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TomCADem's Journal
TomCADem's Journal
June 27, 2017

Vox - The most devastating passage in the CBOs report on the Senate health bill

Congratulations Senate Republicans. You have made the House bill even more deadly in order to finance tax cuts for the rich.


The Congressional Budget Office has released its analysis of the Senate GOP’s Better Care Reconciliation Act, and it’s a bloodbath. The bill is expected to lead to 15 million fewer people with health insurance by 2018 — and 22 million fewer by 2026. But the most devastating of CBO’s conclusions can be found on page eight. There, the Congressional Budget Office says that the BCRA would make decent insurance so expensive that “few low-income people would purchase any plan” at all. Here’s the section:

Under this legislation, starting in 2020, the premium for a silver plan would typically be a relatively high percentage of income for low-income people. The deductible for a plan with an actuarial value of 58 percent would be a significantly higher percentage of income—also making such a plan unattractive, but for a different reason. As a result, despite being eligible for premium tax credits, few low-income people would purchase any plan, CBO and JCT estimate.

A bit of background is helpful. A “silver plan” is an insurance plan that covers 70 percent of a person’s expected healthcare costs. Obamacare’s subsidies were designed to make silver plans affordable and to limit out-of-pocket costs. The BCRA cuts Obamacare’s subsidies and designs its own subsidies around plans that cover 58 percent of expected healthcare costs. Those plans, CBO estimates, will come with deductibles of around $6,000 — which means they would bankrupt many poor people before they ever got through the deductible.

So here is what CBO is saying: The BCRA’s subsidies are too small to make the silver plans affordable for low-income people, and the plans it is trying to make affordable — the ones that cover 58 percent of expected costs — carry such high deductibles that low-income Americans won’t buy them because they won’t be able to afford to use them.

June 25, 2017

Cuts to Medicaid May Limit Access to Nursing Homes

Source: MSN/New York Times

Medicaid pays for most of the 1.4 million elderly people in nursing homes, like Ms. Jacobs. It covers 20 percent of all Americans and 40 percent of poor adults.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans joined their House colleagues in proposing steep cuts to Medicaid, part of the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Conservatives hope to roll back what they see as an expanding and costly health care entitlement. But little has been said about what would happen to older Americans in nursing homes if these cuts took effect.

Under federal law, state Medicaid programs are required to cover nursing home care. But state officials decide how much to pay facilities, and states under budgetary pressure could decrease the amount they are willing to pay or restrict eligibility for coverage.

“The states are going to make it harder to qualify medically for needing nursing home care,” predicted Toby S. Edelman, a senior policy attorney at the Center for Medicare Advocacy. “They’d have to be more disabled before they qualify for Medicaid assistance.”

Read more: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/cuts-to-medicaid-may-limit-access-to-nursing-homes/ar-BBD7kZ8

Well, given that a lot of elderly folks watch Fox News, they may not notice or will just blame the left.
June 24, 2017

Vox - The health bill might pass because Trump has launched the era of Nothing Matters politics

The Senate and House "health care" bills are not about health care. They are tax cuts paid for by cuts in benefits to the American working class. However, this does not matter anymore because the right wing has managed to create an entire media environment of Fox, Rush Limbaugh and Brietbart that operates independent of reality. Thus, regardless of how harmful Republican legislation is to the Republican base, they can blissfully blame Democrats, women, gays, muslims, racial minorities, etc. for the problems, both real and imagined.

As a result, Trump and Republicans are able to ride a wave or working class populism with an agenda that is amazingly anti-working class.


The health care bill unveiled by Senate Republicans Thursday morning should, by the standards of the normal laws of politics, have approximately a snowball’s chance in hell of passing.

One well-known fact of American politics is that it is extremely hard, in general, to roll back substantial welfare state programs that are already in existence and already delivering concrete benefits to American citizens. A separate fact is that interest groups are influential in the congressional process, and can often shape legislation to suit their interests or block legislation that doesn’t fit their interests. A third fact is that public opinion matters — if you’re going to override the interest groups, you’re going to need the public on your side. And a fourth fact is that though they often fail to deliver, politicians generally make a good-faith effort to implement their campaign promises.

The Better Care Reconciliation Act that Mitch McConnell revealed to the public today fails on all those tests. It should be deader than dead. Not meaningless, by any means, but simply a vehicle that hardcore conservatives in safe districts can use to vent, while more pragmatic members of Congress try to think of a sensible plan B, like working with red-state Democrats on some kind of bipartisan health bill.

But it’s not dead. It might fail, but the chances of passage are very real — with most advocates on both sides now believing the GOP will succeed. Because ever since Donald Trump rode down the escalator at Trump Tower to say he was running for president to stop Mexico from flooding our country with rapists and murderers, nothing about the laws of political gravity have been operating the way they’re supposed to. A fairly transparent grifter got himself elected president of the United States with 2 million fewer votes than his opponent, so anything can happen.
June 12, 2017

Isn't Donald Trump/GOP The Easy Response to Bernie's Neoprogressive Attacks on Democrats?

