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Updated: 25 min 30 sec ago

Hoocoodanode, Carrier Edition

47 min 5 sec ago

Toodaloo, tontos:

Donald Trump stood outside a Carrier manufacturing plant in Indianapolis, Indiana weeks before taking office and boasted he just saved 1,100 jobs from being shipped to Mexico.

Inside the plant, some workers were skeptical. Carrier had promised layoffs, which Trump glossed over in his claim to save over 1,000 jobs.

On Monday, these workers were proven right. Though Trump struck a deal with Carrier promising them $7 million in local business incentives if they kept their Indianapolis plant open, the heating and cooling company warned that it would still outsource a number of Indiana jobs to Mexico, regardless. But the Trump campaign still championed the deal as a win for American workers. This week, the Carrier announced it will cut 632 jobs from its Indiana plant by the end of the year.

For labor leaders like Chuck Jones, the layoffs are a grim told-you-so moment. Jones is president of the United Steelworkers 1999, which represents employees at Carrier’s Indianapolis plant.

No one could have predicted. Wait, what?

After Trump failed to mention the major layoffs during his December speech, Jones told the Washington Post that Trump “got up there and, for whatever reason, lied his ass off.”

Trump retaliated on Twitter. “Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!” Trump tweeted of the local union leader, adding that “If United Steelworkers 1999 was any good, they would have kept those jobs in Indiana. Spend more time working-less time talking. Reduce dues.”

Now, as Carrier warned on the day of Trump’s triumphant speech outside the plant, the jobs are leaving Indiana anyway.

“It wasn’t a shock by no means,” Jones said.

Expert businessman and his bible thumping sidekick just let the people of Indiana get fleeced for seven million by Carrier who went ahead and did what they said they would do all along. WINNING.

Categories: Politics

Open Thread: #Not All American Politicians

1 hour 6 min ago


.
Best part, for me, is that we know how badly news pics like this will chafe Lord Smallgloves’ baggy boxers.

Per the Washington Post:

Thanks to an awkward coincidence, President Trump is in Brussels at the same time as predecessor Barack Obama is in Berlin. These two trips are certainly offering contrasting views of the United States’s relationship with Europe.

Obama was in the German capital Thursday morning to appear alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a biennual festival organized by the German protestant church. The two spoke in front of a large crowd at the iconic Brandenburg Gate, with Obama going out of his way to praise Merkel.

“Not only do I love this city, but one of my favorite partners throughout my presidency is sitting next to me,” Obama said with a smile…

“If you look at public opinion surveys, Barack Obama has retained a popularity in Germany that Donald Trump has not achieved,” said Karen Donfried, president of the German Marshall Fund and a member of the National Security Council during the Obama administration. “Given the political year that we have in Germany, with a national election in September, the chancellor could be well served by showing her relations with both the past U.S. president and the current U.S. president.”

Categories: Politics

Thursday Evening Open Thread: America’s Embarrasment-in-Chief

3 hours 54 min ago


.

Look, Donald, I’m dyslexic (too), so it’s hard for me to read something out loud and not sound like a moron. That’s why, when I know I’ll have to do so, I always practice my script in advance. It’s a two-minute speech, you putz! You could’ve pre-read the thing during the commercials on your favorite Fox News shows! Get “your guys” to print it out on a big card, using Comic Sans!

Of course, the speech would still be a thuggish demand for tribute from a guy who famously can’t back up his threats, but at least you wouldn’t look like a second-grader told to read Granny’s hand-written blessing at the family Thanksgiving table…
***********

Apart from [facepalming], what’s on the agenda for the evening?

Categories: Politics

Florida Man Admits GOP-Russia Collusion

5 hours 2 min ago

Via TPM:

A Republican political operative in Florida asked the alleged Russian hacker who broke into Democratic Party organizations’ servers at the height of the 2016 campaign to pass him stolen documents, according to a report Thursday by the Wall Street Journal.

In return, that operative received valuable Democratic voter-turnout analyses, which the newspaper found at least one GOP campaign used to its advantage. The hacker went on to flag that same data to Roger Stone, a longtime confidant of Donald Trump’s who briefly advised his presidential campaign, and who is currently under federal investigation for potential collusion with Russia.

The Wall Street Journal’s report presents the clearest allegations to date of collusion between people connected to Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.

The Florida man in question is GOP consultant Aaron Nevins. A campaign consultant for U.S. Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) admitted to using the stolen information to his candidate’s advantage. Funny that the tip of the iceberg would emerge in Florida of all places.

