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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Warren's M4A financing plan

Elizabeth Warren over the last few weeks has faced questions over how she imagines financing Medicare for All -- and who, in the end, would be better or worse off.  On Friday, she answered those questions by sketching out how much she envisions a new government-run health care system costing and, then, how the government would pay for it.

Here's the thumbnail version of what she proposes: She would hike taxes on corporations and the rich. She would repurpose the money employers and states now spend on their own health insurance programs. She would pull money from elsewhere in the federal budget and, critically, she would control spending throughout the health care industry -- not just for drug makers, but for doctors and hospitals too.

The plan is complex and so it will be a while before analysts figure out exactly what it entails and where all the hidden tradeoffs are. The numbers add up, at least on paper, and she's got some highly respected experts, including former Obama administration officials Don Berwick and Betsey Stevenson, vouching for the feasibility of different plan components.

Still, plenty of experts are already wondering about the provision to keep employers paying for health care -- and whether it can work as Warren intends. Others are questioning her campaign's assumptions of massive new savings from administrative simplification and whether she's accounted appropriately for other variables, like the fact that people who get better health insurance tend to consume a lot more health care.

And then there are the daunting political challenges that any Medicare for All plan, including the original bill from Bernie Sanders, would face. Corporations will fight the new taxes and the health care industry will oppose the new cost controls, arguing, rightly or wrongly, that they will undermine quality and timeliness of treatment, even as the plan eliminates financial barriers to care. That could resonate with a public that, however unhappy about the status quo, also lacks faith in government.

Could Warren's plan work in the real world? Should we judge it as a schematic, or a statement of priorities and values? Is it more or less honest than the typical campaign document -- and how does it compare to what Republicans have put forward? These are all good questions, about which honest people can disagree. 

But at the very least, we can stop asking how Warren would pay for a single-payer health care plan and start asking whether her approach to policy makes sense for the country.

Here's a tweetstorm with some more thoughts:


And then the full story at HuffPost, from Friday, with my colleague Kevin Robillard:

 
Jonathan Cohn 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

IRS (It's Russia Stupid)

  The only possible explanation for Traitor Trump's insane foreign policy is that it is being done to please Russia.  To this day I do not discount the possibility that Russia has him on videotape at the Moscow hotel.  Separately, his real estate empire has been financed by Russia.  Who knows how many 10s of millions or hundreds of millions he owes Russia.  His son admitted that their main source of financing is Russia.  This is separate and apart from the untold millions of  laundered dollars spent by Russians to buy units in his Manhattan and other facilities.

         The thing about tRUMP is that a lot of stuff he does in plain sight.  The perfect example is when during the campaign he asked whether Russia was listening to him.  Then in Helsinki he said he believed Putin rather than his own intelligence agencies.
 
       I could give an exhaustive list of examples of the tRUMP/Russia quagmire.  I will give only the ones that have come up in the last week   The vast majority of commentators discussing the Ukraine scandal hardly mention Russia.  For me, Russia is at the heart of the scandal. Russia is the story, not Ukraine.  The two men who were indicted for illegal campaign violations to the tRUMP campaign did so with laundered Russian money.  It was in Russia'a interest to destabilize Ukraine.  

         There  has been absolutely zero explanation from the White House about why tRUMP personally withheld military funding from Ukraine.  If you realize that withholding the funds was in Putin's interest, then it make sense.

          Pulling U.S. troops away from protecting our allies also makes perfect sense if you look at it through the Russia prism.   The Assad regime would have been defeated if not for Russian military aid.  Assad fought bitterly against the Kurds. By failing to protect the Kurds, tRUMP is helping to support Assad who in turn is supported by Russia.

          Trump was asked if his withdrawal of support for the Kurds will hinder other alliances.  In a total non sequitur tRUMP basically said that we don't need alliances.  He went on to bash NATO with his old canard that NATO has not paid enough money.  He basically said that there is no reason for us to be in NATO.  Let them face Russia by themselves.  This was music to Putin's ear. 

                Moscow Mitch was totally offended by any suggestion that he is not tough on Russia.  He claims that he has opposed Russian influence for his entire career.  Where was Moscow Mitch's outrage when the Mueller report said that the tRUMP campaign encouraged Russian interference in our elections?  Where is  Moscow Mitch now when faced with  the fact that laundered Russian money went into the tRUMP campaign.

