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Updated: 2017-09-25T18:54:17Z

 



The GOP's Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill is a Killer Scam

2017-09-25T18:54:17Z

Next week, Congressional Republicans will vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill supposedly designed to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. Shockingly, they will do so without a score from Capitol Hill's nonpartisan scorekeeper, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). As the office led by...

Next week, Congressional Republicans will vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill supposedly designed to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. Shockingly, they will do so without a score from Capitol Hill's nonpartisan scorekeeper, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). As the office led by the GOP's hand-picked director Keith Hall warned last Monday, "CBO will not be able to provide point estimates of the effects on the deficit, health insurance coverage, or premiums for at least several weeks."

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The 54th Massachusetts or Davis, Lee and Jackson? For patriotic Americans, there's only one choice.

Nevertheless, there are many things we already know with a good deal of certainty about this grotesque act of right-wing political spite masquerading as health care legislation. Graham-Cassidy begins by eliminating the individual and employer insurance mandates next year, and repealing the Affordable Care Act's insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion in 2020. The bill then dramatically slashes currently projected Obamacare spending and divvies up what remains as block grants to the states. The states in turn can seek waivers from requiring the coverage of Obamacare's "essential health benefits" (EHB's) and the current ban on discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions. Estimates from Avalere Health and CBPP forecast the GOP bill carves between $215 billion and $243 billion from ACA spending over the next decade. But those block grants--which rob billions of dollars from largely Democratic-led, Medicaid-expanding states to those red states which did not--expire at the end of 2026. Unless the bill is reauthorized, the states will lose $299 billion in federal funding in 2027 alone; between 2020 and 2036, the loss is a staggering $4.15 trillion. Based on CBO estimates for similar Republican proposals earlier this year, the Commonwealth Fund warned 32 million people could lose their insurance by 2027.

Oh, and one other thing we can count on: If Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy get their way, thousands of newly uninsured Americans will die needlessly every year. A death toll of roughly 18,000 in the law's first full year could approach 40,000 in 2027. The question is not whether the United States will suffer the equivalent of multiple Sept. 11 attacks every year, but how many.

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




State Block Grants: The GOP's Worst Health Care Idea of Them All

2017-09-22T01:41:44Z

Even as the U.S. Census reported that the percentage of Americans lacking health insurance dropped to a new record low of 8.8 percent, the past week was nevertheless a big one for health care reform proposals in Washington. Sen. Bernie...

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Even as the U.S. Census reported that the percentage of Americans lacking health insurance dropped to a new record low of 8.8 percent, the past week was nevertheless a big one for health care reform proposals in Washington. Sen. Bernie Sanders, backed by 15 of his Democratic colleagues, unveiled his "Medicare for All" bill providing one path to universal health care in the United States. But while Democrats were looking to enable insurance coverage for the 28 million people still lacking it, Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana pitched their last-gasp Obamacare "replacement" plan to deny coverage to millions more.

After the much-deserved defeats of the GOP's American Health Care Act (AHCA) and Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), Graham and Cassidy are asking their Republican colleagues to try one more time before the Sept. 30 legislative deadline puts an end to their Obamacare repeal dreams. At the heart of the Graham-Cassidy proposal co-sponsored by Nevada Sen. Dean Heller and Wisconsin's Ron Johnson is an old idea near and dear to Republican hearts: block grants for the states. That is, the new GOP bill would basically convert today's federal spending on Affordable Care Act insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion into smaller block grants turned over to the states to administer largely as they see fit. But as the history shows, that is a proven recipe for failure. After all, if "states' rights" is simply short-hand for the denial of Americans' rights, what Lindsey Graham touts as "state flexibility" is just a green light to withhold health care coverage to millions of their residents.

Sen. Graham has made no secret of his objectives. "If you believe in universal health care," Graham boasted on Wednesday, "this is your worst nightmare." He explained why to Breitbart News two weeks ago:

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




Trump, GOP Demand Blue State Payback

2017-09-07T18:45:35Z

In recent years, "red state socialism" has become the hallmark of American federalism. That is, even as supposed GOP budget hawks loudly (and wrongly) decry "out of control" spending by Uncle Sam, less well-off Republican-controlled states generally benefit from a...

