Among the browser windows I have open are these:
Now, back to coding. In Ruby, yet.
Josh Marshall points to Dana Bash's remarks yesterday as an example of how many journalists miss (or misrepresent) the point in the health-care debate:
Current Republican ideology...posits that it is simply not the responsibility or place of government, certainly not the federal government, to make sure everyone has health care coverage. You can agree or disagree with that premise. But it’s not hard to understand and it is not indefensible. Very few of us think the government should step in if someone doesn’t have enough money to buy a car. We don’t think there’s a right to a home or apartment where every child has their own bedroom. On most things we accept that things are not equal, even if we believe that extremes of inequality are bad for society and even immoral.
But many of us think that healthcare is fundamentally different. It’s not just another market product that we accept people can or can’t get or can or can’t get at certain levels of quality because of wealth, chance, exertion and all the other factors that go into wealth and income. This is both a moral and ideological premise.
Pretending that both parties just have very different approaches to solving a commonly agreed upon problem is really just a lie. It’s not true. One side is looking for ways to increase the number of people who have real health insurance and thus reasonable access to health care and the other is trying to get the government out of the health care provision business with the inevitable result that the opposite will be the case.
At least the Times editorial board is calling the GOP plan a hoax.
Nor, it seems, do they like the middle class. Krugman rips into their proposal for repealing the ACA:
In the past, laws that would take from the poor and working class while giving to the rich came with excuses. Tax cuts, their sponsors declared, would unleash market dynamism and make everyone more prosperous. Deregulation would increase efficiency and lower prices. It was all voodoo; the promises never came true. But at least there was some pretense of working for the common good.
Now we have none of this. This bill does nothing to reduce health care costs. It does nothing to improve the functioning of health insurance markets – in fact, it will send them into death spirals by reducing subsidies and eliminating the individual mandate. There is nothing at all in the bill that will make health care more affordable for those currently having trouble paying for it. And it will gradually squeeze Medicaid, eventually destroying any possibility of insurance for millions.
Who benefits? It’s all about the tax cuts, almost half of which will go to people with incomes over $1 million, the great bulk to people with incomes over 200K.
Meanwhile, Brian Beutler points out that the GOP's proposal might actually harm one of their own leadership:
The House and Senate Trumpcare bills gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions in different ways: the former by allowing insurers to price gouge sick people; the latter by allowing insurers to exclude the treatments sick people need from covered benefit schedules, creating adverse selection. Both would destabilize insurance markets for people with pre-existing conditions in at least some states. The Senate bill does not exempt members of Congress, and House Republicans have gone on record with the promise that Trumpcare will apply to them, too.
We don’t know if [Rep. Steve] Scalise’s recovery will take years, or if he will need chronic care when he gets through rehabilitation. Hopefully the answer to both questions is no. But it’s dreadfully easy to imagine that if a Republican health care bill becomes law, Scalise will ultimately be uninsurable under its terms, leaving him exposed to the long-term costs of his injuries, and to the costs of other ailments that might befall him between now and when he becomes eligible for Medicare.
It looks like the bill may pass. And that will make millions of Americans, including Rep. Scalise, much worse off, all for a few tax cuts.
Crain's asks, Who wants to move to Chicago?
A major Chicago company, we hear, is having a harder time persuading recruits to move here. Full employment, especially among the well-compensated professionals it's hiring, might seem to blame. But the company isn't struggling to attract talent in markets where jobless rates are even lower than metro Chicago's most recent rate of 4.3 percent. What's the problem then? It's the candidates' fear that Chicago and Illinois generally have become risky places in which to buy a home and raise a family.
When the General Assembly reconvenes June 21, it could put some of those worries to rest and pass an actual state budget for the first time in two years. That would require compromise from Gov. Bruce Rauner as well as his Democratic adversaries, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton. For far too long, they've put their own re-elections ahead of the commonweal. Meanwhile, the state stumbles along, spending far more than it's taking in. Meanwhile, too, the unthinkable becomes less improbable: Without state support, junk-rated governments in Illinois, including the city of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools and a half-dozen state universities, could essentially go under.
