Congratulations, West Virginia

You screwed yourself good this time:

But that drop, it turns out, is even more pronounced among poor whites. Gallup-Healthways tells me that among whites without a college degree who have household incomes of under $36,000, the uninsured rate has dropped from 25 percent in 2013 to 15 percent now — a drop of 10 percentage points. It’s often noted that the law has disproportionately expanded coverage among African Americans and Latinos. That is correct, but it has also disproportionately expanded coverage among poor white people.

Now, it’s hard to know how many people we’re talking about here. But other evidence supports the idea that a lot of red state voters have gained coverage from the law. In some parts of rural Kentucky, the Medicaid expansion has greatly expanded coverage. And CBS News recently reported that even some Republican officials in the GOP-led states that expanded Medicaid are not prepared to see that evaporate. Gallup-Healthways numbers also show that the drop in the uninsured rate has outpaced the national average in some red states that have expanded Medicaid, like Kentucky, Arkansas, and West Virginia.

Did people benefiting from Obamacare who voted for Trump really expect repeal to happen? I think we need more reporting on this question. Yes, Trump did repeatedly say he would repeal Obamacare. But he also said he would replace it with “something terrific.” And he explicitly went out of his way to create the impression that he does not agree ideologically with Republicans who are hostile to government efforts to supply health care to those who can’t afford it.

Now, it’s always possible that many voters backed Trump in the full knowledge that their Obamacare might be repealed, for other reasons — because, for instance, he’ll supposedly bring manufacturing and coal jobs roaring back. Before long, those voters will learn whether their bet was a well-placed one. It’s also possible that Trump will surprise us all and insist on some kind of replacement that somehow preserves much of Obamacare’s coverage expansion. And a kick-the-can-down-the-road scenario which keeps deferring the harshest fallout from repeal is also a possibility.

About those jobs:

After campaigning as a champion of coal miners, Donald Trump is reportedly close to choosing for commerce secretary a New York billionaire who owned a West Virginia mine where a dozen miners were killed in 2006. Trump’s favored candidate, Wilbur Ross, also engineered buyouts that cost workers their benefits and their jobs. It’s a striking choice, considering Trump’s promises to improve the lives of coal miners and other working-class Americans.

Ross made his money collecting “distressed assets”—failing steel and textile mills in the Midwest and South, and coal mines in Appalachia. Dubbed the “the King of Bankruptcy,” Ross cut jobs, wages, pensions, and health benefits at the companies he acquired, and reaped the profits. In the early 2000s, Ross’s foray into the steel industry netted him a $267 million personal windfall, but stripped health-care benefits from more than 150,000 retired steelworkers. Then he moved on to the coal industry, at one point controlling as much as $1.2 billion in coal assets through his company, the International Coal Group.

I’m sure he has miners best interests at heart. Oh, about those miners:

Again and again, President-elect Donald Trump presented himself as the coal miners’ candidate. During the campaign, he promised to bring coal back into the economy, and jobs back into struggling Appalachian towns.

But now some in coal country are worried that instead of helping, Trump’s first actions will deprive miners — and their widows and children — of the compensation they can receive if they are disabled by respiratory problems linked to breathing coal mine dust.

That’s because buried in the Affordable Care Act are three sentences that made it much easier to access these benefits. If Trump repeals Obamacare — as he vowed to do before the election — and does not keep that section on the books, the miners will be back to where they were in 2009, when it was exceedingly difficult to be awarded compensation for “black lung” disease.

And just how many people fucked themselves? Kthug runs the numbers:

As Greg Sargent points out, the choice of Tom Price for HHS probably means the death of Obamacare. Never mind the supposed replacement; it will be a bust. So here’s the question: how many people just shot themselves in the face?
My first pass answer is, between 3.5 and 4 million. But someone who’s better at trawling through Census data can no doubt do better.

Here’s my calculation: we start with the Census-measured decline in uninsurance among non-Hispanic whites, which was 6 million between 2013 and 2015. Essentially all of those gains will be lost if Price gets his way.

