The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘ACA

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There was a moment during the previous Trumpcare vote, when John McCain made his dramatic entrance and gave the melodramatic thumbs down, when Democrats spontaneously burst into applause. And minority leader Chuck Schumer angrily waved for them to stop, which was almost like someone hit the “mute” button. Schumer must have known that Trumpcare was not yet dead and gloating was premature. Sure enough, Trumpcare is back. And it is actually closer to passing now than it was back then. Lisa Murkowski, who with Susan Collins so resolutely stood against it then, is wavering now. It is impossible to read McCain’s intentions. His maverickness has always been an illusion. Will he waver until the last moment and deal Trumpcare another deathblow so he can bask in the glow of public praise? Or will he do his usually hyper-partisan right-wing thing and do what he has always done: vote right along party lines? Who can tell.

There’s a moment in Hillary Clinton’s book “What Happened” where she mentions that at the inauguration McCain came up to her and hugged her, and had the same horrified expression on his face that she had. I’m sure this happened, but I’ve always been fascinated by how politicians can do and say such awful things to one another – and then talk about each other’s integrity. McCain’s behavior towards Clinton has been vile for many years. From Benghazi and emails through the entire campaign. And yet, Hillary considers him a friend. I know this sort of thing has been the gold standard for bipartisanship (fight during the day, share dinner and drinks at night), but when so much it at stake, how do politicians separate their personal feelings? How do they compartmentalize watching people do horrible things and go grab a smoke after? How does one continue to respect a man like John McCain?

Speaking of vile and no respect: Bernie. Yesterday socalannie posted a tweet from Sasha Stone, founder of the entertainment website awardsdaily.com.

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That’s a perspective on Sanders and his Revolution I hadn’t appreciated until Stone articulated it. And suddenly, so much of it makes sense. Bernie is the alien from “Aliens,” a parasite with acid for blood that latches on to a host because it can’t survive on its own, and then eats its way out through the chest cavity. It lays eggs (Bernie’s loyal minions like Nina Turner and Susan Sarandon), who do their own damage by killing their own hosts. And the cycle continues. Of course Sanders’ revolution is against Democrats. He and his believers have dedicated more time to attacking Democrats than Republicans and Trump. And they are doing it by infiltrating the party and are now eating their way out. Sadly the Democratic party is allowing it. Last week Sanders managed to bully a lot of leading Democrats, like Kirsten Gillibrand, Corey Booker and Kamala Harris into supporting his single payer plan, a plan each and everyone one of them knows has zero chance of passing. And a plan that they announced just as the newest version of Trumpcare, conceived by Lindsey Graham, began to dig its way out of the grave. Sanders convinced Democrats to take their eyes off the undead with the usual promises of magical unicorns. Even Bernie Bro Matty Yglesias tweeted that October 1 – the day after reconciliation of ACA repeal ends – would have been a better day to introduce single payer. Now it’s impossible to tell if ACA will survive. And no, contrary to what Bernie Bros maintain, death of ACA will not lead to single payer.

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On the plus side, NY Times’ Glenn Thrush announced he quit Twitter. Sayonara baby.

What’s your minds Widdershins? This is an open thread.

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For those tuning in for Fredster’s mellow tunes, he’s taking the weekend to rest. He spends way too many hours a day making sure things run smoothly around here. I’m sure he’ll be around to drop some tunes.

As is my prodigiously prolixous habit, I have a story. Most everyone knows A Chorus Line is one of the longest running Broadway shows in history. What most people don’t know is that the stories comprising A Chorus Line are real.

When the show was work-shopped, dancers were asked to recount their “stories”.  Those stories were woven together to create the play, the lyrics, and the music. Never before had it been tried. No one knew if it would work.

Well, it did work and it changed musical theater. It also changed lives. Young people became actors, dancers, choreographers, costumers, set designers, prop masters, and hundreds of other professions because of the show. It changed the way people saw theater.

This change came about because it was a play based in reality. It was about talent. It was about living your own truth – about telling your story. Most of all, the play was about standing up, following your heart, and doing something.

