Monday, July 17, 2017

Another Delay

Via the New York Times:

A top Senate Republican vowed on Sunday to bring the party’s health care bill to a vote as soon as possible, even as detractors said they would use a delay caused by the absence of Senator John McCain to mobilize further opposition to the measure.

“I believe as soon as we have a full contingent of senators, that we’ll have that vote,” the No. 2 Senate Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

But questions emerged Sunday over when that might be. Mr. McCain, 80, had a craniotomy — a procedure in which doctors create an opening in the skull — on Friday to remove a blood clot above his left eye, and he is recovering at home in Arizona. A statement from his office had indicated that he would be out this week, but neurosurgeons not involved with Mr. McCain’s surgery said the recovery period for such a procedure was often longer.

“For most patients, the time to recover from a craniotomy is usually a few weeks,” said Dr. Nrupen Baxi, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

Mr. McCain’s surgeons are not giving interviews. His communications director, Julie Tarallo, said more information would be released when it became available.

Aides to the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said it was unclear how long the delay would last.

There’s a certain level of irony here in that a medical procedure for a senator — who has a really good healthcare plan — is holding up a vote on a healthcare bill that would screw millions of people and more than likely deny them coverage for the emergency that Sen. McCain underwent because it was a pre-existing condition.

In the meantime, you can call your senators and tell them to vote against it.

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 5, 2017

Getting An Earful

Via the Washington Post, GOP senators heard from the folks back home about one issue over the break.

For the 15th year, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) spent July 4 marching through this town of 1,331, a short boat ride away from Canada. She walked and waved, next to marching bands and Shriner-driven lobster boats. Her constituents cheered — and then asked whether she would vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act.

“There was only one issue. That’s unusual. It’s usually a wide range of issues,” Collins said in an interview after the parade. “I heard, over and over again, encouragement for my stand against the current version of the Senate and House health-care bills. People were thanking me, over and over again. ‘Thank you, Susan!’ ‘Stay strong, Susan!’ ”

Collins, whose opposition to the Better Care Reconciliation Act helped derail last week’s plans for a quick vote, is being lobbied to smother it and make Congress start over. Republicans, who skipped the usual committee process in the hopes of passing a bill quickly, are spending the Fourth of July recess fending off protesters, low poll numbers and newspaper front pages that warn of shuttered hospitals and 22 million people being shunted off their insurance. It was a bill, Collins said, that she just couldn’t vote for.

“If you took a blank sheet of paper and said, ‘How could we get a bill that would really hammer Maine,’ this would be it,” said Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who walked ahead of Collins in the parade.

Few Republicans have responded like Collins, who let voters know where to find her. Last month, when Congress broke for the long holiday, just four of the Senate’s 52 Republicans — Collins, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — announced appearances at Fourth of July parades. Just three — Cruz, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) — said they would hold public town hall meetings. All have criticized the bill; three “no” votes would sink it.

Gee, I wonder why they’re holding so few town hall meetings?

Cruz faced something else in McAllen, Tex., a city on the Mexican border that had voted heavily for Hillary Clinton last year. Early Tuesday morning, as Cruz grabbed a microphone, protesters behind a short fence waved signs reading “No Transfer of Wealth 4 Our Health” and “No Repeal, No Medicaid Cuts.” Supporters with Cruz gear tried, in vain, to drown them out.

What’s ironic about this is that most of the Republicans who are making themselves available are facing crowds who are echoing the sentiments and questions that these very Republicans whipped up back in 2009 and 2010 against Obamacare and President Obama.  Then it was “democracy in action”; now it’s just a bunch of “left-wing activists and media.”

As for the bill itself, never underestimate the ability of the GOP leadership to come up with something truly awful that is meant to only attract the “moderates.”

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Keep It Up

Apparently the word is getting out that Trumpcare sucks.

Just 12% of Americans support the Senate Republican health care plan, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds, amid a roiling debate over whether the GOP will deliver on its signature promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

In the survey, taken Saturday through Tuesday, a 53% majority say Congress should either leave the law known as Obamacare alone or work to fix its problems while keeping its framework intact.

The Senate is getting the word from constituents and will hear a lot more this holiday weekend when they go to the 4th of July picnics and parades and are greeted by people like you who will make their feelings known.

