billionaire tycoon and maverick Donald Trump doesn’t need anyone’s help. That means he doesn’t care what the media says. He doesn’t care what the corporate elites think. That makes him very dangerous to the entrenched interests. That makes Trump a huge threat to those people. Trump can ruin everything for the bribed politicians and their spoiled slave masters.

Don’t you ever wonder why the GOP has never tried to impeach Obama? Don’t you wonder why John Boehner and Mitch McConnell talk a big game, but never actually try to stop Obama?

Don’t you wonder why Congress holds the purse strings, yet has never tried to defund Obamacare or Obama’s clearly illegal executive action on amnesty for illegal aliens? Bizarre, right? It defies logic, right?

First, I'd guess many key Republicans are being bribed. Secondly, I believe many key Republicans are being blackmailed. Whether they are having affairs, or secretly gay, or stealing taxpayer money, the National Security Agency knows everything.

Ask former House Speaker Dennis Hastert about that. The government even knew he was withdrawing large sums of his own money from his own bank account. The NSA, the SEC, the IRS, and all the other three-letter government agencies are watching every Republican political leader. They surveil everything.

Thirdly, many Republicans are petrified of being called racists, so they are scared to ever criticize Obama or call out his crimes, let alone demand his impeachment.

Fourth , why rock the boat? After defeat or retirement, if you’re a good old boy, you’ve got a $5 million-per-year lobbying job waiting. The big-money interests have the system gamed. Win or lose, they win.

But Trump doesn’t play by any of these rules. Trump breaks up this nice, cozy relationship between big government, big media, and big business. All the rules are out the window if Trump wins the Presidency. The other politicians will protect Obama and his aides but not Trump.

Remember: Trump is the guy who publicly questioned Obama's birth certificate. He questioned Obama's college records and how a mediocre student got into an Ivy League university. Now, he's doing something no Republican has the chutzpah to do. He's questioning our relationship with Mexico; he's questioning why the border is wide open; he's questioning why no wall has been built across the border; he's questioning if allowing millions of illegal aliens into America is in our best interests; he's questioning why so many illegal aliens commit violent crimes, yet are not deported; and he's questioning why our trade deals with Mexico, Russia and China are so bad.

Trump has the audacity to ask out loud why American workers always get the short end of the stick. Good question!

I'm certain Trump will question what happened to the almost billion dollars given in a rigged no-bid contract to college friends of Michelle Obama at foreign companies to build the defective Obamacare website. By the way, that tab is now up to $5 billion.

Trump will ask if Obamacare's architects can be charged with fraud for selling it by lying. Trump will investigate Obama's widespread IRS conspiracy, not to mention Obama's college records. Trump will prosecute Clinton and Obama for fraud committed to cover up Benghazi before the election. How about the fraud committed by employees of the Labor Department when they made up dramatic job numbers in the last jobs report before the 2012 election?

Obama, the multinational corporations and the media need to stop Trump. They recognize this could get out of control. If left unchecked, telling the raw truth and asking questions everyone else is afraid to ask, Trump could wake a sleeping giant.

Trump's election would be a nightmare. Obama has committed many crimes. No one else but Trump would dare to prosecute. He will not hesitate. Once Trump gets in and gets a look at the cooked books and Obama's records, the game is over.

The jig is up. The goose is cooked. Holder could wind up in prison. Jarrett could wind up in prison. Obama bundler Corzine could wind up in prison for losing $1.5 billion of customer money.

Clinton could wind up in jail for deleting 32,000 emails or for accepting bribes from foreign governments while Secretary of State, or for misplacing $6 billion as the head of the State Department, or for lying about Benghazi. The entire upper level management of the IRS could wind up in prison.

Obamacare will be de-funded and dismantled. Obama himself could wind up ruined, his legacy in tatters. Trump will investigate. Trump will prosecute. Trump will go after everyone involved. That’s why the dogs of hell have been unleashed on Donald Trump.

Yes, it's become open season on Donald Trump.

The left and the right are determined to attack his policies, harm his businesses and if possible, even keep him out of the coming debates. But they can't silence him. And they sure can't intimidate him.

The more they try, the more the public will realize that he's the one telling the truth.


So...immediately, then?

:p


well he was right about both parties and most big businesses not liking Trump, then things got lost in translation. but the first part is why I like trump fro the Win, the politicians don't want him too, and if they hate him he must be someone to take note of.
          Re:Politics - USA        
Asterios wrote:
 Spinner wrote:
Asterios wrote:
Well just saw this and thought it looks like a good read, until it took a very hard turn into the twilight zone:

Spoiler:
Phil Alba
March 9 · Amityville, NY ·
Although I have some reservations about Donald Trump, this article below by Bill Bennett articulates unimpeachable realities and deserves a few of your minutes to read and consider....


BE CAREFUL OUT THERE

Written by the distinguished Bill Bennett about Donald Trump.
I think you will find it very interesting and alarming.
You might want to take the time to read it.

[cid:3D8E143E5278495885E4EE1F1D6DC3E8@LaptopHP]
PHD - Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan
Cultural studies at the distinguished and renowned Heritage Foundation

Interesting take on Trump.
William J. Bennett, Host of Bill Bennett's Morning in America Show, is one of America's most important, influential, and respected voices on cultural, political, and education issues.He has one of the strongest Christian worldviews of any writer in modern times.

What I See Happening In a Trump Presidency
By Bill Bennett

They will try to kill him before they let him be president.
It could be a Republican or a Democrat that instigates the shutting up of Trump.
Don’t be surprised if Trump has an accident. Some people are getting very nervous: Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett, Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton and Jon Corzine, to name just a few.

It's about the unholy dynamics between big government, big business, and big media. They all benefit by the billions of dollars from this partnership, and it's in all of their interests to protect one another. It's one for all and all for one.

It’s a heck of a filthy relationship that makes everyone filthy rich, everyone except the American people. We get ripped off. We’re the patsies. But for once, the powerful socialist cabal and the corrupt crony capitalists are scared. The over-the-top reaction to Trump by politicians of both parties, the media, and the biggest corporations of America has been so swift and insanely angry that it suggests they are all threatened and frightened.

Donald Trump can self-fund. No matter how much they say to the contrary, the media, business, and political elite understand that Trump is no joke. He could actually win and upset their nice cozy apple cart.

It's no coincidence that everyone has gotten together to destroy The Donald. It's because most of the other politicians are part of the a good old boys club. They talk big, but they won’t change a thing. They are all beholden to big-money donors.

They are all owned by lobbyists, unions, lawyers, gigantic environmental organizations, and multinational corporations – like Big Pharmacy or Big Oil. Or they are owned lock, stock, and barrel by foreigners like George Soros owns Obama or foreign governments own Hillary and their Clinton Foundation donations.

These run-of-the-mill establishment politicians are all puppets owned by big money. But there's one man who isn't beholden to anyone.

There's one man who doesn't need foreigners, or foreign governments, or George Soros, or the United Auto Workers, or the teacher's union, or the Service Employees International Union, or the Bar Association to fund his campaign.

Billionaire tycoon and maverick Donald Trump doesn’t need anyone’s help. That means he doesn’t care what the media says. He doesn’t care what the corporate elites think. That makes him very dangerous to the entrenched interests. That makes Trump a huge threat to those people. Trump can ruin everything for the bribed politicians and their spoiled slave masters.

Don’t you ever wonder why the GOP has never tried to impeach Obama? Don’t you wonder why John Boehner and Mitch McConnell talk a big game, but never actually try to stop Obama?

Don’t you wonder why Congress holds the purse strings, yet has never tried to defund Obamacare or Obama’s clearly illegal executive action on amnesty for illegal aliens? Bizarre, right? It defies logic, right?

First, I'd guess many key Republicans are being bribed. Secondly, I believe many key Republicans are being blackmailed. Whether they are having affairs, or secretly gay, or stealing taxpayer money, the National Security Agency knows everything.

Ask former House Speaker Dennis Hastert about that. The government even knew he was withdrawing large sums of his own money from his own bank account. The NSA, the SEC, the IRS, and all the other three-letter government agencies are watching every Republican political leader. They surveil everything.

Thirdly, many Republicans are petrified of being called racists, so they are scared to ever criticize Obama or call out his crimes, let alone demand his impeachment.

Fourth , why rock the boat? After defeat or retirement, if you’re a good old boy, you’ve got a $5 million-per-year lobbying job waiting. The big-money interests have the system gamed. Win or lose, they win.

But Trump doesn’t play by any of these rules. Trump breaks up this nice, cozy relationship between big government, big media, and big business. All the rules are out the window if Trump wins the Presidency. The other politicians will protect Obama and his aides but not Trump.

Remember: Trump is the guy who publicly questioned Obama's birth certificate. He questioned Obama's college records and how a mediocre student got into an Ivy League university. Now, he's doing something no Republican has the chutzpah to do. He's questioning our relationship with Mexico; he's questioning why the border is wide open; he's questioning why no wall has been built across the border; he's questioning if allowing millions of illegal aliens into America is in our best interests; he's questioning why so many illegal aliens commit violent crimes, yet are not deported; and he's questioning why our trade deals with Mexico, Russia and China are so bad.

Trump has the audacity to ask out loud why American workers always get the short end of the stick. Good question!

I'm certain Trump will question what happened to the almost billion dollars given in a rigged no-bid contract to college friends of Michelle Obama at foreign companies to build the defective Obamacare website. By the way, that tab is now up to $5 billion.

Trump will ask if Obamacare's architects can be charged with fraud for selling it by lying. Trump will investigate Obama's widespread IRS conspiracy, not to mention Obama's college records. Trump will prosecute Clinton and Obama for fraud committed to cover up Benghazi before the election. How about the fraud committed by employees of the Labor Department when they made up dramatic job numbers in the last jobs report before the 2012 election?

Obama, the multinational corporations and the media need to stop Trump. They recognize this could get out of control. If left unchecked, telling the raw truth and asking questions everyone else is afraid to ask, Trump could wake a sleeping giant.

Trump's election would be a nightmare. Obama has committed many crimes. No one else but Trump would dare to prosecute. He will not hesitate. Once Trump gets in and gets a look at the cooked books and Obama's records, the game is over.

The jig is up. The goose is cooked. Holder could wind up in prison. Jarrett could wind up in prison. Obama bundler Corzine could wind up in prison for losing $1.5 billion of customer money.

Clinton could wind up in jail for deleting 32,000 emails or for accepting bribes from foreign governments while Secretary of State, or for misplacing $6 billion as the head of the State Department, or for lying about Benghazi. The entire upper level management of the IRS could wind up in prison.

Obamacare will be de-funded and dismantled. Obama himself could wind up ruined, his legacy in tatters. Trump will investigate. Trump will prosecute. Trump will go after everyone involved. That’s why the dogs of hell have been unleashed on Donald Trump.

Yes, it's become open season on Donald Trump.

The left and the right are determined to attack his policies, harm his businesses and if possible, even keep him out of the coming debates. But they can't silence him. And they sure can't intimidate him.

The more they try, the more the public will realize that he's the one telling the truth.


So...immediately, then?

:p


well he was right about both parties and most big businesses not liking Trump, then things got lost in translation. but the first part is why I like trump fro the Win, the politicians don't want him too, and if they hate him he must be someone to take note of.


Lost in translation, buried beneath crazy rhetoric and wild accusations...potato, potahto, right?

It's not just 'politicians and big businesses' that don't like him, and they don't dislike him just because he's shaking things up in the political arena. He's a bully. He's a loudmouth. He's a bigot, or at the very least he's riding a wave of bigoted sentiment. He's a thin-skinned narcissist. He calls names and talks about the size of his genitals during debates (at least Lyndon Johnson would whip it out and back up what he was saying). And, maybe most importantly, he has no desire to fact-check or take a firm position. Whatever he says at that moment becomes the Official Trump Platform, until he changes his mind, is told he just called for a war crime, or wants to appeal to a different crowd.

He's a weathervane. He's the worst sort of career politician, but without the career and the small saving grace of experience that would bring. Why does ANYONE who claims to be looking for honesty or sending a message to the political establishment want to give him their support? The only message it sends is "We like mudslinging and pandering. More of that, please."
          Re:Politics - USA        
 Spinner wrote:
Asterios wrote:
 Spinner wrote:
Asterios wrote:
Well just saw this and thought it looks like a good read, until it took a very hard turn into the twilight zone:

Spoiler:
Phil Alba
March 9 · Amityville, NY ·
Although I have some reservations about Donald Trump, this article below by Bill Bennett articulates unimpeachable realities and deserves a few of your minutes to read and consider....


BE CAREFUL OUT THERE

Written by the distinguished Bill Bennett about Donald Trump.
I think you will find it very interesting and alarming.
You might want to take the time to read it.

[cid:3D8E143E5278495885E4EE1F1D6DC3E8@LaptopHP]
PHD - Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan
Cultural studies at the distinguished and renowned Heritage Foundation

Interesting take on Trump.
William J. Bennett, Host of Bill Bennett's Morning in America Show, is one of America's most important, influential, and respected voices on cultural, political, and education issues.He has one of the strongest Christian worldviews of any writer in modern times.

What I See Happening In a Trump Presidency
By Bill Bennett

They will try to kill him before they let him be president.
It could be a Republican or a Democrat that instigates the shutting up of Trump.
Don’t be surprised if Trump has an accident. Some people are getting very nervous: Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett, Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton and Jon Corzine, to name just a few.

It's about the unholy dynamics between big government, big business, and big media. They all benefit by the billions of dollars from this partnership, and it's in all of their interests to protect one another. It's one for all and all for one.

It’s a heck of a filthy relationship that makes everyone filthy rich, everyone except the American people. We get ripped off. We’re the patsies. But for once, the powerful socialist cabal and the corrupt crony capitalists are scared. The over-the-top reaction to Trump by politicians of both parties, the media, and the biggest corporations of America has been so swift and insanely angry that it suggests they are all threatened and frightened.

Donald Trump can self-fund. No matter how much they say to the contrary, the media, business, and political elite understand that Trump is no joke. He could actually win and upset their nice cozy apple cart.

It's no coincidence that everyone has gotten together to destroy The Donald. It's because most of the other politicians are part of the a good old boys club. They talk big, but they won’t change a thing. They are all beholden to big-money donors.

They are all owned by lobbyists, unions, lawyers, gigantic environmental organizations, and multinational corporations – like Big Pharmacy or Big Oil. Or they are owned lock, stock, and barrel by foreigners like George Soros owns Obama or foreign governments own Hillary and their Clinton Foundation donations.

These run-of-the-mill establishment politicians are all puppets owned by big money. But there's one man who isn't beholden to anyone.

There's one man who doesn't need foreigners, or foreign governments, or George Soros, or the United Auto Workers, or the teacher's union, or the Service Employees International Union, or the Bar Association to fund his campaign.

Billionaire tycoon and maverick Donald Trump doesn’t need anyone’s help. That means he doesn’t care what the media says. He doesn’t care what the corporate elites think. That makes him very dangerous to the entrenched interests. That makes Trump a huge threat to those people. Trump can ruin everything for the bribed politicians and their spoiled slave masters.

Don’t you ever wonder why the GOP has never tried to impeach Obama? Don’t you wonder why John Boehner and Mitch McConnell talk a big game, but never actually try to stop Obama?

Don’t you wonder why Congress holds the purse strings, yet has never tried to defund Obamacare or Obama’s clearly illegal executive action on amnesty for illegal aliens? Bizarre, right? It defies logic, right?

First, I'd guess many key Republicans are being bribed. Secondly, I believe many key Republicans are being blackmailed. Whether they are having affairs, or secretly gay, or stealing taxpayer money, the National Security Agency knows everything.

Ask former House Speaker Dennis Hastert about that. The government even knew he was withdrawing large sums of his own money from his own bank account. The NSA, the SEC, the IRS, and all the other three-letter government agencies are watching every Republican political leader. They surveil everything.

Thirdly, many Republicans are petrified of being called racists, so they are scared to ever criticize Obama or call out his crimes, let alone demand his impeachment.

Fourth , why rock the boat? After defeat or retirement, if you’re a good old boy, you’ve got a $5 million-per-year lobbying job waiting. The big-money interests have the system gamed. Win or lose, they win.

But Trump doesn’t play by any of these rules. Trump breaks up this nice, cozy relationship between big government, big media, and big business. All the rules are out the window if Trump wins the Presidency. The other politicians will protect Obama and his aides but not Trump.

Remember: Trump is the guy who publicly questioned Obama's birth certificate. He questioned Obama's college records and how a mediocre student got into an Ivy League university. Now, he's doing something no Republican has the chutzpah to do. He's questioning our relationship with Mexico; he's questioning why the border is wide open; he's questioning why no wall has been built across the border; he's questioning if allowing millions of illegal aliens into America is in our best interests; he's questioning why so many illegal aliens commit violent crimes, yet are not deported; and he's questioning why our trade deals with Mexico, Russia and China are so bad.

Trump has the audacity to ask out loud why American workers always get the short end of the stick. Good question!

I'm certain Trump will question what happened to the almost billion dollars given in a rigged no-bid contract to college friends of Michelle Obama at foreign companies to build the defective Obamacare website. By the way, that tab is now up to $5 billion.

Trump will ask if Obamacare's architects can be charged with fraud for selling it by lying. Trump will investigate Obama's widespread IRS conspiracy, not to mention Obama's college records. Trump will prosecute Clinton and Obama for fraud committed to cover up Benghazi before the election. How about the fraud committed by employees of the Labor Department when they made up dramatic job numbers in the last jobs report before the 2012 election?

Obama, the multinational corporations and the media need to stop Trump. They recognize this could get out of control. If left unchecked, telling the raw truth and asking questions everyone else is afraid to ask, Trump could wake a sleeping giant.

Trump's election would be a nightmare. Obama has committed many crimes. No one else but Trump would dare to prosecute. He will not hesitate. Once Trump gets in and gets a look at the cooked books and Obama's records, the game is over.

The jig is up. The goose is cooked. Holder could wind up in prison. Jarrett could wind up in prison. Obama bundler Corzine could wind up in prison for losing $1.5 billion of customer money.

Clinton could wind up in jail for deleting 32,000 emails or for accepting bribes from foreign governments while Secretary of State, or for misplacing $6 billion as the head of the State Department, or for lying about Benghazi. The entire upper level management of the IRS could wind up in prison.

Obamacare will be de-funded and dismantled. Obama himself could wind up ruined, his legacy in tatters. Trump will investigate. Trump will prosecute. Trump will go after everyone involved. That’s why the dogs of hell have been unleashed on Donald Trump.

Yes, it's become open season on Donald Trump.

The left and the right are determined to attack his policies, harm his businesses and if possible, even keep him out of the coming debates. But they can't silence him. And they sure can't intimidate him.

The more they try, the more the public will realize that he's the one telling the truth.


So...immediately, then?

:p


well he was right about both parties and most big businesses not liking Trump, then things got lost in translation. but the first part is why I like trump fro the Win, the politicians don't want him too, and if they hate him he must be someone to take note of.


Lost in translation, buried beneath crazy rhetoric and wild accusations...potato, potahto, right?

It's not just 'politicians and big businesses' that don't like him, and they don't dislike him just because he's shaking things up in the political arena. He's a bully. He's a loudmouth. He's a bigot, or at the very least he's riding a wave of bigoted sentiment. He's a thin-skinned narcissist. He calls names and talks about the size of his genitals during debates (at least Lyndon Johnson would whip it out and back up what he was saying). And, maybe most importantly, he has no desire to fact-check or take a firm position. Whatever he says at that moment becomes the Official Trump Platform, until he changes his mind, is told he just called for a war crime, or wants to appeal to a different crowd.

He's a weathervane. He's the worst sort of career politician, but without the career and the small saving grace of experience that would bring. Why does ANYONE who claims to be looking for honesty or sending a message to the political establishment want to give him their support? The only message it sends is "We like mudslinging and pandering. More of that, please."


no it means for all his faults, its not as bad as being a politician.
          'Oracle Of Omaha': Republican Health Care Bill 'A Huge Tax Cut For Guys Like Me'        
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett fielded questions at the annual shareholders meeting for his company Berkshire Hathaway. He offered thoughts and insights on everything from Republicans voting to repeal Obamacare, to the Wells Fargo scandal, to how artificial intelligence and technology might reshape America. Here are some highlights: Repealing Obamacare is "a huge tax cut for guys like me" When asked about the bill Republicans in Congress just voted to pass to repeal and replace Obamacare, Buffett signaled his distaste for a tax cut provision. Obamacare pays for health care for Americans in part by taxing wealthier people. The Republican bill scraps that tax on the wealthy. And Buffett has apparently done the math here. If the Republican bill had been law last year, he said, "my federal taxes would have gone down 17 percent last year, so it's a huge tax cut for guys like me." "That is in the law that was passed a couple days ago," he added. "Anybody with $250,000 a year of adjusted
          George Janiec and Kim Krull throw Rob Pastore Under the Bus        
(Hat Tip to Buzzcut) Interesting, but not surprising to hear that Rob Pastore got the GOP shaft. Anyone who took the time to sit down and talk with Rob would know that he is a person adamant about cleaning corruption from the political system across the board. That position in its own right would cause some [...] Related posts:
  1. ROB PASTORE ISSUES STATEMENT REGARDING OBAMACARE AND THE FIRST CONGRESSIONAL SEAT

          Covered California is Not for Everyone        
Covered California is open for business, more or less, but many Californians won't go there if they need health insurance for themselves or their families. Instead they'll turn to health insurance agents and buy coverage directly from insurance companies. **The On-Exchange Plans** For the roughly two million Californians who currently buy health insurance on their own, only about a third will qualify for government tax subsidies - and to get the subsidy, people must buy through Covered California. Subsidy Eligible vs Ineligible.jpg **The Off-Exchange Plans** Without a subsidy to offset rates, there's no compelling reason for the majority of individual health insurance customers to shop on the exchange. People who earn too much to expect government help will be shopping for off-exchange plans, where they'll have more options and the process is much faster. **What are Off-Exchange Plans?** Off-exchange plans will still be required to meet 10 benefits standards outlined in the health care law. People shouldn't make any rushed decisions. Many of the off-exchange plans are not yet available because government regulators still need to approve them. So you are still not seeing all the options that are going to be available. **There's No Rush** The ACA plans will go live on Jan. 1. People have until Dec. 15 to enroll in a plan that will start on the first of the year. And they can enroll as late as Mar 31, 2014 for guaranteed-issue coverage. Most people with existing individual policies in California will get new plans by the end of the year. That's because those individual plans don't meet the standards outlined in Obamacare and must be upgraded to comply with the law. So when that letter from your insurance carrier shows up in the mail, pay attention.Grandfathered vs Non-Grandfathered.jpg If the plan you have now is grandfathered, you don't have to do anything. If it is not grandfathered and you do nothing, you health insurance carrier will transition you to a ACA compliant plan that is closest in coverage and rate to your current plan. All new plans will have to cover a minimum set of medical costs and include standardized benefits. That means that the more than one million California residents who now have individual plans, and are not eligible for subsidies, will very likely be paying a higher monthly premium.
          MAGI - What It Is and What It Isn't.        
> Guest Author, A.Marshall, is a retired attorney whose blog, [An Ad Hoc Guide to the Affordable Care Act](http://obamacareguide.wordpress.com), seeks to make sense of buying health care under Obamacare. A. Marshall has been a frequent commenter on our Q&A Advice blog under the name, *Freelancer*. MAJI.jpeg **We Are Confused** Many individuals and families with complicated income situations are confused about how to calculate their MAGI (modified adjusted gross income) for purposes of determining eligibility for premium support under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Official web sites such as the Healthcare.gov site or IRS.gov tend to focus only on earned income and do not provide much guidance as to how to handle other forms of income or various tax deductions. Much of the information posted on other internet sites is mistaken or misleading. Part of the confusion stems from the fact that the tax code uses the phrase "modified adjusted gross income" to mean different things for different purposes. Some web sites or blogs have posted worksheets based on IRS forms developed for very different purposes. In fact, MAGI is defined in different ways in well over a dozen different sections of the tax code. Although this statutory framework is confusing, it does leave one thing clear: the definition of "modified adjusted gross income" varies depending on the purpose of the income calculation, and it is always clearly stated within the particular statute which defines a particular income-related tax or benefit. The term is defined for purposes of the Affordable Care Act in [26 USC 36B](http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/36B). **Adjusted Gross Income Plus** The term "modified adjusted gross income" means adjusted gross income increased by-- 1. any amount excluded from gross income under section 911, 2. any amount of interest received or accrued by the taxpayer during the taxable year which is exempt from tax, and 3. an amount equal to the portion of the taxpayer's social security benefits (as defined in section 86(d)) which is not included in gross income under section 86 for the taxable year. This means that MAGI is the combined total of: 1. the adjusted gross income of the taxpayers within a household, plus 2. any amounts excluded from taxation by section 911 (the exclusion from gross income for citizens or residents living abroad), 3. any tax-exempt interest received or accrued during the tax year, and 4. any portion of the taxpayer's social security benefits that are excluded from gross income. **Tax Deductions Not Included** Other than the items specified by the statute, there are no other add-backs to the calculation. That means that the various types of tax deductions listed in the Adjusted Gross Income sections of the IRS 1040 or 1040A forms are also income reductions for purposes of the ACA. This means that in determining subsidy eligibility, taxpayers can continue to benefit from a variety of tax deductions, including the following: - Deductions related to college expenses (student loan interest and college tuition deductions - Deduction for contributions to a traditional IRA - Health Savings Account (HSA) deduction - Self-employment deductions, including: - One-half of the amount of self-employment tax - 100% of the amount of self-employed health insurance premiums - Contributions to a qualified retirement account, such as a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plan. Keep in mind that these rules are subject to change - in fact, the definition of MAGI in the Affordable Care Act has already been changed by Congress twice since the law was first written. Taxpayers with complex profiles should seek the advice of a tax preparation professional
          Politics - USA        
Rosebuddy wrote:

Well, depends on how she goes about it, doesn't it?


Not really. People that Felt the Bern don't, generally, trust her. That's a large part of why they Felt the Bern in the first place.

Rosebuddy wrote:

If she actually adopted some social-democratic policies and genuinely worked with the left I'm pretty sure she wouldn't have as much trouble nabbing their votes. Y'know, maybe if she listened to concerns about debt and healthcare instead of just posting memes on twitter...


Hillarycare was a thing. A thing which basically became Obamacare. Her position on healthcare reform hasn't really changed.

Debt is a separate issue, specifically student debt, which no one has a good solution for; not even uncle Bernie.

Rosebuddy wrote:

That said, I don't think she ever will because leftism is the opposite of what she wants. She will not offer anything of substance and doesn't even seem to care or understand that substance is why Sanders had such overwhelming support among young voters.


Sanders has overwhelming support from young voters (read: people that will whine on social media, but not actually vote) for the same reason that people like the Paulians do: stupidity and hormones. It is incredibly easy to get young people to support you if you use soaring rhetoric.
          HHS nominee Tom Price and a radical right-wing physician organization        

The Skeptical Raptor, stalking pseudoscience in the internet jungle.

Recently, president-elect Donald Trump nominated Georgia congressman Tom Price to be Secretary for Health and Human Services (HHS). Price is a medical doctor whose impact on politics has been almost exclusively based on his unwavering opposition to the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Once Trump was elected, along with a Republican Senate and House, most …

Skeptical Raptor


          2014 Midterms: Another Missed Opportunity        
We’re sixteen days out from what should be a massive GOP landslide in the 2014 Midterm elections on November 4.  Ebola, ISIS, Obamacare’s latest victims, the porous borders, etc. should make this real easy for the GOP.  Yet, the latest polls indicate that a landslide is not likely to take place. Why not? Brent Bozell [...]
          GOP Surrenders on Budget Deal (Funds ObamaCare for 2 years; McConnell silent...)        
The budget agreement announced yesterday increases spending, raises taxes, and funds Obamacare for two years. It has the support of President Obama, Harry Reid, and countless Democrats in Washington. What is Mitch McConnell doing to stop it? Nothing. In fact, McConnell was completely silent on the deal yesterday. Mitch McConnell may vote against the deal so he can pretend to be a conservative, but don't be fooled. He wants the deal to pass. He made it clear that he won't fight the Democrats on spending and he forced his party to surrender. It's so disappointing because now is the perfect...
          McConnell punts on shutdown solution (What a leader!!)        
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday declined to take sides in the squabble among House Republicans over a government shutdown. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has tried to convince his colleagues to support legislation that would keep the government open after Oct. 1 while forcing the Senate to vote on defunding ObamaCare. That approach was dismissed by the right wing of his conference, and now 70 House conservatives are supporting an effort to tie a one-year defunding of ObamaCare to the government funding resolution. McConnell, who crafted deals to end the 2011 debt-ceiling standoff and the 2012 fight over...
          Matt Bevin Squeezes Mitch McConnell On Obamacare        
Republican Senate candidate Matt Bevin launched a Facebook petition Tuesday to demand that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) sign a letter by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) vowing to block legislation to keep the federal government open unless it defunds the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. “Over the past couple of days, Sen. McConnell has been asked repeatedly whether he will support Sen. Mike Lee’s effort to defund Obamacare before its implementation on October 1st, and each time, Sen. McConnell has refused to answer," Bevin said. "It is truly sad to see the minority leader of the U.S. Senate so...
          McConnell declines to weigh in on ObamaCare shutdown threat (Shocker /s)         
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said Tuesday he has yet to decide whether to support a proposal to block government funding if it includes money for ObamaCare.Tea Party Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have ratcheted up the pressure on McConnell to threaten a government shutdown if Democrats refuse to relent on the healthcare overhaul. McConnell told reporters he’s in the midst of discussions about government funding, which will expire at the end of September, and the national debt limit, projected to run out at year’s end.“We’ve had a lot of internal discussions about...
          McConnell: Obama's Sequester Same Dem Games, Not Governing (Mitch trying to get re-elected)        
U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor Monday regarding the need for the President in his State of the Union address to address the real consequences of Obamacare and offer solutions to avoid the sequester.
          If Your Startup Has W2 Employees, This Year-End May Be Unusually Interesting        

Regardless of who wins the election in a couple of weeks, there is much uncertainty around taxes and benefits along with all the usual pressures of annual reviews, bonuses, parties, and work interruptions associated with the Holidays.  As of this writing, the Presidential election is still too close to call, and even the control of the Senate is possibly up for grabs.  Dealing with the looming fiscal cliff is going to require some cooperation in Washington that we haven’t seen in the last four years.  The State of the Union (photo above from Wikipedia) is a state of confusion at the moment.

In the past week I received my health insurance enrollment package for 2013, and my premium is up 13% after a slight decline last year.  That’s more than $110 per month of pre-tax income reduction for me with no improvement in benefits.  In addition, I noticed just this week that the co-pay on my one maintenance prescription has doubled.  I’m hearing many similar stories from others; apparently we’re all starting to pay for Obamacare.  If your company has scaled to more than a handful of W2 employees and you are picking up some or all the benefits tab, and if you are managing to profit goals, this all may be of no small significance to your operational targets.

I like the Holidays, but they’re a time of some stress unless you are in a happy retail business and make all your profit between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.  But, for most of us in tech startup land, added to the normal seasonal anxiety this year will be lots of confusion about benefits and some element of dealing with who knows what coming from Washington.  If all your employees suddenly take a big tax hit in their paychecks as of January, guess where they’ll look first to make up the difference.  Many companies tend to deliver performance reviews, salary increases, bonuses, and/or extra time off around Christmas, and all that will need to be handled in what will probably be an air of uncertainty up until the last minutes of December.  Just updating payroll systems on the fly will be no trivial matter.  Weekly payers on Fridays will have only 2 working days ahead of Friday, January 4, to make any last minute adjustments. 

One thing you can do ahead of the rush is handle the typical annual “open enrollment” period associated with your benefits plan.  I’ve already gotten my 25-page package with my 5 choices, all bad in terms of cost increases.  I’ll get this out of the way this week, but when I’ve been associated with larger organizations, I’ve suffered through numerous mandatory meetings explaining all the nuances of the various options.  At least now everybody in these types of meetings can be cruising Facebook or Twitter on their smart phones to make them more tolerable, but there are points where they really ought to be paying close attention.

Here’s some very specific and timely advice from our partner TriNet on this process:

“Go beyond just telling your employees that open enrollment is coming up. Make sure you provide as much advance information about program changes as you can.  You’ll want to be clear about deadlines and provide a checklist to help employees evaluate their options and complete the forms by specified dates. Keep in mind that employees often overlook some company emails, so it’s wise to incorporate multiple communication channels – email, webinars, social media posts, brown-bag lunches, and group presentations to better ensure the message is received.  If your workforce is geographically dispersed, this multi-channel approach is all the more important.

Once you have let people know about the deadlines and have coordinated channels to help answer questions from your staff, provide a resource (company intranet, dedicated website) where your employees can go to research the benefits programs offered this year, review their past coverage selections, access forms, ask questions, etc.

It can be challenging to motivate staff to enroll by the deadline, so make sure to involve managers in this process. Supervisors are in the best position to ensure their direct reports have the resources they need to understand their benefits and enroll on time.

Finally, issue follow up communications with your staff consisting of short and simple reminder actions with clear deadlines and a list of actions each employee must take in order to complete enrollment successfully. These reminders should be sent via email and posted on your company intranet. In order to continue to improve the process, solicit feedback from your employees to see how it went for them, and if necessary, make adjustments to your open enrollment strategy for next year.

Preparation is the key to a smooth open enrollment process, and be sure to get feedback so you can learn how to make improvements for next time.”

All this advice is consistent with my personal experience in companies where we have grown large enough to have management layers and multiple locations.  Admittedly none of this is exciting as working on your next customer, or your next 500,000 customers, or fine tuning your product, but it’s part of being a true “scaling entrepreneur.” 

 


          Reply #3278        
Adam, get to a CPA tax accountant ASAP!

$200 to a CPA is cheaper than an IRS penalty!

You owe estimated taxes for this quarter and a CPA will tell you this.

The CPA will also tell you how much you owe on the 3.8% Obamacare tax that you now have to pay because you made over $250,000 this year!

See a CPA Tax Accountant the sooner the sooner.

I hope I am not the first one to tell you this
          Re:Politics - USA        
 Tannhauser42 wrote:
 whembly wrote:
SCOTUS halts Obama's Executive Amnesty:
Spoiler:

Supreme Court deadlocks, thwarting Obama’s immigration actions
The high court ruling is a major blow to Obama's effort to redeem his legacy on immigration.

The Supreme Court has thwarted President Barack Obama’s drive to expand his executive actions on immigration by making as many as five million immigrants currently in the U.S. illegally eligible for quasi-legal status and work permits.

By dividing 4-4, the justices left in place a lower court order forbidding the president from launching a new program to grant “deferred action” status to illegal immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens or green card holders.

The high court ruling is a major blow to Obama’s effort to redeem his legacy on immigration, an issue which was pushed to the back burner early in his presidency and never regained much momentum. It also leaves Obama branded by many immigration activists as the “deporter-in-chief” for overseeing the removal of more than 2.5 million migrants from the U.S.

Obama hoped to counter those perceptions with the executive-action program he created for so-called “Dreamers” in 2012 and the new one for parents, which was set to begin early last year before a federal judge in Texas halted it.

The Supreme Court decision does not signal the beginning of a new wave of deportations since the lawsuit the justices were considering focused on the benefits Obama sought to accord to qualifying immigrants, not his administration’s right to decide priorities and timing for deportations.

However, the ruling does raise questions about the validity of “deferred action” status and work permits issued to more than 700,000 immigrants in the past four years under Obama’s program for “Dreamers,” also known as “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” or “DACA.”

Despite the profound consequences of the case for millions of immigrants and their families, the shorthanded high court's deadlock was relayed in a one-page opinion saying simply: "The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court."

As is usual when the justices split evenly, no tally was released of how the justices voted. However, based on comments at oral arguments in the case, it appeared the justices were split along the usual ideological lines with the four Democratic appointees supportive of the legality of Obama's plan and the four Republican appointees inclined to find it went beyond his legal powers.

Chief Justice John Roberts announced the even split in the case at the end of the court's release of opinions on Thursday. Roberts nonchalantly announced the result together with the deadlock in a less-prominent case Thursday relating to the jurisdiction of tribal Indian courts.

The stalemate at the Supreme Court is likely to turn up the heat further on the immigration issue in the presidential campaign. It could make the Supreme Court itself more of an issue in that contest and in Senate races around the country, as Democrats highlight the impact of the vacancy Senate Republican leaders have refused to fill since the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February.

Reaction from the political world was swift and, like the court, sharply split.

“Today, Article I of the Constitution was vindicated,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement. “The Supreme Court’s ruling makes the president’s executive action on immigration null and void. The Constitution is clear: The president is not permitted to write laws—only Congress is. This is another major victory in our fight to restore the separation of powers.”

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton denounced the decision, while also seeming to minimize it.

“Today’s deadlocked decision from the Supreme Court is unacceptable, and show us all just how high the stakes are in this election,” she wrote. "Today’s decision by the Supreme Court is purely procedural and casts no doubt on the fact that DAPA and DACA are entirely within the President's legal authority.”

Clinton also linked the momentous immigration ruling to the standoff over filling the seat opened by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February. Republicans have refused to hold a hearing or vote on Obama’s nominee for the slot, appeals court judge Merrick Garland.

“In addition to throwing millions of families across our country into a state of uncertainty, this decision reminds us how much damage Senate Republicans are doing by refusing to consider President Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Our families and our country need and deserve a full bench, and Senate Republicans need to stop playing political games with our democracy and give Judge Merrick Garland a fair hearing and vote,” Clinton said.

One Clinton aide was even more blunt about his feelings on the ruling.

““F***. Awful news,” tweeted Jesse Lehrich, a spokesman for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Other Democrats also slammed the ruling, while Republicans said they were delighted with the outcome.

“The Supreme Court tie on immigration decision is exactly why #WeNeedNine. @SCOTUSnom Garland deserves a hearing and vote,” Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) tweeted.

“Deeply saddened by divided #SCOTUS decision in #USvTexas. We should be keeping families together, not tearing them apart!” Rep, Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) wrote on Twitter.

“Obama's illegal action on #immigration has been blocked! A huge win for our Constitution and for our rule of law,” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) tweeted.

All-but-certain Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has vowed to revoke Obama’s actions and step up efforts to deport millions of illegal immigrants out of the U.S.
Clinton has pledged to expand Obama’s executive actions and seek a more permanent solution through Congress.

Because the new ruling doesn’t set precedent for future cases, it doesn’t slam the door on future executive actions, but it does demonstrate the perils of a president trying to act without explicit authority from Congress.



Setting aside the actual case itself, as it's irrelevant to the point I want to make, I find it annoying that the Republicans were falling all over each other in a mad rush to congratulate themselves on their "win", when they really didn't win at all. The whole problem here is that the SC didn't decide. The Rs would be singing a completely different tune if this had gone against them; how will they act when the next big case doesn't go the way they want because of the deadlock?

You mean like when Democrats congratulated themselves over their "win" with Obamacare?

It's.The.LAW!!!!
          Re:Politics - USA        
 whembly wrote:
 Tannhauser42 wrote:
 whembly wrote:
SCOTUS halts Obama's Executive Amnesty:
Spoiler:

Supreme Court deadlocks, thwarting Obama’s immigration actions
The high court ruling is a major blow to Obama's effort to redeem his legacy on immigration.

The Supreme Court has thwarted President Barack Obama’s drive to expand his executive actions on immigration by making as many as five million immigrants currently in the U.S. illegally eligible for quasi-legal status and work permits.

By dividing 4-4, the justices left in place a lower court order forbidding the president from launching a new program to grant “deferred action” status to illegal immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens or green card holders.

The high court ruling is a major blow to Obama’s effort to redeem his legacy on immigration, an issue which was pushed to the back burner early in his presidency and never regained much momentum. It also leaves Obama branded by many immigration activists as the “deporter-in-chief” for overseeing the removal of more than 2.5 million migrants from the U.S.

Obama hoped to counter those perceptions with the executive-action program he created for so-called “Dreamers” in 2012 and the new one for parents, which was set to begin early last year before a federal judge in Texas halted it.

The Supreme Court decision does not signal the beginning of a new wave of deportations since the lawsuit the justices were considering focused on the benefits Obama sought to accord to qualifying immigrants, not his administration’s right to decide priorities and timing for deportations.

However, the ruling does raise questions about the validity of “deferred action” status and work permits issued to more than 700,000 immigrants in the past four years under Obama’s program for “Dreamers,” also known as “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” or “DACA.”

