Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Last Call For The Party Of Fiscal Responsibility

Thanks to Trump and the GOP tax scam giveaway to corporations and the 0.1% richest Americans, we're back into the realm of trillion-dollar deficits.

It was another crazy news week, so it's understandable if you missed a small but important announcement from the Treasury Department: The federal government is on track to borrow nearly $1 trillion this fiscal year — Trump's first full year in charge of the budget. 
That's almost double what the government borrowed in fiscal year 2017.

Here are the exact figures: The U.S. Treasury expects to borrow $955 billion this fiscal year, according to a documents released Wednesday. It's the highest amount of borrowing in six years, and a big jump from the $519 billion the federal government borrowed last year. 
Treasury mainly attributed the increase to the “fiscal outlook.” The Congressional Budget Office was more blunt. In a report this week, the CBO said tax receipts are going to be lower because of the new tax law
The uptick in borrowing is yet another complication in the heated debates in Congress over whether to spend more money on infrastructure, the military, disaster relief and other domestic programs. The deficit is already up significantly, even before Congress allots more money to any of these areas. 
“We're addicted to debt,” says Marc Goldwein, senior policy director at Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. He blames both parties for the situation.

What's particularly jarring is this is the first time borrowing has jumped this much (as a share of GDP) in a non-recession time since Ronald Reagan was president, says Ernie Tedeschi, a former senior adviser to the U.S. Treasury who is now head of fiscal analysis at Evercore ISI. Under Reagan, borrowing spiked because of a buildup in the military, something Trump is advocating again.

Let's not forget that Reagan's profligate tax cuts and military buildup gave us the 1987 recession where he tripled the national debt in eight years and continued into Poppy Bush's 1990 recession and the first Gulf War, something we seem to be heading towards again (that is if we don't bomb North Korea first).

We've been paying for that mess for thirty years now, and Trump and the GOP are looting the treasury one last time before the fuse blows and the economy is made exponentially worse.

Of course by 2020 we'll be blaming the GOP tax cut on Obama anyway, so it doesn't really matter.

America Is Getting Trumpcare Anyway

The Trump regime is moving rapidly to undo the last vestiges of Barack Obama in order to blast him from the history books, and that not only means rolling back Medicaid expansion to the states, it means federal lifetime limits on Medicaid coverage that will throw America's most vulnerable to the wolves.

After allowing states to impose work requirements for Medicaid enrollees, the Trump administration is now pondering lifetime limits on adults’ access to coverage. 
Capping health care benefits — like federal welfare benefits — would be a first for Medicaid, the joint state-and-federal health plan for low-income and disabled Americans.
If approved, the dramatic policy change would recast government-subsidized health coverage as temporary assistance by placing a limit on the number of months adults have access to Medicaid benefits
The move would continue the Trump administration’s push to inject conservative policies into the Medicaid program through the use of federal waivers, which allow states more flexibility to create policies designed to promote personal and financial responsibility among enrollees. 
However, advocates say capping Medicaid benefits would amount to a massive breach of the nation’s social safety net designed to protect children, the elderly and the impoverished. 
In January, the Trump administration approved waiver requests from Kentucky and Indiana to terminate Medicaid coverage for able-bodied enrollees who do not meet new program work requirements. Ten other states have asked to do the same. 
“We must allow states, who know the unique needs of their citizens, to design programs that don’t merely provide a Medicaid card but provide care that allows people to rise out of poverty and no longer need public assistance,” said a statement posted on Twitter on Monday by Medicaid administrator Seema Verma. 
At least five states — Arizona, Kansas, Utah, Maine and Wisconsin — are seeking waivers from the Trump administration to impose lifetime Medicaid coverage limits.

Have a chronic medical condition that requires Medicaid assistance?  Too bad.  You lived too long with it and cost the state too much money, so we're pulling the plug on you and your family.


The recasting of the Affordable Care Act as "welfare for them coloreds" is nearly complete.  Gotta give those tax cuts to corporations and the super-rich so they can afford their own private security forces, after all.

