Good news everybody: ACA cost edition

So under budget and on projection for the target uninsured rate even with Chief Justice Roberts enabling sociopaths and assholes to stop Medicaid Expansion in 20 states.

Not bad at all….

UPDATE 1: The next time there is a massive social program passing Congress with uncertain costs, we need to put in mechanisms to take advantage of success instead of safeguards against massive cost overruns. The ACA has triggers where if the total federal cost of the advanced premium tax credit and the cost sharing reduction subsidies were more than .504% of GDP, future year individual shares would increase and the thresholds for federal subsidies would decline.
There were no mechanisms in place to say if subsidies were significant below budget that either subsidies for currently qualified individuals would get richer so their out of pocket premium expense would decline OR more people would become eligible for subsidies.

This is just a note to self to find again in 20 years.

Good news everybody

Just some more good news:

and the good news will probably continue for the first quarter of 2016:

So in 3 years, all of the data sources suggest that we’ve cut the uninsured rate in half and slowed the cost curve. There are another couple percentage points of easy gains once the rest of the Confederacy and the everyone between the Mississippi’s left bank and the Columbia’s south bank expand Medicaid.

Then we’ll actually need to take another whack to get the last 5% of the population covered AND get better coverage for 25% to 30% of the currently covered population.

Time to Show the Chair the Door?

Which is the more competent chair? I think it’s the one on the left:

dnc chair copy

The NYT has the latest on the ongoing kerfluffle between DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other party members over the number of debates:

R.T. Rybak, the former mayor of Minneapolis and a vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, on Thursday accused the party’s leader, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, of making “flat-out not true” statements about another top party officer, questioned her political skills and said he had “serious questions” about her suitability for the job.

The broadside from Mr. Rybak, which came in an interview late Thursday afternoon, followed weeks of internal party dissension over the number and timing of the presidential debates it has scheduled, capped by an acrimonious public dispute over whether Ms. Wasserman Schultz had punitively barred a Democratic vice chairwoman, Tulsi Gabbard, from the first debate, held on Tuesday in Las Vegas.

The comments from Mr. Rybak, who was interested in replacing Ms. Wasserman Schultz in 2013 and who was the favored choice of some of President Obama’s aides, were notable in part because he is not known as a public complainer. But by the evening’s end, most of the other party officers issued statements strongly supporting Ms. Wasserman Schultz and calling for an end to the public rancor.

A lot of Democrats seem to dislike DWS and blame her for the party’s lousy showing in midterm elections. I don’t — I blame the idiot voters who can’t get excited about politics unless there’s the grand reality show drama of a presidential election to make them all tingly. It’s not DWS’s fault that these short-sighted mopes stay home and allow their city councils, school boards and state legislatures to be taken over by local Sarah Palin knock-offs.

That said, DWS is annoyingly chummy with the wingnut delegation from South Florida — to the point where it’s reasonable to wonder if she’d like to see them replaced with Democrats — and hasn’t exactly distinguished herself in her current gig. At the very least, a competent chair should be able to keep a lid on infighting such as the type the NYT is covering.

Regarding the number of debates, what do you think? DWS is accused of limiting it to six to stack the deck for HRC, and maybe that’s true; I honestly don’t know. But do we really need a gazillion debates? If no one can pick Martin O’Malley out of a line-up after #6, I’m not sure further debates would help.

Absent an even more public and open revolt, it seems unlikely the party will get rid of DWS just as an important election is heating up. But maybe President Hillary or President Bernie can appoint her as HUD Secretary or something so she’ll go away and someone more effective can take on the role. Not sure who that would be, but the chair pictured at left above might be a good candidate.

One day the bottom will fall out

In the latest Republican primary poll from CNN, the clearly crazy contingent of Trump+Carson+Huckabee+Cruz totals 64% with the rest of the candidates totaling 29% (7% were unsure).

Also too, we’re nearing a government shut-down and Boehner may be ousted as speaker.

