Thursday, June 4, 2015

Last Call For Buying The Lede

It's no secret that WikiLeaks wants to take down the Obama Administration's Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, and the organization is asking for donations in order to raise $100,000 as a reward for information that will "expose" the trade deal's dirty laundry.

WikiLeaks is now paying for news—in this instance leaks concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade accord that the United States, Canada, Japan, and Mexico—about a dozen countries in all—have been secretly negotiating for years.

The secret-spilling site is offering as much as $100,000 to somebody who forwards to WikiLeaks the 26 chapters of the 29 that have not been disclosed so far.

"The treaty aims to create a new international legal regime that will allow transnational corporations to bypass domestic courts, evade environmental protections, police the internet on behalf of the content industry, limit the availability of affordable generic medicines, and drastically curtail each country's legislative sovereignty," WikiLeaks said in a statement.

On one hand, a sensitive international trade treaty is going to have ongoing negotiations that won't be finalized for some time.  On the other hand, we're not party to those negotiations. On the gripping hand, neither the Obama Administration nor Democratic critics of the trade deal have been 100% honest about the process either. 

I understand the need to want to police an American presidency from an outside organization, and to be fair, WikiLeaks goes after powerful in many countries, from Russia to Sierra Leone to Qatar to Mexico.  But who guarantees that they are being honest?  At this point there's a lot of motivation for WikiLeaks to produce something as a "leak" even if it's outdated or completely untrue information, just like there's motivation for the countries involved in the TPP negotiations to mislead in order to protect what they see as their own interests.

Let's just say I don't think WikiLeaks is doing the world a favor here.

Pay Attention To The Magistrate

And while I've got you in the mood, it seems Alabama will go to extraordinary lengths in order to circumvent any SCOTUS ruling authorizing same-sex marriages.

In Alabama, resistance to same-sex marriage continues. We saw a weekend of rallies in favor of traditional marriage. Beyond that, we have legislation making its way through the house right now that could get rid of the entire institution of marriage as we know it in Alabama. 
Right now, if you want to get married you go to the courthouse and the probate judge gives you a marriage license. 
Attorney Jake Watson explains, “[SB377] does away with that and requires parties to enter into a contract and file it at the courthouse, as I understand it.” 
This alters the fundamental way we’ve approached marriage for a long time. 
Watson continues, “It really does away with the traditional sense of a marriage certificate and what we’ve been dealing with in Alabama as far as marriage certificates for more than a hundred years, I believe.” 
The bill itself disposes of marriage certificates and replaces them with a contract that you file with the probate judge. 
But that could add confusion for all kinds of folks who rely on marriage to prove a link to the federal government, insurance companies or anyone else. Plus it would put up another barrier for same-sex marriage. 
Watson elaborates, “A statement that the parties are legally authorized to be married, that’s going to be the catch. What is legally authorized to be married? Under the State of Alabama Law, that would not include same-sex marriage.”

It's a pretty clever technicality that's going to cause serious headaches for anyone getting married in the state, and most likely make sure that same-sex marriages will continue to be outlawed in Alabama regardless. The courts will be tackling the question long after any June ruling.

So the real question is "what's the unintended consequences of the state getting out of the marriage license business" and how many other red states will follow suit?

There Was Never A GOP To Fix Obamacare

Jon Cohn explains why Republicans have no intention of fixing Obamacare and simply do not care if millions of people are unable to pay their health insurance premiums.

If you want to know about the Republican Party’s priorities for health care, pay close attention to what transpired -- and what didn’t transpire -- on Capitol Hill Tuesday. 
The House Ways and Means Committee held a session to consider a number of health care-related measures. In theory, it would have been an ideal time to take up, amend and maybe even vote on a contingency plan for King v. Burwell -- the case before the Supreme Court that could wipe out health insurance tax credits under the Affordable Care Act for more than 6 million people scattered across two-thirds of the states. 
The Ways and Means chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), has said repeatedly that his party will have a contingency plan ready to go if the court sides with the law’s challengers. He’s also vowed, again and again, to craft an Obamacare alternative that will achieve better results at lower costs. It’s the same set of promises that countless other Republican leaders have made, although Ryan would seem uniquely positioned to deliver on them. He is supposed to be the leading policy intellectual of his party, plus he presides over a powerful committee with direct jurisdiction over health care financing. 
But take a look at the official agenda for the Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday. You’ll see a bill to repeal Obamacare’s tax on medical device makers and a proposal to repeal the so-called Independent Payment Advisory Board, which sets reimbursement rates under Medicare. You’ll see some other legislation, too, including some other adjustments to Medicare. 
Here’s what you won’t see: contingency plans for the upcoming Supreme Court ruling or alternative schemes for expanding insurance coverage.

So no, Paul Ryan was never going to fix Obamacare should the Supreme Court break it in a matter of weeks.  And as Greg Sargent points out, Republicans really don't give a good god damn about poor people anyway and if that's the case, they'll face voters in 2016:

Untold numbers of these people could lose coverage. In many of these states, vulnerable GOP incumbent Senators face reelection. If the Court rules against the government, presumably they’d be asked if they’ll support Congress doing a simple fix to keep subsidies flowing to hundreds of thousands of their constituents. (It’s no accident that vulnerable Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson rushed out his own contingency plan.) Two presidential contenders — Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio — come from the state where well over a million people will lose subsidies
It’s not yet clear how much all this will matter for the presidential and Senate races, but many Republicans appear worried. And Democrats will certainly try to make it matter.
Meanwhile, many state officials from red states that stand to lose subsidies are concluding that they don’t have any real options to fix subsidies themselves. Even in states where some want to do that, other Republicans may stand in the way. If that happens, state officials will likely demand that the federal government — meaning Congressional Republicans — act. Scott Walker is already doing this. But it’s looking like Congressional Republicans won’t act. Even if they do manage to offer a contingency fix, it will likely also repeal the provisions that make Obamacare work — which means it will be all about drawing a presidential veto for the political blame game that follows. 
Thus, in all probability nothing will be done for all these people, leading to a very nasty, protracted political battle over the fallout. Which explains why Republicans are already laying plans to blame Obama and Democrats for it.

That's the plan: take affordable health insurance away from tens of millions and blame Obama when it happens.

If Republicans run on that in 2016, they are toast.


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