Reminder: The unpopular stuff was needed

Via TPM, Senator Corker (R-TN) is stating an impossibility:

“You really do have to have 60 votes to replace and you know reconciliation can create some hangover effects as we’ve seen with the health care bill itself and with the Bush tax cuts and all of that so are you better off going ahead and attempting to put something in place that will work that does away with all the negatives that exist in ACA, but builds on some of the positives?” Corker asked. “Again, President-elect Trump mentioned, I thought wisely during the campaign, that replacement and repeal should be done simultaneously.”

The negatives (mandates, reinsurance, risk adjustment, risk corridors) and the annoying (narrow networks, HMO’s, high cost sharing) were needed to make the popular stuff work (guarantee issue, community rating) work.  Definitions as to what counted as a qualified plan were needed.  Definitions as to what counts as an essential health benefit were needed.  All of the negatives were needed .  They can be tweaked and twisted.  The continual enrollment concept changes the form of a mandate but performs the same function of making going without coverage too expensive to be attractive.  The negative stuff was not put into the bill for shits and giggles.

About the only major things in the medical coverage expansion sections of the ACA that don’t need the negatives of the ACA are Medicaid expansion and the Under-26 coverage expansions.  Those are easy things that are severable from the core of the three legged stool.  One is state by state single payer and the other is an expansion of multi-payer community rated/guaranteed issue coverage.

We’ll see this refrain at least four times a week for the next four years.  Health policy is hard even if the objective is to present a patina of coverage in order to loot.  Actually providing a usable coverage expansion is harder.

 

Update 1: Victor in comments makes a very good point:

I think it is also fair to point out that most of the stuff on the revenue side was also unnecessary. The ACA can work without the employer mandate or the cadillac tax although the Cadillac tax is a good economic policy. The employer mandate was a fine rule from a fairness issue but can easily cause labor market distortions.



If His Lips Move, He’s Lying…part [n]

Donald Trump has yet to meet with the prime minister of the United Kingdom — arguably the closest ally of the United States.  He has found time to meet with representatives of Britain’s Lets-Play-Footsie-With-Fascists UKIP party including its well-dressed proto-fascist leader, Nigel Farange.

In that meeting Hair Führer focused on what really matters in the trans-Atlantic alliance.

Offshore wind farms in Scotland [h/t TPM]:

[Andy] Wigmore, who coordinated the communications effort for the push for Britain to leave the European Union, told The Express and the New York Times that Trump asked them to oppose new wind farms….

Wigmore told The Express that Trump “is dismayed that his beloved Scotland has become over-run with ugly wind farms which he believes are a blight on the stunning landscape.”

Rich guy doesn’t like looking at windmills. Rich guy manages to grasp real power. Rich guy starts f**king with other nations’ energy policy, land use decisions and the rest because…he can.

Welcome to the post policy presidency.  Trump has no idea what energy mix makes sense and he doesn’t care.  Just doesn’t like looking at turbines.  So lose the buggers, amirite!

paul_gauguin_-_the_queens_mill

Apparently, Trump’s intervention appears to have worked, sort of:

Wigmore said that Trump “did suggest that we should campaign on it” and that the conversation “spurred us in and we will be going for it,” according to the New York Times.

Going for it, in this case, meaning that a party and a leadership roundly loathed in Scotland will argle bargle pwfft or something.  But gotta stroke the ferret-heedit shitgibbon, and talk is cheap.

The lagniappe, utterly unsurprisingly, is that the default position of the Trump crowd to any challenge is to lie:

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks denied to the New York Times that Trump discussed wind farms during his meeting with Farage. When the Times told Hicks that Wigmore gave an account of the wind farm discussion, Hicks did not respond with further comment, according to the Times.

With every passing day it becomes yet more clear that there is no way that Donald Trump can handle the presidency.  With each passing day his presidency draws closer.

WASF.

Image:  Paul Gauguin, The Queen’s Mill, Østervold Park1885.



Listen To Someone Who Knows Something About The Shitgibbon’s Mentor

Masha Gessen knows from vicious fascist dictators.  Here’s what she has to say under the headline “Autocracy: Rules for Survival“:

I have lived in autocracies most of my life, and have spent much of my career writing about Vladimir Putin’s Russia. I have learned a few rules for surviving in an autocracy and salvaging your sanity and self-respect. It might be worth considering them now:

Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says….

Rule #2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.

[See Betty’s post below]

Rule #3: Institutions will not save you….

Rule #4: Be outraged

Rule #5: Don’t make compromises

Rule #6: Remember the future….

ozymandias_collossus-_ramesseum_luxor_egypt

This is one of those read-the-whole-thing deals.  Masha has lived what she’s talking about here.  I have had the good fortune to spend some evenings talking with her, and she is at once one of the sharpest, most un-bull-shit-able political thinkers I know and among the most courageous people I’ve ever met.

If you don’t have time, or, like me, have only a finite tolerance for looking straight at the beast looking back at us, here’s the short form, as stated in Rule 4:

If you follow Rule #1 and believe what the autocrat-elect is saying, you will not be surprised. But in the face of the impulse to normalize, it is essential to maintain one’s capacity for shock. This will lead people to call you unreasonable and hysterical, and to accuse you of overreacting. It is no fun to be the only hysterical person in the room. Prepare yourself.