This week reminded me of A Chorus Line. The success of saving health care for 24 million Americans is due to people turning out, telling their stories, living their truth, and using their talent to overcome. Whether it was marching, calling, knitting hats, signing petitions, or just being informed, in the end reality won – at least for now.

Asked in November, anyone would have proclaimed the ACA dead. Health care was the long-hanging fruit – hanging so low it was touching the ground and rotting on the vine. No way, no how, would the Republicans be so incompetent as to not succeed at repealing something they have grunted and groaned about for seven years.

But they were that incompetent. They fielded a bill written with the venom of the insurance industry and recorded in the journals of epic fails. Never underestimate just how much Republicans will overestimate their reach.

So my suggestion is we celebrate with songs about overcoming adversity. If you have other ideas, you are welcome to share them. The first video is about the cast of Hamilton on April 16, 2016, celebrating the 40th anniversary of A Chorus Line opening off-Broadway at The Public Theater. At the end they talk about making a difference in the world just like what we witnessed this week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your turn. I hope your weekend is a great one.

 

Indeed, a bold move, let’s see if it pays off for them. So bold, the logic is nonexistent or exists in a parallel bizarro universe. Originally, I was going to post about a political science study, but it is too egg-headed and stuffy for a day like today.

Today we get to watch a bunch of Congressional one-eyed lemmings follow one another off the cliff because they’ve been told they can learn to fly on the way down.

 

These lemmings were tricked into trying to “midair Kitty Hawk” by King Don Dumb, the author of Schart of the Zeal.  That’s a book about living a goony-eyed life of believing your own sh!t so much you get all excited and poop yourself, but not before toot farting, thereby signaling your unbridled zeal.

Here’s the upside for King Don Dumb if it passes – 24 million lose their health insurance, premiums go up, deductibles go up, coverage goes down, but the really rich get millions in tax cuts.

Wreck-It-Ralph has let himself go…

Overnight, there was another ransom note from the freaky Freedom Caucus.  Not only does it cut essential benefits like maternity care, newborn care, pediatric care, mental health, drug treatment, rehabilitation, prescription drug coverage, preventative care, wellness care, chronic disease, laboratory services, hospitalization, and outpatient services, there’s more – even though that list looks like pretty much everything insurance is supposed to do.

To the things listed as essential services, add about eight other technical things that must have been written down during especially unctuous nocturnal emissions of insurance lobbyists.  They include eliminating the “single risk pool” allowing insurers to cull the cheap healthy from the expensive sick, reinstating lifetime and annual coverage limits, eliminating the requirement for no-cost preventative care like mammograms, and undoing the Medical Loss Ratio standards, which is a fancy term for forcing large insurers to pay out at least 85% of premiums on claims and rebating the rest.

And here’s what I can’t believe hasn’t been covered: This travesty – this atrocity increases the deficit. It’s only slightly cheaper than the ACA, but it still increases the deficit because of the tax cuts. These heartless, amoral, hell-bound morons are borrowing money to heap suffering on 24 million people. It’s like an arsonist taking a mortgage on a house before torching it.

For seven years we’ve heard that selling insurance across state lines is the magical elixir to reduce premiums. That tired story is just another hornless unicorn, but it is what “wonkinator” Paul Ryan has sworn will work. States already allow interstate insurance sales, but insurance companies don’t do it because it doesn’t make economic sense. As health care expert Austin Frakt, told the Los Angeles Times, “I never understood the appeal of this idea. It only makes sense if you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Here in one chart is all you need to know. The chart depicts the percentage of income paid for premiums of a 60-year old making $20,000.00 a year. Under the ACA, she pays about 5% of her income no matter where she lives. Under this “Death Care” (© Fredster), in some parts of the country the same 60-year old pays 100% of her income for coverage. No one is going to do that. No one can do that.

 

The Council of Scary Lady Parts meets to cut mammograms, pregnancy, and pediatric care…

No idea how this will turn out in the morning, but I’m sure of these things: The legislative language is still being worked out, there is no CBO score so no one knows how much these changes will cost, and oh yeah, this Death Care is polling at 17%.

