Father & Healthcare Pro Blasts GOP Congressman on Healthcare Vote

Published / by stevec

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This is what American spirit looks like. This is what American anger looks like. This is what American Resistance looks like.

A New Jersey constituent stands up and verbally slays Republican House Rep McArthur calling the Congressman out on his Trumpcare vote, his lies, his working with Paul Ryan and other lawmakers who don’t care and his hypocrisy.

This is  an inspiring video.

Trump Tax Cut a 2007-Style Apocalypse

Published / by stevec

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William D. Cohan’s chilling distillation of the financial time bomb buried in Trump’s tax plan—a boneheaded assault on the housing market that could precipitate a 2007-style apocalypse.

“Will this be the first tax cut in American history that actually results in a recession?”

Check out Cohan’s economic logic. Is the Republican Congress Insane?

Everyone Hates The Trump Tax Cut Plan

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Paul Krugman explains why the republicans are pushing a tax plan that would be bad for the economy and most that participate in the economy. “we’re talking about government of the people, not by the people, but by wealthy donors, for wealthy donors. Everyone else hates this plan — and they should.”

Everybody Hates the Trump Tax Plan

Key Points: [The republican] claim is that cutting taxes on corporate profits would lead to an explosion in private investment and faster economic growth.

…so where does the money for that increase in capital expenditure come from? Nothing in the bill would make Americans consume less and save more. So the money would have to come from abroad — from selling stocks, bonds and other assets to foreigners, on a massive scale. … this inflow of foreign money would drive up the value of the dollar and lead to huge trade deficits, more than $6 trillion in deficits over the next decade.

… about that economic growth: Foreign investors would be earning profits and taking them home. So much — probably most — of any growth we would get from cutting corporate taxes would accrue to the benefit of foreigners, not Americans.

Most serious economic analyses agree with those C.E.O.s who disappointed Gary Cohn: Corporate tax cuts wouldn’t actually do much to raise investment. They would, however, explode the budget deficit.

So in an attempt to limit that deficit blowout, Senate Republicans are proposing significant tax increases on working families. In fact, according to Congress’s own Joint Committee on Taxation, taxes would rise on average for every group with incomes under $75,000 a year, and would surely rise for many families even in higher-income groups. The only significant winners would be those making more than $1 million a year. Populism!

… this doesn’t even take account of the health care sabotage that’s an integral part of the Senate plan. By repealing the mandate — the requirement that people purchase insurance — the plan would, as I said, cause 13 million to lose coverage

[in addition to all of this] tax-cut-induced deficits would, by law, trigger cuts in Medicare, and this would just be the start of a G.O.P. assault on programs like disability insurance that provide a crucial safety net for millions of working-class Americans.

All of which raises the question, why are Republicans even trying to do this? It’s bad policy and bad politics, and the politics will get worse as voters learn more about the facts. [the answer] donors are basically saying get it done or don’t ever call me again. [we are becoming] ”a government of the people, not by the people, but by wealthy donors, for wealthy donors. Everyone else hates this plan — and they should.”




Guns, Mental Illness & Public Policy

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“It is not a gun problem. it is a Muslim problem, a mental health problem, another kind of problem.” Wrong! It is a gun problem. People are being increasingly massacred by people using guns especially rapid fire guns.

Identifying specific individuals who are a  gun violence risk is a fools task. Three items below address why.

1. SF Chronicle Nov. 6, 2017 -Trump wrong to blame mass killings on mental illness rather than guns,

Exerts follow:

President Trump on Monday attributed the slaughter of 26 people in a Texas church — the nation’s third mass killing in five weeks — to “a mental health problem,” saying it wasn’t a “guns situation.”

“He’s wrong on two counts,” said Michael Stone, professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University and author of “The Anatomy of Evil,” who has studied 360 of the most notorious mass murders of the past century. “It is a gun issue. And there are very few mass murderers who are certifiably crazy.”

…Trump “is not the only person who jumps to that conclusion. It is a popular misconception that people who commit mass shootings must be crazy,” said Liza Gold, a forensic psychiatrist who teaches at Georgetown University and edited “Gun Violence and Mental Illness.”

“Most gun violence — 98 percent — is not attributable to people with mental illness,” Gold said Monday.

