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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

McCain stood at the podium and said he would vote 'no' on the bill as it stands—guess how he voted



WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 09:  Sen. John McCain (L) (R-AZ) speaks with members of the Republican leadership, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) about the Defense Authorization Bill following caucus luncheons at the U.S. Capitol June 9, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Senate is expected to begin voting on the Defense Authorization bill later this afternoon.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Remember all the way back to Tuesday afternoon, when John McCain gave a rousing speech about the glories of bipartisanship and regular order? Sure, McCain had just come across the country to vote for a bill advanced though the most partisan, most aberrant process in the history of the Senate. But there he was, to reassure you that, despite just scoring the winning goal for team Trump/McConnell, he was just so … mavericky. You know. Like this.
"I voted for the motion to proceed to allow debate to continue and amendments to be offered. I will not vote for the bill as it is today. It's a shell of a bill right now. We all know that. I have changes urged by my state's governor that will have to be included to earn my support for final passage of any bill. I know many of you will have to see the bill changed substantially for you to support it.”
Emphasis damn well added. And then, six hours after McCain made this statement, the bill came up for a vote. The bill failed, with a final vote of 57—43. The usual selection of “moderates” were joined by the kill ‘em faster conservatives, with Susan Collins, Tom Cotton, Bob Corker, Lindsey Graham, Dean Heller, Mike Lee, Jerry Moran, Lisa Murkowski, and Rand Paul all voting against. But who is not in that list … Hmm.

McCainVote.png
There’s John McCain, voting “Yes” as Trump and McConnell demanded just a few hours after he told all of America he would vote no.

So all that “try to report a bill out of committee with contributions from both sides?” I’m sure saying those words was Good for John McCain. But John McCain’s word? Not good.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tall order, but a necessary step in returning Democratic Party to the people

Activists at the Iowa CCI annual convention. (photo: Brian Powers/The Des Moines Register)
Activists at the Iowa CCI annual convention. (photo: Brian Powers/The Des Moines Register)


By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

25 July 17
 

can already hear some of my establishment Democrat friends saying that the People’s Platform being pushed by progressive groups is unachievable. Of course in this Congress they are right. So, what if the Democrats were to push an agenda that is achievable in this Congress? What would that look like? It would be a blank piece of paper, since the GOP Congress will not let the Democratic Party get credit for any legislation, even if it fits in with their right-wing agenda.

That is why the “Summer of Progress” campaign launched by many progressives is so important. It’s time to create a platform that defines the Democratic Party as the people’s party again. Of course Improved Medicare for All will not even get a vote in Paul Ryan’s house, but it’s time for all Democrats to co-sponsor the bill, and those who don’t should prepare for a primary next year.

The People’s Platform is about more than healthcare. At https://summerforprogress.com/ you will find bills that progressive organizations are demanding House Democrats sign onto as co-sponsors. Those bills are:

  1. Medicare for All: H.R. 676 – Medicare For All Act

  2. Free College Tuition: H.R. 1880 – College for All Act of 2017

  3. Worker Rights: H.R.15 – Raise the Wage Act

  4. Women’s Rights: H.R.771 – Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act of 2017

  5. Voting Rights: H.R. 2840 – Automatic Voter Registration Act

  6. Environmental Justice: Climate Change Bill – Renewable Energy

  7. Criminal Justice and Immigrant Rights: H.R.3543 – Justice Is Not for Sale Act of 2017

  8. Taxing Wall Street: H.R. 1144 – Inclusive Prosperity Act

It is a bold agenda. It has to be, to breathe new life into the Democratic Party. My establishment Democratic friends will say that Hillary got 3 million more votes than Trump. They are right, but it was also nearly 4 million votes less than Barack Obama received in 2008 and less than Obama got in 2012.

Last summer Democrats passed the most progressive platform in its history. This summer it is time to bring that platform to life and make it mean something.

