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Don't forget what Trumpcare really is all about—tax cuts

Daily Kos - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 15:48

The big shocker in the second round of Trumpcare scoring by the Congressional Budget Office has been all about how people with pre-existing conditions are screwed by it, but don't lose sight of what the first CBO score pointed out—how the bill would destroy Medicaid. The CBO pegs the cuts in this version at $832 billion over ten years (not counting what the proposed Trump budget would cut), enough to force 14 million out of the program. The real reason for most of these cuts remains: the big tax cuts for the rich.

Like its predecessor, the revised AHCA has four distinct major components.

1. One would cut taxes paid by high-income individuals (lower taxes on capital gains, divided, and interest income for households with annual income over $250,000) and by companies in specific industries: health insurance, medical devices, prescription drugs, and indoor tanning salons.
2. The second is a grab bag of tax reductions, such as loosened rules for flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts, repeal of the tax on individuals who can afford but don’t buy adequate health coverage, and a further delay of the excise tax on high-cost health plans (the so-called “Cadillac Tax”).
3. The third restructures the tax credits that subsidize health care coverage, moving from existing income-related tax credits for purchasing health insurance on the ACA Marketplaces to age-related tax credits to purchase health insurance.
4. And the fourth cuts Medicaid spending reducing coverage and essentially paying for the tax cuts.

In other words, it's still all about the tax cuts. But those tax cuts are most definitely not distributed evenly.

In fact, TPC estimates that a $37,000 average annual tax cut will go to the 1 percent of the population with the highest earnings (annual income of over $772,000). The top 0.1 percent of the income distribution would receive an annual tax cut of over $200,000 (annual income over $3.9 million).  [….]

The bottom line: CBO estimates confirm the AHCA is largely a tax bill paired up with Medicaid cuts to offset the costs. And, as in the earlier version of the bill, almost all the benefits go to the highest income households in the country.

That's what this is all about. Punishing old, poor, and sick people is just the gravy.

Categories: Politics

As you wish

Balloon Juice - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 15:34

Responding to Hovercraft:

Could a front pager give us an open thread, this is very interesting, and not the place for normal jackal behavior,so could you please give us a place to play, please.

Please snarl here.

Open thread

Categories: Politics

80% of Millennials Say They Want To Buy a Home -- But Most Have Less Than $1,000

Slashdot - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 15:20
An anonymous reader writes: Millennials aren't buying homes in the same numbers as previous and older generations, but it's not because they don't want to. The vast majority of millennials do indeed aim to buy someday, or would even like to now if they could. Unfortunately, the numbers don't look good. New data from Apartment List shows that, although 80 percent of millennials would like to purchase real estate, very few are in a good position to buy, largely because they have nothing saved. According to the report, '68 percent of millennials said they have saved less than $1,000 for a down payment. Almost half, or 44 percent, of millennials said they have not saved anything for a down payment.'

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Categories: Misc

Friday Cat Blogging - 26 May 2017

Kevin Drum - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 15:05

Someone in comments the other day was kvetching about the fact observing that I tend to crop my photos pretty tightly, and that's true. I like sharp, tightly-cropped pictures. Still, variety is the spice of life, and my fondness for close-ups means that you rarely get to see Hilbert or Hopper in action. I use the word "action" advisedly, since that mostly just means walking around. But even that's something, so today you get an exciting action shot of Hilbert.

Even with the fancy new camera, this is surprisingly hard to do. Cats in motion are frequently blurry or out of focus, and the follow-focus feature of the Lumix is pretty hit-or-miss. All that said, here it is. Photographic proof that Hilbert doesn't just sit around 24 hours a day.

Categories: Politics

Midday open thread: Senators ask Trump to abandon Paris climate pact; JFK's wild last birthday party

Daily Kos - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 15:00

Today’s comic by Mark Fiore is Storytime with the president:

Cartoon by Mark Fiore -  Storytime with the president

• What’s coming up on Sunday Kos …

  • They fought and died for freedom—Black soldiers in the U.S. Civil War, by Denise Oliver Velez
  • CBO: Conservative Bulls**t Obliterator, by Jon Perr
  • ‘Because people have got to know whether or not their president is a crook, by Susan Grigsby
  • There’s so much wrong with Trumpcare that it’s hard to know where to start, by Ian Reifowitz
  • You cannot fight a war against terror, by Mark E Andersen
  • As Americans learn how policies affect their personal economies, they will activate, by Egberto Willies
  • Who wants to be the next H.R. McMaster, by David Akadjian

In letter to Trump, Sen. Jim “Climate-Change-Is-a-Hoax” Inhofe and 21 other Republican senators ask for clean break from Paris climate agreementThe letter, signed by the usual suspects in such matters, states among other things: “It is clear that those advocating for greenhouse gas regulations will use the Paris Agreement as a legal defense against your actions to rescind the Clean Power Plan if you decide to remain in the Paris Agreement. This is why it is so important for you to make a clean exit from the Agreement.” 