Short Takes

Italy may stop ship unloading migrants.

Forty arrested for protesting healthcare bill on Capitol Hill.

U.S. to hold off on further airline laptop bans.

Miami-Dade public schools achieve no “F” schools status.

Arkansas Ten Commandments monument run over.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Going After Their Own

Politico reports that Trumpists have formed a group to attack Republicans who don’t fall in line with the White House policies.

A new campaign by top White House allies targeting the GOP’s most vulnerable senator over health care sends a loud message to those resistant to the Trump agenda: We’re coming after you.

America First Policies, a White House-backed outside group led by the president’s top campaign advisers, has launched a $1 million attack against Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, who on Friday announced that he opposed the Senate’s recently unveiled Obamacare repeal plan.

That included a Twitter and digital ad campaign targeting the senator, including a video that accuses him of “standing with” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a reviled figure in conservative circles.

“Unacceptable,” the video says. “If you’re opposed to this bill, we’re opposed to you.”

America First Policies is set to expand its campaign early this week with TV ads that will go after the Nevada senator.

Oh, goodie.  In-fighting among factions in a political party always works well.  Just ask the Democrats.  Or Leon Trotsky.

The problem is that so far Sen. Heller is disinclined to punch back, which indicates that he’s either afraid of further alienating the White House or he somehow thinks there are more like him who will oppose stupid and evil bills because they’re stupid and evil instead of supporting them so his party can win.  That indicates evidence of conscience, and that’s not allowed in the GOP.

For what it’s worth, my guess is the former rather than the latter.

It’s Worse

It’s even worse than you thought it would be.

Senate Republicans’ bill to erase major parts of the Affordable Care Act would cause an estimated 22 million more Americans to be uninsured by the end of the coming decade — only about a million fewer than similar legislation recently passed by the House, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The forecast issued Monday by Congress’s nonpartisan budget scorekeepers also estimates that the Senate measure, drafted in secret mainly by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and aides, would reduce federal spending by $321 billion by 2026 — compared with $119 billion for the House’s version.

The CBO estimates that two-thirds of the drop in health coverage a decade from now would fall on low-income people who rely on Medicaid. And among the millions now buying private health plans through ACA marketplaces, the biggest losers would roughly parallel the ones under the House’s legislation: The sharpest spike in insurance premiums would fall on middle-aged and somewhat older Americans.

In short: You’re screwed unless you can pay for your health care without insurance thanks to the huge tax cut you’re going to get.  And if you think that’s a great idea, you’re an idiot.

Over to you, Charlie Pierce.

Here’s how to know how much of a sucker you are. If you believe anyone on TV who says this bill is an “improvement” over the House bill, sign over all your property to your nearest sane relative.

If you put credence into the notion that the Senate bill has an upside because of its effect on The Deficit, hire someone to cut your meat for you for the rest of your life. Try to keep in mind the Blog’s First Law of Economics: Fck the deficit. People got no jobs, people got no money.

The only lightheartedness that I’ve gotten out of this is watching Republicans try to explain this clusterfuck on TV.  It’s like they know they’ve strapped a cancer on their genitals and trying to explain that it’s just awesome.  I’m also looking forward to seeing how they get by when they’re voted out of office, lose their employer-paid insurance, and have to find it on their own.  Good luck, sucker.

Monday, June 26, 2017

People Will Die From It

The Republican attempt at a healthcare bill, which is basically a transfer of wealth and service from the poor and sick to the rich will kill people.  That’s not just me saying that.  That’s people who actually study that sort of thing.

The Republican healthcare bill announced on Thursday would cause thousands of Americans to die each year, according to physicians who study government data.

Using national health surveys, doctors and academics have tested whether a lack of health insurance increases the probability of death. Most have concluded that it does.

Of course the Republicans are outraged that they’re being called out on this and are pearl-clutching at the meanness of the people who are speaking the truth. But then you have to remember that these were the people who were silent when their supporters were calling Barack Obama all sorts of things that I won’t repeat because you can Google it.  It’s also nothing new that the Republican hypocrisy and lying is in full flower; it would be a huge event if it wasn’t.