Need To Change Consumer There To Corporate

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, now under new management by former Trump budget director/former GOP congressman Mick Mulvaney, is officially out of the "protecting consumer" business and now is firmly in the realm of protecting corporations instead.

Mick Mulvaney, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has pulled back from a full-scale probe of how Equifax Inc failed to protect the personal data of millions of consumers, according to people familiar with the matter.

Equifax (EFX.N) said in September that hackers stole personal data it had collected on some 143 million Americans. Richard Cordray, then the CFPB director, authorized an investigation that month, said former officials familiar with the probe. 
But Cordray resigned in November and was replaced by Mulvaney, President Donald Trump’s budget chief. The CFPB effort against Equifax has sputtered since then, said several government and industry sources, raising questions about how Mulvaney will police a data-warehousing industry that has enormous sway over how much consumers pay to borrow money.

The CFPB has the tools to examine a data breach like Equifax, said John Czwartacki, a spokesman, but the agency is not permitted to acknowledge an open investigation. “The bureau has the desire, expertise, and know-how in-house to vigorously pursue hypothetical matters such as these,” he said. 
Three sources say, though, Mulvaney, the new CFPB chief, has not ordered subpoenas against Equifax or sought sworn testimony from executives, routine steps when launching a full-scale probe. Meanwhile the CFPB has shelved plans for on-the-ground tests of how Equifax protects data, an idea backed by Cordray. 
The CFPB also recently rebuffed bank regulators at the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency when they offered to help with on-site exams of credit bureaus, said two sources familiar with the matter.

And so we're back to the Bush-era policy of government regulatory agencies being there to protect noble, job-providing corporations from mean ol' money-grubbing unwashed consumer masses, only now we have the new and improved angle of regulatory oversight being actively hostile towards the people they're supposed to be working to protect.

It's About Suppression, Con't

Last month, Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court ruled that the state's congressional districts were gerrymandered to the point of violating the state constitution, which requires the state to have "free and fair" elections.  State Republicans immediately appealed the decision to the US Supreme Court, who today told Pennsylvania to basically figure this out themselves.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let a court-ordered redrawing of congressional districts in Pennsylvania proceed, raising Democratic hopes that a revamped map might yield them several more seats this fall.

Justice Samuel Alito, who handles emergency appeals from Pennsylvania, rejected the request from GOP legislative leaders and voters to put on hold an order from the state Supreme Court intended to produce new congressional districts in the coming two weeks.

The Pennsylvania high court ruled last month that the current map of 18 districts violates the state constitution because it unfairly benefits Republicans.

The decision comes just four days before the Republican-controlled Legislature’s deadline for submitting a replacement map for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to consider. So far, there has been a notable lack of bipartisan movement on getting such a deal.

Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation has been 13-5 in favor of Republicans during the three election cycles since the GOP-drawn 2011 map took effect, and experts have said those 13 seats are several more than would have been produced by a nonpartisan map.

Democrats have about 800,000 more registered voters than Republicans and hold all three elected statewide row offices, but Republicans enjoy solid majorities in both chambers of the Legislature.

With the court order now remaining in effect and the redistricting map due at the end of the week, the GOP is moving to simply impeach and remove the justices who ordered the redistricting.

In a memorandum sent Monday evening to all members of the state house, with the subject line “Impeachment of five PA Supreme Court Justices,” Rep. Cris Dush alleges “the five Justices who signed this order that blatantly and clearly contradicts the plan language of the Pennsylvania Constitution, engaged in misbehavior in office.”

He claims “each is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office and disqualification to hold any office or trust or profit under this Commonwealth.”

Never mind that far-right conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito refused to say the state court’s ruling. Dush is calling on his fellow legislators to join him in his impeachment legislation.

“This is a usurpation of the sovereign power of the legislature under the Pennsylvania Constitution,” he said. “In the Constitution, it’s a contract between the people and the government that they hired to oversee them. And the sovereigns in this issue are God, the people, and the legislature — in that order.”

So we're right back to "Constitutional crisis" for the Keystone State.  We'll see where this goes, but whatever happens, it's going to happen fast.


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