Unfortunately, the Crain's editorial board offers no solutions. Nor can they. Because they're in the same uncomfortable position Kansas Republicans are in: their guy is the one holding the state hostage.
Yes, the legislature and the governor need to compromise. But only one of them is an ideological dead-ender.
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and Bruce Reed, who together engineered the Democratic mid-term victory in 2006, have some advice for the party in 2018:
In the last 60 years, control of the U.S. House of Representatives has changed hands just three times, always in midterm elections, with control shifting away from the president’s party. The 1994 and 2010 campaigns were dominated by attacks against the incumbent president and his party over health care; 2006 became a referendum over the ruling party’s incompetence and corruption. In percentage terms, the worst midterm defeat in the past century came in 1974, when a nation weary of obstruction of justice sent a quarter of the House Republican caucus packing.
Democrats don’t just need to choose the right battles, they also need to choose credible candidates who can win them. Candidate quality may not make the difference in a place like Montana’s at-large district, where Greg Gianforte won handily just hours after assaulting a reporter. Winning hotly contested swing seats, however, requires candidates who closely match their districts—even if they don’t perfectly align with the national party’s activist base.
Here's hoping they're right, and the national Democratic party gets its shit together.
Stuff I didn't get to because I was doing my job today:
Time for a martini, clearly.
The Washington Post has a quick guide to who's being investigated for what:
Russian election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign
This is where it all started. James B. Comey, who led the law enforcement investigation until he was fired as FBI director May 9, testified last week before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he has no doubt that Russia attempted to influence the presidential race by hacking the Democratic National Committee and launching cyberattacks on state election systems, among other tactics.
Possible attempts to obstruct justice
Comey testified last week that while he was still head of the FBI, he told Trump on three occasions that the agency was not investigating him, individually. “Officials say that changed shortly after Comey’s firing,” The Post reported Wednesday.
Possible financial crimes
We know less about this prong than the other two. The Post reported last month that “in addition to possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election, investigators are also looking broadly into possible financial crimes — but the people familiar with the matter, who were not authorized to speak publicly, did not specify who or what was being examined.”
Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions personally asked congress to prosecute medical-marijuana clinics, so that we can spend millions of Federal law-enforcement dollars hurting sick people. Gotta love the Republican Party.
Jennifer Rubin attempts to explain "what stops Republicans from behaving rationally:"
First, unlike Senate and House Republicans during Watergate, there are few genuine leaders of principle whose sense of propriety is offended by Trump. The moral and intellectual quality of the current crew of Republicans pales in comparison to the type of Republicans who finally told Richard Nixon the jig was up. Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.), House Minority Leader John Rhodes (R-Ariz.) and Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott (R-Pa.), who went to the White House, have few if any equals in today’s House and Senate.
Second, elected Republicans by and large cower in the shadow of Fox Non-News hosts, talk-radio opportunists and right-wing interest groups. They fear noticeable distancing from Trump will prompt the vultures of the right to swoop down up them, leaving only bones behind. So long as the characters who populate the right stick with Trump, elected Republicans, sadly, won’t lead.
Krugman, channeling Nate Silver, sees lopsided election wins in Republican districts and epistemic closure as the root causes:
But mightn’t even Republican voters turn on you if you seem too slavish to an obviously corrupt leadership? Well, where would those voters get such an idea? For all practical purposes, Republican primary voters get their news from wholly partisan media, which quite simply present a picture of the world that bears no resemblance to what independent sources are saying. Even though most Republicans in DC probably know better, their self-interest says to pretend to believe the official line.
So if you’re Representative Bomfog from a red state, your entire career depends on being an apparatchik willing to do and say anything the regime demands. Suggestions that the president’s men, and maybe the man himself, is in collusion with a foreign power? Fake news! Firing the FBI director in an obvious obstruction of justice? Let’s make excuses! Analyses suggesting that your bill will cause mass suffering? Never mind. Party loyalty is all — even if it demands humiliating displays of obsequious deference.
