FBI- Fapping Bunch of Insufferables

Apparently the entire FBI is filled with moralizing blowhards patterned after Michael Shannon’s character in Boardwalk Empire, Agent Nelson van Alden:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has struck a stoic and righteous tone in private conversations he has had this week about the fate of his job as President Donald Trump has launched public criticism against him and considered firing him, according to three sources who have spoken to Rosenstein.

In those conversations, he has repeated the phrase, “Here I stand,” a reference to Martin Luther’s famous quote, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” Coincidentally, former FBI Director James Comey, whom Rosenstein fired, repeated the same phrase to President George W. Bush in a conversation that has been widely reported and that Comey describes in his forthcoming book.

That’s right on the heels of this portion of a NY Times mutual masturbation society meeting:

What books over the years have most influenced your thinking?

Reinhold Niebuhr’s “Moral Man and Immoral Society” and “The Nature and Destiny of Man” had a huge impact on me, as did Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style,” which was one of 12 books in my college course “Significant Books in Western Religion.” The professor believed that all ideas are wasted that can’t be clearly expressed. King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail” was also one of the 12 books and is the only book I’ve read repeatedly as an adult. More recently, I was really struck by Jonathan Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion.”

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?

I read “Lean In,” by Sheryl Sandberg, when I was the F.B.I. director and recommended it to the workforce, so Ms. Sandberg would be invited. And if she doesn’t mind eating with dead people, I’d also have Reinhold Niebuhr and Martin Luther King Jr. Both were remarkable observers of human nature and America. It would be really interesting to pick their brains about current events.

The bonus of it all is he didn’t need to fucking think about whether or not to go give that speech tanking Clinton. It didn’t require any Niebuhresque judgment, it just required he follow the fucking DOJ guidelines that were already in place:

The day before the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, sent a letter to Congress announcing that new evidence had been discovered that might be related to the completed Hillary Clinton email investigation, the Justice Department strongly discouraged the step and told him that he would be breaking with longstanding policy, three law enforcement officials said on Saturday.

Senior Justice Department officials did not move to stop him from sending the letter, officials said, but they did everything short of it, pointing to policies against talking about current criminal investigations or being seen as meddling in elections.

That Mr. Comey moved ahead despite those protestations underscores the unusual nature of Friday’s revelations, which added a dramatic twist to the final days of the presidential campaign. His action reignited a firestorm that Mrs. Clinton believed she had put behind her when the F.B.I. decided in July not to charge anyone in the investigation into the handling of classified information on her private email server.

Remember, that was after he had already created new Clinton rules in July and decided to speechify about Clinton when they decided not to prosecute the nothingburger of an email case. He called Clinton “careless,” when in fact it was he who was being careless and reckless.

For the record, it’s entirely possible to, as I do, think that Comey and company are a bunch of insufferable pricks while also thinking they are telling the truth about Orange Julius Caesar. I also maintain that Comey was convinced Clinton was going to win and was trying to shore up GOP losses in the House and Senate and also sending a shot across the incoming President’s bow about who the boss in town was, as well as settling an old score with the Clenis on the Mark Rich pardon.

In closing, fuck these guys. They make you long for the days of FBI agents who were merely vindictive monsters who secretly liked women’s clothing but kept their mouths shut in public. Additionally, we need to stop allowing college students to read Niebuhr, Luther, Oakeshotte, etc., unless they sign a NDA stating they will not issue any public mention of them without first having their statement approved by their old professor or someone with standing in the field who actually understood what they read.



Just When You Thought They Couldn’t Get Skeevier…

My son, for reasons known best to himself, has taken to watching old Jon Stewart clips, and this morning he was watching a long one, a sit down between Steward and Bill O’Reilly.

Stewart comes off as the smarter, more moral one in the particular bit I saw, but I told my kid I still hated the whole premise.  Stewart was normalizing a monster — even giving him a little bit of his own thoughtfulness as cover.  It wasn’t news back then that O’Reilly was a stone racist and a grotesque boss, a harassing womanizer dragging a tail of NDAs behind him.