We have often heard Bernie Sanders attack Democrats and their policies as an "absolute failure." We have continued to hear neoprogressives like Jill Stein and Susan Sarandon attack Democrats from the left, and suggest that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans.

Of course, if Democratic losses were really just attributable to them being overly friendly to corporations, then we have nothing to worry about, because Republicans are going out of their way to cut taxes, weaken worker protections, and cut access to healthcare. Under the Neoprogressive/Alt-Left attacks on the Democratic party, Republicans should be wiped out from power in 2018. Put another way, if parties lose power because they are too friendly to corporate interests, then we have nothing to worry about, because Republicans have been unrelenting in selling out for corporations and the 1 percent.

However, what Neoprogressives often overlook is both the impact of foreign propaganda that amplifies distrust on both the left and the right regarding American institutions, and how racism and sexism is used by the right to not only oppress minorities and women, but also white men.

I have posted examples of how the Neoprogressive/Alt-Left often push the same anti-Democratic talking points and conspiracy theories as the right whether it is the "Deepstate" is attacking Donald Trump:


Or, the Seth Rich conspiracy:


This congruence in talking points is not a coincidence. It suggests a degree coordination by an opportunistic foreign actor who is trying to undermine Republicans and Democrats who are suspicious of such foreign influence.

Also, President Lyndon Johnson, who grew up in the South and understood the politics of racism from the inside, saw it in part as a ploy to divide and conquer. He once said, "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."

However, rather than acknowledge how Trump and Republicans use racism and sexism to scapegoat women and minorities to build up resentment among white men in the ultimate form of identity politics, Neoprogressives themselves attack efforts by the left to address such issues as "identity politics" and argue that Democratic losses are because they are not "populist" enough to explain the loss of white working class voters.

In the same vein, Neoprogressives justify Trump's dominance among white working class males as being due to his "populist" appeals despite the fact that his policies are extremely anti-worker. He pushes a virulent anti-immigrant agenda and even his trade policy is tied more to xenophobia then to actual efforts to address unfair trade. In short, Neoprogressives ignore that Trump's populism is based on racial and gender resentment, rather than actual pro-worker policies.

In conclusion, if it were simply a matter of whose policies helped or hurt the working class, then Republicans are going to easily lose power in 2018. There is nothing to worry about. But, if Republicans were able to consolidate control by stoking racial and gender resentment, plus amplifying foreign propaganda designed to create distrust in American institutions, then it is going to be tough. Perhaps even more so, if Neoprogressives echo they same attacks the Right and Russians make on the Democratic party.

June 4, 2017

Neoprogressive "The Sane Progressive" Pumps The Seth Rich Conspiracy Theory

What is up with neoprogressives like Susan Sarandom cheering on the potential repeal of the ACA (because that opens the door for single payer) or Debby L., aka the Sane Progressive, spouting right wing talking points from the "left"? Like Susan Sarandon, here she is cheering Republican efforts to repeal the ACA.

Neoprogressives like Debby L. and Jill Stein have often acted as Russian apologists whether it is attacking the FBI investigation of the Trump administration as being a "deep state" witch hunt:

Or, defending Russia's actions in Syria:


Still, Corbyn has his American counterparts—starting with Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Until a few days ago, Stein had a statement on her website saying that the United States should end any military role in Syria, impose an arms embargo, and work “with Syria, Russia, and Iran to restore all of Syria to control by the government.” The “anti-war” candidate's stance, in other words, was to let the war crimes continue until the Assad regime and its patrons massacre their way to victory.

As far as I know, it was journalist Patrick Strickland who first noticed and tweeted Stein's position. A brief social-media squall ensued. The statement vanished; a sentence appeared saying it hadn't reflected Stein's views; and a new, trimmed down one was posted, opposing “U.S. meddling in the Middle East.”

Stein, to her credit, seems to have realized that it didn't look good to talk about working with Putin and Syrian President Bashar Assad while non-stop, deliberate aerial targeting of civilians in the rebel-held sector of Aleppo grinds on. But color me extremely skeptical about the previous statement not expressing her views. For one thing, the new one still keeps its criticism focused only on America. For another, the first statement fits her website's report on what she said last December in Moscow, at a foreign policy forum convened by RT, the Russian government's television propaganda arm. There she called for “principled collaboration” with Russia in Syria. And she proudly quoted Putin as telling her and other foreign politicians at the conference that he agreed with them “on many issues.”

More recently, Debby L. has been repeating Sean Hannity's Seth Rich conspiracy theories:

The question is are Neoprogressives like Susan Sarandon, Debby L., Jill Stein, or Cornell West really members of the left given that they often seem to be on the same side as Trump and Republicans? Are Neoprogressives so left that they are right? Or, are they just sock puppets who have sold out and are really being paid to disrupt the left?
June 2, 2017

Will Trump and Republicans Set A New Hardright Baseline? The New Normal?