PS: I hope this story puts some focus back on the fact that other elections were tampered with — not just the presidential race. They’re going to keep doing it if we don’t stop them.

PPS: The funniest part of the story is that Roger Stone admits he received the stolen info but says he didn’t share it with anyone. As if the original ratfucker would leave a rat unfucked! It is to laugh…

Categories: Politics

Kids Today (Open Thread)

6 hours 35 min ago

A blue jay couple that lives in our yard hatched the whiniest chick in the history of the universe this year. The nestlings fledged 24 days ago. I know this because of a photo date stamp: One chick crash-landed in the yard and subsequently failed to achieve air, and my husband rescued it and placed it back in a tree before our dogs could make a snack of it.

Jays aren’t known for their dulcet tones, but this bratty little shit is particularly shrill. It stands around under the bird feeder, flaps its wings, screeching all the while, while the parents frantically shuttle food into its open maw. You can tell the parents are goddamned exhausted by the little bastard. Here’s a shot through the window, with the fledgling throwing an ear-splitting tantrum on the ground while a parent looks on from the top of the gate:

[Dialog supplied by me.]

Sometimes I want to tell those parents that it’s time to cut the damned cord already. Their offspring is perfectly capable of flying now, shaky start notwithstanding. There are bird feeders all over the place. Let it paddle its own canoe! But I try to refrain from intervening in the personal business of other families, so I just complain about it here.

Open thread!

Categories: Politics

Bully Boy

7 hours 53 min ago

Serial killer, cosplay afficionado, plagiarist, and newly hired employee at Homeland Security is a big fat fucking liar and it may cost him:

Sitting on the tarmac at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on Jan. 15, Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. sent a text message to one of his captains after a brief verbal exchange with a passenger.

The sheriff explained in the text what should be done when Riverwest resident Dan Black got off the plane.

“Just a field interview, no arrest unless he become an asshole with your guys,” Clarke wrote Captain Mark Witek. “Question for him is why he said anything to me. Why didn’t he just keep his mouth shut?”

“Follow him to baggage and out the door,” Clarke continued. “You can escort me to carousel after I point him out.”

A copy of the text messages was provided by an attorney for Black, who is suing the sheriff, Milwaukee County and several unnamed deputies over the incident.

Records show the matter, which has drawn national attention, was big enough that federal investigators looked at Clarke and his staff’s handling of the case. Clarke has said he is taking a job as assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, though officials have not confirmed this.

In other words, Clarke was lying:

Black, 24, says he was detained, interviewed and escorted out of Mitchell International Airport on Jan. 15 by a half-dozen deputies after a brief run-in with the sheriff on the plane. He says in the federal suit that he was the victim of an unlawful stop and arrest.

Since Black went public with his complaint, Clarke has threatened and belittled his fellow passenger, calling Black a “snowflake” and saying anyone, including Black, who harasses him on an airplane might get “knocked out.”

But now Clarke is giving his version of the events on the plane, which matches Black’s account, except in a couple of details.

Asshole. On the upside, we don’t know if he is a Nazi.

Categories: Politics

A Different Time

9 hours 48 min ago

After the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, the directors of the nuclear weapons laboratories on both sides quickly got together in early 1992 to work on securing nuclear weapons and the materials they are made from. They were supported by their governments. NATO helped. The cooperation was a marvelous thing to see and to experience. I had a small part in dealing with leftover Soviet nuclear problems.

In 1998, I traveled to Estonia to help deal with a former Soviet uranium-processing plant. I’ve written up my experience. Siegfried Hecker, the director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and a primary mover in the lab-to-lab cooperation, has collected the experiences of many participants in a two-volume set, Doomed to Cooperate. He has also set up a website for more information, which is where my story appears.

Check it out. Here are before and after photos of one part of the site.

 

Cross-posted at Nuclear Diner.

Categories: Politics

Hidden good news in the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina rate filing

10 hours 22 min ago

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina just filed their initial rates for the ACA individual market for 2018. The headline will be that they are asking for a 22.9% average rate increase. The second headline is that they assume that Cost Sharing Reduction subsidies will not be paid. That assumption drives 61% of the rate increase. The SERFF filing is here.

There is subtle good news in the rate filing. Another 13% of the rate increase is driven by the reinstitution of the 3% Health Insurance Premium tax. That is a one time hit that is to be baked into the cake of future rates. This means only 26% of the entire rate increase or roughly five percentage points is due to increased medical costs or service utilization. Trend and morbidity is under control. Below are segments of the consumer justification.