One other thing, even if it does pass, it is DOA in the Senate. King Don Dumb has tooted and schart his pants declaring, “Take it or leave it, I’m done with health care.” At about 11:00 p.m., he blamed the anime-eyed granny-starver for this fiasco. As if that is a surprise.

The bold strategy is whether or not they can hide the fact this “wealth care” is only about the rich and Republican swamp dwellers. Hell of a thing. If someone had only warned us.

The first procedural vote is scheduled for 8:00 a.m. EDT this morning.

What’s on your mind today?

 

 

Pilgrim on a platter

Happy Thanksgiving Widdershins.  In keeping with our stress-reducing holiday theme, let’s engage in a little positivity and optimism.  In no particular order, here are some things for which I’m grateful this year – I hope you will add your own.

 

I’m thankful…

 

  • For the three percent of climate scientists who believe climate change isn’t really a thing since it would be weird if one hundred percent of scientists were in agreement on the subject.
  • For Donald Trump providing an aspirational goal for poor racists.
  • For Ben Carson proving that being intelligent and being informed are worlds apart.
  • That the videotape of George W. Bush at a mosque six days after 9/11 and him saying, “Islam is peace,” is again making the rounds.
  • For dash-cam cameras and body cameras.No cook
  • For actor and philanthropist Leonard Nimoy proving the elegance of intellect.
  • For seeing another Triple Crown winner in American Pharoah and that his owners spelled Pharaoh wrong.
  • The Affordable Care Act survived the Supreme Court.
  • For the grace and dignity of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church of Charleston, South Carolina.
  • Love bested bigotry in Obergefell v. Hodges.
  • John Boehner can smoke and drink without the pesky interruption of having to obstruct government.
  • To again celebrate France.
  • The American public will get to know Ted Cruz.I got this
  • For Adele because she’s just plain awesome.
  • I will get to see the first female President and her successes.
  • For the safe little world MB has created for us here as well as Chat’s and Fredster’s wisdom and good nature.

And if you are reading this, I’m thankful for each of you and your families.

Have a great Thanksgiving and feel free to take this conversation in any direction you might like.

For you city folk, there is a rural phenomenon where a dog will actually chase a car.  Crazy, I know, but it happens.  People have always tried to explain why dogs chase cars, but outside the thought bubbles of Snoopy no dogs have commented.  One thing I do know, catching a car by a car chasing dog leaves everyone scratching their heads.  What happens then?dog and car 2

This is the same conundrum facing Republicans these days.  They might be on the cusp of being “the dog what caught the car” on any number of issues.  Let’s review.

First and foremost, there’s the Supreme Court case of King v. Burwell where the ACA is on the chopping block courtesy of a simple legislative drafting error.  There’s Donald Trump’s “word salading” a run for the Republican presidential nomination.  Then there’s the winnowing down of the Republican field being outsourced to the Republican media operation of Fox News.  In addition, there’s the dissing of Pope Francis over his encyclical regarding climate change.  Add to that immigration, the environment, same-sex marriage, birth control, sex education, abortion, infrastructure spending, STEM education, or any number of other issues – take your pick – and the Grand Old Party is pre-diluvian in its positions and thinking.

If the Supreme Court violates the judicial keystone of upholding legislative deference to the executive branch in terms of implementing legislation, the resulting “major go-to-pieces” represented by the King case could go a long way in flipping both the House and the Senate.  Remarkably, two-thirds of those who stand to lose insurance subsidies live in Republican districts.

obamacare_worst_case scenarioThere are those on the Left who secretly hope the Supreme Court does get its conservative activism robes in a bunch and rule against Obamacare.  Polling suggests a majority of Americans want Congress to fix what is, in essence, little more than a grammatical error.

The resulting Republican stalemate over health care would be a Fort Sumter-esque first shot of an especially bloody civil war over what to do.  Ted Cruz and Rand Paul would be tripping over their respective high-heeled cowboy boots to filibuster any fix. Vulnerable Republicans would be caught with their “subsidies down”.  Mitch McConnell’s frustration would mean his world-class frown wouldn’t end until just below his kneecaps.