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In recent years, "red state socialism" has become the hallmark of American federalism. That is, even as supposed GOP budget hawks loudly (and wrongly) decry "out of control" spending by Uncle Sam, less well-off Republican-controlled states generally benefit from a one-way flow of federal tax dollars made possible by wealthier blue states usually dominated by Democrats. But that is as it should be. After all, Americans everywhere should want Americans anywhere to have the resources for the education, health care, and anti-poverty programs they deserve and may badly need. Patriotism, civic duty, community, and compassion don't end at the state line.

That's especially true in times of war, crisis, and natural disaster. When Americans anywhere are in danger, there is no "red" or "blue," but only Red, White and Blue. With the staggering calamity from Hurricane Harvey still unfolding in Texas and Louisiana, first responders and volunteers, charities and church groups, and millions of people from every state and every faith all reaffirmed that shared American ethos.

But back in Washington, the president and some of his GOP allies on Capitol Hill provided a stark contrast to that spirit of selflessness and unity. Gulf state members of Congress, led by Texas Republicans Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, called for billions of dollars in federal aid they voted to deny their blue state brethren after Superstorm Sandy in 2013. At the same time, Donald Trump launched his push for a massive tax cut windfall for the wealthy, a giveaway he and GOP leaders hope to pay for in part by punishing taxpayers and breaking budgets in traditionally Democratic states. Meanwhile, in areas as diverse as health care, immigration, and possibly infrastructure, GOP policymakers are seeking blue state payback as a means of retribution--or just out of pure spite.

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




The Capitol's Missing Mural of Lee's Surrender to Grant at Appomattox

2017-09-05T03:43:33Z

The neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville has spurred calls around the nation for the removal of public statues, monuments and symbols venerating white supremacy and the "lost cause" of the Confederacy. Those sites include Capitol Hill, where eight statues of Jefferson... The neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville has spurred calls around the nation for the removal of public statues, monuments and symbols venerating white supremacy and the "lost cause" of the Confederacy. Those sites include Capitol Hill, where eight statues of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Alexander Stephens and five other traitors to the United States were added between 1909 and 1931 at the behest of their home states. But while Democrats including Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have urged their Republican colleagues to "remove the Confederate statues from the Capitol immediately," Vice President Mike Pence echoed Donald Trump's charge that "they" were attempting "to take away our history and our heritage." "Obviously, I think that should always be a local decision. And with regard to the US Capitol, should be a state decision. I'm someone who believes in more monuments, not less monuments." If he is to be taken at his word that "more monuments" help us "remember our history," then Vice President Pence would surely support the installation in the Capitol rotunda of a massive mural depicting Lee's surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox. That never-completed tribute has been missing from Congress for 148 years due to the obstruction on one man. President Ulysses S. Grant. That's right. As Mark Neely, Jr., Harold Holzer and Gabor S. Boritt explained in The Confederate Image: Prints of the Lost Cause, Grant "wholly disapproved of the artists' enterprise" in capturing Lee's capitulation on canvas. When a Congressional commission approach the Northern conqueror soon after the Civil War to propose a painting of Lee's surrender for the Capitol rotunda, Grant refused. He said he would never take part in producing a picture that commemorated a victory in which his fellow countrymen were losers. In 1885, James Grant Wilson documented Grant's deference to Southern sensitivities this way: In 1869, some members of Congress wanted to put a massive painting of Lee surrendering to Grant in the Rotunda of the Capitol. They visited Grant, who was President-elect, to gain his approval. Grant, who was usually calm, got upset and said, "No, gentlemen, it won't do. No power on earth will make me agree to your proposal. I will not humiliate General Lee or our Southern friends in depicting their humiliation and then celebrating the event in the nation's capitol." This immediately ended any discussion of the painting. [Emphasis mine.] This was hardly the only example of Grant's generosity and compassion towards his former enemies. By the time the Army of Northern Virginia laid down its arms at Appomattox, General U.S. Grant had already embraced Lincoln's admonition during the Second Inaugural to offer "malice toward none, with charity for all." By offering such generous terms to Robert E. Lee and his soldiers, Grant begun to "bind up the nation's wounds" and "to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations." And to be sure, the respect and dignity Grant accorded Robert E. Lee and his surrendering Army of Northern Virginia was offered despite his disdain for their cause of slavery and secession. As he prepared to accept their capitulation, Grant later wrote of that moment in April 1865: "I felt sad and depressed at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though their cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought." One of the worst causes for a which a people ever fought, indeed. Nevertheless, even after his submission Robert E. Lee, the man who more than any extended the bloody life of the Confederacy, [...]



