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  • September 25, 2017
    The GOP's Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill is a Killer Scam

    Next week, Congressional Republicans will vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill supposedly designed to "repeal and replace" Obamacare. Shockingly, they will do so without a score from Capitol Hill's nonpartisan scorekeeper, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). As the office led by the GOP's hand-picked director Keith Hall warned last Monday, "CBO will not be able to provide point estimates of the effects on the deficit, health insurance coverage, or premiums for at least several weeks."

    The 54th Massachusetts or Davis, Lee and Jackson? For patriotic Americans, there's only one choice.

    Nevertheless, there are many things we already know with a good deal of certainty about this grotesque act of right-wing political spite masquerading as health care legislation. Graham-Cassidy begins by eliminating the individual and employer insurance mandates next year, and repealing the Affordable Care Act's insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion in 2020. The bill then dramatically slashes currently projected Obamacare spending and divvies up what remains as block grants to the states. The states in turn can seek waivers from requiring the coverage of Obamacare's "essential health benefits" (EHB's) and the current ban on discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions. Estimates from Avalere Health and CBPP forecast the GOP bill carves between $215 billion and $243 billion from ACA spending over the next decade. But those block grants--which rob billions of dollars from largely Democratic-led, Medicaid-expanding states to those red states which did not--expire at the end of 2026. Unless the bill is reauthorized, the states will lose $299 billion in federal funding in 2027 alone; between 2020 and 2036, the loss is a staggering $4.15 trillion. Based on CBO estimates for similar Republican proposals earlier this year, the Commonwealth Fund warned 32 million people could lose their insurance by 2027.

    Oh, and one other thing we can count on: If Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy get their way, thousands of newly uninsured Americans will die needlessly every year. A death toll of roughly 18,000 in the law's first full year could approach 40,000 in 2027. The question is not whether the United States will suffer the equivalent of multiple Sept. 11 attacks every year, but how many.

    Continue reading at Daily Kos.

    Perrspective 11:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    September 21, 2017
    State Block Grants: The GOP's Worst Health Care Idea of Them All

    Even as the U.S. Census reported that the percentage of Americans lacking health insurance dropped to a new record low of 8.8 percent, the past week was nevertheless a big one for health care reform proposals in Washington. Sen. Bernie Sanders, backed by 15 of his Democratic colleagues, unveiled his "Medicare for All" bill providing one path to universal health care in the United States. But while Democrats were looking to enable insurance coverage for the 28 million people still lacking it, Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana pitched their last-gasp Obamacare "replacement" plan to deny coverage to millions more.

    After the much-deserved defeats of the GOP's American Health Care Act (AHCA) and Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), Graham and Cassidy are asking their Republican colleagues to try one more time before the Sept. 30 legislative deadline puts an end to their Obamacare repeal dreams. At the heart of the Graham-Cassidy proposal co-sponsored by Nevada Sen. Dean Heller and Wisconsin's Ron Johnson is an old idea near and dear to Republican hearts: block grants for the states. That is, the new GOP bill would basically convert today's federal spending on Affordable Care Act insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion into smaller block grants turned over to the states to administer largely as they see fit. But as the history shows, that is a proven recipe for failure. After all, if "states' rights" is simply short-hand for the denial of Americans' rights, what Lindsey Graham touts as "state flexibility" is just a green light to withhold health care coverage to millions of their residents.

    Sen. Graham has made no secret of his objectives. "If you believe in universal health care," Graham boasted on Wednesday, "this is your worst nightmare." He explained why to Breitbart News two weeks ago:

    Continue reading at Daily Kos.

    Perrspective 6:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    September 7, 2017
    Trump, GOP Demand Blue State Payback

    In recent years, "red state socialism" has become the hallmark of American federalism. That is, even as supposed GOP budget hawks loudly (and wrongly) decry "out of control" spending by Uncle Sam, less well-off Republican-controlled states generally benefit from a one-way flow of federal tax dollars made possible by wealthier blue states usually dominated by Democrats. But that is as it should be. After all, Americans everywhere should want Americans anywhere to have the resources for the education, health care, and anti-poverty programs they deserve and may badly need. Patriotism, civic duty, community, and compassion don't end at the state line.

    That's especially true in times of war, crisis, and natural disaster. When Americans anywhere are in danger, there is no "red" or "blue," but only Red, White and Blue. With the staggering calamity from Hurricane Harvey still unfolding in Texas and Louisiana, first responders and volunteers, charities and church groups, and millions of people from every state and every faith all reaffirmed that shared American ethos.

    But back in Washington, the president and some of his GOP allies on Capitol Hill provided a stark contrast to that spirit of selflessness and unity. Gulf state members of Congress, led by Texas Republicans Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, called for billions of dollars in federal aid they voted to deny their blue state brethren after Superstorm Sandy in 2013. At the same time, Donald Trump launched his push for a massive tax cut windfall for the wealthy, a giveaway he and GOP leaders hope to pay for in part by punishing taxpayers and breaking budgets in traditionally Democratic states. Meanwhile, in areas as diverse as health care, immigration, and possibly infrastructure, GOP policymakers are seeking blue state payback as a means of retribution--or just out of pure spite.

    Continue reading at Daily Kos.

    Perrspective 11:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    September 4, 2017
    The Capitol's Missing Mural of Lee's Surrender to Grant at Appomattox

    The neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville has spurred calls around the nation for the removal of public statues, monuments and symbols venerating white supremacy and the "lost cause" of the Confederacy. Those sites include Capitol Hill, where eight statues of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Alexander Stephens and five other traitors to the United States were added between 1909 and 1931 at the behest of their home states. But while Democrats including Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have urged their Republican colleagues to "remove the Confederate statues from the Capitol immediately," Vice President Mike Pence echoed Donald Trump's charge that "they" were attempting "to take away our history and our heritage."
    "Obviously, I think that should always be a local decision. And with regard to the US Capitol, should be a state decision. I'm someone who believes in more monuments, not less monuments."