I do recognize why, after Romney and McCain won the last two GOP nominations and GOP establishment candidates did well in 2014 primaries, there are lots of smart people (e.g. everyone at 538) saying that the GOP establishment still rules the party. To me, that argument is starting to sound like the arguments that we didn’t have a housing bubble in 2008.

Many observers were talking about a housing bubble by 2005 and when there was no crash for a couple years, that was somehow proof to others that there was no bubble after all. I’d say that observers who thought that the rise of Newt/Cain/Santorum in 2012 meant something ominous for the GOP establishment were probably on to something.

Update. Okay, probably “clearly crazy” doesn’t narrow things down much among this field. Trump+Carson+Cruz+Huckabee are all candidates who frighten the GOP establishment (and rightly so).

Battle Flag Acquisition Strategies


Early this morning, I was doing some research on the endurance of corporate culture, studying how sometimes the spirit of a smaller, acquired firm can permeate the larger, acquiring organization. It’s not unusual for a big behemoth to acquire a scrappy smaller company solely for the purpose of infusing the moribund giant with fresh blood, and when the companies’ interests align, it can create an unstoppable marketplace force…for a while.

With that dynamic still on my mind, I moseyed over to Booman’s place and read a post that hit upon something that has been bothering me about the focus on the rebel flag in the wake of the domestic terrorist massacre in Charleston:

But the focus on the Confederate Flag can have an unfortunate side effect. What, after all, does that flag mean when it doesn’t simply mean white supremacy?

It’s meaning in those cases in nearly identical to the meaning of the modern conservative movement. It’s about disunion, and hostility to the federal government, and state’s rights. It’s anti-East Coast Establishment and anti-immigrant. It’s about an idealized and false past and preserving outworn and intolerant ideas. It’s about a perverse version of a highly provincial and particularized version of (predominantly) Protestant Christianity that has evolved to serve the interests of power elites in the South. It’s about an aggrieved sense of false persecution where white men are playing on the hardest difficulty setting rather than the easiest, and white Christians are as threatened as black Muslims and gays and Jews.

“Those blacks are raping our women and they have to go.”

That’s what the Confederate Flag is all about, but it’s also the basic message of Fox News and the whole Republican Party since the moment that Richard Nixon promised us law and order.

But it’s not black people who have to go.

It’s this whole Last Cause bullshit mentality that fuels our nation’s politics and lines the pockets of Ted Cruz just as surely as it has been lining the pockets of Walmart executives.

Today, maybe the governor down there had an epiphany. Maybe this massacre was the last straw. But, tomorrow, we’ll all be right back where we began with Congress acting like an occupying Confederate Army.

If we solve a symbolic problem and leave the rest untouched, then what will really change?

You can’t bury the Confederate Flag without, at the same time, burying the Conservative Movement.

Let’s get on with it.

He’s right. For many white people, the rebel flag represented moldy old myths about the antebellum South. But think about how nicely that mythology dovetailed with the lies about the pre-Civil Rights era that paleocons like Pat Buchanan tell themselves.

Like a moribund corporation, the GOP acquired Confederate culture with the Southern strategy, harnessing the racism in the South and its echo nationwide to build the present day Republican Party. That’s why Ronald Reagan launched his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi. That’s why an always-wrong, New York City-born legacy hire who is relentlessly eager to send other people’s kids off to die in glorious causes is tweeting nonsense that his ancestors would find…puzzling:

So, the rebel flag should come down in South Carolina and every other state capitol in the former Confederacy, and with surprising (to me) swiftness, it looks like it will. That will be more than a symbolic victory; it will be the partial righting of a very old wrong.

But there’s a danger in “otherizing” the South in this context. It’s not wrong to condemn its blinkered myth-making and prideful backwardness, but there’s a hazard in moral preening within and outside of Dixie, a risk of declaring a tidy victory when the dinosaurs in the state capitols of the former Confederacy finally sink into the tarpit they’ve thrashed in for 150 years.

