Friday, April 21, 2017

Wisconsin Republicans should just seek death penalty for costly poor people, or is punishment more fun!

The title could be a simple exaggeration, but it really isn't.

Republicans in the state have done it, they've gone after everything a person, or family, needs to literally live; Work for food stamps, work for health care, and now work for housing. If you don't work, you don't live. We're now the death penalty state for the jobless!!!
GOP lawmakers have advanced a proposal that would require some able-bodied adults to work in order to get housing vouchers in Wisconsin.
This is another state law by anecdote, you know, something he heard from someone who heard it from someone else:  
Rep. Terry Katsma, R-Oostburg, is the bill'ssponsor. He said the proposal will encourage voucher recipients to seek job training and help fill employment vacancies he hears about in his district.

The bill doesn’t specify what the employment, training, and or other "self-sufficiency requirements" would be.

Nice guy huh? A realllllllll Christian.
Terry has serving as an elder and deacon in his church, serving the youth of the community as a Workbound, Inc. board member and a member of Kiwanis.

Walker might raise fees, putting road repair on backs of Taxpayers, not out-of-state-traffic. Another Bad Idea.

How does this make sense?
WKOW: Governor Scott Walker says he is still against raising the state's gas tax to pay for road improvements, but did not rule out raising fees to cut into Wisconsin's nearly $1 billion transportation deficit in an interview about the state budget Thursday afternoon.
With all the out-of-state traffic, we're going to let drive through travelers off the hook for road repairs? Brilliant. Where are the reporters asking the governor what the hell is he thinking?

This is shear ideological lunacy.

Putin control of US Elections response..."Hillary lost!! Trump Winning the Election was an act of God!"

Republicans know how to appeal to what I call, "low expectation voters." You might hear them say, "Yea, things are bad, but at least Republicans are still in charge." And why are things bad? They don't want to know.

So here's my story; I simply emailed to my conservative friend in Milwaukee the Reuters story about Putin's control over Russian meddling in our presidential election that resulted in exactly what he wanted, a Trump win.

You'd think Putin's meddling in our elections to the point of getting his candidate to win would be troubling enough to any American, even if their candidate won. In fact, the Trump talking points about voter fraud coincided with Putin's plan too, despite no indication is this report that there was collusion.

In the past, my friend has never really held any Republicans feet to the fire, because by default, there was always a Democrat to blame for something. Get over it, Trump won, Hillary lost. It's now just a reflex action of his to not have to deal with reality. But still, I'm always surprised by his responses...

Anyone else getting this kind of response, for almost everything?

New GOP Health Care con keeps ACA benefits, then grants Waivers to ACA benefits!

Here's my theory; Republicans want to keep the ACA framework in place so they can keep blaming "ObamaCare" for the failure of their meddling "revisions."

What else could explain the "new and improved" revised TrumpCare plan. Try not to laugh at how transparently ridiculous it is: Keep all the provision of Obamacare, but grant waivers to all the ObamaCare provisions!!! Nuts right?
The MacArthur Amendment would:• Reinstate Essential Health Benefits as the federal standard• Maintain the following provisions of the AHCA: Prohibition on denying coverage due to preexisting medical conditions. Prohibition on discrimination based on gender. Guaranteed issue of coverage to all applicants. Guaranteed renewability of coverage. Coverage of dependents on parents' plan up to age 26. Community Rating Rules, except for limited waivers.
Here are waivers that basically repeals ObamaCare, state by state:
The amendment would create an option for states to obtain Limited Waivers from certain federal standards, in the interest of lowering premium costs and expanding the number of insured persons.
Spelled out, "Maintaining the following provisions of the AHCA" which maintain some of the provisions of the ACA, means choosing not to maintain the provisions. You can't make this stuff up:
States could seek Limited Waivers for:• Essential Health Benefits• Community rating rules ... freeing insurers to go back to using an individual rating system to set premiums ... except for the following categories, which are not waivable: Gender. Age (except for reductions of the 5:1 age ratio previously established)o Health Status (unless the state has established a high risk pool or is participating in a federal high risk pool).
The "Limited Waiver Requirements" may include just of the following excuses to rip health care to shreds. Republicans desperately want to push sick people into high cost "state risk pools," where we socialize the care of our sick with taxpayer money, and give insurance companies healthy people and healthy profits:
States must attest that the purpose of their requested waiver is to reduce premium costs, increase the number of persons with healthcare coverage, or advance another benefit to the public interest in the state, including the guarantee of coverage for persons with pre-existing medical conditions. The Secretary shall approve applications within 90 days of determining that an application is complete.
Thank god Trump stepped up with a few of the finer details?
Trump: "This is a great bill, a great plan, and this will be great health care. It's evolving, it was never a give up...and the plan gets better, and better and better. And it's gotten really really good. And a lot of people are really liking it a lot."
As Vox's Sarah Kliff reports:
But because of the conservatives, they won’t provide the funding experts say is necessary to really make those high-risk pools work. So people are at risk again.
Of course ignoring public opinion is nothing new....

Walker/Republican pirates target Farmers again by Eliminating Farm to School program!!!

The “penny wise pound foolish” party of Republican plunderers are targeting their voting base in rural Wisconsin for another economic punch to the belly.

While our state has lost farmland twice as fast compared to neighboring states Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, which doesn't bode well for dairy farmers already losing exported milk to Canada, Republicans now want to discontinue a program that uses their locally grown food in local area school districts. 

