Thursday, July 20, 2017

32 Million

That’s the new number, according to the CBO, of how many more people would lose health insurance if Congress just plain repealed Obamacare.

The legislation, which was posted shortly before the CBO released its score, tracks closely with a bill that Congress passed and then-President Barack Obama vetoed in early 2016.

The CBO report also said that premiums would double by 2026 under the Senate legislation, which eliminates the Affordable Care Act’s taxes, insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion, but keeps its regulatory regime in place.

The repeal of the subsidies and expansion would go into effect in 2020, while the elimination of individual mandate would take place right away.

That is roughly 10% of the U.S. population, and that’s 32 million on top of the current number of how many people are going without it now, which is about 11%.  So if that bill were to pass, we’d have somewhere around 20% of the nation uninsured.

What’s worse is the instability in the market; all this dithering by Congress and the right-wing nutsery to get rid of anything to do with Obamacare is driving insurers out of the health coverage business.  The CBO predicts that by 2026, three out of four Americans will be living in an area with no insurers.

In other words, you’d get better health coverage in Bangladesh than here.  Not to pick on Bangladesh, but if that poor country can provide better care for its citizens, why can’t we?

On The Hook

This explains a lot.

Financial records filed last year in the secretive tax haven of Cyprus, where Paul J. Manafort kept bank accounts during his years working in Ukraine and investing with a Russian oligarch, indicate that he had been in debt to pro-Russia interests by as much as $17 million before he joined Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign in March 2016.

The money appears to have been owed by shell companies connected to Mr. Manafort’s business activities in Ukraine when he worked as a consultant to the pro-Russia Party of Regions. The Cyprus documents obtained by The New York Times include audited financial statements for the companies, which were part of a complex web of more than a dozen entities that transferred millions of dollars among them in the form of loans, payments and fees.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this is the same reason Trump is adamant about not releasing his tax returns; he’s probably on the hook to the same gang for a lot more, and they’ve got him.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Not In Kansas Anymore

Let’s learn a lesson from the Great Experiment with voodoo economics in Kansas.

Since 2013, the national job growth rate has been 7.6 percent but it has only been 3.5 percent in Kansas. There are 34 hospitals in the state that are now at risk of going out of business. Both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have downgraded its credit rating, increasing their cost of borrowing. Public schools are so short of money that two districts were compelled to end their year early. Brownback found himself so desperate for operating capital that he looted the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System and slashed funding for the state’s transportation system.

In short, things got so bad that the Republican-dominated legislature overrode Brownback’s veto and passed a budget that, among other things, rolled back his tax cuts and provided more funding for schools.

The Democrats should not ignore these results. They should study them and they should figure out a way to highlight them relentlessly so that as many people as possible internalize the lessons. No people should have to endure what the people of Kansas have endured if it can be avoided. Republican office seekers will continue to assure us that the best way to raise revenue is to ask for less of it and that exempting businesses and limited liability corporations from taxation will lead to job growth. They’ll continue to starve education budgets with talk about providing choice, and they won’t stop attacking Medicaid even as it results in devastation for the health care system. But we can point, in all these cases, to Sam Brownback and Kansas.

We can say that we tried all that and here is how it turned out.

We are seeing the same attempt at this magical thinking here in Florida with Gov. Rick Scott and a state legislature that thinks cutting taxes and privatizing public facilities like prisons and schools will be our way to prosperity.  The advantage Florida has over Kansas is that it’s a global tourist destination until the sea levels rise up and Orlando becomes a coastal city.  (But not to worry; if you don’t say the words “climate change,” it won’t happen.)

The conservatives who think like Gov. Brownback and Gov. Scott will tell you the reason the Kansas experiment failed is that it didn’t go far enough; when the true test came, the lily-livered moderates caved to reality and wouldn’t go on with draining the state dry of any kind of tax revenue and hindering real growth which can only happen when everybody keeps what they earn.  And the kids get two extra months of summer vacation.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

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

Perfectly Legit

I’m sure there’s nothing at all suspicious about a bank in Germany loaning the Republican candidate’s son-in-law more than a quarter of a billion dollars a month before the election.  After all, no one thought Trump would win, right?  So what’s a friendly transaction for real estate in New York going to matter?  The fact that the bank was negotiating a settlement on federal fraud and Russian money-laundering charges is just a coincidence, right?