Trump regime wants to gut DOE energy research: Through its basic research at a network of 17 national laboratories, the Energy Department has for nearly 40 years helped to commercialize innovative technologies in solar, wind, batteries, and carbon capture. But Pr*sident Trump proposes to cut the department’s budget by $3.1 billion. Four-fifths of the DOE’s annual $30 billion budget goes to maintaining the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal, cleaning up messes like the contaminated Hanford complex in Washington, and for scientific experiments in areas like high-energy physics. The proposed cuts, however, would be directed at the energy programs. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, for instance, which has done much over the years to reduce the cost of solar and wind power, would get a 69 percent cut. The budget would eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which looks into technologies that might not bear fruit for decades. The Office of Fossil Energy, which researches “clean coal,” would see its carbon-capture studies slashed by 85 percent.

Organize-Fish-eating-fish_NoTEXT_BlueRed.jpg An Activists’ Calendar of Resistance Events
Indivisible’s list of Resistance Events & Groups

Had he lived, JFK would have been 100 this coming Monday: At his 46th and last birthday party aboard a yacht in 1963, there were two dozen guests that included First Lady Jackie Kennedy, Ben Bradlee, the publisher of The Washington Post, his wife Tony, actors David Niven and Peter Lawford, Kennedy’s two brothers, and one of the president’s paramours, Mary Pinchot Meyer, who a year later was shot to death in a still-unsolved murder. Meyer was the sister of Tony Bradlee who later told a biographer that JFK chased her around the yacht, catching up with her in a restroom where he groped her. He also chased a young Hungarian translator who said she resisted his sexual advances.

John Glenn’s remains disrespected at Dover AFB mortuary: A senior employee at the mortuary offered to show the body of the senator, Marine Corps officer and space pioneer to inspectors, according to an internal memo. The inspectors were horrified and refused the offer and an investigation is underway. The May 11 memo was written by Deborah Skillman, the Defense Department's director of casualty and mortuary affairs. She wrote that the employee's alleged actions were "clearly inappropriate and personally shocking.” The employee, William Zwicharowski, was one of three whistle-blowing mortuary employees who revealed that body parts had gone missing or were disposed of improperly. The three were nearly fired for having gone outside their chain of command to make their revelations, but later received Public Servant of the Year awards.  

New Hampshire governor vows family of wandering bears won’t be killed.

Arkansas Democrats drop Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson from name of group’s annual dinner: Democrats in Iowa, Georgia, Missouri, Connecticut, and South Carolina have already removed the two presidents’ names from their annual get-togethers. Jefferson and Jackson were both slave owners, and Jackson has become notorious for his part in the murderous removal of tens of thousands of Indians from east of the Mississippi River to what would later become Oklahoma. The Arkansas Democrats renamed their dinner after Bill Clinton.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, The Trumpshambles continue, this time at NATO HQ. Then, time to catch up on Kushner news, before it’s too late. The feds are interested in his Russian & financial dealings. But did you know he was also a jerkass gonif? And that you’re paying for it?

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Categories: Politics

The GOP: Vengeful Alpha Wannabes And Sore Winners

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 15:00
 Vengeful Alpha Wannabes And Sore Winners

The Republican Party is the party of Greg Gianforte, who body-slammed a reporter for asking a question. It's the party whose voters have embraced Sheriff David Clarke, who summoned five cops and a police dog to detain a man who literally did nothing but glower at him on an airplane. And it's the party of Donald Trump, who thinks it's classy to shove the Montenegrin prime minister out of the way so he can be in the front row in a group photo.

Josh Barro has a take on this:

Republicans are a party that now celebrates the bully who steals lunch money because, hey, at least he's not the nerd who gets his lunch money stolen.

A party for the sort of men who call themselves "alpha males" without irony or accuracy. A party for the sort of women who think it's cool and strong when men get into bar fights.

A party that celebrates not just cruelty, but juvenile cruelty.

Why the admiration for this behavior. Why, particularly, the admiration for Trump?

read more

Categories: Politics

The best 4K monitors

iDownloadBlog - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 14:57

Good news for folks in the market for a 4K computer monitor. Prices are really starting to come down on Ultra HD displays, and 4K video games and content are becoming more and more common.

