Posts Tagged ‘Ryan’
Sometimes when presented with esoteric information I find myself thinking, “Why would I ever need to know that?” Without being psychic, there’s a better than even chance you are about to have that exact same thought, because…
This post is about budget reconciliation, the Senate Byrd Rule, and tax cuts.
Stick with me for about 400 more words and I promise everything will come together.
First, a quick story. Let’s say you are an enterprising high school student who, on occasion, visits your parent’s liquor cabinet. The parents, just as enterprising, mark the level of happy juice remaining after they partake. Therefore, fun is calibrated by hash marks running down the spine of the bottle indicating how much happy juice remains to be imbibed.
How does the enterprising teenager cover his surreptitious “borrowing” of fun juice? A “C” student would use water to fill the bottle back to the hash mark. An “A” student would find the pen used to make the hash mark and just make a new, lower one.
Folks, that’s a synopsis of the federal budget reconciliation act for purposes of tax cuts. I’ll explain.
Being discerning Widdershinners, the velocity with which the Republican American Health Care Atrocity Act (AHCA) moved was worrisome. Why the breakneck speed to alter almost one-fifth of the economy? The reason: Paul Ryan didn’t want anyone to notice the tax cut hash marks were being changed.
What the AHCA did was to lower the liquor bottle hash marks for tax cuts. It changed the tax baseline. The reason this is important is that the Senate rules require any tax cut to end after ten-years unless it is “paid-for” – ergo, the lower the hash mark, the less you have to replace. That’s the Byrd Rule.
The Republicans wanted to eliminate $1.0 Trillion in taxes over the next ten years by repealing the A.C.A. That meant $1.0 Trillion less they would have to replace in “pay-fors” in the next round of tax cuts, which they euphemistically call “tax reform”.
Paul Ryan doesn’t care about health care policy. He cares about tax cuts. The AHCA was merely a means to an end. Ryan, with a complicit White House, was merely figuring out a way to make the coming tax cuts larger and permanent. He was lowering the hash mark on the liquor bottle so he and his overlords could swill more of that sweet, delicious juice of the tax cut. The repeal of the A.C.A. taxes make the next tax cuts coming through “tax reform” look more affordable.
The chart below demonstrates what a massive redistributive tax cut the AHCA represented. It was redistribution from those least able to pay to the wealthiest collective in the country – the One Percenters.
Why am I taking your time with this? The quest for larger and permanent tax cuts isn’t over.
Ryan and his tax cut swilling cohort aren’t quitting – just like drinkers, nobody likes a quitter. Yesterday, a purloined recording of Ryan cooing to Republican donors surfaced. He promised:
We’re not going to just all of a sudden abandon health care and move on to the rest. We are going to move on with rest of our agenda, keep that on track, while we work the health-care problem. . . . It’s just that valuable, that important.
The anime-eyed granny-starver isn’t giving up. He might announce his grand plan as early as Thursday or Friday. Hell hath no fury like a Republican denied tax cuts. Who would have thought Republicans would seek to cut taxes, end regulation, rollback civil rights, and then for good measure, cut some more taxes? Who’d a’thunk it?
This class on budget reconciliation is now adjourned.
What’s on your mind today?
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.
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.
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?
When I’m cooking, I’ve learned if you have the luxury of time, low and slow is the way to go. Earlier in my scotch-addled life, my friends told me of limbo contests where I physically went low and slow. And speaking of my scotch-addled life, low and slow pretty much described my dating habits.
Low and slow is neither the way to run the government nor is it the way to run the economy. It is inconceivable to imagine a budget lower in basic human services than what we saw this week.
Yesterday in watching Dick Prick Mick Mulvaney, the dust ruffle of crazy town, claim that cutting Meals on Wheels is the compassionate thing to do, I’m pretty much convinced we can’t go much lower. As we say around here, we are “next to the belly of a snake in a wagon rut.”
Obviously, Dolt 45 is as dumb as a box of hair mated with some orange zest and Adderall. He could care less what these crazy ideologues do as long as he can continue belching his lies in front of half-empty venues.