             The walls are crumbling.  The former ambassador to Ukraine made a blistering statement about the State Department and tRUMP's hatchet men  who got her fired.  A top adviser to Pompeo has quit in disgust.  tRUMPists are are scrambling to get rid of laundered Russian money.  Unless tRUMP's  S.Ct. decides to reverse well established law his tax returns will be turned over to Congress.   tRUMP has viciously turned on Fox.  If Fox turns or if even a few Republicans grow some, Russia's favorite asset is going down.  As every new breaking story comes out, hope is building. Yesterday more rats left the stinking ship.  

                                                                  Richard

Monday, October 7, 2019

Bizarroworld

The last 24 hours may be the most bizarre in all of tRUMP's presidency.  And that's a very low bar.  The State Department inspector general had an urgent meeting with the house intelligence committee.  It turns out that the urgency was because he was in position of crazy conspiracy documents and he wanted to get them off his hands as  soon as possible.  The documents were in an envelope addressed to Mike Pompeo, attn. Ruth.  The envelope was apparently hand delivered.  The return address said, "White House."  Inside were several  folders which contained documents on Trump Hotel stationary.  How did they come into the possession of Mike Pompeo you may ask?  Rudy Giuliani.  He put together a bunch of junk trying to show that Ukraine interfered in our elections to help Hillary Clinton.  This is, of course, directly opposite of the unanimous conclusion of 17 intelligence agency as well as the exhaustive Mueller investigation.  It is the equivalent of tRUMP suggesting that the DNC might have been hacked  by a 500 pound man sitting on his bed.

           Trump's press conference with the president of Finland could be Exhibit 1 in tRUMP's involuntary confinement hearing.  He was crazed. He turned red in the face.  He did his usual screaming and yelling.  He did his usual name calling. Then he took off on Adam Schiff.  He  said that Schiff could not hold the blank strap of Mike Pompeo.  He said it twice.  After some headscratching, people figured out that tRUMP must have meant jockstrap.  Who knew that jock is a dirty word?  tRUMP's aversion to bad language did not last long since he said that the impeachment investigation is total bullshit.  

       Back to Giuliani.  It turns out that he has visited Manafort several times in prison.  Please recall that Manafort was on the payroll of the corrupt Ukranian government.  Giuliani was probably on two missions.  First, to prove that  Ukraine supported Hillary 
Clinton.  And second, that  Joe and Hunter Biden were criminals.  Both of those theories are nonsense.  And coming from Manefort they have zero credibility.
It is tempting to laugh off these visits.  But  there is a very important  point to be made.  What  is the message that Manafort is receiving when President tRUMP's personal attorney is asking him for something?  The message is obvious.  tRUMP can pardon him if he gives some  dirt.  In my view this is another example of obstruction of justice.

    Then there is Pompeo.  After feigning complete ignorance of tRUMP's conversation with Zelezny, he finally, and  very sheepishly,admitted that he was listening to the conversation.  Pompeo's people are saying that he  recalled the ambassador to  Ukraine because he was worried about her safety.  Unfortunately for Pompeo he was listening to tRUMP say that the ambassador was a very bad person and things were going to happen to her.  As with all of tRUMP's acolytes, Pompeo's reputation for whatever it was worth is now forever sullied.

    And finally today  tRUMP said  that everyone has no doubt that the Bidens are not criminals.  Read that again.   In addition to all of his other unfamiliarity with the English language, tRUMP can't figure out double negatives.   He did exactly the same thing at his press conference with his brother Vladimir.

          This is a very brief rundown of bizarroworld.  I am sure you can give plenty of other examples that I missed from the last 24 hours.  In the world of sanity, Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff had a fabulous news conference.  They are so smart and so objective and so patriotic.  I think they are going to prevail and tRUMP is going down.  Before that happens he is going to flail  and attack even more outrageously.  It won't be pretty but he is going down.  Take care all.