Despite the profound consequences of the case for millions of immigrants and their families, the shorthanded high court's deadlock was relayed in a one-page opinion saying simply: "The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court."

As is usual when the justices split evenly, no tally was released of how the justices voted. However, based on comments at oral arguments in the case, it appeared the justices were split along the usual ideological lines with the four Democratic appointees supportive of the legality of Obama's plan and the four Republican appointees inclined to find it went beyond his legal powers.

Chief Justice John Roberts announced the even split in the case at the end of the court's release of opinions on Thursday. Roberts nonchalantly announced the result together with the deadlock in a less-prominent case Thursday relating to the jurisdiction of tribal Indian courts.

The stalemate at the Supreme Court is likely to turn up the heat further on the immigration issue in the presidential campaign. It could make the Supreme Court itself more of an issue in that contest and in Senate races around the country, as Democrats highlight the impact of the vacancy Senate Republican leaders have refused to fill since the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February.

Reaction from the political world was swift and, like the court, sharply split.

“Today, Article I of the Constitution was vindicated,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement. “The Supreme Court’s ruling makes the president’s executive action on immigration null and void. The Constitution is clear: The president is not permitted to write laws—only Congress is. This is another major victory in our fight to restore the separation of powers.”

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton denounced the decision, while also seeming to minimize it.

“Today’s deadlocked decision from the Supreme Court is unacceptable, and show us all just how high the stakes are in this election,” she wrote. "Today’s decision by the Supreme Court is purely procedural and casts no doubt on the fact that DAPA and DACA are entirely within the President's legal authority.”

Clinton also linked the momentous immigration ruling to the standoff over filling the seat opened by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February. Republicans have refused to hold a hearing or vote on Obama’s nominee for the slot, appeals court judge Merrick Garland.

“In addition to throwing millions of families across our country into a state of uncertainty, this decision reminds us how much damage Senate Republicans are doing by refusing to consider President Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Our families and our country need and deserve a full bench, and Senate Republicans need to stop playing political games with our democracy and give Judge Merrick Garland a fair hearing and vote,” Clinton said.

One Clinton aide was even more blunt about his feelings on the ruling.

““F***. Awful news,” tweeted Jesse Lehrich, a spokesman for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Other Democrats also slammed the ruling, while Republicans said they were delighted with the outcome.

“The Supreme Court tie on immigration decision is exactly why #WeNeedNine. @SCOTUSnom Garland deserves a hearing and vote,” Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) tweeted.

“Deeply saddened by divided #SCOTUS decision in #USvTexas. We should be keeping families together, not tearing them apart!” Rep, Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) wrote on Twitter.

“Obama's illegal action on #immigration has been blocked! A huge win for our Constitution and for our rule of law,” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) tweeted.

All-but-certain Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has vowed to revoke Obama’s actions and step up efforts to deport millions of illegal immigrants out of the U.S.
Clinton has pledged to expand Obama’s executive actions and seek a more permanent solution through Congress.

Because the new ruling doesn’t set precedent for future cases, it doesn’t slam the door on future executive actions, but it does demonstrate the perils of a president trying to act without explicit authority from Congress.



Setting aside the actual case itself, as it's irrelevant to the point I want to make, I find it annoying that the Republicans were falling all over each other in a mad rush to congratulate themselves on their "win", when they really didn't win at all. The whole problem here is that the SC didn't decide. The Rs would be singing a completely different tune if this had gone against them; how will they act when the next big case doesn't go the way they want because of the deadlock?

You mean like when Democrats congratulated themselves over their "win" with Obamacare?

It's.The.LAW!!!!


lets face it no matter which side wins, the winners will crow and losers will moan.
          Re:Politics - USA        
 whembly wrote:

You mean like when Democrats congratulated themselves over their "win" with Obamacare?

It's.The.LAW!!!!


What is? A 4 versus 4 draw is not exactly difficult precedent to overturn, and it's hardly comparable to what happened with Obamacare.
          Re:Politics - USA        
 dogma wrote:
 whembly wrote:

You mean like when Democrats congratulated themselves over their "win" with Obamacare?

It's.The.LAW!!!!


What is? A 4 versus 4 draw is not exactly difficult precedent to overturn, and it's hardly comparable to what happened with Obamacare.

Okay... I'll concede that.
          Re:Politics - USA        
Changing gears, here. Something I heard on the radio and I did a little looking on the Internet about. Apparently, Ted "Net-Neutrality-is-Obamacare-for-the-Internet" Cruz is now fighting to "keep the Internet free". From what little I've gathered, as there hasn't been much major coverage on this, is that he doesn't want the evil ICANN to be in charge of DNS instead of the US, because apparently the US owns the Internet? I'm very fuzzy on the details (posting from my phone, too, so it's hard to do much in the way of research), but has anybody else heard anything more informative? I just find the principle of Cruz somehow trying to keep the net free, after his previous statements regarding net neutrality, to be laughable in the extreme.
          Republican Senator Pat Toomey admits GOP doesn’t know how to reform health care        

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey had a candid explanation for why the Senate is struggling with a health care bill: Lawmakers didn’t think Donald Trump would become President.

Speaking at a town hall Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Senator said that Republicans were having difficulty crafting a law to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act because they hadn’t planned for it to happen this year.

“Look, I didn’t expect Donald Trump to win, I think most of my colleagues didn’t, so we didn’t expect to be in this situation,” the Pennsylvania Senator said at a Town Hall Wednesday.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/apos-didn-apos-t-expect-204119283.html

There you have it folks.  An undeniable admission the Republicans have backed themselves into a corner and are standing there with their dicks in their hands wondering what to do.  The people want public health care but the Republicans don’t know how to deliver on Trump’s campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare while keeping their jobs and not upsetting their patrons in the insurance and health care industries.

Hmmmm. . . yeah that’s a real head scratcher.  Do they screw the people they prestend to represent, or screw their biggest donors?  My money is on screwing the people; they will believe anything they say.

Is it too late to rev up the Benghazi/Hillary’s emails/illegals/ISIS/Border Wall/Anything Obama/China is invading! sound machine?  And don’t forget that North Korea claims to be a legitimate military threat to the US while Trump is getting lost between his plane’s exit ramp and the vehicle waiting for him at the bottom.  All the while the GOP is at a loss for words.

Is it too early to say “I told you so”?


          Healthcare Triage: accessible health videos        
Need to explain current healthcare and medical research topics to people around you? Healthcare Triage offers informative and accessible videos on youtube: Obamacare * Is Marijuana Harmful to Health? * Why You Don't Need to Drink Milk * Exercise is NOT the Key to Weight Loss * GMOs * Is Organic Food Better for Your Health? * The Benefits of Paid Sick Leave for Workers, Employers, and Pretty Much Everybody
          Funny how Conservatives support Anti-Obamacare Lupus sufferer getting more government subsidies when it suites their manipulations        
So the story in the ad below goes that Emilie Lamb, 39, is a middle-class woman who suffers from Lupus, a chronic illness. She voted for President Barack Obama in 2012, hoping Obamacare would benefit her. She used to pay $57 a month in healthcare and now pays $373 per month. First of all what […]
          TODAY: Panel to Answer Questions on Obamacare in Sunland Park        
Sunland Park, N.M. РA local district of the Do̱a Ana County Democratic Party and Indivisible are partnering to bring a panel discussion on the Affordable Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, to Sunland Park. At the event panelists will answer questions about the positive impact the ACA has on New Mexico, how

Continue reading →


          Governor Martinez Absent From Bipartisan Letter Rejecting Republican Repeal without a Plan        
New Mexico – Today, a bipartisan group of governors rejected Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act today, but Governor Martinez was noticeably absent from their letter. “Governor Martinez is shirking her responsibility to stand up for New Mexico—not only would the Obamacare repeal take medical care away from hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans,

Continue reading →


          NEWS TO PONDER, SHARE AND WONDER        
Top World News Now                 
February 21, 2013

COURTESY SOCHA FAAL

 Heads up from AntiMullah. Separate vacations and Obambi brings Reggie Love back with  him. If you do  not know what this is, you need to visit/view AntiMullah.com more often to keep up with latest developments.

Tone and content reflects information not normally provided by Lame Stream Media's love fest with Obambi. And worldwide events that discredit his claims and motives for anti-American, pro-Moslem Brotherhood policies and actions.
 
Read and become knowledgeable and stop believing the incredible lies Obama feeds us at every opportunity. Lies his own Democrats increasingly have a problem swallowing and are intentionally leading our nation into certain fiscal and political destruction.


United States
GOP Resists Obama's Push for Tax Rise to Head Off Cuts
Obama Fleshes Out Plans for Infrastructure Projects
Obama considers urging the Supreme Court to overturn California’s ban on gay marriage
White House announces online espionage response policy
US issues final word on essential benefits under "Obamacare"
Anonymous thrown into China-US cyberwar scandal
Pentagon informs Congress of plans to furlough 800K civilian workers
In wake of Benghazi, rapid response Marine unit heading to Europe
US issues worldwide caution to its citizens of terror threats
Body found in restaurant rubble after Kansas City explosion
Why Americans Might Be Better Off If Their Burgers Were Made Of Horsemeat
Sex-Change Surgery Available Through Many US Colleges
Majority of US citizens say illegal immigrants should be deported
Hundreds of thousands march in Puerto Rico against gay rights
 
 

Russia
Putin Invites G20 Leaders to St. Petersburg Summit
Migrant workers call on Putin for amnesty
Lavrov: Time to end the war in Syria
Moscow: N. Korea sanctions can only impact nuclear program
IMF warns of higher inflation, slower GDP growth in Russia
Russia's missing billions revealed
Russia Tries To Remove Images of New Drone From the Internet
Russian Military to Develop Anti-Meteorite Defenses
Russia investigates 25 cases of Defense Ministry fraud - Prosecutor General
MP resigns after bloggers disclose his Florida property
Russia escalating attacks on free expression a year on from Pussy Riot protest
‘Ample Evidence’ Linking Ukraine Ex-President to Journalist Murder
French Specialists Resume Work at Chernobyl Disaster Site
Ukraine: Embezzlement At State Orphanages
Belarus Phases Out Russian Warplanes, Radars
 
 

China
Xi Jinping's campaign to purge Communist Party 'won't be easy'
Incumbent cabinet holds final meeting
China's central banker skips retirement bar to stay on
Manila to tackle sea row 'with or without China' at UN
Attacks originating from US rank 1st among overseas hackings in China
Photos show new activity at N Korea nuclear site
Spy agencies scrounge for details on North Korean nuclear test
North Korea: A nuclear 7-Eleven?
N Korean propaganda video shows Obama in flames
US Envoy Opposes S Korean Nuclear Armament
Rise in online fan clubs extolling China's party leaders
After China's multibillion-dollar cleanup, water still unfit to drink
Smog in Pearl River Delta 'worse than in Beijing'
Maoists Block Deal to Break Nepal's Long Political Deadlock
 
 

Cameron to pay respects to victims of Amritsar massacre
Cameron's India trip hits wobble with concern over helicopter deal
Sars-like virus death reported in UK
New coronavirus can infect human lungs as easily as cold virus
Magdalene laundries: Ireland to apologise to survivors
Iranian torture guard refused UK citizenship
Britain expands "bigger than burgers" horsemeat tests
Regulator warns Britain 'on the brink' of energy crisis
Scotland 'faces EU funding cut'
Tanker drivers in Scotland vote to strike
Belfast Orange Order warns members over flag protests
One in four Africans attacked in Ireland
 
 

Berlusconi accused of trying to buy votes days before election
After Bulgarian Protests, Prime Minister Resigns
Greek police fire tear gas on anti-austerity protesters
Greece welcomes Hollande with ‘news blackout’
Dutch experiment in legalised prostitution a disaster
Thieves in Belgium pull off most spectacular and dramatic diamond heist in years
Iceland considers dropping its currency
Lawmakers Threaten to Veto Tightened Budget
EU reinforces sanctions against DPRK
To Revive Honey Bees, Europe Proposes a Pesticide Ban
Anti-austerity strike to bring Greece to a standstill
Italy politicians make final drive for votes before poll
 
 

Berlusconi's possible comeback a nightmare for Angela Merkel
Merkel's Rainbow Problem: On Gay Rights, Chancellor Still a Conservative
German Officials Signal Berlusconi Isn't Their Man
Germany Sends Troops to Mali
German police raid firms over Ponzi scheme
Germany: Court Backs Adoption by Same-Sex Couples
Net activists slam Germany's open data portal
NSU victims' families want more than sympathy
Security staff at Hamburg airport to strike Wednesday in pay dispute
Swiss mayoral candidate 'pro-Hamas, pro-Iran'
Outgoing chairman of Switzerland's Novartis foregoes $78 million golden parachute deal
Norway is Afraid of Foreign Spies
 
 

Hollande: French soldier killed in northern Mali
Hollande confirms seven kidnapped in Cameroon
Hollande urges investment in Greece, growth in Europe
Hollande: France will miss 2013 growth target
French Kidnapped in Cameroon Were Taken Into Nigeria
France saw 58 percent rise in anti-Semitic attacks in 2012
Man arrested for serial attacks on Paris Chinese
France to unfreeze development aid to Mali
France Charges 11 In Alleged Kurdish Extortion Ring
 
 
War For Global Energy Supremacy-World War III
Syrian rebels threaten Hezbollah with 48-hour deadline
Syrian military reportedly shoots down Israel drone
US direct military support to Mali likely to continue after elections
Mortars Explode Near Assad Palace in Damascus
Missile kills more than 30 in Syria
Typhoid breaks out in rebel-held eastern Syria
Foreign Arms Supplies to Syrian Rebels Expanding
Pro-Assad militia now key to Syrian government’s war strategy
Russia's double dealing on arms to Assad regime leaves UK isolated over Syria
Syrian Rebels Threaten to Attack Lebanon Over Border Dispute
 
Insight Into Today’s News
Billionaires Continue To Dump Stocks
G20 issues empty declaration against currency wars
Norway Enters The Currency Wars
The Second-Mortgage Shell Game
The Last Liberal Branch of Government
US/NATO occupation of Afghanistan unraveling
Goodbye? We’ve Lost Who We Are?
US Schools Go Into Full Prison Mode
Hornady Addresses Ammo Shortage: We’re working 24/7
US Media Yet Again Conceals Newsworthy Government Secrets
 

Former foreign minister Livni joins Netanyahu coalition
Prisoner X: Benjamin Netanyahu adds to mystery
Secretary Kerry to skip Israel in first trip
Turkey, Israel Cut 1st Defense Deal Since Freezing Ties
Israel Seeks to Curb Weapons Flow to Gaza
West Bank protesters rally for release of deteriorating prisoners
Palestinian Prisoner's Hunger Strike Reaches 211th Day
Fatah Official Warns of Violence if Prisoners Aren't Freed
'Iron Dome' may be instrumental in peace process
Head of Israeli IVF unit arrested in Romania
 
 

 
 

Security deteriorating in Egypt due to political instability
Opposition Sets Conditions For Dialogue With Morsi
Morsi's advisory team less diverse after months of walkouts
Morsi Issues Presidential Decree to Appoint New Mufti
Strike, Protests Hit Egypt's Port Said for 3rd Day
Egyptians protest at Libyan border over new visa rules
Egypt ministry appeals against order to block YouTube
Egypt files new charges against Mubarak's last premier
2 Sunni groups halt roles in Bahrain crisis talks
A Palace Rift in Bahrain Bedevils Key US Navy Base
 

Iran to Conduct Military Drills Over 3 Days
Reformists Meet Khamenei To Improve 'Internal Climate'
Rivals Forced to Apologize to Supreme Leader
Ahmadinejad threat to cancel Iranian poll
Iran Pushes Nuclear-Free Mideast Plans
Syrian Prime Minister Claims Iran is Now “Occupying” Syria
MPs say sovereignty over three Persian Gulf islands is non-negotiable
Iran protests Berlin film award for banned Jafar Panahi
Fatwa Issued Against 3G Internet Operator in Iran
Iran FM Spurns Western 'Gold Trade' Offer
Stung by 'Argo,' Iran Backs Conference Denouncing 'Hollywoodism'
 
 

FSM DESERVES TO BE SHARED WITH EVERYONE. ANTIMULLAH DOES NOT ACCEPT ANY PAYMENTS AND POSTING ARTICLES IS DONE TO EDUCATE WITHOUT ANY REMUNERATION AND UNDER FAIR USE
WITH MINIMAL EDITING


FSM video  picks + 2012 site

white-house-benghazi-LIBYA

· Has the White House been caught in a web of Benghazi (Libya) lies? Plot thickens over edited talking points and what was in President's daily briefings.


Israel_flag

· FOX News reporter runs for cover at Israeli school targeted by Hamas rocket


benghazi_libya_media_coverup_LARGE

· MEDIA WATCH: CBS - Bob Schieffer: Not Sure Benghazi, Libya Was Terrorism


greg gutfeld _FOX the five

· FOX's Greg Gutfeld: Obama Admin Suffering From 'Wordaphobia' regarding Libya


benghazi cover-up_LARGE

· Gov't agencies trying to hide controversial communications? Obama administration's transparency called into question


Israel_flag
breaking news light

· AP Reporter Slams State Department For Silence On Israel


Stakelbeck-MD_ce

· Israel's 'Iron Dome' missile defense system working? Terror analyst Erick Stakelbeck weighs in


PensionShock

· IL Gov. Employs Cartoon Python, 'Squeezy,' to Explain Public Pension Crisis


AllenWest3RB

· Rep. Allen West: It's About Getting Votes Counted Correctly


In Case You Missed It

· MSNBC Anchor Tells Israeli Ambassador Hamas Rockets ‘Rarely Do Damage'

· Congressman: Obama Can't Utter the Words 'Muslim Terrorist Attack' (Libya)

· Students welcome soldier back through song - Special assembly for classmate's father

· Israel and Hamas exchange rocket fire for fifth straight day

· Bill Maher Tells Sean Hannity to Commit Suicide (Warning:Vulgar Language)

· Thousands to Video TSA Pat Downs in Protest

· Based on the classic essay by Leonard Read, a beautiful production from the Competitive Enterprise Institute explaining how the market works to create a simple pencil

· How Campus Censorship Is Ending the American Debate

· BREAKING: Petraeus Said CIA's Talking Points on Libya Were Edited...to Play Down Terrorism


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FSM Must Reads + 2012 site

Obama hides terror truth - Benghazi (LIBYA)

breaking news light
Until Friday, there were two possible explanations for why the White House failed to immediately call the Benghazi attack an act of terrorism. One was incompetence, the other was worse.
diplomomats-murdered_libya 2012

How's That Obamacare Waiver Workin' Out for Ya?

The Obamacare waiver winner's club now totals 2,000. Where are they now?

Obama's Benghazi blues

We don't have all the details of former CIA Director Petraeus' testimony to congressional Intelligence Committees, but it looks like the American people were grossly misled about the Benghazi attack.

must read

8 Reasons Homeschooling Is Superior to Public Education

Almost all of our Founding Fathers, the most brilliant authors and orators of all time, were home-schooled.

NOT the Little Mosque on the Prairie

When Islamic advocate Ahmed Bedier traveled to Santa Clara County a few months ago to lend support for a proposed Islamic center, he declared that opposition to the mosque was "Islamophobic" in nature.

California Parole Violators Get a Pass

The California Dept. of Corrections announced it planned to begin a review of more than 9,200 outstanding arrest warrants of parole violators to determine if pursuing these convicted felons would be in the "interest of justice."

A Moment of Truth in Israel

Seven years ago the Israeli government decided to forcibly evict the Jewish residents of Gaza and withdraw all bases and forces from the area.
Israel_flag

Ambassador Rice, Designated Non-Expert on Benghazi

Finally, President Obama has confirmed it was specifically "at the request of the White House" that on the Sunday after the Sept. 11 terrorist onslaught in Benghazi, Susan Rice, appeared as the face of his administration on five TV news talk shows to discuss this debacle.

Who was it that denied enhanced security and why?

by ADAM TURNER
Having the American Ambassador in Benghazi with no American security guards, poorly-trained, largely unarmed, and possibly Islamist-if not-al-Qaeda supportive Libyan security personnel, and no real secure consulate, is nothing short of scandalous.

Tehran, the Terror Capitol of the World

The attacks on Israel were ordered by Khamenei and the support for Syria's dictator Bashar Assad come from Khamenei.

Rep. Allen West Fights On amid Vote-Recount Mayhem

Florida's election procedures are - still - a disaster in the making.

MOST VIEWED

Rockets? What Hamas Rockets?

Violence between Israeli Defense Forces and Palestinian terrorist organizations in Gaza this week is prompting the usual outcry from Islamist groups in America and abroad.

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          Comment on Why Obamacare is Ruining My Life by Catherine Dream        
Oh wow. I might be really tired and that's why, but #2 and #5 totally made me cackle. Great post!
          Strohalm        

In een interview over de eventuele omzetting van Obamacare zei Trump deze week dat hij direct het ene systeem zou vervangen door het andere, zonder een vacuüm te laten ontstaan waarin mensen even niet verzekerd waren. "We can do that" beloofde de president-elect. Wat hij absoluut niet kan is overnight een nieuwe economie introduceren. Dat

Het bericht Strohalm verscheen eerst op Marieke van der Werf.


          Comment on Five medical procedures you didn’t expect your Obamacare tax dollars to pay for by Veronica        
thanks for information hopefully
          Comment on Five medical procedures you didn’t expect your Obamacare tax dollars to pay for by temana        
Such a good post, thank you for sharing though
          Cancel Colbert Already, but not for racism; Dead Wrong Radio's CLFA Roundtable 03/29 by We Built That Network | Politics Conservative Podcasts        
Cancel Colbert Already, but not for racism; Dead Wrong Radio&#39;s CLFA Roundtable 03/29 by We Built That Network | Politics Conservative Podcasts



Dead Wrong Radio is...
an irreverent attempt to make deathly-serious topics more accessible to freedom-loving Americans, Dead Wrong Radio covers a full range of issues including Gun Rights, Border Security, Free Market Capitalism and common liberal myths.
Join the Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance panel as we talk about:
RINOs, Moderates and Liberals
The State of Conservative Non-Fiction
The Obamacare Delay
Changing the cultural landscape through fiction
The Totalitarianism of #CancelColbert
Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance Roundtable Guests: 
(Cohost) Jack July 

          Christians in Conflict over Obamacare        
Rick Phillips
          Alabama Tea Party Leader Compares ObamaCare to ‘Lord of the Rings’        
Becky Gerritson, leader of the Wetumpka (Alabama) Tea Party, made headlines in June when she testified to Congress about how her organization was treated by the Internal Revenue Service. Monday, in a speech to a meeting of the Alabama 60-Plus Senior Association in Montgomery, Gerritson compared the fight against ObamaCare to the Lord of the […]
          Email of the day        

Thanks for your thoughts. You would know more about this than I do. I have not seen figures stating the potential savings from the attempted overhaul of Obamacare, or comments that Trump was relying on that for financing some of his proposed tax cuts.

However, I would expect some Laffer Curve benefits from Trump's proposed tax cuts, which I assume would have sufficient cross-border support to pass.


          Commentary: An Unconscionable Threat to Conscience        
Dr. Donald P. Condit, the author of the Acton monograph A Prescription for Health Care Reform, responds to the Obama administration’s mandate that most employers and insurers must provide contraceptives, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs free of charge. Continue Reading...
          Fed report: Obamacare exchange insurance costs double in past four years        
The latest look at Obamacare prices show insurance through the marketplace costs more than twice as much now as it did in 2013. New numbers from the the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show health insurance in Illinois that cost $248 a month in 2013, now costs $517 dollars. That’s a 108 percent […]
          Friday's Morning Email: Obamacare Repeal Fails In GOP-Controlled Senate        
And here are the three Republican senators who made that possible.
          Obamacare Repeal Effort Failed Again. Here's The GOP's Next Plan Of Attack        
After several failed attempts, Republicans are trying to dismantle Barack Obama's health care legacy with a new, pared-down piece of legislation. The so-called "skinny" health care bill is expected to still leave millions of Americans without health care coverage.
          Trump renews attacks against McConnell over healthcare debacle        
The Trump administration, thwarted in several attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, notably shifted tone Wednesday, opening the door for a bipartisan plan to "fix" the law."Both folks in the House and the Senate, on both sides of the aisle frankly, have said that Obamacare doesn't work, and...
          Watch What Happens Each Time Republicans Fail To Replace Obamacare        
From denial to acceptance, the GOP has five stages of grief with every Obamacare repeal effort.
          Donald Trump's Tweet About GOP's 'Failed Obamacare Replacement' Backfires        
"You really should have thought about wording a little more on this one 😂"
          New Ads Implore These GOP Senators To Keep Their Health Care Promises        
A progressive group called Save My Care has funded a set of Obamacare repeal attack ads. The ads attempt to hold some Republican senators accountable to their promises to vote against their party's health care bill.
          Now The GOP Is Defending Obamacare Repeal By Attacking Hillary Clinton        
Apparently that's easier than defending the Senate bill on its merits.
          GOP Congressman Faces Off With Angry Constituents At Health Care Town Hall        
"You have been the single greatest threat to my family in the entire world," one man told Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ). The GOP congressman, who helped push the Obamacare repeal effort forward, attended a four-hour town hall where he came face-to-face with constituents who may lose their health care due to the American Health Care Act.
          Americans Share Heart-Wrenching Stories About Their Pre-Existing Conditions        
Demonstrators took to the streets to protest President Donald Trump's arrival in New York City and shared how the GOP health care bill would adversely affect them. The bill would effectively replace Obamacare and gut protections for those with pre-existing conditions.
          GOP Health Plan Could Leave 24 Million Uninsured        
24 million Americans could lose health insurance under the Republican plan to replace Obamacare, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office.
          Molina Healthcare To Lay Off Hundreds Of Employees        
The Long Beach company's total employment has quintupled since the creation of Obamacare.
          LA County Health Plan That Administers Medi-Cal, Obamacare Spending On Perks        
A CBS2 news investigation found while a quadriplegic goes hungry, L.A. Care takes good care feeding their own employees.
          Why Progressives Should Let Republicans Repeal Obamacare and Close the Borders        
Last week, Senate Republicans were given bad news by Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough. She doesn’t believe Republicans can bypass cloture and repeal Obamacare with a simple majority by attaching its repeal to a spending bill. As a libertarian, I’m glad to hear it. No, I do not like Obamacare any more than I like most other government […]
          Obama violates oath of office with insurance letter        
TAMPA, November 17, 2013 – In a desperate attempt to diffuse criticism of his administration over the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), President Obama has once again broken new constitutional ground. In a letter dated November 14, Director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight Gary Cohen informed state insurance commissioners that insurance policies […]
          Why a free market would work for health care        
TAMPA, October 26, 2013 – Conservatives are confused again, rejoicing in Obamacare’s early operational struggles. One would think that their only objection to the legislation has been that the Democrats wouldn’t run it efficiently. Maybe it was. After all, the Republicans ran a candidate against Obama that had implemented virtually the same program in Massachusetts, promising […]
          If Congress can defund the 2nd Amendment, it can defund Obamacare        
TAMPA, October 28, 2013 – President Obama won a temporary victory in his standoff with House Republicans over funding the government and raising the debt ceiling. He signed a continuing resolution to reopen the government without conceding anything on his signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act. But continuing resolutions are temporary and this issue is far […]
          Nullification and Secession? Juries can nullify Obamacare and the Drug War with much less drama        
TAMPA, December 2, 2012 – For libertarians, the reemergence of ideas like secession and state nullification couldn’t be more welcome. Both are attempts to resist the exercise of arbitrary power, which is power never delegated to the party attempting to exercise it. They should remain the last resort for free people to resist tyranny. The problem […]
          How an Obamacare repeal could put a damper on breastfeeding        
As the battle royale over the repeal of the Affordable Care Act—AKA Obamacare—heats up, access to health care for millions of Americans hangs in the balance. For those who get their health benefits through their employers, the repeal and/or replace...
          Seth Meyers at His Best: Scaramucci and Priebus Out, Trump Threatens to Blow Up Obamacare        

Seth takes a closer look at the Trump White House in turmoil after the sudden firing of Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci days after the resignation of former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.


          USA 2010 - Quarta puntata: il Midwest        
Larry Silverbud su Il Foglio di oggi


I giochi, ormai, sono quasi fatti. Dopo una lunga (e durissima) campagna elettorale, il 2 novembre i cittadini americani sono chiamati a rinnovare tutti i 435 seggi della Camera, 37 seggi del Senato (su 100) e 38 governatori. Si tratta di elezioni che incideranno pesantemente sui due anni di mandato che ancora attendono il presidente Obama. E che potrebbero disegnare equilibri impensabili soltanto due anni fa. Lo scenario più probabile, al momento, è quello che vede i repubblicani conquistare il controllo della Camera strappando 45-50 seggi ai democratici e questi ultimi mantenere una ridotta maggioranza al Senato. Ma, a pochi giorni dall’apertura delle urne, i numeri si inseguono come impazziti, mentre gli analisti più attenti cercano di intuire ormai improbabili mutamenti nel mood dell’elettorato. Il nostro viaggio in queste elezioni di mezzo termine si conclude negli stati del Midwest, storicamente molto eterogenei a livello di comportamento elettorale. Ma anche epicentro, in questa stagione politica, di un moto diffuso di “rifiuto” nei confronti del partito che controlla Casa Bianca e Congresso. È proprio nel Midwest che il partito democratico potrebbe conoscere le sconfitte più brucianti. O contenere le perdite per andare incontro a una sconfitta onorevole.


North Dakota
2008: McCain +8%
Sen: Dorgan (D) – open
Cam: GOP 0 DEM 1

Al confine settentrionale con il Canada, a metà strada tra Pacifico e Atlantico, il North Dakota è sempre stato dominato dal GOP, ma nella sua versione più isolazionista e protezionista. Quando, durante il New Deal, queste pulsioni ideologiche sono state completamente assorbite dal partito democratico, il Peace Garden State ha cominciato a eleggere anche congressmen non repubblicani, come il senatore uscente Byron Dorgan, che nel 2010 ha deciso di non ripresentarsi di fronte agli elettori. Strada in discesa, dunque, per l’ex governatore repubblicano John Hoeven che – forte di un indice di approvazione superiore all’80% – sta massacrando nei sondaggi il suo rivale democratico, Tracy Potter (+45-50%). Molto più complicata la situazione nell’unico distretto della Camera, in cui il democratico Earl Pomeroy è in caccia del suo decimo mandato. Appena due anni fa, Pomeroy è stato rieletto con 24 punti di vantaggio, ma in questo ciclo elettorale ha incontrato la durissima resistenza di Rick Berg, che ormai da mesi è avanti nei sondaggi. Vista la mappa dei venti, il favorito è proprio il candidato del GOP.

South Dakota
2008: McCain +8%
Gov: Rounds (R) – open
Sen: Thune (R)
Cam: GOP 0 DEM 1

Il South Dakota è certamente uno degli stati più “rossi” dell’Unione. Fino agli anni Trenta la presenza democratica nelle assemblee locali era quasi inesistente; ha sempre scelto sempre candidati repubblicani alle presidenziali (neppure McGovern riuscì a conquistare lo stato di casa nel 1972); il partito democratico non elegge un governatore dal 1974. Il 2010 non sembra certo l’anno giusto per invertire questa tendenza. E il repubblicano Dennis Daugaard sarà sicuramente il successore del governatore uscente Michael Rounds. Porte sbarrate per i democratici anche al Senato, dove il repubblicano John Thune (che sei anni fa ha clamorosamente battuto il leader della maggioranza democratica Tom Daschle) corre senza oppositori. Più incerta, invece, la sfida nell’unico distretto della Camera, in cui la moderata-democratica Stephanie Herseth Sandlin è insidiata dalla repubblicana Kristi Noem. I sondaggi sono stati altalenanti durante tutta la campagna elettorale, ma neppure il voto contrario all’Obamacare e al “cap and trade” ha messo al sicuro la Sandlin, che nel 2008 era stata rieletta con il 68% e oggi rischia seriamente di perdere il seggio.

Nebraska
2008: McCain +15%
Gov: Heineman (R)
Cam: GOP 3 DEM 0

Le radici repubblicane del Cornhusker State sono profonde. Uno dei pochissimi stati a votare (due volte) contro FDR, il Nebraska dal 1940 al 2008 ha scelto soltanto una volta il candidato democratico alle presidenziali (Lyndon Johnson nel 1964, con una percentuale molto inferiore al suo risultato nazionale). A livello di governatore, invece, le dinamiche elettorali sono sempre state più eterodosse. Non è il caso del 2010, visto che l’incumbent del GOP, Dave Heineman, viaggia con 35-40 punti di vantaggio sullo sfidante democratico, Mike Meister. Anche nei tre distretti della Camera, i repubblicani non avranno alcuna difficoltà a riconfermare i propri uomini. Qualche speranza, all’inizio di questo ciclo elettorale, sembrava poterla avere il democratico Tom White nel 2° distretto (quello della capitale Omaha), ma l’incumbent repubblicano Lee Terry ha quasi subito raggiunto un distacco incolmabile nei sondaggi.

Kansas
2008: McCain +16%
Gov: Parkinson (D) – open
Sen: Brownback (R) – open
Cam: GOP 3 DEM 1

Stato molto “rosso”, a livello federale, almeno dalla fine della Grande Depressione (negli ultimi 94 anni, i senatori non repubblicani sono stati appena tre, l’ultimo nel 1932), il Kansas è sempre stato meno ostile ai democratici a livello di statehouse. Nel 2002, Kathleen Sebelius era riuscita a giocare sulla classica divisione tra moderati e conservatori nel GOP, per finire largamente rieletta nel 2006. Adesso, però, la Sebelius è il ministro della Sanità dell’amministrazione Obama, e il suo vice Mark Parkinson ha scelto di non correre per le elezioni, aprendo la strada all’ex senatore repubblicano Sam Brownback che nei sondaggi ha un vantaggio di 25-30 punti sul democratico Tom Holland. Il seggio del Senato lasciato libero da Brownback sarà difeso con successo dall’ex congressman repubblicano Jerry Moran (+40% contro Lisa Johnston). Più difficile, per i democratici, difendere il loro unico seggio alla Camera nel Sunflower State. Con Kevin Yoder, infatti, molto probabilmente il GOP riuscirà a strappare il 3° distretto che il democratico Dennis Moore avrebbe voluto lasciare alla moglie Stephane. La famiglia Moore ha scelto l’anno sbagliato per questo “passaggio di proprietà”.

Missouri
2008: McCain +0,5%
Sen: Bond (R) – open
Cam: GOP 5 DEM 4

Fino al 2008, Il Missouri era considerato il bellwether state per eccellenza, con la serie più lunga di sostegno al candidato vincente alle presidenziali. Lo Show-Me State ha votato per quello che sarebbe diventato l'inquilino della Casa Bianca ininterrottamente dal 1904 al 2004, con la sola eccezione di Adlai Stevenson nel 1956. Con la vittoria (di misura) di McCain nel 2008 questo status si è un po’ incrinato, ma il Missouri resta uno stato-chiave per capire l’umore dell’elettorato nazionale. All’inizio dell’anno, i democratici puntavano molto sul seggio del Senato lasciato libero dal repubblicano Christopher S. Bond, ma la candidatura di Robin Carnahan (sorella di un congressman, figlia di un governatore e nipote di un senatore) non è mai decollata seriamente. E il GOP dovrebbe riuscire a difendere il seggio con Roy Blunt, anche lui vecchia conoscenza di Washington. Alla Camera, l’unico distretto realmente competitivo è il 4°, dove il democratico settantenne Ike Skelton (giunto ormai al diciassettesimo mandato) sta combattendo la prima, vera battaglia della sua carriera politica contro la repubblicana Vicky Hartzler. E rischia di perderla.



Iowa
2008: Obama +9%
Gov: Culver (D) – open
Sen: Grassley (R)
Cam: GOP 2 DEM 3

Classico swing-state, l’Iowa è rimasto fedele ai repubblicani fino agli anni Venti (nessun senatore democratico eletto dal 1858 al 1924), per poi slittare leggermente verso sinistra, soprattutto dopo gli anni Sessanta. Un metodo sicuro per risvegliare l’istinto conservatore dell’Hawkeye State, però, è comportarsi come il governatore uscente democratico Chet Culver, che in quattro anni è riuscito ad alzare le tasse, deprimere l’economia, concedere il finanziamento pubblico alla ricerca sulle staminali e approvare una legge sui matrimoni omosessuali. Risultato: job approval a picco ed elezione quasi certa dello sfidante Terry Branstad, popolare governatore repubblicano dal 1982 al 1998. Nessun comeback kid, invece, riuscirà a impedire la rielezione del senatore Charles Grassley, che nei sondaggi ha 20-25 punti di vantaggio sulla democratica Roxanne Conlin. Alla Camera, i repubblicani sono in teoria competitivi in tutti e tre i distretti orientali attualmente controllati dai democratici (1°, 2° e 3°), ma la loro chance migliore per un pick-up è nel 3° distretto (quello della capitale Des Moines), dove Brad Zaun è molto vicino all’incumbent democratico Leonard Boswell (76 anni, in cerca dell’ottavo mandato).

Minnesota
2008: Obama +10%
Gov: Pawlenty (R) – open
Cam: GOP 3 DEM (DFL) 5

A lungo roccaforte repubblicana (dal 1860 al 1928 il GOP ha vinto 17 volte su 18 alle presidenziali), dopo FDR il Minnesota ha cambiato decisamente colore (dal 1932 al 2008 i democratici hanno vinto 17 volte su 20) tanto da essere l'unico stato a sottrarsi alla landslide di Reagan del 1984. Il North Star State resta comunque intrinsecamente “indipendente”. E dovrebbe dimostrarlo ancora una volta nel 2010, sostituendo un governatore repubblicano (Tim Pawlenty, uno dei “papabili” del GOP per il 2012) con uno democratico come l’ex senatore Mark Dayton. Il repubblicano Tom Emmer è indietro nei sondaggi, ma non si può ancora escludere una sorpresa. Alla Camera il seggio che sembra più competitivo è quello del 1° distretto al confine meridionale con l’Iowa, anche se l’incumbent democratico Tim Walz – per il momento – resta favorito sullo sfidante repubblicano Randy Dremmer.

Wisconsin
2008: Obama +14%
Gov: Doyle (D) – open
Sen: Feingold (D)
Cam: GOP 3 DEM 5

Per molti anni, la tradizione politica del Wisconsin non è stata né repubblicana né democratica, ma semplicemente progressive. Il simbolo di questo dominio è stata la dinastia fondata da Robert LaFollette all’inizio del XX secolo e proseguita dai figli Robert Jr. e Philip fino agli anni Quaranta. Con lo spostamento a sinistra dei democratici, questa tradizione si è saldamente integrata nel partito, ma il Badger State ha conservato una certa allergia alle ortodossie che ne ha reso poco prevedibile il comportamento elettorale. Nel 2010, i democratici rischiano di subire alcuni duri colpi. Dopo un prolungato calo di popolarità, il governatore James E. Doyle ha deciso di non ripresentarsi, spianando la strada al repubblicano Scott Walker, che sta (per ora) dominando il “derby di Milwaukee” con l’ex sindaco Tom Barrett. A sorpresa (ma neppure troppo), i democratici rischiano di perdere anche il seggio senatoriale di Russ Feingold, che sta faticando moltissimo contro l’imprenditore Ron Johnson. E a completare il quadro di una disfatta annunciata, ci sono anche i due distretti più settentrionali della Camera – il 7° e l’8° – entrambi lasciati “open” da congressmen democratici, in cui i repubblicani Sean Duffy e Reid Ribble sono costantemente in testa nei sondaggi.