The groups that have signed onto this campaign are: Our Revolution, Democratic Socialists of America, Democracy for America, Progressive Democrats of America, #AllofUs, Common Defense, National Nurses United, Working Families Party, Millennials for Revolution, Women’s March, Labor for Our Revolution, People for Bernie, Good Jobs Nation, Young Progressives Demanding Action, Healthcare Now, Brand New Congress, Justice Democrats, Food & Water Action, and Fight for 15.

Today, the groups will deliver over 100,000 signatures in support of the People’s Platform to the Democratic National Committee after a Capitol Hill press conference that will include progressive members of Congress.

Throughout the rest of the summer, the coalition will hold actions and lobby members of Congress to take positions on the eight bills, culminating in a scorecard that will show which members of Congress support the People’s Platform and which members might just need a primary challenge in 2018 and beyond.

The statement on the campaign’s website reads:

Resisting the Trump administration and Republican Congressional agenda is only part of how we can move our country forward. Now is the time for Democrats to campaign on a bold agenda and fight to create an America that works for everyone. If Democrats want to win in 2018 and take our country back from the billionaire class and Republicans, they need to start by supporting legislation that speaks to the real concerns facing the American people. We’re fighting for a Congress that will put people before profits to create an America where everyone, regardless of the age, race, gender or economic status has access to health care, free college tuition, a livable planet, and a job that pays a living wage.
The Democratic Party Platform makes it clear that Democrats must fight for these issues as a party. We’re asking all House Democrats to commit to supporting our #People’s Platform bills by signing on as a co-sponsor when Congress comes back in session in September.

It is a tall order, but a necessary step in returning the Democratic Party to the people. The goal is to one day be able to say again that the Democratic Party puts people before profit.




Scott Galindez attended Syracuse University, where he first became politically active. The writings of El Salvador's slain archbishop Oscar Romero and the on-campus South Africa divestment movement converted him from a Reagan supporter to an activist for Peace and Justice. Over the years he has been influenced by the likes of Philip Berrigan, William Thomas, Mitch Snyder, Don White, Lisa Fithian, and Paul Wellstone. Scott met Marc Ash while organizing counterinaugural events after George W. Bush's first stolen election. Scott moved to Des Moines in 2015 to cover the Iowa Caucus.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Universal health care would save $17 trillion



Demonstrators protest changes to the Affordable Care Act on June 22, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.
$32 trillion. You may have seen this number in corporate media coverage and Republican propaganda. It’s the estimated cost of universal health care over a 10-year period.

It’s a big number—a big, scary number. So hacks like the editorial board at The Washington Post use it to scare people with titles like “Single-payer health care would have an astonishingly high price tag.”

Not just high—astonishingly high.

Of course what the editorial board of The Washington Post leaves out (though you think they’d know better) is any comparison to what we’re currently spending.

Compared to what we’re currently spending, universal health care or single-payer health care would save us $17 trillion over 10 years.

In order to demonstrate this, we just need a couple of numbers. The first number is how much we currently spend on health care per year.

National Healthcare Expenditure (NHE)
This is a number called the National Healthcare Expenditure (NHE). NHE measures everything we spend on health care — both public and private. In 2015, the NHE was $3.2 trillion or $9,990 per person per year.

That $9,990 per person makes us the most expensive healthcare system in the world. It was this way before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as well. In 2013, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) calculated the average worldwide healthcare spend per person at $3,453.

Back to our number: $3.2 trillion in 2015. It increased to $3.4 trillion in 2016.

Growth rate
As you can see, the amount of spending per year doesn’t stay the same. It grows on a yearly basis. So the second number we need is the growth rate.

According to the study titled “National Healthcare Expenditures, 2016-2025: Price Increases, Aging Push Sector to 20 Percent of Economy,” health care costs in the United States are estimated to grow at an average annual rate of 5.6 percent from 2016 to 2025.

If we apply this growth rate over 10 years, and add up the costs, our current healthcare system will cost $49 trillion.

Savings
$49 trillion (current system) — $32 trillion (single payer) = $17 trillion in savings.

