Lately, I've had the feeling that “progressive” journalists and commentators too often pull their punches in calling attention to social problems, by underestimating the magnitude of problem-related statistics such as the unemployment rate and the number of fatalities due to lack of health insurance in the United States. My theory about this is that “progressives” are being defensive in their approach and bending over backwards to give the right wing the benefit of the doubt by understating numbers out of an abundance of caution. Read more about Are Deaths Due to Lack of Health Insurance Seriously Underestimated? Update
Kate Randall in “Obamacare exposed: The gutting of health care for workers” contends that affordable, quality health care will not be provided by the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Read more about That Popping Noise? The Obamacare Bubble!
I read an exciting article by David Sirota recently entitled “How the 1 Percent Always Gets Its Way”.
Sirota’s answer for that is simple. BOTH legacy parties are “up for sale.”
I figure MSNBC and others of Team Dem are doing a more than adequate job inventorying and calling out the lack of empathy and the greed of the rabid leadership of the Republican party. Read more about Sirota: ‘Liberal Washing’ -- the Enabling of Plutocratic Exploitation
Despite all the Team Dem 24/7 media propaganda, what Obama’s “counter”-reform Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will do is shift most of the financial burden of medical care profoundly on average American families by callously raising costs at the same time assuring substandard care, and as if that weren’t enough, it will penalize those who choose not to register for said substandard care.
Kind of lose/lose for the American people. Buy health-jeopardizing cut rate insurance or pay for not purchasing cut rate insurance. Read more about Obamacare - Each Day Another Fresh Hell!
Lately, I've had the feeling that “progressive” journalists and commentators too often pull their punches in calling attention to social problems, by underestimating the magnitude of problem-related statistics such as the unemployment rate and the number of fatalities due to lack of health insurance in the United States. My theory about this is that “progressives” are being defensive in their approach and bending over backwards to give the right wing the benefit of the doubt by understating numbers out of an abundance of caution.
If this is right, then my reply is that underestimating problem-related numbers is just as bad as over-estimating them, and that what people ought to do is try to provide the best estimates they can and let the critical chips fall where they may. In this post, I want to raise a question about the accuracy of the numerical estimates of US deaths due to lack of health insurance often seen in articles and blogs authored by people, like myself, who favor eliminating insurance coverage shortfalls by passing Medicare for All. Read more about Are Deaths Due to Lack of Health Insurance Seriously Underestimated?
So last Tuesday a FEW of us (relatively speaking -- 24%) in NYC went to the polls to vote. (I went to vote for the Green candidates.)
It was an off-year election including for mayor and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio of the Democratic Party with a 50 point lead was a sure thing.
He actually won by only 16% of the entire NY voting population according to Bill Van Auken in “The Democratic victory in New York and the crisis of liberalism”. Read more about Dem Mayor de Blasio’s ‘Landslide’ [16% NYers] ... Meh
Perhaps the biggest criticism that Internet advocates have against the Trans-Pacific Partnership is that lobbyists get a say in what goes in it but regular folks don't. And now, they have their own congressional caucus to boot.
Kate Randall in “Obamacare and the ‘crisis’ of an aging population” bluntly writes:
Underlying the immediate issue of the failure of the new web site is the character of Obamacare itself—an attack on health care cloaked in the guise of “reform,” whose basic aim is to slash health care spending and shift a greater cost burden onto the backs of individuals. ....
I gotta love Bernie Sanders, because he seems so much like people I grew up with and like myself too, and he also seems to have that passion for equality and democracy that is so important for the future of America. Sometimes I think Bernie is one of the few champions of the people left in Congress. But I also think that along with other progressives he has constructed chains for himself that prevent him from being as effective a champion of the people as he otherwise might be.
His chains are the chains of either false beliefs or a decision not to speak the truth about fiscal matters for fear that the “very serious people” in the Washington village will marginalize him even more than they do right now. I can't say which of these is true, but I think whichever reason is operative, his self-shackling reduces his effectiveness. Read more about Bernie Sanders: Self-shackled Champion of the People
Democracy Now addresses a new report issued by the Public Accountability Initiative entitled "Conflicts of Interest in the Syria Debate" which identified 22 commentators from the U.S. military establishment who had immediate economic ties to military contractors as they were pitching the case for U.S. strikes on Syria on tv networks without disclosing their conflicts of interest.
Yesterday on Fox, Senator Dick Durbin said:
WALLACE: I'm going to talk about ObamaCare on a second, but you're not answering my question. Why does taxes -- why do taxes have to be on the table? Why can't you just make a deal, short-term spending for long-term entitlement reform -- which, Senator, you support and President Obama support. You have supported the idea of some entitlement reform.