God knows why rural conservative voters keep voting these guys in. 
A broad and diverse coalition of advocacy groups signed on to a letter that was circulated today voicing support for the Farm to School Program, which faces elimination in the pending 2017-2019 State Budget.
Here's what a small $66,400 investment in the Farm to School program brings back to local farmers and their surrounding communities, keeping $1.4 million dollars in the state: 
1. The Farm to School program spurs over $9 million dollars in purchases of locally grown and processed foods by Wisconsin schools each year, impacting 500,000 students.

2. The modest expenditure of a $66,400 salary for the position for the Program Director … (is) a meaningful investment in the future of the state’s farmers and students.

3. The Farm to School Program Director has been instrumental in awards of over $200,000 of federal grant funds to conduct training and develop Wisconsin supply chains that encourage procurement of Wisconsin-grown foods including potatoes, yogurt and applesauce.

4. Since its inception in 2009, the initiative has grown to over 390 programs across the state integral in the selection of Wisconsin to participate in a successful USDA Pilot Project. 

5. "That allowed Wisconsin schools to divert $1.4 million dollars of their USDA commodity food budgets toward the purchase of Wisconsin-grown fresh fruits, vegetables and other products," the groups noted in the memo. "Wisconsin was one of only eight states selected to participate in this project.
I'm wonder how long it will take the following list of groups to catch on to the fact Republicans aren't their friends. Note: Why in the hell aren't Democrats shouting about this and making their casse to win over rural voters?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Republicans out to stop ridiculous rules like limiting Phosphorous pollution with State version of "REINS Act."

The complete destruction of Wisconsin's environment is nearly complete, and you can thank politically motivated special interests for gutting the last remnants of "old Wisconsin," and climate denying Scott Walker.

This is almost to breathtaking to explain. Ridiculous "rules" limiting regulation by state departments to work in the best interest of constituents is now spreading like a cancer through the US: 
Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin have revived a plan that would limit the power of state agencies to write some environmental and workplace regulations. The so-called REINS Act would require legislative approval for any agency rule that would cost businesses or taxpayers more than $10 million. State agencies write rules that cover everything from pollution standards for factories to workplace safety requirements. 
I think this summation says it all:
Supporters of the proposal say it will provide needed oversight to government and create a more business-friendly regulatory climate in Wisconsin.
 Fu** the citizens, right? Like our state economy is roaring ahead with Walker's other brilliant job creating ideas.

And like other Republican giveaways to special interests…business would get a say publicly, or what I would call a dog and pony show:
The bill would allow a legislative committee to request a public hearing allowing input from citizens and industry before the agency drafts projections related to its economic impact.

The bill would also give the committee the power to request an economic analysis of the bill from an organization outside state government. The initiative is supported by Americans for Prosperity, the conservative political group funded by the Koch brothers.
As we all know, the Koch brothers are upstanding Wisconsinites just looking out for their state...oh, wait a minute...they can do an economic analysis?

I hope you're sitting down: You won't believe the example Republicans gave for pushing this industry crap. Someone needs their head examined?
Sen. Devin LeMahieu, another sponsor of the bill, cited a 2010 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources rule on phosphorous emissions as an example of a state agency exercising too much power. The rule set stricter standards for phosphorous released by factories and wastewater treatment plants.
We would hate to have stricter standards for phosphorous, right:
2015 economic impact analysis released by the DNR and Wisconsin Department of Administration estimated the rule would cost businesses and municipalities $708 million per year. "This bill is to put safeguards in to make sure something like the phosphorous rule doesn’t happen in the future," LeMahieu said.
I wish I were kidding, but LeMahieu thinks stopping "safeguards" in place to stop phosphorous pollution was something he wasn't about let happen again. Folks, we're not coming back from this Republican controlled decade. 

Wisconsin's Republican Supreme Court Justices say, $10,000 or more in campaign contributions would never buy their vote! Don't Laugh....

Excuse me, where does the Constitution spell out money as free speech? 

Thanks to Scalia's Supreme Court, we're all supposed to believe that unlimited amounts of money won't buy someones gratitude or earn them special favor. "Money corrupts" was always a meaningless silly old saying, at least according to big monied special interests in Washington. 

Every one of the states conservative justices feigned outrage over the suggestion of influence: 
The Wisconsin Supreme Court threw out a proposal to create formal recusal rules for judges and justices in the state ... 5-2, with Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley opposed ... the court's conservative-leaning majority voting to throw the petition out and the liberal-leaning wing voting to hold a public hearing on it, or adopt it immediately (for) all elected judges in the state who serve in municipal court, circuit court, the Court of Appeals or the state Supreme Court.
Despite being a national embarrassment, our dysfunctional state supreme court added to their legend by insulting our intelligence, saying campaign donations of $10,000 and over would never influence their decisions from the bench. Silly us to think that, or think that there is at least an appearance of impropriety. Remember, these are Republican Justices in the pocket of special interests who paid for their winning campaigns. Why would they would they ever have to recuse themselves? Crazy us?
It proposed specific contribution thresholds for when a judge or justice would have to recuse himself or herself from a case ... if they received $10,000 from a group or individual with a case in front of the court.
Our silent until now, recently elected (unopposed) Justice Ziegler had this to rub in our faces, like we're dumb enough to believe her;
Justice Annette Ziegler: “The petitioners here have asked us to do something that doesn’t comport with the Constitution as I view it. Is there precedent that supports this somehow? And the answer is no.”

(The) 60 comments on the petition submitted to the court. (means there's) high degree of public interest that warrants a public hearing on the issue, said Justice Ann Walsh Bradley. “What is so threatening about that?” 