5% trend is a healthy trend. That is a the trend of a market that is fairly stable and reasonably priced.

There are a few other North Carolina notes for the individual markt. Aetna is withdrawing. This should allow Blue Cross and Blue Shield to play aggressive subsidy attachment point games even as they seem to be adapting a single index rate that spreads the CSR compensation costs to all metal bands. Subsidized buyers have the chance of seeing excellent deals on the Exchanges if BCBS-NC prices in the same manner as BCBS-Tennessee prices in their single carrier counties.

Categories: Politics

Nowhere to hide

10 hours 40 min ago

In 2010, there were over 100 House seats that Cook Political report rated as competitive. I expect that number to be at least as high in 2018. I have nothing against the DCCC but they tend to spend a lot of money in a small number of races that are winnable.

Not to get all Nassim Nicholas Taleb on you, but the probability tails here are fatter than most people think. Last night, a Montana Republican running for House choked, punched, and body-slammed a reporter, and is now facing misdemeanor assault charges. That race was close already, and the assault occurred so near to the election that it may not have a massive effect, but let’s be honest: we’ve got 238 Republican incumbent assholes running in 2018, at least a few are going to pull some kind of similar shit, and we’ve got to have Democratic candidates who can take advantage when that happens.

So this year we will be raising district funds for the eventual Deocratic nominee in all 238 districts with Republican incumbents. No quarter, nowhere to hide. If a Republican Congressman goes to Indochina…..

Goal Thermometer

Categories: Politics

Update Your Linux Machines Folks

11 hours 31 min ago

Researchers found a major bug in Samba, a core component of many Linux and Unix systems as it controls storage and interfaces with Windows and other non-Unix things.

The issue allows a bad guy to run unapproved code uploaded remotely as a root user. Your firewall has to have the right port open, but lots of folks do that to solve a temporary need and then forget to close the port to outsiders.

So, should you have home or work Linux machines, take a few minutes and update them. This also applies to many less-obvious Linux machines such as my personal favorite, the RaspberryPi.

Many use them as cheap controllers for home storage, media centers, home automation, etc.  So don’t neglect them folks – if they get compromised, that’s just a ticking time bomb waiting to get worse.

Unrelated to this news, we’ll be tightening the site up a bit more in anticipation of increased efforts by bad guys.

On the test server front, the good news is that it’s up and running. There are still a few more details to take care of, and I’m pretty much not doing any work from now until Tuesday as I have lots of IT duties and plan to take apart, re-organize and put back together my home office. Fun fun.

Finally, don’t forget that tomorrow at 12:30 Eastern, my guest post on Oceanography will launch, with the author in the comments ready to answer questions. I found his intro to be very interesting, and it led he and me into an in-depth discussion of the numerous crises in our oceans that are here, or will be soon.

 

Open Thread!

Categories: Politics

Excellent (Depressing) Read: “The Seth Rich conspiracy shows how fake news still works”

11 hours 39 min ago

Today, Dave Weigel published a story in the Washington Post on “The life and death of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory”:

When Seth Rich’s Gmail account received an alert this week from Mega.com, attempting to start a new account on a website created by the New Zealand-based Internet businessman and convicted hacker Kim Dotcom, his family knew that something was off.

Over seven frenzied days, Dotcom had become a leading purveyor of the theory that Rich, a staffer at the Democratic National Committee who was shot dead near his home in Northeast Washington last summer, had supplied DNC documents to WikiLeaks and was killed as a result. Multiple security analysts and an FBI investigation have tied the release to hackers with ties to Russia. D.C. police have said repeatedly that they think Rich was slain in a random robbery attempt…

All that began to unravel Tuesday afternoon when Fox News retracted a story that had claimed the same Rich-WikiLeaks connection, telling readers that the article was “not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting.” Fox News did not respond to a request for comment, but Dotcom wrote on his website that he would not speak further about his allegations…

Of course, this being the internet (and certain people & networks happy to be ghouls for profit) the morbid feasting on other peoples’ tragedy will never actually end.

Here’s Weigel’s original story, on May 20:

On July 10, at 4:19 a.m., gunfire was detected in the District’s Bloomingdale neighborhood. Not five minutes later, police found Seth Rich, a 27-year-old Democratic National Committee staffer, lying on the ground, dying from a bullet wound to his back. A conscious Rich was transported to the hospital; by daybreak, he was dead.

