Monday, July 2, 2018

Last Call For Meanwhile In Bevinstan, Con't

When we last checked in with Kentucky GOP Gov. Matt Bevin, his bluff on threatening to end Medicaid expansion and revoke medical coverage for 450,000+ Kentuckians was called out in a major way as a federal judge blocked Bevin's plan to make Kentucky the first state to subject Medicaid recipients to work requirements.

A federal judge in Washington D.C. has struck down Kentucky's plan to start requiring some Medicaid recipients to work or volunteer in order to continue receiving benefits.

The ruling blocks Gov. Matt Bevin's administration from implementing the change, which was scheduled to start Monday in one Northern Kentucky county and extend to most of the rest of the state by the end of the year.

When the requirements were first challenged in January, Bevin warned that if the work requirements were defeated in court, he would unilaterally end Medicare expansion in the state and nearly a half-million Kentuckians -- more than 10% of the state -- would immediately lose health care coverage as a result.  He wasted no time in taking those hostages. 

Now it seems Bevin is slicing off fingers as proof he's willing to hurt as many of those hostages as possible...or in this case, he's sending back eyes and teeth.

Gov. Matt Bevin's administration announced it is cutting Medicaid dental and vision benefits to nearly half a million Kentuckians after a judge on Friday rejected his plan to overhaul the government health plan. 
The decision prompted an outcry Monday from Democrats who called the Republican governor's move rash, harsh and possibly illegal. 
"We've got to have the public rise up," said U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville. "This is going to be extremely dangerous for the citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky." 
On Sunday, the Bevin administration in an email described the cuts as "an unfortunate consequence of the judge's ruling." 
On Monday, it followed with a statement saying it was "working through" impacts of the judge's order and that it hopes to "quickly resolve the fallout from the court ruling." 
Democrats including Yarmuth, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, several state legislators and Louisville Metro Council President David James held a press conference to denounce the cuts, which were made after Bevin's Medicaid overhaul was rejected by a federal judge in Washington D.C. 
Medicaid, an $11 billion-a-year health plan in Kentucky, covers about 1.4 million people, more than 600,000 of them children. The federal government provides about 80 percent of the money for Kentucky's Medicaid program. 
Bevin's changes to Medicaid that include work requirements, premiums and other new rules, were to take effect Sunday. 
But on Friday, U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg vacated Bevin's entire plan and sent it back to officials at the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services for further review, The judge said the Trump administration, in approving the plan, didn't consider the basic provisions of federal Medicaid law, which is to provide access to health care for low-income and vulnerable citizens. 
Speakers on Monday expressed outrage at Bevin's cuts. 
Fischer called Bevin's actions "unnecessary and callous." State Sen. Gerald Neal called the cuts "not only a rash step, but a harsh step."

And state Rep. McKenzie Cantrell, a Democrat from South Louisville, said the impact is hardest on the many poor people covered by Medicaid who work at low-wage jobs and are struggling to keep up with all the changes. 
"It's red tape for poor people," she said.

So Bevin has now taken vision and dental care away from more than 10% of the state, just to be an asshole.  Personally, I've never wanted a man to be defeated more soundly in a Governor's race than I do right now. 

Matt Bevin should resign in utter shame and he should have to face the hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians whose lives he just directly harmed through his complete disregard for human dignity.

When I say Republicans exist to punish the people Obama and the Democrats helped, this is exactly what I mean.  They are emotionally cauterized sociopaths.

And Matt Bevin?  He's one of the worst of the lot.

The Revenge Of Timmy And The Paydays

In the Trump era where the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been all but shut down, Dodd-Frank legislative provisions have been rolled back, and the Trump tax bill has put billions upon billions more in the pockets of Wall Street, it should be no surprise that the same guys who got us into subprime housing are now going into the payday lender business.

Meet Mariner Financial, who will literally give money away to customers...and then use its crushing corporate power to take twice the loan back, plus interest.

Mass-mailing checks to strangers might seem like risky business, but Mariner Finance occupies a fertile niche in the U.S. economy. The company enables some of the nation’s wealthiest investors and investment funds to make money offering high-interest loans to cash-strapped Americans.

Mariner Finance is owned and managed by a $11.2 billion private equity fund controlled by Warburg Pincus, a storied New York firm. The president of Warburg Pincus is Timothy F. Geithner, who, as treasury secretary in the Obama administration, condemned predatory lenders. The firm’s co-chief executives, Charles R. Kaye and Joseph P. Landy, are established figures in New York’s financial world. The minimum investment in the fund is $20 million. 

That's right, our old friend Timmy is back, and he's in the legal loan shark business.