Justice Rebecca Bradley said the premise of the petition is false and an affront to the oath taken by Supreme Court justices and judges statewide. “We cannot consider the petition. To do so violates the oath that each of us took when we took our office.” It also disenfranchises voters statewide who should be free to contribute to judicial candidates without repercussions, she said. “It asks us to infringe the First Amendment rights of the people of Wisconsin who wish to support candidates,” she said.
The Supreme Court lost the Public Trust a Long Time Ago: This just continues, without accountability, the public's complete lack of faith in the judicial branch of our government. Mission accomplished Republicans: 
Abrahamson called for a public hearing on the petition and Walsh Bradley called for it to be adopted immediately. Both motions were voted down after some discussion, which was tense at times. 

“The issue is so important and to shut it down without a hearing and without comment just undermines the public trust and confidence that is so important for the integrity of this court,” said Walsh Bradley. “It goes to the heart of who we are as a court and what we believe.”
And you wonder why voters don't trust the government. We can thanks our conservative activist Justices...maybe with donation exceeding $10,000?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Surprise: Business, not Government, now telling us all what to do in and away from Work.

Republicans are always falsely claiming that Democrats want government to tell us all what to do. 

Ridiculous, I know, but those fabrications have taken our eye off the real "takeover;" what Republicans want more than anything is to hand complete control over to business, where they will tell us all what to do, in and away from work. Think about it, it makes sense. 

Two different studies look at what is really happening and what some would like to see happen:
New Republic: Real household wages in the United States have remained stagnant since the 1970s. Young people find an employment landscape defined by unpaid internships, temporary work, and low pay.

In Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk About It), Elizabeth Anderson, a professor of philosophy at the University of Michigan, explores how the discipline of work has itself become a form of tyranny, documenting the expansive power that firms now wield over their employees in everything from how they dress to what they tweet. James Livingston, a historian at Rutgers, goes one step further in No More Work: Why Full Employment Is a Bad Idea … both books make a powerful claim: that our lives today are ruled, above all, by work. We can try to convince ourselves that we are free, but as long as we must submit to the increasing authority of our employers and the labor market, we are not.
That's why Republicans are always harping about the job creators, drug tests for the unemployed, training programs for food stamps...etc...they want employers, not government, to control what we do in and away from work:
Anderson’s most provocative argument is that large companies, the institutions that employ most workers, amount to a de facto form of government, exerting massive and intrusive power in our daily lives. Unlike the state, these private governments are able to wield power with little oversight, because the executives and boards of directors that rule them are accountable to no one but themselves. Although they exercise their power to varying degrees and through both direct and “soft” means, employers can dictate how we dress and style our hair, when we eat, when (and if) we may use the toilet, with whom we may partner and under what arrangements. Employers may subject our bodies to drug tests; monitor our speech both on and off the job; require us to answer questionnaires about our exercise habits, off-hours alcohol consumption, and childbearing intentions; and rifle through our belongings. If the state held such sweeping powers, Anderson argues, we would probably not consider ourselves free men and women.

Employees, meanwhile, have few ways to fight back. Yes, they may leave the company, but doing so usually necessitates being unemployed or migrating to another company and working under similar rules. Workers may organize, but unions have been so decimated in recent years that their clout is greatly diminished.
Note this important point:
As corporations have worked methodically to amass sweeping powers over their employees, they have held aloft the beguiling principle of individual freedom, claiming that only unregulated markets can guarantee personal liberty. Instead, operating under relatively few regulations themselves, these companies have succeeded at imposing all manner of regulation on their employees. That is to say, they use the language of individual liberty to claim that corporations require freedom to treat workers as they like. 

Many workers, in fact, have little sense of the legal scope of their employer’s power. Most would be shocked to discover that they could be fired for being too attractive, declining to attend a political rally favored by their employer, or finding out that their daughter was raped by a friend of the boss—all real-life examples cited by Anderson.
Universal Basic Income? Milton Friedman was a big backer of the "negative tax" idea:
Instead of idealizing work and making it the linchpin of social organization, Livingston suggests, why not just get rid of it? Since people in this new world would no longer have to earn a salary, they would, Livingston envisions, receive some kind of universal basic income

UBI is a slippery concept, adaptable to both the socialist left and libertarian right, but it essentially entails distributing a living wage to every member of society. In most conceptualizations, the income is indeed basic—no cases of Dom PĂ©rignon—and would cover the essentials like rent and groceries. Individuals would then be free to choose whether and how much they want to work to supplement the UBI. 

Leftist proponents tend to advocate pairing UBI with a strong welfare state to provide nationalized health care, tuition-free education, and other services. Some libertarians view UBI as a way to pare down the welfare state, arguing that it’s better simply to give people money to buy food and health care directly, rather than forcing them to engage with food stamp and Medicaid bureaucracies. 
The article concludes:
Both Livingston and Anderson reveal how much of our own power we’ve already ceded in making waged work the conduit for our ideals of liberty and morality. The scale and coordination of the institutions we’re up against in the fight for our emancipation is, as Anderson demonstrates, staggering. Employers hold the means to our well-being, and they have the law on their side. Individual efforts to achieve a better “work-life balance” for ourselves and our families miss the wider issue we face as waged employees. - Miya Tokumitsu is a lecturer of art history at the University of Melbourne and a contributing editor at Jacobin.She is the author of Do What You Love. And Other Lies about Success and Happiness.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Time to Retire: Rep. James Sensenbrenner says "Nobody's got to use the internet...!"