Ironically, the people most likely to be harmed by this bill are the ones who voted for the Republicans, who chanted “Repeal!” at all those rallies, and who got their Rascal scooter for free because of Medicare.  I don’t wish anyone ill or harm, but like the old joke goes, if you mow the lawn in your bare feet and cut off your foot in the lawn mower, don’t come running to me.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

They Don’t Know, Either

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says he will release a “discussion draft” of the GOP “healthcare” bill today.  So far not even people in his party and who were helping write it don’t know what’s in it.

Via Bloomberg:

One of the Senate Republicans charged with negotiating an Obamacare replacement expressed frustration Tuesday with the secret process, saying that even he hasn’t seen the proposal set to be released in two days for a possible floor vote next week.

“I haven’t seen it yet, either,” said Senator Mike Lee of Utah amid complaints by other Republicans that they don’t know what’s in the health-care measure being drafted by their own party’s leaders.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he plans to release a “discussion draft” Thursday and that it will go to the Senate floor for a vote “likely next week.”

A week or so to examine the bill isn’t enough, said Lee in a video posted on his Facebook page. As one of about a dozen members of a health-care working group, he criticized the closely held process of drafting the measure.

“Even though we thought we were going to be in charge of writing a bill within this working group, it’s not being written by us,” Lee said. “It’s apparently being written by a small handful of staffers for members of the Republican leadership in the Senate. So if you’re frustrated by the lack of transparency in this process, I share your frustration. I share it wholeheartedly.”

Mr. Lee isn’t the only one.  At least six other Republicans have publicly stated they have issues with both the bill and the methodology of its creation.  Of course that never stopped them from voting in lockstep.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Monday, June 19, 2017

Short Takes

Victims identified in deadly USS Fitzgerald collision.

Voters in France elect pro-Macron parliament.

Another traffic attack in London.

Casualties and deaths in forest fires in Portugal.

History: Memos show Watergate prosecutors had evidence Nixon plotted violence.

Six experts resign from White House HIV/AIDS panel.

Not a good week as the Tigers sink below .500.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Corrupt Bargain

We know what the Republicans are trying to do with the repeal of Obamacare, and we know they’re going to try to do it while everyone else is distracted by Russia and how and why James Comey was fired.  The newest shiny object is Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III and his toad-like denials of knowledge and complete lack of interest in what went on.

It may be too late to save Obamacare, and Josh Marshall says standing on the rooftops and screaming about it won’t make any difference.  They will do it no matter what.

Rhetorically, politically and in the simplest terms of reality, Republicans know there is no justifying this legislation. The public has already spoken. It is overwhelmingly unpopular. They are trying to do it in the dead of night because they know that. They convict themselves by their actions. Not because those actions violate norms but because they are evidence of knowledge of the underlying wrong. They are trying to slip it past everyone, do it by stealth and have all the details secret until it’s too late. That’s a political crime, a corrupt bargain. That’s the message, with all the rhetorical color that can be added to it. Don’t say that Republicans shouldn’t feel the license to act this way. They can do it if they want and it is entirely in character. Accept their freedom do it and label it for what it is. Adjudicate it at the next election. Make that clear.

Which is his way of saying, “Go ahead, make my day.”  The only thing to do is to repeal and replace every senator and representative who voted to remove twenty-plus million people from healthcare insurance, to bring back the ban on preexisting conditions, to make contraception and women’s health issues a test of religious liberty, and hasten the death of the elderly by essentially removing them from life support or making it so expensive that they just give up.

If the Republicans were proud of this bill, they would be the ones shouting it from the rooftops, not sneaking it through like a hooker into their hotel room.  There would be advocates for it on cable TV with soothing messages of freedom and the sanctity of life.  But they know they’re doing it on the sly because not only is it evil legislation, they know their motives are pure spite: we’ll show that uppity Ni-clang what his legacy really is.

I still think you should call your senator or representative.  But the message should include “we’re on to you.”  Go ahead and vote to repeal.  But while you’re at it, tell your staff to start polishing up their resumes and make plans to spend more time with your family, because you’re going to find out what it’s like to lose your employer-paid healthcare coverage.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Getting Away With Trumpcare

So while we’ve all been watching James Comey and placing bets on who’s going to rat out whom on various Trump doings, the Republicans in the Senate have been quietly working on repealing Obamacare and replacing it with You’re Screwed.