2. SF Chronicle Nov 6, 2017 – As the killing continues, time to say ‘Enough!

This editorial helps to put the problem & policy issue in perspective. Exerts follow:

Shootings, both the headline-grabbing and the sadly routine kind, happen for infinite reasons — and no reason. In a small town outside San Antonio, the mass murderer appears to have been motivated by a grudge. In Orlando, Fla., last year, another claimed allegiance to the Islamic State. In Blacksburg, Va., a decade ago, still another showed symptoms of severe mental illness. And in Las Vegas a month ago, the shooter left such a paucity of clues as to his motive that authorities are puzzling over it to this day.

The multitude of potential reasons speaks to the futility of the question from a policy standpoint. Targeting the mentally ill at best affects a tiny fraction of crimes and an incalculable number of people who have never contemplated such a thing.

Gun deaths can be made far rarer by rationally restricting access to weapons. According to U.N. data, an American is about six times more likely than a Canadian to die in a gun homicide, 18 times more likely than an Australian, and 35 times more likely than an Englishman.

{After the Sutherland Springs Shooting] Trump weakly offered that the killing “would have been much worse” if an armed bystander hadn’t intervened, as if we should take comfort that this shooting didn’t break the top four. He asserted that it was “too soon to get into” questions of gun policy.

We’ve heard that refrain after Las Vegas, Orlando, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Aurora and too many other massacres. We’ve heard enough thoughts and prayers. The 1994 assault weapon ban expired after a decade, with Congress too timid to act, because it’s never “the right time.”

If not now, when? We’ve seen enough horror inflicted on everyone from schoolchildren to worshipers in a small-town church.

We know what these weapons can do, how ubiquitous they have become, and how easily they can end up in the wrong hands.

3. The Likelihood of Identifying High Risk Individuals — Consider The Following

Trump and the Congress keep offering non-action and non-solutions such as “Extreme Vetting” and of all things Prayers. The absurdity of a “prayers policy” is obvious. Screening groups to identify high risk individuals is less obvious but also absurd. To see this it takes a bit of math — I know Trump and Republicans are not into into science stuff but consider the following:

Suppose you have some method that allows you to identify individuals as potential gun violence threats and the method is 99% accurate.

Also suppose that for a target population (e.g., criminals, people with mental health issues, Muslims, the general population) your pre-screening assessment is that about 10 in 1,000,000 individuals are a threat for gun violence and should be dealt with in some fashion – a policy.

After applying “the assessment method” the questions are: (1) what is the chance that serious threats are identified and (2) what is the chance that non-treats are mistaken to be threats. Bayes’ Theorem provides a rigorous method for computing these likelihoods.

Specifically given my hypothetical assumption that 10 in 1,000,000 are a threat. In a group of one million there is actually only 10 persons who are are a serious threat. Of these 10 people, assuming that the “assessment method” is 99% accurate, 9.9 will on average be identified as threats. For the remaining population (non-threats) 9,999.9 will also be identified as threats. Thus the method will identify 10,010 individuals as threats but the chance of actually being a treat given that the method identified you as a threat is 10/10,010 or 0.0001 or .01 percent.

This example demonstrates that for a group of people where individuals with a proclivity to commit gun violence are rare, a policy to identify the high risk individuals even if the vetting is 99% accurate, is problematical — in my example only 1 in 1,000 of the individuals  identified as high risk are actually high risk.

Maybe gun control makes sense. Identifying the specific individuals who are threats is a fools task. Limiting access to certain kinds of weapons is not.

The Political Conversation & Tax Cuts

Published / by stevec

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In my post Stop Dealing Trump I assert that the objective of congressional republicans is to “funnel money to rich friends and to hell with the rest of the world.” This is personified in  E.J. Dionne’s piece titled Stop obsessing about tax cuts

To paraphrase Dionne, It is a victory for Republicans that the political conversation is all about taxes. This is entirely wrong, and it’s essential to challenge the whole premise of the debate.

Here are some exerts:

The United States does not need tax cuts now. Reducing government revenue at this moment will do far more harm than good. Conservatives are proving definitively that they don’t care in the least about deficits. And their claims that tax cuts will unleash some sort of economic miracle have been proved false again and again and again.

But there is an even bigger objection: The opportunity costs of this obsession are enormous because it keeps us from grappling with the problems we really do need to solve.