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, elected way back in 1978, is still operating under the idea that the internet is just a "series of tubes."
Sensenbrenner: "Nobody's got to use the internet...."
Remember when Sen. Ted Stevens clarified that the internet is not something you dump things on, it's not a big truck?

So it is with Rep. James Sensenbrenner, who probably reflects his party's deep thinking on the know, the internet is just one of many options? Really?

Tell that to Trump who really has to use the internet to state U.S. and foreign policy, attack his enemies, and use it to become president for gods sake.

Constituent Goes after Sensenbrenner over Privacy: You'll notice Sensenbrenner's answer below is ISP focused, dealing with an ISP's ability to make money advertising, having nothing to do with his constituents privacy or her question in general. (Volume is low):

WaPo: Sensenbrenner told a town hall attendee who was concerned about the elimination of online privacy protections that using the Internet is a choice:
“Nobody’s got to use the Internet. … And the thing is that if you start regulating the Internet like a utility, if we did that right at the beginning, we would have no Internet. … Internet companies have invested an awful lot of money in having almost universal service now. The fact is is that, you know, I don’t think it’s my job to tell you that you cannot get advertising for your information being sold. My job, I think, is to tell you that you have the opportunity to do it, and then you take it upon yourself to make that choice. … That’s what the law has been, and I think we ought to have more choices rather than fewer choices with the government controlling our everyday lives.”
What "government control" of our everyday lives? The GOP's mind numbing pat answer to everything "government" just keeps sounding more and more ridiculous everyday. Especially when it comes to selling Americans internet privacy.

The constituent tried to make it clear she wasn't talking about Facebook or Google searches, she was addressing her monopoly ISP:
Not all Internet users have options to switch to a different company if they don’t agree with their current provider’s privacy practices.
Constituent: “Facebook is not comparable to an ISP. I do not have to go to Facebook. I do have one provider. … I have one choice. I don’t have to go on Google. My ISP provider is different than those providers.”
Backtracking and try to ignore the constituents question while explaining the unexplainable...Sensenbrenner's clueless staff appears just as disconnected:
Sensenbrenner’s press office replied to the tweet: “Actually, he said that nobody has to use the Internet. They have a choice. Big difference.” An official from Sensenbrenner’s office said Saturday that the congressman’s point is that people can choose whether or not they want to use certain websites.
The news media itself does serious damage to this story by relegating comments about Sensenbrenner's comments to supposed losers on "social media," who can't get enough of those cat videos on Facebook:
Sensenbrenner’s statement has since drawn criticism from social-media users....
No, everyone who pays bills, sells their product, gets a job online. Sensenbrenner is technically off base when he says "nobody has to use the internet:"
“Nobody has to use indoor plumbing or electricity. They can just use outhouses and kerosene lamps. They have a choice, right?” one Twitter user wrote.

“Nobody has to use the Internet? Many jobs require it. Schools require it. Take his office Internet away, maybe?” said another.

“I’m an online editor. I have to use the Internet. Welcome to 2017,” another one wrote.

The Internet has become such a fixed part of people’s everyday lives, the United Nations considers access to it a human right. In 2016, the U.N. Human Rights Council passed a resolution declaring that denying someone the ability to access or disseminate information online is a human rights violation.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Trump Fascism turns American Protesters into Felons.

Republicans and like minded voters just don't protest. It's a liberal thing, and they hate it.

The last time I saw conservative protesters was in 2011, when a group of seniors were bused in from areas around the state by Americans for Prosperity. No really, that happened. 

Scott Walker's union busting agenda included regulations curtailing free speech and protesting. Just so you know, that didn't work out for him in the courts:
The Department of Administration (DOA) and Capitol Police havebeen ordered to arrest and cite protesters whose only offense is the silent carrying of a sign ... protesters have been cited for gathering for the "Solidarity Sing-along," a non-violent group of citizens who sing every day over the noon hour.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald’s office sent a note to legislative offices warning staff not to congregate along the balcony during the protests. “If you are in the vicinity of the illegal demonstrations that have been taking place over the noon hour in the rotunda, you will be considered part of the protests and are subject to being ticketed,” the message said.

Capitol Police Chief Dave Erwin is installing panic buttons in some lawmakers' offices, changing the look of his officers' uniforms (banning facial hair) and raising some eyebrows with a suggestion to female legislative aides that they be prepared to hit demonstrators if they feel threatened and cornered. “There's a time and a place. But every day, every day, you've got to think about that," Erwin said.

The new DOA policy allows fees to be imposed on the indigent as a condition of protesting, it vests unbounded discretion in the Capitol police to determine whether to impose advance fees for security costs, and it requires permits from small groups of four or more protesters. Capitol Police were enforcing a rule in the state administrative code that required a permit to hold a sign on state property.

Nass said, "If they were arrested vigorously, I believe that would slow them [protesters]."

Gov. Scott Walker's administration could hold demonstrators liable for costs for extra police presence or cleanup and repairs following protests at the Capitol.
Trump takes it to the Next Level: And now we have the latest attempt to make even the original tea party participants felons:

"It's crazy, a few windows got smashed," 23-year-old Olivia Alsip said, two months after her arrest on felony riot charges. "Why are 214 people looking at ten years in prison?"

Alsip only knew one other person at the protest march that day. The political science graduate student from the University of Chicago had met her partner in November, when the two had joined the camps at Standing Rock opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline. When they heard about calls to protest Donald J. Trump's inauguration in D.C. on January 20th under the banner "Disrupt J20," they felt they had to be there. "I identify as an anarchist, and I've been an activist for women's and queer rights since the 8th grade," Alsip told me over the phone from Chicago.