In another thread I posted, there is a debate on whether there is any good that might come from a Trump Presidency with Republican control. Susan Sarandon celebrated the increased activism from progressives who were outraged at Trump's assaults on reproductive and immigrant rights, as well as the roll back of environmental regulations. Susan Sarandon also cheered efforts to repeal the ACA arguing that such a repeal would set the stage for single payer.

I think the fundamental flaw of Sarandon's thinking, as well as similarly minded progressives, is that it supposes that if progressives manage to win control of Congress and the Presidency, that we will begin from baseline that was left when President Obama left office. This is incorrect. We will still have a Republican controlled Supreme Court, which many people forget weakened the ACA by making Medicaid expansion optional, and it is unlikely that we will have a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, let alone a solid progressive majority given that at least some Democrats will be from traditionally red states.

By that time, Trump and Republican Congress may have:
1. Withdraw from the Paris Agreement (done).
2. Withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal (pending).
3. Repeal the ACA resulting in the loss of healthcare by millions of people (pending).
4. Cut taxes to the rich and greatly increased spending, thus causing the deficit to explode (pending).
5. Rolled back financial regulations and abolished the Consumer Protection Agency (pending).
6. Cut back funding of Planned Parenthood resulting in the closure of clinics (ongoing).
7. Expelled millions of law-abiding immigrants and their families.
8. Etc.

Now, you can see the outrage that is being generated by Trump's actions and Trump's agenda has been slowed by the incredible activism of Democrats, environmentalists, immigrant activisits, and other progressives. However, after four years of Trump, a Republican congress, and a Republican Supreme Court, they will have achieved many of their aims, thus establishing a new right-wing baseline.

As a result, even if we are successful in electing a Democratically controlled Congress and President by 2020, the best we will likely achieve is a partial return to where things were under President Obama as was the case in his first term. In addition, if Democrats do not control both Congress and the Presidency, then in all likelihood, the new Trump status quo will remain the norm, though at least the bleeding might slow.

Finally, this ignores the possibility of a huge catastrophe under President Trump. Would he threaten to default on the U.S. debt by vetoing debt ceiling legislation if Democrats regain Congress in 2018? Would Trump start a war if he feels seriously threatened by impeachment? What if Trump decides to aggressively interfere with elections in 2018 and 2020?

Put another way, it will take great progress to merely erase the rollbacks under Republican rule, let alone to try to build upon the progress made under President Obama. Indeed, you can easily argue that President Obama was hampered in pursuing his agenda, because he was busy trying to prevent the U.S. from sinking into a Great Depression due to the damage cause by George W. Bush. Likewise, even a progressive Congress and President in 2020 might be preoccupied with damage control following four years of Republican control.

June 1, 2017

Daily Beast - How Putin Played the Far Left

I was at an anti-Trump rally in Los Angeles, which was awesome. However, I still saw some folks in the crowd pushing the Communist party and passing out flyers promoting the secession of California, which Russia heavily promotes along with Texit. The Russians are not for the left or the right. They are opportunists.


Moscow’s attempts to cultivate America’s far-left long predate the presidency of Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin, according to available evidence, donated more funds per capita to the U.S. Communist Party than any other communist claque during the Soviet period, when Moscow’s intelligence operations against the “main adversary” involved recruiting agents of influence and spies of a progressive background who were sympathetic to the Soviet cause. But the past 18 months have seen a noted spike in information warfare aimed at gulling the Bernie Bros and Occupy-besotted alternative-media set, which saw Clinton as more of a political danger than it did Trump.

Perhaps the starkest case in point is Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her constituency. In December 2015, the Kremlin feted Stein by inviting her to the gala celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Kremlin-funded propaganda network RT. Over a year later, it remains unclear who paid for Stein’s trip to Moscow and her accommodations there. Her campaign ignored multiple questions on this score. We do know, however, that Stein sat at the same table as both Putin and Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, Trump’s soon-to-be national security adviser. She further spoke at an RT-sponsored panel, using her presence to criticize the U.S.’s “disastrous militarism.” Afterward, straddling Moscow’s Red Square, Stein described the panel as “inspiring,” going on to claim that Putin, whom she painted as a political novice, told her he “agree[d]” with her “on many issues.”

Stein presents herself as a champion of the underclass and the environment, and an opponent of the surveillance state and corporate media, and yet she seemed to take pleasure in her marriage of true minds with a kleptocratic intelligence officer who levels forests and arrests or kills critical journalists and invades foreign countries. Their true commonality, of course, is that both Putin and Stein are dogged opponents of U.S. foreign policy.

Indeed, her pro-Kremlin stance wasn’t limited to merely praising Putin’s amicability. Stein joined the Russian president and Kazakhstani dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev in describing Ukraine’s 2014 EuroMaidan revolution as a “coup,” and claimed, bizarrely, that NATO is currently “fighting… enemies we invent to give the weapons industry a reason to sell more stuff.” For good measure, she also asserted in September that “Russia used to own Ukraine,” by way of defending its colonization. She even selected a vice-presidential candidate who, when asked whether the downing of Flight MH17—a massacre almost certainly caused by Russian-supplied separatists in eastern Ukraine—was a false flag, responded, “[T]hat’s exactly what has happened.”

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