                                                                 Richard

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Whistleblower

Since the time Traitor Trump began his campaign until today there have been any number of instances where people have speculated that the end of tRUMP had arrived. So far we have all been wrong. Maybe this time the tipping point has arrived. The acting director of national intelligence is supposed to testify to Congress on Thursday. He has been subpoenaed to supply the whistleblower complaint to Congress. If he does not he is continuing to break the law. I understand that there are several Democratic congress men and women who flipped their districts who now say they will vote for an impeachment investigation if the whistleblower complaint is not delivered.
Just to refresh your recollection, Michael Atkinson inspector general for the intelligence committee wrote that the whistleblower's complaint is of "urgent concern" Mr. Atkinson is a tRUMP appointee. His finding requires that the whistleblower complaint be provided to congress within 7 days after the "acting" director of national intelligence receives it. tRUMP's acting director of national intelligence did not comply with his legal obligation. Instead , he consulted with tRUMP's attorney general which received input from the White House. This activity is so wrong on so many levels.
Here is why I ask the question about whether Traitor Trump is telling the truth . He made a statement that everyone but him has read the report and they are all laughing. There is much to unpack in that simple statement. First, he says that he has not read the report. I don't believe him. He certainly seems to know exactly what is in the report. Second he says that everyone is laughing at the report. Again, I don't believe him. I think there is not a soul laughing at the whistleblower's report. But the third element of the statement is by far the most concerning. tRUMP claims that "everyone" has read the report. What if he is telling the truth? It is entirely possible that he is.
To start, every whistleblower statute explicitly requires that the whistleblower's complaint be seen by only a limited number of people and must be kept strictly confidential. If "everyone" has seen the report, it has a totally chilling effect on future whistleblowers. They can no longer be assured that their complaint will remain confidential. It certainly has a devastating effect on the whistleblower in this case.
Second, we are dealing with national intelligence. Does "everyone" include people with no security clearance?" If in this instance tRUMP is telling the truth, he has betrayed our country once again.
There are so many parts to this story. This is one I find most interesting. On August 8, Dan Coats, former national security advisor interrupted a meeting which included his deputy to tell her she must resign immediately. The whistleblower filed his or her complaint on August 12. Coats and Gordon left on August 15. Did Coats resign because he knew about tRUMP's traitorous conversations with the prime minister of Ukraine? I don't believe in coincidences.
So is this the tipping point? We will know a lot more on Thursday. If Congress is denied information which the law says must be shared with Congress, the next step could well be an impeachment investigation. Even Nancy Pelosi, the reluctant impeacher, seems to be saying ,"Yes." Stay tuned.
Richard

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Corporate Democrats

Apparently, it is necessary to identify and define corporate Democrats. The first step is to recognize that there is objectively a split in the ruling class. The Republican party represents the most reactionary, racist. male supremacist section of the ruling weighted heavily weighted with inherited wealth. Trump did not come out of nowhere. The Republican party has used "wedge" issues for over 60 years particularly when
Goldwater carved out the South as the base of the Republican Party. They attacked Democrats as soft on crime and established the war on drugs which was a smoke screen to attack the anti-war movement and the militant Black power movement. They attack busing, affirmative action, feminism, governmental regulation, unions, and on and on all identified as The Democratic Party.
There is as section of the ruling class that controls the Democratic party that is in favor of busing but not strongly, that is opposed to mass incarceration but not with conviction, that allows diversity but not integration, that above all requires the protection of capitalism. They are in favor of unions as long as they are weak and obedient.
That leaves the working class with one of 2 choices: the reactionary Republican party or the corporate based Democratic Party. Because the choice is so troublesome, I say we have been fighting a rear guard action until Bernie broke through the control and energized the progressive base of the party, uniting all who have been left out.
A corporate Democrat accepts the history of choosing the lesser of 2 evils and bowing to the demands of big money donors. That includes all candidates except Bernie. The first requirement is to announce that they are capitalists to insure their loyalty. And they are losers: Clinton lost 7 senators, 45 representatives and 11 governors; Obama lost 9 senators, 63 representatives 13 governors. And they lost 1000s of down ballots. In addition, they have caused millions of people to give up on voting. Hope is the only revolutionary mechanism and 2018 provided that. Even then corporate Democrats cling to their losing strategy. Bernie is the one person who can implement change and defeat Trump/Republicans. Yours in Struggle Ron

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Trump bars two U.S. Congresswomen from Israel

