Friday Morning Open Thread: RECESS!

This guy, fersure!

Per the Washington Post, “Recess just started for Congress, and it’s not going to be much fun for Republicans”:

The Senate left town for the rest of the summer Thursday, bringing a historically unproductive period of governance to a close for Republicans, who failed to produce any major legislative achievements despite controlling Congress and the White House…

By their own accounts, Republicans have failed to enact the ambitious agenda they embarked upon when Trump and the GOP majorities swept into power in January. The president has fallen well short of the legislative pace his two predecessors set in their first six months on the job.

The lack of a signature accomplishment Republican lawmakers can highlight at home this month has given rise to a new level of finger-pointing and soul-searching in a party that stood triumphant eight months ago after winning back full control of the federal government…

On Thursday, Trump took another parting shot at lawmakers for failing to pass a health-care bill. “Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us HCare!” he tweeted, a day after he grudgingly signed an international sanctions bill that the Senate passed 98 to 2…

The Senate will hold some pro-forma sessions throughout August and early September. Democrats had expressed concerns that Trump might try to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions while lawmakers are away if they did not hold such gatherings. But there will be no more roll-call votes in the Senate until Sept. 5….

Apart from standing well clear of the exits, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up another busy week?

Paying To Be Cruel

Balloon Juice’s own presidential aspirant, ¡Baud! 2016, reminded me of something I meant to FP yesterday:  how red state Republicans have chosen to pay — hugely — for the privilege of denying their fellow Americans access to health care.  Let me turn the mic over to Kevin Drum:

In 2015, according to a survey by the Kaiser Foundation, spending by states that refused to expand Medicaid grew by 6.9 percent. That’s pretty close to the historical average. However, spending by states that accepted Medicaid expansion grew by only 3.4 percent.

In other words, the states that have refused the expansion are cutting off their noses to spite their faces. They’re actually willing to shell out money just to demonstrate their implacable hatred of Obamacare. How much money? Well, the expansion-refusing states spent $61 billion of their own money on Medicaid in 2014. If that had grown at 3.4 percent instead of 6.9 percent, they would have saved about $2 billion this year.

Two billion eh?  Pocket change!  Take it away, Kevin:

The residents of every state pay taxes to fund Obamacare, whether they like it or not. Residents of the states that refuse to expand Medicaid [22 of them — map here] are paying about $50 billion in Obamacare taxes each year, and about $20 billion of that is for Medicaid expansion. Instead of flowing back into their states, this money is going straight to Washington DC, never to be seen again.

So they’re willing to let $20 billion go down a black hole and pay $2 billion extra in order to prevent Obamacare from helping the needy.

V0017593 A surgeon extracting the stone of folly. Oil painting by Pie Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images A surgeon extracting the stone of folly. Oil painting by Pieter Huys. By: Pieter HuysPublished: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0


Ladles and Jellyspoons!  Your modern Republican party!  Ready to fork over handsomely to make sure the wrong people suffer.


PS:  Let me call out the could-be great state of Texas for vicious derp on a grand scale:

Statewide, Texas hospitals had to eat 5.5 billion dollars in uncompensated care last year. The reason is this – after the Affordable Care Act passed, the amount of money the federal government provides to hospitals for uncompensated care was significantly reduced. It’s cause and effect; if 9 out of 10 Americans have health insurance, the amount of uncompensated care hospitals have to provide goes down. But when the U.S. Supreme Court gave the individual states the option to opt out of part of the Affordable Care Act, then-Texas Governor Rick Perry could not opt out fast enough.

Vote, folks, as if your life depends on it.  ’cause it very well may.

Image: Pieter Huys, A surgeon extracting the stone of folly, before 1584.

Middle class and white, it’s a bitch

Just noted this in passing while reading SCOTUS-Blog on the Supremes temporarily holding the Texas abortion harrassment regulations:

The seven clinics that were not affected by the new restrictions (and the eighth that is soon to open) were concentrated in the four largest metropolitan areas in the eastern part of the state. The lawyers had told the Court that, for the time being, there were no licensed facilities to provide abortions anywhere in the state south or west of San Antonio — “an area larger than most states.”

