Sunday, February 26, 2017

Repeal And Repulse

The House GOP plan to repeal Obamacare is starting to take shape, and surprise, there's no "replace".  It's a disaster that will leave tens of millions with no health insurance, and tens of millions more with more expensive plans that cover far less than under the ACA.

Republican replacement plans for Obamacare would lead to significant declines in the number of Americans with health insurance coverage, according to an analysis presented Saturday at the National Governors Association and obtained by Vox.

The analysis was conducted by the health research firm Avalere Health and the consulting firm McKinsey and Company.

The analysis includes graphs on what the Republican plan to overhaul Obamacare’s tax credits, generally making them less generous, would do. They are based on the recent 19-page proposal that Republican leadership released about their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. In particular, they look at the effect of switching from income-based tax credits (which give poor people more help) to age-based tax credits, where everyone would get the same amount.

The report estimates what would happen in a hypothetical state with 300,000 people in the individual market that has also expanded Medicaid. In the individual market, enrollment would fall 30 percent and 90,000 people would become uninsured.

An additional 115,000 people in that hypothetical state may also lose coverage because they are enrolled in Medicaid and cannot find an affordable private plan.

The report estimates that coverage declines would be even higher in states that did not expand Medicaid — largely those run by Republican governors. There, the report presents an example of a state with 235,000 in the individual market. It estimates that coverage would decline by 120,000 people, about 50 percent.

Combined with Medicaid block grants, which would be billions in cuts to state Medicaid programs *on top of* eliminating funding for expanded Medicaid, you're getting the picture here: Republicans would not only take the state of insurance back to the Dubya era, it would be even worse because Medicaid would be gutted.

And this is why Republicans are terrified.  They know they're about to be burned at the stake for this.


Electing To Send A Message

Not only did Democrats keep the Delaware State Senate in yesterday's special election, but Stephanie Hansen won by an impressive margin, with pretty good turnout to boot.  Maybe Dems will start turning out after all.

In the most expensive special election in Delaware history ― a contest to decide which party controls the state Senate ― Democrat Stephanie Hansen was on track to annihilate her Republican rival on the back of extraordinary turnout.

The last time her opponent, John Marino, ran in this district, in 2014, he lost by just 2 points. Hansen’s 58-42 percent victory over Marino on Saturday ensured that Democrats will maintain control of the state Senate. It also notched a big Donald Trump-era win for a new generation of Democratic activists shocked into action by the November election.

“We turned back that win from Washington and made sure it won’t hit Delaware,” Hansen said in her victory speech Saturday night.

While Hansen’s campaign was focused on local issues, she saw a huge swell of support after nationwide Women’s March protests on Jan. 21. Protesters, many of them out in the streets for the first time, have been turning their energy toward local and state politics. The first major election since the uprising was Delaware’s.

Hansen’s campaign received huge support. More than 1,000 volunteers worked during the course of the campaign, and about 500 ― many from nearby states ― showed up Saturday for Election Day. Hansen received more than 14,000 contributions of less than $100 from small donors spread all over the country.

“That’s more volunteers than I’ve had in nine elections,” exclaimed state Sen. Dave Sokola (D), of Hansen’s Election Day workers.

“It’s overwhelming to see all these people,” said Kelly Wright, a resident of Hansen’s district. “It’s making me emotional to see that people come take a bus two-plus hours away.”

The turnout of volunteers made a huge difference as Hansen crushed her Republican opponent with unusually high turnout for a special election.

Democrats made the mistake of convincing themselves wins like these for the GOP in 2009 and 2013 were flukes, or just local anomalies.  Republicans aren't going to make that same mistake, and they are definitely going to be ready to fight back hard.   But with Trump at 44% and falling, Republicans are going to have a hell of a time doing that effectively.

Tie everyone to Trump, and the Dems just might come out ahead.

Sunday Long Read: The New Cold War

This week's Sunday Long Read is the New Yorker's tour de force on Putin, Russia, and the badly compromised Trump regime, the Obama administration, and Hillary Clinton.  It's an excellent recap of the last 18 months, and pretty good tool to see what's ahead for America.

The 2016 Presidential campaign in the United States was of keen interest to Putin. He loathed Obama, who had applied economic sanctions against Putin’s cronies after the annexation of Crimea and the invasion of eastern Ukraine. (Russian state television derided Obama as “weak,” “uncivilized,” and a “eunuch.”) Clinton, in Putin’s view, was worse—the embodiment of the liberal interventionist strain of U.S. foreign policy, more hawkish than Obama, and an obstacle to ending sanctions and re√ęstablishing Russian geopolitical influence. At the same time, Putin deftly flattered Trump, who was uncommonly positive in his statements about Putin’s strength and effectiveness as a leader. As early as 2007, Trump declared that Putin was “doing a great job in rebuilding the image of Russia and also rebuilding Russia period.” In 2013, before visiting Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant, Trump wondered, in a tweet, if he would meet Putin, and, “if so, will he become my new best friend?” During the Presidential campaign, Trump delighted in saying that Putin was a superior leader who had turned the Obama Administration into a “laughingstock.” 
For those interested in active measures, the digital age presented opportunities far more alluring than anything available in the era of Andropov. The Democratic and Republican National Committees offered what cybersecurity experts call a large “attack surface.” Tied into politics at the highest level, they were nonetheless unprotected by the defenses afforded to sensitive government institutions. John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and a former chief of staff of Bill Clinton’s, had every reason to be aware of the fragile nature of modern communications. As a senior counsellor in the Obama White House, he was involved in digital policy. Yet even he had not bothered to use the most elementary sort of defense, two-step verification, for his e-mail account. 
“The honest answer is that my team and I were over-reliant on the fact that we were pretty careful about what we click on,” Podesta said. In this instance, he received a phishing e-mail, ostensibly from “the Gmail team,” that urged him to “change your password immediately.” An I.T. person who was asked to verify it mistakenly replied that it was “a legitimate e-mail.” 
The American political landscape also offered a particularly soft target for dezinformatsiya, false information intended to discredit the official version of events, or the very notion of reliable truth. Americans were more divided along ideological lines than at any point in two decades, according to the Pew Research Center. American trust in the mainstream media had fallen to a historic low. The fractured media environment seemed to spawn conspiracy theories about everything from Barack Obama’s place of birth (supposedly Kenya) to the origins of climate change (a Chinese hoax). Trump, in building his political identity, promoted such theories.

“Free societies are often split because people have their own views, and that’s what former Soviet and current Russian intelligence tries to take advantage of,” Oleg Kalugin, a former K.G.B. general, who has lived in the United States since 1995, said. “The goal is to deepen the splits.” Such a strategy is especially valuable when a country like Russia, which is considerably weaker than it was at the height of the Soviet era, is waging a geopolitical struggle with a stronger entity.

And that's where we are today, a country so hopelessly fractured we remain on the verge of breaking down into a new, far more frightening configuration.  The GOP spent years tearing the country apart. All Putin had to do was find two ends on either side of a tear to grab on to, and to pull as hard as he could.

What will survive the Trump regime?  I couldn't tell you.  But it sure as hell won't be the America I thought we were in January 2009.
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