Friday, February 9, 2018

Shutdown Again

This may all be over by the time the sun comes up today, but for now we have another shutdown.

The Senate passed a sweeping bipartisan spending bill Friday morning, but not before the federal government shut down when Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) delayed the vote past midnight to complain about the budget deficit. It was the second government shutdown in less than three weeks.

The spending legislation passed 71-28, with wide bipartisan support. The bill would reopen the government while showering hundreds of billions of dollars on defense and domestic priorities, speeding disaster aid to hurricane-hit regions, and lifting the federal borrowing limit for a year. But first it must pass the House, where opposition from the left and the right made the outcome uncertain.

House votes were expected later Friday morning.

The shutdown was so unanticipated that the Office of Management and Budget didn’t tell federal agencies to prepare for it until Thursday evening. But depending on House action the closure could end up being brief and having little impact on federal workers and the public.

Or not.  You never know with these flakes.  So we wait and wonder why they get paid as much as they do to do as little as possible.

Update: And we’re back in business, such as it is.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Dream On

Via the Washington Post:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi commandeered the House floor Wednesday for a day-into-night marathon plea to Republicans for action on immigration, casting the fate of young undocumented immigrants in moral terms.

The 77-year-old Pelosi stood for more than eight hours, reading multiple personal stories from “dreamers” and citing Bible passages. Her speech ranked as the longest given by a member of the House of Representatives in at least a century, possibly ever, focusing on an issue that has vexed Democrats for months.

The speech underscored that Democrats lack the leverage they insisted they would have in spending showdowns with Republicans. Pelosi and others repeatedly promised immigration activists and the party base they would force a vote sparing undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation after President Trump rescinded the program in September.

Instead, Democrats’ ineffectiveness has angered those same activists and the voters critical in a midterm election year with control of the House at stake.

Pelosi, who began talking shortly after 10 a.m., sought the same assurances Democrats have gotten in the Senate — the promise of debate on an immigration bill, the one glimmer of hope on an issue that seems to defy resolution.

“Why should we in the House be treated in such a humiliating way when the Republican Senate leader has given that opportunity in a bipartisan way to his membership? What’s wrong? There’s something wrong with this picture,” Pelosi said.

Aides to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said that he intends to allow debate on immigration legislation that is supported by Trump. But when the debate might happen — and what kind of bill Trump can support — is still unclear.

I admire her stamina, her persistence, and her willingness to make the point that as of now, the Democrats are basically powerless in the House to leverage anything out of the Republicans.

The only way to get their way is to be in the majority, so that’s what needs to happen in November.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Must-Not See TV

Given my nocturnal habits and complete lack of interest in the C-SPAN version of reality TV, I’m not going to watch the SOTU tonight, and you can’t make me.

To be fair, I have a tough time watching it no matter who’s delivering it.  I could barely make it through President Obama’s speeches, and I liked them.  It’s not just the late hour — 9 p.m. usually has me turning out the light — it’s that what he was proposing was pearls before swine.  The GOP-led Congress wasn’t going to pass anything he proposed, and his well-written rhetoric was wasted on those clowns.  The post-game analysis by the punditry is an exercise in epigrams, and the only thing worth waiting for is to see if Chris Matthews makes a complete sugared-up fool of himself.  On that he rarely disappoints.

So the TV will be off and I’ll be reading.  The book on my Kindle now is Philip Roth’s excellent “The Plot Against America,” his 2004 alternative look at history as if FDR lost the 1940 election to a nativist isolationist who appealed to the worst instincts of a right-wing racist political base.  It’s not so alternative after all.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

It All Comes Down To Trust

So we have a bill to end the shutdown.  It isn’t perfect; the hard-cores on both sides hate it and there are cries of “Sellout!” and “Sucker!” from the likes of the Tea Party to Code Pink.  That usually means it’s a deal made to end an immediate impasse with promises of goodies for both sides later, neither of whom trust the other to keep their word.

That’s the main question: Do you trust them to keep their word?