Over a 10-year period, universal health care or a single-payer system would save $17 trillion.

Yes, you read that right … universal health care would cost $17 trillion less over 10 years. A universal health care system would save us $1.7 trillion a year.

What’s the problem then?

The problem is that certain industries have very powerful lobbies. And these industries spend a lot of money on advertising to make sure that additional $17 trillion goes to them.

The corporate special interest group Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEE), a group that helped make Milton Friedman a name people recognize, used the exact same numbers we’ve been discussing to write “Bernie-Care Would Cost $32 Trillion, Twice What Sanders Claimed.”

You’re not going to believe this, but nowhere in the article do they mention that it would also save us $17 trillion over our current system. Instead they focus on how federal spending would increase.

Changes in 2017 compared to changes in 2017-2026 from a single payer healthcare plan outlined by Senator Sanders.
Excerpt from the Urban Institute’s analysis of Bernie Sanders’ single payer plan. The first column is an estimate for 2017, the second for 2017-2026. Over 10 years roughly $22 trillion of private spending moves to public spending. 
You know why federal spending would increase? Because we wouldn’t be paying for insurance out of our own pockets. The reason for the increase is simply that private spending moves to public spending. As illustrated in the excerpt from the Urban Institute’s analysis of universal health care, roughly $22 trillion of private spending on health care moves to public spending. Overall, however, we’d spend $17 trillion less over 10 years and we could insure everyone.

The next time someone tells you we need to reform health care, show them how we could easily save $17 trillion if we just did what every other developed country in the world does when it comes to health care. 

David Akadjian is the author of  The Little Book of Revolution: A Distributive Strategy for Democracy (also available as an ebook).

Sunday, July 23, 2017

It's slowly dawning on Republicans that Trump just might be the worst president ever


WHAT TIPPED YOU OFF?
All is not well in Republicanville. No matter how slavish the Fox News segments become, it ain't working; it is slowly dawning on powerful Republicans that the president they are so dutifully protecting and sucking up to may, in fact, be an idiot.
Trump’s struggles go beyond health care. More than six months into Trump’s presidency, Republicans have no legislative accomplishments other than the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, a confusing foreign policy, and a White House that is perpetually in damage-control mode. From lawmakers and governors to donors and foreign policy experts, a certain realization is sinking in within the party, based on more than a dozen interviews in recent days: Donald Trump has been a historically weak and ineffective president.
That it took six months to start wondering whether the man who talked about grabbing women, who discussed his penis size during a presidential debate, who sent his press secretary to baldly lie about the size of the crowds on his inauguration day, and who is currently engaged in a public defense of his campaign team openly seeking the assistance of the Russian government during a period of unprecedented assault on our election systems by that government, is perhaps not the brilliant world-shaping genius he made himself out to be.

This is the problem with the Republican Party. They don't catch on too quick.
Even the president’s top backers are losing patience. Billionaire Trump patrons Rebekah and Bob Mercer are “apoplectic” over the health care debacle, with renewed fears that Trump’s lofty goals of changing Washington have become all but impossible, said a Trump administration adviser. The adviser added that lobbyists and establishment lawmakers are making Trump’s life more difficult. [...] “They’re saying, ‘It can’t be done, he can’t change Washington,’” the adviser said, before putting more of the blame for the lack of progress on Senate Majority Leader McConnell. “It’s the Washington cartel at its worst revolting against the president.”
Bob Mercer has been the funder of everything wrong with the conservative movement for some time now. He is now apparently "apoplectic" that the band of incompetent white nationalist conspiracy-mongers and burn-it-downers he shoveled into the White House are somehow not able to single-handedly work their white nationalist, burn it down ways—and blaming the rest of Washington for blocking them? Good. That's the best news we've heard all day. Maybe the fucker will flee the country for some oligarchy that will treat him better; Russia is supposedly lovely this time of year.
A recent report on “soft power,” a term that covers a country’s political and cultural influence, found that the United States under Trump has slipped from first to third among 25 countries; France, led by Emmanuel Macron, jumped to first.
Heavens, it seems only yesterday Republicans had dealt a powerful blow to French influence by renaming cafeteria foods to spite them; this will be unwelcome news.