As for Donald Trump and his ongoing rant about his fellow candidates, the Republican Party has not a soul to blame, not a soul, but themselves.  It was all well and good to encourage “the Donald” as long as he was in search of a Kenyan birth certificate, but now his antics are being described as dangerous and delusional.  A trained seal knows from whence his fish comes and Trump’s same old tricks are golden when it comes to headline grabbing.Trump 2

Trump also knows the first commandment of political hucksterism, always attack upward.  His shots at Jeb! (to be read with emphasis), Rubio, and Walker are nothing but precursors of what his performance will be if he gets on a debate stage.  Now that will be must-see-teevee.

Speaking of the Republican debates, there is no better example of the dog catching the car.  With Fox being nothing more than the communications arm of the national Republican Party, Prince Priebus has deigned it acceptable for Fox and Roger Ailes to pick winners and losers in the GOP debate lottery.  Messaging and chronic indignation has always fostered a marriage of convenience between the GOP and Fox, but now the parenting skills of the “debate babies” are causing massive marital discord.

When you are likely to have twenty candidates and try to limit the debate to only ten candidates, you have just as many candidates off stage as on the stage (that is the extent of my mathematical skills).  Such an arrangement fosters plenty of sound bites for the disgruntled.  If you can’t organize a debate, how on earth are you going to organize the dismantling of the federal government while at the same time increasing defense spending and reducing taxes?

dog drivingThen there’s the problem of resolving the differences between the encyclicals of Pope Francis and the Brothers Koch.  The Pope sees climate change as real and the Brothers Koch have declared it whimsically imaginary.  The difference between the two schools of thought is punctuated by about a billion dollars in Koch contributions siphoned through a web of front organizations.

Trouble is:  More and more people, particularly those declaring an affinity toward religiosity, believe as does the Pope – we should be good stewards of our planet.  This presents a particular problem for those demonstrating a proclivity for sucking on the tailpipe of the Koch political machine.  You can’t exactly proclaim moral superiority when your morals are dictated by choosing the Brothers Koch as your ethical higher power.

We could go further in our metaphorical analysis, but there is no need.  Just like an angry dog, the “Party of No” has forgotten that just exhibiting unfocused anger leads not to a logical conclusion, but to general confusion. dog biting car

Just like a tantrum throwing two-year old, the anger of the Tea Party and the ultra-conservative base has fostered no sensible Republican policy alternatives short of pants wetting.  There’s something karmic about promoting calculated inaction resulting in unneeded suffering and then that inaction resulting in self-inflicted pain. Just ask any car chasing dog – all you get when you are successful is a sore, flat head.

I hope your Friday is a good one and I’ll be back tomorrow with a cavalcade of the ridiculous for your perusal.  Take the conversation in any direction you may desire.

 

 

 

Afternoon Widdershins. To keep the old synapses snapping, here’s a short post about marriage equality. Spoiler alert, it Daisy Pluckingisn’t one of those racy essays about couples’ plumbing or an IKEA’esque instructional of how Part A should fit into Part B. Rather, it is a calculated tale about our Chief Justice being nothing more than a robe-wearing daisy plucker who mumbles, “They love me, they love me not.”

I encourage you to read the entire Emily Bazelon essay entitled Marriage of Convenience. Her premise is decidedly unhappy-making, but well-worth the investment of time since it’s never too early to start preparing for bad news.

Ms. Bazelon’s premise:

…Same sex marriage does well in polls these days, and a Supreme Court ruling sanctioning it nationwide would probably poll well, too. And that sort of popular validation benefits Chief Justice John Roberts. Though he hasn’t supported same-sex marriage, he is highly attuned to the way the public perceives the court. His legacy as chief is tied to the standing of the institution he leads.

Marriage of convenience wedding cake…Roberts will probably have more chances, over time, to accomplish what appears to be his primary long-term goal: to move the court in a more conservative direction on a range of issues. (Corporate friendly/race unfriendly.)

…[T]he court has fared better with the public when it pairs conservative decisions with progressive ones. And same-sex marriage is part of that equation. In 2013, the term ended with a splashy ruling in which five justices — Roberts not among them — struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which restricted federal benefits for spouses to male-female couples. This decision came one day after the court gutted a central component of the Voting Rights Act, in a 5-to-4 decision written by Roberts.

