Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Last Call For Brewering Up Trouble

Republicans know they are in serious trouble in November with Trump turning into an anchor that will most likely sink the GOP, and the problem is only compounded by the fact that scared Republicans say and do idiotic things even more than usual.

Former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer says she suffered a “stumble of the tongue” on Tuesday when she seemed to call Hillary Clinton a “lying killer” during a radio interview.

“People want a fighter. They’re tired of the lying killer, uh, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clintons of the world,” Brewer told Mac & Gaydos on KTAR News, the audio of which was first reported by Mediaite.

When reached by phone by BuzzFeed News on Wednesday, Brewer said she just mispronounced Clinton’s name.

“I was trying to say Hillary Clinton,” Brewer said. “It was a stumble of the tongue.”

“Good grief,” she added.

The parth of "personal responsibility" sure has this problem with actually owning up to it.  I mean if you're going to essentially accuse the Democratic nominee of murder, embrace your hatred of the woman. At least that's an honest emotion, no doubt fomented by 25 years of blind rage.

Trump at least owns up to the fact he'll never change.

Aetna Tu, Brute? Con't

Yesterday I speculated that the obvious timing of health insurance company Aetna pulling out of Obamacare exchanges in 11 states indicated the move was political revenge for the Justice Department suing to block Aetna's planned buyout of Humana last month.  One of the places Aetna is pulling out is here in NKY, meaning less competition and higher premiums, so I've got skin in this game too. It stank from the beginning, especially given Aetna's plans in May to expand coverage.

Today we find out that political revenge theory is exactly what happened as Jonathan Cohn over at HuffPo drops this story on Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini.

Publicly, Aetna representatives this week framed their about-face as a reaction to losses the company was taking on Obamacare customers, and in particular figures from the second quarter of 2016 that the company had just analyzed, showing them to be sicker and costlier than predicted. 
When reporters on Monday asked whether Aetna was also reacting to the administration’s attempt to thwart its merger with Humana, company officials brushed off the questions, according to accounts in the Hartford Courant, Politico, and USA Today
But just last month, in a letter to the Department of Justice, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said the two issues were closely linked. In fact, he made a clear threat: If President Barack Obama’s administration refused to allow the merger to proceed, he wrote, Aetna would be in worse financial position and would have to withdraw from most of its Obamacare markets, and quite likely all of them
Bertolini penned the letter, which The Huffington Post obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, on July 5 ― 16 days before the Justice Department announced it would fight the Humana deal. The department had asked Aetna how, if at all, a decision on the proposed merger would affect Aetna’s willingness to offer insurance through the exchanges. 
Bertolini responded bluntly. Aetna supported the law’s goal to expand coverage and planned to increase its exchange offerings next year, in the hopes that the exchanges would stabilize as enrollment grew, he wrote. 
But if the Justice Department were to block the merger, Bertolini warned, Aetna could no longer sustain the losses from its exchange business, forcing it sharply change direction:

[I]f the deal were challenged and/or blocked we would need to take immediate actions to mitigate public exchange and ACA small group losses. Specifically, if the DOJ sues to enjoin the transaction, we will immediately take action to reduce our 2017 exchange footprint .... [I]nstead of expanding to 20 states next year, we would reduce our presence to no more than 10 states .… [I]t is very likely that we would need to leave the public exchange business entirely and plan for additional business efficiencies should our deal ultimately be blocked. By contrast, if the deal proceeds without the diverted time and energy associated with litigation, we would explore how to devote a portion of the additional synergies ... to supporting even more public exchange coverage over the next few years.

So yes, Bertolini has made good on his threat, and he's put the health insurance coverage for millions of people in possible jeopardy as a direct result. Aetna still expects to make billions in profit in 2016, so the notion that the exchanges were hurting the company was always nonsense.

Richard Mayhew over at Balloon Juice calls BS on Aetna as well, using Pennsylvania as an example. Aetna says it has to pull out of the state because it's losing money on the individual market, including Obamacare exchange plans.  Filings to the state's insurance regulators prove otherwise:

Aetna was profitable in 2015 in the individual market in Pennsylvania. It is projecting to be profitable in 2017. The filing memo was drafted in late May and submitted to the Pennsylvania regulators in early June. Conditions have not changed enough to make Pennsylvania a money loser in under two months
My wee bit of cynicism bears fruit. Aetna is trying to logroll an anti-competetive merger with on-Exchange political consequences. If it works for Aetna/Humana it burns a bridge to get the merger, and if it fails, it puts Aetna on the shitlist of any Democratic administration. That is a very interesting strategy when it is highly likely that there will be another Democratic administration.

But the strategy makes sense if the goal is to not have another Democratic administration, you see.

So now we have evidence that health insurance companies are actively trying to sabotage Obamacare anyway and maybe even trying to hurt the Democrats as punishment.