So why should he care? He’s got Mulvaney and anime-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan to shovel the steaming dump Jim DeMint and the Heritage Foundation just took on the country. This budget, which will never pass, is nothing but the greatest hits from 1980s Heritage Foundation. Not even Reagan dared going this low.
When someone has no shame, there just is no limit to the depths they will sink. Given this first fifty days, it won’t be long before we are plumbing the depths of the Mariana Trench.
When it comes to slow things, the economy is troubling. About a year ago, I started paying attention to certain economic indicators believing Hillary was about to inherit a lethargic economy. There are disturbing indicators.
Here is a truism: Economic expansions never die from old age. The current expansion is seven and half-years old. That is long in the tooth.
Gallup surveys economic confidence and says it is at a historic high. The stock market is at a record high. The economy is still adding jobs. So why am I spending your time on the subject?
We are in a bubble. The confidence and stock market are anticipatory highs. It is not based in value. The highs are based upon a belief in massive Trumpanzee promised corporate tax cuts and the repatriation of $2.1 Trillion in offshore profits. Neither will be invested in expansion, but will be paid out in dividends or in stock buybacks. It will make the 1% even more one-percentier.
Unrelated to this economic giddiness, there are indicators screaming we are heading into another slowdown if not outright recession. Not to bore you, but just a few indicators:
- Employers are cutting back hours. We are seeing the highest percentage in the decline of hours since the 2008 recession.
- Tax receipts are down.
- Retailers are missing their earnings projections.
- Lending standards have tightened.
- Job growth at the S&P companies has gone negative.
All of these are warning signs of a slowing economy or impending recession. Any external event could hasten an economic retreat. Perhaps even monkeying around with one-sixth of the economy with an ill-conceived health care plan or a federal budget that would decimate hundreds of thousands of employees could precipitate it. Who knows?
I do know this: There are very few tricks left in the wheelhouse to combat recession. We will hear tax cuts from this bunch of Neanderthal MAGAbators, but as we have seen time and time again, sloganeering is not economic policy.
We are still paying for the last time we allowed this knuckle-dragging crowd to raid the Treasury with tax cuts, two wars, and unfunded benefit programs. Half of the national deficit is due to giving them the credit card and hoping for the best. Well, we know how that turned out.
Why do I think this is important enough to take your time this morning? From what I saw in the proposed budget, these people are unimaginative at best and stone-cold ignorant at worst. They are uncaring and vindictive. They are politically deaf. Power is a means to an end for them.
The choices represented in their budget were callous and heartless. If the worst happens, their response to an economic downturn will be likewise – callous, heartless, low, and slow. Human suffering will be but a minor inconvenience for a $2.1 Trillion payday. Daddy needs a new Gulfstream 650.
What’s on your mind today?
Noted scholar and transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.” So to begin my self-allotted 800 words, what do I do? I quote a smart man explaining his utter disdain for quotes.
True story. I love quotes. Collect them I do. I’m always looking for smart words from those who have journeyed before. Their wisdom is manifest and unmistakable. I find comfort in that.
So this week while thinking about this post, I began looking for a quote about shame. There weren’t that many shame quotes and the few I found were all wrong. They talked about shame as a regulator of behavior – as something to be “ashamed of”. There weren’t any quotes about the lack of shame.
Given the lack of quotes about shamelessness, it might indicate we are regressing along the evolutionary continuum. I imagine shamelessness requires less higher reasoning and a greater reliance on the lower brain stem – which brings me to Supreme Commander Monkey Butt (hereinafter “His Redness” or sometimes “Dolt 45” or “His High Assholiness”).
When I’ve described Dolt 45’s personality traits, I’ve been quite reticent about his mental health. With a high degree of probability I can surmise his behavior patterns, but his mental condition I will leave to others.
This brings me to his shamelessness. The only shame he fears is being labeled a fraud which is his primary and paramount behavioral avoidance priority. For all other types of normal, human shame – he has none. The shame a normal human would suffer does not faze him.