Anyhoo, we're six months into the Donald Trump pretzeldenty and, by gum, he has no accomplishments, has cratered U.S. influence, is still operating with a skeletal state department, is at war with his own staff to such an extent that they no longer are willing to appear on television when speaking about him, and has no apparent foreign or domestic policy vision other than tweeting about whatever last caught his attention on Fox & Friends. And this is despite Republican House and Senate leaders Ryan and McConnell bending over backward to defend him from an unending stream of scandals and in-your-face corruption. Good show. Really, good show, everybody. What a fine denouement for the "party of Lincoln."

Trump Administration Is Using Taxpayer Money To Sabotage America's Health Care System



WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 21: U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he and HHS Secretary Tom Price walk to a House Republican closed party conference on Capitol Hill, on March 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump is urging House Republicans to support his American Health Care Act..  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Thumbs up to sabotaging America's health care.
The Trump administration is using taxpayer dollars allocated to promote ACA outreach, to actively undermine and sabotage America’s health care system.

This administration is so crooked. This is a misuse of taxpayer dollars. These taxpayer dollars are supposed to be used to educate Americans about health care and grow health care enrollment.
The Trump administration has spent taxpayer money meant to encourage enrollment in the Affordable Care Act on a public relations campaign aimed at methodically strangling it.
The effort, which involves a multi-pronged social media push as well as video testimonials designed at damaging public opinion of President Obama’s health care law, is far more robust and sustained than has been publicly revealed or realized.
The strategy has caught the eye of legal experts and Democrats in Congress, who have asked government agencies to investigate whether the administration has misused funds and engaged in covert propaganda in its efforts to damage and overturn the seven-year-old health care law. It’s also roiled Obama administration veterans, who argue that the current White House is not only abdicating its responsibilities to administer the law but sabotaging it in an effort to facilitate its undoing by Congress.
“I’m on a daily basis horrified by leaders at the Department of Health and Human Services who seem intent on taking healthcare away from the constituents they are supposed to serve,” former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in an interview with The Daily Beast. “We always believed that delivering health and human services was the mission of the department. That seems to not be the mission of the current leadership.”  Funding for those videos would come from the Department’s “consumer information and outreach” budget, which was previously used for the purposes of advertising the ACA and encouraging enrollment.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Every former CBO director signs on to letter telling Paul Ryan to take a flying leap

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 22:  U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) listens to questions during his weekly press conference at the U.S. Capitol June 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. Ryan answered a range of questions but declined to comment on the contents of the health care plan being presented by senate Republicans.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Yeah, the CBO thinks you're a little shit, Paul Ryan.
The House Speaker, in his inimitable snotty-ass frat boy way, called the latest estimate from the Congressional Budget Office that Trumpcare would cost 22 million people their insurance "bogus." Because when it comes to bogus numbers, Ryan knows what he's talking about.

Usually, though, his bogus numbers are dusted with unicorn poop and pixie dust and say that destroying the safety net and cutting taxes for the very rich will save the economy. When the numbers are real, that's when Ryan gets it all wrong, as every former director that the CBO has ever had is happy to tell him—along with the rest of congressional leadership.
The undersigned represent every former Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). We write to express our strong objection to recent attacks on the integrity and professionalism of the agency and on the agency’s role in the legislative process. CBO began serving the Congress in 1975. Over the past 42 years CBO has been firmly committed to providing nonpartisan and high-quality analysis — and that commitment remains as strong and effective today as it has been in the past. Because CBO works for the Congress, and only the Congress, the agency’s analysis addresses the unique needs of legislators.
To meet the standard of nonpartisan objectivity, CBO makes no recommendations about policy, regularly consults with researchers and practitioners with a wide range of views (as can be seen in the agency’s panels of advisers and reviewers for major studies), and enhances its transparency by releasing extensive descriptions of its analytic techniques and forecast record.
In other words, Mr. Ryan, they don't follow your practice of pulling numbers out of their asses. Instead, and this is going to be a completely foreign concept to Ryan, they use a "detailed understanding of federal programs and economic conditions, ongoing interactions with government officials and private-sector experts, the best academic research." Imagine that: Public servants who take their jobs and their duty to the nation so seriously that they use actual information that acknowledges reality. Again, this is going to go way over Ryan's head.