Texas officials had urged the Supreme Court not to block the new measures, arguing that they were necessary to protect the health of pregnant women in the state. They also argued that the challengers had exaggerated the practical impact of the new restrictions, and that most women would continue to have access to abortions within what they said was a reasonable driving distance.

Abortion will always be available for the upper and upper middle class as California, Canada or Sweden are within reasonable cost and time parameters.

The majority of abortions in this country are for women who under the age of 25.  Historically, this is a cohort that does not have the ability to fly out of state for an elective, common and safe medical procedure.  Nor is it a cohort that has bought into the dominant American car culture.  The odds of a 22 year old woman, much less an 18 year old having a car, and the financial resources to drive halfway across Texas and back without missing work is not particularly high.  It is unreasonable harrassment against female autonomy and reproductive control mingling with blatant classism.  And for this the government of the State of Texas wins the asshole of the week.


Governor Goodhair Agonistes

I’m both deeply unversed in Texas politics, and utterly not a lawyer, but my spidey sense tells me that this is good news for John McCain:

 A grand jury indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday for allegedly abusing the powers of his office by carrying out a threat to veto funding for state prosecutors investigating public corruption — making the possible 2016 presidential hopeful his state’s first indicted governor in nearly a century.

A special prosecutor spent months calling witnesses and presenting evidence that Perry broke the law when he promised publicly to nix $7.5 million over two years for the public integrity unit, which is run by Travis County Democratic District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg’s office. It’s the same office that indicted U.S. Rep. Tom Delay as part of a finance probe.


Seems to me that being indicted for being a dick to a Democrat might just help Perry in the Republican primary, but as this only reinforces a general election theme that we know what Perry (and the Texas GOP governing elite, and the national Republican Party) are, so now we’re just haggling over price … well, that’s just not good.  The ads write themselves and all that.

But, as I said up top, what the hell do I know.  For now, I’ll enjoy the spectacle of the newly bespectacled governor talk grand juries and not guilty pleas, while quietly marveling the the managed to beat Chris Christie in the who gets charged first sweepstakes.  I thought the Jersey blowhard had this stakes race nailed.

Update: It occurs to me that the true sweetness of the story is the sheer stupid involved.  If I read the report correctly, Perry could have simply vetoed the funding with no prior thuggery and achieved the desired goal — shutting the investigation down.  It was the act of opening his fettering gob that got him into trouble:

No one disputes that Perry is allowed to veto measures approved by the Legislature, including part or all of the state budget. But the left-leaning Texans for Public Justice government watchdog group filed an ethics complaint accusing the governor of coercion because he threatened to use his veto before actually doing so in an attempt to pressure Lehmberg to quit.


Image: Francisco de Goya, Trial by the Inquisition1812-1819

Somalia On The Rio Grande

If it were just a matter of Texans killing Texans — with the victims embracing their fates — then I might be willing to let it all go with an “everyone to hell in their own handbasket”  reaction.  But, of course, the generalized Gresham’s Law tells us what follows from this kind of thinking:

Five days after an explosion at a fertilizer plant leveled a wide swath of this town, Gov. Rick Perry tried to woo Illinois business officials by trumpeting his state’s low taxes and limited regulations. Asked about the disaster, Mr. Perry responded that more government intervention and increased spending on safety inspections would not have prevented what has become one of the nation’s worst industrial accidents in decades…

This antipathy toward regulations is shared by many residents here. Politicians and economists credit the stance with helping attract jobs and investment to Texas, which has one of the fastest-growing economies in the country, and with winning the state a year-after-year ranking as the nation’s most business friendly.

Even in West, last month’s devastating blast did little to shake local skepticism of government regulations. Tommy Muska, the mayor, echoed Governor Perry in the view that tougher zoning or fire safety rules would not have saved his town. “Monday morning quarterbacking,” he said.

Raymond J. Snokhous, a retired lawyer in West who lost two cousins — brothers who were volunteer firefighters — in the explosion, said, “There has been nobody saying anything about more regulations.”

I’d be surprised, except for the fact that there’s nothing out of the ordinary here, if you look at matters like a (certain kind of) Texan: Read more