Alsip is among 214 defendants facing felony riot charges, up to a decade in prison and a $25,000 fine for their participation in the anti-capitalist, anti-fascist march, which ended with a mass arrest on the morning of Inauguration Day. 

Alsip didn't break or throw anything. Now she lives in shock over the steep price she and her fellow protesters might pay as the new administration and police forces set the tone for how they will deal with the spike in organized dissent ... narchists and anti-fascist activists across the country have responded to Trump's ascendancy, and particularly the attendant emboldening of white supremacists, with confrontational protest.

Veteran D.C. attorney Mark Goldstone, of the charges. Goldstone, who has defended dozens of activist cases and is representing six of the J20 defendants, called the charges "unprecedented territory." The government has already proven its willingness to set what Goldstone called "a monstrous trap" for protesters, by leveraging high risk trials against paper-thin cases.

"It definitely hits in waves," Alsip told me. "I'm nervous. I try to think that even if I do go to prison, I would remain committed, and politically active. But," she paused, "I just can't believe that my thoughts have to go there. And that we're all facing this." Another pause. "A few broken windows."

Scott Walker, a real profile in Courage...

...thought the Janesville anti-government fugitive was after him?

Wow, egomaniacal much? Coward and anti-Easter bunny blowhard Walker just let a whole bunch of kids and their families down, by overreacting in the most paranoid way possible, because it was all about him:
Jakubowski's arrest came about 6 a.m. Friday, when tactical officers surrounded his campsite in a field near Readstown and arrested him without incident.
The Easter egg hunt is back on, Sat. at 11 am, like anyone wants to hang out at the governors mansion with this "terror" opportunist.

Right wingers have had a field day trying to turn Jakuboski into a liberal, because nothing says liberal like robbing gun stores and spouting anti-government rhetoric. 
Jakubowski claims the government was trying to brainwash its citizens through taxes, religion and health insurance … a long list of grievances against the government and law enforcement.

There is little indication of schools … Jakubowski "Has concerns with Trump," but his manifesto doesn't mention a specific threat. "We the people should be out for these sick minded people belonging to the system! We need to spill their blood!" 

Jakubowski stole 18 guns, including a fully automatic M-16 assault rifle, two gun silencers, weapon parts and magazines.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Trump will be blamed for ACA collapse!!!

Overwhelming majorities in both party's support making changes to the existing Affordable Care Act. And yet Trump is now saying he wants changes that would directing break many of his campaign promises to lower prices and offer better care, just so he could supposedly save $900 million and throw 24 million people off insurance:
Trump: "I think we're doing very well on healthcare. It's been very much misreported that we failed with healthcare. We haven't failed — we're negotiating and we continue to negotiate and we will save perhaps $900 billion." 

Trump is referring to the CBO report on the AHCA ... estimated that the bill could cut the federal spending by $880 billion over the next 10 years ... (but) After the most recent additions to the AHCA, the CBO updated this estimate to say the deficit could shrink by only $151 billion.
And while Paul Ryan continues to try and reinvent the health care wheel, ignoring other successful systems worldwide while bringing back those failed "high risk pools," the market based solution he so badly wants is right there in front of him; the all-payer nationalized plan, where countries with insurers negotiate one price for each procedure. That in turn, eliminates the massive and costly price differences between providers, saving everyone lots of money.

Alaska Plan: If we had an "all-payer" pricing policy, and did what Alaska did with "reinsurance" (not risk pools), we could stabilize premiums for years to come:
Premiums for individual health insurance plans were set to rise 42 percent. So the state tried something new and different — and it worked. Lori Wing-Heier, Alaska’s insurance commissioner, put together a plan that had the state pay back insurers for especially high medical claims submitted to Obamacare plans. This lowered premiums for everyone. In the end, the premium increase was a mere 7 percent. The state already had a tax on insurance plans (not just health but also life and property insurance) ... used that money.
Now other states are interested in trying Alaska’s idea, especially because Wing-Heier is working with the Trump administration to have the federal government, not the state, cover those costs.
It's the old reinsurance model, paired with low predetermined prices for care.
Reinsurance essentially backstops insurers’ losses; it guarantees they won't be on the hook for the bills of a handful of exceptionally sick patients.

This didn't just save customers money. The federal government subsidizes premium costs for 86 percent of Alaska's Obamacare enrollees. With cheaper premiums, the federal government didn’t have to spend as much money. The cost of these subsidies fell by $56 million when Alaska created the reinsurance fund.
But Republicans have never worked hard on solutions that require research, knowledge and debate. It's much easier to repeal something, and then promise to "look into" or "study" the issue at another time.

Now Trump wants to blackmail Democrats into negotiating with him and Paul Ryan.
Trump’s new threat is that he will cut off so-called cost-sharing reductions, which subsidize insurance that offers lower out-of-pocket costs to 7 million lower-income Americans. For all the details, see this piece by Jonathan Cohn; if Trump does this, premiums could skyrocket and insurers could flee the individual markets, causing them to melt down and ultimately pushing millions off coverage. As Cohn notes, Trump is basically “threatening to torpedo insurance for millions of Americans unless Democrats agree to negotiate with him.”
Will Trump kill the ACA?
Trump told the Journal that “Obamacare is dead next month if it doesn’t get that money,” adding that “Democrats will start calling me and negotiating.” Trump treats the word “deal” as some kind of magically irresistible end in itself. But under these circumstances, the only known endpoint — the supposed “deal” — is worse than the “threat.” Why should Dems feel any incentive to respond to such a threat?
Here's what the recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll said about Trump's "let it explode" idea:

President Trump threatened to leave the law alone and let it self-destruct. But the April Kaiser Family Foundation survey finds that 75 percent of the public wants the president and the Republicans to do what they can to make the law work, compared to only 19 percent who think they should let the law fail so they can replace it later. Moreover, 61 percent say that the president and the Republicans are now in charge and are responsible for problems with the ACA—not President Obama and the Democrats who enacted it.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Mulvaney: Screw Deficits, Tax Cuts and Letting Wealthy Keep Their Money is Goal.