The one thing that might cause Rs to turn on Trump would be the more or less certain prospect of a wave election so massive that even very safe seats get lost. And at the rate things are going, that could happen. But if it does, it will be nothing like a normal political process; it will be more like a revolution within the GOP, a regime change that would shatter the party establishment.
Meanwhile, Kevin Baker has a good argument that Trump isn't Nixon, he's Jackson, but without the skill or strategy.
Bend over, here it comes again. Welcome to the kakocracy:
As Trump went around the large table, one by one, most [cabinet secretaries] praised the president, while others gave brief updates on their departments' work.
When it was his turn, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said it was "an honor to be on team," telling Trump that "my hat is off to you" for pulling the United States out of Paris climate agreement.
U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley proclaimed "a new day at the U.N.," where she said Trump has provided "a very strong voice."
"People know what the United States is for," Haley said. "They know what we're against. They see us leading across the board."
And the tributes kept coming:
- Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price: "Mr. President, what an incredible honor it is to lead the Department of Health and Human Services at this time under your leadership."
- Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke: "As your [Navy] SEAL on your staff, it's an honor to be your steward of your public lands."
- Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross: "Mr. President, thank you for the opportunity to fix the trade deficit."
- Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue: "I wanted to congratulate you on the men and women you place around this table. ... I want to thank you for that. These are great team members."
Chief of Staff Reince Priebus went even further, telling Trump: "We thank you for opportunity and blessing you've given us to serve your agenda and the American people."
I mean, if this were any other English-speaking country, the Dear Leader would have heard this as scathing sarcasm and understood his days in office to be numbered in single digits. I'm talking Chamberlain after Dunkirk or Ford after pardoning Nixon. On the other hand, in any other English-speaking country, the ministers would have intended scathing sarcasm, not the unprecedented sycophancy that the chief administrators of the United States displayed today.
But this is Donald Trump, who has no shame, no irony, no perspective, and no humility. And this is the modern Republican Party, who have no shame, no irony, no perspective, and no sense.
But thank you, people of New York, for the Senate Minority Leader:
The Kansas legislature overrode governor Sam Brownback's veto of their roll-back of his 2012 tax increase package, because even Republicans in Kansas have a limit to ideological myopia:
Lawmakers voted to override Brownback’s veto of a tax plan estimated to bring the state more than $1.2 billion over a two-year span.
Lawmakers marshaled together a coalition of moderate Republicans, conservatives and Democrats to overcome the governor’s opposition to seeing his landmark tax cuts, which have in large part come to define his tenure in Topeka, fundamentally come to an end.
A handful of other conservative Republicans in the statehouse continued to decry the new spending being pushed by lawmakers and said the House and Senate are doing the opposite of what the people of Kansas want them to do. They also said the tax increase is the largest in state history.
“What we’re doing is fleecing our constituents,” said Sen. Ty Masterson, an Andover Republican.
Paul Krugman cheers (a little) and points out how this shows the current Republican platform to be completely cynical:
For there was an idea, a theory, behind the Kansas tax cuts: the claim that cutting taxes on the wealthy would produce explosive economic growth. It was a foolish theory, belied by decades of experience: remember the economic collapse that was supposed to follow the Clinton tax hikes, or the boom that was supposed to follow the Bush tax cuts? And it was a theory that always survived mainly because of the Upton Sinclair principle that it’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.
But still, it was a theory, and eventually the theory’s failure was too much even for Republican legislators.
Now consider the AHCA, aka Trumpcare. What’s the theory of the case behind this legislation?
You might have expected some kind of appeal to the magic of the market, some claim that radical deregulation will produce wonderful results. It would have been silly, but at least would have shown some respect for the basic idea of analyzing policies and evaluating them by results.
But what we’re getting instead is a raw exercise of political power: the GOP is trying to take away health care from millions and hand the savings to the wealthy simply because it can, without even a fig leaf of intellectual justification.
The point is that what we’re seeing now is so bad, so cynical, that it makes the Kansas experiment looks like a model of idealism and honesty by comparison.
If Kansas Republicans can look at three years of evidence and admit they were wrong, maybe so can national Republicans? Maybe. But probably not before November 2018.