But while I watched a true PGO came to me: the GOP obviously has no monopoly on men who are assholes to women, but it does seem to have more than its share, or rather the share you’d expect, given both specific ideology* , and the broader authoritarianism that both depends on and breeds the certainty that to be white and male is to have the right to f**k — and f**k with — the women who are their due.

Hence Porter and Farenthold and Moore and a magazine writer who thinks mere lethal injection is too good for the wanton harlots who choose to have an abortion — and the male-led magazine that thought such views were “provocative” — until it became clear just how provoked the intended gallows-bound (and their friends) had become.  And of course, hence the omphalos of modern Republican moral degeneracy, the Shitgibbon himself.

But I have to say, the latest entrant into the GOP-Sleazebag sweepstakes actually managed to surprise even my jaded self.  Meet Mr. Benjamin Sparks:

A Las Vegas political adviser who worked on national campaigns and high-profile Nevada races sexually enslaved and battered his ex-fiancée before police responded to a domestic dispute, the woman told the Review-Journal.

The 46-year-old woman provided copies of emails, text messages and a signed contract laying out her duties as a “slave in training” to Benjamin Sparks.

Sparks isn’t some small-time local operative.  He was a 2012 Romney spokesperson, and worked for Goggle-Eyed Homunculus Scott Walker during the recall campaign.  And he really, really doesn’t like the idea of female autonomy:

According to emails, documents and text messages obtained by the Review-Journal, Sparks and his ex-fiancée signed a five-page contract stating that she would be his “slave and property.”…

Her specified duties were what you might expect, given that starting point and then escalated to the point of rupture. (Go to the link if you want the details.)

“Slave and property.” Dwell on that phrase.  I’ll wait.

Not All Republicans would be a true statement.  But too much Republican rhetoric, policy and conviction rests on a view of women that taken to pathological extremes, ends with Benjamin Sparks putting down on paper his belief that a woman could be chattel.

There are all kinds of reasons these shandes and goniffs need to get their asses handed to them this November. This is one. A big one.

Open this thread can be.

ETA: Several commenters have pointed out that consensual relations between adults aren’t the problem, and they’re right (as always, IMHO). The issue here for me is the way Sparks took what appears to have been one stage of initial consent and translated that into a one-off permission that gave him the right actually to treat his partner as property.

*Anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-non-discriminatory-treatment in work and society politics that are all underpinned by the conviction that women can’t be allowed to have full agency over their own bodies and their own decisions.

Image: J. Collier, Three grotesque old men with awful teeth pointing and grimacing at each other, 1810. (Via Wellcome Images.)



Misogyny, Take Two

A side-note on Betty’s post below.  I check in on New York Magazine’s Daily Intelligencer vertical from time to time, and every now and then old fiend of this blog, Andrew Sullivan, shows up to verbiate at length*.  I don’t usually bother, because past performance is, in this case, a pretty good indicator of future results.  But he promised to tell us why he thinks things are going to get better in 2018, and, I thought, heck, we all need some good cheer, so I opened up the post, and set myself to reading…

And then crashed to a halt, run aground on this ur-Andrewism:

We have a president…installed by his shamelessness, the unique awfulness of Hillary Clinton, and an Electoral College black swan.

That’s where I stopped reading. I just couldn’t go on, so bile-choked by the predictable Sullivan brew of Clinton derangement garnished w. barely obscured misogyny.

To dispose of that sentence’s minor sin first: it’s hard to call Trump’s Electoral College victory a black swan (does he even get the meaning of that term?) when George W. Bush rode the same phenomenon to his own disastrous win just one presidency ago.  This is just laziness, or perhaps rather that sloppiness of argument that has been Andrew’s stock in trade for yonks.

