Friday, October 20, 2017

Last Call For Battle Of The Amazon

Like plenty of other North American cities, Cincinnati is prostrating itself to Jeff Bezos and Amazon for the lure of 50,000 potential jobs as the company plans a second HQ outside Seattle.  Cities had until yesterday to submit a bid and Cincy Mayor John Cranley threw the Queen City's hat into the ring with dozens of other metropolitan centers across the US, Mexico and Canada this week.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley says the region can win the bid for Amazon's second headquarters. 
Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky submitted a joint proposal. They're competing against dozens of other cities and regions across the country. 
Cranley says this area has the best story to tell. 
"We have the best combination of assets that is looking for," Cranley says. "I'm not here to promise you that we will win, but I promise you that we will be taken seriously and that we have a real chance to win this bid." 
Cranley is providing few details about what's in the region's proposal. He says the city is offering Amazon the same tax incentive package General Electric received to locate a headquarters at The Banks.

Many of the bid details are protected by confidentiality agreements. The proposal was partly compiled by REDI Cincinnati, which is a private operation and not subject to state open records laws. 
City Manager Harry Black praised the regional proposal and the people who cooperated to put it together. He tells reporters Cincinnati is one of the most desirable destinations in the country. 
"We have higher ed, we've got medicine, we've got the arts and culture, we've got technology, we've got a dynamic and impactful business ecosystem here," Black says. "So if Amazon knows what's good for itself, it will select Cincinnati."

To be fair, the reasons Cranley and Black list are the reasons why Amazon opened a Midwest distribution hub here in NKY by the airport.  Cincy has always been a pretty good central location for reaching several East coast and Midwest states and cities.

But what makes sense for a distribution center operation doesn't really translate into a company HQ.  Cincy is home to some Fortune 500 heavy hitters like Kroger and Proctor and Gamble, but it's not a top ten population center like New York or Chicago or LA or even a second-tier US city like Miami or Denver or Atlanta.

I don't expect Cincy to make it through even the first round.  Amazon is going to go to whoever gives them the billions in tax incentives they are looking for, and that will be a city that has both the resources and the shamelessness to debase their economy to give it to them at the cost of taxpayers and voters.  Cincy's not that town.

I would expect Texas will win the day, or Florida.  Both have real need for immediate infrastructure investments after various hurricanes this year and it's a buyer's market for Amazon, and everyone knows it.  Texas seems to have their stuff together more in this regard.

My money's on Dallas/Houston/San Antonio, with Houston being a feel-good story of the year, even though I'm sure the deal Amazon will get from that city will be a disaster in the long-run. Let's not forget that Amazon is a major US corporation and will gleefully screw over anyone they can to make profit.

Cincy will come out ahead.

Listen All Y'All It's Sabotage, Con't

The Trump regime's sabotage of the Affordable Care Act is working.  New Gallup numbers show the ranks of the uninsured have grown by 1.4% since Trump took office in January 2017, meaning that 3.5 million adults have lost their health coverage through the first nine months of the year.

The percentage of U.S. adults lacking health insurance rose in the third quarter of 2017 to 12.3%, up 0.6 percentage points from the previous quarter and 1.4 points since the end of 2016. The uninsured rate is now the highest recorded since the last quarter of 2014 when it was 12.9%. 
The uninsured rate, measured by Gallup and Sharecare since 2008, had fallen to a record low of 10.9% in the third and fourth quarters of 2016. However, the 1.4-point increase in the percentage of adults without health insurance since the end of last year represents nearly 3.5 million Americans who have entered the ranks of the uninsured. 
Still, the uninsured rate remains well below its peak of 18.0% measured in the third quarter of 2013, prior to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) mandated healthcare exchanges and the associated requirement that all adults have health insurance or be subject to a fine. 
Several marketplace factors could be contributing to the growth of the uninsured rate since 2016. Some insurance companies have stopped offering insurance through the exchanges, and the lack of competition could be driving up the cost of plans for consumers. As a result, the rising insurance premiums could be compelling some Americans to forgo insurance, especially those who fail to qualify for federal subsidies. 
Uncertainty about the healthcare law also may be driving the increase. Congressional Republicans' attempts to replace the healthcare law may be causing consumers to question whether the government will enforce the penalty for not having insurance. 
The results for the third quarter of 2017 are based on more than 45,000 interviews with U.S. adults aged 18 and older from July 1 to Sept. 30, conducted as part of the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. Gallup and Sharecare have asked a random sample of at least 500 U.S. adults each day since January 2008 whether they have health insurance.