Nearly one year later, Rich’s death remains one of America’s thousands of unsolved murders — and the focus of endless conspiracy theories, spread this past week by Fox News, alt-right social media, a local D.C. news station and the Russian embassy in Britain. The reemergence of the conspiracy theory this week, which did not lack for real news, revealed plenty about the fake news ecosystem (or to use BuzzFeed’s useful phrase, “the upside-down media”) in the Trump era. It also happened to cause untold pain for the Rich family…

TV news can be an easy mark. This iteration of the Seth Rich story started when the District’s own Fox 5 ran a Monday night “exclusive,” citing one source — a Fox New legal commentator, Rod Wheeler — for a “big break in the investigation.” Reporter Marina Marraco reported that “conspiracy theories” could “be proven right,” as Wheeler was saying what had been rumored since last year: Rich might have leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks, making him the target of an assassination…

Within 24 hours, reporters at NBC News, CNN and The Washington Post had debunked the story. First, Rich’s family quickly corrected the idea that Wheeler was on their payroll; he was hired by Ed Butowsky, a Texas businessman who had grown interested in the case. Next, Wheeler told CNN he hadn’t actually obtained information linking Rich to WikiLeaks — Fox 5, he insisted, had told him to say so…

Most forms of reporting have guardrails that this story would have crashed against. Had the channel waited to run the story until the family or the police weighed in, it couldn’t have aired. But that’s the problem — there’s a fluff allowance on TV, one that lets sensational videos through even if they’ve not been fully vetted…

Fake news has weakened on Facebook, but its bots still own Twitter. With very little fanfare, likely a result of the backlash it got from conservatives after Gawker revealed its editorial policy for newsfeeds, Facebook has seriously cracked down on the ability of conspiracy and clickbait sites to make stories trend. There’s been no similar crackdown on Twitter, where conspiracy theorists can still coordinate, start trends, and benefit when bots chime in…

Debunking a story still doesn’t end it. Sean Hannity, who’s now a sort of elder statesman in Fox News’s prime time lineup, devoted parts of three episodes this week to the Rich story…

As the phrase goes: That escalated quickly…

Never thought I’d be recommending anything by John Podhoretz, but this piece is actually worth a read:

… Although, with any justice, it may end the public career of Sean Hannity…

… While the World’s Dumbest Professional Republicans will do their best to keep the story churning.

There’s stuff circulating at the top of every septic tank, too also.

Categories: Politics

Political Correctness Be Damned: It’s Truth-Bomb Time

12 hours 19 min ago

We have a problem, fellow citizens. Ignoring it won’t make it go away. Taking the “politically correct” stance that it’s an issue that is equally distributed across demographic groups may make us feel better, but it’s a lie. Only facing the situation honestly will allow us to address it.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it: A certain group in our country doesn’t share traditional American values like honesty and fair play. This group glorifies thuggery, revels in stupidity and makes excuses for and even rewards lying, theft and sociopathic behavior. This group’s dysfunction is dragging us all down.

It’s not up to decent people to carry the load for this dysfunctional group or teach their lawless children morals. It’s up to the members of that group to pull themselves up out of the gutter. Parents in this group have to teach their children right from wrong. This demographic’s communities must establish and enforce moral frameworks.

So, I’ll just say it: Republicans need to start taking personal responsibility. Now. They need to own up to their dysfunctional behavior and correct it. They must stop blaming everyone else for their impulsive reactions to adverse events. They need to stop acting like they’re perpetual victims and assume some agency in their own lives.

I’m tired of hearing about how this self-destructive behavior has its roots in conservatives’ upbringing or socioeconomic status. I began life in a seedy Florida trailer park, and I managed to pull myself up by the bootstraps and leave the chaos and dysfunction behind. If I can, they can. No more excuses.

Categories: Politics

Care costs money

12 hours 43 min ago

The most important concept in health finance is simple; sick people are expensive to cover. Let’s keep that in mind for the rest of the post.

The Independent Journalism Review captures the reaction of Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), head of the House Freedom Caucus, to the CBO score.

When reporters pointed out the portion of the CBO report saying individuals with preexisting conditions in waiver states would be charged higher premiums and could even be priced out of the insurance market — destabilizing markets in those states — under AHCA, Meadows seemed surprised.

“Well, that’s not what I read,” Meadows said, putting on his reading glasses and peering at the paragraph on the phone of a nearby reporter.

The CBO predicted:

“…the waivers in those states would have another effect: Community-rated premiums would rise over time, and people who are less healthy (including those with preexisting or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive non-group health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all — despite the additional funding that would be available under H.R. 1628 to help reduce premiums.”