GOP's top priority? Giving the Trump clan a multi-billion dollar tax cut

2017-08-29T02:41:45Z

Republican leaders in Congress may not be ready to abandon Donald Trump, but there's little doubt about their growing discomfort with the president of the United States. Supposedly shocked by Trump's coddling of white supremacists in the wake of the...

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Republican leaders in Congress may not be ready to abandon Donald Trump, but there's little doubt about their growing discomfort with the president of the United States. Supposedly shocked by Trump's coddling of white supremacists in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker questioned Trump's ability to either the "demonstrate the stability" or "competence" required of presidents. A sheepish House Speaker Paul Ryan told a CNN town hall that Trump "messed up" in his handling of the neo-Nazi thuggery in Virginia and proclaimed, "This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, under assault from Trump after the GOP failure to repeal Obamacare, hasn't spoken to the president in weeks and, according to the New York Times, "privately expressed uncertainty that Mr. Trump will be able to salvage his administration after a series of summer crises."

With the summer Congressional recess about to end, the GOP's best and brightest are planning a post-Labor Day payback for the president. His punishment? A massive tax cut windfall for the wealthy that will redirect billions of dollars from the United States Treasury to Donald Trump and his children.

As it turns out, that outcome would represent another broken promise for Donald Trump. Two years ago, candidate Trump unveiled the first of three versions of what would become his tax reform program. (According to analysts, that budget-busting blueprint would generate up to $12 trillion in new national debt in the ensuing decade.) On Sept. 28, 2015, he made this pledge to the American people:

"It reduces or eliminates most of the deductions and loopholes available to special interests and to the very rich. In other words, it's going to cost me a fortune -- which is actually true -- while preserving charitable giving and mortgage interest deductions, very importantly." [Emphasis mine.]

Now even without access to Donald Trump's tax returns, then as now it was impossible for his guarantee to be true. As we'll see below, Trump's is a Four-Pinocchio Lie both because of the way he makes his money and the changes he's proposing to the tax code.

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




Trump's Willing Supremacists

2017-08-25T23:28:32Z

In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, Republicans were shocked--SHOCKED--to find that President Trump was providing air cover for neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Declaring "there can be no moral ambiguity," House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted, "White supremacy is...

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In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, Republicans were shocked--SHOCKED--to find that President Trump was providing air cover for neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

Declaring "there can be no moral ambiguity," House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted, "White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for." Mitt Romney, the GOP's 2012 failed presidential nominee, decried Trump's both-siderism, "One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry." Nevada Sen. Dean Heller hit the keyboard to "condemn the outrageous racism, violence and hatred," calling it "unacceptable and shameful." South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham branded the white supremacists behind the murder of Heather Heyer "un-American" and "domestic terrorists" before pledging to "fight back against the idea that the Party of Lincoln has a welcome mat out for the David Dukes of the world." And Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, still recovering from the severe wounds he sustained in the terror attack against the Congressional Republican baseball team, announced "we must defeat white supremacy and all forms of hatred."

But before rushing to credit these and other Donald Trump allies for standing up to the real racist-in-chief, bear in mind that this is a textbook case of too little, too late. Laudable though these statements are, talk is cheap. After all, in recent years each of the five Republicans listed above had ample opportunities to denounce right-wing terrorism, reject casual race-baiting, and eject white supremacists from the ranks of their party. Yet it was no accident that they were silent and seated when it mattered most. That's because for more than 50 years, the GOP has relied on its "Southern Strategy" combining incendiary racial rhetoric, zealous xenophobia, and even Confederate idolatry to manufacture a terrified and furious white majority, and not just in the Solid South. Until today's "concerned" Republicans cast out Donald Trump and cast off the politics of white resentment, they should get no credit where none is due.