But then, there’s the (I’ll admit, absolutely predictable) major witlessness:  “the unique awfulness of Hillary Clinton.”

For f**ks sake.  I mean, just listen to yourself, meathead.  Hillary Clinton ran a flawed campaign.  So have lots of men.  It wasn’t a wretched one, and she may be, I think, forgiven for not recognizing the hard-to-fathom circumstances she found herself in, in which Trump’s utterly obvious disqualifications did not in fact disqualify him. And, of course, it has to be noted that for any failures in her management of the race, she almost certainly had done well enough to win in even those circumstances, but for Comey’s IED dropping in the last week of the campaign. To Sullivan, all the actual facts and forces of that terrible summer and autumn can be swept under the overarching explanation of Clinton’s awfulness.

I suppose, and perhaps it’s even more likely that the egregious Sullivan is suggesting that Clinton is uniquely awful as a human being.  I don’t know.  Stayed married to the same man for her adult life.  Pursued a career in circumstances where many wouldn’t, and was good at it.  Raised a child who has made it to adult hood w/out diving into trouble, behaving stupidly in front of extraordinary scrutiny, and seems to be basically OK. (Trust me. As the parent of a 17 y.o. about to launch into the world, that seems very, very impressive to this writer).  Acted on her beliefs in and just out of college. Has consistently acted and advocated on behalf of children, especially the most vulnerable.  Managed to retain pretty amazing equilibrium through eight years of her husband’s presidency and relentless attacks on every aspect of her personal and professional life.  Served with distinction and the respect of her colleagues — including Republicans — as a two term senator.  Looks better and better as Secretary of State as we see what happens when, as now, you have someone clearly not up to the job squatting on the 7th floor over at Foggy Bottom.  Offered the American people a detailed and genuinely problem-solving set of policies — and full disclosure on her finances — in the campaign.

Uniquely awful, amirite?

Is she a saint, a flawless avatar of all that is perfectable in humanity?  Not so much, just like all the rest of us staring at the grass from the top down.

We all know what’s going on.  Clinton conducted her run for the presidency last year in the face of all sorts of headwinds, any one of which, had it fallen still, might well have left her and us in the happy alternate time line where she’s running the show.  But of them all, the one that enrages me the most is the fact that overwhelmingly, the media coverage of everything she tried to say, advance, argue was filtered through men who have since been shown to be sexual harassers and abusers.

At the time there were plenty of people, including me and many here, who said, over and over again, that Hillary Clinton’s coverage was obviously, overhelmingly riddled through with simple sexism and its yet more malign sibling, overt misogyny.  That, I think, was perfectly clear — demonstrated — by any attentive reading of the coverage itself.  But now we have the smoking guns, the fact that men at a shockingly sweeping tally of the leading outlets were sexual predating assholes.  I’m going to miss some, because there are so many, but think on the names:  Oreskes at NPR, Thrush at the The New York Times, Lauer on the teevee, Charlie Rose at PBS, Halperin the inexcusable, too many Y chromosomes at Fox to count and so on and on across the entire spectrum of elite American political journalism.

Andrew Sullivan is, of course, on no one’s list of predators of women.  He has a reputation for disdain for any female politician not named Maggie Thatcher, though, and it’s clear that beyond his Clinton derangement, Hillary’s gender was a constant irritant to him.  He reminds again here that one doesn’t have to be an actual sex offender to be a misogynist, and an utterly unreliable narrator of events.

But this we knew.  Who was it I twitted about concision?

*And I mean…LENGTH.  I’d refer our Andrew to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s dictum:  “Be sincere, Be brief, Be seated.”  Also, Chekov:  “Brevity is the sister of talent.”

Images:  Nicholas Poussin, Camille delivers the schoolmaster Flavius to his students, c. 1637

Paolo Veronese, Susanna and the Eldersc. 1580.