…..
The CBO analysis was likewise adamant that AHCA’s current high-risk pool funding isn’t enough to cover sick people if states use the mandate waivers.

After reading the paragraph, Meadows told reporters he would go through the CBO analysis more thoroughly and run the numbers, adding he would work to make sure the high-risk pools are properly funded.

Meadows, suddenly emotional, choked back tears and said, “Listen, I lost my sister to breast cancer. I lost my dad to lung cancer. If anybody is sensitive to preexisting conditions, it’s me. I’m not going to make a political decision today that affects somebody’s sister or father because I wouldn’t do it to myself.”

He continued:

“In the end, we’ve got to make sure there’s enough funding there to handle preexisting conditions and drive down premiums. And if we can’t do those three things, then we will have failed.”

There is a plausible high cost risk pool design that could theoretically work. It just costs a lot of money. The Urban Institute provides an updated floor to that type of design.

Government costs for the coverage and assistance typical of traditional high-risk pools would range from $25 billion to $30 billion in 2020 and from $359 to $427 billion over 10 years. (Figure 2)

I think this is a decent lower bound as they don’t look at very high cost but uncommon conditions like hematological defects, cystic fibrosis, major gastro-intestinal conditions, slow progressing cancers or hundreds of other things. But Urban’s estimates points us in the right direction. Taking care of sick people costs somewhere between expensive and very expensive.

This is not new knowledge. Anyone of any ideological stripe who is actively trying to be a good faith broker of information on health care finance has been shouting this basic insight for months. And yet, the Senate just invited actuaries to talk with them for the first time this week. And yet, the House voted on this bill without waiting for expert opinion. The bill was written without a public hearing. The product is a consequence of a process that deliberately excluded even friendly experts who were having a nervous breakdown when they looked at the cash flows much less incorporating the criticism of unfriendly but knowledgeable experts.

Healthcare for people with high needs is expensive.

Categories: Politics

How the CBO projects market failure

13 hours 15 min ago

The Congressional Budget Office projects that the AHCA will lead to 15 % of the population living in destablized insurance markets because of the MacArthur/Upton amendments.

he agencies estimate that about one-sixth of the population resides in areas inwhich the nongroup market would start to become unstable beginning in 2020. That instability would result from market responses to decisions by some states to waive two provisions of federal law, as would be permitted under H.R. 1628. One type of waiver would allow states to modify the requirements governing essential health benefits (EHBs), which set minimum standards for the benefits that insurance in the nongroup and small-group markets must cover. A second type of waiver would allow insurers to set premiums on the basis of an individual’s health status if the person had not demonstrated continuous coverage; that is, the waiver would eliminate the requirement for what is termed community rating for premiums charged to such people. CBO and JCT anticipate that most healthy people applying for insurance in the nongroup market in those states would be able to choose between premiums based on their own expected health care costs (medically underwritten premiums) and premiums based on the average health care costs for people who share the same age and smoking status and who reside in the same geographic area (community-rated premiums)

What does that mean and how does that happen? Let’s work through an simple model of a state with 1,000 people in its individual market.

Health costs are not uniformly distributed. 3% of the costs are driven by 50% of the people. 80% of the costs are borne by 20% of the people. This is the key.

In year 1, there is a single community rated, guarantee issued risk pool. Everyone is offered the same premium. There are significant subsidies to help people afford to join. It is a great deal for the 20% of the population driving 80% of the costs. It is a bad deal for someone in the bottom 50% of the cost pool. Average premiums equal average cost of the entire pool.

In year 2, the state elects to go full waiver. Essential Health Benefits are dramatically pared back, actuarial value is pared back and medical underwriting is allowed. An enterprising insurance company offer an underwritten product. An individual qualifies if they can power walk a twelve minute mile and had no more than three professional claims in the previous year. The guarantee issue pool is still available for people who are continually enrolled.

In this scenario, The least expensive 50% of the previous year’s pool qualifies for the new underwritten product. The premium is 10% of the previous guarantee issued premium for the people who qualify. That is enough to cover normal medical expenses and a few random high cost events while making a nice profit. Everyone who qualifies in this pool is happy. They get coverage that statistically they are highly unlikely to use and they barely pay anything for it.

The problem is the guarantee issued pool. It now contains 50% of the premiums and 97% of the previous years claims. Some of that 97% of previous years claims will naturally go away as one-off events tend not to repeat themselves to the same individual. But a good proportion of the claims will be recurring as an individual with Multiple Sclerosis in Year 1 will still need their medicine in Year 2. This pool will see an 50% to 75% premium increase to cover the recurring claims costs of the chronically and expensively ill.