The win for same-sex marriage overshadowed the loss for voting rights — an abrupt end to a key anti-discrimination provision, which had been hard-won by civil rights activists.

Next month there’s a new challenge to Obamacare manifested in the American Enterprise Institute funded case of King v. Burwell. In that it is before the Supreme Court is laughable, not just to supporters of the ACA, but also to conservative activists and health care providers like HCA.

At its heart the King case centers around four words inartfully phrased in the 900+ page legislation. Not to fear, such things happen so often there is well-settled Supreme Court precedent to handle such matters — ignore it and defer to the expertise of the agency implementing the legislation. In addition, for the plaintiffs to be successful they must wrap the case in tissues of lies and the Supreme Court, among other things, must embrace those lies and completely ignore the legislative history — a thing unheard of in American jurisprudence.

What a holding in King would do is strip subsidies from those enrolling through the federal exchange when their home states failed to enact a state exchange. It would strip subsidies from millions (the Rand Corporation estimates 10 million), increase premiums, cause cataclysmic confusion, and sow instability in the marketplace. Excising those offending four words and fixing the ACA in a Republican controlled Congress has a likelihood just below that of Mitch McConnell being named “Sexiest Man Alive”.

King v. Burwell: A second chance to make a first class bad decision...

King v. Burwell: A second chance to make a first class bad decision…

Three years ago when the ACA was before the Court, Roberts joined the progressives to uphold the law, but he gave conservatives a little noticed gift — allowing states to opt out of Medicaid expansion, thereby denying access to millions in 23 states. The farce of the King case will rip that hole in the safety net to a gaping maw 34-states wide.

If Roberts joins the four conservative justices this time around in this laughably incoherent, meritless case, the daisy scorecard will be evened up by the same-sex marriage case on the “they love me, they love me not” scale since health care for millions, courtesy of Chief Justice Roberts, will have been right and royally plucked.

Just for the record, it isn’t supposed to work like this, but it is something I thought you might like to know. Also, “plucked” wasn’t my first word choice.

Take the conversation in any direction you might like.

Good day Widdershins. It is Election Day or as it turns out, an extension of Halloween. We have the little political tricksters scaring us withElection 2014 Ebola, ISIS, non-existent voter fraud, Mexican drug cartels invading Arkansas, jogging suits doubling as prayer rugs in the Arizona desert, and weaponized polio patients bypassing universal healthcare in Canada to get into New Hampshire.

Most fearful of all, we are saddled with a lawless President delivering an economy growing at 3.5 percent (best in the industrialized world), unemployment below 6 percent, health care growth rates the lowest in two decades, and gas prices that are way, way down. How can it get much worse?

According to polling, the two issues weighing the heaviest upon the minds of voters are the economy and breaking legislative gridlock. And what have the candidates campaigned on — everything but the economy and gridlock. If anything, the most serious Republican candidates are campaigning for things to get gridlockier if that is possible.

In the second midterm election of the modern-day presidency, the historical average is a loss of six Senate seats by the party occupying the White House. In fact, the Republicans could pick up the needed six seats just in states carried by Mitt Romney by at least 14%. These electoral factoids don’t even take into consideration the midterm electorate is 2-3% more Republican in its composition. And most importantly, the demigod of political nerd-dom, Nate Silver at 538.com, has proclaimed there’s a 75% chance of a Republican takeover. ‘Nuff said.

2014 Senate Elections MapSo if the candidates aren’t campaigning on what concerns the voters, the logical question becomes what is likely to happen if there is a Republican takeover of the Senate?

Since neither John Boehner nor Mitch McConnell has laid out any specific policy goals, you know there is plenty of age-spotted hand-wringing going on in those hermetically sealed rooms where the crusty old translucent guys convene to fret about such things. Here’s some best guesses as to what worries are filling their Depends.

In a turnover of the Senate, the first two programs on the chopping block are health care and financial reform. As far as the Affordable Care Act is concerned, an outright repeal is not in the cards since even with a Republican takeover, the Senate won’t be veto-proofed. Most likely, after a large hoopla show vote for the peanut gallery, there will be targeted assaults on specific provisions of the ACA as amendments to other bills.