How many of those white insurance-losers voted for Trump? Whites in general gave him 57 percent of their votes. Whites without a college degree — much more likely to have been uninsured pre-Obama — gave him 66 percent. Apportioning the insurance-losers using these numbers gives us 3.42 million if we use the overall vote share, or 3.96 million if we use the non-college vote share.

There are various ways this calculation could be off, in either direction. Also, maybe we should add a million Latinos who, if we believe the exit polls, also voted to lose coverage. But it’s likely to be in the ballpark. And it’s pretty awesome.

Just give dad some robitussin and a Make America Great Again hat, you stupid, stupid people. I mean I feel horrible, but they voted for it. Not just for Trump. All of Appalachia is red, red, red and they’ve been voting this way for a while. There are no Democrats save Joe Manchin left to blame.

And they are still coming for you social security, you stupid bastards.

disabilitymap

1. West Virginia
> Pct. of working age population with benefits: 9.0%
> Pct. with recurring neck and back pain: 39.0% (the highest)
> 2011 labor force participation rate: 54.1% (the lowest)
> 2011 unemployment rate: 7.8% (23rd lowest)

No state had a higher percentage of working age people receiving SSDI benefits than West Virginia. In addition, the benefits received from by the federal government were more generous compared to most states. The average monthly benefit of more than $1,140 in 2011 was the 10th highest of all states. Almost 21% of recipients received monthly benefits of at least $1,600, a higher percentage than all but three states. Like most states on this list, West Virginia is among the less-educated states in the country. Just 18.5% of the adult population had a bachelor’s degree, the lowest percentage of all states. Also, few residents in the state had jobs. Just 54.1% of residents were considered part of the labor force in 2011, by far the lowest percentage of any state in the nation.

And those who aren’t on disability are just plain elderly and receiving social security benefits:

elderly

On top of all of this, some lady had some idea about revitalizing the region:

Hillary Clinton is committed to meeting the climate change challenge as President and making the United States a clean energy superpower. At the same time, she will not allow coal communities to be left behind—or left out of our economic future. That’s why Clinton announced a $30 billion plan to ensure that coal miners and their families get the benefits they’ve earned and respect they deserve, to invest in economic diversification and job creation, and to make coal communities an engine of US economic growth in the 21st century as they have been for generations.

She also had some thoughts about social security and medicare you can read about here:

Defend Social Security against Republican attacks. Republicans are using scare tactics about the future and effectiveness of Social Security to push through policies that would jeopardize it. The real threat is Republican attempts to undermine the bedrock of the system. Hillary believes that Social Security must remain what it has always been: a rock-solid benefit that seniors can always count on—not subject to the budget whims of Congress or to the fluctuations of the stock market. She fought Republican efforts to undermine Social Security when she was a senator and throughout her career, and she will fight them as president.

As president, Hillary will:

Fight Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act made preventive care available and affordable for an estimated 39 million people with Medicare and saved more than 9 million people with Medicare thousands of dollars in prescription drug expenses. Read more here.

Fight back against Republican plans to privatize or “phase out” Medicare as we know it. Republicans have called for privatizing or even “phasing out” Medicare and shifting millions more seniors into private plans that would dramatically raise costs. Hillary will stand against these attempts to weaken the program. Read more here.

You stupid, stupid, stupid people. And there honestly is no real way to stop this. You’ve given them majority rule over EVERYTHING. All Democrats can do is scream. I don’t know if there is even any real point to calling Manchin. He won’t get in the way of any nominees https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2016/11/29/obamacare-is-probably-toast-and-a-lot-of-poor-white-trump-voters-will-get-hurt/?utm_term=.cba0274e91fe. Hell, he’ll probably vote to confirm Sessions and Price, then they will gut medicare, and the WV voters in their infinite wisdom will vote for his Republican opponent in 2018 because they will punish incumbents because they are angry and we’ll have a completely red delegation who will just give them more of the same. It’s sad and hysterical at the same time.

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t keep them from pissing in it and then drowning themselves in the urine.



