Tuesday, February 28, 2017

DeVos on Historically Black Colleges and University's: "...real pioneers when it comes to choice."

Education Sec. Betsy DeVos, who never went to a public school, proved how bad that choice was with this bumbling voucher choice sales pitch using historically black colleges and university's:
DeVos linked black colleges to the issue of school choice -- a cause for which she is an advocate.
"HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish."
That resulted in a few incredibly controlled responses:
Slate ran a column last night with the headline: "Insane Betsy DeVos Press Release Celebrates Jim Crow Education System as Pioneer of 'School Choice.'"

Trumpian Friend Reveals: He Can't stand listening to him, might have been better if Clinton was president.

My Trumpian conservative friend in Milwaukee isn't in a panic yet, but he did shock me the other day, when he told me...

1. He can't stand listening to Trump talk, says the same thing over and over. Turns him off every time.

2. He also thinks it might have been better if Hillary became president...he'd be good with that.

That's encouraging. But when I told him about what Trump said about health care being "complicated," he said, "well it is." Yea, it's gonna take some time....

I never thought I would find this...not as insulting....

Farmers/Democrats want the same things: Farm-to-School Program, School Funding, Rural Broadband, Nonpartisan Redistricting Process, Road Funding!!!

So what can Democrats do to convince rural farmers to vote for them? Let's see if there are any common interests first. Farmers are calling for:
1. More funding for infrastructure.

2. Funding for schools.

3. Better broadband internet access for rural areas.

4. Use a nonpartisan redistricting process (because) rural people don't feel they're being represented as well as they could be. 
Farmers want what Democrats want. Farmers and Democrats have been trying to get Scott Walker and his legislative band of Republican pirates to do all four of those things since 2011. EVERY item listed above.

And yet, "Stand with Walker" field signs dot the rural landscape, right next to yard signs for anti-government Republican legislators. And yet, Democrats are offering the same basic things rural conservative voters want.
The Wisconsin Farmers Union are calling for more funding for infrastructure and schools in the new state budget during Tuesday's Farm and Rural Lobby Day at the state Capitol … also calling for better broadband internet access for rural areas and for the state to use a nonpartisan redistricting process, saying rural people don't feel they're being represented as well as they could be. 
That's just the opposite of what Republicans say they're hearing from their constituents. Confused? How about expand rural broadband? Ah, Democrats have the covered too....
U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, a Democrat representing the states 2nd District, is sponsoring an expansion bill in Congress.
But rural broadband is more or less wireless, and from what I've heard from a few rural friends, it's nothing like a wired connection:
It might seem that wireless coverage – which covers broad areas from antennas across the territory rather than needing to connect wires to every home – could be the answer for rural communities. 

In fact, rural residents are among several groups who have started shifting their internet connections away from a landline residential connection and towards a smartphone. However, those connections aren't necessarily fast enough to meet the formal FCC definition of "broadband." Specifically, 85 percent of U.S. wireline connections meet the current 25 mbps download threshold, while only 14 percent of wireless connections do so. In addition, wireless coverage is sometimes spotty and can vary by provider and geography.
Or these two issues....
On education, the Wisconsin Farmers Union wants to keep the state’s farm-to-school program, which Walker’s budget repeals. Selling locally grown food to schools provides economic benefits for farmers and educational benefits for students

The farmers union supports a bill that would reimburse some student loan debt for beginning farmers. The bills sponsor, Rep. Mark Spreitzer, Democrat-Beloit, plans to bring it up again this year. 
See that, a Democrat is sponsoring the bill, which failed the first time around. Here's the story from WPR: 

The Real Donald Trump, in 1 hour 19 minutes...a must see story!

I would have normally tried to edit a short clip, just to get a feel for the Real Donald Trump, but I couldn't. This is an old documentary that is devoid of politics.

The horror is that the American voters put this guy in control of the US, and the world. He hasn't changed his style one bit either. This film is currently free to watch on YouTube, but may be gone soon, since iTunes is selling the video.
As the film’s new website explains, the documentary saw two screenings and was never again shown or broadcast anywhere else:
"The film was commissioned in 1988 by Leonard Stern as the first of a series on celebrity businessmen and finished in 1991. Back then, the only way for a film to be seen was on television or in the theater. Donald threatened to sue any broadcaster or distributor that took on the film. In effect, it was suppressed."

This YouTube comment pretty much summed it up:
I was on the fence about Trump before watching this doc. Since it was made well before any Presidential aspirations, there doesn't seem to be any agenda other than exposing the truth of his past. This doc should be required viewing for every American. We all should start to prepare ourselves for this tidal wave coming at us in the next 4 years.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Trump on the Affordable Care Act..."Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated!" Noooooooooo

Trump ran on repealing ObamaCare, the ACA, but didn't know a damn thing about it?

My god is this for friggin' real....
Trump said that while tax cuts would be “major and simple,” health care reform was turning out to be difficult. Health care accounts for more than one-sixth of the U.S. economy.

“I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”

...and wait till he sees the Republican plan, click here, it'll blow what's left of his mind.

Trump's reaction to the massive protests at town halls over repealing the ACA:
Trump also argued that recent polls which showed the law has become more popular were just a side effect of the American public realizing that the law would be ending soon.
“People hate it, but now they see that the end is coming and they’re saying, ‘Oh, maybe we love it. There’s nothing to love. It’s a disaster folks, OK? So you have to remember that.”

Why are People Moving out of Wisconsin Scott Walker?

Researching a story, I came across this Wall Street Journal list of worst and best run states. While Scott Walker gets press wondering out loud whether he's going to run again for governor or not (really?), his record is amazingly unimpressive, especially when you count all the things we as state gave up, eliminated or is currently starving to death.