Jonathan Chait:

It’s conventional wisdom that the Russia scandal is a “distraction” from Donald Trump’s agenda, and that what the president and his party really need is to change the subject back to health care and taxes. But their behavior indicates just the opposite. The Russia scandal may be unwelcome, but the distraction happens to be a useful opportunity. Senate Republicans hope to rush their health-care bill into law with the absolute minimum of public scrutiny. Caitlin Owens reports that the bill is likely to be finalized tonight, but will not be made public anytime soon.

“We aren’t stupid,” one GOP aide tells Owens. (Follow-up question: What about evil?)

It is difficult to think of an example of a law in the history of the United States that would have such a deep impact on so many people — millions would find insurance no longer affordable — drafted with so little public input. No hearings, no public examination of the details. Republican senators can claim the secret law is better than the deeply hated House version, but without laying out the trade-offs that allegedly make it so.

In a normal political environment, a scandal is a distraction from a major bill, because major bills get passed by building public consensus. In this case, avoiding the public is the entire strategy. And the crafting of the bill is itself a scandal.

Sen Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is on to them.

Call your senators, regardless of party. Please do it now.

Friday, June 9, 2017

In Other News…

While we’ve all been watching what’s coming out of the Comey hearing and who’s playing slap-and-tickle with the Russians, the GOP has been trying to sneak their stinko healthcare bill through the Senate.

For a day at least, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has his party’s beleaguered efforts to repeal Obamacare back on track.

After two weeks of increasingly dour assessments from Republicans on the party’s stalled health care efforts, Senate Republicans emerged from more than two hours of meeting with a fresh burst of optimism that they could actually pass a bill to repeal and replace the health law.

Sen. Lindsey Graham went into Tuesday’s party lunch predicting that the Republican effort to gut Obamacare was “more likely to fail than not.”

He emerged singing a different tune: The health care overhaul he heard about contains “promising proposals” and he was for holding a vote this month after the Congressional Budget Office weighs in and the party’s idea are put into legislative form.

“Now I say promising, but I don’t know what it looks like legislatively … the key word is promising,” Graham said. “There better be [a vote this month], because this is not like fine wine, it does not get better with age.”

Don’t let them.  Call, write, holler, raise hell, and pass the word along.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

CBO On Trumpcare: 23 Million More SOL

No wonder the Republicans in the House wanted to whoop Trumpcare 2.0 through and send it on to the Senate without waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to tally up the numbers.  They knew what was coming.

Health-care legislation adopted by House Republicans earlier this month would leave 23 million more Americans uninsured by 2026 than under current law, the Congressional Budget Office projected Wednesday — only a million fewer than the estimate for the House’s previous bill.

The nonpartisan agency’s finding, which drew immediate fire from Democrats, patient advocates, health industry officials and some business groups, is likely to complicate Republicans’ push to pass a companion bill in the Senate.

The new score, which reflects last-minute revisions that Republicans made to win over several conservative lawmakers and a handful of moderates, calculates that the American Health Care Act would reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion between 2017 and 2026. That represents a smaller reduction than the $150 billion CBO estimated in late March, largely because House leaders provided more money in their final bill to offset costs for consumers with expensive medical conditions and included language that could translate to greater federal spending on health insurance subsidies.

As GOP senators quickly distanced themselves from the updated numbers, what became apparent is the difficult balancing act congressional leaders face as they seek to rewrite large portions of the Affordable Care Act. Some senators are eager to soften portions of the House bill, including cuts to entitlement programs and provisions that would allow insurers in individual states to offer fewer benefits in their health plans or to charge consumers with costly medical conditions higher premiums.

To give you an idea of just how desperate the GOP is to try to foist this monstrous turd of a bill before the Democrats start running ads hanging the “23 MILLION” number around the neck of every member of Congress with an (R) after their name, they’ve got minions running ads on cable TV here in Florida telling voters to call Congress to support this bomb.

I will be interested — and more than just casually — to see how the Republicans in South Florida explain why it’s good that premiums for the low-income elderly will rise 800%.  No, that’s not a typo.  That’s an 8 followed by two zeros.

The DNC should send Paul Ryan and his gang of granny-starvers a dozen roses and a box of candy.

Monday, May 15, 2017