Charles P. Pierce just before final passage:

If this bill passes, CHIP will be financed for the next six years, and that’s a very good thing. The military will get its money, and a lot of people will be mollified by that, I guess. (Also, the campaign talking point that the Democrats are stealing money from Our Troops to give it to the various branches of MS-13 is somewhat blunted. Golf clap. They’re going to use it anyway.) And, depending on your relative innate optimism, Schumer and the Democrats didn’t give up much at all but, rather, decided to live to fight in February on funding the government, and to fight on DACA in March. But, for me, McConnell is a rare combination of being ruthless and being truthless, and the House has lost its mind, and the president* has disappeared. And, these days, my innate optimism is not exactly brimming.

What gives me pause is what I saw and heard over the weekend and on Monday. A political party that wants to eliminate entire Cabinet departments defended a president* whose administration* has refused to staff vital positions all over the government by weeping crocodile tears over the plight of furloughed federal employees. And Tailgunner Ted Cruz, cornered in the basement of some Senate office building, insisting that he always has opposed government shutdowns. (I thought Kasie Hunt of MSNBC was going to be orbiting Mars by the time that little episode ended.) The truth is not in these people because, given the nature of their political base, and given the essential political immorality of their donor class, it hasn’t had to be for a very long time.

So, I’m not going to scream, “Sellout!” nor sing “Kumbaya.” I am just going to sum up the state of play in three questions.

Do you trust a promise from Mitch McConnell?

Do you think Paul Ryan can be trusted to control his caucus sufficiently to pass a bill based on a promise from Mitch McConnell?

Do you think the president* can be trusted to sign a bill based on a promise from Mitch McConnell?

Your mileage may certainly vary.

If it gets to February 8 and somehow Mitch McConnell backs out of the deal because he didn’t like the way Elizabeth Warren looked at him in the hallway, or Paul Ryan can’t or doesn’t try to control his caucus, or Trump hears something on Fox and Friends that calls into question the spheroid shape of the planet and he tweets his madness, the government will shut down yet again and this time there’s no way they can plausibly blame it on the Democrats.  (They still will; I said “plausibly,” and that’s an adjective that gets no respect in Washington.)  Then we start this whole thing over again, but it will squarely be on the DACA situation with no extraneous distractions such as military pay or CHIP.

No, I don’t trust Mitch McConnell any further than I can fly to the moon on gossamer wings.  But if this blows up, the turds will be in his punch bowl and the fun part will be seeing how he explains how he can’t trust himself.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Shutdown

Via the Washington Post:

The federal government shut down for the first time in more than four years Friday after senators rejected a temporary spending patch and bipartisan efforts to find an alternative fell short as a midnight deadline came and went.

Republican and Democratic leaders both said they would continue to talk, raising the possibility of a solution over the weekend. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said Friday that the conflict has a “really good chance” of being resolved before government offices open Monday, suggesting that a shutdown’s impacts could be limited.

But the White House drew a hard line immediately after midnight, saying they would not negotiate over a central issue — immigration — until government funding is restored.

“We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators. When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform.”

It seems pretty ironic to blame this on the Democrats since the GOP controls the House, the Senate, and the White House.  And why should the Democrats negotiate with Trump?  After all, the policy has been pretty simple all along: we don’t negotiate with terrorists.

The more the Trump folks try to pin this on the Democrats, the more you know that they know this shit is on them.

So as of now, Saturday, January 20 — the first anniversary of the Trump regime — a lot of people who work in the government are furloughed.  That means sent home without getting paid for the time off.  But it also trickles down to private contractors who get paid for working for the government; everyone from the folks who provide food service to the various departments to the military contractors who are providing material for the Department of Defense.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Looking Back/Looking Forward

Here we go with my annual recap and prognostication for the year.  Let’s see how I did a year ago.

  • I have no earthly idea what will happen with Trump in the White House.  But I can say that for the first time in my life — and I will hit 65 this year — I am frightened both for myself and my country.
  • At some point in 2017 elements of the electorate will realize that they got conned into voting for Trump and that they were played for fools.  The backlash will begin when they find out he can’t follow through on his bullshit promises, and reach a peak when they find out that repealing Obamacare and deporting 11 million people effects them personally.  When it happens, it will not be pretty.