That leads to the logic of Rule 6:

Nothing lasts forever. Donald Trump certainly will not, and Trumpism, to the extent that it is centered on Trump’s persona, will not either. Failure to imagine the future may have lost the Democrats this election. They offered no vision of the future to counterbalance Trump’s all-too-familiar white-populist vision of an imaginary past. They had also long ignored the strange and outdated institutions of American democracy that call out for reform—like the electoral college, which has now cost the Democratic Party two elections in which Republicans won with the minority of the popular vote. That should not be normal. But resistance—stubborn, uncompromising, outraged—should be.

I expect we will lose most battles for years to come. Perhaps all of them.  ETA: Fuck that noise.  The comments below decrying defeatism are right.  We’re going to win a bunch.  Not everything, and people will get hurt, badly.  But Republicans are already over reaching.  They’re fuck-ups and we’ll be able to take advantage of the openings they provide.  See this from David Cole for a little hope.  Which is why I keep coming back to Masha’s conclusion — say no, and keep on saying it — and see it as a pocket-guide-for-the-perplexed.

I’ve more to say, as I think towards what specific forms my resistance may take, but none of that’s really formed yet, beyond giving some money to some of the most obvious targets.  More later.  In the meantime, what Gessen says:  Trump will not last forever, and resistance is many things — but not futile.

Image: the Ozymandias Colossus — Raames II, mistakenly identified as the mythical king Ozymandias.  This ruin inspired Percy Bysshe Shelly to write this.



He’s Got the Electrolytes We Need

With little commentary, I present this, Del. Azinger (R-Wood County), explaining why he voted for the WV RFRA pro-bigotry bill:

I got nothing. Well, this:



How the Party Decides

From TPM:

Staffers on the Senate Intelligence Committee are looking into whether Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) disclosed classified information during the debate, according to the committee chair.

From Marcy Wheeler:

Richard Burr has apparently stated publicly that he’s looking into not Marco Rubio’s serial leaking of classified information, but Ted Cruz’s alleged disclosure of classified information at least night’s debate. That’s particularly curious given that Rubio has gotten privileged access to this information on the Senate Intelligence Committee, whereas Cruz has not

Our very own Tom:

I think as an interested lay observer, that the Party Decides framework is pretty useful way at looking at presidential primaries. And if that basic thesis is true, this is a shining example of how the Party decides. One candidate gets a pass, while the other candidate gets called out and has a bad media cycle or three with minimal party support to validate their bona fides.

If this is the case, then I am trying to figure out the bet. The first part of the bet is simple. Rubio is a favored candidate for the Establishment as everyone in DC thinks Cruz is an asshole. The second part is where I am a bit lost. Is the optimal outcome Trump v Rubio instead of Cruz v. Rubio? It looks like Trump, Cruz, Carson and Fiorina are attractive to one cluster of voters while Rubio and other establishment hopes are attractive to a different set. In the initial knock-out stages, I don’t think there are too many voters in either cluster group whose next best choice is in the other cluster. Is the bet that if the nihilist cluster condenses down to Trump and Trump alone, he’ll max out at 40%?

Still trying to figure this one out.



A Cynical Game

These people are just despicable:

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is the latest presidential candidate trying to downplay the role anti-abortion rhetoric may have played in motivating the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs Friday afternoon. When a reporter asked him at an Iowa campaign stop Sunday evening about suspect Robert Lewis Dear saying he was motivated by “no more baby parts,” Cruz countered that he’s also been reported to be a “transgendered [sic] leftist activist.”

Cruz explained, “We know that he was a man registered to vote as a woman.” This discrepancy on Dear’s voter registration was first reported by The Gateway Pundit, a self-described “right-of-center news website,” under the claim that he “identifies as [a] woman.” Conservatives have since run with the claim that Dear is transgender.

There is actually no evidence to suggest that he is transgender, nor a “leftist,” nor any kind of activist. In fact, all of the available information suggests he was none of those things.

It doesn’t matter if this is true or not. Not one bit. What matters is Cruz said it, that the idiots in the GOP base will repeat it, and in the minds of wingnuttia, it will just become the received view. See also “Liberal Fascism.”



Split the party in two and win with the bigger half

Just a quick  comment on a recent Vox article:

But in a head-to-head matchup among Republican voters, Trump beats Rubio 57-43. That suggests that Trump’s ceiling, at least among Republicans, is far above his current 25 to 30 percent, and he may well benefit as weaker candidates drop out.

This actually makes sense given the current polling that we have seen in the Republican race.  For most of the year, if you add up the combined polled support of Trump, Carson and Fiorina plus attribute some proportion of Ted Cruz’s vote as extraordinarily anti-Republican establishment vote, this faction is the dominant faction within the Republican primary electorate.  The sum of Trump, Carson, Fiorina often is over 50% and usually closer to 60%.  The favored Establishment candidates (Bush, Walker, Kasich, Christie, Rubio) have either dropped out, or combined can poll less then a quarter of the Republican primary electorate.

Primaries often see large swings as the differences between candidates are not stark.  However it is easier for a person to switch support to a candidate who is running in the same cluster as the candidate that the person is switching support from, than for support to go to a candidate in a distant cluster.  The anti-establishment lane in the GOP primary is bigger than the establishment, and one of the candidates can’t be pushed aside due to a lack of funds.

So when the question and answer space collapses to only a single establishment and a single non-establishment choice, people gravitate towards their closest option from their current preferred option. That means Trump is picking up all of his current support and the vast majority of the supporters of the other anti-establishment candidates while Rubio consolidates everyone else.  And one faction right now is much bigger than the other.