Wisconsin is sitting at # 20 in The Best and Worst Run States in America: A Survey of All 50   December 6, 2016
> Debt per capita: $3,876 (18th highest) > 2015 Unemployment rate: 4.6% (19th lowest) > Credit rating: Aa2/AA > Poverty: 12.1% (15th lowest)

A declining population, particularly when residents are moving out of state, often can be traced to a lack of job opportunities or a low quality of life. Between 2010 and 2015, 14,210 more people moved out of the state than moved in, equivalent to a net population loss of 0.2% over that time. Wisconsin is one of just 14 states with a net negative migration over the last five years. Home values in the state remained effectively stagnant over that time, even as the U.S. median home value increased by 12%. This is likely a product of outbound migration from the state.

Walker lied about ACA collapse in Minnesota with misleading quote from Gov. Mark Dayton.

Nothing for Scott Walker is exempt from deceptive exploitation. Take this recent tweet:

Wow, that would be breaking news if it wasn't so misleading. Dayton was referring to those on the exchanges who made too much money to qualify for a subsidy. That's not the story Walker wanted you to know, but then what's new? 

Dayton is doing what Walker isn't; he's helping make health care more affordable to higher income Minnesotans because he cares. Walker is not.

I'll try to simply...

Gov. Dayton decided to help those buying insurance on the exchanges who were unfairly paying their full premium, no subsidy. My own brother complained about that last month. Here's the big story that hit the fan in Minnesota, the story Dayton was addressing in the "quote" above:
A Wabasha County Sexton family who is seeing a nearly 40-percent spike in premiums … the Sexton family paid $1,585 a month for insurance coverage. This year, their monthly premium jumped to $2,197. That's a hike of nearly 40 percent. For farm families, the fluctuating prices of milk make paying for increased premiums even tougher.

Gov. Mark Dayton proposed a 25-percent health insurance premium rebate for those who purchased their insurance on the individual market, but don't qualify for federal tax credits. The governor said the plan would help about 125,000 Minnesotans. Thanks to the premium relief the Legislature and the governor authorized in late January, Sheri and Vince will save about $6,600 on their annual premiums this year.
Simply put...
The Governor’s direct relief would reduce average 2017 rate increases from 55 percent to 16 percent for individuals with incomes over $47,520 and families of four with incomes over $97,200, but who did not receive federal tax credits.
It gets even more embarrassing for Walker when you see what Dayton proposed a few weeks later:
In 1992, Gov. Arne Carlson and legislators from both parties created MinnesotaCare — a state-operated health insurance plan. We believe that Minnesotans should have the freedom to buy their health insurance through MinnesotaCare. Their premiums would cover the full cost of their policies, so there would be no ongoing subsidies from the state. The MinnesotaCare "Buy-in Option" would provide a more affordable choice for another 100,000 Minnesotans, who now buy coverage for themselves or their families on the individual market.

Another strong benefit of this proposal, particularly for Minnesotans in rural areas of the state, is the broad networks of physicians and care providers available through MinnesotaCare.
You'll notice Dayton is talking about everyone in Minnesota, INCLUDING rural areas. Dayton is a proactive governor who continues to try and solve problems.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

High Risk Pools make Taxpayers, not Insurance Companies, to pay for Preexisting Conditions.

You will be hearing a lot about high risk pools, but you won't be told how bad they are.

Even worse, it forces the public to pay for the sick, in tax dollars and higher insurance premiums, while private insurance companies rake in billions covering healthy people. Seriously, you buying this?

Democrats apparently have not done their homework, because otherwise they would shouting on every roof top blaming Republicans for shifting the cost of preexisting conditions off onto taxpayers. Yup, some of the same taxpayers who complained about paying for someone else's medical care with their hard earn money.

Here's the GOP health care reform scam:

The plan includes $10 billion per year in “state innovation grants,” which are a version of high-risk pools to help sick people get coverage and stabilize premiums but appear to allow for a broader array of uses for the money by states. Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, however, many of these state plans ended up being so expensive, because they covered only sick patients, that they had to cap enrollment.
Think of how many people will be uninsurable each and every year. We're human, most of us will get sick. At a recent town hall, one constituent presented this angle:

To get a handle on just what this means...look at what happened before the ACA:
High-risk pools have been tried before, with mixed results. It worked like this: 
1. Sick people with problems ranging from arthritis to congestive heart failure were placed in a separate insurance pool, with government and insurance companies helping to cover costs. 

2. They were also charged higher rates, up to double the amount paid by consumers with no serious ailments.  

3. 30 states that had high-risk pools, net losses piled up to more than $1.2 billion in 2011, the height of the pools before the Affordable Care Act took full effect.

4. The programs covered about 225,000 Americans back then. 

5. Most pools had lifetime and annual limits on coverage. Some imposed waiting periods of up to a year for coverage of a pre-existing condition.

6. Some states offered income-based assistance. Most did not.

7. In every state that ran a high-risk pool in 2011, medical expenses outpaced premiums, and losses averaged $5,500 per enrollee. States used fees and taxes to make up the difference. 
Health care base on Ideology, not Reality: 
The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 27 percent of adults under age 65 have health conditions that would likely leave them uninsurable under practices that existed before the health care overhaul. Affordability is another matter, and would be handled differently in each state under the GOP plan.

Republican explanation for Massive drop in the Insured rate repealing ACA? "Some people don't care enough" and just not responsible...lazy.

This recent comment pretty much explains how Republicans are going to frame the issue of dumping 20 million people from health care. They're lazy.

Check this irresponsible comment:
Republican Rep. Dennis Ross of Florida told Bloomberg: “Not everybody is going to have health care. Some people just don’t care enough about their own care,” he argued, saying Republicans can provide people access to affordable insurance plans, “but whether they take it or not is like trying to legislate responsibility.”
Get that? If you "don't care enough about your own care," or just aren't responsible, that's not our problem. They're lazy, just like the unemployed getting food stamps and Medicaid.

Once again, the uninsured will raise premiums on those who are responsible and buy insurance. It like they never understood why we had a health care crisis in this country in the first place.

The cost of health care is a huge business expense as well, write off or not. And that write off is also on the chopping block.

Worst Skier Ever? You would be too. Great Story.