I’m still frightened.  Nothing — not the Mueller investigation, the revelations coming from various sources, or chatter about impeachment or invoking the 25th Amendment — has calmed my fear that he is still capable of doing something that puts us and the rest of the world in peril.  As for the second bullet point, we are seeing faint glimmers that disillusionment is happening in the nooks and crannies of America where he can do no wrong, and no amount of tweeting and bullshit from Fox News can turn around his dismal approval numbers.  But that just means that fully 1/3 of the electorate still approve of him.  Even his failures — Obamacare yet survives and the deportations haven’t happened — haven’t dimmed the hopes of the dim.

  • There will be a downturn in the economy thanks to the cyclical nature of economics and the instability in the market by the Twitter-In-Chief. He will, of course, blame it on Barack Obama.

Obviously I’m not an economist because if I was I would have known that the economy lags behind and the continued growth and low unemployment rate are a result of Obama’s policies.  Of course Trump is taking credit for it.

  • A year from now the Syrian civil war will still be dragging on.  ISIS will still be a factor, and if Trump does what he says he will do with the Iran nuclear deal, expect to see them re-start their nuclear program.  “Dr. Strangelove” will be seen by historians as a documentary.
  • The refugee crisis will continue and fester once nativists and right-wing elements win majorities in western European countries.

The Syrian civil war goes on but it’s not dominating the news cycles, and ISIS is a lessening factor.  I don’t know if it’s sheer exhaustion.  The refugee crisis goes on but with a lesser magnitude.

  • Our diplomatic thaw with Cuba will freeze as the attempts to end the blockade will not get through Congress. Only until Trump gets permission to open a casino in Varadero Beach will there be any progress.

Trump rescinded some of the Obama administration’s changes in our relations with Cuba but not enough to return us to Cold War status.  The blockade, such as it is, enters its 57th year.

  • Violence against our fellow citizens will continue and take on a more xenophobic tone as the white supremacists think they are now in control. The attorney general will do nothing to put an end to it because, in his words, “they had it coming.”

Charlottesville and Trump’s tacit support of the Nazis proved that to be true, more’s the pity.

  • We will lose the requisite number of celebrities and friends as life goes on. 2016 was an especially painful year. As I always say, it’s important to cherish them while they are with us.

I lost two uncles and a nephew since I wrote that.

  • The Tigers will finish second in their division.

They traded Justin Verlander.  Yeah, he helped the Astros win the World Series, but…

Okay, now on to predictions.

  • There will be indictments at a very high level in the administration as the Mueller investigation rumbles on.  Plea bargains and deals will be made and revelations will come forth, and by summer there will be genuine questions about whether or not the administration will survive.  But there won’t be a move to impeach Trump as long as there are Republican majorities in the Congress, and invoking the 25th Amendment is a non-starter.
  • The Democrats will make great gains in the mid-term elections in November.  This is a safe bet because the party out of power usually does in the first mid-term of new president.  The Democrats will take back the Senate and narrow the gap in the House to the point that Speaker Paul Ryan with either quit or be so powerless that he’s just hanging around to collect pension points.  (No, he will not lose his re-election bid.)
  • There will be a vacancy on the Supreme Court, but it won’t happen until after the mid-terms and Trump’s appointment will flail as the Democrats in the Senate block the confirmation on the grounds that the next president gets to choose the replacement.
  • There will be irrefutable proof that the Russians not only meddled in the 2016 U.S. election, but they’ve had a hand in elections in Europe as well and will be a factor in the U.S. mid-terms.  Vladimir Putin will be re-elected, of course.
  • Raul Castro will figure out a way to still run Cuba even if he steps down as president, and there will be no lessening of the authoritarian rule.
  • The U.S. economy will continue to grow, but there will be dark clouds on the horizon as the deficit grows thanks to the giveaways in the GOP tax bill.  If the GOP engineers cuts to entitlement programs and the number of uninsured for healthcare increases, the strain on the economy will be too much.
  • This “America First” foreign policy will backfire.  All it does is tell our allies “You’re on your own.”  If we ever need them, they’re more likely to turn their backs on us.
  • The white supremacist movement will not abate.  Count on seeing more violence against minorities and more mass shootings.
  • A viable Democratic candidate will emerge as a major contender for the 2020 election, and it will most likely be a woman.  Sen. Elizabeth Warren is considered to be the default, but I wouldn’t rule out Sen. Kamala Harris of California or Sen. Kristen Gillibrand of New York just yet.  (Sen. Gillibrand would drive Trump even further around the bend.  She was appointed to the Senate to fill Hillary Clinton’s seat when she became Secretary of State in 2009.)
  • On a personal level, this will be a busy year for my work in theatre with a full production of “All Together Now” opening in March and several other works out there for consideration.  I will also be entering my last full year of employment in my present job (retirement happens in August 2019) but I’ll keep working.
  • People and fads we never heard about will have their fifteen minutes.
  • I’ll do this again next year.