Within the last forty-eight hours, he told Tea Party groups not to worry if the Trump/RyanCare plan failed because he would make sure the ACA failed so he could blame the Democrats. Or telling the same groups he was fine with accelerating the human suffering by speeding up the Medicaid cutbacks by two years if that’s what it takes to win. Sociopathic behavior for sure, but no evidence of shame.
My point is this: While His High Assholiness’ behavior is abhorrent, it is the new Republican Trumpism. He is near the perfect Republican or so says at least 89% of self-described Republicans. Again, my feeble mind is called to a quote from H.L. Mencken:
As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
The great and glorious day has arrived and the White House is now resplendently adorned by the consummate “downright moron” who happens to be unburdened by shame. He was the apple-eyed desire of the plain folks or at least 70,000 under-educated white men in three states. That desire still burns white-hot in nine out of ten Republican hearts.
These Trumpian sycophants know no shame. Just consider: Passing legislation affecting one-sixth of the economy without a hearing in the dead of night. Or ending life-sustaining medical care for maybe 15,000,000 people. Or ending opioid therapy or mental health treatment for millions. Or ending health clinics and outreach for the poorest and most under-served populations. Or doing all of this without an estimate of the costs.
All of this to give the wealthiest, most secure, and most powerful a massive tax cut. And on top of that giving insurance companies and medical device manufacturers a tax cut. And on top of that making sure the inadequate tax credits are as regressive as possible without regard to need or ability to pay. And on top of that, and this is where the shamelessness is extraordinary, financing the whole damn thing by draconian cuts to Medicaid – cuts to the poorest, weakest, and most vulnerable among us.
This bill isn’t a health care plan, it is a massive tax cut disguised as a political slogan to repeal the ACA. It is a WealthCare plan. It is a risible act of ignominy so outrageous it wouldn’t even make the SNL trashcan.
As discerning Widdershins, you are asking, “Why isn’t he mentioning the hypocrisy?” The answer is simple – without shame there is no hypocrisy. Talking to these people about hypocrisy is like talking to a cobra about venom or a skunk about stink. It is what makes them who they are.
The inimitable Mr. Emerson was a transcendentalist meaning he believed in the inherent goodness of individuals. I want to believe that too since there’s no shame in that – at least not yet.
I’m going to leave you with a musical interlude then I’ll list some links for interesting stories I couldn’t work into my self-indulgent rant/therapy. As always, take the safety off, comment at will, and thanks for listening.
Speaking of clowns, here’s one, and he’s a substitute for the Presidential Daily Briefing:
A wonderfully researched study of 1.25 million stories by the Columbia Journalism Review indicating Breitbart to be the right-wing media anchor hub of a distinct and insulated media system that appears to have set the agenda and overall tone for Hillary’s negative coverage.
An interactive demonstration that the “higher premium” lamentation by the shameless Republicans is, like so many things, made of whole cloth.
The lackadaisical use of military force is troubling and a bad omen of things to come. One week of bombing is equal to one year of missions under Obama.
Watch Paul Ryan’s Adam’s Apple when he’s asked about his “good, best friends” the rich.
From Anne Rice’s book, The Witching Hour:
Give me a man or woman who has read a thousand books and you give me an interesting companion. Give me a man or woman who has read perhaps three and you give me a very dangerous enemy indeed.
Our White House is chocked full of dangerous enemies. I doubt Dolt 45 has ever read a book. Of the two power brokers, Steve Bannon and Steve Miller, or Steve Squared, Bannon has undoubtedly cracked more books than the dead-eyed, zombified Miller, but their coming of age is almost identical.
According to acquaintances, Bannon changed after 2001. He came to embrace eras of historical significance divvied-up into 20-year increments of “highs, awakenings, unraveling, and crises.” To quote one of Bannon’s 2008 films, “History is seasonal, and winter is coming.”