In Year 3, another insurer decides to be smart. They’ll offer a product at a premium between the low cost pool and the high cost pool. It is targeted at the 30% of the population in the high cost pool who are either chronically but not expensively ill or the people who were in the high cost non-underwritten risk pool because they failed underwriting in Year 2 because they had a one-off event in Year 1.

This is the dynamic the CBO projects. Anyone who knows that they need high cost care will be segregated into a continual coverage, community rated risk pool that is only comprised of people who know that they need high cost care. The stabilization funds in the AHCA are grossly insufficient to make premiums even remotely affordable in a community rated pool when there is an underwritten pool right next to it that can cherry pick eight days a week.

So that is how the CBO sees markets collapsing for 15% of the country.

Categories: Politics

States, single payer and recessions

14 hours 9 min ago

New York and California are both advancing single payer plans through their legislatures. I have a lot of questions. They both assume incredible waiver authority will be given to them. These hypothetical waivers would direct federal program funding** to a state operated pass through entity to pay for healthcare. But each of these proposals will rely on some state level general taxation.

How do these programs work in a recession?

Depending on how one does the counting, between forty six and forty nine states have a balanced budget constraint. California and New York have balanced budget constraints. There is wiggle room for a bad year or two on the margins but it is incremental.

State tax revenue tends to be cyclical. Consumption and income taxes tend to go up when the economy is growing and down when the economy is in a recession. California heavily relies on capital gains taxation. New York relies on taxing Wall Street bonuses. Both of those are cyclical revenue sources.

Healthcare demand is responsive to recessions as well. Bad times lead to fewer elective surgeries and for more things to be deferred until they really are needed. The primary channel for that is through the increase in cost-sharing. The California and New York proposals don’t have the cost sharing that could shift demand in time.

So my question is what happens to a state with a reasonably strong balanced budget constraint and state run single payer when there is a significant recession? Demand and costs will stay roughly constant. Revenue crashes. This dynamic opens a big financing gap. That gap must be closed. The methods to close that gap are massive provider payment cuts, increased taxes (which is probably a bad choice on a cyclical basis), increased cost-sharing, eliminating some covered services or borrowing for operational reasons. States have some wiggle room to borrow for operational costs but they don’t have the ability to borrow 20% of their operational budget in a year for several years straight. Is it reasonable to assume that the states can access federal fiscal capacity to borrow as they have already accessed all federal healthcare money in a hypothetical waiver?

How does this work in a recession?

Help me out here, please!

** By the way, does that federal waiver money come with Hyde restrictions?

*** Any state single payer proposal post should always end in a Cato-esque “ERISA delenda est”

Categories: Politics

ACHA review

15 hours 11 min ago

Here are a few lowlights of the AHCA Congressional Budget Office score. I’ll try to keep this non-technical.

  • Medicaid is still getting changed from an entitlement that is responsive to changing needs to a block grant
  • 23 million people will lose coverage compared to current law projections
  • The MacArthur/Upton waivers are expected to destroy the individual markets that cover 15% of the country
  • Most of the premium decreases are due to older and sicker people being priced out of the market
    • Real easy to have low premiums when you don’t cover anyone who is likely to need services
  • Pre-existing condition protection is effectively destroyed by splitting the risk pool.

Relevant tweets below the fold:

Brookings estimates the apples to apples premium costs equalizing for age and actuarial value mixture.

Dropping AV is a distributional choice. It benefits healthy people who will not get near the out of pocket maximum and makes the sick pay a higher rate.

Categories: Politics

Thursday Morning Open Thread: The Great War Is Here

15 hours 53 min ago

Paul Ryan and Mick Mulvaney are gonna get matching Blood for the Blood God tattoos…

Released Wednesday, the CBO’s scoring of the new bill finds that a few cosmetic tweaks don’t change the fact that the AHCA remains a breathtakingly cruel bill…

The AHCA is cruel. There is no other word for it. If the law is enacted, people will die because of it.

Given recent headlines, Democrats naturally have been focused on ties between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia and his related actions as president. But Democrats have to make the AHCA central to their plans for 2018 and beyond. In recent polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 24 percent of Trump voters want him to decrease Medicaid spending, and 42 percent say that the program is somewhat or very important to them. Independents and Democrats are overwhelmingly against the bill. And for the vast majority of Americans, health care is a visceral issue, something that affects their everyday lives. We’ve seen this reflected in the sharp confrontations between GOP members of Congress and their constituents, who are furious at their representatives’ support for a bill that voters do not want. For moral — not just political — reasons, Republicans must be made to regret their AHCA vote.