And remember, this is all before the end of subsidies to insurance companies in order to lower premiums, and before Trump's messy executive orders designed to drive insurance exchange markets into the ground that happened earlier this month.

Expect this number to be significantly higher, and soon.  Even without Republican in Congress repealing Obamacare and wrecking health coverage for tens of millions, Trump can do a lot of damage by enforcing the ACA so badly that it breaks.  We're already seeing 3.5 million examples of this.

More will be coming.  A lot more.

The Coming Blue Wave, Con't.

It's a brutal sign for the GOP that after running the House for all but four of the last 23 years in Congress that Republicans, now with complete control of the federal government, are running for the exits thanks to Trump.  And there's no bigger loser in this exodus than House Speaker Paul Ryan.

A number of the speaker's closest comrades in the House have called it quits in recent weeks because they're tired of President Donald Trump's antics, depressed over the GOP's dearth of legislative accomplishments this year or have personal reasons. Whatever the causes, the departures are certain to make Ryan's job as House speaker harder, depriving him of loyal lieutenants in a conference already riven by ideological and stylistic divisions.

Rep. Pat Tiberi, a loyal ally of Ryan, is the latest departure. The Ohio Republican announced Thursday that he will resign by the end of January to take a job in the private sector. House GOP leaders had hoped the senior Ways and Means Committee member would lead the powerful tax panel in the coming years, House GOP sources told POLITICO. But Tiberi, a longtime tax reform proponent, made other plans just as tax talks are kicking off in earnest.

Tiberi will hardly be the last to leave, multiple House GOP sources say.

Lawmakers have grown increasingly frustrated with Trump’s penchant for drama and inability to focus on the legislative agenda, numerous House GOP lawmakers and staffers said. While Trump and most Republican voters blame Congress for nothing substantial getting done, GOP lawmakers are privately exasperated that they don’t have a coherent leader who can help them deliver.

That’s part of what drove Republican Rep. Dave Trott to announce he'd head back to Michigan once his current term ends. Trott stood up at a late July House Republican Conference meeting to complain that the White House was so distracted by the scandal enveloping Anthony Scaramucci at the time that Trump failed to help the Senate pass its Obamacare repeal bill.

Six weeks later, after the health care repeal collapsed in the upper chamber, Trott announced his retirement.

The legislative letdowns under Trump have weighed heavily on House Republicans, said Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent, another Republican who recently announced he won't seek reelection in 2018.

“It’s very difficult to achieve big-ticket items, not to mention just accomplish the basic items of governance — keeping the government open or not defaulting on our obligations — so that’s a source of frustration for me," said Dent, a leader of the faction of Republican moderates.

Dent added: “Congress should take a lot of the blame; but so should the president. The president doesn’t lay down his plans, his ideas, his policies, and he sure as hell didn’t try to sell it to the American people on health care — and that’s a function of leadership. Saying, ‘Send me a bill and I’ll sign it' — that’s not leadership.”

One recently departed House staffer had this to say about the challenges of legislating in the era of Trump: “The job isn't fun anymore. You get beat up in D.C. for everything Trump says or does, only to go home to get beat up for not defending Trump enough by the base. It's brutal.”

Look at these whiny, petulant kids.  They have everything they wanted, Congress, the White House, a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court, almost two-thirds of the states...and they're complaining that they can't get anything done.

So much so that they're quitting in frustration.  Why?  They see what's coming.

The question is can the Dems capitalize on it?  That remains very much up in the air.  The Dems are making the kind of candidate moves they need to be at the ground level, but they're also not making the arguments for Democrats at the top level, either. 

There's no doubt that GOP voter suppression laws have played a major role in giving the GOP the level of single-party control they have now, and that's only going to get worse in 2018 and 2020, and so far Dems don't seem very interested in fighting back.

If they don't, and immediately, the GOP could still be running the country, only with the retiring crop of Republicans replaced by a new wave of mini-Trumps, interested only in the obliteration of Democrats and their voters.  Just because the GOP is about to lose dozens of veteran lawmakers to retirement doesn't mean they'll all be replaced by Democrats.

We'll see.


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