The Miller part of Steve Squared was an enfant terrible calling into conservative talk radio while still in high school in the early aughts. He bragged to conservative audiences of cracking the whip on laggardly high school janitorial staff. A graduate of U.S. Senator and ambulatory garden gnome Jefferson Beauregard Sessions’ tutelage, there is no better description of Miller than this:
In any other Republican administration, Miller would have been lucky to land a second-tier job at a third-tier agency. But in the Trump White House, Miller stands out: He’s one of the few people in the president’s inner orbit who has actually worked in government.
And that my friends is the high water mark of what constitutes a policy shop for a petulant 70-year old who might or might not have successfully graduated from the Trump University of Potty Training given the reports of vodka-swilling, borscht-loving prostitutes.
Bannon and Miller are zealots. They are true believers – not of Trumpism for whatever that may turn out to be. They have spawned an apocalyptic philosophy of white national populism – the schizophrenic belief of a Judeo-Christian right to a 21st Century modernity of gadgets and gizmos nestled safely in a 1950’s culture where we are all employed by jobs last worked by our grandparents.
Empty vessels are the easiest filled. Barely 40-days in and this truism is proved by Flynn resigning due to canoodling with the Russians, a Secretary of the Navy, a Secretary of the Army, a Secretary of Labor, a Deputy Secretary of Commerce, and at least six White House staffers biting the curb because of non-existent vetting. Hundreds of offices are unfilled without any hint of nominees.
We have a rolling disclosure of Russians leaping like Baryshnikov to meet with campaign Trumpets. As of this writing, Flynn, Kushner, fruitcake Carter Page, J.D. Gordon, Walid Phares, and His Gnomeness Sessions, all met with the Russian ambassador Kislyak.
Then there is Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer, who is so squirrely his bushy tail twitches when he someone says, “nuts.” Add to that Paul Manafort and you just need one more to field a baseball team, maybe the Chernobyl Reds who can play in the majorly radioactive league. The nagging question is this: Why the concerted effort to conceal these meetings?
Given these people’s intellectual challenges, they would be safer if they ate their meals with sporks since they are absolutely unfettered by their cluelessness of what they don’t know. The two people who are dancing on Occam’s razor, hoping against hope that Dolt 45’s signing pen doesn’t run out of ink are McTurtle and the doe-eyed Granny starver Ryan.
These two who worship power above all else are hoping that when the dust settles, their treasonous tryst will go unnoticed. And even if they are suspected of nefarious collusion, they will have accomplished their goal – tax cuts for the wealthiest among us. The 400 highest income earners in the country will get an average tax cut of about $7.0 Million a year for the low, low price tag of depriving health care to 21 Million.
Of course this pas de deux of the vacuous and the treasonous will culminate in a virtuoso of viperous Republican retribution. All in an effort to make good on the promise to the reliably hateful Republican/Tea Party voters to hurt those with less.
Overwhelming the already anemic media is part of the Steve Squared’s plan – not that overwhelming the media requires much effort. At least it appears that the Democrats are heeding the message to fight. It seems as if they finally understand there were no rewards for working with Dubya or no punishment for eight years of Republican obstruction.
It seems as if the Intelligence Community is our last bastion of protection. I follow a few former intelligence officers on Twitter and I perked right up when one said quite unequivocally that Dolt 45 will spend his last years in prison. They use sporks there too.
What’s on your mind today?
That’s how many seconds we have survived under the Trump/Putin Administration. Thinking of it like that gives the illusion of something longer than just a week, but that’s all it has been. There are 207 more weeks to go in this first four-year installment of, “Government by basic cable.”
While the Women’s March gave me hope, I have fallen into a pall. I’ll save the reason for the end of this post.
Last August I wrote about the Yam’s psychological composition. It’s time to revisit those for a starting point to today’s discussion. I went into much more detail back in August, but I wanted to mention the high points.
Der Trumpenfuhrer exhibits the traits of an Executive Sales consultant. You won’t find these people under every rock you turn over, but they aren’t an endangered species. Predominant are his traits of Significance, Competition, and Command.