Jeanne Lambrew, in the NYTimes, “Republicans, Get Ready for the Trumpcare Headlines”:

If the Senate makes this flawed bill law, Republicans will have the chance to watch, all the way up to the midterm elections, as Americans pay higher premiums and lose coverage. By the time the bill’s full changes went into effect in 2020, many of those who voted for it could be long gone…

President Trump has repeatedly said that Obamacare should be blamed for any problems in the individual market this year and next. Yet many of the predicted premium increases are actually a reaction to the attempts to repeal Obamacare, an attempt on the part of insurance companies to protect themselves from the uncertainty induced by the congressional debate and President Trump’s executive actions. And poll after poll shows a majority of Americans dislike the Republican approach and will hold Republicans responsible for any future problems.

So Republicans citing Obamacare headlines should take a moment to imagine the likely Trumpcare headlines and what they will mean for their job security.

Since Mormons aren’t supposed to ‘disfigure their bodies’ with tattoos, the First Rat Off the GOP House Ship is feeling pretty good about his latest career choice…

Apart from that freighted discussion, what’s on the agenda for the day?

Categories: Politics

On The Road

16 hours 57 min ago

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Balloon Juicers who are on the road, travelling, etc. and wish to share notes, links, pictures, stories, etc. from their escapades. As the US mainland begins the end of the Earth day as we measure it, many of us rise to read about our friends and their transient locales.

So, please, speak up and share some of your adventures, observations, and sights as you explore, no matter where you are. By concentrating travel updates here, it’s easier for all to keep up-to-date on the adventures of our fellow Commentariat. And it makes finding some travel tips or ideas from 6 months ago so much easier to find…

Have at ’em, and have a safe day of travels!

 

Should you have any pictures (tasteful, relevant, etc….) you can email them to picstopost@balloon-juice.com or just use this nifty link to start an email: Start an Email to send a Picture to Post on Balloon Juice

 

 

The new test site is very much closer to being ready for development work. It’s taken 98% of my Balloon-Juice attention, including some other important community stuff you’ll hear about soon.

So just a small set today; much more to send us off into the holiday weekend Friday morning, don’t lose faith!

From my archive, just a simple reminder that a meaningful image doesn’t have to be while travelling, or even outside the house. My wife shared this, and some of her sisters with me, and I was charmed. Still am, tbh. Nigh-on-20 years later!

Ok, enough about me. As always, I’m sure I messed up some order-to-description.

One of the first things the test site will enhance will be the photo submission and description process. I’ll still be involved, but a systemic approach will reduce human confusion and less-than-ideal attention span.

Now there’s a development site to perfect this kind of enhancement, things should get even better, with less errors, much more quickly. Seriously.

This function will of course work for any other frontpagers. The general goal is to develop some simple enhancements to the site that make it better for you, the reader and commenter. Some things will be better for frontpagers, but those things should benefit all.

Ok – pictures and stories:

 

From Claudia:

Where it was taken: Seattle, WA
When: yesterday, May 23, 2017

Pictures of a Sunny clear day in Seattle, which I was told are rare particularly after this past winter where they have seen a lot of rain. Other notes or info about the picture:

Space Needle with chihuly sculpture at the bottom right hand

Picture of the Space needle taken from inside the chihuly exhibit.

This actually a picture of a ceiling inside the chihuly exhibit…It was
beautiful…

A picture looking out to Puget sound

Downtown Seattle with Mt. Rainier in the distance.


And finally, a view from the back of my old house in Colorado. For us, the view wasn’t looking down on town like everyone else, it was looking away, up, West to undeveloped country.

As it happened one night, we saw the space station shoot overhead. It was in view for almost 40 minutes – crazy. I literally pointed at the the top of the mountains to the west and told my wife and mother that, “any moment, the space station should rise over there somewhere” and where I was pointing , a golden, shining, moving spot appeared over the mountains. It flew over us and down the Arkansas valley towards Pueblo and I cannot remember feeling more connected to something out out of this world.

And yes, that is a koi pond I designed and built in the Colorado high desert. It was/is an oasis for all kinds of wildlife including spadefoot toads and rare salamanders.

:

Travel safely all, more tomorrow!