As I have often said, when you think that tRUMP can't go any lower, he exceeds your expectation. His limbo trick is now subterranean. tRUMP encouraged Israel to bar two U.S. Congresswomen from visiting Israel. When his partner in crime Netenyahu announced the ban, tRUMP tweeted with glee. The decision by Netanyahu and tRUMP's support are disgraceful. tRUMP tweeted that if Israel allowed the two congresswomen to visit it would be a sign of great weakness. Needless to say the exact opposite is true.
I am a former member of AIPAC. I gave up my membership for a fundamental reason. AIPAC's raison d'etre is to support the State Of Israel whether or not its policies are, in my opinion, wrong. I don't support my own country right or wrong. Therefore I will not support Israel right or wrong. On the other hand, I totally agree with AIPAC's mission to support the State Of Israel and to strengthen Israel's ties with the United States. Israel remains the sole democratic country in a sea of undemocracy.
I am a member of J Street. J Street's mission also is to support the State Of Israel. But if Israel has a policy which J Street feels is wrong, J Street will criticize Israel. I have witnessed first hand some bitter disputes between AIPAC and J Street. But their fundamental disagreements do not detract from their core missions of support for Israel.
I have been a member and then an observer of AIPAC for more than 30 years. AIPAC has issued an eloquent denunciation of Netanyahu's decision. In my memory, this is the first time that AIPAC has criticized a policy of Israel. My hat is off to AIPAC. J Street has issued a similar denunciation. It is a joy to see these sometimes bitter rivals agree on an important issue. To a large extent, this coming together is an unintended consequence of tRUMP's ignorance.
Make no mistake, I do not like either Tlaib or Omar. They both support BDS. I believe that at its core BDS is antisemitic. The BDS manifesto says that it is opposed to the "occupation". BDS is not referring to the West Bank alone. It considers all of Israel to be an occupier of Arab lands. This means that BDS wants to see Israel eliminated. I don't blame the Israeli government for denouncing supporters of BDS. But Israel is a democracy. Anyone who has been to Israel knows that there are robust disagreements, to say the least, among many factions in Israel. But Israel is a strong nation. It can well handle dissent. It is simply unforgivable that Israel is barring two duly elected United States Congresswomen.
Last week Congressman Steny Hoyer led a large delegation of congressmen to Israel. He has led many similar delegations in the past. You cannot find a stronger supporter of Israel than Steny Hoyer. In last week's trip, Congressman Hoyer met with Rashida Tlaib's grandmother in the West Bank. This is how democracy in Israel works. Hoyer has denounced Netenyahu's decision.
I remember well Saudi Arabia barring U.S. Senators who happened to be Jewish from entering its country. It may still be the policy in some Arab countries that they will not allow people into their country if there is an Israeli stamp on their passport. This policy by Netenyahu bears a striking resemblance to those abhorrent policies. Israel is a small country in size, but a big country in democratic ideals. Its Palestinian Arab citizens vote in Israeli elections and have representatives in the Israeli Parliament.. I hope that Netenyahu and his crew will return to Israel's idealistic roots. That's my view. Take care all.
Richard Lenter

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Jews and Trump

I am the son of a child refugee from Nazi Germany who was thrown out of his school as a Jewish student while my grandfather’s shoe store was boycotted in the mid 1930s by the Nazis. I am horrified that today over 85 years since the Nazis came to power in Germany the same hateful tropes are being used to take away people’s dignity and accuse them of being rapists and deny them access to their children.
My family were fortunate that the UK took them in, while the US refused to accept many of those Jews who later died in the death camps, including Anne Frank and her family. My grandfather also initially tried to immigrate to the US, but was refused entry.
The death camps came at the end of a long process of dehumanization and the normalization of discrimination and hatred. I am not suggesting Trump has mass murder in mind, but tearing mothers from their infant children was also a method Hitler used and it leads people to see those parents and children as not fully human or deserving of the same rights “we" deserve for our own children.
The duelling demonstrations in Detroit last night at the Holocaust Museum were very informative. The Republicans stood shoulder to shoulder with the Proud Boys (no friends of the Jews) and claimed they would never allow an anti-semite to stay in their party. Have they never heard of Steve King the republican representative from Iowa who is a proud white supremacist?
Whatever your view of the current fault lines in America there can be no doubt that my grandparents would find the behaviour of the racists and white supremacists chanting “The jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville very familiar especially given the proud Nazis marching with swastikas and torches in a replay of the terror they inflected on Jews in Germany prior to the Holocaust.
If my father was alive today he would be appalled at the situation we find ourselves in. I fully expect that the great majority of American Jews will help vote Mr Trump out of office next year. Most Jews are just not that dumb as to vote for a would-be dictator and vapid racist
.
Robert Oppenheimer, Canada