Everything is awesome until there are trade-offs

Early this year, Kaiser Family Foundation released a poll showing Medicare Advantage was popular:

(56 percent) favor a national Medicare-for-all plan

There is a fairly typical partisan split on all of these proposals. Buy-ins are more popular than replace the entire system plans. Incidentally that is why I think a Medicare/Medicaid buy-in approach is what will be on a Democrat’s agenda if there is a blue trifecta.

However, Kaiser then did something interesting. They offered trade-offs and support for Medicare for all sank:

This is the political problem for Medicare for All proponents. It is a massive change to the system which will produce winners and losers. It upsets the status quo bias that worked against the ACA 2009-2016 and it upsets the status quo bias that worked for the ACA in 2017 to present.

Managing the transition so that there is no fear that anyone could, in anyway, be worse off or perceive themselves to be worse off is impossible. The challenge is minimizing both the number and the power of people who are worse off or perceive themselves to be worse off. And that is a tough challenge if one assumes that healthcare is, to some degree, a positional good.

Trade-offs are tough. Passing out free ice cream is easy.

Late Night Open Thread: Nice “Work” If You Can Get It…

Jon Chait, NYMag, “Why Are Republican Small Donors So Easy to Swindle?”:

Republicans have long complained, usually in private, that their fundraising apparatus is overrun with fraudsters. National Review’s Jim Geraghty has a column, “The Right’s Grifter Problem,” saying what many of them have been whispering. Many of President Trump’s most publicly strident loyalists are in the business of raising money for political projects that spend virtually all their funds on operating expenses…

Grifters go where the marks are:

A former pro football player who serves on the National Rifle Association board was paid $400,000 by the group in recent years for public outreach and firearms training. Another board member, a writer in New Mexico, collected more than $28,000 for articles in NRA publications. Yet another board member sold ammunition from his private company to the NRA for an undisclosed sum.

The NRA, which has been rocked by allegations of exorbitant spending by top executives, also directed money in recent years that went to board members — the very people tasked with overseeing the organization’s finances.

In all, 18 members of the NRA’s 76-member board, who are not paid as directors, collected money from the group during the past three years, according to tax filings, state charitable reports and NRA correspondence reviewed by The Washington Post.

The payments received by about one-quarter of board members, the extent of which has not previously been reported, deepen questions about the rigor of the board’s oversight as it steered the country’s largest and most powerful gun rights group, according to tax experts and some longtime members…

Read more

Monday Morning Open Thread: Building the Grift Waaaahl


The now-famous border wall GoFundMe was conceived by Purple Heart recipient Brian Kolfage, who wrote at the time he was upset by “too many illegals . . . taking advantage of the United States taxpayers,” and the “political games from both parties” when it came to border security. Kolfage, a triple amputee, pressed onward despite falling short of his $1 billion goal — launching a nonprofit to build portions of the wall on private land for a “fraction of what it costs the government.”

While the majority of donors continue to believe in Kolfage’s efforts, the nonprofit’s clandestine operations and assurances of progress are insufficient for others. Some have taken to social media, seeking photos, videos — anything — for evidence they aren’t being misled…

Reporting on the apparent lack of progress on the private wall, published early Friday by the Daily Beast, drew criticism from Kolfage. The veteran called out the story’s author, Will Sommer, who indicated he’s repeatedly asked Kolfage for proof they were close to a groundbreaking.

“Omg this is PERFECT timing by the liberal rag news site. They are about to look more stupid than @hillaryclinton on election night 2016!” Kolfage wrote. “I guaranteed we would build the wall . . . and I’ll leave it at that!”

Kolfage did not respond to an email and message from The Washington Post requesting comment Friday. While the nonprofit has floated various groundbreaking dates in the past, it’s not exactly clear when, or if, construction will begin…

This might be excused as a classic example of a well-intentioned amateur getting involved with something beyond his capacity to execute, except… Kolfage’s prior record is less than reassuring. Per NYMag:

As the Daily Beast reports, Kolfage “was a prolific operator of hoax pages on Facebook, and money he raised in the past to help veterans’ programs in hospitals never actually went to those hospitals.” The vet, who lost three of his limbs in a rocket attack in Iraq in 2004, founded sites including FreedomDaily, which ran headlines like “Obnoxious Black People Lose Their Minds When Victoria Secret Models Say This 1 Word On Live Video.” The site was shuttered after it was sued for misidentifying a Michigan resident as the driver of the car that killed a protestor in the Charlottesville riot.
Read more

Lalalalalalalala I Can’t Hear You

Donald Trump has long believed that he could eliminate nuclear weapons from the world. He is the greatest negotiator ever, and he doesn’t understand why those wimpy diplomats can’t just heave a hearty “Fuck You” across the conference table and walk out, which would induce the other party to come around.

The administration’s approach to foreign policy is driven by Trump’s ignorance and greed, but with an inertial component of conventional policy development by the permanent government employees who remain at lower levels, and a layering of political appointees with their own agendas, some of which dovetail with Trump’s, some of which are more or less conventional foreign policy, and some that are quite idiosyncratic.