After reading about what this guy went through to compete in the Nordic World Ski Championships in Finland, you can't help but admire his determination. WaPo:

Adrian Solano looked every bit a skier when he lined up for a cross-country race at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Finland. But then he started moving.
The 22-year-old Venezuelan nearly fell as he tried to exit the starting gate. He wobbled again after he finally got going, only to actually topple over when he rounded one of the course’s first curves. This would happen repeatedly for the next 38 minutes or so until Solano’s time was up.

“Maybe I have fallen many times but what really counts is that I will always continue to rise,” Solano wrote on Instagram on Thursday, defending his performance, which by the way, was his first on snow.

It wasn’t intended to be his first time skiing on snow (Solano said he practices in Venezuela using modified roller blades). Last month, Solano tried to make it to Sweden to begin cold-weather training but failed after being deported from France.

“When I got to Paris on 19 January, I explained that I was on my way to Sweden to train,” Solano told the AFP this week. “They did not believe that I ski in Venezuela. I told them that we train on wheels.”

“The police laughed at him,” Solano’s trainer Cesar Baena added. “They said skiing didn’t exist in Venezuela.”

Solano said despite him having an official invitation to train in Sweden and eventually compete in Finland, the police “discriminated” against him based on his appearance and accused him of attempting to immigrate “because things were going badly in my country.”

“I missed a month of practice on the snow,” Solano said this week. “But I am still trying because this is my dream.”

Despite his troubles and less-than-perfect performance, the trip to Scandinavia proved worthwhile for Solano. While he won’t be taking home any awards, he’s made plenty of new friends.
The takeaway:
And, yes, he plans to continue on in the sport.

“This motivates my desire to continue fulfilling my dreams and making my goals real,” he said in response to one of his Instagram followers cheering him on. “Let constancy and sacrifice move mountains.”
Also, check out the American University junior running for the Patriot League 800-meter indoor title, who halfway through the race, lost one of his shoes. He still won.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Milwaukee and Dane County Subsidize Rural Republican Utopia's.

Two articles came out at pretty much the same time that finally brought everything into focus; liberal state hellholes like Dane County and Milwaukee are propping up the rest of the state....every resentful rural community. They've been hoodwinked by their do-nothing Republican politicians who haven't lifted a finger to solve their problems.

No excuses Walker trolls, liberal progressive government policies work when their elected officials actually serve their constituents with policies they need. Can't say the same for "small government" Republican districts being starved and ignored. No wonder they resent big cities for getting everything. Cap Times:
1. Dane County responsible for over half of Wisconsin's job growth since 2001, according to a city of Madison economic development plan. 

2. Dane County represents 9 percent of the state’s population, but accounted for 56 percent of job growth between 2001 and 2015, with an increase of almost 43,000 jobs, from about 279,000 to 322,000. That’s an increase of 15 percent over that time period, as compared to a 3 percent increase seen statewide.

3. This growth, the report says, is “increasingly private-sector driven.” In Madison, the private sector makes up 76 percent of the workforce.

4. The job growth is also “concentrated at the top and bottom ends of the economic spectrum,” the report said, ranging from food preparation to software engineering.

5. The data also found that from 2001 to 2012, Dane County added 1,100 new businesses and Madison’s GDP grew from $23 billion to $39 billion, representing 6.5 percent annual growth. “For all intents and purposes, the Madison regional economy grew right through the recession,” Dan Kennelly, manager of the city office of business resources said.

6. Madison also leads in business growth and construction activity. “If you compare Dane County to the rest of the state of Wisconsin, by really any economic measure, whether it’s job growth or innovation or GDP or what have you, we’re really driving the state’s economy in a lot of ways,” Kennelly said.
And Milwaukee, once nearly completely destroyed by County Executive Scott Walker? Urban Milwaukee:
Milwaukee Subsidizes The State: The city gets only 66 cents in state spending for every dollar in state taxes paid.

In the 2012 recall election, Gov. Scott Walker bluntly signaled that a vote for his opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, could make this state as bad as the city. “We don’t want Wisconsin to become like Milwaukee,” he warned. Walker was well aware that Milwaukee was seen in a negative light across much of the state, as a place of poverty and crime or for some people as a simply a city with many minority residents. To get elected, Walker cynically capitalized on that negative image, while reinforcing it because, after all, he had served as Milwaukee County Executive. Who would know better how bad Milwaukee was?

In fact, even as Walker was libeling the state’s biggest city, the reality is the opposite was true: it was Walker’s state that was the relative loser, that was leeching off the city. By 2012, the data shows, the city’s economy had become so successful that Milwaukee got back just 88 cents in total state aid for every dollar in total taxes it paid to the state.

That includes every category of state dollars flowing to Milwaukee, from state aid to Milwaukee Public Schools to shared revenue to cities, transportation aid and other smaller categories, and also includes every form of taxes flowing from Milwaukee to the state, including sales taxes and personal and corporate income taxes paid by city residents and businesses. All this information is tracked by the state Department of Revenue (DOR) and it shows Milwaukee is a net contributor to the state.

That was not true as recently as 2009, when the city was getting $1.07 from the state for every dollar in taxes it paid. But by 2011 the city was a net contributor to the state and that net outflow has increased every year until by 2015 the city was paying nearly $1.4 billion in total taxes to the state and getting back just over $912 million in state aid. That’s a return of just 66 cents from the state for every dollar in taxes paid.

The city has been booming economically since the Great Recession, enjoying tremendous real estate development, seeing its many local businesses recover and grow revenue, and becoming a magnet for companies moving from the suburbs to the city.

But is that how Gov. Walker sees the situation? Or Republican legislative leaders? I shared the information about Milwaukee’s net contribution with Walker’s communication’s director Tom Evenson, with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and asked for a comment. None responded.

GOP Health Care Reform Plan a Mind Numbing, Convoluted, Confusing and Complex maze of Regulations. Can't wait to see the Insurer policies small print....