There are several to choose from, but as usual, we’re here to help you sort through the noise. In our latest accessory roundup, we take a look at the best 4K monitors for your laptop or desktop computer.... Read the rest of this post here

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Categories: Misc

Election Questions? This Five Year Old Is All Of Us

Crooks and Liars - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 14:54
Election Questions?  This Five Year Old Is All Of Us

Too cute (and TRUE) not to share. Five-year-old Taylor has all the right questions:

Where did Barack Obama go?
Why do we have another president?
Where did he go?
Why do we have the president we have now?
And why did he leave, anyway?
How come Hillary did not get to be the president? How come she was the loser? And what is it they're even supposed to be winning?

Categories: Politics

Trump: Overseas Trip Has Saved "Millions of Jobs"

Kevin Drum - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 14:52

Donald Trump claims that his world trip this week has saved millions of jobs. Millions!

A White House official said Trump was not talking just about the Saudi deals but “benefits to trade from the entire trip from Saudi Arabia to the G7.” He noted that “any improvement on trade would save many jobs. Stopping even one bad trade deal can save millions. Changing the infrastructure of global trade to tilt it back toward the U.S. would save and create millions.”

Hmmm. Barack Obama made 52 overseas trips during his presidency, and employment climbed 12 million during the same period. That's about 200,000 jobs per trip. Trump says he's responsible for millions just in one trip. That's pretty remarkable, no? But Trump is a remarkable man.

Categories: Politics

In start of 'summer of resistance,' activists to gather in Texas to take on anti-immigrant agenda

Daily Kos - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 14:44

Texas has become “ground zero” in Trump-era, state-level efforts to enact racist, anti-immigrant legislation, following Trump ally Greg Abbott signing “show me your papers” legislation, a bill that if successfully enacted later this year will turbo-boost racial profiling of anyone perceived to be an immigrant. This could become a constitutional disaster in a state where nearly half the population is Latino, leading one immigrant rights group to declare it “as the worst piece of anti-immigrant state legislation we’ve encountered.”

As part of a “summer of resistance” to the legislation, state activists are kicking off a Memorial Day convergence in Austin this weekend to not only strategize against the “show me your papers” legislation, but to also spark a national fight against anti-immigrant agendas like Senate Bill 4. According to one organizer who talked to Buzzfeed, this summer could be the start of a “new civil rights movement”:

“It’s terrible these things have to happen, but they’re a huge wake up call for people who’ve been standing around not engaged,” said Pita Juarez, communications director for One Arizona, which is sending 25 activists to Austin this weekend.

Immigration activists have had success building these sorts of coalitions in the past, albeit on a smaller scale, and are hoping to use those wins as a model for the new movement. For instance, in 2010 Arizona lawmakers passed SB 1070, a sweeping immigration measure that made being undocumented a state crime and required state law enforcement authorities to check the papers of anyone they suspected was undocumented.

The law touched off widespread protests in Arizona, and numerous small, local organizations were formed to fight the law. But it wasn’t until activists realized “everyone was fighting these little battles. Why don’t we fight them together?” 

Categories: Politics

Your Republican congressperson is literally Comcast's mouthpiece

Daily Kos - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 14:40

Technology policy is complicated. Far too complicated for your average Republican House member, who has been really preoccupied anyway for the last month not having a clue how healthcare policy works. So you won't be surprised that House leadership leaned on an outside group to get talking points about net neutrality and the FCC so they don't sound stupid to their constituents. You also probably won't be surprised by who they got those talking points from—the lobby group representing Comcast, Cox Communications, Charter, and other cable industry companies.

Over the last few weeks, as the FCC was preparing to begin dismantling net neutrality rules, House lawmakers received an email from GOP leadership educating them on how to best defend the agency's extremely unpopular decision. Included in that e-mail was an attached list of talking points (pdf) making all manner of disingenuous claims about the net neutrality debate. [...]

Usually, Congress members cover their tracks well enough to obfuscate the fact they let lobbyists and campaign contributions do the thinking for them. But the Intercept noticed that metadata attached to the talking points clearly indicate they originated with the cable industry's biggest lobbying organization, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) [...] 

As such, you'll surely be shocked to learn that many of the talking points included in the packet weren't remotely true, including one claiming net neutrality is somehow "anti-consumer," another regurgitating the repeatedly-debunked claim that net neutrality killed network investment, and several repeating the industry's favorite claim that net neutrality protections aren't necessary, because the broadband industry never does anything wrong. [...]