Illinois
2008: Obama +25%
Gov: Quinn (D)
Sen: Burris (D) – open
Cam: GOP 7 DEM 12

Se appena un anno fa qualche analista avesse ipotizzato un Illinois – cuore pulsante della political machine democratica e obamiana – terra di conquista repubblicana alle elezioni di mid-term, il suddetto analista sarebbe stato internato nel manicomio più affollato di Chicago. Oggi, invece, questa psichedelica previsione rischia di trasformarsi in realtà. Patt Quin, vice dell’ex governatore (licenziato con impeachment) Rod Blagojevich, è in gravissima sofferenza contro il semi-sconosciuto Bill Brady. Al Senato, il seggio lasciato “open” dal democratico Roland W. Burris (nominato da Blagojevich dopo l’elezione alla Casa Bianca di Obama, che nel 2004 vinse con il 70% dei voti) si è trasformato in uno dei toss-up più emozionanti di tutta la campagna elettorale. Come se non bastasse, il GOP punta a un numero considerevole di pick-up alla Camera. Quasi certo quello nell’11° distretto (a sud di Chicago) da parte del giovane veterano della guerra in Iraq, Adam Kinzinger, ai danni di Debbie Halvorson. Buone possibilità anche nel 14° distretto (sobborghi occidentali di Chicago) con Randy Hultgren contro il freshman Bill Foster, e nel 17° (Rock Island e West Central Illinois) con Bobby Schilling opposto all’ultra-liberal Phil Hare. Il capolavoro finale, poi, si concretizzerebbe se il repubblicano Robert Dold riuscisse a difendere (contro Dan Seals) il seggio del 10° distretto lasciato vacante da Kirk. Se così fosse, il GOP potrebbe riuscire – contemporaneamente – a strappare ai democratici del Prairie State un governatore, un senatore e tre seggi alla Camera (passando da 7-12 a 10-9). Niente male, per lo stato-simbolo di Obamaland.

Indiana
2008: Obama +1%
Sen: Bayh (D) – open
Cam: GOP 4 DEM 5

Era il più democratico degli stati dei Great Lakes. Oggi – scivolone di McCain a parte – è il più repubblicano. E anche nel 2010 l’Hoosier State sembra destinato a regalare qualche soddisfazione al GOP. Con il ritiro del democratico Evan Bayh dal Senato, i repubblicani credono molto nella candidatura-di-ritorno dell’ex senatore Daniel R. Coats, il cui vantaggio nei sondaggi nei confronti dell’ex congressman Brad Ellsworth è oscillato tra il 15 e il 20% durante tutta la campagna elettorale. Alla Camera, poi, almeno un pick-up sembra certo per il GOP, con Larry Bucshon nettamente favorito su William Trent Van Haaften nel seggio lasciato libero da Ellsworth nell’8° distretto. Più difficile, ma non troppo, la sfida nel 9° distretto: il blue dog moderato Baron Hill è in grande difficoltà contro l’avvocato repubblicano Todd Young. Se perdesse, dovrebbe ringraziare soprattutto il proprio voto favorevole all’Obamacare.


Michigan
2008: Obama +16%
Gov: Granholm (D) – open
Cam: GOP 7 DEM 8

La storia elettorale del Michigan è cambiata con gli scioperi degli anni Trenta, che hanno trasformato uno degli stati più repubblicani dell’Unione (71% per Hoover nel 1928) in uno swing-state con forti scivolamenti a sinistra. Il Wolverine State è nettamente diviso in tre: da una parte Detroit, bastione democratico; dall’altra le contee outer state, che hanno conservato la loro tradizione repubblicana; in mezzo i sobborghi, che oscillano tra i due partiti e che in genere decidono chi vince (e chi perde). Nel 2010, dopo il ritiro della sempre meno popolare Jennifer M. Granholm, i repubblicani hanno ottime possibilità di riconquistare la poltrona di governatore: l’imprenditore-maverick Rick Snyder ha 15-20 punti di vantaggio sul democratico Virg Bernero, sindaco di Lansing. Anche alla Camera, il GOP punta a un paio di pick-up. Molto probabile quello di Gary McDowell nel 1° distretto che comprende tutta la upper peninsula, nel seggio lasciato libero da Bart Stupak (quello dell’emendamento anti-aborto sulla riforma sanitaria). Discrete chance anche per Tim Walberg che cerca la rivincita contro Mark Schauer nel 7° distretto. Meno probabili, ma non impossibili, le vittorie repubblicane anche nel 9° e nel 15° distretto. Ma in questo caso si dovrebbe parlare di un massacro.

Ohio
2008: Obama +4%
Gov: Strickland (D)
Sen: Voinovich (R) – open
Cam: GOP 8 DEM 10

Swing-state per eccellenza (e sogno infranto dei democratici) alle presidenziali del 2004, l’Ohio si conferma snodo cruciale per le dinamiche elettorali statunitensi anche nel 2010. I repubblicani non dovrebbero avere troppi problemi a conservare il seggio del Senato lasciato libero da George V. Voinovich. Dopo un inizio equilibrato di campagna, l’ex congressman Rob Porter (che ha avuto un doppio ruolo durante l’amministrazione Bush) ha preso il largo nei sondaggi contro l’ex vicegovernatore democratico Lee Fisher. A proposito di governatori, il GOP ha buone chance di mandare a casa l’incumbent Ted Strickland che l’establishment democratico, Obama in testa, sta disperatamente tentando (a colpi di comizi) di difendere dall’assalto dell’ex congressman John R. Kasich. Malgrado lo sforzo, Kasich conserva ancora 3-4 punti di vantaggio nei sondaggi. E resta (leggermente) favorito. La vera batosta per i democratici, però, potrebbe arrivare dalla Camera. Il GOP vede chiaramente a portata di mano almeno tre pick-up nel Buckeye State: nel 1° distretto (Cincinnati e dintorni) Steve Chabot è nettamente avanti nella sua rivincita contro Steve Driehaus; nel 15° distretto (la parte occidentale di Columbus e i suoi sobborghi) l’incumbent democratica Mary Jo Shivers è in grande difficoltà contro Steven Stievers, da lei battuto per un soffio nel 2008; nel 16° distretto (a sud di Cleveland) un altro incumbent democratico, John Boccieri, sta soffrendo più del previsto contro Jim Renacci in una sfida tutta italo-americana. Tre pick-up sarebbero molti, ma il GOP punta ancora più in alto. In caso di “onda rossa” anche il 18° distretto sembra a portata di mano per Bob Gibbs. E (in qualche sogno particolarmente spinto) ci sono repubblicani che hanno sul radar anche il 6° e il 13° distretto. Ma sarebbe troppo, davvero troppo.

Pennsylvania
2008: Obama +11%
Gov: Rendell (D) – open
Sen: Specter (D) – open
Cam: GOP 7 DEM 13

Se l’Ohio potrebbe essere una Waterloo per i democratici, in Pennsylvania il rischio è quello di un disastro nucleare. Geograficamente più spostato verso Nordest, in questo ciclo elettorale il Keystone State si sta comportando esattamente come il resto del Midwest (e questo è il motivo per cui l’abbiamo inserito in questa categoria). Ma andiamo con ordine. La poltrona di governatore, lasciata libera dal democratico Edward G. Rendell, dovrebbe andare al repubblicano Tom Corbett, confermando una delle “regole auree” della politica statunitense (dal 1954, il governatore della Pennsylvania cambia partito ogni otto anni). Più dura la sfida al Senato, con il democratico Joe Sestak (che alle primarie ha battuto l’ex repubblicano Arlen Specter) opposto a Pat Toomey, ex congressman, ex presidente del Club for Growth e favorito dei Tea Party. Toomey, che all’inizio della campagna era considerato “troppo a destra” per la Pennsylvania, è stato a lungo in testa nei sondaggi. Nell’ultima settimana Sestak si è riavvicinato, ma ormai potrebbe essere troppo tardi. In caso di esplosione atomica nelle corse a livello statale, le scorie radioattive potrebbero diffondersi rapidamente anche alla Camera. In due distretti i repubblicani sono nettamente favoriti per il pick-up: nel 3° distretto (Earie County) la freshman Kathy Dahlkemper ha i giorni contati contro il venditore d’auto (ed ex giocatore di football a Notre Dame) Mike Kelly; nell’11° distretto (Scranton e i suoi sobborghi), per il repubblicano Lou Barletta dovrebbe finalmente essere arrivato il momento giusto per sconfiggere l’incumbent Paul E. Kanjorski, in carica dal 1984, che lo ha già battuto tre volte. I candidati del GOP, poi, sono in testa anche nel 7°, nell’8° e nel 10° distretto, anche se in questi casi si tratta di sfide più equilibrate. Poi c’è la mina vagante di toss-up puro nel 12° distretto occidentale, per difendere il quale si è mosso addirittura il vicepresidente Biden. La Pennsylvania, insomma, sembra una perfetta riproduzione in scala delle elezioni di mid-term. I democratici potrebbero perdere il governatore, ma potrebbero anche limitare i danni in extremis conservando il loro seggio al Senato; potrebbero subire 2 o 3 pick-up alla Camera (probabilmente consegnandola al GOP con una risicata maggioranza), ma potrebbero anche subirne 4 o 5, e in questo caso ci si troverebbe di fronte ad un vero “riallineamento” elettorale, di quelli che scuotono le fondamenta del sistema politico e influenzano le generazioni successive. Nella lunga notte del 2 novembre scopriremo quale tra questi scenari si troverà di fronte il presidente Obama nella seconda metà del suo (primo?) mandato.

4/Fine

          USA 2010 - Round-Up 27 Ottobre        
• Walt Minnick, incumbent democratico del 1° distretto dell'Idaho, non è certo un liberal modello: ha votato contro l'Obamacare, il cap-and-trade, lo stimulus e il “disclose act”; si è rifiutato di assicurare il proprio sostegno alla (ri)candidatura di Nancy Pelosi come speaker della Camera; è appoggiato dalla US Chamber of Commerce; fino a ieri aveva addirittura l'endorsement del Tea Party Express (che però adesso ci ha ripensato). Eppure l'onda rossa rischia di travolgere anche lui.

• Nell'ultimo round di sondaggi su alcuni distretti competitivi della Camera effettuato da Penn, Shoen & Berland per The Hill, per i repubblicani arrivano ottime notizie da CO-3, GA-8, PA11, TX-17, SC-05 e FL-02.

• Il pronostico quotidiano di Nate Silver su Fivefirteight assegna al GOP un guadagno di 52 seggi alla Camera (ai repubblicani ne servono 39 per riconquistare la maggioranza).

• Senato: per il GOP si allontanano California e West Virginia; si riavvicina la Pennsylvania.

• Nel 9° distretto della Virginia (il cuneo occidentale dello stato che taglia West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina e Tennessee), l'incumbent democratico Rich Boucher - secondo SurveyUSA - a metà ottobre aveva 10 punti di vantaggio sullo sfidante Morgan Griffith. Oggi, sempre secondo SurveyUSA, è sotto di 1.
          USA 2010 - Seconda puntata: il Sud        
Larry Silverbud su Il Foglio di oggi


Mentre prosegue, verso il Sud repubblicano, il nostro viaggio nelle elezioni di mid-term americane, si moltiplicano i sondaggi che cercano di definire il mood dell’elettorato a livello nazionale. Rispetto alla scorsa settimana non è cambiato moltissimo. Il distacco tra i due partiti nel generic ballot continua ad oscillare intorno al 7% a favore del GOP. I democratici guadagnano qualcosa al Senato, migliorando le proprie posizioni in alcuni stati considerati toss-up (Washington, Colorado, West Virginia). Per i repubblicani, invece, aumentano ancora le chance di conquistare la Camera, visto il frenetico moltiplicarsi dei seggi democratici che vengono giudicati competitivi in questo ciclo elettorale. La dinamica delle corse più incerte, comunque, è ancora estremamente fluida. Ed è troppo presto per sbilanciarsi in previsioni definitive. Resta, fortissima, la sensazione che il clima generale sia estremamente sfavorevole al partito che attualmente controlla Casa Bianca e Congresso. E per annusare i contorni di questa “rivolta anti-democratica”, non c’è niente di meglio che una gita a Dixieland.

West Virginia
2008: McCain +13%
Sen: Goodwin (D) – open
Cam: GOP 1 DEM 2

Stato repubblicano negli anni successivi alla sua secessione dalla Virginia (1861), il Mountain State si allinea alla coalizione rooseveltiana durante la Grande Depressione, grazie anche alla fortissima presenza degli United Miner Workers. Dagli anni Trenta, elegge quasi esclusivamente candidati democratici al Senato e al Camera, anche se negli ultimi decenni si è spostato decisamente in campo repubblicano a livello presidenziale.
Nel 2010, la sfida più appassionante è quella per il seggio del Senato lasciato libero dalla morte di Robert Byrd. A sfidarsi sono il popolarissimo governatore democratico Joe Manchin, un social conservative che bene si adatta all’istinto ideologico del West Virginia, e l’imprenditore repubblicano John Raese. All’inizio sembrava una vittoria facile per Manchin, ma nell’ultimo mese i sondaggi hanno descritto una vigorosa rimonta di Raese. E adesso il GOP crede al “miracolo”. Per gli analisti, al momento, la corsa è un toss-up puro. Buone possibilità di pick-up, per i repubblicani, anche nel 1° distretto (open) della Camera con David McKinley.

Virginia
2008: Obama +7%
Cam: GOP 5 DEM 6

Sarà tutta concentrata in un pugno di distretti alla Camera la rivincita cercata dai democratici della Virginia dopo l’umiliante sconfitta subita lo scorso anno nella corsa a governatore. Lo stato-simbolo della vittoria obamiana, tornato “rosso” nel giro di 12 mesi con la larghissima vittoria di Bob McDonnell contro Creigh Deeds (+17%), è stato il precursore della ripresa repubblicana. Il GOP non può permettersi una battuta d’arresto proprio ora e proprio nell’Old Dominion. Quest’anno i repubblicani puntano soprattutto al 2° e al 5° distretto – nella parte più meridionale dello stato -  in cui Scott Rigell e Robert Hurt hanno ottime chance di battere i due freshmen democratici, Glenn Nye e Tom Perriello. Se l’onda rossa fosse particolarmente alta, poi, potrebbe essere in pericolo anche l’11° distretto a sud-ovest di Washington D.C. (Fairfax e una parte di Prince William County): Gerry Connolly ha battuto abbastanza agevolmente Keith Fimian nel 2008, ma dopo il 2009 un “ribaltone” non sembra affatto impossibile.

Kentucky
2008: McCain +16%
Sen: Bunning (R) – open
Cam: GOP 4 DEM 2

Stato dalle molteplici sfumature geo-ideologiche, il Kentucky resta solidamente repubblicano a livello presidenziale e leggermente più competitivo nelle sfide per il Congresso. Quest’anno, la corsa più seguita è quella per il seggio del Senato lasciato “open” dal ritiro del repubblicano Jim Bunning. I democratici hanno a lungo sperato nella vittoria dell’attorney general Jack Conway, soprattutto dopo che Rand Paul (figlio di Ron, il paleolibertarian GOP candidato alla Casa Bianca nel 2008) è uscito vincente dalle primarie repubblicane. Le posizioni ultraliberiste del paladino dei Tea Party sembravano fuori luogo nell’humus fondamentalmente socially conservative del Bluegrass State. Ma Paul ha condotto una campagna elettorale misurata e convincente. E i sondaggi lo vedono davanti con un buon margine di vantaggio. Alla Camera, l’unico distretto competitivo è il 3° (il cuore della produzione del bourbon), ma tutto dipenderà dall’intensità della vittoria repubblicana a livello nazionale.

Tennessee
2008: McCain +15%
Gov: Bredesen (D) – open
Cam: GOP 4 DEM 5

Primo stato del Sud ad “allinearsi” al dominio repubblicano degli ultimi decenni, il Tennessee è stato a lungo un’anomalia elettorale della Bible Belt (eleggeva governatori del GOP perfino negli anni della segregazione). Quest’anno, con la popolarità di Obama in caduta libera, il Volunteer State dovrebbe essere uno dei punti di forza della scommessa repubblicana. Prima di tutto, dopo il ritiro di Phil Bredesen, il GOP è quasi sicuro di strappare la poltrona di governatore ai democratici con il sindaco di Knoxville, Bill Haslam. Poi ci sono almeno tre distretti “blu” (su cinque) a serio rischio di switchover. Due, entrambi “open”, sono quasi sicuri per i repubblicani: nel 6° al confine con il Kentucky (rurale e sempre più “suburbanizzato”) dovrebbe prevalere Diane Black; nell’8° all’estremo ovest dello stato, il favorito è il contadino e cantante gospel Stephen Fincher. Nel terzo, ancora incertissimo, soltanto il suo voto contrario alla riforma sanitaria tiene ancora a galla l’incumbent democratico Lincoln Davis.



North Carolina
2008: Obama +0,5%
Sen: Burr (R)
Cam: GOP 5 DEM 8

Dopo essere stato campione del Solid Democratic South e terra di conquista per i candidati repubblicani alle presidenziali (da Nixon in poi), il North Carolina è ormai diventato uno swing state in piena regola. Nel 2010, però, il clima politico del Tar Heel State sembra favorire decisamente il GOP. Le elezioni per il Senato vedono nettamente favorito l’incumbent repubblicano Richard M. Burr, che pure nelle previsioni della vigilia avrebbe dovuto soffrire parecchio contro Elaine Marshall. E alla Camera i distretti competitivi potrebbero essere addirittura tre (tutti, al momento, in mano ai democratici). Per i repubblicani, comunque, le speranze più solide di pick-up sono al confine meridionale con il South Carolina. Nel 7° distretto, Ilario Pantano sta dando più filo da torcere del previsto all’incumbent democratico Mike McIntyre. Nell’8° distretto, il repubblicano Harold Johnson è vicinissimo nei sondaggi all’uscente Larry Kissell. In caso di larga vittoria repubblicana, sarebbe a rischio anche il seggio democratico di Bob Etheridge, nel 2° distretto.

South Carolina
2008: McCain +9%
Gov: Sandford (R) - open
Sen: DeMint (R) - open
Cam: GOP 4 DEM 2

Con il South Carolina iniziamo la nostra discesa verso gli stati dove il dominio del GOP è raramente messo in discussione, almeno negli ultimi decenni. Fondatore di fatto della Confederazione sudista, il Palmetto State non dovrebbe riservare troppe sorprese nelle sfide per il Senato e  per il governatore. Nel primo caso, il repubblicano Jim DeMint viaggia nei sondaggi con 40-45 punti percentuali di vantaggio su Alvin Green, vincitore a sorpresa delle primarie democratiche. Più incerta, ma non troppo, la corsa per la poltrona di governatore, in cui la repubblicana Nikki Halley non sembra essere stata scalfita da un paio di scandaletti “sessuali” emersi durante la campagna elettorale. E continua ad avere una decina di punti di distacco nei confronti del democratico Vincent Sheehen. Per la Camera, il GOP punta tutto sul 5° distretto (uno dei due controllati dai democratici), in cui il pronostico tra l’incumbent John Spratt e lo sfidante Mick Mulvaney è “too close to call”. Il fatto che Spratt controlli il distretto da 28 anni, la dice lunga sulle difficoltà che stanno incontrando i democratici in questo ciclo elettorale.

Georgia
2008: McCain +5%
Gov: Perdue (R) – open
Sen: Isakson (R)
Cam: GOP 7 DEM 6

Fino al 1964, la Georgia è stata una delle roccaforti più impenetrabili del partito democratico. Alle presidenziali, il candidato democratico ha vinto 24 elezioni consecutive dal 1868 al 1960; un governatore democratico è sempre stato eletto negli anni tra il 1872 e il 2002. Si tratta del record di dominio incontrastato di un singolo partito in tutta la storia americana. Poi, complice anche la Great Migration, tutto è cambiato. Oggi l’Empire State of the South è rosso. E anche nel 2010 le cose non sembrano promettere bene per i democratici. La loro speranza maggiore era il ritiro (obbligato) di Sonny Perdue da governatore. Ma la campagna di Roy Barnes (battuto proprio da Pedue nel 2002) contro il repubblicano Nathan Deal non è mai davvero decollata. Strada in discesa anche per l’incumbent del GOP al Senato, Johnny Isakson contro lo sfidante democratico Michael Thurmond. Alla Camera, infine, il GOP si gioca le sue chance migliori nel 2° distretto sud-occidentale (Mike Keown contro Sanford Bishop) e nel centralissimo 8° distretto, in cui il repubblicano Austin Scott sembra in fortissima rimonta nei confronti dell’incumbent Jim Marshall.

Florida
2008: Obama +3%
Gov: Crist (I) – open
Sen: LeMieux (R) – open
Cam: GOP 15 DEM 10

Dopo l’incubo del recount nel 2000, la Florida sembra essere diventata leggermente più “rossa”, con Bush e McCain al di sopra della media nazionale nel 2004 e nel 2008. Con la rivolta contro la riforma sanitaria, particolarmente accesa nel Sunshine State (dove la popolazione anziana è numerosa), i democratici non possono fare molto altro che tentare di evitare una disfatta. La loro speranza migliore è la corsa per il governatore, in cui Alex Sink sembra leggermente in vantaggio sul repubblicano Rick Scott (anche se i sondaggi restano molto contraddittori). Per il resto, si profila uno scenario molto favorevole al GOP. Al Senato, la corsa a tre che coinvolge il repubblicano Marco Rubio, il democratico Kendrick Meek e l’indipendente (ed ex governatore repubblicano-obamiano) Charlie Crist sembra ormai segnata a vantaggio del favorito dei Tea Party. Il vero tsunami, però, potrebbe arrivare alla Camera. Dei dieci distretti controllati dai democratici, addirittura quattro potrebbero diventare pick-up per il GOP: nel 2° al confine con la Georgia, Steve Southerland è in netto vantaggio sull’incumbent Allen Boyd; nel’8° a nord di Orlando il paladino dell’Obamacare, Alan Grayson, è in grande difficoltà contro Daniel Webster; nel 22° (Palm Beach) il veterano afro-americano dell’Iraq tenta la rivincita contro Ron Klein; nel 24°, sulla costa atlantica centrale, la freshman Susanne M. Kosmas dovrebbe pagare caro il suo voto alla riforma sanitaria (oltre che al cap-and-trade) contro la sfidante repubblicana Sandra Adams. Nubi minacciose si addensano sulla Florida.

Alabama
2008: McCain +21%
Gov: Riley (R) – open
Sen: Shelby (R)
Cam: GOP 5 DEM 2

L’Alabama negli ultimi decenni si è dipinta di un rosso sempre più “scuro”, con la vistosa eccezione della “Black Belt” (che in questo caso comprende una serie di contee che attraversa lo stato da ovest a est, a sud di Tuscaloosa) dove vive la maggior parte della folta comunità nera dello stato che vota in massa per il partito democratico. Immune al fascino obamiano nel 2008, quest’anno The Heart of Dixie eleggerà senza problemi un governatore del GOP (Robert Bentley al posto dell’uscente Bob Riley). E al Senato l’incumbent repubblicano Richard Shelby ha una trentina di punti di vantaggio sullo sfidante William Barners. Con la rappresentanza democratica alla Camera ridotta a sole due unità, gli sforzi repubblicani si stanno concentrando sul 2° distretto, nel quadrante sud-orientale dello stato, dove la young gun Martha Roby tenta di soffiare il seggio al freshman democratico Bobby Bright. La corsa, per ora, è un toss-up.


Mississippi
2008: McCain +13%
Cam: GOP 1 DEM 3

Governato dal monopartitismo per oltre 140 anni (a favore dei democratici), il Magnolia State è oggi profondamente rosso, anche se alcune tracce dell'antico dominio possono essere ancora trovate sia nella politica locale che nei rappresentanti dello stato alla Camera. Nel 2010, non sono previste sfide per il Senato o per la poltrona di governatore (in mano ai repubblicani). E il GOP proverà quantomeno a riequilibrare le sorti alla Camera. La sua possibilità migliore è nel 1° distretto del nord-ovest, al confine con Alabama e Tennessee, in cui l’incumbent democratico Travis W. Childers è costantemente sopravanzato nei sondaggi dallo sfidante Alan Nunnelee. Se il dato nazionale fosse particolarmente positivo per i repubblicani, poi, qualche sorpresa potrebbe arrivare anche dal 4° distretto del sud-ovest, dove il blue dog Gene Taylor sta soffrendo più del previsto contro il repubblicano Steven Palazzo, malgrado i suoi voti contrari a Obamacare, stimulus e cap-and-trade.

Louisiana
2008: McCain +19%
Sen: Vitter (R)
Cam: GOP 6 DEM 1

Quando il dominio democratico del Sud collassò verso la metà degli anni Sessanta, la Louisiana iniziò a eleggere candidati del GOP alla Camera e come governatori. Ma per vedere un repubblicano del Bayou State approdare alla Camera si sarebbe dovuto aspettare fino al 2004, con il ritiro di John Breaux e la vittoria di David Vitter. Nel 2010 Vitter, malgrado qualche vicissitudine scabrosa (il suo nome fu ritrovato nell’indirizzario della “Madame” che allietava le notti di molti politici a Washington), non sembra troppo infastidito dalla candidatura di Charlie Melancon e viaggia verso una tranquilla riconferma. Alla Camera, controllando 6 seggi su 7, i repubblicani non hanno troppi margini di manovra. Anzi, rischiano seriamente di perdere il 2° distretto (New Orleans) vinto a sorpresa da Joseph Cao nel 2008. In compenso, con Jeff Landry, il GOP ha qualche possibilità di strappare ai democratici il 3° distretto (quello più colpito dalla “marea nera”), lasciato libero proprio da Melancon per la sua corsa al Senato.



Arkansas
2008: McCain +20%
Gov: Beebe (D)
Sen: Lincoln (D)
Cam: GOP 1 DEM 3

Sempre più repubblicano alle presidenziali, l’Arkansas torna in genere a essere un feudo democratico alle elezioni per il governatore e il Congresso. Nonostante il clima politico sfavorevole, anche nel 2010, il governatore incumbent Mike Bebee non avrà problemi a conservare la sua poltrona. Mentre al Senato, con ogni probabilità, i democratici perderanno un seggio che controllano da oltre un secolo. La sconfitta di Blanche Lincoln contro l’ex congressman John Boozman, infatti, è data per scontata sia dagli analisti che dei sondaggisti. E la sconfitta al Senato potrebbe aprire il “vaso di Pandora” anche alla Camera. Dei tre distretti controllati dai democratici, infatti, solo il 4° (in piena Black Belt) sembra orientato verso la riconferma dell’incumbent. Gli altri due potrebbero clamorosamente cambiare colore, anche in questo caso dopo oltre un secolo. Nel 1° distretto, che comprende il delta del fiume Mississippi, il candidato democratico Chad Causey sembra davvero troppo liberal rispetto al baricentro ideologico della zona. E il repubblicano Rick Crawford è davanti nei sondaggi. Nel 2° distretto, quello della capitale Little Rock, Tim Griffin (protégé di Karl Rove) sembra in grado di conquistare senza troppi problemi il seggio lasciato libero da Vic Snyder e difeso da Joyce Elliot.

Okhlahoma
2008: McCain +32%
Gov: Henry (D) – open
Sen: Coburn (R)
Cam: GOP 4 DEM 1

Roccaforte del New Deal rooseveltiano e swing-state fino al 1964, l'Oklahoma aderì convintamente al programma "law & order" di Nixon nel 1968 e da quell'anno non si è più spostato dalla zona rossa della mappa elettorale. Nel 2010, con il ritiro del governatore democratico Brad Henry, il pick-up repubblicano è dato per certo, visto che nello scontro al femminile tra Mary Fallin (R) e Jari Askins (D), la repubblicana viaggia con una ventina di punti percentuali di vantaggio. Il distacco cresce al +40% nella corsa del Senato tra l’incumbent Tom Coburn e lo sfidante democratico Jim Rogers. Calma piatta anche alla Camera, con i repubblicani che controllano 4 seggi su 5 e i democratici che dovrebbero riuscire a riconfermare Dan Boren nel 2° distretto, quello più orientale al confine con l’Arkansas, grazie anche al suo voto negativo sulla riforma sanitaria voluta da Obama.

Texas
2008: McCain +12%
Gov: Perry (R)
Cam: GOP 20 DEM 12

Quando nel Texas dominavano i democratici, il partito era diviso tra i Tory Democrats - che provarono a boicottare la candidatura di FDR nel 1944 - e i Liberal Democrats custodi dell’ortodossia rooseveltiana. Con l’ascesa alla Casa Bianca del texano Lyndon Johnson, i conservatori del partito democratico passarono in massa ai repubblicani, che intanto conquistavano voti nelle contee a nord di San Antonio e nei sobborghi in espansione di Dallas e Houston. Oggi che a dominare è il GOP, il partito è spaccato tra l’ala conservatrice/populista e quella più fedele all’establishment. Passano i decenni, ma la politica del Lone Star State resta tra le più affascinanti e complesse di tutti gli Stati Uniti d’America. Quest’anno, nella corsa a governatore, il repubblicano Rick Perry cerca la quarta rielezione consecutiva (sarebbe un record) a spese dell’ex sindaco di Houston, Bill White. I democratici hanno a lungo coltivato la speranza di battere Perry, ma il successore di George W. Bush dovrebbe farcela anche questa volta. Pur controllando quasi tutto il “controllabile” alla Camera (cioè tutte le contee non-ispaniche a nord di Houston), il GOP tenta il colpaccio in almeno due distretti. Nel 17°, il conservatore democratico Chet Edwards tenta ancora una volta di respingere gli attacchi repubblicani in un distretto molto “rosso”, ma questa volta l’imprenditore Bill Flores sembra un avversario davvero temibile. Se l’onda lunga del GOP acquistasse particolare potenza, poi, i democratici potrebbero rischiare anche nel 23° distretto – un’enorme distesa di deserto a sud-ovest di San Antonio e al confine con il Messico – dove si scontrano l’incumbent Ciro Rodriguez e lo sfidante Quico Canseco. Olè!

2/continua


          ATR Urges Colorado Lawmakers to Reject Proposed Sales Tax Hike        

 

Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran (D) and Senate President Kevin Grantham (R) recently unveiled House Bill 1242, their proposal to put a sale tax increase on the November ballot in order to generate $3.5 billion for transportation. The proposal has been met with swift opposition by Republican legislators in both chambers of the state legislature, as well as conservative and free market organizations like the Independence Institute, a free market think tank based in Denver, and Americans for Prosperity.

Reporters and HB 1242 proponents describe the proposed sale tax hike as “less than a penny,” which is a great way to mislead folks into thinking this proposal entails a small tax hike. Point of fact, HB 1242, if approved, would advance a sales tax hike that represents a more than 21% increase from the current rate. Anyone who describes this as “less than a penny” is trying to distract from what would be a massive rate hike.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, sent a letter to Colorado legislators today, urging them to oppose HB 1242. In the letter, Norquist explains how those who claim a tax hike is needed for transportation are actually admitting transportation is their lowest priority:

“Some lawmakers contend this regressive tax hike is needed because transportation is a priority,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Yet lawmakers calling for a tax hike to fund transportation are actually admitting that transportation is their lowest priority. Were that not the case, they would not have funded everything else in the budget first.”

The Independence Institute has filed what would be a competing measure on the November ballot.  Titled “Fix Our Damn Roads,” that measure, which will require requisite citizen signatures to make it to the ballot, would ask voters to approve a $2.5 billion transportation bond, to be paid for with existing revenues and not tax hikes.

“Let’s be clear, this is not a tax increase or a budget cut, it’s a re-allocation of existing state spending to roads,” said Jon Caldara, Independence Institute president. “If lawmakers aren’t willing to do their jobs, then we’ll ask the voters to do it for them.”

Colorado has divided state government, with Democrats holding the state house and governor’s mansion, while Republicans control the state senate. Expect this to be one of the most contentious tax battles of 2017. A copy of the letter that ATR sent to Colorado lawmakers is as follows: 

March 13, 2017

To: Members of the Colorado House of Representatives

From: Americans for Tax Reform

Re: House Bill 1242/Proposed Sales Tax Hike

Dear Members of the Colorado House,

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and our supporters across Colorado, I urge you to reject House Bill 1242, the recently unveiled proposal to refer a sales tax increase the ballot. Your constituents have been hit with 20 Obamacare tax increases and an onslaught of onerous federal regulations over the last eight years. The last thing individuals, families, and employers across Colorado need is to have lawmakers in Denver pile on with further tax hikes at the state level, but that is the goal of HB 1242.

The sales tax increase that HB 1242 seeks to advance has been described as “less than a penny on the dollar,” yet such description is intended to mislead. In fact, the sales tax hike entailed in HB 1242 represents a whopping 21% hike in the current rate. Some lawmakers contend this regressive tax hike is needed because transportation is a priority. Yet lawmakers calling for a tax hike to fund transportation are actually admitting that transportation is their lowest priority. Were that not the case, they would not have funded everything else in the budget first. 

There is ample evidence that higher taxes make states less competitive, and harm economic growth. John Hood, chairman of the John Locke Foundation, a non-partisan think tank, analyzed 681 peer-reviewed academic journal articles dating back to 1990. Most of the studies found that lower levels of taxation and spending correlate with stronger economic performance. When Tax Foundation chief economist William McBride reviewed academic literature going back three decades, he found “the results consistently point to significant negative effects of taxes on economic growth, even after controlling for various other factors such as government spending, business cycle conditions and monetary policy.”

As such, I urge you to reject efforts to raise the sales tax, which would disproportionately harm low and middle-income Colorado households. ATR will be educating your constituents and all Colorado taxpayers as to how lawmakers in Denver vote on HB 1242, and other important fiscal and economic matters throughout the legislative session. Please look to ATR to as a resource on tax, budget, and other policy matters pending before you. If you have any questions, please contact Patrick Gleason, ATR’s director of state affairs, at (202) 785-0266 or pgleason@atr.org.

 

Sincerely,

 

Grover G. Norquist

President

Americans for Tax Reform

 

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          Trump Threats To Cut ACA Subsidies Would Hit NY Hard        
New York state stands to lose nearly $1 billion if President Trump follows through with his threat to “let Obamacare fail” and cut key health care subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
          Americans Are Overpaying for Insurance Because Obamacare Is Too Confusing        

Millions of Americans who would qualify for financial help to buy health insurance under Obamacare seem to be leaving that money on the table by purchasing coverage that's ineligible for assistance, according to a new paper published in the journal Health Affairs.

Why are so many people turning down government help? In short, we don't know for sure. But the study, authored by researchers from the Urban Institute and Michigan State University, raises a familiar issue with the health law. For many insurance shoppers, Obamacare may just be too confusing.

If you're reading this article, chances are you're familiar with the Affordable Care Act's online insurance exchanges—the state and federal websites, like healthcare.gov, where Americans can compare plans and buy coverage every open enrollment season. Most Americans who buy insurance on the individual market now use these portals, and for good reason: In order to qualify for Obamacare's coverage subsidies, you have to get your insurance through an official exchange.

Nonetheless, there are still millions of Americans who have continued to buy their coverage off the exchange. Often, the plans they choose are identical to what's offered on ACA's marketplaces. The running assumption among health care experts I've talked to over time was that the vast majority of those customers probably made too much money to receive any government help, since only families that earn between 100 and 400 percent of the poverty line are eligible for Obamacare's tax credits. For those not getting a subsidy, it might be easier and less of a time suck to buy directly from an insurer, rather than log on to healthcare.gov and fill out a long form. They may also be able to find insurance options with slightly wider networks or other advantages.

Except, it turns out that a lot of those Americans shopping off the exchanges would qualify for subsidies. Using the data from the National Health Interview Survey, the Michigan State and Urban Institute team estimated that 6.3 million nonelderly adults bought their insurance coverage outside Obamacare's marketplaces in 2015. Almost 41 percent of them reported incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the poverty line—meaning they should have been tax credit eligible. Almost 19 percent earned less than 250 percent of the poverty line, meaning they would have qualified for special subsidized plans that lowered their out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and co-pays.

But for some reason, they said no thanks.

For a number of consumers, that may have been a rational choice. Many younger, healthier Americans, for instance, have chosen to skip the exchanges and buy inexpensive, short-term health plans that don't meet Obamacare's regulatory standards. These policies don't cover pre-existing health conditions and can include lifetime caps on coverage. As a result, the federal government doesn't actually consider them insurance, and those who buy them still have to pay the individual mandate's tax penalty for the uninsured. Even with that added cost, short-term plans may be more affordable for some.

Still, it seems fairly obvious that some people are simply overpaying for coverage because they don't know any better. "I have to think a lot of them just aren't aware they could get better deals buying through the exchange," the study's lead author, Michigan State economist John Goddeeris, told Modern Healthcare. "Probably a good number of people are making a mistake."

This is not the first study to suggest that millions may be unwittingly forgoing Obamacare's financial assistance. A January Health Affairs study found that 31 percent of Californians who bought insurance on the individual market in 2014 missed out on the ACA's premium tax credits or cost-sharing subsidies either because they bought insurance off the exchange, or chose the wrong kind of plan. One clue about what might have gone wrong: People who qualified for aid but bought off-exchange coverage anyway were less likely to have gotten help from an insurance counselor. Meanwhile, in a 2015 survey by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 59 percent of the uninsured said they either did not know about Obamacare's tax credits, or didn't understand them.

The ACA has done an enormous amount of good by helping millions obtain health insurance they otherwise couldn't afford. But it's also a complicated policy contraption that assumes a relatively savvy consumer, and without extensive public education, many people are simply going to miss out on its benefits. Even the Obama White House seems to have failed at adequately spreading the word, which may well have hurt the law politically; it's easy to imagine that some voters who were enraged by rising premiums didn't realize the government was there waiting to give them a tax credit. Now, the ACA is being run by an administration that has spent months gradually sabotaging the law for political gain, and will almost surely cut back on outreach. I'm guessing the number of people paying more than they should for coverage is about to rise even higher.


          Businesses Are Finally Realizing That Trump Causes “Uncertainty”        

Back in the financially tumultuous early years of the Obama administration, it was common to hear worthies of a certain ilk carp that “uncertainty” from Washington was harming economic growth. Here’s Steve Forbes complaining in early 2010—at the beginning of one of the longest expansions on record—that regulatory uncertainty was inhibiting a sustained recovery. Blackstone Group Chairman Steve Schwarzman, in the summer of 2010, compared the mild regulations the Obama administration had passed to Hitler invading Poland. Some of these gripes continued into the late Obama years: In April 2014, supply-sider Larry Kudlow moaned that the “incredible uncertainty about Obamacare and its taxes and regulations” was hampering the markets and the economy.

Of course, business and policy are always uncertain to a degree. And policy changes in 2009 and 2010 did create new mandates and requirements for businesses. But the stimulus, Dodd-Frank, and the Affordable Care Act were generally well–thought out, slow to materialize, and coolly implemented. And there’s simply no evidence that “uncertainty” about the path of policy in Washington, however you define it, hampered business investments, hiring, and especially market performance in the period between 2009 and 2016. Because “uncertainty” doesn’t really mean uncertainty—it’s just code used by supply-siders and right-wingers. What they really didn’t like was the fact that a guy named Obama was sitting in the White House, poised to raise their taxes. (Readers, he did. And the economy and S&P 500 survived.)

When President Trump was elected, the concerns of supply-siders and Wall Street titans over uncertainty seemed to dissipate. They were sure that the impending tax-reform package, regulatory reduction, and the repeal of Obamacare would cause the markets and economy to boom. An incoming administration hostile to facts, norms, and maybe even the sanctity of the republic? No concerns here! And, as Trump often reminds us, the markets have soared to new heights while volatility has decreased. But six months into his presidency, there is abundant evidence of actual uncertainty emanating from Washington—including but not limited to the policy chaos intentionally fomented by the Trump administration—that is beginning to harm business and investment.

Across the board, Trump has generally not bothered to staff up the government, thrown into question long-standing U.S. trade policy, and instigated and supported efforts to blow up the insurance industry. And it is starting to become clear just how these efforts are harming business.

Trade

“Trump’s Stalled Trade Agenda is Leaving Industries in the Lurch,” reads the lead story in the business section of Tuesday’s New York Times. Apparently, the uncertainty over whether Trump will impose tariffs on imported steel has been spurring foreign suppliers to ship more steel to the U.S.—which simply makes it more difficult for domestic producers to compete. Adam Behsudi of Politico has a fantastic, deeply reported article this week on how Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Trans Pacific Partnership—and the ensuing efforts by other countries to negotiate trade deals among themselves—is undermining the ability of U.S. agriculture producers to export. “I’m scared to death,” said Ron Prestage, a North Carolina businessman who had just made a big investment in a meat-processing plant in anticipation of more business after the passage of TPP. Behsudi also interviewed corn farmers in Iowa who have seen the price of their product gyrate in response to Trump’s hostile tweets toward Mexico. Trump promised to get Americans better deals on international trade. Instead he’s only delivered migraines.