Ever since Trump’s election, discussion of the vast divides in our nation between prosperous regions and those battered by economic change have filled our newspapers, websites and airwaves. There is simply no way that shoveling out $2.6 trillion in business tax cuts over 10 years (and in a largely undifferentiated fashion) does anything to help places that are ailing.

On the contrary, this farrago of corporate goodies — along with the absurd repeal of the estate tax and various other benefits showered on the well-off — would only aggravate existing inequalities. And by depleting the government’s coffers, it would make it much harder to finance public initiatives in education, job training and other spheres to promote mobility for Americans who are lagging behind.

There is more good stuff. Read it!

Analyses: The Republican Tax Bill

Published / by stevec

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Concerning media reporting on the republican tax bill, I am appalled by the lack of homework especially by television media. For the most part they seem to be parroting press releases. That is what motivates this post. I plan to update this post as information becomes available,

1. For a good summary read Robert Reich, The Huge Tax Heist.

2. A NYT Nov 2 Editorial, A Tax Plan for a New Gilded Age. My summary follows:

A. The primary goal of this bill is to slash taxes on corporate profits to 20 percent, from 35 percent.

Credible economists believe the benefits of the cuts would accrue nearly exclusively to shareholders and executives.

about $70 billion a year, or 35 percent of the benefits, would flow to foreign investors who own shares in American companies, according to Steven Rosenthal at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

B. The bill would also lavish benefits on real estate partnerships, hedge funds and other pass-through businesses, which send their profits directly to their owners without taxes being withheld

Republicans want those business owners to pay taxes of just 25 percent on that income, rather than ordinary rates, which go up to 39.6 percent. Republicans argue that this will benefit small businesses. In fact, a large majority of small-business owners already have personal tax rates below 25 percent.

C. On personal income taxes, Republicans say they are simplifying and cutting taxes for most people. But that is not really true. They propose reducing the number of tax brackets to four, from seven, while raising the lowest bracket to 12 percent, from 10 percent. They want to double the standard deduction but eliminate personal exemptions. One new benefit that could help many families would be a $300 tax credit for tax filers and their dependents who are over 17, like an aged parent. Strangely, it would end after five years. By contrast, the bill’s cuts to corporate and other business taxes would be permanent.

The changes that could affect middle-class families the hardest include the elimination of the deduction for state and local income taxes. And the property-tax deductible would be capped at $10,000. Many people in high-tax states, like California, New Jersey and New York, would be especially hard hit.

One particularly hardhearted change would eliminate the deduction for medical expenses, which is primarily used by people with serious and chronic illnesses. Gone, too, would be important tax credits and deductions for college tuition and interest on student loans.

D. Unsurprisingly, the tax bill contains a couple of provisions that are designed to benefit the Trumps and others like them. It would get rid of the alternative minimum tax, which is paid primarily by upper-income families with lots of deductions. This tax accounted for a vast majority of the income tax Mr. Trump paid in 2005, according to a leaked copy of his return. The Trumps would also benefit from the bill’s proposed estate tax changes. That tax currently applies to inherited wealth above $5.5 million. Republicans would exempt wealth up to $11 million starting next year and eliminate the tax after six years. That would benefit the heirs of just 0.2 percent of people who die every year, but cost the government $269 billion over a decade.

3. A NYT Editorial by Paul Krugman, Trump’s $700 Billion Gift to Wealthy Foreigners. My summary:

Why is Donald Trump planning to give away $700 billion — that’s billion, with a “b” — to foreigners, no strings attached? You probably didn’t know that he’s planning to do this. In fact, he himself almost surely has no idea that he’s planning to do this. But it would be one clearly predictable consequence of the tax “reform” he and his congressional allies are trying to pass.

… the benefits from cutting corporate taxes would overwhelmingly flow into after-tax profits rather than wages, especially in the first few years and probably for a decade or more. And this in turn means that the main beneficiaries would be stockholders, not workers.

[in addition] these days there’s a lot of cross-border investment. In particular, as Steven M. Rosenthal of the Tax Policy Center notes — in a paper I found revelatory — around 35 percent of U.S. equities are now owned by foreigners, triple the level during the Reagan years.

What this means is that around 35 percent of a tax cut from an administration that proudly uses the slogan “America first” — $700 billion over the next decade — wouldn’t even go to Americans. Instead, it would be a windfall to wealthy foreigners, who would probably gain a lot more from the tax cut than U.S. workers. Oh, and it makes all that talk about allies not paying their “fair share” sound kind of silly, doesn’t it?