Besides being a great look at the Republican health insurance reform plan (still waiting for the CBO estimate), imagine trying to navigate this system below for you and every family member...every year, throughout the year. Don't forget to read through the insurers small print policy exceptions that don't require minimum coverage. Who's got this kind of time or expertise?

And Republicans hate regulation?

High risk pools are paid for twice by the public, once in tax dollars and again in premium increases for the insurer contribution. Beautiful. We would hate to have insurers find themselves stuck with sick people.

My plan beats this; every doctor is your doctor; every hospital is your hospital; no copays or deductibles. Yes, it's single payer/Medicare for all. But you be the judge...you can take my plan, or navigate the maze of regulations listed below, that will continually change over time:

What The Bill Does Not Do

First, it must be emphasized what the bill does not do. It does not repeal the ACA. Indeed, it only repeals particular sections of the ACA, such as its taxes, mandates, Medicaid expansion and subsidies. And some of these it only does after 2019. It does not appear to repeal most of the ACA’s insurance reforms, such as the requirements that health plans
  • cover preexisting conditions;
  • not health status underwrite; meet actuarial value requirements;
  • cover adult children up to age 26;
  • not discriminate on the basis of race, nationality, disability or sex;
  • cap out-of-pocket expenditures; and
  • not impose lifetime or annual limits.
It does not touch the ACA’s Medicare reforms or cuts. It is replace, but not repeal.


Much of the bill is focused on changes to the Medicaid program. It ends the ACA expansion for low-income adults and essential health benefit requirements as of the end of 2019, as well as the ACA’s presumptive Medicaid eligibility provisions and disproportionate share hospital payment reductions. The bill establishes a per-capita cap approach to funding state Medicaid programs beginning with fiscal year 2019. The per-capita cap provisions are lengthy and complicated and I will leave it to others more expert on Medicaid than myself to explain them.
Federal payments to the states through Medicaid or any other program for Planned Parenthood would be prohibited.

High-Risk Pools: The State Innovation Grant And Stability Program

The bill would establish a “State Innovation Grant and Stability Program,” beginning in 2018. States could use funding from this program for a variety of initiatives such as high risk pools, reinsurance programs, programs to subsidize providers for direct provision of care or to reduce cost sharing, or programs to promote access to preventive services. Beginning in 2020, states would have to apply for the funding, but an application would be deemed approved within 60 days of submission if not acted on and, once an application is approved, it would be deemed reapproved each year through 2026. It is not wholly clear how the funds would be distributed before 2020, but apparently no application is necessary.
The bill would appropriate $15 billion for the program for calendar years 2018 and 2019, and $10 billion a year for the following calendar years through 2026. The money would be allocated among the states using a formula that is based for 2018 and 2019 on relative marketplace participation and premium costs for each state, and thereafter based on the percentage of residents of states that are below some income threshold or uninsured. (The formula for 2018 and 2019 might favor states that did not expand Medicaid because individuals with incomes between 100 and 138 percent of the poverty level would be in the exchanges rather than on Medicaid). States would have to match the federal contributions at a rate initially set at 7 percent for 2020, increasing to 50 percent by 2026.

Continuous Coverage Requirement

A continuous coverage requirement in the individual and small group markets would begin with plan year 2019, or 2018 for special enrollments. Premiums would increase by 30 percent for twelve months for individuals who had a gap in creditable coverage of at least 63 continuous days during the preceding 12 months (or, for people leaving dependent coverage, who did not enroll during the first available open enrollment period). The legislation does not seem to allow preexisting conditions exclusions or health status underwriting, rather only imposing a premium penalty on people who do not maintain continuous coverage.
The bill would end the ACA’s essential health benefit definition as of the end of 2019 and allow states to define EHB beginning with plan year 2020. Premiums would be allowed to vary by a 5 to 1 ratio, rather than 3 to 1 as under the ACA. Verification of special enrollment period eligibility would be enhanced. The bill would extend indefinitely ACA non-compliant individual and small group plans that were allowed to continue under the 2013 transitional plan guidance, recently extended; it also apparently allows insurers to offer these plans to new enrollees and not just to renew them for current enrollees.

Cost-Sharing Reduction Payments And Tax Credits

The bill would end the ACA’s cost-sharing reduction payments at the end of 2019. It would extend the ACA’s premium tax credit provisions through the end of 2019 but modifying the tax credits to:
  • Allow their use for ACA-compliant off-exchange plans after 2017. Credits for off-exchange coverage could only be claimed at tax filing time and not as advance tax credits.
  • Allow their use for catastrophic plans for which individuals were otherwise eligible.
  • Prohibit their use to cover premiums of plans that cover non-Hyde amendment abortions—abortions for which federal funding in other programs would be prohibited by the Hyde amendment—although insurers could sell separate abortion coverage).
  • Change the formula for determining the percentage of income that individuals must spend on premiums before receiving tax credits to decrease the percentage for younger individuals and increase it for older individuals.
The bill would create a new age-adjusted, fixed-dollar tax credit beginning with 2020 amounting to
  • $2,000 for individuals under 30;
  • $2,500 for those ages 30 to 40;
  • $3,000 for those ages 40 to 50;
  • $3,500 for those ages 50 to 60; and
  • $4,000 for those over 60.
The total tax credit for a tax family would be capped at $14,000 or the amount available for the five oldest individuals in the family. The tax credit would only be available for individual coverage (including, apparently, short-term coverage but not excepted benefits) or unsubsidized COBRA continuation coverage that does not cover non-Hyde amendment abortions. It would not be available to persons eligible for employer coverage (regardless of affordability or adequacy) or a government program. It also would only be available to U.S. citizens or nationals or a limited class of lawful aliens.
The tax credits would be adjusted for inflation. It would be advanceable, payable to health insurers on a monthly basis. Persons whose tax credit exceeded the cost of their coverage could have the excess deposited in their HSA. However, most older people, and even younger people in some parts of the country, would have to supplement the tax credits substantially out of their own pockets to afford coverage. Older enrollees could face premiums five times as high as younger enrollees, but only receive tax credits twice as high. Insurers would be required to report to the IRS and to covered individuals information on advance payments received.