Pipelines

Trump talked a big game about supporting pipeline construction during the campaign—especially the Keystone XL pipeline. But his slowness to staff up the federal bureaucracy has made it difficult for proposed pipeline projects to get off the ground. In May, Bloomberg reported that some $50 billion in work was either “slowed or stalled” because the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission wasn’t capable of approving them. “For the first time in FERC’s 40-year-history, the agency doesn’t have enough commissioners for a quorum to vote on project applications.” Last week, Politico put the amount of stalled shovel-ready projects somewhat lower: at $13 billion. “Trump’s slowness to fill vacancies at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is one reason for a growing backlog of natural gas pipelines and a gas export terminal awaiting approval from the agency, which has been unable to conduct major business since February.” Wasn’t this president supposed to be fossil fuels’ best friend?

Health insurance

Nowhere is Trump’s combination of chaotic management and policy ignorance more evident than in health care. With a substantial assist from Republicans in Congress, Trump has done an enormous amount to intentionally create uncertainty for health insurers and health providers. Over the past seven years, the massive health industry has rebuilt itself around the Affordable Care Act and anticipated levels of funding for entitlements such as Medicaid. But Trump has backed—and then not backed, and then backed again—legislation that would have slashed hundreds of billions from Medicaid and eliminated the individual mandate that keeps insurance markets stable. He has threatened on multiple occasions to withhold payments from insurers that offer plans on the exchange. And his Department of Health and Human Services is trying to undermine enrollment in insurance plans. The result, as Politico reported in an article headlined “GOP Uncertainty Over Obamacare Drives Out Insurers,” is that insurers are abandoning markets and lines of business.

Infrastructure

President Trump has talked a great deal about a big infrastructure package, but nobody on his team has really bothered to flesh it out. Remember the clown show of infrastructure week in early June? The Trump administration says it wants to enlist the private sector to fund roads, bridges, and other vital projects, and its proposed budget zeroed out a bunch of grants and programs that support long-planned projects. All of which has had the effect of freezing progress and planning on dozens of ongoing projects. “The sudden uncertainty has left local officials who had long anticipated federal support for their projects worrying whether they will get it,” the Chicago Tribune reported in June.

Saber-rattling

And then there’s what happened on Tuesday when Trump, speaking from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, injected an entirely new source of uncertainty into the world by threatening North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Markets immediately nosedived.

In the Obama years, there was uncertainty over whether the top marginal rate would be 35 percent or 39.6 percent. In the Trump years, there’s uncertainty over whether a country of 25 million people will be here tomorrow.


          Trump May Try to Deal a Death Blow to Obamacare This Week        

With Obamacare repeal dead in Congress for the time being, the White House is signaling that it may step up efforts to sabotage the law this week—and possibly throw insurance markets into chaos in the process.

The rumblings began with a Saturday afternoon tweet from President Trump, in which he suggested that, after months of toying with the idea, he might finally follow through on a threat to end crucial subsidies to insurers, known as cost-sharing reduction payments. Of course, he didn't use that exact language.

While wildly misleading—the cost-sharing subsidies are in no way an insurer “bailout”—the tweet left little doubt about what Trump was thinking. Then on Sunday, adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News that the president would make a final call on the issue this week. “That's a decision that only he can make,” she said, somewhat tautologically.

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

The subsidies don't appear to be the only part of Obamacare in danger. Asked by ABC's Martha Raddatz on Sunday whether the administration might stop enforcing the law's individual mandate requiring Americans to buy insurance coverage, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price suggested it was an option.

“The individual mandate is one of those things that actually is driving up the cost for the American people in terms of coverage,” he said, inaccurately. “So what we’re trying to do is make sure that Obamacare is no longer harming the patients of this land. No longer driving up costs. No longer making it so that they’ve got coverage and no care. And the individual mandate is one of those things.

“All things are on the table to try and help patients,” Price added.

Neither of these announcements comes as much of a surprise—insurers across the country have requested large rate hikes for 2018 to protect themselves in case Trump cuts off the cost-sharing subsidies or relaxes enforcement of the mandate. But even if the president won't catch the industry off guard, he can still do immense damage to the insurance markets.

Turning off the cost-sharing subsidies has often been referred to as Trump's nuclear option on Obamacare. Under the law, insurers are required to reduce out-of-pocket expenses like co-pays and deductibles for poorer customers. In return, Washington is supposed to pay the carriers directly in order to cover the expense. But several years ago, the House of Representatives sued to halt the payments, arguing they'd never been appropriated correctly. A federal trial court agreed, and Trump needs to decide whether to keep appealing the case.

If Trump hits the kill button, insurers will lose billions. Seven million Americans, or 58 percent of all marketplace enrollees, qualified for the cost-sharing reductions in 2017, and carriers will legally have to continue offering the reduced-cost plans whether or not the subsidy money keeps flowing from Washington. To make up for it, health plans would have to raise their premiums by 19 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. If that's the extent of the damage, then the nuclear option will have turned out to be a bit less than atomic. However, there's also a worst-case scenario in which many insurers would simply choose to leave the exchanges rather than stick with a line of business the White House would clearly be trying to napalm.

Scaling back the individual mandate would also roil the market, though how much would depend on precisely what Secretary Price chose to do and how insurers coped. The Congressional Budget Office believes that killing off the tax penalty for those who don't buy insurance outright would drive premiums up 20 percent as younger, healthier individuals dropped their coverage, leaving behind a sicker customer base with higher medical expenses. But marginally widening the mandate's exemptions might not have the same dramatic impact on costs. The big question, again, is whether insurers would simply get sick of the campaign to undermine the exchanges and drop out.

It is unclear exactly what Trump and his team thinks they will achieve by waging an all-out war against Obamacare using executive authority. Trump has at times suggested that the best thing Republicans can do would be to let Obamacare “implode” on its own, then clean up the damage with an all-the-more-urgent repeal bill. Perhaps he still thinks the party would more readily pass a replacement if the market is in ruins. But that's a dicey political calculation. First, Obamacare is not collapsing due to its own structural flaws; Trump is trying to tip it over, and much of the media will cover that. Moreover, voters get angry when their insurance premiums rise. Even if they don't realize that the president has taken the unprecedented step of trying to undercut the country's health coverage system for political gain, there's a strong chance they'll blame the party in power, which they've just watched spend six months bumbling in its attempt to pass health care legislation. What seems less likely is that they’ll blame the Democrats who passed the law, as Trump has suggested voters would do.

It's also worth keeping in mind that, if Trump kills the cost-sharing subsidies and the insurance markets don't crumble outright, the Americans poised to experience the brunt of the pain are basically middle-class voters. Insurers will still be required to keep a lid on out-of-pocket costs for low-income customers, and Americans who make less than 400 percent of the poverty line would still get tax credits that cap their health premiums as a percentage of their income, meaning they won't feel any pinch from rising prices. It's households that earn too much to receive subsides that'd end up paying more for their coverage. That group is incredibly vocal, and—being higher income—they tend to vote.

One sign that the administration knows it’s on shaky political ground is its obviously misleading rhetoric on both the cost-sharing subsidies and mandate. Calling the former a bailout makes absolutely no sense—it's not as if insurers accidentally underpriced their health plans in this case and now need financial help. Rather, they were required to offer low-income Americans discounted coverage, which the government promised—by statute—to subsidize.

The idea that the individual mandate drives up costs is even more absurd. Yes, people who have to buy insurance who otherwise wouldn't end up spending money they'd prefer not to. But by drawing healthy people into the market, the rule brings down the average cost of coverage. Floating these ridiculous rhetorical trial balloons suggests the administration lacks a stronger argument and knows it.

Or maybe not. Maybe this whole thing is just irrational. Maybe like Samson chained to the pillars, Trump just wants to bring Obamacare's whole structure tumbling down, even if it might kill his presidency, too. With this White House, you never know.


          The Latest Version of “Skinny Repeal” Might Give States a Chance to Wreck Obamacare        

Republicans have finally unveiled the “skinny” Obamacare repeal bill they plan to vote on this evening. Like everybody expected, it’s an atrocious bit of policy—a piece of legislation that, as many GOP senators have already admitted, would destabilize the insurance markets by killing off the individual mandate while leaving the Affordable Care Act’s other regulations in place.

Somewhat surprisingly, the bill also still aims to make it easier for states to dismantle Obamacare on their own—though just how much easier is a bit of an open question, which of course won’t be resolved because Senate procedure is now a farce and Republicans are voting on this thing tonight.

As you may recall, the original Better Care Reconciliation Act made it extremely easy for conservative states to opt out of Obamacare’s rules and regulations by expanding the so-called 1332 “state innovation waivers” contained in the law. This provision was designed to let states experiment with alternative health care systems—like, say, single-payer—so long as officials could show that whatever setup they came up with would cover as many people as comprehensively as Obamacare, and without raising the federal deficit. The Republican bill would have nixed most those conditions, save the deficit bit, forcing the secretary of health and human services to approve pretty much any waiver request that came his way. Worse yet, once waivers were in place, the federal government would not be allowed to revoke it, no matter how states mismanaged their funding.

As Michigan Law Professor Nicholas Bagley wrote back in June, “If state officials blow the Obamacare money on cocaine and hookers, there’s apparently nothing the federal government can do about it.”

Earlier on Thursday, however, it seemed like those waivers-on-steroids might have be removed from the GOP’s bill. The Senate parliamentarian ruled that they were not eligible for a vote under the reconciliation process GOP leaders are relying on to pass their bill, and so would need 60 votes to break a filibuster.

But it turns out a somewhat-less-expansive version of the waivers made it into the skinny bill after all. To get them, states will still have to show that their proposals will cover as many people as thoroughly as Obamacare—those guardrails have been left in place. But once a waiver is approved, they can’t be canceled for eight years, which may effectively give states room to do whatever the heck they want. Or so writes Bagley late Thursday at The Incidental Economist: “So while the ACA’s guardrails are still in place, states can ignore them once a waiver has been granted. And there’s not a thing the federal government can do about it.”

Personally, I’m not so sure these waivers are really a free hall pass for states to revoke insurance from their residents. Presumably, if a state doesn’t abide by the terms of its own waiver, individuals who lost their coverage or premium subsidies could bring a lawsuit. (Likewise, if the administration tried to approve a waiver that clearly doesn’t meet all of Obamacare’s standards, someone would almost surely drag it into court). Would that work? I can’t say. There was some debate about it tonight on Twitter.

And that’s the problem (or, one of the problems, anyway). There hasn’t been nearly enough time to judge how this bill could affect health care for millions. And no matter what Mitch McConnell says, there’s a strong chance it could become law.


          Would the GOP’s “Skinny Repeal” Bill Really Wreck the Insurance Market?        

At some point in the next day or so, Senate Republicans are expected to vote on their Plan C for killing Obamacare—“skinny repeal.” Nobody knows exactly what is in the bill yet, because it was still being written Thursday afternoon. But the rough idea is to wrap a handful of ideas the entire GOP can support into a piece of bare-bones legislation that avoids controversial issues like cuts to Medicaid that have split the party's moderates and conservatives. Above all, it would end the Affordable Care Act's requirement that all Americans buy insurance lest they pay a tax penalty—aka the individual mandate. It would also “partially” repeal the employer mandate requiring businesses to offer their workers coverage. Beyond that, it would make changes around the ACA’s edges.

In theory, this splinter of a bill is not supposed to reach Donald Trump's desk. Republicans are being asked to vote for it merely to keep the repeal process alive, allowing the House and Senate to meet in a conference committee to craft a final, more robust piece of legislation. But at this point, it's not clear that Republicans are actually capable of coming up with anything better. The Senate GOP has been unable to muster 50 votes for any kind of comprehensive plan to replace Obamacare. And even if those votes existed, it's becoming increasingly clear that procedural hurdles would get in the way. If Republicans are determined to notch a win—loosely defined—on health care, Congress may have to pass skinny repeal and call it a day.

What would that mean for health insurance in this country? Nothing good. The individual mandate, while politically loathed, is still the keystone that makes Obamcare's extremely popular consumer protections hold together. Republicans would remove it while leaving in place the regulations that bar insurers from rejecting or charging more to customers with pre-existing conditions. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that such a plan could cause insurance premiums to rise by an additional 20 percent within a year, as young and healthy Americans dropped their coverage, leaving behind a pool of sicker enrollees with higher medical costs. Eventually, the CBO believes 16 million more Americans would be left uninsured—some by choice, and others because they were priced out of the market.

To be clear, that 16 million figure shouldn't be taken as gospel. According to a chart the CBO provided congressional Democrats, the office thinks that by 2021, 5 million fewer Americans would have individual coverage, 4 million fewer would have insurance through their employer, and 6 million fewer would have it through Medicaid. (Presumably, there are unseen decimal points in there that round up the total to 16 million.) The Medicaid number is probably the most controversial part of that prediction, since it doesn't make a ton of intuitive sense that killing a mandate to buy insurance would drive people off a government safety net program. But Medicaid has a lot of turnover each year; people sign up for it and drop off when they find work or other insurance options. And it's entirely possible that without the mandate, some people would never discover they were eligible for Medicaid in the first place, because they would never go looking to find a health plan. Whether it would actually cause the program to shrink by 6 million heads is hard to say.

The bigger question is whether the insurance markets in some parts of the country would collapse entirely. We know that forcing insurers to cover the sick without making everybody buy coverage works poorly because several states tried it prior to Obamacare. Premiums skyrocketed as enrollment in the individual market shrank. But the difference today is that Obamacare provides insurance subsidies that cap premiums as a percentage of a household's income. As a result, there will almost always be some people ready to buy insurance no matter how high premiums shoot up, since the government will pay most of their tab. It seems very unlikely the insurance market would plunge into a full-fledged, nationwide death spiral, where rising premiums drive out the vast majority of healthy customers, and insurers are forced to abandon the market or charge unaffordable prices.

Even so, killing the individual mandate would be sure to rock the insurance market (which is why insurers are shouting apocalyptically about it). First, Obamacare's subsidies cut off for families that make more than 400 percent of the poverty line, or about $82,000 for a family of three; the millions of Americans currently paying full price for their insurance would get gouged. Second, even with subsidies around to act as a cushion, insurers might decide to abandon some parts of the country anyway. Remember, there are already some counties that could end up with zero carriers offering health plans on their exchanges next year. If skinny repeal passes, it wouldn't be surprising if that pain spreads further. We wouldn't see a coast-to-coast death spiral, but we might witness a few localized ones.

That sort of dysfunction might still be preferable to the House or Senate plans to replace Obamacare, which would have dealt a generational blow to the safety net by slashing hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid. But skinny repeal is still bad policy. It's a slight piece of legislation that could deal some heavy damage.


          The Senate Parliamentarian Is Throwing a Wrench Into the GOP’s Ultimate Health Care Plan        

Right now, Senate Republicans are desperately attempting to pass something—anything—that can plausibly be called Obamacare repeal so they can then sit down with their colleagues in the House and craft a piece of compromise legislation both chambers will vote on. The plan is to keep making forward progress and hope that sheer momentum carries this whole shambolic legislative effort over the goal line.

There are many reasons why this strategy could fail. But one of the most important, and perhaps most underappreciated, is that it seems unlikely any bill capable of passing the House right now will also be able to pass the Senate purely due to procedural reasons.

For this we can thank Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, who since last week has ruled that several key pieces of the GOP's plan to replace Obamacare would not be eligible for a vote using the budget reconciliation process, which Republicans are banking on to pass their bill. Reconciliation is designed to pre-empt filibusters on tax and spending matters, allowing them to be enacted with a bare 51-vote majority (the GOP has 52 seats in the Senate, plus Vice President Mike Pence to break ties). But it is not supposed to be used for purely regulatory changes. MacDonough has advised lawmakers that many of their proposals don't pass muster under the procedure, including provisions that would defund Planned Parenthood and bar Americans from using government subsidies to buy insurance that covers abortion. The rule that would make people wait six months to purchase a health plan if they have a lapse in coverage—Republicans' proposed replacement for the Obamacare's individual mandate—is also a no-go, as is a change allowing insurance carriers to charge older customers up to five times what younger enrollees pay.

A repeal bill could conceivably survive Congress without these pieces. The broader problem is that the parliamentarian appears to be interpreting the reconciliation rules strictly, which means she may force the Senate to strip other key conservative regulatory demands, such as Sen. Ted Cruz's amendment allowing insurers to sell bare-bones health plans or waivers giving states the right to opt out of Obamacare's market rules.

Losing the waivers, especially, would be an enormous, possibly insurmountable obstacle for Republicans. Right now, the Senate is expected to try to pass a stripped-down “skinny repeal” bill that would kill off Obamacare's tax penalties for Americans who don't buy insurance, the requirement that employers offer their workers insurance, and the tax on medical devices. The idea is to advance a piece of legislation that almost everyone in the Senate can agree on—there's been a lot of talk about settling on the “lowest common denominator,” which, yeesh—and then go into a conference committee with the House to negotiate a final compromise. Already, House conservatives are telling the media that they won't simply accept the skinny repeal option and move on. “You’ve got to give freedom to the states at a minimum,” Rep. Raul Labrador told the Daily Beast. â€œIn my opinion, we should get rid of the entire bill—the entire Obamacare—but that’s not going to happen. ... This is our one chance to repeal Obamacare and to give the states flexibility.”

But what if the parliamentarian decides that “state flexibility” is a no-can-do under reconciliation? At that point, Republicans have two options.

On the one hand, hard-liners could choke back their frustrations and just vote on whatever milquetoast piece of legislation the Senate is capable of producing.

On the other, Republicans could choose to overrule the parliamentarian, and thus more or less end the Senate as we know it. Technically, MacDonough's rulings are only advisory. Vice President Pence gets the actual final word on whether a bill meets the requirements for reconciliation, and he could choose to simply greenlight any bill Congress produces, allowing it to pass with 51 votes. But this would be a tectonic rupture in Senate history. No vice president has overruled the parliamentarian since Nelson Rockefeller in 1976, and choosing to do so in today's political climate would amount to gutting the filibuster, since pretty much any legislation could pass with 51 votes so long as it had the veep's blessing.

Would Republicans actually go this route? It's hard to say. Sen. Mitch McConnell, who would almost certainly make the final call on this issue, has resisted the idea of ending the legislative filibuster out of concern that, one day, a President Bernie Sanders might be able to pass single-payer or nationalize Trump Tower with fewer than 60 Senate votes. But despite his reputation as an “institutionalist,” the majority leader has shown himself more than willing to obliterate the Senate's procedural precedent during this year's secretive and rushed health care push. If he has to choose between fulfilling a seven-year pledge to blot out Barack Obama's legacy and preserving Senate traditions, it's not at all clear to me which McConnell would pick.


          The Senate’s Desperate New Plan to End Obamacare: “Skinny Repeal”        

 

With just hours to go before they are expected to start voting on health care despite there being no actual legislation in sight, desperate Senate Republicans are reportedly considering a last-resort, stripped-down bill that would end Obamacare's individual mandate, along with some of its taxes, while leaving the rest of the law untouched. 

Here is how the four-step “skinny repeal” plan would work, as outlined by NBC's Leigh Ann Caldwell:

1) First, Mitch McConnell would have to wrangle 50 votes on the motion to proceed. That isn't guaranteed. But the conventional wisdom right now says Republicans will play along, basically as a courtesy to Sen. John McCain, who is hauling himself to Washington from Arizona despite his brain cancer diagnosis. (Update, 4 p.m.: The motion to proceed has passed! Afterward, McCain gave a long, rousing speech about how the Senate should return to normal order, even though he had just cast a vote allowing it to continue ignoring those very procedures.)

2) Republicans would vote on a bill to repeal Obamacare without immediately replacing it. This will almost certainly fail but will provide a great emotional release for Sen. Rand Paul.

3) The party would then vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act, its full repeal-and-replace plan, complete with the controversial Cruz amendment, which lets insurers sell unregulated insurance policies as long as they also offer Obamacare-compliant plans. Because that provision hasn't been scored by the Congressional Budget Office, however, it can't pass through the reconciliation process and will need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. In other words, it's also dead on arrival.

4) Finally, they'll trot out the “skinny repeal,” which would kill the individual mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance, the rules requiring large employers to offer their workers coverage, and the medical device tax. These are basically the only pieces of health care reform that count as consensus among Senate Republicans.

As a piece of health care policy, the “skinny repeal” bill is a travesty. To repeat what health care writers have written at least a gazillion times now, repealing the individual mandate while leaving the rest of Obamacare unchanged would likely push the individual insurance markets into a death spiral, as young and healthy Americans stopped buying insurance, leaving behind a customer pool full of older patients with extensive medical costs. This is not even really a hypothetical. Prior to 2010, states tried and failed to impose Obamacare-esque rules forcing insurers to cover the sick without requiring everyone to buy coverage. The result: dysfunctional markets and sky-high premiums. Obamacare minus the mandate might be a little less of a train wreck, because it at least offers people subsidies to buy insurance that cap premiums as a percentage of their income. But it wouldn't be a good scene. The CBO, for its part, thinks the BCRA would leave millions more Americans uninsured by 2018 because it eliminates the mandate.

Republicans know this. That is why they have tried to come up with alternatives to the mandate. The latest public version of the Senate bill, for instance, included a rule saying Americans who let their coverage lapse for too long would have to wait at least six months before buying a new health plan. (The Senate parliamentarian recently ruled that piece would violate reconciliation rules, meaning it would also need 60 votes to pass.)

But the skinny bill does not appear to be a real policy compromise. Instead, it seems like a legislative tactic aimed at keeping Obamacare repeal alive by winning 50 votes, then kicking the legislation over to a conference committee, where Republicans in the House and Senate can hash out a final piece of legislation. Of course, if this truncated, nonsensical bill is the only thing upper-chamber Republicans can pass now, it's unclear why anybody thinks they'd be able to strike a workable bargain with the more conservative House—other than the possibility that lawmakers will feel they're too deep in at that point to turn back.

By now, the Republican health care push looks like the slapstick end of a football game, where the losing offense starts blindly tossing laterals in the hope that they'll get lucky and make it to the end zone. It's ugly and silly. But there's always a slim chance it could work.


          The Known Unknowns of the GOP Health Care Plan        

Big laws have glitches and drafting errors that affect millions of lives. That’s an uncomfortable reality, particularly in a complicated area like health care, which accounts for about one-sixth of the U.S. economy. We know many of the ways the House’s American Health Care Act and the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act may harm millions of Americans who rely on the government to regulate and subsidize or cover their health insurance. But there are also impacts of the GOP health care plan that won’t become apparent until after the legislation has become law.

Consider, first, two glitches—one ambiguous, one obvious—in the Affordable Care Act, a bill that was much more carefully constructed than the various proposals Republicans are considering in their effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.

When the ACA was passed, its framers didn’t want consumers to migrate in droves away from employer-based insurance onto federally subsidized marketplace plans. So a worker who can obtain coverage through an affordable employer-based plan is not eligible for ACA’s marketplace subsidies. This policy, one of the myriad judgment calls Congress made in a massive bill, sounded pretty reasonable. Unfortunately, someone screwed up the fine print.

It was my stepsister who first alerted me to this problem, commonly known as the “family glitch.” She and her family live on a modest income. When the ACA passed, they were getting crummy and expensive health insurance through her husband’s employer.  She loved the new law because she really wanted to gain coverage through her state marketplace. Then she discovered that her family was ineligible for financial help.

As the ACA was written—at least as the IRS interprets things—a worker’s employer-based plan is deemed affordable if he can buy insurance for himself than would cost less than 9.69 percent of his income. (This percentage is adjusted annually, as explained here.) The cost of covering an entire family is not considered in this calculation. Thus, my stepsister and her family remained shut out, although they lacked access to an affordable health insurance plan.

That was an obvious screw-up. Had the ACA been a normal bill, this would have been cleaned up through technical amendments and a few billion dollars in subsequent legislation. Al Franken sponsored a bill to do precisely this. Given the political context in which congressional Republicans wanted the ACA to fail, no such legislative fixes were ever possible.

The ACA had a second, much bigger glitch. The bill included a provision known as the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act, or CLASS Act. This was a worthy and imaginative effort, in which people could contribute a monthly premium to buy into a program that would protect them if they ever became disabled due to an injury or a chronic illness. The CLASS Act excited many of us in the disability advocacy community. Few other people have ever heard of CLASS, which imploded before it ever got started.

The political and programmatic details get complicated. But from 50,000 feet, the story is depressingly familiar. CLASS was a voluntary disability insurance program with a five-year vesting period for benefits, but with community-rated premiums. With no individual mandate, the CLASS Act faced the poignant structural challenge that the disability community was excited about it, and basically no one else had even heard of it. These problems were widely discussed in Washington. The ACA even included a sensible amendment, inserted by New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg—a Republican!—that gave the Department of Health and Human Services discretion to modify CLASS if it appeared to be financially unstable. But the political and technical challenges were sticky.

Democrats hoped to clean things up in conference once ACA was passed. After Scott Brown’s surprise victory in a Massachusetts special election cost Democrats their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, the endgame got messy, and Democrats were never able to get CLASS right. The Obama administration cut its losses. CLASS became the largely forgotten first casualty of the health reform fight.

These were two bad glitches in a health care bill that was carefully assembled over several years by genuine experts inside and outside of government. The ACA was subject to months of detailed hearings and amendments, repeated consultations with the Congressional Budget Office and with policy experts in the executive branch. The ACA’s framers desperately wanted to get things right. They didn’t always succeed.

That story should worry anyone who contemplates Republican health care efforts. Both the AHCA and the BCRA are horribly crafted legislative documents. Both were produced through a rushed, slipshod process, complete with radical last-minute additions thrown onto the pile to gain one or two final votes.

Their known and intended defects are bad enough: uninsuring an estimated 22 million people, block-granting and cutting Medicaid, weakening protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and more. The unknown and unintended defects could be equally significant.

A few areas to consider:

The illegal benchmark plan: On Thursday, the CBO released its latest analysis of BCRA. This report examined a benchmark plan for the year 2026 with an assumed actuarial value of 58 percent (roughly speaking, an insurance policy that would, on average, pay for 58 percent of consumers’ total costs for covered services). That plan turns out to have a whopping $13,000 deductible. Leaving aside that this terrible policy would harm millions of low-income people, this benchmark plan would be illegal, imposing out-of-pocket spending above what’s permitted under current law. At least that glitch was identified and can be fixed, presumably by weakening consumer protections in current law.

Medicaid cuts that may or may not happen: In order to get enough votes to even move forward with consideration of a bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly reassured Republican moderates that BCRA’s Medicaid cuts will never actually happen—meaning, presumably, that these cuts will be overturned in some future legislation before they can take effect. The unintended consequences of passing massive cuts you don’t actually want to impose would be severe. If we consider this cynical sales pitch on its face, moving the baseline of federal budgets like this is a huge gamble. For example, one would have to devise huge pay-for tax increases or other cuts to undo these correspondingly huge Medicaid cuts in a subsequent reconciliation bill. McConnell’s argument is even more reckless when one considers the chain reaction throughout the states and the entire medical economy that curbing Medicaid will cause. Eight states have trigger laws that reduce or kill their Medicaid expansions if federal matching rates are dampened. Academic medical centers and managed care plans are now contemplating major investments in safety-net care predicated on the expansion. These investments won’t happen if decision-makers believe major cuts are coming.

The amendment score we can’t trust: Then there is the Cruz amendment, which would allow insurers that offered some ACA-compliant plans to also offer cheaper, bare-bones, noncompliant ones. This effort to effectively segment the insurance pool is opposed by health insurers, the American Academy of Actuaries, and pretty much everyone else with a rudimentary understanding of the insurance market. Instead of getting the advice of the best experts at CBO or elsewhere to address these problems, Republicans chose to denigrate and bypass CBO. Sens. Mike Lee and Ron Johnson later circulated a shoddy analysis commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services. The analysis itself was opaque on key details—including which individuals and organization actually performed it. As soon as outside experts examined the accompanying materials, the reaction was brutal. Timothy Jost—arguably America’s leading expert on the legislative fine print of health reform—summarized some of the obvious problems:

[The report] compares premiums for a 40-year old under the Cruz amendment with average premiums for a 47-year old under the ACA; it incorporates some elements of the ACA and others of the BCRA in its comparisons in a way that distorts the final analysis, and it ignores some problematic features of the BCRA and assuming away problems that would be created by others. The manifold problems with the analysis, which seems to have been written to support the Cruz amendment, rather than to provide impartial analysis, demonstrate again why it is essential to have a nonpartisan, impartial, referee like the CBO to analyze the effects of proposed legislation, a point made in a July 21 letter to Congress signed by all eight former directors of the CBO.

It’s not good for senators to disseminate misleading propaganda. It’s even worse that the proponents didn’t put in the work to get things right. If a set of Republican senators wanted to allow insurers to offer non-ACA-compliant plans, the right way to legislate this is to consult with CBO experts within the executive branch, identity likely pitfalls, and iterate to get the intricate provisions right. Not doing so may or may not be momentarily helpful in a political knife fight. It virtually guarantees that the BCRA, if passed with this provision, would have unintended effects—most likely to fracture the individual insurance market by leading the healthiest consumers to abandon the ACA marketplace for loosely regulated off-marketplace plans that don’t provide basic protections for people with costly or pre-existing conditions.

The unheeded parliamentarian: Finally, we have Friday’s rulings by Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough. She determined that key pillars of the BCRA are out of compliance with the Senate’s arcane Byrd rule. (The Byrd rule governs what’s allowed in the filibuster-proof reconciliation process Republicans are trying to use to pass the BCRA.)

Some of the parliamentarian’s decisions affect politically important but specific issues. MacDonough expressed a dim view of the bill’s efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and to cut off insurance funding for abortions. She also decided against measures to buy off specific constituencies such as the House’s “Buffalo Bailout” provision inserted to win the votes of Upstate New York Republican representatives.

Other determinations are more damaging, because they undermine components required for the bill to work as an integrated whole. She ruled out of order the BCRA’s continued funding for cost-sharing subsidies to low-income participants in the insurance marketplaces. She also decided against the BCRA’s continuous coverage requirement, which is the intended replacement for the individual mandate. She could decide against more provisions, including the Cruz amendment mentioned above. The Senate majority leader (and Vice President Mike Pence) could ignore all that by exercising a “nuclear option” to override the Senate parliamentarian.

Most political reporters don’t believe McConnell will do that. No one knows what he will do. (After all, this is the man who blockaded a Supreme Court seat for a year to deny Merrick Garland even a hearing.) If McConnell does not overrule the parliamentarian, he will have to omit key structural provisions or devise some last-minute fixes with unintended consequences of their own.

With all these matters unsettled, Republicans are set for a vote this week, perhaps beginning the floor process. No senators know what they will be voting on, let alone how the bill might be altered by amendments offered in the free-for-all “vote-a-rama” that will follow 20 hours of debate. The shambolic nature of the entire process was underscored by John Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate Republican, who was quoted in the Hill on Thursday that knowing what will be in the Republican health care bill before the procedural vote is a “luxury we don’t have.”

The rest of America doesn’t have the luxury of rewiring our health care system on the basis of a cosmically unpopular, cruel, amateurishly constructed bill. It may pass anyway. McConnell just needs to attract one or two moderate Republicans and to hold conservatives in the fold. Thus far, only Susan Collins of Maine appears to be a definite “no.”

The Senate and House bills are both messes. Everyone in Washington knows that. Republican insiders hope to clean up these messes in conference, while reconciling the two bills and still being able to pass the resulting product with scarcely a vote to spare. Don’t bet your house that they can do that.

They have to pass the bill to find out what’s screwed up in it. I hope we never find out its unknown unknowns and its accidental defects. The intended ones are bad enough.


          The Senate Health Care Bill Plays a Sinister Joke on the Poor        

Here is the most generous way I can explain the policy goal that Senate Republicans are trying to accomplish with their health care bill, some version of which may finally get a vote next week. By deeply cutting Medicaid while offering adults who live below or just above the poverty line subsidies to buy inexpensive, catastrophic insurance coverage, they are looking to move people off of a government program they see as financially unsustainable, while ensuring poorer households still have some financial protection in case of a medical calamity.

My guess is that this has to be the story most Republicans are telling themselves to justify getting behind $756 billion of Medicaid cuts over a decade. They’re not leaving needy adults out in the cold; they’re transitioning them into the private market.

Even if you believe that narrative, however, in practice it plays a bit like a practical joke on the poor. We were all reminded of that much this week when the Congressional Budget Office released its latest assessment of the GOP's legislation. It found that by 2026, a single policyholder buying a benchmark plan—those are the insurance options intended to be affordable using one of the law's tax credits—would face an astronomical $13,000 deductible, versus just $5,000 under Obamacare. “For plans providing some benefits before the deductible was met, such as a limited number of primary care visits or generic drug purchases, the deductible would be higher,” the CBO notes.

In fact, for many Americans who stand to lose Medicaid coverage under the Republican bill, these deductibles would be higher than their total annual income. In 2026, the CBO expects that someone living at 75 percent of the federal poverty line would earn $11,400, $1,600 short of the threshold they'd have to hit before their insurer started paying any medical bills. Keep in mind, they would also be expected to pay 2 percent of their income toward this insurance, which, unless they're were involved in a car wreck or got cancer, they'd likely never use.

Some people might be comfy with that idea. There are conservative intellectuals who believe that insurance should only be used in true emergencies, and we'd be better off paying for most medical care out of pocket. But insurance that doesn't kick in before you spend a year's wages barely even qualifies as catastrophic coverage, given that it still leaves your finances an utter wreck.

Unfortunately, the CBO analysis only covers an incomplete version of the Senate bill. The office did not have enough time to score the effects of the Cruz amendment, which would allow insurers to sell unregulated insurance priced based on a customer's health as long as they also offer coverage that abides by all of Obamacare's rules. That proposal won't do the poor any favors, though. If anything, it should drive the deductiles on regulated insurance even higher, since that market would largely consist of sicker individuals. However, lower-income customers would likely have to purchase those ACA-compliant plans whether they were healthy or not, because only Obamacare-style insurance would be eligible for subsidies.

It should also be said that, technically, the GOP bill bans the sort of insanely high-deductible plans the CBO thinks are required to make its numbers work. That's because it caps out-of-pocket spending at just $10,900 in 2026. That mostly reflects the bill's shoddy, incoherent craftsmanship, and fixing the internal contradiction will either require spending more money on insurance subsidies or upping the out-of-pocket limit.

But stay focused on the big picture: The GOP's bill is only really designed to help families afford cheap coverage with high deductibles, which will be all but useless to adults on Medicaid today. The tax credits it offers families to buy private insurance are geared toward purchasing policies slightly less generous than the low-level bronze plans now available on Obamacare's exchanges (today, subsidies are keyed to more comprehensive silver plans). As the health consultants at Manatt noted Thursday, the out-of-pocket costs attached to those plans are already wildly unaffordable for low-income families; a household of two currently on Medicaid would have to spend at least 60 percent on their income before their bronze coverage kicked in.

The GOP health plan would boot people off of Medicaid onto insurance they couldn't afford to use. And again, that's the nicest thing I can say about it.


          Repealing Obamacare Without Replacing It Is a Horrendous Idea, CBO Gently Reminds Republicans        

After the Republican health care bill collapsed Monday night beneath the weight of the party's ideological incoherence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced a plan B. He would revive the bill to simply repeal most of Obamacare that the GOP Congress passed in 2015. Then his caucus could figure out a replacement for the law a few years down the line. It is unclear if that's still his strategy, since Republicans yet again appear to be franticly negotiating for that elusive grand compromise. But just in case, the Congressional Budget Office has offered up a gentle reminder of why repeal-and-delay is an absolutely horrendous course of action.

The big issue? Oh, just that it could cause the health insurance markets to collapse precipitously, leaving millions of Americans uninsured and nobody but Republicans to absorb the blame for any human wreckage. A major part of the problem is that the bill wouldn't actually repeal all of Obamacare—instead, it eliminates the law's Medicaid expansion and premium support subsidies, nixes the individual mandate to buy insurance, and rolls back the law's taxes. But it leaves in place all the regulations about what kinds of coverage insurers have to offer and who they have to sell to.

That, the CBO says, would destabilize much of the individual insurance market and set it up for an immediate death spiral of skyrocketing premiums, declining enrollment, and disappearing insurers. And quickly. By 2018, premiums would jump 25 percent; by 2020, when the Medicaid and premium subsidies would sunset, they'd be up by 50 percent. And then this:

In CBO and JCT’s estimation, under this legislation, about half of the nation’s population would live in areas having no insurer participating in the nongroup market in 2020 because of downward pressure on enrollment and upward pressure on premiums.

Meanwhile, moderate and conservative Republicans in Congress would probably still be sitting around arguing with each other about whether cancer patients should be forced to go busking to pay for chemo. Not exactly a good look heading into Election Day.


          Trumpcare Is Dead. But Is Obamacare Safe?        

Now that the Republican effort to repeal Obamacare appears to have crashed, you’re probably wondering whether the health law is finally safe for good. After all, conservatives have spent the past seven years hunting it like a pack of would-be Captain Ahabs, only to find themselves swimming amid the political wreckage of their efforts. The GOP couldn't possibly want any more of this punishment, could it?

Well, Donald Trump might.

On Tuesday, the president reiterated his opinion that Republicans should allow Obamacare to collapse and try to pin the blame on Democrats. â€œLet Obamacare fail,” he said. "It’ll be a lot easier, and I think we’re probably in that position where we’ll just let Obamacare fail. We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it.”

When Trump says he's ready to “let Obamacare fail,” the man may really mean that he's getting ready to smother it. Our president has spent months not-so-subtly sabotaging the law's insurance exchanges by publicly suggesting he might not pay crucial subsidies or fully enforce the individual mandate. The uncertainty has already taken a toll: Worried insurers are asking for yet another round of large premium increases that could leave millions of Americans paying more for their coverage. But if Trump finally followed through on some of his threats, he still might be able to send the market into a violent collapse.

As always, the gravest threat is that Trump will finally cut off the cost-sharing reduction payments—subisidies that insurers are supposed to receive under Obamacare in return for curbing out-of-pocket expenses for low-income customers. Some insurers, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, have already raised their premiums in anticipation that the funding, which is worth billions to the industry, could dry up. But others haven't. And if Trump, who must decide whether to continue appealing a lawsuit brought by House Republicans aimed at stopping the payments, decides to simply pull the plug, many carriers may finally bail on the market rather than continue to absorb big losses. “If insurers perceived that ending the cost sharing subsidy payments was part of an overall strategy of undermining the marketplaces, then they would see little reason to stick around,” the Kaiser Family Foundation's Larry Levitt told me.

Of course, that's the worst-case scenario. There are other, more subtle ways the exchanges could run into trouble. Again, many insurers have already been asking to raise their premiums out of concern that Trump might relax the individual mandate's requirement that all Americans buy insurance coverage, as well as fears about the CSRs. Those hikes could convince more Americans to skip buying insurance, further weakening the markets—especially if Trump loosens up the mandate. It seems unlikely that we'd see a nationwide death spiral, where high prices drive out a critical mass of customers and insurers decide to jump ship. But it's possible that more sparsely populated parts of the country could be left without carriers. Already, 38 counties in three states are at risk of being left with zero coverage options next year. It's a tragic but thankfully small-scale policy failure. Nobody wants to see it grow.

Unlike Trump, some Republicans are talking about taking constructive steps to stabilize Obamacare's insurance exchanges. But it's unclear how many in the party would sign on to such an effort, especially if repeal was no longer an option. Meanwhile, Trump has more power than anybody to determine the future of the Affordable Care Act. He might just keep trying to harpoon it.


          The Controversy That Finally Killed the Senate Health Care Bill        

The Senate health care bill appears to be dead—done in by the Republican Party's inability to agree on a basic philosophical question: Should healthy Americans have to subsidize the sick?

This is the quandary that has dogged GOP lawmakers throughout their entire attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Many of that law's most popular planks—such as the rules banning discrimination against customers with pre-existing conditions—essentially force the young and well to pay a bit more for their health coverage so that the old and ill can pay less. Committed conservatives loathe these regulations and want to roll them back. They would prefer to let every household pay only for the coverage they want, while letting the sick buy insurance through subsidized high-risk pools. But, either because of the political optics or because they sincerely don’t like seeing the infirm drown in mountains of debt, moderate Republicans have been wary of attacking consumer protections that help sympathetic cancer and diabetes patients.

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

The conflict has led to some uneasy policy compromises during the GOP's repeal push. In the House, moderates and right-wing hard-liners brokered a deal that would let states opt out from most of Obamacare's key regulations, leaving the hard calls up to governors. A variation on the waiver idea made it into the Senate bill as well, but conservatives there wanted to go further. Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee offered a proposal, a version of which was included in the most recent draft bill, which would allow health insurers to sell unregulated, bare-bones coverage that they could price based on a customer's health status as long as they also sold some Obamacare-compliant plans.