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




The Confederate Statues Speak for Themselves

2017-08-16T19:53:46Z

Defending the indefensible on Tuesday, President Donald Trump traveled back in time to deploy the "both sides do it" talking point to explain the Civil War. Providing air cover for white supremacists, Trump declared "you had some very fine people... Defending the indefensible on Tuesday, President Donald Trump traveled back in time to deploy the "both sides do it" talking point to explain the Civil War. Providing air cover for white supremacists, Trump declared "you had some very fine people on both sides," apparently including "many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee." But as I first documented after Dylann Roof slaughtered 9 innocents at Mother Emanuel AME Church in that cradle of secession Charleston, South Carolina, the leaders of the Confederacy were not "fine people." And we know this, because they told us so. The 54th Massachusetts or Davis, Lee and Jackson? For patriotic Americans, there's only one choice. There's no mystery as to why we're not discussing whether a banner of slavery, secession, treason and racial supremacy should ever be displayed over public buildings, parks, cemeteries and other sites. The Southern whitewashing of American history--aided by dubious text books and an army of Confederate monuments built at an accelerating pace during the civil rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's--has been sadly successful in transforming their fight to own humans into a noble "heritage." To remove the Confederate flag, its supporters still argue, would be a "Stalinist purge" and an act of "cultural genocide" because, after all, that banner simply represents "a heritage thing, and we're all proud of our heritage." If so, what better way to understand the Confederate heritage than consulting with some of the people who created it? South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun, defending the "positive good" of slavery, 1837: "If we do not defend ourselves none will defend us; if we yield we will be more and more pressed as we recede; and if we submit we will be trampled under foot. Be assured that emancipation itself would not satisfy these fanatics: -that gained, the next step would be to raise the negroes to a social and political equality with the whites; and that being effected, we would soon find the present condition of the two races reversed." Resolution of separation by North Carolina delegates to the 1844 General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church: "We believe an immediate division of the Methodist Episcopal Church is indispensable to the peace, prosperity, and honor of the Southern portion thereof, if not essential to her continued existence we regard the officious, and unwarranted interference of the Northern portion of the Church with the subject of slavery alone, a sufficient cause for a division of our Church." Southern Baptist Convention, explaining its separation from the American Baptist church, May 1845: An evil hour has arrived...In December last, the acting Board of Convention, at Boston, adopted a new qualification for missionaries, a new rule viz, that: "If anyone who shall offer himself for a missionary, having slaves, should insist on retaining them as his property, they could not appoint him." "One thing is certain," they continue, "we could never be a party to any arrangement which applies approbation of slavery." Mississippi Declaration of Causes for Secession, 1861: Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is [...]



"Freedmen" Is An Alternative to HBO's Alternative History, "Confederate"

2017-08-16T19:51:25Z

What if the South had won the Civil War? Hardly a new question, and it's doubtless one of the most common counterfactual thought exercises in American history. It's also already been recently asked--though not answered seriously--in the 2004 mockumentary, CSA:...

What if the South had won the Civil War? Hardly a new question, and it's doubtless one of the most common counterfactual thought exercises in American history. It's also already been recently asked--though not answered seriously--in the 2004 mockumentary, CSA: The Confederate States of America.

Nevertheless, HBO is turning to some of the folks who brought you Game of Thrones to develop a new series titled Confederate. The show imagines "an alternative timeline," the network's press release explained, "where the Southern states have successfully seceded from the Union, giving rise to a nation in which slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution." And that's not all:

The story follows a broad swath of characters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone -- freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate and the families of people in their thrall.

HBO has chosen a particularly infelicitous time to unveil this project. After all, in the wake of the bitterly contested 2016 presidential election in large part waged and won on racial resentment and xenophobia, feelings are still raw over Americans' ideological and partisan divide. Donald Trump's triumph is not an aberration but the culmination of 50 years of Republican politics. So while some have called on HBO to abandon the series, one Trump supporter joked "they're afraid that maybe the Confederacy will be shown in a good light."

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Depending how you change the outcome of the Battle of Antietam in September 1862, you get a different HBO series.