Okay, friends; it’s your turn.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Make Them Pay

Now that the Republicans have passed their massive — $1.5 trillion in deficit increase can only be described as massive — tax bill, the vow among a lot of Democrats has been to make the GOP pay for this highway robbery and con game at the polls in 2018 and 2020.

But that won’t happen by itself.  We have seen all too often how inertia and propaganda have paralyzed organized opposition from the Democrats who have enough trouble among themselves to get their shit together to mount a campaign.  The fact that Doug Jones won in the special election is great, but that he won by less than ten points against an alleged child molester and a proven Constitutional scofflaw means that they still have a lot of hard work to do.

The Republicans will mount a rabid defense of the indefensible, using every means possible to suppress the vote, demonize the candidates, put the fear of Jesus in the hands of the paid-off preachers and religious hypocrites, and channel it all through Fox News at a rate that would make Josef Goebbels blush with pride.  And the response from the Democrats and progressives must be swift, organized, and merciless.  No Republican should go unchallenged for any seat in Congress, no district should be considered safe, and no state legislature should be unchallenged in their attempts to gerrymander the state into being held hostage by 35% of the popular vote.

Can Democrats and progressives do it?  Can they elect enough of their kind to put an end to this regime of smug kleptocracy?  They’ve done it in fits and starts in the past, but in the face of this boorish and brazen incompetence and possible treason, the hard truth is that if they cannot, then they don’t deserve to win.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Ryan Game

The only way I see Paul Ryan resigning is if he can’t keep the GOP base happy and can’t pass the Republican agenda.  That’s pretty much what happened to his predecessor John Boehner.

So far Speaker Ryan has been unable to do either, but he’s not going to give up just yet.  He’s going to wait until the Democrats take back one or both Houses of Congress in 2018 or until the entire Trump administration collapses and he’s next in line for presidential succession.

Brave Sir Marco – Updated

Via the Washington Post:

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) threatened Thursday to vote against Republicans’ $1.5 trillion tax overhaul unless it further expands a child tax credit to millions of working families, leaving GOP leaders searching for answers on a final deal that had appeared to be on the verge of sailing through the House and Senate.

Rubio, along with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), wants Republican leaders to include the expansion as they reconcile separate tax measures passed by the House and Senate, working to craft a final compromise bill that could pass both chambers and be sent President Trump for his signature.

GOP leaders had said Wednesday they believed that they had reached a broad agreement that both chambers could pass, and they planned to unveil the package Friday morning with hopes of voting on it early next week. But opposition from Rubio and perhaps Lee — who has not yet decided whether to support the bill, a spokesman said Thursday — could delay or derail the tax effort.

Mr. Rubio will hold out just long enough to get the headlines and the attention that he craves before he caves.  The leadership will come up with some token concession — a few million here, a maybe a little cut there — and he’ll be on board.  This is how the game is played, and he knows it.

