Thursday, March 30, 2017

Huffington Post: BERNIE SANDERS, TOP PROGRESSIVES ANNOUNCE NEW ‘MEDICARE FOR ALL’ PUSH


On March 24, President Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and the Republican Party failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Senator Bernie Sanders said we won a huge victory, but we must remain vigilant. “Medicaid now provides medical care to four out of 10 American children. Every member of the Congress should understand just how important Medicaid is and we cannot allow Republicans to cut it. We must expand Medicaid and Medicare so that every person in America is guaranteed health care as a right, not a privilege.

“We have got to have the guts to take on the insurance companies and the drug companies and move forward toward a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program, and I’ll be introducing legislation shortly to do that.”

Even though in 2016 a Gallup poll found a majority of Americans do support federally funded national healthcare, and many influential groups support Sander’s single-payer proposal, “single-payer health insurance still lacks support from many, if not most, Democrats, let alone from the Republican lawmakers who control both chambers.”

Senator Jeff Merkley supports Senator Sander’s plan, putting forth the idea of lowering the medicare eligibility age, allowing medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, and offering Americans the option to buy into Medicare.

The Republican Party seldom proposes legislation that will equally benefit all Americans. The Republican Party promotes legislation benefiting the financial good of the wealthiest among us. As long as they hold the majority position in Congress, a creation of Medicare-for-all, a single-payer health care system, will not become a reality.

It requires a demand for health care, not health insurance. It requires us to remove the profit incentive out of health care. It requires us to demand comprehensive, affordable health care for all Americans. The only way to do that is to vote Republicans, who are not willing to support the effort, out of office in 2018.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

By Daniel Marans











The New Yorker: THE HEALTH-CARE DEBACLE WAS A FAILURE OF CONSERVATISM

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said he fears Republicans are pushing President Trump to make good on his promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Negotiating health care reforms with Democrats is “hardly a conservative thing. I don’t want government running health care. The government shouldn’t tell you what you must do with your life, with your health care,” Ryan said.

The latter, however, is paradoxical to his willingness to tell Americans what they must do in other areas of their life. For example on the issue of abortion.

Ryan’s refusal to work with Democrats on healthcare is a longstanding position held by Republicans. It’s the reason they were the party of “no” during the Obama years. It is the reason they now will fail.


6 big lessons from the Republican’s failure to replace the Affordable Care Act:

1. Trump is a lousy dealmaker. He blundered into a political fiasco, apparently believing he could win over recalcitrant Republican members of Congress simply by popping over to Capitol Hill.

2. Paul Ryan is an even worse rightwing ideologue than we knew. He came up with a truly awful bill that couldn’t be justified on any ground at all. It just shifted $600 billion from the poor and working class to the rich.

3. Republicans don’t know how to govern. They’ve been out of power so long all they can do is oppose. They lack the mental and emotional capacities to craft and sell large-scale initiatives that advance the public good.

4. When it comes to health-care policy, there is no workable conservative alternative to the Affordable Care Act. In fact, the only workable alternative at all is a single-payer healthcare plan, which present-day Republicans couldn’t possibly stomach.

5. Americans need and want maternity coverage, mental-health benefits, prescription drugs, pediatric services, lab tests, and the other things included on the list of essential health benefits under the Act. When moderate Republicans in places like New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania heard that these services might be eliminated under the amended legislation, they abandoned it in significant numbers. It was their desertion that ultimately killed the bill.

6. The larger lesson here is that conservatism failed and social democracy won. Most Americans fall into the latter camp, even though the people who run our government don't.

Photograph By Drew Angerer / Getty
By John Cassidy 









Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The N.Y. Times: DONALD, THIS I WILL TELL YOU


Donald, you said you could shake up Washington and make it work again. Instead, you’re the one who got worked over.

Writing for the N.Y. Times, Maureen Dowd’s latest op-ed is an open letter critical of the presidency of Donald Trump.

It’s a well written, pointed, and interesting read.


CreditAl Drago/The New York Times


By Maureen Dowd













Politico: CONGRESS MAY STIFF WALL FUNDING


Republicans Are Afraid Of Losing a Government Shutdown Showdown.
By Burgess Everett And Rachael Bade

Not surprisingly, chances are the President’s “beautiful wall” along our border with Mexico will not be built.

There will be no money in the budget for the wall. If Republicans include money for the wall in the government funding bill, Democrats will block the legislation. Fortunately, “the GOP [is] consumed by its own divisions, the White House and Hill Republicans will have to rely on Democratic votes to avoid a government shutdown next month [April 28 funding deadline] in what would be another disaster for Trump’s fledgling presidency.”

Republicans are considering a plan that would not tie the wall money with the funding bill. But they are concerned over a possible government shutdown showdown with Democrats.