The risk is that we’ll lose focus on the modern day “Congress acting like an occupying Confederate Army,” as Booman put it. At its core, the Southern strategy was an attempt to roll back progress by hitching the anti-New Dealers’ star to the creaky old Confederate wagon. Its organizers weren’t all or even mostly slack-jawed yokels waving rebel flags. They included a fiery libertarian business man from Phoenix, a glib B-movie pitchman who hailed from Northern Illinois and a twitchy, paranoid Quaker from California.

To achieve true victory, we have to finally drive a stake through the heart of the Southern strategy, not just the Confederacy. So let’s make expunging the rebel flag from the public square the opening salvo in a larger battle to take our country back. Yes, that’s right, TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK. With no lies and decaying myths about what that means. The flag that represents it isn’t spotless. Its founding was rooted in slavery, genocide and the oppression of women. But unlike its dying counterpart, this flag is worth saving.

Three Time Losers

I’m sure most of us have many reasons to fervently hope that whichever hairball the GOP horks up for the presidential nomination in 2016 is soundly rejected by voters. But for me, not least on that long list is the hope that a third straight drubbing at the polls might prompt the Republicans to do some serious soul-searching.

Three presidential losses in a row prompted many Democrats to sell out the New Deal and adopt the corporate-friendly DLC bullshit line. Maybe Bill Clinton had to ride the Third Way slide to two-term victory — that’s debatable. We didn’t have to be happy about it, but it was better than another Poppy Bush term or a Bob Dole presidency.

Anyhoo, in this morning’s Wake Up Sheeple thread, I mentioned that losing three presidential races in a row (please FSM, let it be so!) would be a big fucking deal for Republicans. Not everyone agreed. Valued commenter JustRuss made some excellent points in the following reply:

To a party that cared about governing, sure. But “the party” is mostly the money, and they just want the government to stay the hell out of their way. And with the IRS and EPA being starved, TPP and other trade deals in the hopper, Citizen’s United, fracking bans being overturned left and right, they’re doing fine. Sure, it would be nice to have a Bush in the White House, but they’re getting most of what they want regardless. Having a Democrat in the White House gives them someone to blame when things go sideways and is a great focus for the rage their constituents are addicted to.

I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I’m not convinced you’re right either.

Those are all great points, and if the GOP could ride the current status quo forever, I’d agree that they could just disregard presidential losses indefinitely. But I don’t think they could maintain the status quo in the face of a mounting string of losses at the presidential level, even if they managed to keep winning in mid-term and state-level elections for a while.

Presidential elections in this country (maybe everywhere else too — I don’t know) are about a lot more than a transfer of specific powers; they’ve morphed into an absurd, trillion-dollar reality show spectacle, with the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Politics is a team sport.

And people don’t like losing over and over. If it keeps happening, they swear off the sport or find another team. Oh sure, some diehards will stand with their shitty loser team through thick and thin (maybe 27% or so). But the fan base won’t have a healthy growth rate, and the less committed will slink off to sulk at home or maybe even join another bandwagon.

That’s my theory, anyway. What do you think?

Can the Kochs Deliver the Mail Better than Florida Man?

kochrepAs I mentioned in comments on a thread yesterday, the Florida mailman who landed a gyrocopter at the US Capitol to draw attention to the corrupting influence of money in politics lives in the same media market I do and had informed a local paper of his plans prior to taking off. His stunt is therefore receiving more attention and in-depth coverage here than elsewhere.

The mailman is disappointed that the national corporate media outlets are focusing almost exclusively on the security vulnerabilities his flight revealed rather than the two-page campaign finance document he prepared for each congresscritter. The local outlets, having access to the mailman and greater interest due to the regional angle, are covering the campaign finance aspect. Not in sufficient depth, but at least they aren’t ignoring it altogether. The mailman won’t let them. Read more