Yet the biggest problem with the hypothetical question behind Confederate is that it's not so hypothetical at all. By all indications the show, as Ta-Nehisi Coates explained, "takes as its premise an ugly truth that black Americans are forced to live every day." In a very real sense, the North won the war, but the South won the peace. Southern "Redemption" swamped national Reconstruction as an ivory curtain of white supremacy, intimidation, and violence soon enveloped the states of the former Confederacy. Northern exhaustion, complicity in the Johnson White House, and the entrenchment of a racist, conservative Supreme Court undermined the clear meaning and intent of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. In less than a generation, the institutionalization of segregation was complete. As W.E.B. Dubois lamented, "The slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery." It took 100 years after Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox for the civil rights movement to begin the demolition of the edifice of Jim Crow and with it, make possible the liberation of all Americans for all time.

All of which is why a far more powerful question for HBO to explore might be this: What if the North had won the Civil War much faster--and more completely?

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




Why "America First" Really Means America Last

2017-08-08T22:22:53Z

To say that the slogan "America First" has a checkered past in the United States is an understatement of epic proportions. Launched in the spring of 1940 on the eve of Hitler's conquest of France, Belgium and Holland, the America... To say that the slogan "America First" has a checkered past in the United States is an understatement of epic proportions. Launched in the spring of 1940 on the eve of Hitler's conquest of France, Belgium and Holland, the America First Committee was an isolationist crusade which grew to 800,000 members who sought the keep the U.S. out of any war with Germany. But that's not all. After the trauma of the Great Depression, its leadership was rife with anti-Semites and Nazi sympathizers like Olympic Committee Chairman Avery Brundage, auto magnate Henry Ford and the world-famous pilot Charles Lindbergh who saw European fascism--and not American democracy--as the wave of the future. In September 1941, just three months before Pearl Harbor and Adolf Hitler's declaration of war on the United States, Lindbergh proclaimed, "The British and the Jewish races for reasons which are not American, wish to involve us in the war." The greatest of the dangers Jews posed to the United States, he warned, "lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our government." At a time when the United States faced a monumental choice between good and evil, human rights and barbarous slaughter, freedom and enslavement, the America Firsters were on the wrong side of history. Ultimately and at great cost, the forces of light prevailed in Europe and the Pacific, but not before vanquishing the forces of darkness here at home. Now, as Americans confront a new crossroads in history, Donald Trump's 21st century incarnation of the America First movement threatens to once again take the nation down a dangerously mistaken--and irreversible--path. After 25 years, America's unipolar moment of unrivaled military dominance is coming to a close, as rising Chinese power around the world, resurgent Russian expansionism in Eastern Europe and a nuclear North Korea means the United States can no longer strike at the times and places of its choosing without painful consequences. Never again will the U.S. account for half of world GDP, as it did after the destruction of its economic competitors in World War II. Globalization, the seamless flow of capital (and capitalists) across national boundaries, the transformational impact of climate change, and, above all, China's ever-increasing role in the worldwide economy require Washington to think anew and act anew. And more and more, the United States will be less and less able to act alone. That's why the world Donald Trump and his die-hard followers scorn is not the one they, or any of us, actually inhabit. A year ago at the Republican National Convention, Trump declared "our plan will put America First. Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo." Nothing about the first six months of the Trump administration supports the May 30 op-ed penned by national security adviser H.R. McMaster and National Economic Council director Gary D. Cohn that "America First" is also "a commitment to protecting and advancing our vital interests while also fostering cooperation and strengthening relationships with our allies and partners." As Trump put it in his Inaugural Address on January 20, 2017: From this moment on, it's going to be America First. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families. As it turns out, not so much. Continue reading at Daily Kos. [...]



Lies, Damn Lies and Fake News

2017-07-31T18:18:04Z

In his 2007 book The Assault on Reason, former Vice President Al Gore warned about what he saw as a dire threat to American democracy. "The 'well-informed citizenry,'" Gore fretted, "is in danger of becoming the 'well-amused audience.'" In a...

In his 2007 book The Assault on Reason, former Vice President Al Gore warned about what he saw as a dire threat to American democracy. "The 'well-informed citizenry,'" Gore fretted, "is in danger of becoming the 'well-amused audience.'" In a presentation on Super Tuesday 2008 ("That's Entertainment: Politics as Theater in Campaign '08"), I elaborated on Gore's alert.

When politics is entertainment, the first thing that suffers is the truth.