Repeal Of Individual Mandate Penalty And ACA Tax Provisions

The bill would zero out the penalties for the individual and employer mandate. It would repeal the taxes imposed by the ACA, including:
  • The Cadillac plan tax.
  • The exclusion of coverage for over-the-counter medication from tax-subsidized accounts such as HSAs.
  • Limitations on contributions to flexible spending accounts.
  • The tax on prescription medications.
  • The medical device tax.
  • The health insurance tax.
  • The tanning tax.
  • The Medicare surcharge and Medicare tax on unearned income for high-income taxpayers. as
The bill would also allow deductibility of medical expenses above 7.5 percent of income instead of 10 percent as under the ACA. The penalty imposed on expenditure of HSA funds for non-medical purposes would be reduced from 20 to 10 percent.
The taxes are repealed as of the end of 2016, except for the medical device tax, which extends through 2017. In 2015, the CBO estimated that the repeal of these taxes would result in the loss of over a trillion dollars in revenue over ten years. The repeal of the Medicare taxes would provide $2.6 billion in tax cuts per year for the 400 highest income taxpayers, $7 million each.

Limit On The Employer-Sponsored Insurance Tax Exclusion

The bill would add to the taxable income of employees, beginning after 2019, the cost of employer group coverage that exceeds the “annual limitation.” For 2019, that amount would equal the 90th percentile cost for premiums for self-only employer coverage; the amount would be adjusted for inflation thereafter based on consumer price index (CPI) increases plus 2 percentage points. (This means that the employer-sponsored coverage subject to tax could ratchet up quite quickly if health care cost inflation exceeds this amount) Employer contributions to HSAs, MSAs, long-term care, and oral or vision coverage would not be subject to the tax; neither would coverage for law-enforcement personnel, firefighters, or emergency responders. The deduction for coverage for self-employed persons would be subject to similar limits.

Liberalization Of Tax Benefits From HSA Contributions

The amount that taxpayers could shelter from taxes in annual HSA contributions would be increased to the amount of the HSA out-of-pocket limit, more than doubling the current limit. HSA requirements would also be loosened to allow both spouses to make catch-up contributions to the same health savings account and for HSA coverage for medical expenses incurred before the establishment of an HSA.

Other Provisions

The bill would end the Prevention and Public Health Fund as of 2018 and rescind all unobligated funds after that date. It would provide $285 million for FY 2018 for community health centers, far less than the ACA provided initially. The bill would also repeal the small business tax credit after 2019.
Further limits would be placed on funding of non-Hyde amendment abortions in certain benefits and programs.

Future Hurdles And The Funding Question

As stated at the outset, these provisions may very well change before we see a final bill; indeed, they may have changed already. It is also hard to see how some of these provisions, such as the changes in essential health benefits or age rating, would survive budget reconciliation limitations in the Senate. It is also likely that some provisions of the bill would be rejected by House conservatives or moderate Senate Republicans, and most of the bill would certainly be rejected by Democrats.
The biggest question posed by the draft is how Congress proposes funding it. The bill would give up all of the taxes that funded the ACA, yet would provide tax credits, albeit less generous than the ACA’s, to millions of additional individuals. The only real revenue in the bill is the tax on generous employer plans. It simply does not seem to add up, but the CBO will soon tell us whether it does or not.

Money controls Republican Candidate for State Superintendent in what was supposed to be a nonpartisan race.

Big business wants to turn our children's education into a money making business for charters, private/religious schools, and virtual/online schools, and from what I've seen so far, there money is talking. 

In fact, the right-wing candidates weren’t shy about the influence of big business/big money. It's a stunning admission:
Former candidate John Humphries said the two (Lowell Holtz) met after speaking to "business leaders," who Humphries declined to identify. Holtz said,"It’s true that a number of business people asked us to get together and discuss options for working together" Holtz proposed a guaranteed, three-year, $150,000 job with the Department of Public Instruction should one of them (win).
After a freedom of information request, One Wisconsin Now turned over a few revealing emails from Holtz:
AP: State superintendent candidate Lowell Holtz sent an email detailing his support among Republicans and soliciting campaign advice using his Whitnall Public School account during a school day, an apparent violation of Wisconsin law.
Check out this interesting "big money" business name in one of the illegal emails:
Using the subject line of "What do you think? I have her e-mail address" Holtz sent the draft of a message he addressed to someone named Diane. Holtz does not identify her by last name and he did not respond to an email asking if the person he was referring to was billionaire Republican donor Diane Hendricks, of Beloit. Her spokeswoman also did not respond to an email asking whether she received such a message from Holtz.

Holtz also wrote that former Republican Rep. Don Pridemore put him in touch with Matt Batzel, who trains conservative activists through the national group American Majority ... Holtz wrote that Batzel suggested that he contact Diane to "share some of your expertise and advice with our committee."
What is supposed to be a nonpartisan race, well, forget that:
In the email, Holtz describes being supported conservative Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Republican state Rep. Jim Ott. Holtz's wife wrote back and suggested not mentioning Vos: "Fitzgerald seems to be more well liked in the republican camp," she said.
But Holtz's support from Don Pridemore, a former candidate himself for the state superintendent job, should be a warning to voters everywhere. I wrote this in a previous post... 

...Here, Pridemore rips the new common core standards in our public schools, claiming they're part of a European plot to dumb down America for competitive reasons. Why would they do that? Pridemore says it's all coming from the UN, and guys like Bill Ayers. Would I kid you? You'll laugh, cry, and vote Tony Evers. From WKOW's Capitol City Sunday with Greg Nuemann:

Pridemore: "So if you were any other country in the world, wouldn't you want to maybe knock America down a few pegs or two...to me, that's what's going on here, and we need to be aware of it..."

Neumann: "Where is this coming from though, in terms of you feeling like it is something that, I don't know if you want to call it a plot against America, where do you get that information?"