Marco Rubio used to be the darling — the “Republican Savior,” as Time magazine once profiled him — of the establishment GOP; the next gen of the GOP that would take them out of the Bush era and into the bright sunlight of real 21st century conservatism: anti-choice and pro-gun but hip enough to have gay friends and quote hip-hop.  Then Trump came along and trashed the joint and took with them Mr. Rubio’s Oval Office aspirations along with demeaning him like a schoolyard bully.  He tried to quit the whole thing in a huff, saying he hated being in the Senate anyway and it was all a waste of time.  But then the realization that being the used car manager for Norman Braman in Miami — even if they were pre-owned Rolls Royces — would be too much of an ego deflater, so he promptly switched back to running for re-election.  Because Florida has no visible Democratic Party mechanism, he kept his seat.

Now he needs some way of getting atop the heap again so he can make a plausible run in 2020 against the wreckage of what’s left of Trump, and a commercial intoning, “He stood up against the tide of tax reform that threatened little children” is just what he needs to get another fifteen minutes.

He’s going to vote for the bill pretty much as it is.  He was going to all along.

Update: Told you.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Franken Sense

Via the Minneapolis StarTribune:

– Democratic Party leaders united Wednesday in calling for Sen. Al Franken to resign from the U.S. Senate, an extraordinary rebuke to the Minnesota Democrat as he faced a new allegation of sexual harassment.

Franken planned to make an announcement about his future Thursday morning on the Senate floor. A top Democratic official told the Star Tribune that Franken planned to resign, but the senator’s staff insisted no final decision had been made.

It was clear that Franken’s political career was hanging by a thread, as a wave of Democrats throughout the day — first female senators, followed by many male colleagues and then other party leaders, said it was time for him to step down from the seat he’s held since 2009.

“I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve,” New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the first of Franken’s Democratic colleagues to come out against him, posted on Facebook.

If Franken resigns, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton will appoint a temporary replacement. A high-ranking Democratic source told the Star Tribune that the likeliest replacement is Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, a close Dayton ally who would not be expected to run for the seat in an ensuing special election in November 2018. Dayton is expected to move quickly if Franken resigns.

I’m not going to pile on Sen. Franken about his behavior.  No one — least of all Mr. Franken himself — has made excuses, called it “fake news,” or denied it.  He’s apologized sincerely many times over, and not tried to say that because he has made an attempt to make amends, he should stay in office.  Sometimes the amends include giving up, and it looks like he’s doing it.

But he’s also being used as the bargaining chip in a political battle to claim the moral high ground against the Republicans, Trump, and Roy Moore in Alabama.  In order for the Democrats to have a clean road to campaign against Mr. Moore and his history, the Democrats have to show that they won’t tolerate bad — or possibly criminal — conduct from anyone, including a popular and well-liked figure such as Mr. Franken.

I’ve been around long enough to know that this is how the game is played.  It’s not exactly “House of Cards” (although the irony of Kevin Spacey losing the gig because he’s a sexual predator proves that karma can be a drama queen) nor “Game of Thrones” because there be no dragons here, but moving the pieces on the chessboard requires a willingness to give up a knight to protect the king.  It makes sense politically.  The one thing I’m not sure of is how well it serves the people of Minnesota, but that calculus seems to be only a minor factor in the strategy.

The hard truth is that it may all be for naught.  The race in Alabama is still too close to call, and if Roy Moore wins, the only thing it will prove is that the Democrats are willing to sacrifice in order to demonstrate their scruples while the Republicans are all too happy to show they have none and win anyway.  And we knew that long before the pictures came out.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Something Rotten

Paul Krugman on the GOP tax bill:

…this whole process involves a level of bad faith we haven’t seen in U.S. politics since the days when defenders of slavery physically assaulted their political foes on the Senate floor.

There are two further things worth pointing out about this moral rot.

First, it is not, at a fundamental level, a story about Donald Trump, bad as he is: The rot pervades the whole Republican Party. Some details of the legislation do look custom-designed to benefit the Trump family, but both the broad outlines and the fraudulence of the sales effort would have been pretty much the same under any Republican president.

Second, the rot is wide as well as deep.