For a moment, it seemed like this bargain might set the stage for the bill's passage—especially after Cruz announced his support. (This was assuming, of course, that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could also throw enough money at the pet concerns of a handful of fence-sitting GOP moderates, too.)

Then, Monday night, things fell apart. Like the cracked wall of a glacier crashing suddenly into the ocean, the Better Care Reconciliation Act's prospects collapsed after Lee and Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas simultaneously announced their opposition, leaving GOP leaders shy of the 50 votes they would need in order to move the legislation. Moran explained his position with generalities, saying in a statement that the bill “fails to repeal the Affordable Care Act” and that Republicans “should not put our stamp on bad policy.” Lee, however, spelled out exactly why he was voting no in a blog post at the Resurgent. In short, he was upset about last-minute changes to his and Cruz's amendment.

In theory, the Cruz-Lee plan—they called it “the Consumer Freedom Amendment”—was supposed to split the health insurance market roughly in two. On the unregulated side, Americans could choose to buy inexpensive coverage priced based on their health status. Meanwhile, sicker people would likely gravitate toward the Obamacare-compliant plans. That coverage would be expensive, but some families would receive federal tax credits to lower the cost, effectively turning the ACA market into a well-financed high-risk pool for a slice of the middle class. (Those with pre-existing conditions who earned too much to qualify for subsidies would have to pay the full, outrageously expensive premium.)

However, the version of Cruz and Lee's amendment that Senate leaders inserted into their draft bill included a caveat. Technically, it left in place Obamacare's rule that required insurers to treat all of their customers within a state as part of a single “risk pool”—the group of customers whose health costs companies average together to determine the price of insurance. To many, including myself, this mostly seemed like a fig leaf meant to make the proposal seem less cruel to the ill and assuage antsy moderates. It would lump healthy and sick people together for some accounting purposes. But as long as insurers could sell unregulated plans priced based on health, the market would still be split in two, with the sick paying more.

Some conservatives didn't see it that way, however. Cato's Michael Cannon argued that creating a single risk pool could force insurers to raise prices on regulated and unregulated plans by the same amount each year, foisting higher costs onto the healthy. Others noted that the approach would require a regulatory rule-making process at the Department of Health and Human Services. A Republican health secretary like Tom Price would of course set up the single risk pool in such a way as too allow unregulated plans to flourish. But later on, a Democratic administration could change the rules to stamp them out.

This was all apparently too much for Lee. In his Resurgent post, he wrote:

Experts are divided on the impact keeping this Obamacare regulation would have on the Consumer Freedom Amendment. Some say it would make no difference, while others say it would nullify the entire amendment. Either way, a new analysis by a government agency claims it would raise insurance premiums for people on freedom plans by $600 a year.
I do not want to gamble $600 in relief for middle-class families in exchange for an amendment that might be undermined because of Obamacare regulations.
That is why I will vote “no” on the motion to proceed on the new Senate health care bill.

The government analysis Lee is referring to doesn't appear to have been released yet, though his communications team promised on Twitter to share it. But the $600 figure fundamentally seems less important here than the principle: Lee doesn't believe that healthy Americans should help pay for sick ones through their insurance premiums, and he doesn't want to put his name on a bill that might—in theory, depending on regulatory decisions, maybe, one day—allow that to happen. Say what you will about the man's stance, but at least he has the courage of his convictions.

The Republicans never resolved the fundamental question of how they should assist the sick. Instead, they tried to muddle past the issue with a series of murky compromises. Now, their entire seven-year quest to repeal Obamacare seems to have sunk under the weight of that indecision.


          Ted Cruz Says His Health Care Plan Protects the Sick. That’s Nonsense.        

One of the first things that virtually every health policy expert noticed about the latest version of the Senate health care bill was that it would effectively shunt Americans with pre-existing conditions into their own separate insurance market, where they could potentially face sky-high premiums. This was thanks to a provision negotiated by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who demanded it in return for his support.

Cruz, of course, claims his amendment would do no such thing. He has reportedly told his moderate GOP colleagues, whom he is now trying to cajole into voting for this monstrously unpopular legislation, that the sick will be protected under his system—that there shall be no shunting. As Republicans try to push their bill closer to passage next week, it would not be surprising to hear some conservatives echo his talking points.

Those talking points are pure bunk. Flimflam. Sleight of hand, if I'm being generous. Here is why.

As I wrote Thursday, the Cruz amendment would allow insurance companies to sell unregulated, low-cost coverage plans that could be priced based on customers' health as long as they also offered plans that complied with all of Obamacare's rules and requirements—such as the ban on charging more to customers with pre-existing conditions. This approach would lead to an obvious outcome: Young, healthy Americans would stick to the unregulated market, where they could be charged less for being young and healthy. Meanwhile, those in worse health would purchase the Obamacare-compliant plans, which (since they'd be catering almost entirely to the sick) would surge in price. That coverage could be unaffordable for middle-class families on the individual market who earn a bit too much to receive subsidies.

Cruz says there's nothing to fear. Why not? Technically, his amendment would keep all regulated and unregulated plans as part of a single risk pool. “Ted Cruz emphatically told fellow Republicans Thursday that his amendment to the Senate's Obamacare repeal legislation would not split up healthy and sick people into two different risk pools, eliminating concern that an earlier version of his plan would drive up costs for sick people,” Politico reported Thursday.

This is deeply deceptive. A risk pool is the group of customers whose health costs insurers average together to determine premiums (to Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield, each of us is just another risk). If the pool is made up of twentysomethigs with few health care needs, then premiums are going to be low. If the pool is full of older patients with cancer and failing knees and hips, then premiums are going to be very high.

Under Obamacare, insurers are required to lump all their customers within a state into one giant risk pool where everyone's expenses are averaged out to set what's known as a basic "index rate" for health premiums. And because carriers aren't allowed to charge sick people more than the healthy, the result is that Americans pay the same for insurance on the individual market whether they have a heart condition, need a wheelchair, or are a yoga-practicing raw-food fanatic who hasn't seen the inside of a doctor's office in three years. (Premiums can increase by age or county, however.)

Technically, the Cruz amendment would leave the rule about the single risk pool in place. But it wouldn't  matter much, since insurers would also be allowed to charge different prices based on health.

“When you charge people different premiums based on health, you may nominally create a single risk pool, but you immediately blow it up,” Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation told me. In other words, under the Cruz plan, it would be one risk pool in name only. (There are also some technical aspects of the bill that really drive this point home. For instance, the process known as “risk adjustment”—where the government redistributes money from insurers that enroll disproportionately healthy customers to those that get unlucky and enroll a bunch of sick folks—only applies to the Obamacare-compliant plans. So it really is a separate market.)

The insurance industry agrees with the skeptical reading of Cruz’s measure. In a policy brief Friday, the American Academy of Actuaries effectively called out Cruz's sleight of hand. “Rather than having a single risk pool, in which costs are spread broadly, there would be in effect two risk pools—one for ACA-compliant coverage and one for noncompliant coverage,” it explained. “As a result, average premiums for ACA-compliant coverage could far exceed those of noncompliant coverage, thereby destabilizing the market for compliant coverage.” Notably, insurers and their trade group have also slammed the Cruz amendment as unworkable. There seems to be a consensus among health care wonks and professionals that this thing is a shabby, potentially dangerous parlor trick of a policy.

For what it's worth, some libertarians who would like to eliminate all of Obamcare's regulations are apparently worried that Cruz's “single risk pool” will lead healthy Americans to pay more. Cato's Michael Cannon, for instance, argues that the setup will require insurers to increase prices on both regulated and unregulated plans by the same percentage each year. “In other words, secure, long-term, guaranteed-renewable coverage would be impossible, because the 'single risk pool' price controls would tax those plans to death,” he writes. But while that might be nominally true, nothing would stop insurers from creating new, dirt-cheap insurance plans in the unregulated market that resemble their customers' old plans each year to avoid price hikes. Which sounds great if you're in good shape, but is ultimately a function of a system in which the healthy are no longer helping balance out the costs of the sick—who then end up paying through the nose.

The “single risk pool” that Cruz is touting is window dressing, a bit of bunting to improve the curb appeal of a decrepit piece of legislation. Don’t buy it.


          The Senate’s New Health Care Bill Is a Win for Ted Cruz—and Almost Nobody Else        

Ted Cruz: 1. Humanity: 0.

That is, sadly, the simplest way I can summarize the latest version of the Senate health care bill, which Republicans unveiled Thursday afternoon. Not much has fundamentally changed about the legislation, which still amounts to a large tax cut financed by shearing away large swaths of the social safety net. But it does represent a big win for the senator from Texas, as it includes a version of his proposal to let insurers sell cut-rate, unregulated coverage as long as they also offer plans that comply with all of Obamacare's mandates.

Cruz, who is attempting to morph from the most hated man in the Senate into a conservative dealmaker, is very pleased with this development. He now supports the bill. His conservative buddy Mike Lee of Utah, who also pressed for the amendment, may get to yes as well, though he's still officially undecided.

There is far less in the legislation to assuage the concerns of moderate Republicans, or for that matter lower-income Americans and middle class cancer patients who might fear for their health coverage. All of the draconian Medicaid cuts? Those are still there. The skimpy tax credits meant to help people buy private coverage? Still meager. The completely bonkers waivers that, as one widely respected health policy expert put it, could feasibly let state lawmakers spend their Obamacare funding on “cocaine and hookers” instead of health care? Still right there in the legislative text.

On the other hand, the new bill doesn't include quite as many tax cuts for the wealthy. So it's got that going for it.

The Cruz amendment is an odd piece of legislative maneuvering. Again: Under it, insurers can sell whatever kind of threadbare coverage they want if they also offer health plans that abide by all of the Affordable Care Act's rules, meaning those products would cover the ACA's expansive essential health benefits and couldn't discriminate against customers with pre-existing conditions. It partially achieves the conservative goal of slaying Obamacare's various consumer protections in order to let insurance carriers market cheapo coverage. But it also throws a bone to moderates, since it doesn't entirely abandon sick Americans to the fangs of the free market.

There are some obvious problems with this approach. Young and physically well Americans will likely buy inexpensive, unregulated insurance plans, which will cost them relatively less since they'll be priced based on health and won't have to cover extensive benefits like mental health and maternity care. Many sick individuals, meanwhile, will need to buy Obamacare-compliant plans—which could send the cost of that coverage skyward.

This might not be such a concern for poorer customers, since they'll receive subsidies that cap their premiums as a percentage of their incomes. (For them, it acts like a high-risk pool with unlimited funding, which isn't so terrible.) But Americans who earn too much to qualify for those tax credits—they cut off at 350 percent of the poverty line, or about $71,000 for a family of three today—will get stuck paying full price. So if you're sick and middle-to-upper-middle class and insured on the individual market, you're stuck paying full fare for some very expensive coverage. The Kaiser Family Foundation has estimated that about 1.5 million Americans could end up in that boat.

Notably, the insurance industry itself seems to believe splitting the market this way could be a horrible, infeasible idea. “Unfortunately, this proposal would fracture and segment insurance markets into separate risk pools and create an un-level playing field that would lead to widespread adverse selection and unstable health insurance markets,” the trade group America's Health Insurance Plans said in a memo that made the rounds earlier this week. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association was similarly critical.

There are some reasons to think that the version of the Cruz amendment that showed up in Thursday's draft wouldn't be quite such a boondoggle. For one, the draft bill includes an additional $70 billion to help insurers with the cost of especially ill or high-risk patients, which should keep premiums down a bit. (It also bulks up the market stabilization fund that was already in the legislation by an additional $70 billion, which should help keep a lid on premiums.) Beyond that, the market probably won't divide entirely into two tiers. The Senate doesn't provide subsidies to buy unregulated insurance plans, so even if they're healthy, lower-income Americans might be better off buying Obamacare-compliant coverage. That will balance out the health profile of the customer pool a bit.

Still, we're talking about a plan designed to make healthy people pay less for their insurance and sick people pay more. That will probably be the ultimate outcome. I don't know how many people not named Ted Cruz will be pleased with that.

And that brings us back to the rest of the bill, which gives moderates vanishingly little. Because cutting taxes on the wealthy while slashing Medicaid was a transparent act of class warfare on the poor, the legislation no longer nixes Obamacare's tax on investment earnings or the additional Medicare tax on high earners. It also kicks in an extra $45 billion toward opioid treatment.

Beyond that? There's not much. The bill's insurance tax credits are still designed to buy low-end, high-deductible coverage, meaning poorer adults likely won't be able to afford to use the health plans they purchase. The aforementioned waivers—which are theoretically meant to encourage health care "innovation"—still give states almost incredible latitude to divert federal money to god knows what. Meanwhile, Medicaid still gets brutalized—just as before, the bill ends Obamacare's expansion of the program and throttles its traditional funding stream over time. Republican leaders have softened their approach a tiny bit around the edges by carving out exceptions meant to deal with public health emergencies, for instance, but the basic thrust hasn't changed.

Of course, Medicaid has supposedly been the single biggest concern for senators like Maine's Susan Collins, Nevada's Dean Heller, West Virginia's Shelley Moore Capito, and Ohio's Rob Portman. Which is as it should be. We're talking about America's largest health insurance program, after all, a piece of the safety net that serves vulnerable populations like the elderly, disabled, and children. The individual market, which so much of the Obamacare debate has focused on, is a shrub by comparison.

If Republican moderates cave now and abandon their fight over the single most significant aspect of this legislation, they'll show what a weak and insignificant faction of their party they truly are. They'll show that the only GOPers who really matter are men like Ted Cruz.


          Trump Is Already Driving Up the Cost of Health Insurance for Millions of Americans        

Even if he fails to repeal Obamacare, it looks like Donald Trump will be responsible for ratcheting up insurance premiums for millions of Americans in 2018.

That much is becoming clear now that insurers have started requesting their annual rate increases. The numbers so far are staggering. With filings submitted in 18 states, carriers have asked regulators to let them hike premiums by an average of 34 percent next year, according data compiled by Charles Gaba of ACAsignups.net. By comparison, premiums jumped just 22 percent this year as insurers attempted to finally fix their unprofitable exchange businesses, which had lost money covering an older, sicker, more costly pool of customers than companies had anticipated. (That was just slightly below their average requested hike of about 25 percent.)

Why are carriers asking for such dramatic rate increases? To borrow Gaba's phrase, Americans are paying a “Trump tax.”

For months now, the president has threatened to throw the individual insurance market into chaos by cutting off key subsidies—known as cost-sharing reduction, or CSR, payments—that the government is supposed to pay to insurers under the Affordable Care Act. Those funds are worth billions to the industry, and while the White House has continued dolling them out while deciding whether to keep defending a lawsuit over their legality, it hasn't committed to doing so in the long term. So insurers seem to have started pricing in the possibility that the subsidies will in fact disappear, along with other looming uncertainties, such as whether the government will keep enforcing the individual mandate.

Some insurers have tiptoed around this issue in public. But others have been explicit about it. In May, after Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina submitted a 22.9 percent rate increase to its state regulators, executives said the hike would have been a mere 8.8 percent if the subsidy payments weren't in question. “2017 is so far, so good,” CEO Brad Wilson told Vox. “It’s still early and our numbers for the year run about 30 to 45 days behind. But the analysis underway so far in 2017 appears to show stability in the market in terms of price, utilization, and the customer base.” But unfortunately, Blue Cross Blue Shield needed to tack on the Trump tax.

That seems to be what's happening across much of the insurance industry. Accoring to a report released this week by the Kaiser Family Foundation, by almost all measures carriers have been faring far better on the Affordable Care Act's exchanges this year than in the past. Medical loss ratios—the percentage of premiums carriers spend covering insurance claims—plummeted in the first quarter, and are now even lower than they were before the Affordable Care Act was in place. Gross margins—the average amount by which premiums top claims—more than doubled. “Early results from 2017 suggest the individual market is stabilizing and insurers in this market are regaining profitability,” the authors concluded.

To be clear, even with higher prices, insurers seem to have been unable to make money selling Obamacare coverage in certain areas of the country—particularly rural regions with thinner customer bases. That, combined with political uncertainty over health care, has led many carriers to pull out of these markets, and a handful of counties are at risk of being left without an insurer on their exchanges next year. But given the broad national trends, there is no way Americans should be facing anything close to an average 34 percent premium hike next year. They might be, thanks to the Trump tax.

Exactly how much more are Americans paying because of the president's saber-rattling? A Kaiser analysis previously found that killing the CSRs would push up the cost of a benchmark silver plan by 19 percent—almost as much as last year's total hikes. Blue Cross Blue Shield's announcement suggests insurers are building in a buffer roughly around that figure.

Thankfully, low- and middle-income Americans who receive tax credits to pay for coverage on Obamacare's exchanges won't be affected by the hikes, since those subsidies cap their premiums as a percentage of their income. But there are millions of Americans who purchase Obamacare-compliant plans either on or off the exchanges who don't receive any subsidies, and who will bear the full brunt of any price increase.

And for what? Initially, Trump appeared to be threatening the CSRs as part of a half-baked strategy aimed at making Democrats negotiate on an Obamacare replacement. That flopped when Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer refused to come to the table. Now, from all appearances, Trump seems to want to sow enough havoc in the insurance markets to create the impression that Obamacare is collapsing on its own and needs to be replaced. After all, if he’s going to keep nattering on about Obamacare being “dead,” it helps if something’s killed it.

So far, that tactic doesn't seem to have moved many of the senators withholding their support of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, or made the Republicans’ various proposals any more popular with public. As of now, it’s just families who will pay, quite literally, for Trump's pointless and cruel political gambit.


          Ted Cruz Has a New Idea to Save the GOP’s Health Care Bill. Middle-Class Americans Will Hate It.        

One of the key reasons Senate Republicans have not been able to reach a health care compromise is that they can't agree about what to do with Obamacare's insurance market regulations. Conservatives, like Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, want to let states junk all of them in order to make coverage cheaper for healthy adults. Moderates, meanwhile, don't want to be blamed for eliminating highly popular consumer protections, such as the rules that prevent insurers from discriminating against Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Into this divide steps Ted Cruz, who has proposed a compromise that might let Republicans finally bridge their differences. As Vox's Dylan Scott describes it: “As long as a health [insurer] offered at least one Obamacare-compliant plan in a state, [the insurer] would also be allowed to offer non-Obamacare-compliant plans in that state.” The political logic of this approach is elegant. If you're sick, you'll be able to buy a policy with all of the Affordable Care Acts safeguards. If you're young and hale or just have a high tolerance for risk, you can get something cheaper.

As Kang and Kodos might put it: Obamacare for some, miniature American flags for others!

While the Cruz plan may be politically appealing, it would also be a messy policy with the potential to disadvantage and infuriate many middle-class families.

Under Cruz's scheme, the individual insurance market would almost certainly split in two. Healthy Americans would flock to inexpensive, unregulated insurance while sicker individuals would choose the Obamacare-compliant plans, likely causing the premiums on those policies to skyrocket. The Obamacare exchanges would effectively turn into expensive high-risk pools.

This would not necessarily be a problem for everybody. Like Obamacare, the Senate proposal offers insurance subsidies to poor and working-class households that cap their monthly premiums as a portion of their income. If you are 40 years old and earn 250 percent of the poverty line, you will owe no more than 8.05 percent of your paycheck toward your coverage; the government picks up the rest.

But that leaves a big question: What happens to people who don't receive subsidies? In the Senate's current draft bill, households are only eligible for federal help if they make less than 350 percent of the poverty line. That comes out to $86,400 for a family of four—or barely above the median for a married couple. Many middle-class households don't qualify and would be stuck paying the full, potentially unaffordably high price for an Obamacare-compliant plan if they ever, say, got cancer. Cruz, for his part, seems to think states will be able to deal with this issue using an insurance market stabilization fund the Senate plans to set aside. “The exchanges have very significant federal subsidies, whether under the tax credits or under the stabilization funds,” he told Scott. But under the GOP's bill, that pool of money shrinks over time. Maybe it will be enough to make Obamacare-style plans affordable for everybody. Maybe not.

If it failed to do so, though, the Cruz plan would create a rather perverse outcome. Sick Americans would only be guaranteed remotely affordable health coverage if they earned less than 350 percent of the poverty line. Everybody else on the individual market? Tough luck.

There would also be some irony here. Republicans have long complained that Obamacare discourages people from working, because its insurance subsidies cut off sharply at 400 percent of the poverty line. Cruz's plan creates an even stronger incentive against work, since fewer people would be eligible for subsidies, and those without them could pay steeply higher prices for insurance coverage should they ever become ill. His idea looks a lot like the Obamacare cliff—except the people who tumble off it will fall about 5,000 feet further.


          Paul Ryan Says It’s Fine if 22 Million Americans “Choose” Not to Buy Health Care        

On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the Senate's Obamacare repeal legislation would leave 22 million Americans uninsured within a decade. Most people in Washington, both Democrats and Republicans, seem to have accepted that this forecast is, in fact, not flattering to the bill (which is one reason why a vote on the thing has been postponed). But a few stalwart conservatives have tried to frame it as a positive. Most notable among them: House Speaker Paul Ryan, who spent an interview on Fox & Friends trying to spin the CBO's estimate like a dreidel.

"What they're basically saying at the Congressional Budget Office is that, if you're not going to force people to buy Obamacare, if you're not going to force people to buy something they don't want, then they won't buy it,” said our nation's foremost P90X enthusiast. "It's not that people are getting pushed off a plan. It's that people will choose not to buy something that they don't like or want."

It's the smile that makes it so eerie, right?

In an extremely narrow, technical sense, Ryan is almost right: The CBO does say that under the Republican plan, Americans would choose not to buy insurance, in part because they'd no longer be required to by law. But that's a bit like saying a poor single mother of three is choosing to skip meals so her kids can eat. It's not really a choice. It's a sacrifice. Likewise, many people (though, to be fair, not all) would choose not to buy insurance under the Republican plan because the premiums and deductibles would no longer be affordable.

I am not performing some esoteric reading of the CBO's footnotes here. It's right there in the report:

In the nongroup market, some people would choose not to have insurance because they choose to be covered by insurance under current law to avoid paying the penalties. And, under this legislation, without the mandate penalties, some people would forgo insurance in response to the higher premiums that CBO and JCT project would be charged.

In other words, some young and healthy adults would drop their insurance because they only purchase it today due to Obamacare's individual mandate. Some low-income and older adults would drop their insurance because it would become unaffordable—especially if they were previously eligible for Medicaid, which the bill would significantly curb. As the CBO notes, a 40-year-old making $11,400 in 2026 could choose to buy a plan with a $300 premium and a deductible equal to more than half their income. Or they could choose to buy a plan with a $1,700 premium and a deductible equal to more than one-third of their income. “Many people in that situation would not purchase any plan,” the CBO notes. You know, that would just be their decision.

“Many of the people who are projected be eligible for Medicaid under current law but not eligible under this bill would face a similar choice,” the CBO continues. “Those people would instead be eligible for a premium tax credit under this legislation. But because of the expense for premiums and the high deductibles, most of them would not purchase insurance.”

I am sure these Americans will be grateful to Paul Ryan for giving them the opportunity to make such a liberating choice.


          Americans With Disabilities Should Be Terrified        

Last Thursday, Senate Republicans released the key legislative language for the Better Care Reconciliation Act, their Obamacare repeal bill. Both the product and the rushed partisan process that produced BCRA are stupendously unpopular. It’s opposed by nearly every patient and provider group, including the AARP, the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the Arc, the American Cancer Society’s action network. Key Republican governors condemn the bill, too. The bill cuts Medicaid deeply. It is so highly regressive that its tax giveaway to the 400 wealthiest households in America exceeds the total bill for Affordable Care Act premium tax credits in the 20 smallest states. Senate Republicans spent years criticizing the high premiums, deductibles, and co-payments in ACA marketplaces. BCRA would make these worse.

BCRA would have particularly tragic consequences for people living with disabilities and their loved ones. Some of these harms are obvious. Others are buried within the junk DNA of this 142-page bill.

BCRA’s Medicaid provisions are the most severe—for all Americans, and certainly for those with disabilities. These include, but go beyond, repeal of the ACA, which expanded Medicaid.

For starters, BCRA would cut and impose a per-capita block grant on Medicaid. That’s a fundamental and permanent retrenchment of American social insurance. Some of the worst features of the block grants are back-loaded, i.e. they won’t take place for several years. In part, this was done to obtain a more favorable Congressional Budget Office score. Some BCRA supporters want the worst consequences to unfold on someone else’s watch. Others console themselves that the Medicaid cuts might never happen.

Block grants are designed to shift risk and expense to patients, providers, and states. Since Medicaid is already the leanest component of our health finance system, this is particularly irresponsible. It’s no accident that BCRA cuts health care to the most politically marginal Americans. We would never tell middle-class seniors: “Your Medicare now depends on the full faith and credit of Illinois.” But Republicans are willing to do it to Americans on Medicaid.

Under BCRA, federal block grants would likely fail to keep up with the growing costs of medical care. By ending the entitlement to both individuals and states, BCRA creates a mechanical structure to impose further cuts.

Block grants are intentionally designed to cut expenditures. Under even a generous block grant, states bear the full burden of each additional dollar spent, and they gain the full financial benefit of each dollar they cut. This fundamentally differs from the current system, in which the federal government bears at least half the costs and at least half of the resulting savings. Block grants also create plausible deniability for federal policymakers for specific cuts imposed by states, even as this structure provides plausible deniability to state governments who can blame the federal government for painful measures.

These fiscal and political realities particularly terrify the disability community, which is a prime target for cuts. It has to be. Although most Medicaid recipients are low-income, relatively healthy people, most Medicaid dollars are spent on older people and the disabled. That’s where the money is.

Within the disability community, block grants establish a poisonous zero-sum dynamic across different constituencies that have wildly varying needs and that command very different levels of resources. My own family receives intellectual disability services within Medicaid’s Home and Community Based Services program. Many medically fragile kids do the same, as articulated by Natalie Weaver in this poignant video. Such programs serve many middle-class families with politically potent connections and family stories. Less influential, cute, or cuddly constituencies may be elbowed aside within the Darwinian politics that block grants promote.

These dangers are compounded because BCRA weakens federal oversights. BCRA does require states to offer a basic package of Medicaid services. Yet its 142 pages are notably silent regarding granular details that give these requirements real meaning. These details include how states managed eligibility requirements and waiting lists, how often Medicaid will allow a growing child with cerebral palsy to replace her wheelchair, Medicaid reimbursement levels to specialty physicians, and more. Block grants pressure states to nickel-and-dime patients and providers on each of these matters.

Legal scholar Nicholas Bagley notes that BCRA gives governors breathtaking powers to demand essentially nonrevocable eight-year waivers to alter insurance provision and regulation in their states. The ACA imposes a reasonably stringent process through which the Department of Health and Human Services oversees state waivers. BCRA instead requires the HHS secretary to grant a waiver as long it does not “increase the federal deficit.”

As Bagley explains, this process offers a path to eliminate the ACA’s Essential Health Benefits, and provides a backdoor way to reinstate measures outlawed under ACA such as annual and lifetime caps in employer-based coverage. BCRA outlaws explicit discrimination against the disabled and people with preexisting conditions. Yet it allows states to waive or weaken the Essential Health Benefits. This creates dangerous incentives for insurers to design benefit packages that chase people with disabilities and chronic illnesses away.

Then there’s the Medicaid expansion, the jewel of the ACA, which has been implemented well by Democratic and Republican governors across the country. Repealing the expansion would obviously hurt millions of low-income people. Less obviously, its repeal would harm millions of people with disabilities.

Many Americans presume that people with disabilities receive coverage and services through formal disability program like Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income, and that ACA Medicaid expansion serves able-bodied adults who have more tenuous claims to public support.

White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway put things most baldly on Sunday morning TV, where she defended eliminating Medicaid expansion with the comment, “If they are able-bodied and they want to work, then they’ll have employer-sponsored benefits like you and I do."

Conway’s critics quickly noted that many working poor people can’t get employer-based coverage. The critics were less quick to note another error in Conway’s comments: Millions of Americans with disabilities and chronic illness are insured through the Medicaid expansion and may well lose coverage with its repeal. Consider a 55-year-old with diabetes, poor vision, and a severed foot who earns $13,000 per year at her part-time job. Maybe she’s on disability. Probably not.

Using 2015 data, Leighton Ku and Erin Brantley estimated in March that 48 percent of adults covered by the Medicaid expansion “are permanently disabled, have serious physical or mental limitations—caused by conditions like cancer, stroke, heart disease, cognitive or mental health disorders, arthritis, pregnancy, or diabetes—or are in fair or poor health.”

Many low-income and young people with disabilities lack the work histories to collect SSDI. Someone who becomes disabled might turn to SSI, a means-tested program for low-income people. But SSI imposes a $2,000 cap on countable financial assets. The disability application process can take years. And when SSDI applicants are finally approved, they face a two-year waiting period before they can receive Medicare. Hundreds of thousands of people are caught in this waiting period. The Medicaid expansion is critical to many of these men and women who almost by definition have punishing medical bills.

Not every disability qualifies for federal assistance, either. Opioid addiction is not a qualifying condition for federal disability. As Ohio Gov. John Kasich will tell you, the Medicaid expansion is the most common and powerful tool to support addiction care. To replace that, BCRA would include a $2 billion addiction treatment fund. This was probably low-balled to provide space for an ornamental concession to some of the moderate senators who are currently noncommittal in their support. That’s almost beside the point. Based on current data, this fund would be under-funded if it were 20 times the size, particularly given the reality that people with addiction disorders tend to have other medical problems, too. Analyzing the House’s version of BCRA, Harvard economist Richard Frank estimated that replacing ACA’s coverage opportunities for individuals with addiction disorders would require more like $183 billion over the next 10 years.

Contrary to stereotype, many low-income people prefer Medicaid over the private coverage available to them. (Medicaid has obvious access problems because it underpays providers, access problems that would be made worse by block grants. The proper response is to stop underpaying, not to further damage the program.)

Medicaid also offers offsetting advantages, too, particularly when it is compared to the cheap insurance typically available to poor people. Medicaid has a comprehensive benefit package, typically with no out-of-pocket costs and fewer administrative hassles than patients experience in many private plans. It is more closely integrated with school-based and other disability services. Medicaid also appears valuable for people who wish to work. A recent analysis found that individuals with disabilities in expansion states were significantly more likely to be employed.

My brother-in-law experiences various medical challenges requiring periodic hospitalizations and other services. Illinois Medicaid has real problems. We are still very grateful for his Medicaid and would never for an instant enroll him in a private plan.

Medicaid is certainly superior to the private coverage BCRA would provide. BCRA would provide less generous premium subsidies than ACA does. It would also end the cost-sharing reduction program to help low-income people with out-of-pocket costs. Under BCRA, poor people could buy an insurance plan for only 2 percent of their income. Unfortunately, as Andrew Sprung explains, such coverage would be terrible. It would come with $6,000 deductibles, narrower benefits, and other features that would be disastrous to any low-income person with serious health problems.

All of these concerns have both angered and frightened the disability community. Last week, writer Michael Phillips and his mother Karen Clay appeared in an emotional MSNBC interview to describe their fears of President Trump and of BCRA passing. Phillips lives with a genetic condition that damages the motor neurons in his spinal cord. He relies on a ventilator to breathe. He relies on Medicaid personal care services to remain at his family home in Tampa, Florida.

I crossed paths with Phillips at a recent health policy conference. Speaking through a computer synthesizer, he commented: “I have absolutely no faith that states won’t go backwards as soon as they are able. Florida barely provides adequate Medicaid services now. If they are allowed to cut further, they will.”

He’s right to worry. Florida has a particularly bad track record in disability. In 2013, the state ran afoul of the Justice Department by housing medically fragile and disabled young people in geriatric nursing facilities.

That lawsuit was pursued during the Obama presidency, which raises the disability community’s final worry. BCRA grants governors extraordinary discretion, creates extraordinary incentives to cut services at the precise moment we can be least confident that the federal government will exercise appropriate oversight. Maybe someone in America believes that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will aggressively enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act and other civil rights protections. I have yet to meet that person.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is the gatekeeper we would rely upon to monitor states’ operation of key services. Until 2016, he was a fringe conservative firebrand in health policy debate. Price was one of only 78 representatives who voted against mental health and addiction parity. He sponsored draconian legislation to render millions of people uninsured.

Price’s department is responsible for effective implementation of the ACA, whose fragile marketplaces have been hurt by policy uncertainties sparked by the Trump election. Yet Price routinely releases strident and factually dubious statements that denigrate the ACA using partisan rhetoric more appropriate to a Georgia House race than an official communications of the United States government.

As BCRA’s key provisions were released, wheelchair-bound ADAPT disability activists made the front pages by getting themselves arrested outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office protesting BCRA. And good for them. BCRA would be the most harmful step backward in decades—maybe ever—for the disability community.


          The Latest CBO Report Shows Republicans Are Incapable of Crafting a Humane Health Care Bill        

 

The Congressional Budget Office confirmed on Monday that Republicans are incapable of writing a humane health care bill. The Senate's Better Care Reconciliation Act, which it revealed to the public on Friday and may vote on this week, would leave 22 million additional Americans uninsured within a decade, according to the CBO, largely by cutting both Medicaid and subsidies for private insurance in order to fund extravagant tax cuts for the wealthy ($536 billion of them, in fact).

Technically, that number is a slight improvement over the GOP's previous efforts. The CBO forecast that the American Health Care Act, which the House passed last month after crafting it in a shambolic rush, would eventually leave 23 million uninsured in order to provide tax relief to investors and medical device–makers.

That is pretty much all anybody needs to know about the Republican Party's push to repeal Obamacare—every piece of legislation the party produces amounts to a wealth transfer from the vulnerable to the rich that lowers premiums, though just slightly, for some younger and healthier Americans.

But it's worth lingering on one specific portion of the Senate bill: the cruel bait and switch it pulls on America's poor.

Reading extremely charitably, one could make the case that the Senate bill is designed to move low-income Americans off of government insurance and into highly subsidized private coverage. It unwinds Obamcare's expansion of Medicaid, which allowed adults to qualify for the program if they earned up to 138 percent of the poverty line. But it also imitates Obamacare by providing tax credits to help low- and middle-income households buy private insurance, capping their premiums as a percentage of their earnings. A woman in poverty would have to pay no more than 2 percent of her paycheck toward her health insurance, for instance. A woman making 133 percent of the poverty line would pay 2.5 percent. It's a worse deal than Medicaid, which is generally free, but it's something.

Except there's a catch. Obamacare's tax credits were designed to cover the cost of midpriced health coverage; meanwhile, the law provided additional subsidies that drastically lowered out-of-pocket expenses like co-pays and deductibles for poorer households. The Senate bill spends $424 billion less on subsidies and designs its tax credits to cover the price of a low-end health plan with high deductibles—similar to one of Obamacare's bronze plans—while doing nothing to keep down out-of-pocket costs for the needy.

As a result, poor would be unable to use the coverage they could actually afford and unable to afford the coverage they could actually use. For example, a single adult making $11,400 in 2026 would only have to pay $300 per year in premiums for a benchmark health plan. But their deductible would amount to more than half their income. "Despite being eligible for premium tax credits, few low-income people would purchase any plan," the CBO concludes.

Ironically, this is exactly the same complaint middle-class families who currently don't qualify for subsidies have had about Obamacare. The Senate bill does relatively little to help them while putting poor households in exactly the same predicament. It takes the worst pain some unlucky families have experienced under Obamacare and replicates it, over and over.

Some Senate Republicans clearly want to at least look as if they have compassion. Otherwise, they wouldn't have bothered aiming the BCRA's tax credits at the poor. After all, the House bill didn't; instead, it provided mostly flat subsidies based on age. But just like their colleagues in the lower chamber, Senate Republicans are too wedded to the dogma of tax cuts to properly fund a health care bill that provides for the vulnerable. Their legislation is just a variation on the same heartless theme we've been listening to for months.


          Senate Republicans Just Made a Politically Suicidal Change to Their Health Care Bill        

After spending seven years attacking Obamacare's unpopular individual mandate for requiring Americans to buy insurance, Senate Republicans have decided to replace it with a rule that could be even more politically toxic.

Under the proposal, Americans who let their health insurance lapse for 63 days over the previous year will have to wait at least six months before they can get coverage again—even if they're deeply ill and in need of medical attention. The rule is designed to prevent people from waiting until they are sick to buy insurance and is essentially a more stringent version of restrictions already in place thanks to the Affordable Care Act. It was included in a new, revamped draft of the Senate GOP's health care repeal bill released on Monday morning, and—at the risk of speculating—I am guessing it will poll about as well as lighting leukemia patients on fire.

After the Senate released its draft legislation last week, both fans and critics pointed out a glaring flaw: The bill kept Obamacare's regulations guaranteeing coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions—but didn't include any rules to make young, healthy people buy insurance in order to balance out the market. Obamacare, of course, tries to accomplish this with the individual mandate, which makes people get covered or pay a small tax penalty. But after railing against this weak nudge as a tyrannical imposition on personal liberty for the better part of a decade, Republicans had to junk it. If they didn't do anything to make young people get coverage, however, their legislation risked sending the insurance market into a death spiral—not the imaginary death spiral Republicans accuse the law of having set off, but a real one.

And as the GOP is obviously learning, it's really hard to come up with a solution to this problem that both works and is politically palatable. Threatening the uninsured by locking them out of the market for six months may get a few more twentysomethings to sign up for coverage, since they won't be able to get it in an emergency. But this solution is now generating headlines like “Trumpcare's Newest Provision Might Be Its Most Odious.” As New York's Eric Levitz puts it: “Instead of coercing Americans into buying insurance through a small financial penalty, the GOP would do so by locking some cancer patients out of access to insurance for a potentially fatal amount of time.”

This is ever-so-slightly unfair. Under current law, uninsured Americans who get cancer still have to wait until the next open-enrollment period to buy insurance coverage unless they qualify for an exception (for instance, if they lose their previous insurance because they got fired). The main difference with the new Republican approach is that even people who try to sign up for a health plan during open enrollment will have to wait six months before their insurance takes effect if they didn't have continuous coverage over the past year.

Another way to put: Under Obamacare, you're better off getting sick closer to open enrollment. Under Trumpcare, you're waiting at least six months to get insurance no matter what. The policy approach is more vicious by increments. But by making some desperately sick people wait even longer than they would have to now for coverage, the optics seem orders of magnitude worse.

Health care: Nobody knew it could be so complicated.


          It Really Is Meaner        

For better or worse, Senate Democrats seem to have settled on a single word to describe the health care bill that their Republican colleagues unveiled Thursday: “Meaner.” As in: You know how Donald Trump called the House GOP’s health care bill “mean”? This one—the Better Care Reconciliation Act—is meaner.

“I thought it wouldn’t be possible for the Senate Republicans to conjure up a bill even worse than that one,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said at a press conference Thursday afternoon. “Unfortunately, that is what they have done.” He then turned to a red poster with the word “mean” printed across it, and scrawled an “er” in black sharpie next to it. Voilà. “Meaner.”

Corny? Sure. But to Democrats’ credit, it was at least on point. Remarkably, the Senate has produced a piece of legislation that would cause even more human wreckage than the much-loathed bill the House passed last month, potentially dealing a historic blow to the American safety net.

The reason why it truly is meaner can be boiled down to another single word: Medicaid. One could maybe argue that the Senate’s bill is mildly gentler to Americans who buy their insurance on the individual market—though even that is debatable. What is indisputable, however, is that the bill sets up Medicaid for even more devastating cuts than what the House contemplated, gradually throttling the program’s funding in order to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy.

Let’s unpack that a bit.

Many people—including some supposedly ticked-off conservative Republican senators—have already described the Senate bill’s reforms to the individual market as “Obamacare lite.” That’s reasonable enough. Like the Affordable Care Act, the Senate bill would give Americans tax credits to buy health insurance, calculated by their age and income. But these credits would be much stingier.

How much stingier?

Today, under Obamacare, Americans qualify for tax credits if they earn up to 400 percent of the poverty line. Under the Senate bill, the threshold would drop to 350 percent.

Under Obamacare, Americans who receive subsidies have to spend no more than 9.5 percent of their income on premiums. Under the Senate bill, they’d have to spend as much as 16.2 percent.

Under Obamacare, subsidies are designed to help people buy insurance that covers, on average, 70 percent of their health costs. (Those are known as silver plans.) Under the Senate plan, subsidies are designed to buy insurance that covers 58 percent of costs. (Today, that’d be a bronze plan.) Low-income people would get less money to buy crappier insurance with higher deductibles. In other words, their insurance could be all but unusable.