And business is booming.
Dozens of other investment firms bought Mariner bonds last year, allowing the company to raise an additional $550 million. That allowed the lender to make more loans to people like Huggins. 
“It’s basically a way of monetizing poor people,” said John Lafferty, who was a manager trainee at a Mariner Finance branch for four months in 2015 in Nashville. His misgivings about the business echoed those of other former employees contacted by The Washington Post. “Maybe at the beginning, people thought these loans could help people pay their electric bill. But it has become a cash cow.” 
The market for “consumer installment loans,” which Mariner and its competitors serve, has grown rapidly in recent years, particularly as new federal regulations have curtailed payday lending, according to the Center for Financial Services Innovation, a nonprofit research group. Private equity firms, with billions to invest, have taken significant stakes in the growing field. 
Among its rivals, Mariner stands out for the frequent use of mass-mailed checks, which allows customers to accept a high-interest loan on an impulse — just sign the check. It has become a key marketing method. 

Just sign on the dotted line and cash the check.

And then the goon squad shows up to break your neck.

The company’s other tactics include borrowing money for as little as 4 or 5 percent — thanks to the bond market — and lending at rates as high as 36 percent, a rate that some states consider usurious; making millions of dollars by charging borrowers for insurance policies of questionable value; operating an insurance company in the Turks and Caicos, where regulations are notably lax, to profit further from the insurance policies; and aggressive collection practices that include calling delinquent customers once a day and embarrassing them by calling their friends and relatives, customers said.

Finally, Mariner enforces its collections with a busy legal operation, funded in part by the customers themselves: The fine print in the loan contracts obliges customers to pay as much as an extra 20 percent of the amount owed to cover Mariner’s attorney fees, and this has helped fund legal proceedings that are both voluminous and swift. Last year, in Baltimore alone, Mariner filed nearly 300 lawsuits. In some cases, Mariner has sued customers within five months of the check being cashed.

And all of this is 100% legal thanks to Trump and the GOP.  Oh, and Obama's Treasury Secretary, who definitely landed on his feet.

There are tons of these Wall Street-funded "finance companies" around.  Just here in NKY, there's Eagle Finance, One Main Financial, Heights Finance Corporation, Regency Finance Company, Republic Finance, and of course Mariner Finance, all within 5 miles of where I live.

Oh, and it's Kentucky, so the payday lenders are still there too.

But remember, the economy is doing great, right?

Trump Trades Blows, Con't

Trump's trade war continues as new tariffs take effect this week against US products in Canada and China, and Trump seems fully committed to a full-scale conflict with the EU as well which could lead to a major economic depression in the US.

President Trump defiantly stood by his tariffs on Sunday as Canada hit back hard, Mexico elected a new leader who seems prepared to confront him, and the European Union issued a scathing condemnation of his policy as “in effect, a tax on the American people.”

Instead of backing down, Trump brushed off the mounting pressure from businesses and world leaders to scale back the taxes before they cause additional job losses and slower economic growth.

This week will be a critical test of Trump’s resolve as Canada on Sunday imposed tariffs on $12.6 billion of U.S. products and China is set to levy high tariffs on $34 billion worth of American goods, including soybeans, on Friday, the same day that Trump plans to tax an additional $34 billion worth of Chinese items.

The additional taxes make it harder for U.S. companies and farmers to sell some items abroad, and they raise costs on many products used in U.S. manufacturing. But Trump shrugged off fears that the tariffs will hurt the economy.

“Every country is calling every day, saying, ‘Let’s make a deal, let’s make a deal.’ It’s going to all work out,” Trump said Sunday, echoing his remarks earlier in the year that trade wars are “easy to win.”

Despite Trump’s rhetoric, concerns are growing that Trump’s appetite for tariffs only appears to be expanding as trade tensions escalate. Many who argued that Trump was just threatening tariffs as a negotiating tactic and would never let the skirmish intensify are now saying they may have miscalculated.

Trump said in an interview on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that the European Union is just as bad as China on trade and that he didn’t intend to sign a new North American Free Trade Agreement deal until after the midterm elections in November.

“The European Union is possibly as bad as China, just smaller,” Trump said Sunday, pointing to the “car situation.”

The E.U. sent Trump’s Commerce Department an 11-page document on Friday threatening that the global community would put tariffs on up to $290 billion of U.S. products if Trump moves forward with tariffs on foreign autos, according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post.

“Protective measures would undermine U.S. growth, negatively impact job creation, and not improve the trade balance,” E.U. leaders wrote, adding that auto tariffs would “damage further the reputation of the United States.”

Trump is now engaged in trade fights with most of the world’s major economies, including China, the European Union and Japan. Although Trump speaks periodically with leaders from these nations, formal trade talks have stalled with most of them as the two sides remain far apart and foreign countries say Trump’s wishes are unclear.

Trump's going to "win" this trade war no matter how many thousands, if not millions, of US jobs it costs. On top of all this, Trump wants the GOP Congress to pass a bill that would effectively allow Trump to go around the World Trade Organization and unilaterally make tariff decisions at will.

Amazingly enough, the draft legislation is currently titled the "United States Fair and Reciprocal Tariff Act" which for those of you playing at home means that the bill would be the US FART Act.

This is who is running things in Washington right now, guys.

A walking fart joke.


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