I’m not just talking about Republican politicians, although the tax debate should dispel any remaining illusions about their motives: Just about every G.O.P. member of Congress, including the sainted John McCain, is willing to put partisan loyalty above principle, voting for what they have to know is terrible and irresponsible legislation. The point, however, is that the epidemic of bad faith extends well beyond elected or appointed officials.

It was remarkable, for example, to see a group of Republican-leaning economists with serious professional credentials put out an open letter clearly intended to lend aid and comfort to Mnuchinesque promises of miraculous growth. True, they didn’t explicitly claim that tax cuts would pay for themselves. But they didn’t clearly state that they wouldn’t, either, leaving Mnuchin free to claim — as they have to have known he would — that the letter vindicated his position.

The Republicans are so desperate to pass something — anything — that they will ram this through without knowing what’s in it.  And in its present form, the deficit will hit $1 trillion by 2026.  There’s a last-minute rush to try to prevent that from happening, but dollars to donuts, the bill will remain in roughly its present form and screw over the people who voted these jokers into office.

But what do they care?  By the time the shit hits the fan they will either be dead or lobbying — same thing — and the fundamental damage will be done, all for the sake of having something to brag about on Fox and Friends.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Monday, July 31, 2017

Other Priorities

I am sure that the Republicans and Trump will try again and again to kill off Obamacare, but the voters are done messing with it, according to Reuters.

A majority of Americans are ready to move on from healthcare reform at this point after the U.S. Senate’s effort to dismantle Obamacare failed on Friday, according to an exclusive Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Saturday.

Nearly two-thirds of the country wants to either keep or modify the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, and a majority of Americans want Congress to turn its attention to other priorities, the survey found.

[…]

The July 28-29 poll of more than 1,130 Americans, conducted after the Republican-led effort collapsed in the Senate, found that 64 percent said they wanted to keep Obamacare, either “entirely as is” or after fixing “problem areas.” That is up from 54 percent in January.

The survey found that support for the law still runs along party lines, with nine out of 10 Democrats and just three out of 10 Republicans saying they wanted to keep or modify Obamacare.

The only problem with Congress turning its attention to other priorities is that they will probably make as much of a mess of them as they did of healthcare.  The budget will be worse, the infrastructure will continue to crumble, and the only thing that they might pull off is tax “reform,” which to the majority party means nobody pays for anything.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Once More, They Failed

Via the Washington Post:

Senate Republicans suffered a dramatic failure early Friday in their bid to advance a scaled-back plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, throwing into question whether they can actually repeal the 2010 health law.

Their latest effort to redraw the ACA failed after Sen. John McCain’s decision to side with two other Republicans against President Trump and GOP leaders. The Arizona Republican, diagnosed with brain cancer last week, returned to Washington on Tuesday and delivered a stirring address calling for a bipartisan approach to overhauling the ACA, while criticizing the process that produced the current legislation.

It was a speech that laid the groundwork for Friday’s dramatic vote.

The vote was 49 to 51 — all 48 members of the Democratic caucus joined with McCain and Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to block the legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had hoped to approve the new, narrower rewrite of the health law at some point Friday, after facing dozens of amendments from Democrats. But the GOP defections left McConnell without a clear path forward.

“Our only regret is that we didn’t achieve what we hoped to accomplish,” McConnell said after the failed vote. In a dejected tone, he pulled the entire legislation from consideration and set up votes on nominations that will begin Monday.

“It is time to move on,” McConnell said, culminating a nearly 75-minute set of roll calls. In a last-minute rescue bid, Vice President Pence — there to be the tie-breaking vote if needed — stood at McCain’s desk for 21 minutes cajoling the senator to no avail.

McCain and Pence then walked to the Republican cloak room to confer in private and later to the lobby off the Senate chamber. When McCain returned — without Pence — he stopped in the well of the chamber, cast his “no” vote — sparking stunned gasps and some applause — and returned to his seat.

McConnell and his leadership deputies stood watching, grim-faced and despondent.

Thank you, Sens. Murkowski and Collins.  A little bit of Shakespearean irony in the face of the pussy-grabber.  Oh, and Sen. McCain, thank you, too, but it all could have been avoided if you had voted No earlier this week.  But I guess we all need a little Thursday night/Friday morning drama, right?