Here on planet Earth, we've watched as large ISPs used usage caps to hurt streaming competitors, block users from using certain services unless they pay for more expensive data plans, intentionally congest their networks to drive up interconnection costs, throttle entire classifications of traffic then lie about it, and even group up to block competing mobile apps and services they didn't want to compete with. Anybody that thinks it's hyperbole to state that ISPs will use their size, leverage and the lack of broadband competition to engage in a rotating crop of anti-competitive behaviors simply has not been paying attention.

It almost is enough to make you wonder if the NCTA might not also be behind the anti-net neutrality astroturfing of the FCC’s comment system leading up to their meeting to begin the process of undoing the open internet. Hundreds of thousands of identical comments coming from people who swear they did not write them had to be coordinated by somebody. The NCTA has had so much practice doing that for Republican lawmakers that it wouldn’t be a stretch for them.

Sign to tell the FCC: Do NOT kill net neutrality. These rules protect our Internet and keep it free and open!

Categories: Politics

The Gig Economy Workforce Will Double In Four Years

Slashdot - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 14:40
The number of workers in the so-called gig economy will grow substantially in the coming years, according to a study by Intuit and Emergent Research. By 2021, the study finds, 9.2 million people are going to be working the frontline jobs at companies like Uber and Lyft. That number is projected to be 4.8 million this year. From a report: The rise in on-demand workers has been fueled largely by startups like Uber, TaskRabbit and Airbnb. It has also helped companies like Intuit, which makes tax software QuickBooks and TurboTax. The company's stock surged to an all-time high yesterday thanks to the gig economy. For context, there are currently more gig workers than people employed in the entire information sector (which includes publishing, telecommunication and data processing jobs) and IT services combined, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also read: A recent piece on The New Yorker which talks about the lengths to which people are willing to go to survive in such jobs -- a horrifying culture that is often celebrated in those companies.

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Categories: Misc

James Comey’s Open Thread

Balloon Juice - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 14:36

Valued commenter clay posted this CNN article on the previous thread. Let’s keep that thread on oceanography for Boussinesq and mess around with the politics here.

The CNN story continues a Washington Post story that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me the other day. It still doesn’t make much sense, although this tweet may help:

So I still haven’t figured it out. And here’s an open thread.

Categories: Politics

Video: Stephen Colbert on Trump's Affinity for Murderous Dictators

Little Green Footballs - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 14:30

A leaked transcript shows President Trump being overly complimentary toward the strongman known for waging a violent drug war against his own people.

Categories: Politics

Did Michael Flynn Lobby for the Turkish Government?

Kevin Drum - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 14:27

Last year, Michael Flynn received half a million dollars as part of a contract with the Inovo Group, headed by Ekim Alptekin, the chairman of the Turkey-US Business Council. Was this legit? Or is Inovo just a front for the Turkish government? David Corn investigates:

The paperwork Flynn filed with the government is confusing. Some of the records note that his company, the Flynn Intel Group, was hired to compile opposition research on Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania whom the Turkish government claims helped orchestrate an unsuccessful coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last summer....It was through his contract with Inovo that Flynn ended up in a September 19 meeting set up by Alptekin at the Essex House hotel in New York City with Turkish government officials, where reportedly the participants considered kidnapping Gulen. (A Flynn spokesman insisted Flynn had not discussed any illegal actions, and Alptekin has denied there was any talk of abducting Gulen at this gathering.)

OK. But there's also this:

An attachment to the filing, citing an American law firm representing Alptekin, says that "Inovo represented a private sector company in Israel that sought to export natural gas to Turkey".... In March, Alptekin told one reporter that he had hired Flynn "principally to produce geopolitical analysis on Turkey and the region" for a "regional energy company that is considering an investment in Turkey."

Digging up dirt on Gulen doesn't sound like something a private consulting group would be interested in. It sounds like something the Turkish government would be interested in. This is all the more mysterious because we don't know who was funding Flynn's work:

In an interview with a Dutch newspaper in April, Alptekin said the funds for the Flynn project came from a loan from his wife and payments from Ratio Oil Exploration, an Israeli natural gas company.

It seems unlikely that an Israeli oil company would have much interest in Michael Flynn's assessment of the potential market in Turkey for Israeli natural gas—especially since the oil company in question flatly denies that it has any connection with Alptekin at all. And it seems even more unlikely that Alptekin's wife would have any interest in this.

So was Flynn actually acting as an agent of the Turkish government, with the money being thinly laundered through Alptekin? Or was it, as both Flynn and Alptekin claim, really all about Alptekin's belief that Flynn had keen insights to offer regarding geopolitical analysis of Turkey and the region? We report, you decide.