So what will the Obama administration do about it?

We're about to find out.

That's Real White Of You, Con't

I think I may have found the problem with our political system as a whole, guys. As Justin Gest reminds us (and as I've been saying for months now) Donald Trump's followers are not going to suddenly all come to their senses on November 9th and start hugging everyone after they (hopefully) get stomped at the polls. If you think Trumpies are just going to vanish...

For people who feel that way, I have some discouraging news. As part of a broad study of white working class politics, I solicited white Americans’ support for Donald Trump, but also for a hypothetical third party dedicated to “stopping mass immigration, providing American jobs to American workers, preserving America’s Christian heritage, and stopping the threat of Islam”—essentially the platform of the UK’s right-wing British National Party, adapted to the United States. How many white Americans do you think would consider voting for this type of protectionist, xenophobic party? 
65 percent. 
Clearly, Trump’s allure is bigger than Trump himself. 
Who would the new party’s supporters be? What I found in the study is that much like those who support the Trump campaign, those who would consider voting for this third party are more likely to be male, of lower socioeconomic status, without a university education and ideologically conservative—in other words, the Republican Party’s longtime base. They are also more likely to be young (under 40 years old)—so this is not a phenomenon likely to pass quickly. 
This is most immediately important to the Republican Party: If Trump were the whole story, and his message didn’t matter, then Republicans could dismiss this election as an anomaly. However, if Trump has stumbled upon a policy agenda that has been latent in the Republican base, then the party is faced with a choice: adopt it in the future, or stick with its longstanding principles and risk alienating its voters. That would either usher in a radical turn in the party’s trajectory or open up space for a third party, the likes of which are growing rapidly in Europe
It is worth putting the results into perspective. This kind of theoretical question, untethered to any specific party or political figure, may well be a useful test of deep support for such policy platforms. But it’s also an imaginary third party right now, free of the media checks and public scrutiny that would accompany it were it to exist in a competitive party landscape. In Britain, for example, UKIP and its precursor, the British National Party, are both stained by allegations of racism and incompetence, while this hypothetical American counterpart is unexposed. 
But neither the BNP nor UKIP has ever garnered anywhere close to a majority of the white British electorate, let alone a general majority. 65 percent is a whopping number—in fact, it’s significantly more than those who expressed support for Trump’s candidacy in my research.

The problem was never Donald Trump, but somebody who could run on Donald Trump's white nationalist platform and not be a self-destructive idiot while doing it.  Trump's not the guy you have to be careful of.  It's the guy after Trump, who knows how to play this game and win, who is the real danger.

Trump himself meanwhile can't take the fact that 99% of black voters like myself despise him, so in his speech in Wisconsin last night he made a pitch to African-Americans in general.

Donald Trump made a new and explicit plea for the support of black voters on Tuesday, saying the Democratic Party had “failed and betrayed” them and accusing Hillary Clinton of “bigotry” in the pursuit of minority voters.

“We reject the bigotry of Hillary Clinton which panders to and talks down to communities of color and sees them only as votes — that’s all they care about — not as individual human beings worthy of a better future,” Trump said at a rally in Wisconsin.

After Republican Party leaders have urged Trump for months to rein in unpredictable tangents on the stump that have gotten him in repeated political trouble, Trump used a teleprompter at a campaign rally for the first time on Tuesday to deliver a speech that waded into the thorny topics of race and politics.

“The Democratic Party has failed and betrayed the African-American community,” Trump declared.

“The Democratic Party has taken the votes of African-Americans for granted. They’ve just assumed they’ll get your support and done nothing in return for it. They’ve taken advantage of the African-American citizen,” he added. “It’s time to give the Democrats some competition for these votes.”

Now, the Republican pitch to black voters has been exactly this for years, it's nothing new, that everything ailing the black community would magically vanish if we just started to vote for the Republicans.

Only, the reality is that in 2016, black voters are the Democratic party.  We're the most loyal base and we haven't forgotten the way Trump and Republicans have treated us, have treated President Obama and his family, and the Black Lives Matter movement, so Donald Trump can kindly go screw himself with a rusty pickax. We certainly haven't forgotten how the Republican party has worked over the last 60 years to stop us from voting at all.  It's comical how bad this man is at running for President.

But remember this: so far we've had McCain, Romney, and Trump, three guys who made massive unforced errors and completely blew their elections in the final stretch (and Trump is doing an even better job of self-destructing now.)  But when we get somebody both smart and dangerous, that's when America gets screwed, big time.

Imagine Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio running on Trump's platform from the start, the whole “stopping mass immigration, providing American jobs to American workers, preserving America’s Christian heritage, and stopping the threat of Islam” thing Gest mentions in his article.

Now imagine them running in 2020.

That's why I want to run up the score this year, guys.  I want these guys done.


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