In Which The New York Times Epic Search For An Intellectually Rigorous Conservative Goes, Again, Unrequited

So, Bret Stephens has another column explaining why he remains a never-Trumper.  It is, I guess, churlish to dump on someone who has consistently weighed in on the right side of that particular question.  But, frankly, that’s a low bar. The fact that so many of his co-conservative-cultists have failed to surmount it is their shame, and while I’m surely not criticizing Stephens for his stance, I’m not sure how many cookies he’s earned just yet.

And so, I’m unwilling to let this pass unscorned:

Tax cuts. Deregulation. More for the military; less for the United Nations. The Islamic State crushed in its heartland. Assad hit with cruise missiles. Troops to Afghanistan. Arms for Ukraine. A tougher approach to North Korea. Jerusalem recognized as Israel’s capital. The Iran deal decertified. Title IX kangaroo courts on campus condemned. Yes to Keystone. No to Paris. Wall Street roaring and consumer confidence high.

And, of course, Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.

What, for a conservative, is there to dislike about this policy record as the Trump administration rounds out its first year in office?

That’s the question I keep hearing from old friends on the right who voted with misgiving for Donald Trump last year and now find reasons to like him. I admit it gives me pause. I agree with every one of the policy decisions mentioned above.

So here, I’ll confess.  This whole post is an excuse to publish this:

An amazing resemblance, right?

OK. Let’s go through Stephens’ list:

Tax cuts? You mean tax increases on at least 53% of American households w/in the life of this bill.

Deregulation? Like this? Because, of course, no one needs less oversight than those who can wreck an entire coastline.

More for the military? Because, of course, there is no upper bound to the transfer payments to be made to what Eisenhower knew to be a danger to democracy.

Less for the UN?  Because, of course, unilateralism is our best defense.  I take this catchphrase as a synecdoche for the wholesale abandonment of multilateral ties, from hammering NATO to the blanket disdain of multi-nation trade negotiations to the gutting of the State Department.  This is the fever dream of American exceptionalism, and without turning this whole post into Bronx cheer on this one point, I’ll just say that those who’ve actually had self and others at risk in the world tends to think that a gazillions for defense and none for soft power approach is the way of keyboard kommandos and dangerous buffoons.

ISIS crushed in its heartland? I blame Obama.

Assad hit with cruise missiles? And…? (Also, Yemen.)

Troops to Afghanistan? OK — he did that. And…?  This is a success, how? There’s an end goal of what?

Assad hit with cruise missiles? And…? (Also, Yemen.)<

Arms for Ukraine?  This is perhaps the most interesting of the alleged foreign policy successes.  How much of this was forced by the need to be seen not to be in Putin’s pocket? History may relate.  Perhaps this will end well, confounding the sad record of the region.

A tougher approach to North Korea? Really? I mean, Bret, seriously?  Just today the news broke that Trump’s Russian friends are supplying fuel to the North Korean regime.  NK’s nuke program continues to display itself at regular intervals.  Trump managed to make Kim look rather the more self-controlled leader — a task that takes some doing.  Tell me one aspect in which the Trump approach to North Korea has advanced US interests or enhanced the security of our allies?

I’m waiting…

Jerusalem recognized as Israel’s capital.  Well, NYT colleague Chunky Ross sees the lack of overwhelming Arab anger as proof that this is all going to turn out OK, but, again, tell me one US interest this advances.

I’m still waiting.

The Iran deal decertified? This is good because absent that deal there’s no barrier to the creation of an Iranian bomb? This is just tribal stupidity, of course. And it reflects the state of “conservative” “intellection”: the second step in the chain of reasoning needs never to be expressed.  Decertify Iran and then…what? Profit? As the cartoon has it

Title IX gutted? Because sexual assault is such a messy problem….(This one is going to look less and less good with each passing day, I reckon, but what do you expect from, as Stephens himself puts it, “

the party of the child-molesting sore loser” and its allies, heirs and assigns.)