More than nine years later, the American people have a professional entertainer in the Oval Office. And as recent headlines have shown, the truth is suffering indeed. Despite the unified assessment of the U.S. intelligence community that Vladimir Putin's Russia interfered in the 2016 election, only one-third of Republicans polled believe it. Other surveys found that 72 percent of Trump voters said stories about Russia are "fake news," with 32 percent even rejecting the claim that Donald Jr. met with Russians in June 2016, a fact the president's son had already admitted. The self-delusion also applies to the 2016 popular vote, which half of Trump supporters believe he won despite falling 3 million ballots short of Hillary Clinton in yet another election free of vote fraud.

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And on Wednesday, a YouGov/Economist poll revealed that 55 percent of the #MAGA crowd "believe 'the courts' should be allowed to 'fine news media outlets for publishing or broadcasting stories that are biased or inaccurate' -- while 45 percent say that the judiciary should have the power to 'shut down' biased media organizations." Meanwhile, the Trump administration and some of its allies in the House responded to the GOP's latest humiliation at the hands of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office by seeking to slash its staffing or abolish the neutral scorekeeper altogether.

As horrifying as these numbers are, they shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, with the Trump White House elevating "alternative facts" over supposed "fake news," slandering the press as an "enemy of the people," brushing off allegations of collusion and business conflicts with Russian interests as a "Democratic hoax," and so much more, the Trump faithful are getting their talking points straight from the elephant's mouth. But while the frequency and magnitude of Trump's lies far exceed any American major party politician, his strategic deceptions and tactical duplicity are nothing new under the Republican sun.

On matters of war and peace, health care and taxes, the economy and the environment, the GOP has been a myth-making machine for years. And when the government's own experts and nonpartisan watchdogs debunked the Republicans' fact-free frauds, the GOP directed its fire at them.

Just ask the people who work at the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA)--or, more accurately, worked at the Office of Technology Assessment.

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




Unprecedented Spite: The American Carnage of the GOP Health Care Bill

2017-07-05T19:06:31Z

In December 2003, Democrats in Congress overwhelmingly opposed President Bush's Medicare Part D prescription drug program. With good reason. The new benefit included the infamous "donut hole," a gap in coverage which still saddled many seniors with out-of-pocket costs for...

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In December 2003, Democrats in Congress overwhelmingly opposed President Bush's Medicare Part D prescription drug program. With good reason. The new benefit included the infamous "donut hole," a gap in coverage which still saddled many seniors with out-of-pocket costs for their prescriptions. Making matters worse for 45 million elderly and the United States Treasury alike, the law crafted by then representative and future PhRMA president Billy Tauzin (R-LA) prohibited Uncle Sam from negotiating drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies as the VA and most industrialized economies have long done. Adding insult to injury, the Republicans' new government program was completely unfunded, adding a projected $400 billion to the national debt over a decade because, as Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) later explained, "it was standard practice not to pay for things."

But when its disastrous launch in January 2006 left "Bushcare" teetering on the brink of catastrophe, Democrats in Congress and in the states moved quickly to help the administration and American seniors. Computer systems failed. The web-based comparison shopping "exchange" experienced serious glitches. Some six million Medicare/Medicaid "dual eligibles" found themselves unable to get their prescriptions filled. As future House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) put it, "The implementation of the Medicare plan has been horrendous." Nevertheless, as the New York Times reported on January 16, 2006, 20 states--most of them Democratic--"announced that they will help low-income people by paying drug claims that should have been paid by the federal Medicare program." As a freshman Senator named Hillary Clinton explained her party's response to the Republican fiasco:

"I voted against it, but once it passed I certainly determined that I would try to do everything I could to make sure that New Yorkers understood it, could access it, and make the best of it."

To put it another way, both sides don't do it.

As the unveiling of the Senate GOP health care bill this week once again showed, the subterfuge, sabotage and sheer cruelty of the 8-year Republican effort to abort the Affordable Care Act know no limits. A calamity a wiser Donald Trump might call "American carnage"--22 million more uninsured Americans, millions more facing financial ruin, gutted essential health protections, skyrocketing premiums to maintain comparable coverage, jacked-up deductibles, spiraling out of pockets costs and over 200,000 needless deaths by 2026, all to fund an $600 billion tax cut windfall for the wealthy--Mitch McConnell's "Better Care Reconciliation Act" has nothing to do with "replacing" Obamacare. For 25 years, Republicans have never wanted to enable universal health care coverage for the American people, but only to prevent the Democratic Party from doing so.

