Trump and Putin: Some 1980s Background

 

What do interviews in the 1980s and 1990s with Donald Trump tell us about his attitudes toward Russia and nuclear weapons?

The interviews are oblivious to world events taking place at that time. They are basically gossip columns by Lois Romano and William E. Geist, 1984; Ron Rosenbaum, 1987; Mark Singer, 1997. Descriptions of Trump’s lavish quarters and sycophantic workers, his expensive clothes, and his ease in getting a table at a restaurant figure prominently in the introductory paragraphs. Read more



Reciprocity?

Tonight’s Trump-Russia news dump comes from the Washington Post, presaged earlier in the day by an article in Sputnik tweeted out by the Russian Embassy in the United States.

Last December, in response to Russian hacking of the election and harassment of American diplomats in Moscow, President Barack Obama ordered 35 Russian diplomats out of the country and demanded that Russia vacate properties in Long Island and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, supposedly for rest and recreation of the Russian diplomatic corps in the United States but suspected of also functioning to gather intelligence.

That was on December 29. The next day Michael Flynn, President-elect Trump’s presumptive National Security Advisor, spent a lot of time on the phone with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States. After those phonecalls, Russian President Vladimir Putin magnanimously decided against reciprocating, an unexpected move. Usually expulsion of diplomats is followed by an equal and opposite expulsion of the first country’s diplomats. But it was the Christmas season.

Earlier today, the Russian government Sputnik reminded the United States government of this principle of reciprocity. The Russian Embassy in the United States emphasized it with a tweet.

And a few hours later, Karen DeYoung and Adam Entous tell us that the United States government is indeed thinking of allowing the Russians to reoccupy the properties. Earlier, the United States had linked reoccupation to allowing the United States to build a consulate on a particular piece of land in St. Petersburg that the Russians had been blocking. But then that link was dropped.

Supposedly nothing is decided yet. It looks like Trump is willing to end part of the sanctions against the Russians for their election hacking just because he’s a nice guy. Or because the Russians were nice guys and didn’t reciprocate the expulsion.

 

Cross-posted to Nuclear Diner.



Medicaid in the President’s budget request

The Department of Health and Human Services accidentally leaked their own budget this evening. Bob Herman at Axios saved a copy. The biggest aspect of the budget is it laid out another $600 billion dollars in cuts to Medicaid and CHIP over ten years in addition to the $820 billion in Medicaid cuts in the AHCA.

Between these two documents Medicaid would lose 47% of its federal funding over a decade.

Loren Adler at Brookings thinks the cuts would be to tie the AHCA block grants to no more than inflation rate growth without regard to population or case mixture. As the Baby Boomers retire, more of them will require nursing home care that is currently paid for by Medicaid but there would be no federal money.

This is a budget wishlist that pits old people versus kids, the disabled against the pregnant and state budgets against upper income tax cuts in the federal budget.

Call Congress and give them an earful.



CSR and Certainty

Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) subsidies are the 2017 Sword of Damocles. Insurers have to provide an actuarial value bump to low income on-Exchange buyers but they don’t know if the Federal government will pay for the bump. Their current contracts with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) allows carriers to withdraw from the Exchanges mid-year if allowed by state law if CSR is not paid. This is the Samson option for Trump.

Yesterday’s post looked at the dynamics of how insurers want to price for 2018. They can either assume the government will pay CSR or not pay. There are probabilities as to what could happen but the actuarial assumptions collapse to two poles.

This is interesting information:

Sure looks like it would be gross negligence for any insurer to assume that the government will pay CSR subsidies in 2018 rate filings. And until there is black letter law making CSR an appropriated and ideally a mandatory expenditure, insurers will have to assume that they could and will disappear at any time and thus price accordingly.



To all the ladies who want to control when they have babies

In other healthcare news, President Trump signed an executive order on religious liberty. The ACLU is not too concerned about it as it is mostly a photo-op but it is an indicator that the provision of no cost-sharing long acting reversible contraception as a key covered service in the ACA plans is at risk.

IUD’s are reliable. They are long run inexpensive as their break even point compared to hormonal oral contraception is between twenty and thirty months if we neglect unexpected pregnancy costs. If we include incremental unexpected pregnancy costs, their break even point is short.. They empower female autonomy in social, economic and sexual domains. They also prevent abortions.

IUDs currently are a no cost sharing service under the ACA by regulation. This regulation can be re-written through the normal rule making process. That process probably will not effect covered services for 2017 but it probably will have define what has to be covered at no cost sharing in 2018.

If you were thinking about getting an IUD, schedule the appointment.
If your current LARC needs to be replaced soon, schedule the appointment.
If you currently use barrier or oral hormonal methods and don’t want to get pregnant for several years, schedule an appointment.

Protect yourselves as well as you can.



Open Thread: Carter “LEEE-Roy Jenkins!” Page

When the figurehead for the crime cartel is a two-bit grifter with a loose lip, it’s hard to recruit good wetwork men…



Tell me the story please

I’m guilty of my daily schradenfreude as I fire up Twitter every morning before my coffee for tweets like this:

Michael Reynolds, in comments at Outside the Beltway, has an interesting take on this:

Drip. . . drip. . . drip. . .

As a story guy this feels on an intuitive level like there’s a story-teller here. The narrative has a rhythm. This source waited until the fauxtaliation news was done and then dropped the next piece of the puzzle on the table. There’s at least one Deep Throat at work, is there an uber-Throat pacing this whole thing, parceling out the minimum necessary to keep the story alive?

It’s hard to war-game this since the Trump administration is hopelessly incompetent. Have they decided on their ‘John Dean’ yet? Do they have a designated patsy? Manafort is probably going down, Mike Flynn as well. They have Carter Page by the balls, but does he know anything or is he, as the FSB evidently decided, just ‘an idiot?’ Who’s going to roll over for the FBI?…

So what’s next?

And is schradenfreude a treatable condition?

Open thread