Yes to Keystone? Come on, Bret. Not even trying here. This truly is just checking off the in-group markers.

No to Paris? Because what is an incorrigible (literally) climate denialist to say? You’d think after the last year even Stephens might be a bit diffident here, but no, that would be to ignore the key aspect of his branding.  He’s the reasonable conservative who is on the merits dubious about the science of climate change, and if he were to admit he were wrong, how much else in the edifice would fall? (All of it Katie.) (And no, I’m not going to bother here to relitigate climate science.  I refer anyone whose interested back to my column of some time ago, and to, well, pretty much the entire research output of the field.)

Wall Street roaring and confidence high? Ladles and Jellyspoons, I give you not so much September 2007 as roughly 2005-6.  It all looks great until it doesn’t, and while all the circumstances of the Great Recession are not (yet?) present, there are a lot of assumptions I wouldn’t be altogether comfortable with lying behind current financial judgments.  I can tell you that in my book-in-progress about the South Sea Bubble, I’m just about up to June, 1720 — and I can tell you it looked just as good from there, so much so that even Isaac Newton was fooled.  I don’t think Bret Stephens is smarter than my man Izzie.

And Neil Gorsuch? Well, Bret, let me just say this. In a column in which Stephens argues that culture and character are vital to the long-term fate of the United States, let me simply say that the fact that Merrick Garland is not now a Supreme Court justice is exhibit [n] that Trump isn’t the cause of any erosion of American political culture.  He’s the symptom of the damage a deranged party chasing power over principle can do.  That would be the party to which you pledge fealty, the Republicans, who blocked Garland in order to pack the court themselves.

Stephens plays on honest conservative broker on the pages of the Times.  He’s actually something less interesting but more revealing:  a case study to show how knowing the answer makes you unable to understand the questions, or reality.

/rant over.  I know that this is all pointless.  Stephens is part of the guild and all of us dirty hippies will never grasp the eternal sunshine of the spotless discourse therein.  But I guess I still want it on the record, some record, that what passes for argument in Stephens’ neighborhood, isn’t.

Image: Facsimile of a miniature from a ms. in the Bibl. de l’Arsenal



David Brooks Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

One sentence from today’s column that captures the pure, distilled essence of the alt-hack that is our BoBo:

And yet it has to be confessed that, at least so far, the Whitewater scandal was far more substantive than the Russia-collusion scandal now gripping Washington.

It’s all there.

The disembodied passive voice to give pulled-from-the-ass opinion the aura of ex-cathedra authority:  “it has to be confessed…” Oh yeah? Says who?

The careful weasel phrase, a scurrying for plausible deniability when this infallible dictum falls prey to fact:  “at least so far…”

The statement, presented as general consensus, that is, in fact, false:  “Whitewater…was far more substantial than…’ anything at all is simply false, and Brooks himself was both a driver of that falsehood and was and is perfectly positioned to know better than what he writes here.

The Whitewater “scandal,” as just about every non-interested party now knows, was a steaming heap of bullshit, ginned up by Republican operatives (Ted Olson!) in an attempt to damage the Clintons and the Democratic Party.

Brooks reminds his reader that he was the op-ed editor of The Wall Street Journal at the time his page was running piece after piece about the scandal that he claims was substantive — and yet, in (again) classic BoBo self-protective weasel writing, now writes “I confess I couldn’t follow all the actual allegations made in those essays…”

In other words, don’t blame him if his paper and his page retailed great steaming heaps of bullshit that as he now writes, “in retrospect Whitewater seems overblown….” (Note again the tactical use of the grammar that evades responsibility, that subjunctive “seems.”  Translation: my paper on my watch spread bullshit for partisan ends, and but all that can be said (see what I did there) is that the outcome of our work “seems” … not so great.  Nice obfuscation if you can get (away with) it.) (Yes. I like parentheses. Sue me.)