Distributional Impacts of Price Plan (Reprise)

Now that we know Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) will be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services, it would be a good idea to look at the mechanics of his Obamacare Repeal and Replace bill. We did this in 2015 for HR2300 and I am reprinting the post on distributional impacts below. The mechanics of the plan are described in this post:

TLDR: The plan is good if you are healthy and wealthy as there are a ton of tax breaks and tax shelter expansions through HSA expansions. If you are chronically ill or poor, you are significantly worse off. And now for the moldy oldie:
Read more



Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way to Screw the American People

monopoly1

Donald Trump, the GOP, and his wealthy backers had a real problem. On December 1st, an Obama administration rule that would expand by multiple millions of people the number of those who were eligible to receive overtime pay up to those who earn $47,500 a year was set to start:

In 2014, President Obama directed the Secretary of Labor to update the overtime regulations to reflect the original intent of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and to simplify and modernize the rules so they’re easier for workers and businesses to understand and apply. The department has issued a final rule that will put more money in the pockets of middle class workers – or give them more free time.

The final rule will:

– Raise the salary threshold indicating eligibility from $455/week to $913 ($47,476 per year), ensuring protections to 4.2 million workers.

– Automatically update the salary threshold every three years, based on wage growth over time, increasing predictability.

– Strengthen overtime protections for salaried workers already entitled to overtime.

– Provide greater clarity for workers and employers.

The final rule will become effective on December 1, 2016, giving employers more than six months to prepare. The final rule does not make any changes to the duties test for executive, administrative and professional employees.

The Republicans did not want this to go into effect, because if it did, they would find it difficult to repeal on 20 January, because even the American people are not dumb enough to notice their overtime being cut just two months after they started to receive it.

Fortunately for the Republicans, this just happened:

A Texas judge blocked President Obama’s bid to expand overtime pay protections to millions of Americans on Tuesday, thwarting a key presidential priority just days before it was set to take effect.

The Labor Department rule would have doubled the salary level at which hourly workers must be paid extra for overtime pay, from $23,660 to $47,476. Siding with business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Texas District Judge Amos L. Mazzant III halted it.

The rule, finalized in May, represented the first such change in more than a decade and was hailed at the time as the most consequential action the Obama administration could take for middle-class workers without congressional involvement.

And with that, a significant payraise to millions of voters, economically anxious and otherwise, was strangled in the crib, and no fingerprints were left behind. Come January 20, Trump, Paul Ryan, and the coterie of wealthy industrialists and banksters who run this nation will quietly rescind the rule change, and no one will even know it ever existed.

America, fuck yeah!



Gimme Brains for Breakfast Baby

Jump

Holy shit, Senator Elizabeth Warren apparently murdered a bankster in the Senate today:

I’m honest to goodness physically aroused.



Yet another distributional analysis

The Hill has “details” on the latest “plan”-like scribblings of the Republican policy “wonks” on healthcare. There is one thing I want to look at before I start my morning coffee:

The core of the plan is a $2,500 tax credit that any citizen would be eligible for and use to purchase health insurance. The lawmakers say this gives flexibility to people, whether they get employer-based insurance or not, to more directly control their healthcare spending, for example by using a health savings account.

I’m looking at one of the sponsor’s web pages and I get very few more “details”

every American citizen is eligible to claim a $2,500 tax benefit as well as a $1,500 tax benefit per dependent minor. This benefit can be assigned to an employer, transferred to a Roth Health Savings Account, or advanced for annual distribution. With this benefit, individuals and families now have the freedom to use pretax dollars to plan and save for their health care futures.

Let’s look at the distributional consequences of this type of policy.

For people who make under 200% of FPL, pre-tax dollars aren’t too valuable as most of their dollars are minimally taxed.  For people making six figures and only have a kid or two at most, pre-tax dollars are fairly valuable as they are facing a much higher explicit marginal rate.  Worrying about pre-tax dollars is overwhelmingly an upper middle class to affluent problem.

More importantly it is the flat subsidy.