“While no decision has been made by GOP leadership, Republican lawmakers may decide to decouple the two to avoid a confrontation with Democrats. If they do, the chances of getting Trump’s wall funding passed this spring become slim.”


From Dan Rather: NOBODY SAID IT WAS GOING TO BE EASY, AND NOBODY IS RIGHT


Dan Rather issued a warning for those who are intent on resisting the Presidency of Donald Trump and his plan to destroy our democracy: “Nobody said it was going to be easy.”


The power to decimate and destroy is a lot easier than the energy it takes to build. That is the early lesson of the Trump Presidency.

I recently posted an analysis and commentary piece about the stumbling start of Mr. Trump just a little over two months into office - possibly the worst of any president in American history. I stand by that post.

With that in mind, it is worth noting that President Trump has had what he and some of his most avid supporters call “successes.” His adversaries would call them by different names, but the effect is the same. Mr. Trump is putting his mark on the very workings of our democracy.

By any objective analysis, to argue that Mr. Trump has been almost totally ineffective (ineffective, as he would define it,) that he has done little, is not true. Yes, his leadership has been chaotic and his poll numbers--at historic lows from the beginning --have been slipping. You can argue that most of what he’s done is destructive for the country’s future and that the debacle of trying to change the Affordable Care Act has earned him the title of “Loser.”

But Mr. Trump is using the power of the Presidency to enact the most dramatic elimination of government regulations since the Reagan years. For example, many rules for protecting the environment have been decimated, as have rules affecting workplace safety. He’s made it easier for mentally disturbed people to get guns and has made it easier for coal mining interests to pollute streams and rivers. He has waged war on the very structure of our Federal departments and agencies. What will happen to the State Department, our scientific research, education initiatives, women’s rights, the Environmental Protection Agency, and so many more. He is embracing a very extreme vision of governmental power, channeling his top aide Steve Bannon. This is a threat to how Democrats and Republicans--and the country as a whole-- have traditionally seen government especially on foreign policy.

In sum, he set out to destroy or disable much of the government as we have known it through Republican and Democratic administrations for almost a century. And he’s laid quite a bit of groundwork for that.

The full effect of this will take time. There is a lot of entrenchment and inertia in our governmental function. There will be lawsuits and legislative fights, petition drives and protests. Which should be a wake up call for all who oppose Mr. Trump’s agenda, who are appalled at the tone, character and substance of the Trump Presidency so far.

It’s a reminder of how much diligence, hard work and organizing it is going to take to stop or even slow him. All the while the importance of the 2018 Congressional elections looms ever larger. Nobody said it was going to be easy, and nobody is right.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

CNBC: MNUCHIN SAID ROBOTS REPLACING JOBS IS 'NOT EVEN ON MY RADAR SCREEN' - HERE'S WHY IT SHOULD BE


Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is not concerned about a new PwC research report indicating more than a third of Americans could lose their jobs to automation by the early 2030s.

Mnuchin is turning a blind eye to the fact that technological advancements in computerized automation and robotics have been increasingly replacing jobs in every sector of our economy. Following World War II, changes in the global economy and advancing technology gradually transitioned American workers from manufacturing to service related work. Now, advances in automation are replacing service sector jobs.

From robotic chefs and waitstaff in restaurants to robotic automobile production to automated banking and very sophisticated robotic surgical procedures, computerization and robotics have taken over many middle-class jobs and will continue to replace others as we gain greater knowledge, and more innovative and improved technologies will be created. Specialized artificial intelligence applications will also make high-ended and highly skilled professional jobs scarce.

Here is what Robert Reich has to say:

In reference to a question about artificial intelligence displacing American workers, Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s secretary of the Treasury, said "I think that is so far in the future — in terms of artificial intelligence taking over American jobs — I think we're, like, so far away from that [50 to 100 years], that it is not even on my radar screen.”

Rubbish.

According to reasonable estimates I’ve seen, within the next 10 years self-driving cars will have eliminated 4.5 million commercial driving jobs.

Within the next 6 years, artificial intelligence will have eliminated at least 4 million retail jobs.

Within the next decade, artificial intelligence will have eliminated 6 million jobs in health care and education.

The list goes on.

The fact that these aren't on the Secretary of the Treasury's radar screen makes me worry about the quality of his radar. He needs better intelligence about artificial intelligence.


By Harriet Taylor









Robert Reich’s perspective why this is a bad idea: TRUMP TAPS KUSHNER TO LEAD A SWAT TEAM TO FIX GOVERNMENT WITH BUSINESS IDEAS


President Trump plans to unveil a new White House office on Monday with sweeping authority to overhaul the federal bureaucracy and fulfill key campaign promises — such as reforming care for veterans and fighting opioid addiction — by harvesting ideas from the business world and, potentially, privatizing some government functions.” According to the Washington Post.


Trump will name his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to run a new Office of American Innovation, described as a "SWAT team of strategic consultants staffed by former business executives," designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington and make government work more like a business.