Where was I?  Oh yeah:  don’t contemn Brooks for that overblown false scandal, but take his word for it that that steaming heap of bullshit was nonetheless more real than the Russian allegations.

Oh?

No.

I don’t think I have to go into detail for this crowd about the depth and range of the Trump-Russia nexus. It may be that Brooks is trying to be clever here, and define the scandal purely as a question of whether Trump himself (and or his campaign) directly conspired with agents of Putin’s government to affect the election.

That would make that sentence yet more carefully parsed to give him cover as things like money laundering and influence peddling details accumulate.  In that, we may be seeing a preview of the approach Republican opinion-framers will attempt later on: Trump’s corrupt, but not a traitor.  But even allowing for such fine dissection of the growing scandal, there’s plenty of confirmed evidence of interaction between Trump’s campaign and significant Russian folks (see, e.g., Sessions and Kislyak).  In other words: Whitewater ended as it began with no evidence of Clinton wrongdoing.  Trump-Russia already has on public record significant and troubling revelations.

There’s a pattern here. The New York Times has given prime opinion acreage to now two partisan hack/WSJ refugees in Brooks and Bret Stephens. Both employ a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger voice to construct in the language of rueful reason narratives that directly bolster Republican positions and personalities. Both use that seeming reasonableness, the above-the-fray tone of impartial and unchallenged judgment, to say things that are clearly not true.  Those lies directly undercut reporting happening within the Grey Lady’s newsroom put out.  Op-ed editor Bennett, executive editor Baquet and publisher Sulzberger are all OK with that, it seems.

David Brooks tells plausible falsehoods in defense of some of the worst people in the history of American politics. The Times lets him; more, it has done so for decades promoting a career hack/flack to a position of influence far beyond anything his lack of rigor and intellectual dishonesty should ever have earned.

This is a big problem.

Update: I just trashed a comment on how Brook’ wife  should interact with his wife. Using the term the comment did for a woman one may dislike or disapprove of is unacceptable, for all the obvious reasons.  No banhammer yet, but a repeat will earn a time out.

Update 2: Charles Pierce, on much the same passage, with much the same reaction, only more so.

Image: Frits van den Berghe, The Idiot By The Pond1926



While Weasels Gnaw Our Flesh

Just a quick hit to remind everyone that while the criminal investigation of Trump and co. widens, they’re still pissing on us at every opportunity, and calling it rain.

So how’s this: it’s going to be legal again/stay OK for profit-making higher ed to rip off their students/protect the banksters:

The U.S. Department of Education is hitting pause on two of the Obama administration’s primary rules aimed at reining in for-profit colleges.

Department officials said they will block a rule, set to take effect next month, that clarifies how student borrowers can have their loans forgiven if they were defrauded or misled by their college. The plan was first reported by Inside Higher Ed Wednesday.

The Trump administration will pursue a do-over of the rule-making process that produced that regulation, known as borrower defense to repayment, as well as the gainful-employment rule. The latter holds vocational programs at all institutions and all programs at for-profits accountable when they produce graduates with burdensome student loan debt.

Given that college debt is one of the most iron-clad ways to crush upward mobility, this is another move by Trump and the grotesque DeVos to ensure that the current class structure in the United States remains intact.

Putting this in the long view:  the GI Bill, followed by the prioritization of public higher education in the 60s by leaders like Governor Pat Brown of California and Governor George Romney of Michigan, put first class advanced education and training within reach of an unprecedented amount of Americans.  The retreat from that ideal led by (mostly but not exclusively) Republican state governments, beginning with Reagan in California and then in the White House, have incrementally narrowed that opportunity.  Now, the combinatio of cost and constraints on access meant that the debt involved makes higher education as much or more a burden as it is the engine of a better life.