4. The Atlantic: How Trump’s Corporate-Tax Plan Could Send American Jobs Overseas. My summary (read the Atlantic article for a detailed example):

The Trump-GOP plan will also propose a minimum tax rate on foreign income, according to multiple reports. But whereas Obama’s plan (which ultimately didn’t become law) assessed a company’s taxation in each country individually, the Trump framework would come up with an average for all foreign earnings combined, a so-called “global minimum.”

This might seem like a small difference, but the design of their global minimum tax creates perverse incentives for companies to offshore jobs and shift profits to tax havens—outcomes that a per-country minimum tax would avoid.

This is a big flaw in Trump’s plan: The more an American company moves its profitable [US] operations to countries that have tax rates of 20 percent or higher—often rich countries that are seen as America’s economic competitors—the more that company can shift profits to tax havens without paying taxes on those profits. And the more that U.S. companies already take advantage of tax havens, the bigger the incentive they will have to offshore operations to other advanced countries: This provision of the GOP plan encourages companies to blend income from low-tax countries with that from higher-tax countries, completely avoiding paying money to the U.S. government.

Stop Dealing Trump

Published / by stevec

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Don’t trust republicans especially congressional republicans.Their objective is evil — funnel money to rich friends and to hell with the rest of the world.

So Jeff Flake and Bob Corker sound good but look at how they vote: joining the republican herd cutting taxes, healthcare, regulatory protections and god knows what’s else.

The party needs Trump to get what they want. Let them all turn against Trump. But don’t hold your breath. They are mostly whores. Their MO — If you want to succeed you have to be trumpion. They are putting money above morals and country.

Trump a Soulless Coward

Published / by stevec

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Coach Pop:

I’ve been amazed and disappointed by so much of what this President had said, and his approach to running this country, which seems to be one of just a never ending divisiveness. But his comments today about those who have lost loved ones in times of war and his lies that previous presidents Obama and Bush never contacted their families, is so beyond the pale, I almost don’t have the words.

This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner–and to lie about how previous Presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers–is as low as it gets.  We have a pathological liar in the White House: unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day. The people who work with this President should be ashamed because they know it better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all.”

You speak for many Americans, Pops.

Gun Rights & The 2nd Amendment

Published / by stevec

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David Ropeik read and published his observations about the Supreme Court ruling: District of Columbia v. Heller. In the interest of more rational gun laws and regulations Ropeik suggests that everyone read his article as well as the court ruling.

Ropeik introduces the subject by stating that:

There is no question that District of Columbia v. Heller was precisely the sort of judicial activism the conservative justices of the Supreme Court promised not to do. In a 5 to 4 decision those justices ruled that the Second Amendment gives Americans the right to own guns for personal self-defense, despite the amendment’s opening language – “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, ” –  which pretty clearly says that gun ownership was specifically preserved by the founding fathers in the interest of the common defense against a tyrannical government (remember, this was the issue on their minds back then). Gun rights advocates cheered. Gun control advocates cried foul.

However he points out that the ruling does not grant unlimited rights to own guns. Specifically, Ropeik quotes parts of  pp. 54 and 55 of the ruling:

…  the majority opinion, written by conservative bastion Justice Antonin Scalia, states:  “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…”. It is “…not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

 “We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller (an earlier case) said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time”. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’ ” 

The court even recognizes a long-standing judicial precedent “…to consider… prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons.”

I recommend reading Ropeik’s article as well as the court ruling. It seems that Congress and NRA are way out of line with what the courts intended.



Donald The Destroyer

Published / by stevec

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The Daily Kos just ran an article titled: Former Wharton Professor: “Donald Trump Was the Dumbest Goddam Student I Ever Had.”

Check it out. Also check out  the comments that follow the article.  They are all good. Here are two of my favorites:

I just wrote a letter to the editor of the NYTimes, after all the b.s. he’s done to undermine Obama on healthcare, Iran, climate change, etc. I said, just like Vlad the Impaler, Attila the Hun, Ivan the Terrible,and Jack the Ripper, we have a new villain: Donald the Destroyer.  Bob659

He’s not a complete idiot. Some parts are missing.