Pridemore: "Well it's coming from the UN. The UN I would argue has never been really a friend of America...you look at some of the left's ideas, even Bill Ayers has weighed in on education being one of the major factors in changing a country. If we can get the kids early and often with a change of ideas, America was founded on freedom, and all this detracts, ah, from that freedom."

Republican Rep. Burgess on 20 million losing health insurance: "...that's a good thing because we restored personal liberty in this country."

Republicans are just defending freedom and liberty. It's that natural born God give freedom and liberty to buy things, or not buy things. You might say freedom and liberty is based on consumer demand.
1. That's why Arizona Republicans don't have a problem with arresting protesters and seizing their property, despite being a First Amendment right, because it doesn't have anything to do with buying things.

2. That's why they hate corporate boycotts, because it's unfair and asks people not to buy things.

3. It also explains why money is speech, because it buys things. 
It all starts making sense when you see what makes them spitting mad; not being able to buy big gulps, incandescent light bulbs, guns, and now...being forced to buy health insurance! Goodbye freedom and liberty.

Even though 20 to 30 million people may lose their ability to buy health insurance once the ACA is repealed, that's not a Republican concern. What's really important is having the freedom and liberty to buy or not buy insurance, says Republican Rep. Mike Burgess of Texas::
“First off, we’re not going to send an IRS agent out to chase you down and make you buy health insurance. So if the numbers (of insured people) drop I would say that’s a good thing because we restored personal liberty in this country.”
 Burgess built his argument on Rep. Paul Ryan's original free market concept:

From the New Republic’s Brian Beutler, Ryan and Burgess got it all wrong: 
...since Obamacare’s major accomplishment was to counter those forces, and thus enable people to get health insurance, that in turn opened up whole new areas of personal freedom: the ability to take risks and get new jobs, or start new businesses, and or simply have a sense of security and peace of mind. So how exactly would it be a victory for “freedom” to pull out the rug from those who can finally buy health insurance?
MSNBC's Steve Benen took the words right out of my mouth:

Under the Republican approach, Americans can have the “personal liberty” of not receiving needed medical care. We can all be “free” to ration health services based on our individual wealth.

Ryan believes “freedom is the ability to buy what you want to fit what you need,” but the Speaker may not understand the point of insurance: we don’t always know what we’ll need, which is why we seek medical coverage in the first place.

I look forward to Republican policymakers telling countless Americans, “Your family is one serious illness away from financial ruin, and your health is at risk from treatable ailments, but look at how great your liberty is!”
Note: No matter how much sense the above positions make, you'll never hear Democrats pick up on any of these simple points and go on the offensive. Nope, it's like nothing happened.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Republicans put in motion, expanded police powers, eliminate government dissent, arrest protesters and seize property.

Trumpian heads are spinning after trying to digest two conflicting party movements. One will vilify liberal free speech on campuses, and the other will arrest protesters and seize their assets if they dare speak out against the government.

This is the wet dream vision Republican have of America. Twisted, ugly and vindictive.

What is happening in Arizona is the start of the U.S. unraveling as a country and the Constitution. But first in a related story....

End of Free Speech # 1: Education Sec. Betsy DeVos sent a chill nationwide with this Bizarro World defense of weak-kneed conservatives "victims" who are too afraid to speak out on campus:
DeVos: “Now let me ask you: How many of you are college students? The fight against the education establishment extends to you too. The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say, and more ominously, what to think. They say that if you voted for Donald Trump, you’re a threat to the university community. But the real threat is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree.”
End of Free Speech # 2: This is how liberty dies? What's happening in Arizona is breathtaking and scary, signaling in the beginning of the end of our country or the Republican Party. Treating government protesters like organized crime members...is something I never thought I'd see, and I was there in the 60's:

Arizona Senate votes to seize assets of those who plan, participate in protests that turn violent: Claiming people are being paid to riot, Republican state senators voted to give police new power to arrest anyone who is involved in a peaceful demonstration that may turn bad — even before anything actually happened.

SB1142 expands the state’s racketeering laws, now aimed at organized crime, to also include rioting. And it redefines what constitutes rioting to include actions that result in damage to the property of others.

But the real heart of the legislation is giving the government the right to criminally prosecute and seize the assets of everyone who planned a protest and everyone who participated. And what’s worse, said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, is that the person who may have broken a window, triggering the claim there was a riot, might actually not be a member of the group but someone from the other side ... sometimes what’s planned as a peaceful demonstration can go south.

But Sen. John Kavanagh (R) said that chilling effect is aimed at a very specific group of protesters.“You now have a situation where you have full-time, almost professional agent-provocateurs that attempt to create public disorder. A lot of them are ideologues, some of them are anarchists. But this stuff is all planned.’’

By including rioting in racketeering laws, it actually permits police to arrest those who are planning events and Kavanagh, a former police officer, said if there are organized groups, “I should certainly hope that our law enforcement people have some undercover people there.’’
 “Wouldn’t you rather stop a riot before it starts? Do you really want to wait until people are injuring each other, throwing Molotov cocktails, picking up barricades and smashing them through businesses in downtown Phoenix?’’

Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, said “I have been heartsick with what’s been going on in our country, what young people are being encouraged to do. If they get thrown in jail, somebody pays to get them out. There has to be something to deter them from that.’’
The "unintended consequences?"
The legislation does far more ... such a broad law could end up being used against some of their allies. For example, a “Tea Party’’ group wanting to protest a property tax hike might get permits, publicize the event and have a peaceful demonstration. “And one person, possibly from the other side, starts breaking the windows of a car. And all of a sudden the organizers of that march, the local Tea Party, are going to be under indictment from the county attorney in the county that raised those property taxes. That will have a chilling effect on anybody, right or left, who wants to protest something the government has done.’’

Sen. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix, said the whole legislation is based on a false premise of how disturbances happen. “This idea that people are being paid to come out and do that? I’m sorry, but I think that is fake news.’’

Sen. Andrea Dalessandro, D-Green Valley, had her own concerns. “I’m fearful that ‘riot’ is in the eyes of the beholder and that this bill will apply more strictly to minorities and people trying to have their voice heard."
And guess what happened...
The 17-13 party-line vote sends the bill to the House.