While the Senate bill gives people less help to buy coverage, it does avoid some of the truly perverse outcomes for low-income and older Americans that were baked into the House’s legislation, which set its own flat tax credits based mostly on age. For instance, the scheme that Paul Ryan and his colleagues concocted would have left a 64-year-old making $26,500 per year paying more than half his income toward insurance premiums. That same person would be spending closer to 10 percent of his paycheck under the Senate plan.

Unlike the House bill, the Senate wouldn’t let states opt out of Obamacare’s popular consumer protections for patients with pre-existing conditions. Of course, it would still let them ditch other key rules, like the requirements that insurers cover certain benefits, which would make it hard for the sick to find the coverage they need. It would still let carriers charge older patients more than they can now, too. But in terms of regulations, I suppose you could say it is less “mean.”

With all that said, there’s something funny about the Senate bill: It’s not clear anybody on the individual market would be much better off than under Obamacare. Fewer would qualify for subsidies, which would be worth less. It’s not clear premiums would fall all that much, especially if states decided to keep the Affordable Care Act’s regulations. Deductibles would be sure to go up. Under the House bill, on the other hand, some middle-class households would probably be eligible for tax credits to buy insurance for the first time. For all the violence that bill would have inflicted on the sick and vulnerable, there were at least a few clear winners. With the Better Care Reconciliation Act, not so much.

But the individual market is a bit of a sideshow. It’s where around 22 million people get their health insurance today. The real issue is Medicaid—which covers about 62 million individuals, or almost one-fifth of Americans, and 39 percent of children. Both the House and Senate would make historic, devastating changes to the program that would leave millions uninsured. But the Senate’s are more extreme. Where Paul Ryan would take a hatchet to Medicaid, Mitch McConnell would break out the Black & Decker.

Both bills would roll back Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. The Senate would go about it more slowly—a big priority of the chamber’s moderates, who supposedly didn’t want to “pull the rug out” from anybody—but the end result is the same. Both bills would also cap federal Medicaid spending for the first time, giving each state a fixed chunk of change each year to help pay for each enrollee. But after 2024, the Senate bill would increase that funding much more slowly by tying it to a lower measure of inflation. That tiny, technical-sounding change would cause Medicaid’s purchasing power to rapidly wither.

To be specific: The House bill would increase Medicaid funding based on the medical component of the Consumer Price Index. (Spending for some groups, like the elderly and disabled, would based on the M-CPI plus 1 percent.) This sounds reasonable, until you realize that the M-CPI, as it’s called, mostly tracks items that families pay for out of pocket—glasses and Tylenol rather than hip-replacement surgery. Hitching Medicaid to the index would drag the program’s budget growth, making it nearly impossible for states to continue offering enrollees the same level of care they receive today. Statehouses would be forced to choose between reducing the number of services Medicaid covers, reducing payments to doctors, or even cutting the program’s rolls.

The Senate prefers an even more severe approach. After 2024, it would adjust Medicaid based on the normal Consumer Price Index, which tracks things like food, clothing, and electronics, trailing far behind medical inflation. There is no real policy justification for this other than budget-cutting.

How bad could the damage be? Well, the House bill would have slashed about a quarter of Medicaid’s future funding over a decade. The Senate plan cuts much deeper. Over time, this approach could easily drain hundreds of billions more from Medicaid, leaving the program a shadow of its former self as its budget fails to keep up with ever-climbing costs.

Medicaid is bedrock piece of the American health care system, larger by enrollment than Medicare. Both the House and Senate would cut it back. Either approach would signal a generational disaster for the American welfare state. But Mitch McConnell’s bill would bring on the travesty even more quickly. So, yeah, you could say his bill is meaner.


          America Is a Tough Place for Older People. The GOP Health Care Plan Will Make It Much Worse.        

One of the expressed intentions of Republicans’ efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare is to undo some of the age-related distribution inherent in the system. Today, healthy young people pay more so that older, less-healthy people don’t have to pay quite as much.

The Republican plan unveiled in the Senate on Thursday sharply scales back the distributional nature of the system—on an income basis, and on an age basis. The tax credits that help people afford policies on the exchanges will be sharply scaled back. So let’s say you and your spouse are 60, your kids are grown, and you’re insured on the individual market. Poverty level for a family of two is $20,420. If you make $80,000 a year between you, you’ll have to pay as much as 16 percent of your income for a high-deductible plan under the Senate’s Better Care Act as its currently written. (CNN found that, if the House plan passed last month were to become law, a 64-year-old earning $24,600 in 2026 would pay a premium of about $14,600—about 60 percent of total income.)

Asking older people to pay so much for health care is particularly devastating given the ongoing structural changes in our economy. Most Americans don’t make that much money. The median household income in the U.S. is about $55,000. But the median household income for those in the 55–64 cohort is markedly below the median for those in the 45–54 and 35–44 cohorts. Most Americans don’t have much savings. The median retirement savings for people between the ages of 50 and 55 in 2013 was $8,000.

Now, the best way to avoid paying a large chunk of your income and savings for insurance for a few years until Medicare kicks in at 65 is to keep a payroll job with health insurance. But increasingly, American employers don’t want to keep people in their 50s on their payrolls. The closer Americans get to Medicare eligibility, they more likely they are to be pushed out of their jobs—and out of the workforce entirely. The data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells the tale. In 2014, 79.6 percent of Americans between the ages of 45 and 54 were in the workforce. But of those between the ages of 55 and 59, 71.4 percent were in the workforce, while 67 percent of those aged 60–61 were and just 53 percent of those between 62 and 64 were.

In virtually every industry, at virtually every level of the income ladder, employees are explicitly seeking to move people off the payroll as they age into their 50s. Which means more of those Americans must buy insurance on the market the Republicans are currently trying to remake.

After the financial crisis, the big autoworkers worked out two-tier wage systems with unions which protected existing wages and benefits for older workers while allowing them to add new people to the payroll at lower rates and with less extravagant promises. So, of course, these large employers have lots of incentives to hasten the retirement of older workers.

Earlier this year, Fidelity Investments offered voluntary buyout packages to employees over the age of 55. In April, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston offered buyouts to employees over the age of 60. Last year the Museum of Modern Art in New York offered buyouts to, you guessed it, employees over the age of 55. In education, some states are trying to get rid of tenure, and Wisconsin has already taken steps in that direction.

You see it at the high end, too. Many professional services companies, like consulting and accounting firms, require partners to retire at the age of 60. Law firms routinely push older partners to go off counsel. At Goldman Sachs, it’s hard to find people working in senior positions past their mid-50s (unless they’re in the C-suite).

As for the media, I defy you to go into a television newsroom, digital media company, or newspaper and find more than a handful of people over the age of 50, let alone 60.

Given the relentless global competition and pressure continually to boost profits, it is likely that this dynamic will intensify in coming years. Which should push reasonable policymakers to make it easier for older people to afford health insurance on their own, either by maintaining existing premium support, or by, say, opening up Medicare to people over the age of 50. But of course, the Republican plans are going in precisely in the opposite direction.

There is one area where employees who enjoy generous payroll benefits, including health insurance, can age in place. The average age in the 115th Congress is 58.


          Here Are the Six Lines of Text That Could Decimate America’s Biggest Health Care Program        

The defining feature of the Senate Republican health care bill is that, over the long term, it would absolutely decimate Medicaid—moreso even than the House legislation passed last month. And it accomplishes this wrecking job with surprising efficiency, a mere six lines of text in a 142-page document.

Here's what that translates to. Like their House colleagues, Senate GOPers want to cap the amount of money Washington gives the states each year to pay for each Medicaid patient (currently, there's no limit to how much the feds can spend). Between 2020 and 2024, they would increase that funding each year based on the consumer price index for medical expenditures—which is already expected to grow more slowly than Medicaid would.

So far, this is the same as the House bill. Here's where those six lines come up. In 2025, the bill takes a draconian turn. Instead of using the CPI for medical expenditures, it would use the normal consumer price index—which includes everything from groceries to cellphones to home furnishings. This would amount to a devastating budget cut to Medicaid. As the Urban Institute has shown, we are talking about a difference of hundreds of billions of dollars over time.

Medicaid is America's largest health insurance program by enrollment. It covers 62 million Americans—almost as many as Medicare and the entire individual market combined. It helps the poor, the disabled, the elderly, and—thanks to Obamacare's expansion of it, which Republicans would roll back—many working-class families. As the New York Times recently noted, it insures about half of all births and 40 percent of children. It is indispensible, and Senate Republicans are planning to throttle it.


          Details of the Senate Health Care Bill Just Leaked. Prepare to Be Appalled.        

Details of the Senate’s “draft” health care bill, which Republicans were set to unveil Thursday after weeks of secretive negotiations, have finally leaked—and from the sound of things, Mitch McConnell and his cohorts have written a morally appalling piece of legislation that many conservatives will nonetheless find deeply underwhelming.

According to the Washington Post, which cites “a discussion draft circulating Wednesday afternoon among aides and lobbyists,” the plan looks much like the Obamacare repeal legislation passed last month by the House, with a few key depatures. Here's a brief rundown:

1) Instead of providing Americans tax credits to buy insurance based on their age, as the House bill does, the Senate would offer them based on “financial need”—which is more or less how Obamacare works. But under the GOP’s proposal, fewer Americans would qualify for help. Under the Affordable Care Act, households can receive insurance subsidies if they earn up to 400 percent of the poverty line. Senate Republicans would lower that threshold to 350 percent. Subsidies will also be smaller for those who still qualify.

In short, it sounds like McConnell’s working group is keeping Obamacare's subsidy structure but making it stingier. It is unclear who this will please.

2) The Senate bill eliminates all of Obamacare’s taxes except the “Cadillac tax” on expensive health plans. This will please the medical device makers, investors, high earners, and insurance companies that were taxed by the ACA.

3) It rolls back Obamacare's Medicaid expansion “more gradually than the House bill,” according to the Post, though how much more gradually is unclear. Senate Republicans have been haggling over whether to phase out the expansion over as little as three years or as many as seven—but the final outcome would be the same either way. Meanwhile, it sounds like the Senate is going to run with its plan to impose even more draconian spending cuts on Medicaid over the long term by capping per-patient spending, then increasing funding more slowly each year than the House would. (I wrote about that plot earlier this week.)

4) What about consumer protections? The House bill notoriously allowed states to opt out of Obamacare's insurance regulations, such as rules barring carriers from discriminating against patients with pre-existing conditions or requiring them to cover certain services. Sensing that it might be politically suicidal to strip cancer and heart patients of their protections, Senate moderates have reportedly resisted going down that path. Right now, it's unclear who won the argument.

Axios reports that the Senate will instead give states more leeway to use Obamacare’s existing waiver system, allowing them to jettison some of the law’s coverage requirements—though not the popular protection for pre-existing conditions. This approach would encourage carriers in states with laxer rules to limit their offerings to minimal plans that would be largely useless to people with extensive health problems.

5) The Senate bill would kill funding for Planned Parenthood but wouldn't bar the government from subsidizing private insurance that pays for abortions, which will infuriate religious conservatives.

So, to review: The Senate bill keeps Obamacare’s subsidy structure in place while paring back eligibility, guts Medicaid more slowly but more severely than the House bill, and still lets states drop essential consumer protections, although not as many as the House. But fear not. “Aides stress that the GOP plan is likely to undergo more changes in order to garner the 50 votes Republicans need to pass it,” the Post reports. Surely it will only improve as McConnell frantically tries to whip his caucus next week, right?


          Iowa Wants to Rewrite Obamacare. What Happens if Trump Lets It?        

Right now, the second most important health care story in the country may well be unfolding in Iowa.

The most important story, of course, is the Senate GOP’s attempt to craft an Obamacare repeal bill entirely behind closed doors. But if that effort sputters—God willing—the future of the Affordable Care Act, and the extent to which conservative-leaning states will be able to simply rewrite it on their own, could hinge on what’s currently taking place in Des Moines.

This week, Iowa submitted a plan to federal regulators meant to stave off the impending collapse of its individual insurance market. There is currently a strong possibility that, come 2018, Iowa could become the first state without any carriers offering coverage on its Obamacare exchanges. Of the four insurers currently operating there, two—Aetna and Wellmark—have said they will pull out of the state’s market entirely next year because of the losses they’ve piled up there. Another, Gundersen, only sells coverage in five counties and hasn’t committed to sticking around. The last, Medica, offers health plans across the entire state but has warned it may have to bail ”without swift action by the state or Congress to provide stability to Iowa’s individual market.” If the company does exit, Iowa’s exchanges will be more barren than a cornfield in January.

Insurers are losing money on Iowa’s Obamacare exchanges, and fleeing them, for essentially the same reason they are elsewhere: Their customers have turned out to be older and sicker than anticipated. But those problems are especially acute in lightly populated rural states like Iowa, where the government has made matters worse by letting many residents hold on to their pre-Obamacare insurance plans rather than force them onto the exchanges. That’s made the pool of customers thinner than it might otherwise have been. Much has been made of the fact that Wellmark, which lost $90 million over three years, got stuck covering a young hemophiliac whose medical bills cost the company $1 million per month. But the fact that a single teenager with a rare condition could turn into a budget line item for an insurer is really just a colorful illustration of how tiny and unbalanced Iowa’s individual market really is.

Of course, it also doesn’t help matters that Donald Trump is threatening to bring all of Obamacare crumbling down by withholding crucial subsidy payments from insurers.

With the threat of disaster looming, Iowa officials have asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for permission to implement a “stop-gap” measure that would let them dramatically rewrite the rules of Obamacare within their state, at least until Congress figures out what it wants to do about health care. As Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation put it to me, their plan is a bit like a mashup of the American Health Care Act, which House Republicans passed last month, and the Affordable Care Act—in other words, Trumpcare lite.

Under the proposal, Iowa’s individual insurers would only be allowed to sell a single, standardized health policy—the equivalent of an Obamacare silver plan—which would be offered off of the ACA’s online exchanges. Insurers would still be required to cover the essential medical services required under Obamacare, and carriers would still be banned from discriminating against customers with pre-existing conditions. But the state would replace Obamacare’s subsidies with tax credits that would be available to higher earners (they’d scale based on age and income) and would no longer require insurers to reduce out-of-pocket costs for poorer customers. Finally, it would add new enrollment restrictions aimed at keeping people from waiting until they were sick to buy coverage and—borrowing from the House bill—would create a large reinsurance pool to defray costs for insurers who get stuck covering extremely expensive patients.

It’s a fairly dramatic rewrite. Low-income Iowans could come out a bit worse in the bargain while some upper-middle-class residents would come out ahead. Meanwhile, insurers would be less likely to lose money if they have to cover a severe case of hemophilia. While those trade-offs might not be entirely ideal to some, it could keep the insurance market functioning. Wellmark has said it would keep selling coverage in Iowa if the proposal—which it reportedly helped negotiate—is implemented. And a health care landscape with one or two insurers beats a health care landscape with no insurers.

But can Iowa legally do it? That’s not exactly clear. Under current law, the federal government is allowed to let states tear up Obamacare’s rules and experiment with new insurance systems through what are known as 1332 innovation waivers. But those come with a number of strict requirements—among them, states need to show they’d provide coverage that was just as affordable and comprehensive as under Obamacare while also providing a 10-year forecast showing the changes would be budget-neutral to the federal government. It’s not clear Iowa can actually hit all three of those marks at once, or check the many procedural boxes necessary for a waiver—and so the state is asking the administration to relax the rules. “The ‘traditional’ 1332 Innovation waiver was designed to allow states to propose innovative and long-term changes to the functions of the ACA,” its proposal says. “Iowa’s proposal is a short-term solution to prevent the crisis of not having any carriers offering ACA compliant plans in 2018.”

The subtext of Iowa’s proposal seems to be that Republicans will have repealed and replaced Obamacare by 2019, at which point it won’t really matter whether their system meets the waiver program’s strict requirements. (“Iowa intends to revisit the functionality of this program in lieu of any federal guidance that may be applicable for 2019,” the proposal says.) But if Mitch McConnell & co. bungle that effort, giving Iowa a green light to revamp Obamacare, no questions asked, could create a new and potentially powerful precedent. Sure, the state is framing this as a one-time response to an emergency situation. But what counts as an emergency? If a red state found itself with just a few counties lacking insurers, would the Trump administration let it do a top-down rewrite of the law? And what if Trump did decide to eventually cut off those crucial subsidies and bring the ACA markets crashing down? In that case, many states might be able to make a case for emergency measures. Maybe activist groups would sue to stop them from rewriting the law, but if the alternative is a cratered insurance market, maybe not. Under this scenario, we could end up with a landscape of states with radically different health-care regimes—some that look like Obamacare, some that look like Trumpcare, and some, like Iowa’s, that are Frankensteins of the two.

Iowa is facing a legitimate crisis, and many of the steps it’s taking to fix it make sense. But the state is also showing how conservatives could try to kill off Obamacare by regulatory fiat if they can’t pull off the job on Capitol Hill.


          The Republican Health Care Bill Would Actually Raise Insurance Premiums, Says a New Government Report        

When the House was busy negotiating its Obamacare repeal bill this spring, conservative Republicans said they had one—and pretty much only one—goal for the legislation: It had to bring down insurance premiums. Period.

“I can tell you that there is one score that the American people will pay attention to,” Mark Meadows, chairman of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus, said in March, after the first draft of the law emerged. “And that is, does it really lower their health care costs and their premiums? That’s the only score that really matters. And if this doesn’t do it, then we need to make sure that we find something that does do it.”

Meadows and the Freedom Caucus of course threw their support behind the American Health Care Act in May, after negotiating a number of concessions they said would lower the cost of insurance. “Actually, it drives down premiums," the North Carolina representative said on Morning Joe, adding that, "The first bill that came out actually had an increase in premiums in the short term.” In fact, there wasn't any obvious way Meadows could have known what the bill would do at the time, since the Congressional Budget Office hadn't scored it yet. But the CBO's forecast eventually bore out his point: Though some people, particularly older Americans, would see the cost of insurance rise astronomically, the office concluded that by 2026, average premiums would fall across the states.

So, mission accomplished?

Nope. Not at all. It seems the CBO report left out something important: the value of government subsidies. Today, Obamacare provides tax credits to lower- and middle-income families in order to make coverage more affordable. The House bill provides tax credits, too, but they would be less generous for many households, because they're based on age rather than income. Because the CBO only tried to forecast premiums before tax credits in its analysis, it didn't actually tell us whether families would be paying more or less on average for their insurance.

Turns out they might be paying more. On Tuesday, the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released its own score of the House bill. It finds that gross premiums—that is, before tax credits kick in—would fall 13 percent by 2026. However net premiums—that is, after tax credits—would rise 5 percent, because the law's subsidies would simply be worth less. What's more, average out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and co-pays would skyrocket 61 percent, in large part because the law ends the Obamacare rules that limit those expenses for poorer families. Overall, people will simply be paying more for their coverage and care ($162 a month more, on average, to be precise).

Of course, the actuary's estimates rely on a number of assumptions. For instance, it guesses that only a quarter of states will choose to waive Obamacare's insurance market regulations, such as the requirements that insurers cover certain essential medical services, as the American Health Care Act would allow them to. It's very possible that more states would take that opportunity, which could drop premiums lower.

These are also only average effects. In the end, the House bill will mean different things for different Americans. Premiums before subsidies will go down for younger, healthy customers and way up for people in their 60s, because the AHCA increases the amount insurers can charge older enrollees compared to people in their twenties. If states waive the Essential Health Benefits rules, people who need more services (like women who want childbirth coverage) will pay a lot more for them. Some upper-middle-class households that were never eligible for Obamacare's subsidies could come out ahead, meanwhile, because they would qualify for the House bill's tax credits.

Finally, it's very likely that the Senate will change the House bill's subsidy structure, and possibly make it more generous—though that would take more money.

But don't let that obscure the greater point. Conservatives said their bill would bring down the cost of insurance for families. This estimate says it's entirely possible that, overall, it won't. If that's the case, the ACHA fails at its one and only job.


          Stop telling me to wait on defunding Planned Parenthood        
Every time I ask about when the GOP will use its majorities and control of the White House to defund Planned Parenthood, I’m met with a flurry of responses. The most common one has been that we have to wait until they’re able to repeal Obamacare because they can take care of Planned Parenthood in [...]
          King v. Burwell: Words Have No Meaning if Inconvenient        

Some words apparently have no meaning, even when written in plain English, according to a majority of Supreme Court justices. Today the Court reached its long awaited decision in King v. Burwell. The Court ruled 6-3 for Burwell, holding that the federal subsidies can continue to flow to states that have not established an exchange.

Chief Justice Roberts once again wrote the opinion defending ObamaCare, and was joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan. Justice Scalia wrote a dissenting opinion that was joined by Justices Thomas and Alito.

The text of ObamaCare was clear, federal subsidies were only available for insurance that purchased through exchanges “established by the states.” Today six justices, who are supposed to represent the best of the legal community, have turned these plain words on their head. These six justices have decided that “established by the states” can also mean established by the federal government.

Whereas most Americans see plain meaning in the words “established by the states,” Chief Justice Roberts saw ambiguity. Writing for the Court, the Chief Justice wrote that the law was not clear, but that the intention of the law was to improve health insurance markets, not destroy them. Much of his opinion was focused on protecting ObamaCare from a “death spiral.”

This is the second time the Chief Justice has mounted his horse to ride to the defense of the troubled health care law, ObamaCare. He seems to be under the belief that one of his roles as Chief Justice is to defend an unpopular law that is destined to fail.

This fact has not escaped the attention of Justice Scalia. In his dissent, Scalia said that we should start calling ObamaCare, “SCOTUSCare.” At the end of his dissent, Scalia wrote, “[t]he somersaults of statutory interpretation they have performed (“penalty” means tax, “further [Medicaid] payments to the State” means only incremental Medicaid payments to the State, “established by the State” means not established by the State) will be cited by litigants endlessly, to the confusion of honest jurisprudence. And the cases will publish forever the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites.”

It is not the role of the Court to protect poorly written law or delve into what the intent of Congress was. The role of the Court is to uphold the rule of law by looking at the text of laws and determine their constitutionality, and whether an agency has gone beyond its authority.

Here the IRS was told to give subsidies to qualified individuals who purchased health insurance from an exchange “established by the states.” The IRS went beyond their authority and granted subsidies to people who also purchased health insurance from the federal exchange. Today six justices of the Supreme Court granted legitimacy to this unlawful action perpetrated by the IRS.

Even with this decision, ObamaCare is still a troubled law. Premiums are soaring in many states, and deductibles were also high. Not enough young people are purchasing insurance which will cause prices to rise even higher in the coming years. This decision does not so much save ObamaCare, but delay its inevitable failure. The victory will be that much sweeter once “we the people” are able to defeat the law, not through the Court, but by a grassroots uprising.

Justice is supposed to be blind, and from this decision, apparently so are some of the justices. With the Court working its hardest to protect the law, it falls on “we the people” to bring about ObamaCare’s end.

FreedomWorks Statement on King v. Burwell Reading

          FreedomWorks Live: How to Beat ObamaCare, Part II: What Should We Do After the Court Rules?        

"This will be the biggest case in 50 years. The stakes could not be higher."

FreedomWorks is pleased to invite you to view an exciting online event:

  • What: "How to Beat ObamaCare, Part II: After the Court, What Next?"
  • Who: Max Pappas & Dean Clancy of FreedomWorks
  • Where:   http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/23192333
  • When: Saturday, June 9, 2012, from 11:15 AM to 11:45 AM ET

This month, the United States Supreme Court is expected to publish one of the most important decisions of our time, in the historic ObamaCare litigation.

Tomorrow, Saturday, June 9th, FreedomWorks experts will spend half an hour before an audience of grassroots activists in Washington, DC, discussing what we can do to beat ObamaCare no matter what the Court decides.

We'll be broadcasting the discussion, live, online, at the link given above.

FreedomWorks' "How to Beat Obamacare" Livestream Video Broadcast Series

Part I (5/10/12): http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/22494101

Part II (6/09/12):http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/23192333

ObamaCare Chart

Government goes to those who show up. I hope you'll show up at your computer Saturday morning, fire it up, and get fired up with the FreedomWorks family as we discuss "How to Beat ObamaCare"!

Dean Clancy is FreedomWorks' Legislative Counsel and Vice President, Health Care Policy. 

RELATED

FreedomWorks to Cover Supreme Court Health Care Decision Live


          FreedomWorks Live: How to Beat ObamaCare, Part I: ObamaCare Goes to Court: Issues and a Prediction        

"This will be the biggest case in 50 years. The stakes could not be higher."

Clancy Pappas

Today my friend and colleague Max Pappas and I took out half an hour to stop and educate activists around the country and answer their questions about the historic ObamaCare lawsuit.

In the talk, we discuss FreedomWorks' efforts to overturn ObamaCare and replace it with a patient-centered system, and we note the friend-of-the-court legal brief we filed in the case.

Do you care about the future of freedom?

ObamaCare Chart

If you do, please, drop what you're doing, shut your door, pour yourself a favorite beverage, and watch Max and me describe the case and hear out our predictions for how we think it will play out. 

This is the first of a two-part series. The second broadcast will take place on June 9th.

We can't stress enough how important this case is -- and this issue. 

I would love to hear your comments: write me at dclancy@freedomworks.org. 

FreedomWorks' "How to Beat Obamacare" Livestream Video Broadcast Series

Part I (5/10/12): http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/22494101

Part II (6/09/12):http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/23192333

Dean Clancy is FreedomWorks' Legislative Counsel and Vice President, Health Care Policy. 

RELATED

FreedomWorks to Cover Supreme Court Health Care Decision Live


          Badger: ObamaCare is Un-Insuring the Insured        
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          Trump officials confront new ObamaCare reality        
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          Opinion Journal: Throwing Money at ObamaCare?        
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          Beware The ObamaCare Bailout        
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          Trump administration shifts tone on ObamaCare, signals openness to bipartisan ‘fix’        
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          Graham hits McConnell over ‘expectations’ of ObamaCare repeal        
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          Trump Pounds the Senate Over Failure to Pass ObamaCare Repeal and Replace        
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          From abortion to pot, the ten most important ballot issues of 2012 election        
Thirty-eight states have ballot measures that will be in play on Nov. 6 and though many deal with issues such as taxes and administrative issues, other states will decide on hot-button national topics from Obamacare to marijuana legalization.
          Re: Republican donor from Virginia Sues GOP, Accusing the Party of Fraud Over Failed Obamacare Repeal        
Sorry, Bob. When you lay down with dogs, you're gonna get fleas.
Posted by ronvirgin
          D'Souza: the Democratic Party, of Obama but also of Bernie [Sanders], of Elizabeth Warren is fascist in the classic meaning of the term, in the dictionary meaning of the term.         
If you look up fascism, the economic part of it, it basically says state-run capitalism, state-directed capitalism, that’s the meaning of fascism,” D’Souza said at the Young America’s Foundation National Conservative Student Conference on Friday.

“We often accuse the left of being socialist but in reality these guys aren’t socialists, because what do socialist countries do? Socialist countries nationalize industries. The government takes over the energy industry, the government takes over the banks. Now, notice under Obamacare we still have private insurance companies, we still have private hospitals but the government is directing them. The government is fixing the price. The government is telling them what to do,” he added.


D’Souza said government “direction and control” expanded under President Obama in the health, energy and education sectors.

“That’s why Bernie and Hillary wanted free college. Their idea was the government now gets to direct even private colleges in telling them what to do. So my point is this is not socialism: if it was socialism the government would have taken over all this stuff. This is actually fascism, state-directed capitalism. That’s what fascism means and, in that respect, fascism is with us now,” he said.



D’Souza: Trump Joins Gandhi, Churchill, Mandela, Founding Fathers as Nationalists

The truth of it is nationalism is not a defining feature of fascism; that’s a lie and it can easily be shown to be a lie by simply looking at people around the world who
were or are nationalists. So, for example, I’m originally from India; Gandhi was a nationalist. Mandela was a nationalist in South Africa. The American founders were nationalists. Winston Churchill was a nationalist, so was de Gaulle in France,” he said. “All the anti-colonial leaders were nationalists. Now, obviously all these men were not fascists. So it’s simply if ultra-nationalism were to define fascism, then they would be so the notion that fascism is nationalism is clearly erroneous.”

          Liberals Stop Pretending to Care About John McCain After His Health Care Vote        

It was all an act.  McCain was a useful idiot when he opposed Republicans but they reviled him when he ran as a Republican.

Via Instapundit:

TAKE A BOW, DNC-MSM: Last night, the Boy Scouts became the Hitler Youth. Today, Sean T. Collins, a freelancer who has written for the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Wired, and the New York Observer among other publications, declares “The world would be a better place if McCain died in Vietnam,” in a since-deleted tweet, as he and other Democrat operatives with bylines attack McCain for wanting to “kill” people by repealing Obamacare, as NewsBusters notes.

          Meaning of Cosa Nostra        
Reading Peggy Noonan’s piece in the WSJ (“ObamaCare Is Taking On Water” 10/26/13), a particular line jumped out: “….If they knew it, did they not tell the White House?....” I am beyondbelief amazed, how many times over the last five years we have heard and read this line. I am equally amazed how the Obama regime has been managing that Obama personally “never takes on water” sort of speak. So, let me run a train of thoughts here.

As most people know, Cosa Nostra means “Our Thing”. You know, a “Thing” that we discuss between ourselves, never let anyone into the inner circle, a structure where the cardinal modus operandi is “All For One”; but never “One For All”. A “Thing” where the Boss must be protected at all cost, and for this service the inner circle remains just that: “Inner”. Our Thing. Cosa Nostra. The Cosa Nostra theory and rules have been serving its members and bosses for over two hundred years. One of the most well known cases of the ins and outs, is Al Capone’s case who was not and could not be charged with multiple murders and a long list of other serious crimes, because no one
was talking. The boss was protected. He ended up in prison on a simple tax evasion case.

I developed a three pieces puzzle, to explain what is going on in the White House since January, 2009. Let’s see if it makes sense.

As the FIRST PIECE: For five years, we have been forced to listen to Barack Hussein Obama’s tirades on “my team”, “I directed my staff”, “the way I see it”, and the permutation thereof. Not to mention the “My red line”, and “My calculus” comments, or his bragging about ordering Osama bin Laden’s killing and the drown strikes. From all of Obama’s speeches and comments, one can safely and with high accuracy conclude that there is nothing going on in the Obama regime without Obama’s stamp of approval. This is beside Jay Carney’s constant, in-your-face, bold faced lies on prime time television. Obama’s micromanaging control freak nature most probably extend to who and when mops the White House floors (don’t doubt me; his kindred spirit, Jimmy “America’s Brain Injury” Carter was personally running the tally as to who can play on the White House tennis court). A few months ago, in an interview, the reporter used the “ObamaCare” designation, to which Obama made the “I don’t mind they calling it ObamaCare” (probably a 90% close paraphrase) comment. Obama is not only directing everything in his regime, he is proud of it.

Read the whole thing.
          Grassley to hold hearings on ‘Russian interference’ no mention of sins of Obama clan for review        
Interesting isn’t it. The GOP can’t get themselves together to repeal Obamacare, but they sure can pull themselves together to beat on Trump. We have the usual suspects. But let’s pile on. Senators prepare bill to block firing of special counsel – Chicago Tribune Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is working on legislation that would block the […]
          Opinion: A Doctor’s Opinion Of Obamacare        
Good, hard-working Americans shouldn’t be forced to contemplate leaving their chosen profession as they are with federal laws such as Obamacare.
          After Week One of a Trump Presidency, Facing Fears That My Son Will Have a Sick, Dying Mother        

I don't want to get crazy and emotional if it's all speculation; it might not be as bad as it sounds. Trump might not get rid of the part of Obamacare that guarantees medical insurance to people with pre-existing conditions. You never know, Trumpland might not be as bad as I think it will become.

Read more ...


          Oh Paul Ryan, how can we not love a charismatic guy who will always tell us what we want to hear?        
Initially I thougth I’d use a variety of sources to point out the umm, let's call them "issues" a lot of folks had with Paul Ryan’s GOP Convention speech. Then it occurred to me that no matter how many prior articles I cited and no matter how many times I used data from the Congressional Record, all such “evidence” would be cast aside as the machinations of a liberal press. (as R&R have stated, they won’t let factcheckers ruin a good convention) It was at about that point in my searching that I ran across a very succinct analysis of Ryan’s speech by none other than Fox’s own Sally Kohn ON FOX’s Web site! If a Fox columnist said it about the GOP VP, it couldn’t possibly fall into the automatically discredited pile of liberal trash, right?

(Of course, by the time you read this, Ms. Kohn will probably no longer be employed by Fox)

Fox’s own headline for Ms. Kohn’s Aug. 30 column was: Ryan’s Speech In Three Words: Dazzling, Deceitful, Distracting. Kohn sums it up in this favorite quote of mine: "…to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech."

 Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/08/30/paul-ryans-speech-in-three-words/#ixzz257uJYZEB

Again, I want to be VERY clear about this: these are Fox News columnist, Sally Kohn’s words, not mine! Ms. Kohn goes on to delineate the more, uh, shall we say “problematic” parts of Ryan’s speech, listing her own version of the facts next to what Mr. Ryan said. Of course, Kohn’s facts are merely corroborated by WaPo and NYTimes (and just about every other major news outlets’ columnists and fact checkers,) Ryan’s voting record, previous statements from Ryan, and what little info Team R&R has offered about their budget proposals thus far. Who could possibly know what the actual truth is. How would one ever verify said truth? If R&R have taught us anything to this point, it’s that their significant stances are subject to changing with the political environment, the whims of their party, and the audience at the moment, but back to the topic at hand:  Here’s the list of less than accurate items Fox News’s Ms. Kohn noted:

Ryan said: the downgrade of the US’s credit rating was all Obama
Kohn said: the threat by Republicans in Congress to refuse to increase the debt ceiling was the direct cause of the downgrade

Now, to be fair, that wasn’t exactly Ryan’s fault. He’s only one man in congress. If we were to lay blame, we’d have to start with the Congressional Budget Committee members like Michelle Bachmann or perhaps the Chairman of said committee. Who was that again? Oh, yeah, It was Paul F-ing Ryan!. Nevermind that raising the debt ceiling has been a matter of course for years, or that Ryan did it routinely during the W administration resulting in ballooning deficit spending that turned the only budget surplus in our lifetime into the largest deficit ever up to that point.

Here’s another
Ryan said: Obama policy led to the shut down of the Janesville, WI, GM plant.
Kohn (and most calendars) said: the plant was shut down before Obama took office (when will these Fox people stop blaming W for everything?!)

Oddly, Ryan failed to mention his conflict with his new boss over supporting the auto bailout. Yep, Romney hated it, Ryan supported it. Romney claims it is corporate welfare from an entitlement-based, big government administration.(initiated by W… when will Romney stop blaming W for everything?) Ryan says it saved as many as a million jobs. Obama tried to add some administrative control over it (vs. just handing out billions of dollars to private corporations). So it seems as though in this instance, Ryan has more in common with Obama than with Romney. Perhaps that’s why Ryan wants to have it both ways on this one. In his confusion, he seems to have forgotten the dates of the events in question. (but hey, that’s a lot of dates to keep track of) Next: Ryan said: Obama says all private sector success is because of government Kohn says: That’s not what Obama said, “period” (right… even this Fox reporter understood what the Kenyan refugee was trying to say, but the guys running for Pres and VP didn't get it?? Really?? And THIS is what they're gonna hang their campaign on... a mild mix up in word order? Thank goodness they don't have a chance.) Without getting into the notion that governmnet has, in fact, directly subsidized every major industry in this country at some point, to some degree, starting with the railroad that linked the coasts, and from which every modern industry grew, and which would NEVER have happened if left to private financing, Obama merely pointed out that this country offers roads, power grids, safe water and sewer systems, the protection of a strong military, police, and firefighters, and without them, it would be very difficult for any new business to thrive… that we ALL contribute to this as THE PEOPLE, and, furthermore that Government IS the PEOPLE… hence blaming government is blaming ourselves, not just the Repubs or just the Dems, but all of us… yeah, so without getting into all of that, only a politically motivated fool seeking to grab a sound bite rather than standing on one’s own substance would continue to use that sound bite as proof of anything other than a hatred for this country, it's political process, and what it stands for. Mr. Ryan, Mr. Romney, why do you two hate America?

Ryan said: Obama would cut $716 billion from Medicare
Kohn says: a) that’s an almost identical amount that would be cut in Ryan’s proposal, only Ryan’s is funded by increased taxes on the middle class, b) Obama’s proposal lists that figure as savings in reimbursment rates, which actually LOWER the out of pocket expenses of Medicare users as well(and while pesky old facts may cause a different interpretation about these savings, they are not in dispute for our purposes, cuz Ryan brags about them in his own budget proposal.) In addition, Obamacare further reduces the burden of Medicare users by covering many of the expenses dropped by Medicare to obtain those savings.

One would presume a man who embraces the “wonk/intellectual” moniker as Ryan does, would know the facts of his own proposal. If he does, this is more than simple deception, it’s an outright lie for political gain. 

Ryan said: “you are entitled to the clearest choice possible… we will not duck the tough issues.”
Kohn said: Ryan blew the opportunity to address the tough issues… the very issues on which R&R base their platform.

Where was the R&R budget proposal? Have the two not sorted out their broad differences enough to offer up any details yet?
Where was the logic (other than Biblical, because, of course, we shall pass no law...) behind their otherwise indefensible abortion position? Though neither Romney nor Ryan would ever be in the position to have an abortion (neither has a uterus), they have at least agreed on their stance about it – a stance that conflicts with a consistent 75% of Americans in EVERY poll taken when it comes to rape. A stance that says these two men know what's best for women.

Ryan’s implied concern for America’s senior citizens seems a little inconsistent with his past voting record in which he has clearly supported handing over Social Security to Wall Street – a group he still believes can best govern itself, much as they did leading to the crash of 2010, I guess.

Ryan the small government, fiscal conservative tax cutter didn’t mention the spending he consistently approved in W administration budgets. Or how his own budget proposals not only raise taxes on 95% of Americans in order to fund cuts for the wealthiest, but also INCREASE the deficit, which, by the way, could possibly require additional raising of the debt ceiling – the one thing we know Ryan opposes, except when he doesn’t. For a guy who has jumped on a "we can better manage the economy" ticket, he hasn't really offered much to go on.  Not only do we have to guess what he means - stop spending (like he says) or support spending (like he actually did), but we have to guess based on his past actions, not his promises for the future, right?  And the R&R ticket seems to be behind the economic model we tried from 2000-2008, a period, if you'll recall, that began with a surplus and ended with a record deficit and recession.

As Kohn goes on to point out, this speech was Ryan’s chance to explain why his seeming inconsistencies are what’s best for the nation. He had an audience who would have bought even the dodgiest explanation. Instead, he promised to do just that, but then only attacked his opponent - on some pretty shaky grounds.

But hey, as Ms. Kohn said, at least they’re creating dozens of new jobs among "the legions of additional fact checkers that media outlets are rushing to hire to sift through the mountain of cow dung that flowed from Ryan’s mouth”

Her words, not mine!
Luth
Out
          Against the "Affordable Care Act"        

New Yorker Obamacare coverA signature failure of American government, our health care system is a world-class disgrace. Instead of its purpose being the public good it mainly serves predatory market forces. And the fact is, the so-called "Affordable Care Act," aka "Obamacare," doesn't bring necessary, fundamental changes. To talk about the ACA, the alternatives, and how to get them, I turned to the progressive activist Dr. Margaret Flowers. Thanks, Margaret, for your great work! Total runtime fifty minutes. Nōn est vīvere sed valēre vīta est.