    If he is to be taken at his word that "more monuments" help us "remember our history," then Vice President Pence would surely support the installation in the Capitol rotunda of a massive mural depicting Lee's surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox. That never-completed tribute has been missing from Congress for 148 years due to the obstruction on one man.

    President Ulysses S. Grant.

    That's right. As Mark Neely, Jr., Harold Holzer and Gabor S. Boritt explained in The Confederate Image: Prints of the Lost Cause, Grant "wholly disapproved of the artists' enterprise" in capturing Lee's capitulation on canvas.

    When a Congressional commission approach the Northern conqueror soon after the Civil War to propose a painting of Lee's surrender for the Capitol rotunda, Grant refused. He said he would never take part in producing a picture that commemorated a victory in which his fellow countrymen were losers.

    In 1885, James Grant Wilson documented Grant's deference to Southern sensitivities this way:

    In 1869, some members of Congress wanted to put a massive painting of Lee surrendering to Grant in the Rotunda of the Capitol. They visited Grant, who was President-elect, to gain his approval. Grant, who was usually calm, got upset and said, "No, gentlemen, it won't do. No power on earth will make me agree to your proposal. I will not humiliate General Lee or our Southern friends in depicting their humiliation and then celebrating the event in the nation's capitol." This immediately ended any discussion of the painting. [Emphasis mine.]

    This was hardly the only example of Grant's generosity and compassion towards his former enemies. By the time the Army of Northern Virginia laid down its arms at Appomattox, General U.S. Grant had already embraced Lincoln's admonition during the Second Inaugural to offer "malice toward none, with charity for all." By offering such generous terms to Robert E. Lee and his soldiers, Grant begun to "bind up the nation's wounds" and "to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations." And to be sure, the respect and dignity Grant accorded Robert E. Lee and his surrendering Army of Northern Virginia was offered despite his disdain for their cause of slavery and secession. As he prepared to accept their capitulation, Grant later wrote of that moment in April 1865:

    "I felt sad and depressed at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though their cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought."

    One of the worst causes for a which a people ever fought, indeed. Nevertheless, even after his submission Robert E. Lee, the man who more than any extended the bloody life of the Confederacy, insisted on the rightness of that cause. Not long before his death in 1870, Lee explained:

    "Everyone should do all in his power to collect and disseminate the truth, in the hope that it may find a place in history and descend to posterity. History is not the relation of campaigns and battles and generals or other individuals, but that which shows the principles for which the South contended and which justified her struggle for those principles."

    But if Lee sought to propagate Southern mythology, he was opposed to the hagiography of its leaders. "I think it wiser," he wrote in 1869, "not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered."

    On that point, Lee's conqueror Ulysses Grant fully agreed. That's why there is no enormous mural in the Capitol rotunda commemorating the Union general's glorious victory. And it's also why all of the Confederate monuments there, elsewhere on Capitol Hill and on public spaces around the United States of America must go.

    Perrspective 8:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    August 28, 2017
    GOP's top priority? Giving the Trump clan a multi-billion dollar tax cut

    Republican leaders in Congress may not be ready to abandon Donald Trump, but there's little doubt about their growing discomfort with the president of the United States. Supposedly shocked by Trump's coddling of white supremacists in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker questioned Trump's ability to either the "demonstrate the stability" or "competence" required of presidents. A sheepish House Speaker Paul Ryan told a CNN town hall that Trump "messed up" in his handling of the neo-Nazi thuggery in Virginia and proclaimed, "This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, under assault from Trump after the GOP failure to repeal Obamacare, hasn't spoken to the president in weeks and, according to the New York Times, "privately expressed uncertainty that Mr. Trump will be able to salvage his administration after a series of summer crises."

    With the summer Congressional recess about to end, the GOP's best and brightest are planning a post-Labor Day payback for the president. His punishment? A massive tax cut windfall for the wealthy that will redirect billions of dollars from the United States Treasury to Donald Trump and his children.

    As it turns out, that outcome would represent another broken promise for Donald Trump. Two years ago, candidate Trump unveiled the first of three versions of what would become his tax reform program. (According to analysts, that budget-busting blueprint would generate up to $12 trillion in new national debt in the ensuing decade.) On Sept. 28, 2015, he made this pledge to the American people:

    "It reduces or eliminates most of the deductions and loopholes available to special interests and to the very rich. In other words, it's going to cost me a fortune -- which is actually true -- while preserving charitable giving and mortgage interest deductions, very importantly." [Emphasis mine.]

    Now even without access to Donald Trump's tax returns, then as now it was impossible for his guarantee to be true. As we'll see below, Trump's is a Four-Pinocchio Lie both because of the way he makes his money and the changes he's proposing to the tax code.

    Continue reading at Daily Kos.

    Perrspective 7:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

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    The GOP's Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill is a Killer Scam
    September 25, 2017
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    State Block Grants: The GOP's Worst Health Care Idea of Them All
    September 21, 2017
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    Trump, GOP Demand Blue State Payback
    September 7, 2017
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    The Capitol's Missing Mural of Lee's Surrender to Grant at Appomattox
    September 4, 2017
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    GOP's top priority? Giving the Trump clan a multi-billion dollar tax cut
    August 28, 2017
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    Trump's Willing Supremacists
    August 25, 2017
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    The Confederate Statues Speak for Themselves
    August 16, 2017
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    "Freedmen" Is An Alternative to HBO's Alternative History, "Confederate"
    August 15, 2017
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    Why "America First" Really Means America Last
    August 8, 2017
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    Lies, Damn Lies and Fake News
    July 31, 2017
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