We don’t know, but I think Special Counsel Robert Mueller is going to look into it.

Here’s the thing: the actual crime, if there is one, isn’t as big as the attempts to cover it up; that’s practically an axiom in the scandal business.  So if someone goes to jail or ends up paying a huge fine, it’s not because of that; it’s because they tried to hide it from the people who had the right to know what was going on.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Friday, June 9, 2017

Friday, June 2, 2017

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.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Short Takes

U.K. terror threat raised to “critical” following Manchester bombing.

Ex-C.I.A Director John Brennan said there is good reason to inquire into Trump/Russia connection.

Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenas more documents from Flynn.

Fox News retracts nut-job Clinton conspiracy story.

Trump budget breaks 7 campaign promises.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Even The Russians Aren’t Buying His Budget Bullshit

The budget proposal put out by Trump is so fraught with lies, wishful thinking, and cuts to entitlement programs (which many fervent Trump supporters depend on) that even a Russian media outlet isn’t buying it.

So it has come to this: A Russian government-funded propaganda outfit schooling the Trump administration on the cruelty of its proposed federal budget.

Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s budget director, unveiled Trump’s ghastly 2018 budget proposal Monday afternoon in the White House briefing room, and one point of pride was that it proposed that the child-care tax credit and the earned-income tax credit — benefits for working families — be denied to illegal immigrants. “It’s not right when you look at it from the perspective of people who pay the taxes,” Mulvaney declared.

But Andrew Feinberg, a reporter with Russia’s Sputnik news outfit, pointed out that many of the children who would be cut off under Trump’s proposal are U.S. citizens. “Whether they’re here illegally or not,” Feinberg noted, “those families have American-citizen children.”

Mulvaney, who probably didn’t know he was being interrogated by Sputnik, argued back, saying that Feinberg wasn’t duly considering taxpayers and that “we have all kinds of other programs” for poor kids.

At this, another reporter in the room interjected: “You’re cutting that, too.”

[…]

The budget claims it balances the budget over a decade without touching Social Security and Medicare, while spending more on national security, the border, infrastructure and more.

How? The budget would eviscerate aid to the poor, and it makes preposterous assumptions about future growth. In other words — a cruelty wrapped in a lie. Mulvaney on Monday acknowledged it’s a “fair point” that Congress will ignore the proposal. But this outrage deserves attention.

Trump, who once vowed “no cuts” to Medicaid, would now cut Medicaid by more than $800 billion, denying support to 10 million people. He lops a total of $1.7 trillion off that and similar programs, including food stamps, school lunches and Habitat for Humanity.

Like all White House budget proposals, this one will never become law.  But it does tell us what they’re thinking, and that is that the poor and the sick have no place in our society if they’re not productive.  Even the Russians aren’t buying that cruelty.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Follow The Money

The news that the criminal investigation into Trump is looking at a “person of interest” in the current White House administration points to more than just Russian meddling in the election via trolls on Facebook.  It has to do with where Trump got all his capital to finance his businesses over the last 25 years.  It wasn’t from the local bank.

It also explains his fondness for Russia.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Friday, April 28, 2017

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Short Takes

Trump’s tax plan is great for business.  Deficit?  What?

National parks endangered by Trump’s plan to reverse course on preservation.

“Freedom Caucus” approves warmed-over healthcare bill.

Which are the highest — and lowest — rated U.S. airlines?

Talk about your native Americans…

R.I.P. Jonathan Demme, 73, director of “Silence of the Lambs” and “Philadelphia.”

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

State Department: Visit Mar-a-Lago!

So now we’re pimping out the “winter White House”?

Over on ShareAmerica.gov, a website intended to be forward-facing to foreign countries about issues of mutual concern, there’s a big fat promo for Mar-a-Lago. This promo not only appears on the ShareAmerica United States website, but also the sites for other countries.

The text of the promo reads in part, “Trump is not the first president to have access to Mar-a-Lago as a Florida retreat, but he is the first one to use it. By visiting this “winter White House,” Trump is belatedly fulfilling the dream of Mar-a-Lago’s original owner and designer.”

The site has all sorts of historical tidbits about the property, but leaves out the fact that it is owned by Trump and membership costs $200,000 to join.

Your tax dollars are at work enriching this guy.