Trump’s impulsiveness and desire to be the center of attention lead to statements of policy unexpected by other components of the government. “They were informed by tweet” is a statement that often appears in news stories. After an initial surprise, the impulsive statements may be modified or suppressed, but some work their way into official policy.

Conventional foreign policy analysis is still useful in looking at other countries. North Korea’s response to Trump, for example, is pretty much what you would expect. Russia isn’t too far off, although the relationship between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, whatever it may be, can be a confounding factor. But in order to understand America’s actions today, we have to look at Trump’s motivations.

North Korea has again launched some missiles. They are not ICBMs that could reach the United States. Trump tweeted that he is willing to wait it out, although it was earlier reported that he was angry about the launch. And Trump’s tweet says that “Anything in this very interesting world is possible,” which may be a threat.

Trump wants big wins, and he seems to be holding out for a total surrender of all of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program before removing any sanctions at all. North Korea is operating on a more normal timeline, in which small moves on each side gradually build confidence toward a goal. North Korea has made some token moves, and they feel that it is time for the United States to do the same.

Reliable rumor has it that teams at the State Department and the national laboratories are on call to bring North Korea’s nuclear weapons back when Kim gives the word. Trump and his administration really believe that this will happen.

In Trump’s mind, waiting is easy. The two summits with Kim gave him lavish photo-ops and the ability to say that he is negotiating. He has put his deal on the table. It is up to Kim to accept it.

In Trump’s business life, he probably could walk away from a deal that was going bad after he proclaimed success. The people working for him tied up the loose ends, and he never noticed. He just went on to another deal. Next after North Korea could be a grand arms control deal with Russia and China. He would certainly get a Nobel Prize for that.

The greatest negotiator, with the greatest mind – he’s said that he could master the details of arms control in an hour or so – doesn’t need advisors. He has now gutted much of the advisory structure surrounding the President. The State Department has been cut back. Ambassadors are absent in many countries. The cabinet is composed of people who don’t know what they are doing, many of them in acting positions. His closest advisors in the White House are his children and toadies. Anyone who has disagreed with him has been removed.

So now he can run international relations as he has always believed they should be run. There has been an unfortunate distraction from the Special Counsel and Congress, but now that the Mueller report is out and tied up by Attorney General Bill Barr, that problem has been solved, as Trump and Vladimir Putin argeed.

For Trump, the central consideration is his being able to preen as a great negotiator and claim that he is making important agreements. This week’s North Korean missile test, therefore, is unimportant. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is already playing it down, although the South Koreans, who are within the missiles’ ranges, are not so happy.

Trump’s strategy of ignoring facts that inconveniently undermine his narratives has worked for him as a real estate developer and television personality. Those interactions were managed by his underlings and are likely to disappear if one ignores them. International issues don’t go away. Kim continues to build up his nuclear arsenal and, further, expects continuing negotiations, including reciprocal actions. The missile test is a reminder of that. If Trump continues to ignore Kim’s inconvenient actions, Kim has more.

When and how will Trump react? It appears that he has never been in this kind of situation before, so it’s impossible to predict. So far, “Lalalalalalala I can’t hear you” is working for him.


Cross-posted to Nuclear Diner.

Paging Mr. Baron…Paging Mr. Miller…Norwegian Anti-Fraud Squad On Line One

Mr. Baron and Mr. Miller, you may recall, have a close relationship with the cheetoh-faced, ferret-heedit shitgibbon.

We don’t know the name of anyone who may have displaced Miller and Baron in the Orange One’s heart, but he is clearly keeping busy:

A total of 329 candidates — 217 individuals and 112 organizations — are being considered for this year’s prize, which will be announced in October…

But a wrinkle in this time-honored process — the peace prize was first awarded in 1901 — emerged on Tuesday, when the committee announced that it had uncovered what appeared to be a forged nomination of President Trump for the prize. The matter has been referred to the Oslo police for investigation.

Mr. Baron or whatever the alias now may be is, it seems, a recidivist:

…the forgery appears to have occurred twice: Olav Njolstad, the secretary of the five-member committee, said it appeared that a forged nomination of Mr. Trump for the prize was also submitted last year — and was also referred to the police. (The earlier forgery was not disclosed to the public at the time.)

What kind of person is at once so disdainfully fraudulent and so hilariously inept at his con?  Who could it be?

Well…Trump, recall, was the man who put his lens-shattering mug in fake Time Man of the Year covers, so there’s form here.

I’d file this one under “Point and Mock”…but then I remember that the entire GOP stands in thrall to this pathetic, hollow, terrified tosser.  And then I weep for the Republic, and worry, desperately, for my son.

(Also too:  I would so love an appendix to the Mueller Report dealing with all this.)

Image: Jacob Willemsz de Wet, Allegory of Peace triumphant over War1650