Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Last Call For King Of Douchebags

Meet the King in King v Burwell, the man suing the federal government to take affordable health care away from millions.

Millions of people are waiting anxiously for the Supreme Court to decide the fate of President Obama’s health care law with a ruling this month on health insurance subsidies. But David M. King, a plaintiff in the case, is not among them.

Mr. King, 64, said recently that he was reasonably confident he would prevail in his challenge to the subsidies, a central element of the Affordable Care Act.

“We have a good chance of winning,” he said in an interview at his home here.

Mr. King and three other Virginia residents are challenging the payment of subsidies in states like Virginia that depend on the federal insurance marketplace. They contend that the 2010 health care law allows subsidies only in states that establish their own marketplaces.

But Mr. King said that he was not really worried about the outcome of the case, King v. Burwell, because as a Vietnam veteran, he has access to medical care through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

If he wins, Mr. King said, “the left will blow it out of proportion and claim that eight million people will lose their health insurance.” But he said lawyers had assured him that “things are in play to take care of the problem.

Mr. King did not provide details, and supporters of the health care law have said that there are no quick or easy solutions if the Supreme Court rules against it. The president could not simply give out subsidies if the court stripped them away, so the critical decisions about how to respond “would sit with Congress and the states,” said Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of health and human services.

Oh, there would be a quick way to fix it.  Republicans refuse to do it, because they want millions to lose affordable health care, and they are willing to sacrifice those people in order to attack President Obama.

Besides, Mr King will have his health care, through the VA and soon Medicare (he's 64, you see.)

Everyone else?  Go to hell.

That's your GOP.

Bernie Sanders May Have Lost My Primary Vote

Bernie Sanders has a long way to go before I'll vote for him in the Kentucky Democratic Primary, and the reason why goes back to an interview with NPR Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep in November 2014.

Well, here's what you got. What you got is an African-American president, and the African-American community is very, very proud that this country has overcome racism and voted for him for president. And that's kind of natural. You've got a situation where the Republican Party has been strongly anti-immigration, and you've got a Hispanic community which is looking to the Democrats for help. 
But that's not important. You should not be basing your politics based on your color. What you should be basing your politics on is, how is your family doing? ... In the last election, in state after state, you had an abysmally low vote for the Democrats among white, working-class people. And I think the reason for that is that the Democrats have not made it clear that they are prepared to stand with the working-class people of this country, take on the big money interests. I think the key issue that we have to focus on, and I know people are uncomfortable about talking about it, is the role of the billionaire class in American society.

It's bad enough when Republicans suggest that the reason black voters turned out for Obama was because he's black and not because of his campaign or his policies or, when we turned out in numbers to re-elect him in 2008, his record after four years.  After Bush in 2000-2008, I took a look at "how my family was doing" and flocked to vote for Barack Obama over John McCain.  Same thing in 2012, Mitt Romney was a joke.  Race had nothing to do with it.

When a person running for the Democratic nomination makes that suggestion, I'm vastly less inclined to vote for that person.

At this point we're rapidly running out of Dems who haven't said stupid or insulting things about black voters heading into 2016.

Four Percent Is A Nice Round Number

Jeb Bush seems to think America can go back to the post-WW II industrial days of four percent plus GDP growth.  He doesn't exactly have a plan to do that, but it sure sounds good as a sound bite. Slate's Jordan Weissman explains:

See, the thing is, there are lots of reasons that the economy is probably not going to grow at 4 percent per year in the near future. The fact that Bush suggests otherwise doesn't bode well for anybody hoping that his economic vision will be any more tethered to reality than his competitors'.

But before we get into all that, you may be wondering: Why 4 percent? “It's a nice round number,” Bush explained to Reuters last month. “It's double the growth that we are growing at. It's not just an aspiration. It's doable.” To get a little more specific, the figure apparently originated during a conference call several years ago, during which Bush and several other advisers were brainstorming potential economic programs for the George W. Bush Institute, the Texas think tank named for Jeb's famously cerebral older brother. During the talk, Jeb casually tossed out the idea of 4 percent growth, which everybody loved, even though it was kind of arbitrary. The center now has a "4% Growth Project." It does stuff like publish fact sheets about all the wonderful things that would happen to our country if we could ever manage 4 percent growth year after year.

To be fair, it's not as if 4 percent growth is impossible, at least intermittently. The U.S.pulled it off a few times during the Reagan era and in the heat of the dot-com boom. The U.S. averaged 4.3 percent growth during most of its post–World War II economic expansions. But then the 21st century arrived. Between 2001 and the end of 2007, gross domestic product grew at an average rate of 2.8 percent per year. (Which makes the presence of a 4% Growth Project at the George W. Bush Institute more than a bit ironic, even if you forget that whole financial crash.) During the Obama years, the economy has expanded even more slowly.

And nobody really expects growth to rapidly shoot back up, at least unless we experience a technological revolution even more impressive than what the Internet delivered. Here's why. In the end, potential economic growth boils down to a pretty basic formula. It's productivity growth plus workforce growth. You can certainly break it down into smaller components if you want to get granular about things, but that's the big picture: productivity plus labor supply. And right now, neither of those forces is working in America's favor. Because the Baby Boomers are aging into retirement, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the labor force to grow by 0.5 percent per year in the near future, down from the 0.7 rate we enjoyed from 2002 to 2012. To simplify a bit1, that means productivity is going to have to jump up by 3.5 percent per year if we want to hit the magic 4.0.

That just doesn't really happen. Even during the prime years of the tech boom, workers only became about 2.5 percent more productive each year, on average. Unless artificial intelligence is about to catapult us into the Player Piano–esque future economists and tech types love to theorize about, it seems pretty unlikely that the United States is about to match that sort of progress in the coming years.

And let's not forget that the big 4% growth periods in the Reagan and Clinton years were turned into big recessions and economic disasters by the previous two Presidents named Bush, all involving wars in the Middle East. What makes anyone think Jeb would be any different?

I sure don't.


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