As for Mitch McConnell, you earned the grim-face and despondency.  Get used to it, you tortoise-faced putz.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Dead Again, For Now

The current attempt by the GOP to repeal Obamacare appears to be heading to oblivion.  Via the Washington Post:

Two more Senate Republicans have declared their opposition to the latest plan to overhaul the nation’s health-care system, potentially ending a months-long effort to make good on a GOP promise that has defined the party for nearly a decade and been a top priority for President Trump.

Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and Jerry Moran (Kan.) issued statements declaring that they would not vote for the revamped measure. The sudden breaks by Lee, a staunch conservative, and Moran, an ally of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), rocked the GOP leadership and effectively closed what already had been an increasingly narrow path to passage for the bill.

They joined Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Susan Collins (Maine), who also oppose it. With just 52 seats, Republicans can afford to lose only two votes to pass their proposed rewrite of the Affordable Care Act. All 46 Democrats and two independents are expected to vote against it.

Republicans, who have made rallying cries against President Barack Obama’s 2010 health-care law a pillar of the party’s identity, may be forced to grapple with the law’s shift from a perennial GOP target to an accepted, even popular, provider of services and funding in many states, which could make further repeal revivals difficult.

Meanwhile, Trump and other Republicans will confront a Republican base that, despite fervent support for the president, still seeks a smaller federal government and fewer regulations.

I wouldn’t break out the champagne just yet.  We’ve heard this death knell before.  Back in March Speaker Paul Ryan woefully predicted that Obamacare was here to stay “for the foreseeable future” only to have it rise zombie-like in May.  But at least now the majority of Americans who care about such things as insurance that covers pre-existing conditions and being able to live without bankrupting their future have seen what the Republicans want to do: give the rich people an enormous tax break and let the poor fend for themselves.

Three of the four senators who have announced their opposition to the bill said they were against it because it didn’t go far enough in repealing Obamacare; they’d like to get back to the old way of doing healthcare, which was somewhere between the Edgar Allen Poe and Charles Dickens view of the world.  At least Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) brought up the fact that it caused harm to poor people, so I guess she’s the lone voice out there for sanity, sparing the quavering and wavering from “moderates” in the party such as Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), who faces both real and imagined threats to his job and future, from having to take a stand this time.

So for now we can enjoy a little schadenfreude over Mitch McConnell’s much-vaunted ability to get things done and wait to see what they come up with next to try, for real this time, to knock millions of Americans off health insurance, close rural hospitals, deny coverage for pregnancy complications because having a baby is preventable (unless, of course, you get treated by Planned Parenthood), and let insurance companies deny claims because anything beyond leeches and chicken bones is experimental.

But keep those phone numbers handy.  It will be back.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Second Verse, Same As The First

David Anderson at Balloon Juice reviews the GOP’s latest version of their attempt to kill off the poor people.

The biggest and only important news is that there is fundamentally nothing different with Medicaid. It is still being destroyed. It won’t be destroyed as quickly in Louisiana in this version as it would have in the previous versions, but Medicaid will see a 25% reduction in federal funding by 2025 and 35% reduction in annual federal funding by 2036.

Everything else is a detail. There is an Alaska pay-off for more state stabilization funds. There is a provision for Florida.

There is the Cruz amendment.

Regarding the Cruz amendment, I just can’t deal with it. It is not exasperation, it is an incomprehension as to how this amendment actually works on any level without a fractured market. Maybe that is the entire point of the amendment.

The Cruz amendment would offer a bare-bones insurance plan with basically nothing to it as long as their was a plan available that had all the provisions of Obamacare: your choice.  It’s like going in to buy a car and being given the choice of a new convertible or a pair of roller skates.  Hey, they both have wheels and you’ll feel the wind in your hair, but best of all, freedom to choose!

This bill has as much chance of passing as the last one, so the only reason they’re trotting it out is so they can say they did and blame the Democrats for obstruction.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Wednesday, July 12, 2017