Categories: Politics

News Dump of the Day: Part the 3rd

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 22:44

According to CNN, Attorney General Jeff Sessions failed to disclose his contacts with Ambassador Kislyak on his Security Form (SF) 86.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose meetings he had last year with Russian officials when he applied for his security clearance, the Justice Department told CNN Wednesday.

Sessions, who met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least two times last year, didn’t note those interactions on the form, which requires him to list “any contact” he or his family had with a “foreign government” or its “representatives” over the past seven years, officials said. Sessions initially listed a year’s worth of meetings with foreign officials on the security clearance form, according to Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores. But she says he and his staff were then told by an FBI employee who assisted in filling out the form, known as the SF-86, that he didn’t need to list dozens of meetings with foreign ambassadors that happened in his capacity as a senator. After CNN’s story published, a spokesman responded to the reporting with a statement, saying that Sessions was instructed not to list meetings like the ones with Kislyak on his form. “As a United States Senator, the Attorney General met hundreds — if not thousands — of foreign dignitaries and their staff,” spokesman Ian Prior said. “In filling out the SF-86 form, the Attorney General’s staff consulted with those familiar with the process, as well as the FBI investigator handling the background check, and was instructed not to list meetings with foreign dignitaries and their staff connected with his Senate activities.”

Here’s a link to a blank SF 86 below the fold/after the jump. Here’s what the bottom of page 121 looks like:

Certification

My statements on this form, and on any attachments to it, are true, complete, and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief and are made in good faith. I have carefully read the foregoing instructions to complete this form. I understand that a knowing and willful false statement on this form can be punished by fine or imprisonment or both (18 U.S.C. 1001). I understand that intentionally withholding, misrepresenting, or falsifying information may have a negative effect on my security clearance, employment prospects, or job status, up to and including denial or revocation of my security clearance, or my removal and debarment from Federal service.

Signature (Sign in ink) Date signed (mm/dd/yyyy)

Enter your Social Security Number before going to the next page

Page 121

(For fun check out question 29.6 on p 120…)

As someone who went through his periodic review (PR) last year I can tell you, from recent personal experience, that neither Ms. Isgur-Flores’s or Mr. Prior’s answers make any sense, including legal sense. I am in occasional contact with several former students who are senior officers of allied and partner nation militaries. Usually to exchange birthday and holiday well wishes, to be told about promotions and awards, or to check in, as the case with the Nepalese generals I supervised, after the earthquake in 2015 to make sure they and their families were okay. All of these contacts had to be accounted for on my SF 86 and I had to go over them with the investigator when I had my interview.

But don’t take my word for it, here’s a legal expert’s take. Brad Moss, who along with his law partner Mark Zaid, is one of the foremost legal specialists in clearance and classification related matters had the following to say:

My take on this is that this leak, for lack of a better term, to the news media is like the first one: a shot across AG Sessions’ bow to put him on notice that if he interferes with the ongoing investigations more damaging information will be released to the news media.

Update at 10:50 PM EDT

Here’s 18 U.S.C. 1001 – Statements or entries generally

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—

(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact; (2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or (3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry; shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both. If the matter relates to an offense under chapter 109A, 109B, 110, or 117, or section 1591, then the term of imprisonment imposed under this section shall be not more than 8 years. (b) Subsection (a) does not apply to a party to a judicial proceeding, or that party’s counsel, for statements, representations, writings or documents submitted by such party or counsel to a judge or magistrate in that proceeding.

(c) With respect to any matter within the jurisdiction of the legislative branch, subsection (a) shall apply only to—

(1) administrative matters, including a claim for payment, a matter related to the procurement of property or services, personnel or employment practices, or support services, or a document required by law, rule, or regulation to be submitted to the Congress or any office or officer within the legislative branch; or (2) any investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the authority of any committee, subcommittee, commission or office of the Congress, consistent with applicable rules of the House or Senate. (June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 749; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(L), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147; Pub. L. 104–292, § 2, Oct. 11, 1996, 110 Stat. 3459; Pub. L. 108–458, title VI, § 6703(a), Dec. 17, 2004, 118 Stat. 3766; Pub. L. 109–248, title I, § 141(c), July 27, 2006, 120 Stat. 603.)
Categories: Politics

Don’t boss him, don’t cross him, he’s wild in his sorrow

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 20:30

Holy shit. The piece of shit Republican, Greg Gianforte, who is running in tomorrow’s special election in Montana attacked a reporter for politely asking questions about TrumpCare.

He’s going to be that much more upset when he loses tomorrow.

Categories: Politics