DURBIN: That's right. I do, and I'll tell you why -- because Social Security is going to run out of money in 20 years. I want to fix it now, before we reach that cliff.
Medicare may run out of money in 10 years, let's fix it now. And that means addressing the skyrocketing cost of health care. That's what ObamaCare is focused on, and yet, the Republicans want nothing to do with it.
If we don't focus on the health care and dealing with the entitlements, the baby boom generation is going to blow away our future. We don't want to see that happen. We want to make sure that Social Security and Medicare are solid.
The “. . . may run out of money. . . . ” and “. . . dealing with entitlements. . . “ memes, in reply to Chris Wallace's question suggests that a deal trading increased revenues for Social Security and other entitlement cuts is acceptable to him. So, Durbin's argument is that because Social Security Trustee and CBO projections, based on very pessimistic economic growth projections for the whole period, show a shortfall in the Social Security “Trust Fund” in 20 years, it is acceptable to make entitlement cuts now if the Democrats can get increased revenue from higher taxes, as if entitlement “reform” were the only way to meet the perceived Social Security solvency problem. But who would it be acceptable to? Read more about Dick Durbin Insults Everyone Else's Intelligence About Social Security
In the aftermath of the great 2013 government shutdown/debt ceiling crisis, and the kicking of the can down the road while maintaining austerity once more, the subject on many minds is where do negotiations over fiscal policy go from here? Will the new “budget committee” produce more austerity and do a grand bargain including the “chained CPI”? Will Congress finally turn towards economic growth and job creation, or will we continue to have more shutdowns and debt ceiling crises in 2014?
Chained CPI and the “Grand Bargain”
Let's begin with “chained CPI” and possible “Grand Bargains.” The President seems to still want one, but the question is, does anyone else? And, if they don't, can he still get it through?
It's dangerous for anyone running in 2014 to vote for chained CPI. Surveys show that overwhelming majorities of all Americans want no cuts to Social Security and Medicare, and also that 40% of tea party respondents are 55 or over, and are not likely to support such cuts, either. Nor do they appear to be anti- “their” Medicare. It's the corporate Republicans who oppose these things. So, I don't think the corporate Republicans would get much love from the tea baggers for supporting entitlement cuts, apart from Medicaid, which I think the tea party views as welfare. Certainly any credit the Congressional Republicans would get from their tea party base for voting for “chained CPI” would not outweigh their having given in on the CR and the rise in the debt ceiling just passed. Read more about What Happens Now?
Elliot Sperber in “The Surprise Party” suggests renaming the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) as the “Private Insurance Industry and Health Care Profiteers Protection Act” or “Set Back Genuine Health Care Reform for Another Generation Act.” Read more about Obamacare like Cotton Candy - Prettily Spun/Little Substance
Provided that the Senate and House follow through on the scenario now on the table, it looks like the game of chicken worked for the Democrats this time. We're off the hook on default and Government shutdown for now, and Washington village pundits are in full-throated cries of celebration.
Congress is off the hook too. They don't have to offer any solutions to real, rather than manufactured, problems.
The President is also off the hook, he won't, for now, need to exercise any of the options, like minting the coin, using consols, or premium bonds, or asset sales to the Fed, or others available to him to render the debt limit legislation impotent. So, he gets to preserve debt limit threats from the Republicans as a negotiating tool they can use to “force” him into entitlements cuts later on. Read more about Off the Debt Limit Hook for at Least the Next Four Months
This is Part VI of a six part series replying to a claim by the President at his recent White House News Conference. Part I covered the News Conference and the first two (the selective default, and the exploding option) of seven options the President might use to try save the US from defaulting in the face of continued deadlock in the Congress on raising the debt limit or repealing the law enabling it in its entirety. Part II discussed Platinum Coin Seigniorage, invoking the 14th amendment to justify continuing to issue conventional Treasury debt instruments, and consols. Part III discussed premium bonds, and Treasury sales of the Government's material and cultural assets to the Federal Reserve. Part IV, then evaluated all seven options in light of variations among them in likely degree of legal difficulties they might face, and also the likely impact of each on confidence in the bond markets, if used. Part V then summarized my evaluation of the seven options. This part will end the series by saying first, what the President ought to do, and then by saying what I think he is most likely to do. Read more about Rationalization and Obligation, Part VI: What He Ought to Do, What He Probably Will Do