          Monday's News Links        
[Bloomberg] U.S. Stocks Mixed, Dollar Gains as Treasuries Slip: Markets Wrap

[Bloomberg] Republicans Face Tough Choice: Repeal Obamacare or Cut Taxes

[Bloomberg] Inflation Hits Low Bar Draghi Set as Stimulus Debate Gets Closer

[Reuters] China central bank to ensure smooth, orderly deleveraging, assistant governor says

[Bloomberg] China Factory PMI Suggests Economic Momentum Dialed Back in July

[Reuters] Exclusive: MSCI warns Chinese companies about suspending trading of shares

[Bloomberg] China Asks Waldorf Owner Anbang to Sell Assets Abroad, Sources Say

[Reuters] China hits back at Trump criticism over North Korea

[CNBC] Mysterious craters blowing out of Russia could mean trouble for the whole planet

[WSJ] Late Credit-Card Payments Stoke Fears for Banks

[WSJ] Donald Trump Deepens GOP Divide

[FT] You are too complacent, central bankers warn markets

[FT] Trump’s rift widens with Republicans

[FT] One of China’s biggest P2P lenders quits ahead of clampdown
          Weekly Commentary: Five Years of Whatever It Takes        
July 25 – Bloomberg (Paul Gordon and Carolynn Look): “Five years ago today, Mario Draghi was talking about bumblebees. The European Central Bank president’s speech in London on July 26, 2012, became instantly famous because of his pledge to do ‘whatever it takes’ to save the euro. But for all the power and clarity of that phrase, he started his remarks more obliquely. ‘The euro is like a bumblebee. This is a mystery of nature because it shouldn’t fly but instead it does. So the euro was a bumblebee that flew very well for several years. And now -- and I think people ask ‘how come?’-- probably there was something in the atmosphere, in the air, that made the bumblebee fly. Now something must have changed in the air, and we know what after the financial crisis.’ At the time, the currency bloc was being buffeted by soaring bond yields in peripheral nations as speculators bet the union’s fundamental flaws would rip it apart. Draghi’s answer was to state unequivocally that the immediate crisis fell under the ECB’s responsibility and he would deal with it. ‘The ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. And believe me, it will be enough.’ That pledge was followed by a program to buy the debt of stressed countries in return for structural reforms, and in that respect the words alone proved to be enough. Yield spreads collapsed even though the program has never been tapped.”

This week marks the five-year anniversary of Draghi’s “whatever it takes.” I remember the summer of 2012 as if it were yesterday. From the Bubble analysis perspective, it was a Critical Juncture – for financial markets and risk perceptions, for policy and for the global economy. Italian 10-year yields hit 6.60% on July 24, 2012. On that same day, Spain saw yields surge to 7.62%. Italian banks were in freefall, while European bank stocks (STOXX600) were rapidly approaching 2009 lows. Having risen above 55 in 2011, Deutsche Bank traded at 23.23 on July 25, 2012.

It was my view at the time that the “European” crisis posed a clear and immediate threat to the global financial system. A crisis of confidence in Italian debt (and Spanish and “periphery” debt) risked a crisis of confidence in European banks – and a loss of confidence in European finance risked dismantling the euro monetary regime.

Derivatives markets were in the crosshairs back in 2012. A crisis of confidence in European debt and the euro would surely have tested the derivatives marketplace to the limits. Moreover, with the big European banks having evolved into dominant players in derivatives trading (taking share from U.S. counterparts after the mortgage crisis), counter-party issues were at the brink of becoming a serious global market problem. It’s as well worth mentioning that European banks were major providers of finance for emerging markets.

From the global government finance Bubble perspective, Draghi’s “whatever it takes” was a seminal development. The Bernanke Fed employed QE measures during the 2008 financial crisis to accommodate deleveraging and stabilize dislocated markets. Mario Draghi leapfrogged (helicopter) Bernanke, turning to open-ended QE and other extreme measures to preserve euro monetary integration. No longer would QE be viewed as a temporary crisis management tool. And just completely disregard traditional monetary axiom that central banks should operate as lender of last resort in the event of temporary illiquidity – but must avoid propping up the insolvent. “Whatever it takes” advocates covert bailouts for whomever and whatever a small group of central bankers chooses – illiquid, insolvent, irredeemable or otherwise. Now five years after the first utterance of “whatever it takes,” the Draghi ECB is still pumping out enormous amounts of “money” on a monthly basis (buying sovereigns and corporates) with rates near zero.

Keep in mind that while “whatever it takes” first radiated from Draghi’s lips, markets soon surmised that the ECB president was speaking on behalf of the cadre of leading global central bankers. After all, ECB (desperate) measures were followed promptly by the return of QE by the Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan, the Swiss National Bank and others. It’s worth mentioning that the Fed’s balance sheet totaled about $2.8 TN in July 2012, only to rise to $4.4 TN by September 2014. Amazingly, Bank of Japan assets have expanded about three-fold since 2012 to approach $5.0 TN.

Going back to 2002, the burst “tech” Bubble was evolving into a full-fledged U.S. corporate debt crisis. Back then Fed governor Bernanke’s talk of “helicopter money” and the “government printing press” profoundly altered market dynamics. It may not have at the time been loud and clear. But putting markets on notice that the Fed was contemplating extraordinary reflationary measures was a far-reaching development for corporate debt. Facing a liquidity crisis in 2002, Ford bonds had become a popular short in the marketplace. Almost single-handedly, Dr. Bernanke’s speeches proved a catalyst for the speculating community reversing the Ford (and corporate debt) bond short - and then going long. The impact on general market liquidity was profound. And with the corporate debt crisis resolved there was nothing to hold back the burgeoning mortgage finance Bubble.

What “Helicopter Ben” accomplished with U.S. corporate bonds, “Super Mario” surpassed with Trillions of European sovereign, corporate and financial debt. Italian bond yields ended 2012 at 4.5%, down 210 bps from July highs. Spain’s 10-yields declined about 250 bps to 5.00% in less than six months. “Whatever it takes” almost immediately transformed Italian and Spanish debt from favored shorts to about the most enticing speculative long securities anywhere in the world.

Draghi’s utterance ‘The ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. And believe me, it will be enough,’ was a direct declaration to speculators with short positions in the euro currency, along with shorts in Italian, Spanish and periphery debt. Immediately Cover Your Shorts and Go Long. Five years on, Italian yields hover around 2.10% and Spanish yields sit at about 1.50% - emblematic of arguably one of history’s most spectacular securities market mispricings. European bank stocks have gained better than 50%. Draghi not only bloodied the shorts, be ensured spectacular profits for those levered long European debt – and the riskier the Credit the greater the reward.

Central bankers should not be in the business of playing favorites in the markets. So how did it get to the point where they seek to incentivize longs (levered and otherwise) while routinely punishing the shorts? Because central bankers followed the Bernanke Fed into a policy course of using rising securities and asset prices as a reflationary mechanism for the overall economy. As we’ve witnessed now for going on a decade, that’s a slippery slope. Adopt pro-Bubble policies and there will be no turning back. Inflate an epic Bubble and you own it for the duration.

“The euro is like a bumblebee. This is a mystery of nature because it shouldn’t fly but instead it does.” The euro flew and it soared incredibly high, trading above 1.50 to the dollar in early-2008. As fundamentally flawed as the euro monetary experiment has been, it has been buoyed by the fundamentally weaker dollar. The euro flew on the back of highly speculative flows, much of it flowing from an overcharged U.S. Credit system.  U.S. monetary policy had been too loose for too long. Unstable finance has been nurtured for what seems like an eternity. The U.S. exported its Credit Bubble to the world.

Going all the way back to the late-nineties, Italy and the European periphery were a leveraged speculator community darling. Indeed, the Euro Convergence Trade granted huge profits to the hedge fund community. The egregious amounts of leverage employed (directly and through derivatives) was illuminated with the 1998 implosion of Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM).

The LTCM fiasco contributed to an 18-month bear market that saw the euro trade down to 0.87 vs. the dollar in early 2002. With Dr. Bernanke and his radical theories on reflationary policymaking arriving on the scene in 2002, it’s no coincidence that the euro then embarked on a multiyear rally. The euro traded up to 1.00 late in 2002, 1.20 in 2003, 1.35 in 2004, 1.45 in 2007 and 1.58 in 2008. It’s furthermore no coincidence that Italian bond prices tracked the euro higher. After trading at 5.5% in the first-half of 2002, Italian yields dropped to 3.22% by October 2005. Greek bonds followed an almost identical trajectory, as both already highly-indebted nations took full advantage of the market’s insatiable demand for European peripheral debt.

Draghi has lately grown accustomed to patting himself on the back. He saved the euro. He saved Europe’s big banks. He kept Greece and Italy in the euro currency. His policies have spurred European economic recovery. But Draghi and global central bankers also inflated history’s greatest speculative Bubble. Celebration will be in order only if policies can be normalized without the whole thing coming crashing down.

July 25 – BloombergBusinessweek (Jana Randow): “Euro-area governments have saved almost 1 trillion euros ($1.16 trillion) in interest payments since 2008 as record-low European Central Bank rates depress bond yields at a time when state treasurers are also reducing debt. That’s according to calculations by Germany’s Bundesbank, which is urging finance ministers in the 19-nation region to make provisions for when interest rates start to rise. Italy, the world’s third-most indebted country, has benefited most, with savings exceeding 10% of gross domestic product.”

Italy has been the biggest beneficiary of collapsing market yields. The problem is that its debt load still expanded to a distressing 130% of GDP. Italy remains only a jump in yields away from trouble, and I suspect this helps explain why Draghi has been so reticent to pull back on the stimulus throttle. After trading below 1.90% in mid-June, Italian yields surged to 2.33% earlier this month as markets began to contemplate global central bankers moving toward concerted normalization.

The FOMC this week confirmed the dovishness of Yellen’s testimony before congress. Apparently, over the past month Fed rate “normalization” has been scaled back to perhaps one more hike this year – and that could be about it. And I just don’t buy the Fed’s recent fixation on below target inflation (GSCI Commodities Index up 4.2% this week on further dollar weakness!).

Something has raised concerns at the FOMC. Could it be European debt markets, with ECB stimulus to be significantly reduced in the months ahead. Or perhaps it’s China and Beijing's determination to rein in some financial excess. EM and all their dollar-denominated debt? Maybe a dysfunctional Washington has supplanted international developments on the worry list – or, understandably, it could be a combination of things.

At least for the week, global markets lost a bit of their recent swagger. While Boeing helped push the Dow to yet another record high, the S&P500 ended the week little changed. The broader market underperformed. The highflying technology stocks were unimpressive in the face of generally robust earnings. The VIX rose to 10.29, with some volatility beginning to seep into stock trading. Commodities caught a big bid, while bond yields began moving north again. The currencies remain unsettled.

Thinking back five years, U.S. markets at the time were incredibly complacent. The risk of crisis in Europe was downplayed: Policymakers had it all under control. Sometime later, the Financial Times - in a fascinating behind-the-scenes exposé - confirmed the gravity of the situation and how frazzled European leaders were at the brink of losing control. Yet central bankers, once again, saved the day – further solidifying their superhero status.

I’m convinced five years of “whatever it takes” took the global government finance Bubble deeper into perilous uncharted territory. Certainly, markets are more complacent than ever, believing central bankers are fully committed to prolonging indefinitely the securities bull market. Meanwhile, leverage, speculative excess and trend-following flows have had an additional five years to accumulate. Market distortions – including valuations, deeply embedded complacency, and Trillions of perceived safe securities – have become only further detached from reality. And the longer all this unstable finance flows freely into the real economy, the deeper the structural maladjustment.


For the Week:

The S&P500 was about unchanged (up 10.4% y-t-d), while the Dow jumped 1.2% (up 10.5%). The Utilities slipped 0.3% (up 8.4%). The Banks added 0.5% (up 3.7%), and the Broker/Dealers rose 1.0% (up 14.0%). The Transports dropped 2.6% (up 2.0%). The S&P 400 Midcaps declined 0.7% (up 6.1%), and the small cap Russell 2000 dipped 0.5% (up 5.3%). The Nasdaq100 slipped 0.2% (up 21.5%), and the Morgan Stanley High Tech index fell 0.8% (up 25.5%). The Semiconductors dropped 1.3% (up 20.6%). The Biotechs declined 1.0% (up 29.7%). With bullion up $15, the HUI gold index rallied 2.3% (up 7.7%).

Three-month Treasury bill rates ended the week at 106 bps. Two-year government yields added a basis point to 1.35% (up 16bps y-t-d). Five-year T-note yields increased three bps to 1.83% (down 9bps). Ten-year Treasury yields rose five bps to 2.29% (down 16bps). Long bond yields jumped nine bps to 2.90% (down 17bps).

Greek 10-year yields rose 11 bps to 5.33% (down 170bps y-t-d). Ten-year Portuguese yields added two bps to 2.93% (down 82bps). Italian 10-year yields gained five bps to 2.12% (up 31bps). Spain's 10-year yields rose seven bps to 1.53% (up 15bps). German bund yields increased four bps to 0.54% (up 34bps). French yields rose five bps to 0.81% (up 13bps). The French to German 10-year bond spread widened one to 27 bps. U.K. 10-year gilt yields gained four bps to 1.22% (down 2bps). U.K.'s FTSE equities index fell 1.1% (up 3.2%).

Japan's Nikkei 225 equities index declined 0.7% (up 4.4% y-t-d). Japanese 10-year "JGB" yields added a basis point to 0.08% (up 4bps). France's CAC40 gained 0.3% (up 5.5%). The German DAX equities index declined 0.6% (up 5.9%). Spain's IBEX 35 equities index rallied 1.1% (up 12.7%). Italy's FTSE MIB index rose 1.1% (up 11.4%). EM equities were mixed. Brazil's Bovespa index gained 1.3% (up 8.7%), while Mexico's Bolsa declined 0.7% (up 12.2%). South Korea's Kospi sank 2.0% (up 18.5%). India’s Sensex equities index added 0.9% (up 21.3%). China’s Shanghai Exchange increased 0.5% (up 4.8%). Turkey's Borsa Istanbul National 100 index rose 0.8% (up 37.8%). Russia's MICEX equities index slipped 0.4% (down 14.2%).

Junk bond mutual funds saw outflows of $21 million (from Lipper).

Freddie Mac 30-year fixed mortgage rates declined four bps to 3.92% (up 44bps y-o-y). Fifteen-year rates slipped three bps to 3.20% (up 42bps). The five-year hybrid ARM rate fell three bps to 3.18% (up 40bps). Bankrate's survey of jumbo mortgage borrowing costs had 30-yr fixed rates up five bps to 4.11% (up 42bps).

Federal Reserve Credit last week declined $5.1bn to $4.435 TN. Over the past year, Fed Credit added $0.4bn. Fed Credit inflated $1.625 TN, or 58%, over the past 246 weeks. Elsewhere, Fed holdings for foreign owners of Treasury, Agency Debt rose $6.0bn last week to $3.325 TN. "Custody holdings" were up $105bn y-o-y, or 3.3%.

M2 (narrow) "money" supply last week gained $6.0bn to a record $13.608 TN. "Narrow money" expanded $740bn, or 5.8%, over the past year. For the week, Currency increased $2.7bn. Total Checkable Deposits dropped $50.2bn, while Savings Deposits jumped $52.1bn. Small Time Deposits added $1.3bn. Retail Money Funds were little changed.

Total money market fund assets jumped $23.28bn to $2.640 TN. Money Funds fell $75bn y-o-y (2.8%).

Total Commercial Paper gained $7.4bn to $978bn. CP declined $49bn y-o-y, or 4.7%.

Currency Watch:

The U.S. dollar index declined 0.6% to 93.26 (down 8.9% y-t-d). For the week on the upside, the Swedish krona increased 1.5%, the Norwegian krone 1.3%, the British pound 1.1%, the Australian dollar 0.9%, the Canadian dollar 0.9%, the New Zealand dollar 0.8%, the euro 0.8%, the Singapore dollar 0.4%, the Japanese yen 0.4% and the Brazilian real 0.4%. On the downside, the Swiss franc declined 2.4%, the South African rand 0.8%, the Mexican peso 0.7% and the South Korean won 0.3%. The Chinese renminbi gained 0.44% versus the dollar this week (up 3.09% y-t-d).

Commodities Watch:

The Goldman Sachs Commodities Index jumped 4.2% (down 3.0% y-t-d). Spot Gold gained 1.2% to $1,270 (up 10.2%). Silver rose 1.4% to $16.695 (up 4.5%). Crude surged $3.94 to $49.71 (down 8%). Gasoline surged 7.2% (unchanged), while Natural Gas declined 1.0% (down 21%). Copper jumped 5.6% (up 15%). Wheat dropped 3.7% (up 18%). Corn fell 1.4% (up 10%).

Trump Administration Watch:

July 27 – Bloomberg (Sahil Kapur and Erik Wasson): “The House is set to leave for its August recess without having taken the first essential step to overhauling the U.S. tax code: agreeing on a 2018 budget resolution. Disputes among House Republicans over spending levels and the controversial border-adjusted tax proposal are preventing Speaker Paul Ryan from winning enough support to schedule a floor vote on the budget that a House panel approved last week. With House members planning to leave Washington Friday for a five-week recess, the lack of a budget is raising doubts that a tax rewrite -- one of President Donald Trump’s top priorities -- can get done this year, or even before the 2018 elections. ‘Clearly, no budget, no tax reform,’ said the House’s chief tax writer, Representative Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican.”

July 25 – Bloomberg (Erik Wasson and Roxana Tiron): “House Republicans this week are increasing the possibility of a government shutdown in October by moving forward with a $788 billion spending bill that complies with President Donald Trump’s demands to boost the military, reduce clean-energy programs and fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Those priorities, especially $1.6 billion in wall funding, guarantee House and Senate Democratic leaders will oppose the bill. Trump has urged his Republican supporters in Congress to fight, saying in May that a ‘good’ shutdown may be needed to advance his agenda. Republicans are trying to demonstrate unity after months of division over major legislation, including a repeal of Obamacare.”

July 24 – Bloomberg (Alex Harris): “The Treasury Department got a clear message from investors that they’re starting to get concerned another showdown over the U.S. debt ceiling may get ugly. The government’s auction Monday of $39 billion of three-month bills attracted the lowest demand of any other sale of the securities since June 2009. The bills, which mature around when the Treasury is estimated to run out of money unless lawmakers agree to extend the statutory limit on the nation’s borrowing, were sold at a rate of 1.18%, the highest since October 2008.”

July 27 – Bloomberg (Margaret Talev): “White House chief strategist Steve Bannon supports paying for middle-class tax cuts with a new top rate of 44% for Americans who make more than $5 million a year, according to a person familiar… It’s unclear whether President Donald Trump would support the move, which would bring the top rate, currently 39.6%, to the highest level in 30 years. Trump has said he’s focused on tax changes that would help the middle class, but an analysis this month of the tax outline the White House released in April shows it would mostly benefit top earners.”

July 25 – Reuters (John Benny): “A final decision on a steel trade policy may have to wait until other top-priority issues on his agenda get addressed, U.S. President Donald Trump told the Wall Street Journal… The administration would take time in making a decision on whether to block steel imports… Trump had previously initiated a 'Section 232' review of the U.S. steel industry that allows for the imposition of tariffs or quotas on imports if they are found to threaten national security. The law, which has been used twice before - to investigate oil in 1999 and iron and steel in 2001 - allows the president to impose restrictions on imports for reasons of national security.”

China Bubble Watch:

July 23 – New York Times (Keith Bradsher and Sui-Lee Wee): “Let the West worry about so-called black swans, rare and unexpected events that can upset financial markets. China is more concerned about ‘gray rhinos’ — large and visible problems in the economy that are ignored until they start moving fast. The rhinos are a herd of Chinese tycoons who have used a combination of political connections and raw ambition to create sprawling global conglomerates. Companies like Anbang Insurance Group, Fosun International, HNA Group and Dalian Wanda Group have feasted on cheap debt provided by state banks, spending lavishly to build their empires. Such players are now so big, so complex, so indebted and so enmeshed in the economy that the Chinese government is abruptly bringing them to heel. President Xi Jinping recently warned that financial stability is crucial to national security, while the official newspaper of the Communist Party pointed to the dangers of a ‘gray rhinoceros,’ without naming specific companies.”

July 24 – New York Times (David Barboza): “The acquisitive Chinese conglomerate HNA Group moved to allay concerns about its ownership structure… by releasing a statement showing that its biggest shareholder had recently shifted from a mysterious businessman to a foundation it set up in New York. The company said that its largest shareholder, a private businessman in China named Guan Jun, had recently donated his 30% stake in the company to HNA’s charitable organization, the Hainan Cihang Charity Foundation. Combined with the 22.8% stake held by HNA’s sister charity in China, HNA says it is now 52% owned by the Cihang foundations.”

July 23 – Bloomberg: “Several Chinese banks that helped fund HNA Group Co.’s global acquisition spree are losing their appetite for financing the company, according to people familiar with the matter. Three of the banks have decided to stop extending new loans to HNA, said the people… One made the decision early this year, the second acted a couple of months ago and the third moved recently, the people said. A fourth bank trimmed its exposure to the company over the past few months and reduced the size of a credit line, one of the people said, without providing further details.”

July 25 – Bloomberg (Laurence Arnold and Prudence Ho): “For a company regularly in the news for its frequent and wide-ranging acquisitions, China’s HNA Group Co. remains shrouded in mystery. Chinese and American government officials are seeking more information about the company’s ownership -- though for very different reasons -- and the European Central Bank may open a review of its own. Once a little-known airline operator, the company took on billions of dollars in debt as it made more than $40 billion of acquisitions over six continents since the start of 2016. With interests in tourism, logistics and financial services, it’s now the biggest shareholder of such well-known names as Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG.”

July 23 – Wall Street Journal (Lingling Wei and Chao Deng): “China’s government reined in one of its brashest conglomerates with the approval of President Xi Jinping, according to people with knowledge of the action—a mark that the broader government clampdown on large private companies comes right from the top of China’s leadership. The measures, with President Xi’s previously unreported approval last month, bar state-owned banks from making new loans to property giant Dalian Wanda Group to help fuel its foreign expansion. The cutoff in bank financing for the company’s foreign investments highlights Beijing’s changing view of a series of Wanda’s recent overseas acquisitions as irrational and overpriced, these people say.”

July 22 – New York Times (Paul Mozur and Carolyn Zhang): “Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with more than two billion users. LinkedIn was sold to Microsoft for $26 billion last year. And Apple is Apple, the most valuable company in the world. In most local markets, it would be a surprise if any one of these companies were floundering. But in China, the real shock is that their troubles no longer surprise anyone. Just in the past few weeks, Facebook had one of its most popular apps blocked by the Chinese government. LinkedIn… had its local boss step down amid tepid results in the country. And Apple announced a billion-dollar investment to comply with local law as it continued to watch Chinese demand for its iPhones fade. This summer of challenge for the three companies offers a broad illustration of just how varied the obstacles have become for foreign companies in China. They also show in stark terms why this vast market has been frustratingly difficult for outsiders.”

July 25 – Reuters (Ryan Woo, Kevin Yao and Stella Qiu): “All major Chinese enterprises owned by the central government will be turned into limited liability companies or joint-stock firms by the end of the year as part of reforms aimed at overhauling their unwieldy structures. Beijing is trying to revive China's bloated state-owned sector and create ‘bigger and stronger’ conglomerates capable of competing on the global stage. Restructuring state-owned enterprises (SOEs) will separate government administration from management of day-to-day business operations, one step toward greater efficiency.”

Europe Watch:

July 27 – Bloomberg (Alessandro Speciale): “Germany’s grip over the euro area’s financial institutions is getting firmer. With the reappointment… of Werner Hoyer as president of the European Investment Bank, Germany’s hold over three key roles for the region’s economy was reaffirmed. A fourth one -- by far the most important -- could follow. Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann is a frequently mentioned candidate to replace Italy’s Mario Draghi when his term as European Central Bank’s president runs out in October 2019… Further complicating the succession talks will be the large number of European posts coming up for grabs in the next two years, as well as French President’s Emmanuel Macron stated intention of creating a euro-area finance minister.”

July 24 Financial Times (Michael Hunter): “Could zombies be keeping Mario Draghi awake at night? Investors remain highly sensitive to the outlook for the start of the reduction, or tapering, of the European Central Bank’s €60bn monthly stimulus spending. As the scrutiny of the ECB president’s every utterance continues, there is some eye-catching analysis from Bank of America Merrill Lynch on what could be an important factor in his thinking on tapering. It points toward so-called ‘zombie’ companies, or those that depend on ultra-loose monetary policy for credit provision. ‘Although corporate leverage has helpfully declined over the last few years, we still find that 9% of firms have very weak interest coverage metrics in Europe,’ says the bank’s Barnaby Martin, credit strategist. The research defines a zombie company as one with an interest coverage ratio ‘at or below 1 times’ earnings.”

July 25 – Reuters (Paul Carrel and Irene Preisinger): “German business morale hit a record high in July as ‘euphoric’ manufacturers, shrugging off the impact of a strong euro, anticipated a surge in already robust exports from Europe's biggest economy. The Munich-based Ifo economic institute said… its business climate index, based on a monthly survey of some 7,000 firms, hit its third record high in as many months with a rise to 116.0 from 115.2 in June.”

Central Bank Watch:

July 24 – Bloomberg (Tanvir Sandhu): “The European Central Bank has given the green light to summer carry trades as volatility remains contained and the policy meetings in September and October are likely reserved to outline further details on quantitative easing, buying more time for carry, Bloomberg strategist Tanvir Sandhu writes. Italian bonds offer one of the most attractive carry and rolldown across European government bonds, with the five-year bucket three-month carry and roll at 16 bps and one-year at 70 bps. That compares with one-year of 30 bps for 10-year bunds and 42 bps for bonos. Given that carry trades are implicitly short volatility, two-year Italy stands out as the most attractive on a vol-adjusted basis. Since earning the full carry and rolldown assumes an unchanged yield curve, adjusting for volatility will provide a more realistic indicator of profitability.”

Global Bubble Watch:

July 22 – Financial Times (Chris Flood): “Vanguard is closing in on BlackRock’s title as the world’s largest asset manager after pulling in more than $1bn a day of investor money since the start of the year. The two heavyweights of the investment industry are attracting unprecedented inflows into their low-cost exchange traded funds amid rising investor dissatisfaction with the high fees and poor performance of active managers that strive to beat the market. Investors ploughed $215bn into Vanguard’s funds in the first six months of the year, far outpacing new business growth for BlackRock, which pulled in $168bn over the same period.”

July 26 – Financial Times (Eric Platt): “Investor enthusiasm for corporate debt has neared levels not seen since before the start of the credit crisis, in a deepening endorsement of a global economic recovery that has already propelled US stock markets to record heights. In several parts of the US bond markets, companies are now able to raise money at a lower cost, relative to government bonds, than they have for the past decade… ‘This is a continuation of this hunt for yield that you have seen for the last couple of years,’ said Brian Kennedy, a portfolio manager with Loomis Sayles. ‘Between the economic backdrop, lack of yield around the world and the buyers out of Asia and Europe, the investment grade and high-yield markets are the sweet spots for people who want yield.’”

July 23 – Financial Times (Laura Noonan): “The men running two of Wall Street’s biggest banks saw the value of their shareholdings rise by a combined $314m in 2016 as stock market prices rocketed in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election as US president. But while Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein each enjoyed $150m-plus rises in the value of their stock and options in JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, respectively, the average gains for the other 18 best-paid chief executives at international banks last year was $4m.”

July 25 – Reuters (Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Anna Irrera): “Wall Street's main regulator said on Tuesday that initial coin offerings (ICOs), a means of crowdfunding for blockchain technology companies, should be subject to the same safeguards required in traditional securities sales. ICOs have become a bonanza for digital currency entrepreneurs, allowing them to raise millions quickly by creating and selling digital ‘tokens’ with no regulatory oversight. But the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has said that the tokens can be considered securities, and therefore, may need to be registered unless a valid exemption applies.”

Fixed Income Bubble Watch:

July 23 – Financial Times (Attracta Mooney): “Investors piled more than $355bn into bond funds in the first five months of 2017 despite concerns that the fixed-income market is set for an unprecedented shake-up as central banks shift towards normalising monetary policy. The surge of money has put fixed-income funds on course to beat 2016’s full-year inflows of $375bn… The net inflows are already larger than the amount of money invested in fixed income funds over the entire 2013 and 2015. The biggest winners this year include Pimco’s income fund, T Rowe Price’s new income fund that invests in US bonds, and a Vanguard index fund investing in global fixed income. These products have had inflows of between $4bn and $27bn since the start of the year.”

July 23 – Financial Times (Attracta Mooney): “Bob Michele, a bond fund veteran, is more worried than he has ever been. The head of global fixed income at JPMorgan Asset Management, the US fund house, has spent almost four decades investing in bonds. The 57-year-old… is gearing up for the most demanding period of his career. ‘The next 18 months are going to be incredibly challenging. I am not an equity investor, but I can just imagine how equity investors felt in 1999, during the dotcom bubble,’ he says… The Nasdaq Composite, the index, lost 78% of its value in the 18 months after the tech bubble collapsed. Mr Michele, like many fixed-income investors, is acutely worried about how central banks’ retreat from monetary easing will affect the bond market.”

Federal Reserve Watch:

July 25 – Wall Street Journal (Kate Davidson): “President Donald Trump is considering renominating Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve chairwoman but also views his economic adviser Gary Cohn as a top candidate, he told The Wall Street Journal… Mr. Trump reiterated that he thinks Ms. Yellen is doing a good job and he has ‘a lot of respect for her,’ and said she is still in the running to serve a second four-year term as leader of the central bank. But he said he also is considering replacing Ms. Yellen with Mr. Cohn, who became Mr. Trump’s National Economic Council director after a 26-year career at Goldman Sachs…”

July 23 – Reuters (Marius Zaharia): “In September 2015, the U.S. Federal Reserve cited risks from China as a key reason for delaying its first interest rate hike in a decade. A wall of Chinese debt maturing in the next few years could jolt the country back into the U.S. central bank's policy deliberations. Two years ago, it was a collapse in Chinese stocks, a surprise yuan devaluation and shrinking foreign exchange reserves that roiled financial markets that delayed the Fed, but it did raise rates three months later and has tightened further since. Now, some see risks emerging in China's dollar-denominated bonds that could give the Fed greater pause for thought as it raises rates, even as other central banks signal a shift from ultra-easy policy. To be sure, Fed officials have not publicly flagged China's debt as a major risk in their policy discussions. However, debt analysts point to the possibility of another September 2015 moment in which the Fed takes its cues from concerns about China.”

July 23 – Financial Times (Gavyn Davies): “Janet Yellen, in an unusually ebullient mood, suggested last month that there may not be a repeat of the Global Financial Crash (GFC) ‘in our lifetimes’. Given the extreme severity of the GFC, that is perhaps a fairly easy hurdle for the central bankers to clear. As a result of the co-ordinated efforts of Basel III and the Financial Stability Board under Mark Carney, the fault lines in the pre-2008 financial architecture have been largely repaired. A more difficult question is whether the current phase of rising markets, which began in 2009, will end because financial asset prices implode under their own weight. There may not be a complete collapse of the entire financial system this time, but there could still be a very unpleasant bear market for investors to endure. It is clear from the latest Fed minutes that ‘a few’ members of the FOMC are more worried about the risk of financial instability than Chair Yellen, but even they seem reluctant to tighten monetary or prudential policy unless the Fed’s dual mandate, aimed at low inflation and maximum employment, is under threat.”

July 26 – Bloomberg (Craig Torres): “Federal Reserve officials said they would begin running off their $4.5 trillion balance sheet ‘relatively soon’ and left their benchmark policy rate unchanged as they assess progress toward their inflation goal. The start of balance-sheet normalization -- possibly as soon as September -- is another policy milestone in an economic recovery now in its ninth year. The Fed bought trillions of dollars of securities to lower long-term borrowing costs after cutting the main interest rate to zero in December 2008.”

U.S. Bubble Watch:

July 25 – Reuters (Lucia Mutikani): “U.S consumer confidence jumped to a near 16-year high in July amid optimism over the labor market while house prices maintained their upward trend in May, which could boost consumer spending after recent sluggishness… ‘This brightens the outlook for the economy as we enter the second half of the year,’ said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG... ‘We expect Fed officials will continue with their gradual pace of rate hikes secure in the knowledge that a confident consumer means that more spending is on the way.’”

July 26 – Bloomberg (Patricia Laya): “The U.S. housing market is stabilizing near 10-year highs, according to government data Wednesday that showed sales of new homes were slightly less than forecast. Single-family home sales increased 0.8% m/m to 610k annualized pace (est. 615k). Median sales price fell 3.4% y/y to $310,800. Supply of homes crept up to 5.4 months from 5.3 months; 272,000 new houses were on market at end of June.”

July 25 – Bloomberg (Patricia Laya): “Steady price gains in 20 U.S. cities in May indicate that a tight supply of properties paired with increased demand is boosting home values, according… S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller… 20-city property values index increased 5.7% y/y (est. 5.8%). National price gauge advanced 5.6% y/y. An shortage of listings is still behind the rapid appreciation of home prices, particularly in high-demand areas such as Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, where values have surpassed pre-recession peaks.”

July 27 – Wall Street Journal (Michael Wursthorn): “Wall Street brokerages are pushing customers to take out billions of dollars in loans backed by stocks and bonds, a trend that yields lucrative fees for the firms but poses risks for borrowers. Executives at Morgan Stanley earlier this month highlighted these loans to individuals as a big growth area and revenue driver, saying the loans helped expand the bank’s overall wealth lending by about $3.5 billion, or 6%, in the second quarter. On Thursday, Goldman Sachs… took a step toward growing its securities-based lending business through a new partnership with Fidelity Investments. For brokerages, these so-called securities-backed loans have become a reliable source of revenue in the years since the financial crisis as firms have begun moving away from a business model of charging commissions for trading to a system of fees based on assets under management.”

Japan Watch:

July 24 – Bloomberg (Andy Sharp): “Former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba overtook scandal-hit Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as the best person to lead Japan, an opinion poll showed… Ishiba was seen as the most appropriate choice for prime minister by 20.4% of respondents to the poll conducted by the Sankei newspaper and FNN TV network, while 19.7% picked Abe. In a similar survey in December, Ishiba’s 10.9% lagged behind the 34.5% who favored Abe.”

July 25 – Reuters (Tetsushi Kajimoto): “The two new members of the Bank of Japan's policy board said… that the central bank should continue efforts to achieve its 2% inflation goal and it was premature to debate an exit from its massive monetary stimulus. Goushi Kataoka, a 44-year-old former economist… and an advocate of massive money printing, said he wants to see the price goal achieved quickly although he cannot say when that can be. The other new board member, Hitoshi Suzuki, a 63-year-old former deputy president of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ… said it was ‘dangerous’ to markets to debate an exit from the stimulus now.”

EM Bubble Watch:

July 24 – Bloomberg (Natasha Doff): “The rapid growth of a BlackRock Inc. exchange-traded fund that tracks emerging-market debt is causing jitters among investors. The iShares JP Morgan EM Local Government Bond ETF, ticker IEML, has doubled in size this year, mopping up more than $3 billion of inflows as investors reach for average yields as high as 4.72% in developing economies. The risk is that if the carry trade unwinds, as tends to happen eventually, investors could race for the exit all at once and send the fund tumbling.”

July 24 – Wall Street Journal (Carolyn Cui): “Venezuelan bond prices tumbled to their lowest levels of the year as default fears grew following U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to impose sanctions on the country. State-owned oil producer Petróleos de Venezuela SA’s bonds due in November fell 2.9% late in New York trading Monday and have tumbled 7.6% over the past six sessions, now at their lowest levels since December… The government’s bonds due in 2038 were down 10% during the period after falling 4.3% on Monday.”

Leveraged Speculation Watch:

July 26 – Bloomberg (Katia Porzecanski): “Paulson & Co., the investment firm that shot to fame betting on the collapse of the U.S. housing market, is closing its 2-year-old long-short equity fund in an effort to shift strategies after a steep drop in assets. ‘We are re-focusing the funds on our core areas of expertise in merger arbitrage and distressed credit, where our assets have been growing,’ founder John Paulson said in a letter to investors… ‘We thank the long-short team for their efforts on behalf of the company.’”

Geopolitical Watch:

July 26 – Bloomberg (Stepan Kravchenko): “Russia threatened to retaliate against new sanctions passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, saying they made it all but impossible to achieve the Trump administration’s goal of improved relations. The measures push U.S.-Russia ties into uncharted territory and ‘don’t leave room for the normalization of relations’ in the foreseeable future, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said… Hope ‘is dying’ for improved relations because the scale of ‘the anti-Russian consensus in Congress makes dialogue impossible and for a long time,’ Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament, said… Russia should prepare a response to the sanctions that’s ‘painful for the Americans,’ he said.”

July 25 – CNBC (Nyshka Chandran): “The rivalry between India and China is heating up as the heavyweight economies face territorial tensions on both land and sea. A fierce border standoff in Bhutan's Doklam region — triggered by a Chinese road construction project in a disputed area and a Bhutanese request for Indian help — is now entering its second month with soldiers from both sides engaged in skirmishes. But a new confrontation in the relationship is arising as New Delhi is growing concerned about a Chinese naval presence in its own backyard: the Indian Ocean. ‘As the [Doklam] crisis stretches on, China is likely to seek ways to pressure India, both on the border and elsewhere, and this will compound the cycle of competition that is already well underway,’ Shashank Joshi, research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, said…”

July 24 – South China Morning Post (David Barboza): “China… issued its strongest warning yet to India over their month-long border ­dispute, saying Beijing would ­protect its sovereignty ‘at all costs’. Observers believe that China's stepping up of its rhetoric, which came before a high-level security meeting that involves both Chinese and Indian security officials, gives Beijing more bargaining power in the talks with New Delhi. Defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian also said that China planned to strengthen its ‘targeted deployment and exercises’ along the disputed border, and that India should ‘have no ­illusions’ about its military's capabilities or commitment.”

July 24 – Reuters (Michael Martina and Matthew Tostevin): “China’s Foreign Ministry has urged a halt to oil drilling in a disputed part of the South China Sea, where Spanish oil company Repsol had been operating in cooperation with Vietnam. Drilling began in mid-June in Vietnam's Block 136/3… The block lies inside the U-shaped 'nine-dash line' that marks the vast area that China claims in the sea and overlaps what it says are its own oil concessions. Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China had indisputable sovereignty over the Spratly Islands, which China calls the Nansha islands, and jurisdiction over the relevant waters and seabed.”
          Government medicine is evil        
There has been a lot of fascist/Nazi name calling recently, and this has included the health-care debate. When not enough “right-wingers” are intolerant, the Dems even paint swastikas and call themselves Nazis, just to emphasize how intolerant we really are. During the debate leading up to the passage of Obamacare, Barney Frank accused a fellow [...]
          Health care, GOP? Try freedom -- it works!        
OK. I guess my four-step plan to end Obamacare was too difficult for the GOP, so let me make this easier. There is one thing you guys need to do to save medicine and therefore health care for Americans: Restore freedom. It’s really that simple. Sadly, that’s not what you in Congress do. Every move [...]
          4 steps for Trump to undo Obamacare        
The Republican Party now is moving away from repealing Obamacare and is discussing “reform.” Besides being one more step on the road to GOP irrelevancy and displaying feckless disregard for the will of conservative voters, it is impossible to reform a system predicated on theft and false economics. I will leave the legal wrangling to [...]
          Obamacare's damage -- and what to do about it, Part 2        
In Part 1 of this two-part series, I discussed some of the effects of Obamacare to date. Of course, the problems didn’t start with Obamacare, but rather started years ago with the adoption of Medicare. And today’s problems are not just due to Obamacare but the society and nation that embraced it. I don’t wish [...]
          Obamacare's damage -- and what to do about it        
I’m an Iowan, and during the run-up to the caucuses last week, I heard Hillary Clinton on TV speaking to a group of Iowans and exhorting them not to elect someone who would dismantle “successful health-care reform.” “Successful health-care reform”? Mrs. Clinton was speaking to residents in the first state to see their Obamacare exchange [...]
          Obamacare and fascism in America        
Well, the guys in the black robes have chosen statism over freedom once again – Obamacare is upheld in the Supreme Court. How can people be free when they are dependent on the government for their very health? I for one am not surprised at the ruling. After all who benefits? Certainly not you and [...]
          Terrorist Ayers Confesses Sharing Obama's 'Dreams'         
We know ObamaCare was sold on a lie, but what about the Obama presidency itself? Rumors that Obama's violent leftist pal Bill Ayers ghostwrote the memoir that launched his political career may actually be true.
          Revisions Are Always Necessary        
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" If you wonder what I'm eating here today, here's a hint:


Yes indeed, a big ol' plate of crow for Annie the Pessimist!

I'm not literally eating crow. This is just the crow that The Morrigan sent to tell me off for being so snide to the Girl Scouts. If you didn't read my self-pitying diatribe (below), don't bother. It's not a good demonstration of the big, broad, flexible outlook.

My faith in the power of womanhood is restored, or at least greatly improved!

We Americans just witnessed the most despicable and sniveling performance by half of our nation's senators, and we were saved from the worst by two women.