Kushner said "Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens.”

It's good to have fresh thinking about how government can function more efficiently. But government is not a business, and citizens aren't customers.

The purpose of government is not to show a profit; it is to achieve the common good.

Precisely because there are many different views about the common good, the Framers of the Constitution created a system that checks and balances power among three branches of government, and shares power with the states. Their goal was to avoid tyranny.

They wanted leaders who enriched and strengthen democracy -- building trust in democratic institutions, telling the truth, avoiding conflicts of interest, not favoring relatives, and promoting tolerance and social cohesion.

So far, Donald Trump has done the opposite.

He doesn’t need advice about how to turn government into a business. He needs advice about how to lead a democracy.

By Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker




Monday, March 27, 2017

From Bill Moyers: WE REALLY DO CARE FOR ONE ANOTHER


When people get in trouble with being uncaring and unkind, it usually involves religion, interactions over money, or politics. It’s usually about our religious differences and whether we are a country that does or does not recognize one’s same personal view of God or whether we believe it’s necessary to take care of people who need help or not. It’s the reason why our country is so divided. It’s the reason Donald Trump is President of the United States. His election, in too many ways, caused us to hate rather than love each other.

Get rid of all these three evils and we will be a kind and a gracious world. In such a world a Donald Trump would not exist.

To the extent “We Really Do Care for One Another” is just a good sounding story, anecdotal stories that never actually happened. They are, nevertheless, in essence,  true to life.

I too have had personal experiences with “ . . . moments of common, gracious, human kindness.”  It does keep me optimistic about who we authentically are.

Please give it a read.


By Charles Bayer

Sunday, March 26, 2017

New York Times: THE SCAMMERS, THE SCAMMED AND AMERICA’S FATE


Many people are horrified, and rightly so, by what passes for leadership in today’s Washington. And it’s important to keep the horror of our political situation up front, to keep highlighting the lies, the cruelty, the bad judgment. We must never normalize the state we’re in.

Krugman isn't writing about President Donald Trump although it surely applies to the President as well. Ryan is referring to House Speaker Paul Ryan and his "fraudulence, lack of concern for those he claims to care about and lack of policy coherence."

The American Health Care Act, Trump and Ryan's replacement for Obamacare "is one of the worst bills ever presented to Congress."

Ryan's budget proposals, while differing in detail, all “share a family resemblance: Like his health plan, each involved savage cuts in benefits for the poor and working class, with the money released by these cuts used to offset large tax cuts for the rich. All were, however, sold on false pretenses as plans for deficit reduction.”

“There’s an important lesson here, and it’s not just about health care or Mr. Ryan; it’s about the destructive effects of false symmetry in reporting at a time of vast asymmetry in reality.

“This false symmetry — downplaying the awfulness of some candidates, vastly exaggerating the flaws of their opponents — isn’t the only reason America is in the mess it’s in. But it’s an important part of the story. And now we’re all about to pay the price.”


Saturday, March 25, 2017

From Robert Reich: REPUBLICANS WHO ARE NOW CONTROL THE HOUSE – AS WELL AS THE SENATE – DON’T LIKE GOVERNMENT


House Speaker Paul Ryan, in his press conference following the demise of his bill to replace Obamacare, blamed Republicans who had failed to grasp that the GOP was now a “governing party.”

“We were a 10-year opposition party, where being against things was easy to do,” said Ryan. “You just had to be against it. Now, in three months’ time, we tried to go to a governing party where we actually had to get 216 people to agree with each other on how we do things.” It was, he said, “the growing pains of government.”

Rubbish.

Apparently Ryan still doesn’t grasp that he put forward a terrible bill to begin with, which would have resulted in 24 million Americans losing health coverage over the next decade, hardly make a dent in the federal debt, and transfer over $600 billion to the wealthiest members of American society.

The so-called “Freedom Caucus” of House Republicans, who refused to go along with the bill, wanted it to be even worse. Essentially, their goal (and that of their fat-cat patrons) was to repeal the Affordable Care Act without replacing it at all.

Ryan is correct about one thing. Congress is in the hands of Republicans who for years have only said “no.” They have become expert at stopping whatever a president wants to do but they don’t have a clue how to initiate policy.

But their real problem isn’t the “growing pains” of being out of power. In reality, the Republicans who are now control the House – as well as the Senate – don’t like government. They’re temperamentally and ideologically oriented to opposing it, not leading it.

Their chronic incapacity to govern didn’t reveal itself as long as a Democrat was in the White House. They let President Obama try to govern, and pretended that their opposition was based on a different philosophy governing.

Now that they have a Republican president, they can no longer hide. They have no philosophy of governing at all.

Sadly for them – and for the rest of the country, and the world – the person they supported in the election of 2016 and who is now president is an unhinged narcissistic child who has no capacity to lead.