The Significance means he receives every ounce of his self-esteem from the way other people see him. In short, he is an empty vessel of perpetual need. Emotional fragility is his default position. No amount of positive feedback will quench his constant thirst to be told he is a person of value.
Competition explains his fixation on the inaugural crowd and the popular vote. As I said back in August, it isn’t so much about winning as it is about everyone else losing. There’s a darkness and mean-spiritedness prevalent in this characteristic. It’s about wishing ill to befall everyone standing in the way of conquest. Numbers are measurements and everything is about measurement.
Then you have the third leg of the stool – Command. People who have Command must be in charge. They are essentially rhetorical bulldozers without a reverse gear. Emotions and feelings are merely weaknesses giving those with Command something at which to aim. Command is the trait that erases the Yam’s shame and embarrassment genes.
I mention these characteristics again for a simple reason. The clamorous Yam is not going to change. The only change is this: When he is tired or under pressure, these proclivities will be stronger. These are his default settings. We will see more of this behavior, not less.
These characteristics have not been lost on those around the Yamster. The devious ones are attempting to harness these characteristics as best they can. The others are leaking like incontinent sieves.
In my humble opinion, the true evil behind the madness is hiding in plain sight – Bannon. It takes a certain kind of discerning evil to play to Trump’s character by publicly humiliating Mitt Romney. It takes a keen hand to play to the base by parading Al Gore through the Trump lobby and then appointing his antithesis to head the EPA the very next day.
Bannon’s fingerprints are all over this first week like overwhelming the press by chewing paper and crapping Executive Orders. Such are the actions of a two-bit dictator. The number of full democracies in the world was reduced by one this year – from 20 to 19. The one falling to the “flawed democracy” category was the U.S.
This is merely the tip of the great orange turdberg into which we are sailing. Pence and Ryan have conspired to erase the New Deal and surrender human rights within our foreign policy. Eighty years of progressive policy will die in some Ayn Randian polemic mirroring the dystopian carnage the Yam barked about in his inaugural address.
From transferring the corporate tax burden to the middle class, from starting a trade war to inadvertently conferring superpower status on China, from increasing infant mortality to accelerating climate change, the future is indeed dark. To summarily cede the largest trading bloc to China will haunt us for generations.
This is what I know. The harm will be quickly legislatively engineered. The effects will metastasize at a slower pace. Pence, Ryan, and Bannon will fray the social safety net and the damage will not be undone for generations. In these hyper-partisan times, re-engineering Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid is incomprehensible.
This clown show is currently booked for 4 years. The fools lured into Cabinet posts won’t have comparable longevity. They will be expected to fall on their swords like a Jonestown dance team to protect the dear Supine Leader’s emotional fragility.
If these people have their way, corporate profits will win over regulation. To speed up making the world a more dangerous place, the House has passed legislation allowing regulations to be rolled back without the protections of normal rule-making. We will soon be living in the “regulation-free jungle” where food, water, air, voting rights, and any number of basic human needs are a roll of the dice.
All of this is sad, but my despondence is deeper. For me it is this simple: I have always believed in the goodness of my fellow citizens — their better angels. We are embarking on an era where such optimism is misplaced.
Trump is ushering in an era where the vindictive nature of the Tea Party/Trumpists will reign supreme. It isn’t about a wall or health care – it is about causing pain. Whether the enemies are Mexicans or people of color or the libruls or gays or immigrants, someone has to hurt in the goofy belief it will be a balm for generational economic transition.
A $50 Billion great wall will never satiate people who fought to deny water to Katrina victims. Who fight funding for health care to children and the elderly. Trump and his pack of jackals bragged about harnessing the anger of the electorate, I never believed our national morality would be the first victim.
If our collective goal in the American experiment was building the Utopian “shining city on the hill,” by surrendering our institutions to this callous cabal we have forsaken that dream, embraced the malevolence, and forever altered the course of our shared history. This moralistic void chills the soul – hopefully our better angels will reawaken. Last weekend’s march was a great start.
What’s on your mind today?