EXHIBIT A: ANGEL TO THE LEFT, ANGEL TO THE RIGHT


The "repeal and replace Obamacare" bill was so bad that the only people made happy by it were ultra-wealthy donors to the Republican party and media outlets run by the same. By all accounts it would have raised premiums and tossed folks off the rolls. It also would have ditched the supremely sensible mandate that everyone, no matter how healthy, have health insurance.

Never mind how ridiculous this legislation was. The old, ugly beast in the photo wanted it done, and so did the many Republicans who have loudly promised to repeal and replace for years while it was super safe for them to do so. Now, with their feet to the fire, they needed to make good on their spurious promises. They needed a WIN!

But on either side of the beast, there are two women who just said no. They were under crushing pressure to adhere to the party line, and they said no. They were warned. They were given an explanation. Nevertheless, they persisted.

It's all well and good to give props to John McCain, who is actually dying, to come in and vote his conscience at the last minute, basically side-stepping that pressure. The ladies, Senators Murkowski and Collins, withstood the pressure. Thereby giving our nation's Girl Scouts a little whiff of what a powerful, brave, and principled woman can do.


The Morrigan approves of these women. No more nonsense, America! We need strong women in positions of power! And, ironically, we are at a place in history where two Republican women stood up for what was right. The Morrigan likes women who don't cave under pressure. She doesn't care what color they wear, or whether they have pins shaped like donkeys or elephants.

This week is Lughnasadh. On Sunday I travel to the Sacred Grove to celebrate first harvest. I will petition the bored gods to reward and lift up two Republican senators who showed that they cared about their people. Our tribe is not a complete mess. Hope still resides in the compassionate heart.
          Dumb and Dumber        

Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents knocked on a door in Southaven. They had a warrant for a Hispanic man who had a criminal record, and they found him. He was living in a house with six other men, all of whom worked at an area restaurant. The other men had no criminal records, and ICE had no warrants for their arrest — in fact, had no idea who they were. But they were brown, so they got taken into custody.

Within 24 hours, all seven men were shipped to a federal prison in rural Louisiana. They didn't get a bail hearing or access to a lawyer before being hauled off. They sit in cells in the middle of nowhere, hoping somehow their case will be taken up by an attorney, somewhere, before they are summarily deported. There have been thousands of cases like this since Attorney General Jeff Sessions unleashed ICE and gave them carte blanche to disrupt our Hispanic communities.

Yeah, I get that there are some of you reading this who'll say, "What part of 'illegal' don't you understand?" To which I say, "What part of 'innocent until proven guilty' do you not understand?" This is not how the American justice system is supposed to work, even for non-citizens.

But these raids — these stakeouts at schools and churches and restaurants, these overnight deportations — are doing what they're designed to do. And that is to demonize and terrify men, women, and children of Hispanic descent.

So, the restaurant where the men worked had to close. The owner is still seeking replacement workers but has had little luck. This, in microcosm, demonstrates a larger problem, one that may at first seem unrelated.

In a new report on the impact of opioids in small town and rural areas, some employers stated that their biggest problem was finding "clean and sober" workers. One in 10 Mississippians is on opioids. Similar numbers abound in other mostly rural states.

Nine rural hospitals have closed in Tennessee in the past couple of years, a number that leads the nation. A study by the Rural Health Reform Policy Research Center says 17 rural Tennessee counties rank in the bottom 10 percent of counties in the country in unemployment, poverty, and per capita income.

In Tennessee, the legislature declined to take advantage of the billions of dollars in Medicaid and Medicare funding that were offered gratis via Obamacare, thereby putting the health of hundreds of thousands of the state's residents — and many of its hospitals — in serious jeopardy, in the name of partisan politics. Meanwhile, in Washington, the Republicans have utterly failed to come up with a plan to fix health care.

So, in sum: We have a huge opioid crisis that is crippling our potential work force, yet we're not funding hospitals in the areas where they are most needed, ensuring more poverty, more addiction, and more unemployment. On the other hand, we're rounding up and sending off thousands of willing workers with no due process, most of whom have lived here for years — building our homes, doing our yardwork and housework, working in our restaurants. It's tough to be an employer if most of your potential blue-collar workers are addicted or are being summarily deported. It's dumb and dumber.

Our priorities and our politics are terribly out of whack right now. Letting partisan politics drive actions on issues such as health care and immigration seldom benefits the general public's welfare. Or much of anything, for that matter.


          By: Derrida        
This analysis is -- on its face -- so laughingly adolescent that it demands ... nay ... screams out ... to be ignored as the unfortunate musings of a cloistered, sexually repressed blowhard. Did you take the handmade brown A&P grocery bag book cover off of your 11th grade Social Studies text before providing this charming little post? As Bugs Bunny was fond of saying, what a maroon. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_Kh7nLplWo<!--begin reply--> <span class="in_response_to">In response to MidnightRacer who said:</span> <div class="replied_to_style">I'll list the cases below. But first to address 2 problems with this legislation. 1. The legislative process as expressly required by the constitution was violated in usurping Article I, Section 7 which states that a bill shall be in the same writing and form which is also to be voted upon (by full members of both) passing from the House to Senate and then signed by the President. If there are changes anywhere along this line, it must return to the House for a vote (pending no changes in the House) by the full members. If voted upon and approved by the full members of the House, then it must be voted upon by the full members of the Senate before the President can sign it. What happen with Obamacare is that, the Senate changed the House version, and instead of having the House voted upon it, the House instead voted on reconciliation (changes that are to happen among leaders of Senate, excluding full members). The Senate then did not vote on this same form, but the bill passed directly, without fulll vote in Senate from House, to the President. Unconstitutional. 2. The Commerce Clause defines federal powers to regulate commerce among, but not within, the states for commerce which transacts across the states. This bill is a creation of a federal individually mandated personal health insurance system, where the feds force all individuals to buy something from a list of corporation it chooses to cover health concerns for individuals – has nothing to do with public safety (as those who compare the privilege of driving and having liability as required by states, not feds). In forcing the people to buy from corporations, who operate on a high profit (higher given $350 billion guarantees from tax payers, and guaranteed customers who cannot walk away from them as in a free market), the federal government creates business, not regulates it, and profits forcibly from an involuntary populace. The cases which the SCOTUS which was found to be unconstitutional, though passed by Congress: Marbury v. Madison McCulloch v. Maryland Gibbons v. Ogden Dred Scott v. Sandford Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (in part)</div><!--end reply-->
          By: MidnightRacer        
I'll list the cases below. But first to address 2 problems with this legislation. 1. The legislative process as expressly required by the constitution was violated in usurping Article I, Section 7 which states that a bill shall be in the same writing and form which is also to be voted upon (by full members of both) passing from the House to Senate and then signed by the President. If there are changes anywhere along this line, it must return to the House for a vote (pending no changes in the House) by the full members. If voted upon and approved by the full members of the House, then it must be voted upon by the full members of the Senate before the President can sign it. What happen with Obamacare is that, the Senate changed the House version, and instead of having the House voted upon it, the House instead voted on reconciliation (changes that are to happen among leaders of Senate, excluding full members). The Senate then did not vote on this same form, but the bill passed directly, without fulll vote in Senate from House, to the President. Unconstitutional. 2. The Commerce Clause defines federal powers to regulate commerce among, but not within, the states for commerce which transacts across the states. This bill is a creation of a federal individually mandated personal health insurance system, where the feds force all individuals to buy something from a list of corporation it chooses to cover health concerns for individuals – has nothing to do with public safety (as those who compare the privilege of driving and having liability as required by states, not feds). In forcing the people to buy from corporations, who operate on a high profit (higher given $350 billion guarantees from tax payers, and guaranteed customers who cannot walk away from them as in a free market), the federal government creates business, not regulates it, and profits forcibly from an involuntary populace. The cases which the SCOTUS which was found to be unconstitutional, though passed by Congress: Marbury v. Madison McCulloch v. Maryland Gibbons v. Ogden Dred Scott v. Sandford Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (in part)
          A couple conservative pieces on health insurance        
One from Philip Klein. And another from Peter Suderman. Both pieces openly acknowledge what the liberal side has been saying for a long time — that Obamacare is a three-legged stool, and that you can’t keep the pre-existing-condition regulations (“guaranteed issue”) without keeping the rest. Klein and Suderman then, fascinatingly, land on conclusions exactly opposite&ellipsis;Read the full post »
          Health-care-debate frustration of the day, Philip Klein-of-the-Washington Examiner edition        
And now, this podcast, namely The Gist with Mike Pesca. Three things Klein says frustrate me: Shelley Moore Capito was pro-Obamacare repeal when Obama was president and her opposition was all talk. Now that she’s got some power over the BCRA, she’s chafing at the reductions in Medicaid. Pesca raises the obvious point that Capito&ellipsis;Read the full post »
          How long should parents wait before getting insurance for their newborns?        
The revised BCRA includes this change to Obamacare’s “Special Enrollment Periods” (SEPs): (4) EXCEPTIONS.—Notwithstanding paragraph (3), a health insurance issuer may not impose a waiting period with respect to the following individuals: (A) A newborn who is enrolled in such coverage within 30 days of the date of birth. … (internal quotation mark omitted) This&ellipsis;Read the full post »
          Some quick hits on health care        
I wanted to quickly discuss two recent posts about health care. First, this tweet is totally correct: This is true. So what about writing a bill that would bring that number down rather than drive it up? https://t.co/bwwxpPdrml — Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) June 27, 2017 Whenever you see that Obamacare fails to cover a certain&ellipsis;Read the full post »
          Trump suggests Senate GOP leader must deliver or step aside        

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump escalated a stunning feud against his top Senate partner Thursday, suggesting Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might have to think about stepping aside if he doesn't deliver on the president's agenda of health care, taxes and infrastructure.

Trump called McConnell's failure to pass an "Obamacare" repeal last month "a disgrace." Asked if McConnell should consider stepping aside or retiring, an outcome some conservatives are openly clamoring for, the president's response was far from a vote of confidence.

"Well I tell you what, if he doesn't get repeal and replace done and if he doesn't get taxes done, meaning cuts and reform, and if he doesn't get a very easy one to get done, infrastructure, if he doesn't get them done, then you can ask me that question," the president told reporters in Bedminster, New Jersery, where he is in the midst of a 17-day golf vacation.

There was no immediate response from McConnell's office.

A sitting president openly turning on a Senate majority leader of his own party in such a fashion is practically unheard of — yet another norm destroyed since Trump's rise on the political scene. And while the fighting words might elate Trump's core supporters, they can only hurt broader Republican efforts to move major legislation this fall on taxes and spending while preparing for congressional elections next year where energized Democrats are rallying to retake the House. Republicans control both chambers, but the Trump factor in many races remains a mystery.

Trump's comments came after he spent two days slamming McConnell over Twitter, writing Thursday morning that after "screaming" about repealing and replacing "Obamacare" for seven years, McConnell "couldn't get it done." Several hours later, the president's tone took a motivational turn as he exhorted, "Mitch, get back to work and put Repeal & Replace, Tax Reform & Cuts and a great Infrastructure Bill on my desk for signing. You can do it!"

The presidential megaphone amplified the McConnell-bashing that's been snaking through conservative media: Breitbart News, Fox News' Sean Hannity and radio host Rush Limbaugh are among those who have vilified the leader after the Senate's failure on health care late last month. They represent a segment of the Republican electorate, including some major donors, who are out to punish what they see as a "do-nothing Congress" that has hampered the president's goals.

McConnell is "a coward who leads from behind," ''spineless," and a lifelong "political animal" of the sort Trump wants to eject from Washington, said Doug Deason, a major donor based in Texas who said he decided months ago not to give money to any Republicans up for re-election next year, unless they can pass Trump's priorities.

Trump and his supporters love such political brawls, and the McConnell flare-up potentially shores up the president's base at a time when it is showing signs of weakening support. But McConnell's supporters saw Trump's moves as counterproductive.

"Virtually any substantial goals that the president intends to achieve, whether it is tax reform or more infrastructure, requires the active assistance of the Senate majority leader," said Michael Steel, who was spokesman to former House Speaker John Boehner.

Even Newt Gingrich, a Trump backer and informal adviser who formerly served as speaker of the House, criticized the dispute.

"You saw Mitch McConnell say something, you saw Trump say something, when it's obviously better for them to learn not to do that," Gingrich said. "They have to work together. Governing is a team sport."

After the failure on health care, McConnell and other Republican leaders, including top White House economic officials, are determined to pivot to overhauling the tax code with the hope of passing cuts by the end of the year. There are numerous daunting challenges to that, but McConnell has made clear he has little interest in revisiting a health care fight he is numerically doomed to lose.

"The leader has spoken repeatedly about the path forward regarding Obamacare repeal and replace on the Senate floor, at media availabilities and in Kentucky," spokesman David Popp said Thursday before Trump's comments suggesting McConnell's eventual exit might become necessary.

Trump, 71, and McConnell, 75, have never been easy allies, even though the senator's wife, Elaine Chao, is the president's transportation secretary. McConnell only met Trump for the first time in 2013, when he made a pilgrimage to Trump Tower in New York to ask the businessman for campaign money.

But McConnell quickly boarded the Trump train once the mogul secured the GOP nomination, and unlike House Speaker Paul Ryan and others, he never wavered. He's paid numerous visits to the White House this year and traveled with Trump in March to Louisville. That Trump rally predated all of Congress' attempts to redo health care, and the president urged the crowd to "be nice" to McConnell.

Fast forward to August, with the Senate on recess after the collapse of the GOP health care bill.

McConnell touched a nerve by telling an audience in his home state that Trump had "not been in this line of work before" and had "excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process."

Brent Bozell, a longtime McConnell detractor and president of the conservative social media group For America, said the Senate leader had made a ridiculous argument that will haunt him.

"By calling President Trump a political neophyte, McConnell is saying that Trump doesn't understand that Congress doesn't keep its promises," Bozell said. "This is exactly why Trump won — to shake up Washington, and that includes Republicans."

And yet, in opening a door he might want to try to shove McConnell out of, Trump once against demonstrated his naivete in Washington's ways. A Senate majority leader is elected by members of his own conference, and McConnell has plenty of support within his, regardless of anything Trump may say about it.

Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, a senior lawmaker and vocal Trump backer, said over Twitter that McConnell "has been the best leader we've had in my time in the Senate, through very tough challenges. I fully support him."

___

AP reporter Jonathan Lemire in Bedminster, New Jersey, contributed to this report.

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FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2017 file photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Ky. listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill Washington. A top White House aide and a Fox News host are criticizing McConnell after the Senate majority leader said people think Congress hasn't achieved anything this year partly because President Donald Trump has created "excessive expectations." (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
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          Trump names ex-McConnell aide to lead energy agency for now        

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday named a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as interim leader of the commission that oversees the U.S. power grid.

Trump elevated Neil Chatterjee, McConnell's longtime energy adviser, to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, for at least the next few weeks.

The appointment came as Trump resumed his taunts of McConnell, the Senate's top Republican, expressing disbelief that McConnell couldn't persuade a GOP majority to pass a health care bill.

"Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn't get it done. Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!" Trump tweeted Thursday.

Hours later, Trump used Twitter to target McConnell again, nudging him to plunge into issues such as tax reform and infrastructure, even though Congress is on recess until after Labor Day.

On energy, Trump is waiting for the McConnell-led Senate to confirm his nomination of Washington lawyer Kevin McIntyre as FERC chairman. Chatterjee, who was sworn in as a commissioner this week, takes over on an interim basis, replacing Democrat Cheryl LaFleur.

Former Pennsylvania utility regulator Robert Powelson was sworn in Thursday as a FERC member, giving the five-member panel a voting quorum for the first time since February. Without a quorum, the agency has been unable to make decisions on natural gas pipelines and other projects worth billions of dollars.

Trump has promised to boost energy production and exports as part of a bid to establish "energy dominance" for the United States, but the FERC vacancies have hobbled the agency's ability to make decisions.

More than a dozen major projects and utility mergers have been in regulatory limbo for months. The projects include the $2 billion Nexus pipeline in Ohio and Michigan; the $1 billion PennEast pipeline in Pennsylvania and New Jersey; and the $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.

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          The Latest: Trump suggests Senate leader should step aside        

WASHINGTON — The Latest on President Donald Trump's criticism of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (all times local):

2:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump is suggesting that the Senate's top Republican should step aside if he can't pass Trump's legislative agenda.

Trump says, "You can ask the question" about whether Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should remain in his position if he cannot pass a plan to repeal and replace health care, change the tax code and move an infrastructure proposal.

The president was speaking briefly to reporters during a 17-day trip to New Jersey and New York City, where he maintains homes.

Trump has been sniping at McConnell for several days on Twitter, a reaction to McConnell's earlier remarks that the president was new to Washington and doesn't realize how difficult it is to pass legislation.

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1:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump clearly has the Senate majority leader on his mind.

For the third time in two days, Trump is using Twitter to tweak Mitch McConnell. In an almost patronizing tone, he's urging the Kentucky Republican to plunge into work on health care and other issues, though Congress is on recess until next month.

Trump tweeted Thursday afternoon, "Mitch, get back to work and put Repeal & Replace, Tax Reform & Cuts and a great Infrastructure Bill on my desk for signing. You can do it!"

The president has also jeered McConnell for last month's defeat of a Republican effort health care bill despite seven years of GOP promises to repeal the Obama health care law.

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11:15 a.m.

The White House says there's "some frustration" with the Senate's top Republican. It's the latest development in a continuing feud between President Donald Trump and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Trump resumed his taunts of McConnell on Thursday, using Twitter to express disbelief that the Senate leader couldn't get Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Asked afterward about Trump's relationship with McConnell, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders says: "You can see the president's tweets. Obviously there's some frustration. I don't have anything more to add."

The president bristled this week after McConnell told an audience that Trump had "not been in this line of work before" and had "excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process."

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8:02 a.m.

President Donald Trump is escalating a feud with his party's leader in the Senate. Trump is expressing disbelief that that Sen. Mitch McConnell couldn't persuade a Republican majority to pass a health care bill.

Trump tweeted Thursday: "Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn't get it done. Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!"

The president bristled this week after McConnell told a crowd in Kentucky that Trump had "not been in this line of work before" and had "excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process."

Trump retorted on Twitter that "Senator Mitch McConnell said I had 'excessive expectations,' but I don't think so."

GOP senators have talked about moving on to other priorities, but Trump has not relented.

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54c64d3f4f154fe3865e77fea1c2b540.jpg

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., flanked by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the Republican Conference chairman, left, and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., laughs as he holds his first news conference since the Republican health care bill collapsed last week due to opposition within the GOP ranks, Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017, on Capitol Hill Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Source: 
AP

          Study says Trump moves trigger health premium jumps for 2018        

WASHINGTON — Actions by the Trump administration are triggering double-digit premium increases on individual health insurance policies purchased by many people, according to a nonpartisan study.

The analysis released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that mixed signals from President Donald Trump have created uncertainty "far outside the norm" and led insurers to seek higher premium increases for 2018 than would otherwise have been the case.

Republicans in Congress have not delivered on their promise to repeal and replace the Obama-era Affordable Care Act. Trump is insisting that lawmakers try again and that the health overhaul is collapsing. At the same time, he's threatened to stop billions of dollars in payments to insurers. Some Republicans are considering fallback measures to stabilize markets.

Kaiser researchers looked at proposed premiums for a benchmark silver plan across major metropolitan areas in 20 states and Washington, D.C. Overall, they found that 15 of those cities will see increases of 10 percent or more next year.

The highest is a 49 percent jump in Wilmington, Delaware. The only decline: a 5 percent reduction in Providence, Rhode Island.

About 10 million people who buy policies through HealthCare.gov and state-run markets are potentially affected, as are 5 million to 7 million more who purchase individual policies on their own.

Those in the government-sponsored markets can dodge the hit with the help of tax credits that most of them qualify for to help pay premiums. But off-marketplace customers pay full freight, and they face a second consecutive year of steep increases. Many are self-employed business owners.

The report found insurer participation in the ACA markets will be lower than at any time since they opened for business in 2014. The average is 4.6 insurers in the states studied, down from 5.1 insurers this year. In many cases insurers do not sell plans in every community in a state.

The researchers analyzed publicly available filings through which insurers justify their proposed premiums to state regulators. Insurers are struggling with sicker-than-expected customers and disappointing enrollment, and an industry tax is expected to add 2 to 3 percentage points to premiums next year.

On top of that, researchers found that mixed signals from the administration account for some of the higher charges. Those could increase before enrollment starts Nov. 1.

"The vast majority of companies in states with detailed rate filings have included some language around the uncertainty, so it is likely that more companies will revise their premiums to reflect uncertainty in the absence of clear answers from Congress or the administration," the report said. Once premiums are set, they're generally in place for a whole year.

Insurers that assumed that Trump would make good on his threat to stop billions in payments to subsidize copayments and deductibles requested additional premium increases ranging from 2 percent to 23 percent, the report found.

Insurers that assumed the IRS under Trump would not enforce unpopular fines on people who remain uninsured requested additional premium increases ranging from 1.2 percent to 20 percent.

"In many cases that means insurers are adding double-digit premium increases on top of what they otherwise would have requested," said Cynthia Cox, a co-author of the Kaiser report. "In many cases, what we are seeing is an additional increase due to the political uncertainty."

That doesn't sound like what Trump promised when he assumed the presidency.

In a Washington Post interview ahead of his inauguration, Trump said, "We're going to have insurance for everybody."

"There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can't pay for it, you don't get it," he added. "That's not going to happen with us."

People covered under President Barack Obama's law "can expect to have great health care," Trump said at the time. "It will be in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better."

But the White House never produced the health care proposal Trump promised. The GOP bills in Congress would have left millions more uninsured, a sobering side-effect that contributed to their political undoing.

The administration sidestepped questions about its own role raised by the Kaiser study.

Spokeswoman Alleigh Marre said rising premiums and dwindling choices predate Trump.

"The Trump administration is committed to repealing and replacing Obamacare and will always be focused on putting patients, families, and doctors, not Washington, in charge of health care," Marre said in a statement.

The turmoil for people who buy individual health insurance stands in sharp contrast to relative calm and stability for the majority of Americans insured through workplace plans. The cost of employer-sponsored coverage is expected to rise about 5 or 6 percent next year, benefits consultants say.

___

This article has been corrected to show that the average number of insurers in the states studied is 5.1 in this year, not 5.7.

___

Associated Press Health Writer Tom Murphy in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

___

Online:

Kaiser report: https://tinyurl.com/ya2yneqj

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FILE - In this July 24, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, and others, speaks about healthcare, in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington. A study by a nonpartisan group says the Trump administration’s own actions are triggering double-digit premium increases on individual health insurance policies purchased by millions of consumers. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
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          Senator suggests John McCain voted against Obamacare repeal because of his brain tumor        

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican, suggested Tuesday that John McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis might have affected his decision to vote against GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“Again, I’m not going to speak for John McCain. You know, he has a brain tumor right now, that vote occurred at 1:30 in the morning — some of that might have factored in,” Johnson said in an interview Tuesday on AM560 Chicago’s Morning Answer, which was published by CNN on Wednesday.

Pressed on whether he thought McCain’s brain tumor affected his judgment, Johnson continued: “Again, I don’t know exactly what — we really thought — and again I don’t want speak for any Senator. I really thought John was going to vote yes to send that to conference at 10:30 at night. By about 1, 1:30, he voted no. So you have talk to John in terms of what was on his mind.”

McCain’s office announced last month that he had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer after doctors discovered a glioblastoma tumor. He returned to Washington, D.C. to cast one of three deciding Republican votes against the GOP health care bill, arguing it “fell short” and would not improve Americans’ health care. He has since returned to Arizona to begin radiation and chemotherapy treatment.

“It is bizarre and deeply unfortunate that Senator Johnson would question the judgment of a colleague and friend,” a spokesperson for McCain said in a statement. “Senator McCain has been very open and clear about the reasons for his vote.”

This article originally appeared on Time.com

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          LISTen: An LISNews.org Program -- Episode #259        

This week's episode presents a news miscellany.

Related links:

Download here (MP3) (Ogg Vorbis) (Free Lossless Audio Codec) (Speex), or subscribe to the podcast (MP3) to have episodes delivered to your media player. We suggest subscribing by way of a service like gpodder.net.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/.


          LISTen: An LISNews.org Program -- Episode #245        

This special edition discusses the current news of revelations of government acquisition of Verizon cell phone customer call records and discusses some software solutions available for preserving privacy.

Related links:

Download here (MP3) (ogg) (FLAC) (Speex), or subscribe to the podcast (MP3) to have episodes delivered to your media player. We suggest subscribing by way of a service like gpodder.net.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/.


          The Truth About Pre-Existing Conditions Under the GOP Bill        

Coming to a Unicef collection box near you, the fly dotted faces of the uninsured and the sad, vacant stares of those with pre-existing conditions who are going to be cornholed by the GOP healthcare plan.  If you were to have read or watched any news on Thursday, or even worse, read Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown's Twatter page, you'd believe that people with heartburn, acne and gout are going to be left to perish on the doorsteps of doctors' offices around the country.  Democrats call the proposed healthcare bill (THAT HAS NOT YET PASSED THE SENATE, BTW) a death warrant for sick women and children.  I guess sick men are all set.  They showed their true colors after the House vote was final when they sang and waved, "Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye." to the other side of the aisle.  Seriously... are these the leaders of our country or the student section at a fukin' high school basketball game?

The top alarmist of them all, Senator Brown, took to Twitter hours after the House vote and gave us his alphabetical list of "pre-existing conditions" that would cause people to pay more money under the new plan.  The list was exhaustive and I seriously doubt Brown even has basic knowledge about half of these conditions.

Example:  Brown put autism on his list.  I would love someone to challenge this dumbass and ask him how exactly is autism treated medically.  In the interest of making the list extra long, he also repeats conditions with different names - i.e. epilepsy and seizures, heartburn and acid reflux.  And what the fuk does he mean by "disabilities?"

Here is his list; the list that the Left is clinging to so as to raise panic in the streets over the new bill.  My snide commentary in red!

AIDS/HIV, acid reflux, acne, ADD, addiction, Alzheimer's/dementia, anemia, aneurysm, angioplasty, anorexia, anxiety, arrhythmia, arthritis, asthma, atrial fibrillation, autism (is not a medical condition, you moron!), bariatric surgery, basal cell carcinoma, bipolar disorder, blood clot, breast cancer, bulimia, bypass surgery, celiac disease, cerebral aneurysm, cerebral embolism (how is the sudden blockage of an artery a pre-existing condition?), cerebral palsy, cerebral thrombosis, cervical cancer, colon cancer, colon polyps, congestive heart failure, COPD, Crohn's disease, cystic fibrosis, DMD, depression, diabetes, disabilities (what the fuk is this???), Down syndrome (again, not a medical diagnosis), eating disorder (bulimia, anorexia?  didn't he already list them), enlarged prostate, epilepsy (see "seizures" later), glaucoma, gout, heart disease, heart murmur, heartburn (ain't covered now, asshole - buy some Tums), hemophilia, hepatitis C, herpes, high cholesterol, hypertension, hysterectomy, kidney disease, kidney stones, kidney transplant (is this different than "organ transplant" - see below), leukemia, lung cancer, lupus, lymphoma, mental health issues (you mean like bipolar, anxiety, depression, OCD, panic disorder, schizophrenia, seasonal affecitve, all of which you already listed?), migraines, MS, muscular dystrophy, narcolepsy, nasal polyps, obesity (???), OCD, organ transplant, osteoporosis, pacemaker, panic disorder, paralysis, paraplegia, Parkinson's disease, pregnancy, restless leg syndrome, schizophrenia, seasonal affective disorder, seizures, sickle cell disease, skin cancer, sleep apnea, sleep disorders, stent, stroke, thyroid issues, tooth disease, tuberculosis, ulcers.

So do you want to know what's REALLY in the bill regarding pre-existing conditions?  Are you interested at all in the layers of protection for people with pre-existing conditions?  Or would you rather just watch Saturday Night Live and listen to Nancy "We Have To Pass It Before We Read It" Pelosi?

1)  The first layer of protection is the Guaranteed Issue - insurers are REQUIRED to sell plans to all eligible applicants, regardless of pre-existing condition.  The 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act addresses that in its creditable coverage section.  So, NO, the new law will not allow people to be denied coverage, regardless of health status.

2)  Yes, the new bill would allow insurers to charge higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions, something that was prohibited through Obamacare.  But states will have to seek an optional "community rating" waiver of that AHCA regulation in order for insurers in that state to charge higher premiums. Those states would need to satisfy certain criteria, including development of a reinsurance program and explain how the waiver would improve that state's health insurance market.  So, if you have a pre-existing condition and live in a state that has not obtained the waiver, you CANNOT be charged more than other people for a new plan when you seek to purchase one.  So take it up with your state, if need be.

3)  Also, if you are insured now and remain continuously insured, you CANNOT be dropped from your plan due to a pre-existing condition.  AND you CANNOT be charged more after developing one.  If you have been covered and want to switch plans, either with a new job or annual enrollment, carriers MUST sell you the plan of your choice at the same price as everyone else, REGARDLESS of your health status.  By the way, this does not matter if you live in a waiver or non-waiver state.

4)  The final layer of protection is for those who are uninsured now AND have a pre-existing condition AND live in a waiver state.  Yep, you can be charged more for your coverage in this instance ONLY.  BUT, the state is required to give you access to their "high risk pool" fund to help you pay for your higher premiums.  At this point, there is $130 billion dollars earmarked for high risk pool funds.

The number of people who fall into this final category of high risk pool protection represents a sliver of the overall population.  When Obamacare was implemented in 2010, it included a 3 year bridge plan that allowed the previously un-insurable with pre-existing conditions to get coverage.  At it's peak, 115,000 people were able to get coverage who previously could not.  Those people needed the help and they got the help.  I am not denying that.  But... given those statistics, it highlights the small percentage of our population.  AND as long as those 115,000 continued with their coverage, they will not be affected by the new bill.


I'm sure this law is not perfect and needs some tweaking.  Afterall, it was written by a bunch of lifer hacks who don't know their ass from their elbow.  BUT....  you should at least know ALL of the facts before you start a GoFundMe page for your acne medication.


          Conservative Review: 20 Ideas to Erase ObamaCare        
The first thing Republicans should do is to stop the government mandate to purchase insurance. It’s incredible that the Obama administration and Democrats forced Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. Conservative Review listed these 20 ideas to crush Obamacare and cure America’s health care crisis: Health care reforms 1. End the medical […]
          Mark Levin on GOP Health Care Bill (3/9/2017)        
Mark Levin 3/9/2017: Paul Ryan is way off on RINOcare; Republicans have blown it on Obamacare repeal! READ MORE: #http://www.marklevinshow.com/2017/03/09/march-9-2017/Filed under: Healthcare, Rinos
          O victorie pe termen lung pentru federalism        
Numai Agatha Christie mai reuseste sa ofere surprize precum cea oferita la sfarsitul saptamanii trecute de Curtea Suprema a Statelor Unite. Asteptata cu sufletul la gura, decizia Curtii in NFIB v. SEBELIUS (pe scurt, Obamacare) este un final pe atat de neasteptat, pe cat de interesant din punct de vedere politic si legal. Desi democratii [...]
          Democrats call for universal health care        
The head of the Democratic National Committee joined Colorado leaders – including Gov.John Hickenlooper – in calling for universal health care and putting forward a united front on health care reform. It’s part of a national bus tour called Drive for Our Lives. The bus is stopping in states where members of Congress, for instance, Sen. Cory Gardner, voted to repeal Obamacare.
          News Buzz: Obamacare Fix and Cholesterol Guidelines        

While support to reduce prison sentences has been growing, Iowa State University sociologist Matt DeLisi recently testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that for certain offenders this would be a mistake. 


          Boehner And McConnell Utterly Fail Discussing Obamacare During Interview (VIDEO)        
Featured Image Credit: Video Screenshot via CBS“This is one of the criticisms that a lot of Americans have, that the Republican Party knows what they are against, but can’t tell us what it’s for.”
          Ferdinand Bardamu on the foolishness of anti-Semitism and anti-anti-Semitism        
Here is some more from Ferdinand Bardamu . Over at In Mala Fide he wrote last year both about the moronic nature of anti-Semitism as well as the intolerant, inquisition-like nature of anti-anti-Semitism. I find Bardamu's remarks of interest since he's clearly on the outside of both these camps. The words and opinions are his -- I think he takes some of his generalizations too far -- but I'm providing them here to give us all perspective. Because he writes well, does not shy away from saying what many will hate him for saying, and since he's made several pertinent observations regarding this whole soap opera (pertinent = observations I have also made myself).

Regarding anti-Semitism Bardamu starts with saying:
Alone among prejudices, anti-Semitism makes total and complete morons out of its adherents. With the notable exceptions of Hunter Wallace and the crew at Occidental Dissent, just about every anti-Semite I’ve read on the Internet is two whips short of a BDSM kit. I think the hysterical, fact-free nature of anti-Semitism is part of the problem. People who hate or distrust blacks/NAMs at least have the facts on their side – Jew-haters have to make stuff up about conspiracies to take control of the world and deracinate white people in order to justify their paranoia. When someone comes along to debunk their idiocy with cold, hard facts, they attack them in the most insane ways possible. This is why I don’t bother arguing about the Jews with anti-Semites – it’s as productive as arguing with Truthers about 9/11.

He then continues to go on at length about Richard Hoste. And there is indeed plenty to be said about the spectacular stupidity of this man. I have probably never encountered anyone as unbelievably moronic as Richard Hoste. There's enough material for a whole seminar about him.

Bardamu continues:

- - - - - - - - -
This allows me to segue into another thing that blasts anti-Semites’ credibility into pieces – their inability to be intellectually consistent when it comes to the Jews. Let’s take the question of Israel as an example. Just about every paleocon Jew-baiter loves to kvetch about how those evil Israelis are war criminals and how they’re violating the human rights of the Palestinians. It’s quite amusing to see the likes of Pat Buchanan and Taki Theodoracopulos, who couldn’t give a shit about the human rights of any other group of darkies on the earth, turn into weepy, bleeding heart liberals when it comes to the Palestinians. I could understand it if the Palestinians were of European extraction, but so far as I can tell, they basically look like garden variety Arabs. From the perspective of a racist, the Palestinians are just another group of sand-niggers, so why do they get so much love from the Jew-haters? Answer: these sand-niggers are a stick with which the anti-Semites can beat the Jews. The Undiscovered Jew brought this issue up at Half Sigma’s recently.

Here is an example he provides of the kind of moronic conspiracy theories that could come out of the Jew obsessed mind:
I don’t want to beat up on [Occidental Dissent] too much, because the bloggers there are smart, rational people (save for that insufferable mangina Matt Parrott/Wikitopian), but their commentariat is batshit insane. Those idiots think that Roissy Chateau is a Jew, Mystery is a Jew, and game is a Jewish strategy to destroy the white race, among other things.

He concludes by saying:
I could go on and on, but you get the point. I find it increasingly difficult to take anti-Semites seriously. While I acknowledge that some Jews have had a deleterious influence on Western culture and society (most notably when it comes to feminism), the idea that the whole of Judaism is united to get whitey is just fucking ludicrous. If the race realists, white nationalists, and other related groups want to gain any political traction, they need to read the crazier Jew-haters out of their ranks. Affiliate yourself with dummies and people will think you’re one too.

Well of course, to Bardamu feminism is what is considered the problem of the highest concern :-)

After this lambasting of anti-Semtism some people expected Bardamu to join the anti-anti-Semitism camp. But nope, not Ferdinand Bardamu. Instead he wrote an article lambasting anti-anti-Semitism:
... I think anti-anti-Semitic hysteria is a growing melanoma on the American body politic. While I’m not fond of the conspiracy-mongering on the anti-Semitic right, I’m not stupid – a group of basement-dwelling losers having a circle jerk on a blog aren’t a threat to anyone but themselves. Jim Giles will not be spearheading the rise of the Fourth Reich from his trailer out in the ass-end of Mississippi. Those lunatics are marginalized and have no influence beyond their social circles, which are only populated with people as crazy as they are. The biggest problem with anti-Semitism of that variety right now is that it threatens to clip the wings of the alternative right.

Anti-anti-Semites on both the left and right, on the other hand, are very powerful and very committed to shouting and shutting down anyone who has a less-than-hagiographic view of the Jews. Anti-anti-Semitism is bolstered beyond the usual minority-loving anti-racist whinging by the semi-unique instance of the Holocaust. Liberals and neocons have spent the past sixty plus years constantly picking at that Holocaust wound in one of the biggest and most ignored examples of scar worship in Western society. The Holocaust cult is so powerful that an entire European nation is forced to self-flagellate constantly for a crime that the majority of its inhabitants had no role in. And anyone who questions the influence Jews have on modern society gets a roundhouse kick in the face from the Foxman-Schlussel-Victimologist crowd: “OMIGOD YOU FILTHY NEO-NAZI SCUM YOU WANT TO STUFF JEWS IN OVENS YOU AWFUL PERSON YOU!”

[...]

... so long as the Jews remain visible minorities in gentile societies, anti-Semitism will persist. It will fluctuate in intensity, but it will never go away. If the anti-anti-Semites really wanted to accomplish their goal, they’d launch a campaign to get every Jew outside of the Holy Land to make aliyah, combined with a political push to get the U.S. government out of Israeli affairs.

The biggest sin of the anti-anti-Semitic crusaders is their insistence on painting all gentiles with the same broad brush. Their worldview is as Manichean as it gets, and doesn’t account for the differing treatments of Jews in various countries and regions of the world. On one end of the spectrum you have Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. [...] On the extreme other end is the U.S., the most philo-Semitic nation that doesn’t have a Star of David in its flag. [...] The anti-anti-Semites don’t care about any of this historical nuance, though – to them, Americans, like all other goyim, are two steps away from arbeit macht frei.

This intolerant, inquisition-like treatment of anyone who criticizes the Jews is problematic because it turns ordinary people into frothing-at-the-mouth Jew-haters over time.

At this point Bardamu mentions the example of Kevin MacDonald, and how Robert Lindsay wrote:
"My theory is that the increasingly vicious and malign Jewish attacks on MacDonald (almost completely specious on intellectual grounds) gradually drove him to anti-Semitism. This is how it works so many times. People start criticizing the Jews. The Jews will brook no criticism not of their own, and since the Holocaust, anyone who says boo about them obviously wants to kill em all, right?"

Bardamu concludes by saying:
As of right now, the anti-anti-Semites are in the seat of power. The marriage of left-wing multiculturalism and Holocaust worship ensure that anyone with an opinion of the Jews that isn’t Abe Foxman-approved will spend the rest of their lives in the shadows. [...] If Kristallnacht comes to America, the Jewish elite will have only themselves to blame for behaving like inquisitors burning heretics at the stake. As I have said before, I write this not to threaten but to warn. (And I bet that despite writing all that, I’ll get some assclown accusing me of being a Nazi within the first hundred comments on this post. Bring on the hate, bitches. I’m ready.)

In a final note he says that he will review Kevin MacDonald's The Culture of Critique. But I have never seen him do that. Was this potato too hot even for Ferdinand Bardamu to deal with?

          Cartoon of the day        
Special mention    Tagged: cartoon, climate change, economy, environment, free market, invisible hand, markets, Obamacare, Republicans, rich, tax cuts, Trumpcare
          Trump and the GOP Are Not Discussing Whether to Let Obamacare Die. They Are Plotting to Kill It        

Dean Baker
Truthout, July 24, 2017

Read More ...


          Obamacare is Only 'Exploding' in Red States        

Dean Baker
The Los Angeles Times, July 13, 2017

Read More ...


          After GOP fails to repeal Obamacare, what’s next for U.S. health care?        
As the late, sultry diva Peggy Lee used to croon: Is that all there is? The Republicans in Washington, after seven years of trying and dozens of faux earlier votes, have failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare, the signature legislation of the previous Democratic administration, persists as the law of the […]
          GOP Dealt Stiff Blow In Senate’s Bid To Repeal ‘Obamacare’        
Dealing a serious blow to President Donald Trump’s agenda, the Senate early Friday rejected a measure to repeal parts of former President Barack Obama’s health care law after a night of high suspense in the U.S. Capitol.
          McCain Making Dramatic Senate Return For Crucial Health Vote        
John McCain will make a dramatic return to the Senate for a make-or-break vote on Republican health care legislation Tuesday just days after getting diagnosed with brain cancer, giving an emotional and arithmetical boost to his party’s reeling effort to repeal Obamacare.
          Displaced Syrian Doctors Awarded Scholarships To Maryland School        
obamacareTwo displaced Syrian doctors have been awarded scholarships to attend the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
    &nb