We know this--that is, that Republicans feared not Obamacare's failure, but its success--because they told us so.

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




Commander in Chief Trump Goes AWOL

2017-06-21T04:44:08Z

"The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States." With that phrase, Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States ensures civilian control over--and accountability for--the American military. While the...

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"The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States." With that phrase, Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States ensures civilian control over--and accountability for--the American military. While the power to declare war rests with Congress, responsibility for America's global vision, its foreign policy and national security objectives, the military strategies to achieve them, the operational plans they entail and, most solemn of all, putting the lives of servicemen and women in harm's way, rest with the president alone.

But what if the occupant of the White House fails to fulfill his constitutionally-mandated role as commander in chief? How would U.S. allies and enemies alike react to the strategic confusion and policy-making void left by the president's abdication of his or her most important job? What should the American people believe--what should their 1.5 million soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines do--when the Pentagon's mission is a mystery?

Sadly, these questions are not hypothetical. As his decision this week to delegate Afghanistan strategy and force levels to the secretary of defense once again showed, commander in chief Donald Trump is absent without leave.

As the New York Times and the Washington Post reported this week, President Trump announced this week that when it comes to America's 16-year-old war in Afghanistan, the buck stops at the Pentagon.

President Trump's decision to delegate authority to the Pentagon to set troop levels in Afghanistan has raised concerns that a few thousand additional troops expected to deploy soon could be just the beginning of a new surge in the country after 15 years of war.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis assured lawmakers Wednesday that a large increase in deployed forced will not happen, but some experts and former battlefield commanders warned the White House and Congress should be careful not to give the Pentagon a blank check.

Those experts are right to be worried.

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




Ask Your Senator if Trumpcara™ is Right for You

2017-06-20T01:00:50Z

Are you ashamed to be seen with your health care bill? Do you fear facing your own constituents? Are you plagued by feelings of dread and mild nausea at the thought of disappointing your seething supporters, angry activists and demanding... Are you ashamed to be seen with your health care bill? Do you fear facing your own constituents? Are you plagued by feelings of dread and mild nausea at the thought of disappointing your seething supporters, angry activists and demanding donors? If you answered "yes" to all these questions, you might be a Republican member of Congress suffering from moderate to severe Irritable Base Syndrome (IBS). That's where Trumpcara comes in. Brought to you by the good people of GOPLabs®, Trumpcara keeps your IBS at bay. With one simple vote, you calm the outbreak of red rage and make your pain and discomfort--and insurance for 23 million Americans--disappear! As for everyone else, ask your Senator if Trumpcara is right for you. Trumpcara (appallinghealthcareinamerica) legislation isn't recommended for anyone under the age of 65. Trumpcara can cause serious side effects, including: The loss of coverage for three million children under the age of 18, 6.4 million young adults ages 18 to 29, 8.2 million people ages 30 to 49 and 5.1 million older Americans in the reliably Republican 50 to 64-year-old age range. Between 21,000 and 50,000 needless deaths due to uninsurance very year. Mild to severe cashectomies and even financial ruin, as insufficient, age-based tax credits that grow too slowly make insurance premiums unaffordable for older, sicker and less affluent Americans. Conditions like "empty pocket disorder" and deductitis, as the end of the Affordable Care Act's cost-sharing reductions and essential health benefits along with new surcharges or disqualification to do preexisting conditions saddle families with massive new expenses. "Collateral closures" of rural hospitals and clinics as the gutting of Medicaid puts the onus for covering 51 million uninsured on cash-strapped states. Degenerative employer-provided insurance, as terminated Obamacare health care benefits bring back the worst excesses of the insurance industry including annual and lifetime caps on benefits. "Red state blowback," a tragically ironic affliction of voters in states carried by Donald Trump, states with higher percentages of people of preexisting conditions and fewer choices of insurers. Upward income redistribution caused by an $800 billion transfusion administered by the U.S. Treasury to the wealthiest people in America, a process doctors call "enrichening." Women should not handle copies of the legislative text. Nine out of 10 women who read the bill suffered from the immediate onset of severe depression due to the likely loss of coverage for contraception and maternity care. Women who are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant shouldn't take Trumpcara. In fact, in many states they won't be able to, as waivers from required "essential health benefits" will allow insurers to drop coverage for maternity care. So, if you're a GOP incumbent and want to make it to November 2018 without being primaried, take Trumpcara. It's not health care. And in the Senate, it's not even a bill. Trumpcara is trademark and GOPLabs is a registered trademarked of GOPLabs, Inc. [...]