A sure target is the little understood, but much maligned medical device tax. During the early ACA negotiations, health care providers were asked what they would give in exchange for increases in patient volume. For example, health insurers agreed to an industry-wide fee generating $60.1 billion in revenue over ten years. Pharmaceutical companies agreed to an even higher assessment of $80 billion over the same ten-year term.

In the vernacular, this is political quid pro quo — if the government is shepherding new patients to the companies, then the companies need to contribute toward the overall cost. As for medical device makers, they ended up with a 2.3 percent tax on sales. This excise tax is scheduled to generate $29 billion over the next decade and automatically plowed back into expanding insurance coverage.

There’s the equivalent of an omerta code in politics, when you buy someone you have to make sure they stay bought. The trouble here is Your Vote is your Voicethat the medical device industry didn’t stay bought. So far they have spent over $150 million lobbying for repeal even though they are enjoying increased profits from expanded coverage. A repeal will mean an annual $3.0 billion dollar hole in the ACA budget.

Close to the unpopularity of the medical device tax are the financial reforms of Dodd-Frank. It seems the law about “too big to fail banks” is somehow too onerous for the banks that are now bigger and more profitable than they were in 2008 when Dubya bailed them out. Go figure.

You can bet the knives will be out for the EPA through funding cuts. In addition, there will be a mad-dash push to fast track the Keystone XL pipeline in order to deliver Mother Earth’s nasty undigested dinosaur excrement to the oil refineries on the Texas coast.

What Keystone proponents fail to acknowledge is this: After the pipeline is built, you can count on two hands the number of permanent jobs that will be created in the states where the shale sludge will flow. The only winners will be the most profitable companies in the history of mankind — the oil companies that will refine and off-tanker the product to China and India since the U.S. will soon be a net exporter of crude.

Judicial confirmations will continue to be as rare as hen’s teeth. There is little wonder Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is staying put. With John McCain slated to take over the Armed Services Committee, it will be the “all-Benghazi, all-ISIS, all-Syria, all-bomb, bomb, bomb Iran channel”.

Make no mistake, there will still be the social wedge issues. There will be an “ejaculation means life” legislation otherwise known as the “personhood” amendment. There will be efforts to repeal Common Core educational standards so that the Flintstones can be considered an educational documentary.

There will be calls for tax reform which means lowering the corporate taxes and increasing the tax burden on the working poor and the middle class. There will even be calls for abolishing the IRS in favor of a flat tax — aptly named since it will flatten the aforementioned working poor and the middle class. Undoubtedly, twenty thousand soldiers on the border won’t be enough and we will have to build an even higher wall to protect Mexico from the crazies on our southern border.

Joni ErnstAdd to the mix the senatorial loons drawn to the flame of notoriety for the sake of the 2016 presidential race — Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Rob Portman. If they had one more and they may have it in the Iowa hog castrator, Joni Ernst, they can enter the unicorn relay race at the annual Thorazine Festival emceed by Michele Bachmann.

Oh, one last thing, Obama will need to buy his veto pens by the gross.

This is what looms on the horizon this election day. What was supposed to be a sure-fire Republican tsunami has turned out to be a twenty-five percent chance of a non-turtle led Senate majority.

This election isn’t a done deal. We can’t solve our problems by the same type of thinking and feeble-minded platitudes that created them.

Go vote and come back and talk about anything you want especially what turnout looks like in your neck of the woods.

 


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Kellyanne Conway’s new job

Take the kids to work? NO!

That moment when *your* pussy gets grabbed

You go gurl! h/t Adam Joseph

“The” Book

Nice picture of our gal

Time till the Grifter in Chief is Gone

Hopefully soonerJanuary 21st, 2021
2.3 years to go.

Mueller Time!

Wise Words from Paul Ryan

B-I-N-G-O!

Only the *best* politicans bought by the NRA

Marching for their lives

Perfect Picture

Rudy: oh shit the pee tape IS real!

Need Reminders?

Never too early to shop for Christmas

“Look this way”

Manafort’s Jail Photo

Indeed who?

Trump spam

IOW Dumb = Happy?

Simply Put

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