Today’s Republican party is just fine with that.  DeVos is not an outlier; this isn’t on Trump, or only on him.  The idea that higher ed (or education in general) is a business in which students are the product on whom to make a profit is utterly destructive of either a democratic ideal or any plausible concept of social justice.  And it is the core tenet of today’s radical conservatives calling themselves members of the Party of Lincoln.

One last thought:  I had dinner last week with a Democratic Party senior statesman.  He told me that in his view we’ve made the mistake of thinking better policies are argument enough for elections.  They’re not; we surely know that now, right?

Instead we have to convey something more, the framework in which specific good policies can work.  DeVos’ current obscenity gives us a hint as to what that might be. Republicans throw obstacles in the way of Americans making better lives.  Democrats are — and we should say so as loud as we can — the party of opportunity.

At least that’s my take.  I know it’s hardly original.  But whatever the particular frame you may favor, I think one of our biggest needs right now is to find a way to both describe and be (ever more) the party that can lay claim to affirmative allegiance, and not just the true fact that we are better than the other side.  Your feeling?

(Oh — and happy Father’s Day, all.  This thread should be open enough to tell us your plans, completed or still in prospect, for the day.  Mine? Pick up one of the rib-eyes on sale at Whole Paycheck today, and smoke it in the Weber egg.)

Image: Winslow Homer, The Country School 1871



Care costs money

The most important concept in health finance is simple; sick people are expensive to cover. Let’s keep that in mind for the rest of the post.

The Independent Journalism Review captures the reaction of Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), head of the House Freedom Caucus, to the CBO score.

When reporters pointed out the portion of the CBO report saying individuals with preexisting conditions in waiver states would be charged higher premiums and could even be priced out of the insurance market — destabilizing markets in those states — under AHCA, Meadows seemed surprised.

“Well, that’s not what I read,” Meadows said, putting on his reading glasses and peering at the paragraph on the phone of a nearby reporter.

The CBO predicted:

“…the waivers in those states would have another effect: Community-rated premiums would rise over time, and people who are less healthy (including those with preexisting or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive non-group health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all — despite the additional funding that would be available under H.R. 1628 to help reduce premiums.”

…..
The CBO analysis was likewise adamant that AHCA’s current high-risk pool funding isn’t enough to cover sick people if states use the mandate waivers.

After reading the paragraph, Meadows told reporters he would go through the CBO analysis more thoroughly and run the numbers, adding he would work to make sure the high-risk pools are properly funded.

Meadows, suddenly emotional, choked back tears and said, “Listen, I lost my sister to breast cancer. I lost my dad to lung cancer. If anybody is sensitive to preexisting conditions, it’s me. I’m not going to make a political decision today that affects somebody’s sister or father because I wouldn’t do it to myself.”

He continued:

“In the end, we’ve got to make sure there’s enough funding there to handle preexisting conditions and drive down premiums. And if we can’t do those three things, then we will have failed.”

There is a plausible high cost risk pool design that could theoretically work. It just costs a lot of money. The Urban Institute provides an updated floor to that type of design.

Government costs for the coverage and assistance typical of traditional high-risk pools would range from $25 billion to $30 billion in 2020 and from $359 to $427 billion over 10 years. (Figure 2)

I think this is a decent lower bound as they don’t look at very high cost but uncommon conditions like hematological defects, cystic fibrosis, major gastro-intestinal conditions, slow progressing cancers or hundreds of other things. But Urban’s estimates points us in the right direction. Taking care of sick people costs somewhere between expensive and very expensive.

This is not new knowledge. Anyone of any ideological stripe who is actively trying to be a good faith broker of information on health care finance has been shouting this basic insight for months. And yet, the Senate just invited actuaries to talk with them for the first time this week. And yet, the House voted on this bill without waiting for expert opinion. The bill was written without a public hearing. The product is a consequence of a process that deliberately excluded even friendly experts who were having a nervous breakdown when they looked at the cash flows much less incorporating the criticism of unfriendly but knowledgeable experts.

Healthcare for people with high needs is expensive.