For the longest time I've been trying to figure out is whether Republicans actually believe their bullshit; or each deserve their own "Oscar" for keeping a straight face while "sincerely" sticking to their "core values."

Finally, the Cold Hard Truth: One of the most brutal policy wonks ever, besides Paul Ryan, is Trump's budget director Mich Mulvaney. Remember when Mulvaney said how wrong it was to go to a single mom in Detroit with two kids and ask for money to help fund Head Start? Actually, he doesn't care about her or her two kids who are probably using Head Start. Mulvaney is out to protect billionaires from redistributing their wealth:

Mick Mulvaney, in a new interview with CNBC’s John Harwood, basically admits that what he cares about is reducing transfers from the rich to the poor:

Mulvaney: "Bad spending, to me, in terms of its economic benefit, would be wealth-transfer payments. It’s a misallocation of resources. Infrastructure is sort of that good spending in the middle, where ... you do misallocate resources a little bit. At the other end of the spectrum, at the very other end, is letting people keep more of their money, which — while it can contribute to the deficit in a large fashion — is the most efficient way to actually allocate resources. It’s a little less important to me if infrastructure adds to the deficit. And I’m really not interested in how tax reform handles the deficit."
What makes Mulvaney’s comments so unusual is not only their frankness, but also their comprehensiveness. Republican politicians tend to … frame their opposition to transfer payments as concern about deficits, while framing their desire of regressive tax cuts as being unrelated to deficits. Mulvaney is essentially conceding that deficits have nothing to do with the Republican fiscal agenda.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Samantha Bee exposes Trump "Whisperer."

Of all the players surrounding Trump, why hasn't this guy gotten the once over?

Samantha Bee pretty much broke the shocking news about the lunatic fringe counter terrorism adviser to Trump:

Failed TrumpCare Plan successfully avoids debating an "All-Payer" plan.

Republicans are really great time wasters, debating how little health care coverage should be allowed before voters turn on them. Reelections matter to them. When the Democrats passed the ACA, they knew what the risks were, and it didn't turn out well for them.

But there is a solution, and it's part of the discussion they don't want to have.

All-Payer: I used to describe all-payer as a national health care plan of mandated coverage and prices. It was a common element of universal or single payer systems worldwide:
Daily Kos: As Vox's Sarah Kliff rightly highlighted, "France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, and Switzerland all use some version of all-payer rate setting." Even with hundreds or thousands of private insurance plans, since 1980 all five countries have experienced much slower growth in health care spending than the United States (see chart below). 

All-payer rate setting is a powerful reason why: In all-payer rate setting, all of the insurers negotiate jointly with all of the health care providers, and set on one specific price for each procedure...Single-payer health care systems save money in two ways: reducing administrative costs and increasing the bargaining power of health insurers. This is true of all-payer rate setting systems, too.

Even without insurance, the lower row of prices wouldn't bankrupt most American families:
In contrast, the Republican vision for health care is a return to the Hobbesian struggle of each against all in the American health care ecosystem. And that means more pain for consumers, insured and uninsured alike. Or as Vox founder Ezra Klein put it in March: “American health care can be free market or cheap. It can’t be both.”
Before the ACA:
A 2011 report by the Department of Health and Human Services found that before the ACA took full effect “62 percent of individual market plans did not cover maternity care, 34 percent did not cover substance abuse services, 18 percent did not cover mental health coverage and 9 percent did not cover prescription drugs.”
The Four Basic Health Care Systems: This is what we should be debating:
Sick Around the World describes the four basic models including the "out of pocket" approach, the completely government-run system implemented in the UK, the Bismarckian social insurance strategies in Germany and Japan, and the single-payer system in Canada that’s emulated by South Korea and Taiwan:
Reid reports next from Japan, which boasts the second largest economy and the best health statistics in the world. The Japanese go to the doctor three times as often as Americans, have more than twice as many MRI scans, use more drugs, and spend more days in the hospital. Yet Japan spends about half as much on health care per capita as the United States.

One secret to Japan's success? By law, everyone must buy health insurance—either through an employer or a community plan—and, unlike in the U.S., insurers can neither turn down a patient for a pre-existing illness, nor are they allowed to make a profit.

Reid's journey then takes him to Germany, the country that invented the concept of a national health care system. For its 80 million people, Germany offers universal health care, including medical, dental, mental health, homeopathy and spa treatment. Professor Karl Lauterbach, a member of the German parliament, describes it as "a system where the rich pay for the poor and where the ill are covered by the healthy." As they do in Japan, medical providers must charge standard prices. This keeps costs down, but it also means physicians in Germany earn between half and two-thirds as much as their U.S. counterparts.
Republicans are pushing a "buy what you can afford" health care insurance model. The list of physicians below shows you how difficult it would be to make those choices. And don't be naive either, insurers will charge much more for the popular choices, since they aren't about to lose money on cheap stripped down policies. And how cheap can prices go to maintain the yearly incomes below? Annual Physician Compensation Report:

Threat of Trump/Ryan Repeal will Kill the Affordable Care Act's Market Places!!! It's that easy.