$208 a month is a decent subsidy.  In some regions that will buy the equivalent of a Silver plan with absolutely no out of pocket monthly premium.  That is fine for a healthy and young individual (as underwriting is back with a vengeance).  There are Silver plans for 40 year old non-smokers that cost under $200.  However, that same $200 a month Silver plan with a $3,500 deductible will cost a 63 year old $450 a month.  And odds are that 63 year old will need to use their policy a lot more than the 40 year old.

Furthermore, a flat subsidy is great for people who don’t need help.  I get my insurance through my employer and the visible premium payment is roughly two hours of pay per month for a Platinum like coverage for my family.  I don’t need help.  My family does not need help.  We already have access to good, high actuarial value, affordable coverage.

Families and individuals that are not mid-career professionals and are making under median income will see a far higher percentage of their income go to post-subsidy premiums.  The poorer you are, the higher the premium percentage is for a given level of individual risk.  And that is a major problem as the people who should bear the least risk are the one’s with the fewest available resources to mobilize in an oh-shit scenario.

TLDR: Comfort the comfortable



Relief, of Sorts, For the Middle Class

In reality, it’s just enforcing a bit of fairness:

The Department of Labor on Wednesday will finalize a rule extending overtime protections to 4.2 million more Americans currently not eligible under federal law, boosting wages by $12 billion over the next 10 years, the White House said Tuesday evening.

The updated rule, which takes effect Dec. 1 and doubles the salary threshold below which workers automatically qualify for time-and-a-half wages to $47,476 from $23,660 a year, or from $455 to $913 a week. Hourly workers are generally guaranteed overtime pay regardless of what they make.

“We’re strengthening our overtime pay rules to make sure millions of Americans’ hard work is rewarded,” President Obama said in a statement. “If you work more than 40 hours a week, you should get paid for it or get extra time off to spend with your family and loved ones.”

One of those Americans, Obama said, is Elizabeth Paredes, a single mom from Tucson, Arizona, who works as an assistant manager at a sandwich shop. “Elizabeth sometimes worked as many as 70 hours a week,without a dime of overtime pay,” Obama said. “So Elizabeth wrote to me to say how hard it is to build a bright future for her son. And she’s not alone.”

$12 billion over ten years is real money, and could be a game changer for a lot of people.



Insert Clever Title About Glacial Speed

Seriously- that was quick:

The Panama Papers leaks apparently resulted in a political casualty Tuesday when Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned.

Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, the deputy chair of the Progressive Party, announced Gunnlaugsson’s resignation Tuesday on Iceland’s national public service broadcaster RUV.

Gunnlaugsson had been under intense pressure to step down since leaked documents hacked from a Panamanian law firm revealed his links to an offshore company, triggering mass protests in the capital.

Senior political figures in the Nordic nation have been holding emergency talks amid fallout from the Panama Papers leaks.
Critics said the revelations surrounding the offshore company, which allegedly had holdings in Iceland’s collapsed banks, shattered public confidence in Gunnlaugsson’s leadership and could harm the country’s international reputation.

Hee’s a decent explainer of the Panama Papers. this being an election year, I would be remiss if I did not add this:

The Panama Papers leak, that reveals how the rich and powerful rely on a secretive law firm to hide their wealth in tax havens, has drawn attention to a 2011 speech by Senator Bernie Sanders against the Panama-United States Trade Promotion Agreement, which became law in 2012. He noted that Panama’s entire economic output at the time was so low that the pact seemed unlikely to benefit American workers. The real reason for the agreement, Sanders argued, is that “Panama is a world leader when it comes to allowing wealthy Americans and large corporations to evade taxes.” Sanders said the trade agreement “will make this bad situation much worse.” We get reaction from Michael Hudson, senior editor at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which published the Panama Papers, and Frederik Obermaier, investigative reporter at Germany’s leading newspaper, the Munich-based Süddeutsche Zeitung. He is co-author of the book “Panama Papers: The Story of a Worldwide Revelation.”

This is going to end up being the international story of the year.