Category Archives: Politics

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!

Who Ate Republicans’ Brains?

Published / by stevec

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Another one from my favorite clear thinker.

A quote to motivate reading the entire piece:

Now what? Maybe, just maybe, Republicans will work with Democrats to make the health system work better — after all, polls suggest that voters will, rightly, blame them for any future problems. But it wouldn’t be easy for them to face reality even if their president wasn’t a bloviating bully.

And it’s hard to imagine anything good happening on other policy fronts, either. Republicans have spent decades losing their ability to think straight, and they’re not going to get it back anytime soon.

Sabotaging the A.C.A.

Published / by stevec

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Another crystal clear piece on from  My Favorite Keynesian: what Trump and some Republicans are trying to do to healthcare, Health Care in a Time of Sabotage

  • First, the administration is weakening enforcement of the requirement that healthy people buy coverage.
  • Second, it’s letting states impose onerous rules like work requirements on people seeking Medicaid.
  • Third, it has backed off on advertising and outreach designed to let people know about options for coverage.

Leap Into The Awful Unknown

Published / by stevec

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Another Krugman Analysis Of Republican / Trump Healthcare

Hard-core libertarians, for example, don’t believe making health care available to those who need it is a legitimate role of government; letting some citizens go bankrupt and/or die if they get sick is the price of freedom as they define it.

But Republicans have never made that case. Instead, at every stage of this political fight they have claimed to be doing exactly the opposite of what they’re actually doing: covering more people, making health care cheaper, protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions.

We’re not talking about run-of-the-mill spin here; we’re talking about black is white, up is down, dishonesty so raw it’s practically surreal. This isn’t just an assault on health care, it’s an assault on truth itself.

Will this vileness prevail? Your guess is as good as mine about whether Mitch McConnell will hold on to the 50 senators he needs. But the mere possibility that this much cruelty, wrapped in this much fraudulence, might pass is a horrifying indictment of his party.

Healthcare – Numbers Matter

Published / by stevec

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Republican Politicians and Trump are masters at using words to deceive the actual implications of policy actions. No so much with numbers. The house healthcare bill is a good example. In an earlier post I attempted to put in context the pittance of money they were throwing at the problem to justify taking away healthcare for millions of Americans that depend on the ACA – $8 Billion over five years for “High Risk Pools.”

I learned many years ago, while working in the Office of Secretary of Defense for Systems Analysis, that quantifying consequences is critical for laying bare the implications of misleading / self-serving political statements.

Beware of what the Senate Republicans are saying and trying to get through. The Republicans and Trump are attempting to drastically cut Medicaid and make other changes that will take away healthcare for millions of Americans and increase costs for the rest of us. All of this to justify giving a tax break to wealthy people.

Look at the facts and consequences:

  • Roughly 70 million Americans depend on Medicaid.
  • Medicaid’s costs per beneficiary are substantially lower than if covered by private insurance. Specifically, a Kaiser Family Foundation issue brief  sited research results that total healthcare estimated spending would increase nearly 26 percent, from $5,671 per person per year to $7,126, if a typical low-income Medicaid adult were covered by private health insurance for a full year. In addition, total health care spending would increase 37 percent, from $909 per child per year to $1,247, if a low-income Medicaid or CHIP-enrolled child were covered instead by private health insurance for a full year.
  • The Center For Budget And Policy Priorities, in Frequently Asked Questions About Medicaid, reported that “Medicaid’s costs per beneficiary are substantially lower than for private insurance and have been growing more slowly than per-beneficiary costs under private employer coverage.”

Medicaid Spending per Beneficiary Has Grown More Slowly Than Private Insurance

  • We are waiting to hear from the CBO on the latest assessment of the Senate bill, but it is almost certain to report that (1) 20 plus million people will lose healthcare coverage provided through Medicaid and other ACA provisions, (2) The insurance industry will get a pass on providing coverage for people with pre-exsiting conditions, (3) the state insurance markets will fail, (4) insurance rates will increase for everyone except perhaps for young adults, and (5) we will continue to have the most inefficient healthcare system in the western world — one that consumes over 20 percent of our 10 trillion dollar economy.

These are the facts but they will not be in the Republican or Presidential statements and press releases.

The Real Reasons The WWC Support Trump

Published / by stevec

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This post is not about Trump. He understands how to garner the White Working Class vote, Make America Great Again.

This post is about the clueless Democrats. Their focus is on throwing rocks at Trump rather than addressing the real problem of why the WWC have abandoned them for someone like Trump. The motivation for this post is a thoughtful article that goes a long way to explaining the reasons why.

What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class

The article appears in the Harvard Business Review and was written by Joan C. Williams. She is Distinguished Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Center of WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Her newest book is the forthcoming White Working Class.

Healthcare: I Rest My Case

Published / by stevec

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One of my early posts on healthcare was motivated by Ryan’s Power Point presentation – I took notes, Paul Ryan’s Healthcare Bill. At the time I was shocked. Then the house passed version 2 that was equally bad. This was verified by the Congressional Budget Office Report today and reported on by the Huffington Post.

If passed 23 million Americans will lose their health insurance. In addition the bill discriminates against those who are sick and/or old. An estimate of increased average annual cost for those in their 60’s goes from about $1,700 to about 13,600, and increase of 800 percent!  Justification – take from the poor to give to the rich

I learned tonight, via an interview on public television  (thank you Sen. Dianne Feinstein) that the house bill, version 2, was passed without any hearings. Even worse the Senate has a select committee of republican senators, all male, charged with coming up with an alternative. They also plan no hearings. So much for public input to crafting of a very important piece of legislation.

The Republicans and especially Trump and Ryan are not fit to govern.

Breaking News

Published / by stevec

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Republican Healthcare Agenda

Published / by stevec

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In an earlier post I stated:

If you buy the premise that we all have a right to healthcare then it is either done through insurance or a single payer. If the government pays the bill we all pay into the system through our taxes. If through insurance those who are sick must be subsidized by the healthy or the sick cannot afford insurance – the risk of getting sick is handled by spreading the risk. The Republican plan is neither of these.

I finally realized that the Republicans and especially the Freedom Caucus (tea party) do not buy the premise that we all have a right to healthcare . From the house bill pulled yesterday, it is clear that the Republican’ objective is to take healthcare away from a large segment of the population and use the saved money to reduce taxes on the rich.

They have no intention of working with Democrats to improve the Affordable Care Act. To use Donald Trump’s word, Sad.

It Is Not Just About Trump’s Inadequacies

Published / by stevec

Here is more from my favorite Keynesian, Paul Krugman:

It goes without saying that Donald Trump is the least qualified individual, temperamentally or intellectually, ever installed in the White House…

But the broader Republican quagmire — the party’s failure so far to make significant progress toward any of its policy promises — isn’t just about Mr. Trump’s inadequacies. The whole party, it turns out, has been faking it for years. Its leaders’ rhetoric was empty; they have no idea how to turn their slogans into actual legislation, because they’ve never bothered to understand how anything important works.

Take the two lead items in the congressional G.O.P.’s agenda: undoing the Affordable Care Act and reforming corporate taxes. In each case Republicans seem utterly shocked to find themselves facing reality.

Read the full New York Times  op-ed by Krugman

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