While Democrats may have won the health care debate for the time being, Republicans are patiently and very openly waiting for the ACA to implode, or as Trump so inaccurately claims, “blowup.”

In fact, it's not just the ACA that’s in danger, but the whole individual market (non-employer insurance); profits won’t be big enough. Modern Health:
Aetna said Thursday that it will stop selling individual policies both on and off the state's Affordable Care Act exchange next year. The decision follows on the heels of Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield's announcement that it will exit Iowa's individual market in 2018. Now thousands of Iowans will be forced to switch health insurers—if they can find one.

But because both Aetna and Wellmark are pulling the plug on both on- and off-exchange individual plans, the consequences extend beyond dwindling choice on the ACA federal marketplace. “It's not clear how many options people may have even if they are able to pay full price and buy off exchange,” Cox said.
The Republican “Repeal” Poison Pill Set this in Motion: What major insurance company can conduct business under the threat of repeal? Insurers said as much:
1. An Aetna spokesman said the decision is a result of “financial risk and an uncertain outlook for the marketplace.” 

2. With a number of regulatory unknowns and no clear sign that the federal government will continue to support the individual marketplace, experts say other states could soon see an insurer exodus as well … health insurers have threatened to quit offering policies on the ACA's marketplace if they don't get the regulatory details they need to design and price their insurance plans. 

3. Insurers have warned Congressional leaders that they need to see signs that the Trump administration will work to stabilize the individual market if they are to commit to selling plans in 2018. Iowa's situation is an example of what may happen across the nation if insurers don't get answers soon.
Sounds like a problem created by Trump and Paul Ryan, ya think?

Oh, and about those tearful insurance company “losses;” let’s just call it a “decline in grotesque profits:”
Wellmark said it lost about $90 million from ACA-compliant health plans sold in Iowa over the past three years. But it is a drop in a bucket relative to the $2.7 billion in revenue Wellmark recorded in 2016 alone, financial documents show.

Given the minor loss, it is likely that Wellmark's exit has more to do with the uncertainty surrounding the future of the health insurance landscape and the prospect of further financial losses if the Trump administration fails to shore up the marketplaces, experts said.
Trump and Ryan inaction will Kill the ACA: 
It is unclear if insurers will get the details they need to commit to the exchanges for 2018. In most states, they have until June 21 to decide whether to participate. But the Trump administration has yet to address insurers' most pressing concerns about availability of cost-sharing reductions and the enforcement of the mandate that consumers purchase coverage. Those two policies are essential to ensure the individual market stays afloat and affordable during the transition period to an ACA replacement plan.
And no, it’s not a problem caused by the Affordable Care Act:
“We're deeply troubled by the angst and concern the Affordable Care Act is causing in Iowa," Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen said in a statement. "This is a problem created by the Affordable Care Act and needs to be fixed by Congress."

Thanks to Trump and FCC: Internet and Student Privacy Gone, Schools and Library discounts disappearing!!!

Net neutrality is going away, along with your privacy, and it's going to cost Americans billions.

Remember when Republicans has a fit over collecting anonymous student data from our public schools? It was an invasion of our kids privacy.

Well, they have just reversed course on that, and targeted their own rural conservative areas for big program cuts that will cost their voters so much more. 

The following actions by Trump and the now conservative “free market” FCC will result in the loss of internet privacy, especially for our kids, and cost taxpayer billions. EDWEEK:
1. On February 3, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai reversed an earlier FCC decision to approve nine companies as eligible broadband providers under the federal Lifeline program, which provides low-income consumers with a monthly subsidy of $9.25 to help offset the cost of phone or internet service.

2. A week later, Pai quashed an internal report documenting the success of the multibillion dollar E-rate program (which) provides discounts on certain services and products that are essential for classrooms and libraries to receive Internet connections (discounts depend on the level of poverty and location). Discounts range from 20% to 90% of the cost of eligible services.

3. In late March, Pai announced that the FCC would relinquish responsibility for designating eligible Lifeline providers to states.
As you can see, the costs for schools and libraries could suddenly skyrocket if the E-rate program is no longer supported, just so internet providers can rake in huge profits. Thank-you free market Republicans. 

And since this is insider stuff, American won’t directly see how the FCC’s irresponsible moves today will hike costs. Republican lawmakers will then use that to turn taxpayers against those costly government libraries and schools. Hey, it’s worked so far.

But giving up privacy was another profit driven move by Trump and the FCC:
On April 3, Trump signed a law overturning internet privacy protections. The former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said: 
“Every student ought to be worried about that. And every school ought to be worried about that. Because suddenly, all of the information that goes across the network is available to be sold.

Let's go back. So the first thing [the new administration did] was come in and pull back on the E-rate report. The second thing was make it harder [for companies to get designated as a Lifeline provider.] The third thing was gut the privacy protections. The fourth thing is the Trump administration proposes a budget that cuts back heavily on education. And we're supposed to sit here and think that this is a benign environment? 

The most important part of the Open Internet Rule was that we put a referee on the field. Because who knows how the internet is going to evolve? You need to have somebody there to throw a flag and say, "No, that's not just and reasonable."

I think the people who don't support Lifeline in the first place, or don't support E-rate in the first place, always go and hide behind the ‘waste, fraud and abuse’ smokescreen. I wish they had an agenda in which they were looking forward and saying, ‘Here's some of the new opportunities and new challenges of the new connected society.’ Instead, they seem to be looking backwards and saying, ‘How do we undo everything we voted against when were in the minority?’"