Categories: Politics

Friday 5: Screens 4 brings new features to the Mac [Video]

9to5Mac - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 14:25

Although there are many solutions available to remotely connect to a Mac, Screens has long been my go to app for doing so. Edovia’s long-running app, available on both Mac and iOS, makes it extremely simple to connect back to your Mac, and forgoes the subscription business model for a one time payment model.

Screens 4, which just released for the Mac earlier this week, brings a bevy of new features to the table in an effort to make the app even easier to use. In this week’s Friday 5, we highlight a few of the new features that we especially appreciate. more…

Categories: Misc

Trump voters hit by opioid crisis realize he doesn't care about them after seeing his budget

Daily Kos - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 14:19

Donald Trump made a whole slew of campaign promises that he had no intention of keeping. Of course, this is completely obvious—kind of like saying water is wet. But for some of his voters, this is actually news. For many of the rural families hit hard by drug addiction, they saw hope in Trump. And when you are desperate and grieving, you want to believe anything. Unfortunately, the hope that they wanted will never come. After the Trump administration released its budget this week, they realize that all of his campaign promises to do something “bigly” about opioid addiction will never be realized. 

Trump’s budget proposal, released this week, would reduce funding for addiction treatment, research and prevention. The most damaging proposed cut, critics say, is the president’s 10-year plan to shrink spending for Medicaid, which provides coverage to an estimated three in 10 adults with opioid addiction. [...]

A Congressional Budget Office report on Wednesday said a patient’s cost of substance abuse services could increase by thousands of dollars a year in states that chose to weaken coverage requirements.

Some see the moves as a painful betrayal of Americans whose families have been devastated by addiction and trusted the president’s repeated pledges to make them a priority once in office. Trump’s budget priorities focus on tax cuts, military spending and border security with massive cuts to programs for the poor and disabled.

It is really super tempting to play the blame game here. But one thing that is hard to deny is that emotions are incredibly powerful. Trump was masterful at manipulating the emotions of people who already felt hopeless and backed into a corner. The very people most desperate for help will now get screwed because they got conned by the snake oil salesman. True, they screwed the rest of us in the process. And that feels unforgivable. But there is a strange mix of anger, sadness and pity when you realize that they are genuinely shocked and let down that he has no intention of doing what he said he was going to do. 

Categories: Politics

FBI probe of attempted hack on Trump Organization could pose problems for Trump

Daily Kos - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 14:12

ABC News is reporting that the FBI opened an investigation into a potential cyberattack on the Trump Organization by overseas hackers. The probe included calling an "emergency session" with Trump sons Don Jr. and Eric, though Eric Trump claims they "absolutely weren't hacked."

Law enforcement officials who spoke to ABC News on the condition of anonymity confirmed the attempted hack and said the subsequent meeting took place at the FBI’s New York headquarters on May 8, the day before Trump fired FBI director James Comey. Spokesmen for the FBI, CIA and Secret Service all declined to comment. [...]

In addition to the meeting at the FBI's offices, FBI agents working on the cyber inquiry were also seen at Trump Tower during the week of May 8. Officials who spoke to ABC News would not say whether the subject of Russia’s hack of the 2016 election was raised during the discussions.

Eric, who's an executive vice president at the organization, called the report "crazy," but his aversion to it may have less to do with an actual hack attempt than the scrutiny such an attempt might invite. Retired FBI official Richard Frankel and ABC News contributor explains how a hack inquiry could get sticky for the president.

"If there was a hack or an attempted hack of ... the company that was owned by the president, that would be at the top of the list of investigations," Frankel said. "If the FBI saw that kind of hack, they'd have to track that. There's no telling what a hacker could get that's connected to the president, corporate records, financial records, even things that were going on during the transition.” [...]

"There could be stuff in there that they do not want to become part of a separate criminal investigation," Frankel said.

Comey's firing came a day after the May 8 "emergency session" and Trump himself has admitted to having the "Russia thing" in mind when he made his decision. In fact, that entire week was incredibly tense for the administration. The day before Comey's ouster, Sally Yates testified before Congress about her repeated warnings to the White House concerning then-national security adviser Michael Flynn. And the day after Comey's firing, grand jury subpoenas started finding their way to Flynn business associates, not to mention Trump's infamous Sergey-Sergey sandwich in the Oval.

Quite a week, indeed, for an “emergency session” with the FBI.

Categories: Politics

Michel de Montaigne

Quote of the day - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 14:03
"My trade and art is to live."
Categories: Misc

John Henry Newman

Love quote of the day - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 14:03
"The love of our private friends is the only preparatory exercise for the love of all men."
Categories: Misc