Tea Party Protesters Paid for by Americans for Prosperity...Projection?

How ridiculous can desperate Trumpian Republican be, claiming the massive nationwide demonstrations are the result of paid protesters. That's one hefty expense for George Soros, who said has not directly funded any of them. 

Projection: Projection is the one major theme that runs through my blog. They've got it bad. Take their latest projection; the women's protest and town halls are filled with paid Trump protesters! Funny, they might be thinking back to when they collected a paycheck or got special interest funding for material and bus rides. Here a picture of conservative radio host Vicki McKenna at a protest paid for by Americans for Prosperity back in 2011 in Madison defending Scott Walker's union busting Act 10. You can't help but notice the sign on the podium?

Could it be any clearer? Yes, the Koch Brother's Americans for Prosperity funded the tea party. Any questions? 

There were statewide bus tours of protesters funded by AFP as well, like the two shown here, to jazz up the sparse crowds. 

 From Raw Story, this confirmation from reporter Jane Mayer:
Perhaps the greatest irony about the “paid protester” line echoed by many in the GOP is that the Tea Party itself benefited from big-money backers, despite its self-styled image as a popular uprising against government overreach. As the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reported in 2010, Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers’ political advocacy group, coordinated with the Tea Party in 2009, disseminating talking points, funding protests, and cultivating candidates. Meaning the people who participated in Tea Party protests were, knowingly or not, furthering the Kochs’ political agenda.
Here's a condensed version of Mayer's report:
The advocacy wing of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation—an organization that David Koch started, in 2004—held a different kind of gathering. Over the July 4th weekend, a summit called Texas Defending the American Dream ... 500 people attended the summit, which served, in part, as a training session for Tea Party activists in Texas. 

An advertisement cast the event as a populist uprising against vested corporate power. Peggy Venable—a longtime political operative who draws a salary from Americans for Prosperity, explained that the role of Americans for Prosperity was to help “educate” Tea Party activists on policy details, and to give them “next-step training” after their rallies, so that their political energy could be channeled “more effectively.” 

And she noted that Americans for Prosperity had provided Tea Party activists with lists of elected officials to target. She said of the Kochs, “They’re certainly our people. David’s the chairman of our board. I’ve certainly met with them, and I’m very appreciative of what they do.” 

In the weeks before the first Tax Day protests, in April, 2009, Americans for Prosperity hosted a Web site offering supporters “Tea Party Talking Points.” The Arizona branch urged people to send tea bags to Obama; the Missouri branch urged members to sign up for “Taxpayer Tea Party Registration” and provided directions to nine protests. Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist and a historian, said the Kochs are “trying to shape and control and channel the populist uprising into their own policies.”

A Republican campaign consultant who has done research on behalf of Charles and David Koch said of the Tea Party, “The Koch brothers gave the money that founded it. It’s like they put the seeds in the ground. Then the rainstorm comes, and the frogs come out of the mud—and they’re our candidates!”

Trump not fooling all the people...yet!

One month into the Trump years is unsettling enough, but having to worry about the Trump/Bannon campaign to deconstruct government is eternally depressing. But there's a lot of time for their lies to take hold. PPP

On the brighter side, people don't seem to be the willing dupes most Trump supporters are:
ACA: For the first time ever in our polling we now find an outright majority of Americans in favor of the Affordable Care Act- 50% support it to only 38% who are opposed. Only 33% of voters think the best path forward on the ACA is outright repeal, while 61% think it should be kept with whatever needs to be fixed in it being fixed.

Russia/Putin/Flynn: By a 58/29 spread, voters want an independent investigation into Russia's involvement in the 2016 election and its ties to Michael Flynn. Russia (12/61 favorability) and Vladimir Putin (8/73 favorability) continue to be extremely unpopular with Americans, and they want the government to get to the bottom of their interference in our affairs.

Dodging Town Halls: Members of Congress who dodge open town hall meetings may be opening themselves up to trouble with their constituents. 81% of voters think they ought to hold town halls, to only 5% who think their members of Congress should avoid them. That includes overwhelming majorities of Democrats (88/2), independents (81/2), and Republicans (73/11) who think members of Congress should make themselves available to the public in that way.

Ryan/McConnell Down: Mitch McConnell (25/45 approval) and Paul Ryan (37/43 approval) are both unpopular, and Democrats hold a 46/43 lead on the generic Congressional ballot.

Trump Conflict of Interest and Tax Returns: 61% of voters think he needs to release his tax returns, to only 33% who don't think it's necessary for him to. In fact by a 57/32 spread, voters would support a law requiring Presidential candidates to release 5 years of their tax returns to even appear on the ballot. Concerns about Trump's business conflicts remain as well- 62% think he needs to fully divest from his business interests, to only 29% who don't think it's necessary for him to.
The surreal Trump spokespeople are scary, Campaign Mode Bad, Impeachment and Right to Protest...:
Steve Bannon (19/42 favorability), Kellyanne Conway (33/46 favorability), and Sean Spicer (32/37 favorability) are all seen in a negative light.

Trump's campaign style rally in Florida last week did not come off well with voters- only 39% think he should continue to hold campaign rallies as President, to 51% who say he should not. Despite Trump's repeated claims of having won the most electoral votes since Ronald Reagan most voters aren't buying that- only 19% think he had the biggest win since Reagan to 58% who say he didn't. Trump's voters do buy the lie though- 43% of them think he had the biggest win since Reagan.

We find this week that support for impeaching Trump is at 41%, with 46% of voters opposed to impeachment. 70% of voters think it should be legal to protest Trump, to 21% who think protesting Trump should be illegal. Among Trump's voters it's closer with 51% thinking protesting the President should be legal to 38% who say they think it should be illegal.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Republicans Suffered the following Obama Disasters....