Friday, April 7, 2017

Trump was against Syrian military strike before he was for it...ditto for many Republican Hypocrites.

Nope, it wasn't racism or just being a traitorous Democrat that motivated Republicans to oppose Obama's authorization to strike Syria. Wait a minute....

I guess it was no big deal when Trump announced from his National Golf Club Mar-a-Lago that the U.S. attacked Syria? Not worth mentioning?
I haven't heard pundits remind viewers how much trouble Obama had trying to get Congress to authorize a Syrian strike, even on MSNBC. Instead, Obama will always be remembered for not taking action. Well, that's not true....
Raw Story: Here are the biggest Republican flip-flops in Syria that have happened over the last four years.
1.) President Donald Trump. Trump is, of course, the most notable person to change his mind on the merits of attacking Syria. In 2012 and 2013, he regularly attacked Obama for his desire to get involved with the Syrian conflict, and even suggested at one point that Obama would go to war with Syria to boost his flagging poll numbers.
2. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). In 2013 he said that Obama’s proposed military strike “cannot achieve its stated objectives” and could make things worse.
3. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). Chaffetz sent out a tweet that read, “God bless the USA!” But in 2013, he said he would oppose the use of force in Syria on the grounds that he saw “no clear and present danger” to the United States that would justify using force.
4. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). Blackburn announced in 2013 that she would oppose Obama’s Syrian airstrike after being briefed.
5. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). In 2013 he said that “I have long argued forcefully for engagement in empowering the Syrian people, I have never supported the use of U.S. military force in the conflict.”
6. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). In 2013 he said that he had “strong reservations about authorizing the use of force against Syria.”
7. Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX). Olson cited his experience as a Navy veteran as a reason for opposing the use of force against Syria in 2013. Now, however, he is cheering on Trump by praising the president for doing what Obama would not.
8. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL). In 2013 he worried that Obama had not done enough to seek a “diplomatic” solution to the crisis.
9. Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN). In 2013, the congressman opposed intervention in Syria on the grounds that he hadn’t met a single person in his district “who believes we should fire missiles into Syria.”
10. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO). In 2013, Gardner expressed “skepticism” of striking Syria and argued that he didn’t see “a compelling and vital” national interest in such an attack. On Thursday evening, he called Trump’s strike against Syria a “long-overdue action.”

Walker's Mental Health Funding Scam!

Republicans rule by anecdotes and party purity.

Filled with hypocrisy and contradictions, that style of government is constantly running into the cold hard facts of life. Like mental health. Sure funding for mental health went up:
PolitiFact: Walker ... raised spending on mental health services by $29 million in his 2013-’15 state budget … the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau confirmed largest increase in at least 25 years.
But of course that's not the whole story. What about boosting Medicaid reimbursements to attract mental health providers, instead of providing some of the lowest rates in the nation?
Democratic state senator Jon Erpenbach pressed Scott Walker's top health official last week to support hiking Medicaid reimbursement rates for mental health providers in the state. Boosting Medicaid rates was identified by USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin's Kids in Crisis series as a method to improve a statewide shortage of mental health providers.
Don't look at Me, I'm only the Secretary of Health Services: The video below is an example of Walker's placement of department heads who like collecting a government paycheck, but don't believe strong enough in their department to advocate for the needy. This what you call health care rationing, something Republicans keep warning us about but do automatically under the guise of "we have to balance what's important..." or "we have to take a long look at..." mumbo jumbo:
Sec. Seemeyer: "Folks have to balance, what's most important, but we've been trying to look at some of the mental health rates and see if there's something we can do about it."

Sen. Erpenbach: "I seem to remember in your opening remarks we have a surplus of how much?"

Sec. Seemeyer: "Which we returned to the general fund."

Sen. Erpnebach: "How much is the surplus?"

Sec. Seemeyer: "About $330 million, which we returned to the general fund."

Sen. Erpbenbach: "Would it have been wise to keep some of that money and increase reimbursement rates?"

Sec. Seemeyer: "I think where the money is spent resides right here in the governors office, so...."

Sen. Erpenbach: "Do you support increasing the reimbursement rates for mental health providers?"

Sec. Seemeyer: "I think we really need to look at it..."
A real advocate for the mentally ill. So we're balancing the general fund by taking $330 million away from mental health. Anyone else tired of the "we really need to look at it" BS (think highway funding).

Department of Health Services Secretary Linda Seemeyer repeatedly ducked requests to state a position on hiking Wisconsin's rates, which are among the lowest in the nation. Then she deferred rate hike decisions to state lawmakers. 

A hike in Medicaid reimbursement rates for mental health providers wasn't included in Walker's proposed state budget this year, and legislative leaders haven't been confident about boosting rates, citing competing budget priorities.

Rep. Mike Rohrkaste, R-Neenah, asked if the state could boost Medicaid reimbursement rates specifically for mental health services in schools or for children. Seemeyer said she wasn't sure and then said, “I think it probably would be” possible.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Americans 18-30 years old think Health Care a Government Duty!!! So vote...?

Even though 18 to 30 year old's don't like the idea of being forced to buy health insurance, they seem pretty open to a single payer plan:

71 percent favor the law's Medicaid expansion, 66 percent of young adults favor the prohibition on denying people coverage because of a person's medical history, 65 percent favor requiring insurance plans to cover the full cost of birth control, 63 percent favor requiring most employers to pay a fine if they don't offer insurance and 53 percent favor paying for benefit increases with higher payroll taxes for higher earners.