Republicans Betray Their Gray-Haired Base with Trumpcare

2017-06-15T19:26:21Z

Ever since Donald Trump's shocking victory on Election Day, press, pundits, and pollsters have engaged in a furious debate about which voters propelled him to the White House. Was Trump's win the revenge of the "guns and bitter crowd" in...

Ever since Donald Trump's shocking victory on Election Day, press, pundits, and pollsters have engaged in a furious debate about which voters propelled him to the White House. Was Trump's win the revenge of the "guns and bitter crowd" in the Rust Belt, the white working-class voters whose racism, xenophobia and/or "economic anxiety" led them to pull the lever in 2016 for the reality TV star? Or was the Republican's core support throughout the primaries and the general election made up of more affluent and suburban backers? And as Trump's approval ratings continue to spiral downward to levels not seen since George W. Bush ambled out of the Oval Office, can he continue to count on an unshakeable "floor" of 35 to 40 percent support?

While these are all interesting questions, one thing is certain. Donald Trump, like Republicans nationwide over the past decade, has enjoyed the steadfast support of older voters. Since 2008, Americans (especially white Americans) over the age of 50 have reliably rallied behind GOP candidates. But under the American Health Care Act (AHCA) Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is now trying to sneak through the Senate, it will be the gray and the graying who suffer the most.

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To fully measure the magnitude of the coming Republican betrayal of older voters with the AHCA (a.k.a. Trumpcare), it helps to first appreciate their recent loyalty to the GOP. As the charts of exit poll data since 2008 above show, Americans over age 50 show up to vote and vote for Republicans. During presidential election years, voters ages 50 to 64 and over 64 combined have represented between 42 and 46 percent of the electorate. But in the 2010 and 2014 midterm balloting, their share reached a staggering 53 and 55 percent. While John McCain narrowly lost 50- to 64-year-olds by one point in 2008, Mitt Romney and Donald Trump had no difficulty winning voters over age 50 in 2012 and 2016.

The American Health Care Act is their reward for their loyalty. It's a loyalty expected by the GOP and (as we've learned) demanded by Donald Trump.

Continue reading at Daily Kos.




CBO: Conservative Bulls**t Obliterator

2017-06-05T03:18:02Z

This past two weeks have been big ones for some very big promises from Republicans in Washington. It didn't go well for them. Three weeks after House Republicans voted to pass a new version of their "American Health Care Act,"...

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This past two weeks have been big ones for some very big promises from Republicans in Washington. It didn't go well for them.

Three weeks after House Republicans voted to pass a new version of their "American Health Care Act," the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) weighed in on high-profile pledges from President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan. While Trump guaranteed "insurance for everybody" that is "much less expensive and much better," Ryan insisted the revised AHCA "protects people with pre-existing conditions." Not content to rest there, HHS Secretary Tom Price boasted that Trumpcare's $880 billion in cuts to Medicaid will "absolutely not" result in millions losing coverage.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration also unveiled its fiscal year 2018 budget proposal. With its draconian spending cuts to the social safety net programs, the White House blueprint was proclaimed "dead on arrival" even by some Republicans. But more embarrassing to Donald Trump was its double-counting of $2 trillion in revenue for Uncle Sam magically generated by "sustained, 3 percent economic growth." As Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declared a month ago, "the plan will pay for itself with growth."

Unfortunately for the White House and GOP leaders on Capitol Hill, the CBO demolished all of those Republican myths. Again. That's because whether the issue is health care, taxes, job numbers, or the impact of the President Obama's 2009 economic stimulus, the acronym "CBO" doesn't just stand for "Congressional Budget Office." It's also shorthand for "Conservative Bulls**t Obliterator."

As it turns out, in recent years that's been true even when Republicans have their hand-picked choice running the agency.

Continue reading at Daily Kos,