The Republican was to stop everything Obama tried to do as president, which makes the following list pretty amazing: 

When Trump Voters Say They “Suffered For 8 Years Under Obama,” Here’s The Perfect Response. Copy & paste to share. I hope you will.
So let me ask: Gays and Lesbians can now marry and enjoy the benefits they had been deprived of. Has this caused your suffering?

When Obama took office, the Dow was 6,626. Now it is 19,875. Has this caused your suffering?

We had 82 straight months of private sector job growth – the longest streak in the history of the United States. Has this caused your suffering?

Especially considering where the economy was when he took over, an amazing 11.3 million new jobs were created under President Obama (far more than President Bush). Has this caused your suffering?

Obama has taken Unemployment from 10% down to 4.7%. Has this caused your suffering?

Homelessness among US Veterans has dropped by half. Has this caused your suffering?

Obama shut down the US secret overseas prisons. Has this caused your suffering?

President Obama has created a policy for the families of fallen soldiers to have their travel paid for to be there when remains are flown home. Has this caused your suffering?

We landed a rover on Mars. Has this caused your suffering?

He passed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Has this caused your suffering?

Uninsured adults has decreased to below 10%: 90% of adults are insured – an increase of 20 Million Adults. Has this caused your suffering?

People are now covered for pre-existing conditions. Has this caused your suffering?

Insurance Premiums increased an average of $4,677 from 2002-2008, an increase of 58% under Bush. The growth of these insurance premiums has gone up $4,145 – a slower rate of increase. Has this caused your suffering?

Obama added Billions of dollars to mental health care for our Veterans. Has this caused your suffering?

Consumer confidence has gone from 37.7 to 98.1 during Obama’s tenure. Has this caused your suffering?

He passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Has this caused your suffering?

His bi-annual Nuclear Summit convinced 16 countries to give up and destroy all their loose nuclear material so it could not be stolen. Has this caused your suffering?

He saved the US Auto industry. American cars sold at the beginning of his term were 10.4M and upon his exit 17.5M. Has this caused your suffering?

The deficit as a percentage of the GDP has gone from 9.8% to 3.2%. Has this caused your suffering?

The deficit itself was cut by $800 Billion Dollars. Has this caused your suffering?

Obama preserved the middle class tax cuts. Has this caused your suffering?

Obama banned solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons. Has this caused your suffering?

He signed Credit Card reform so that rates could not be raised without you being notified. Has this caused your suffering?

He outlawed Government contractors from discriminating against LGBT persons. Has this caused your suffering?

He doubled Pell Grants. Has this caused your suffering?

Abortion is down. Has this caused your suffering?

Violent crime is down. Has this caused your suffering?

He overturned the scientific ban on stem cell research. Has this caused your suffering?

He protected Net Neutrality. Has this caused your suffering?

Obamacare has extended the life of the Medicare insurance trust fund (will be solvent until 2030). Has this caused your suffering?

President Obama repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Has this caused your suffering?

He banned torture. Has this caused your suffering?

He negotiated with Syria to give up its chemical weapons and they were destroyed. Has this caused your suffering?

Solar and Wind Power are at an all time high. Has this caused your suffering?

High School Graduation rates hit 83% – an all time high. Has this caused your suffering?

Corporate profits are up by 144%. Has this caused your suffering?

He normalized relations with Cuba. Has this caused your suffering?

Reliance on foreign oil is at a 40 year low. Has this caused your suffering?

US Exports are up 28%. Has this caused your suffering?

He appointed the most diverse cabinet ever. Has this caused your suffering?

He reduced the number of troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Has this caused your suffering?

Yes, he killed Osama Bin Laden and retrieved all the documents in his possession for analysis. Perhaps THIS caused your suffering?

Things are not perfect. Things can always be better. I look forward to understanding what caused you to suffer so much under Obama these last eight years.”

Alt-Right Liberal Fascism? Fake History's Alternative Facts rolled out at CPAC!

The alt-right's effortless fit into the Trumpian Party has Republicans concerned, even as they churn out racist, bigoted and misogynistic apparel their voters wear with pride.

Following Scott Walker's declaration that "noisy' government protesters should be ignored, American Conservative Union's Dan Schneider tried to blame the alt-rights hold on the Republican Party to "garden variety left-wing fascists"...ah, it's there in the name, alt-RIGHT, right????

Schneider also made it seem like the term "alt-right" has been around for years, and that it was suddenly stolen by white nationalists...only if late 2008 was a longgggg time ago:
Schneider: "This hate filled left-wing fascist group hijacked the very term 'alt-right.' That term, alt-right, had been used for a long time in a very good and normal way. but this group had hijacked it. Hijacked the term. And they did it intentionally because they wanted to deceive the media, and they wanted to deceive you all and what they stand for..." 
Wiki: In November 2008, Paul Gottfried addressed the H. L. Mencken Club about what he called "the alternative right". In 2009, two more posts at Taki's Magazine, by Patrick J. Ford and Jack Hunter, further discussed the alternative right. The term, however, is most commonly attributed to Richard B. Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute and founder of Alternative Right.
Fast forward to today, at CPAC...which brings me to Dan Schneider's feeble attempt to rebrand the alt-right as "garden variety left-wing fascists ... worming its way into the conservative movement:"
Shortly before White nationalist leader Richard Spencer was escorted away, Schneider made a puzzling argument: The alt-right and its band of Nazi sympathizers were actually a product of the left. “They are nothing but garden variety left-wing fascists,” he said. 

The American Conservative Union’s Dan Schneider denounced him and members of his movement. In a speech titled “The Alt Right Ain’t Right At All,” Schneider said Spencer and his colleagues were part of a “sinister organization” that is trying to “worm its way” into the conservative movement. “They are racists. They are sexists. They hate the Constitution. They hate everything we believe in. They are not an extension of conservatism,” Schneider said.

Schneider: "They are not an extension of conservatism, they are not what Gov. Walker...talked about. They are nothing but garden variety left-wing fascists. (applause) Some in the media are wondering what I mean by left-wing fascists..."

Yes we are. And you didn't make the case.