But there just might be some Republican senator out there who takes her job seriously enough to pay attention to what the CBO is telling them, and to let their duty to their constituents—and to the damn nation—prevail.

Friday, July 21, 2017

GoodNewsRoundup Trump is a total loser and only getting losing-er but the Resistance is strong



Trump’s popularity is sinking as we remain strong

Support for the president is more tepid, but opposition is increasingly inflamed.
Yes, he has his base of support, but new polls suggest that there are fewer who are passionate about him while those of us who are passionately against his assail on our democracy are growing stronger.

Furthermore:
 no more than 1 in 4 Americans believe passionately in him or his presidency at this juncture.
That is striking.  remember, 25% of people stuck with Nixon until the end.
Across the battery of questions in the survey, Trump’s hardcore base of support appears to be about a quarter of the public, give or take:
  • 24 percent say that, since taking office, Trump has “acted in a way that’s fitting and proper for a president of the United States.” Seventy percent say Trump has acted in a way that is “unpresidential.”
  • 24 percent approve of Trump’s use of Twitter. Just 13 percent strongly approve. Two-thirds disapprove of the president’s use of social media, and 53 percent strongly disapprove.
  • Compared with previous presidents, 23 percent think “Trump is doing a better job than most.” While 17 percent say he’s doing a “much better” job, 38 percent think he’s doing “much worse.”
In my opinion, we need to stop focusing on the 25% who will stand by him to the end.  It is weird and frustrating that they won’t see logic, but we don’t need them to beat him and I am tired of worrying and thinking about why they still support him.

Those people are unlikely to see logic and so lets move on.

Even 538 says Trump is tanking their headline is: Six Months In, Trump Is Historically Unpopular
Barring a sudden turnaround this week, Trump will conclude his first six months in office as the most unpopular president, at that point in his first term, since modern polling began.
Trump, who was historically unpopular as a presidential candidate, has become more so as his term has gone on: His net approval rating was slightly positive (+4) when he first took office, and he averaged a net approval rating of -2 over the first month of his term. That means his net approval rating has fallen 14 points since his first month in office, or a bit less than three points per month.2
And remember, he is this unpopular while skating on Obama’s economy and stability.

So the polls show very good news.

We need to protect our democracy and take our country back from those who don’t care about our basic principles.

 The less popular Trump is, the easier that will be.

Speaking of Nixon, impeaching Trump is more popular now than impeaching Nixon was at the start of the Watergate scandal, according to a Monmouth University poll.
The poll, released Monday, found 41 percent of Americans support impeachment for Trump. In comparison, 26 percent supported Nixon’s impeachment six months into his second term, as the Watergate scandal was breaking.
In other good news:

Two more Senate Republicans oppose health-care bill, leaving it without enough votes to pass

You guys, this is huge!  Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) both say they won’t vote for this bill.  That is amazing!

Of course, the reasons they won’t  vote for it are awful but STILL what matters to us is keeping healthcare for millions of people and this is a HUGE step in that direction!

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval still doesn’t support the Senate health-care bill. That’s big trouble for Republicans.

This is great news. Heller, from Nevada listens to Sandoval who is way more popular than him so this is GREAT news.

Keep those calls coming!

By a 2-to-1 margin, Americans prefer Obamacare to Republican replacements

Again, keep those calls coming!

We are the majority!

After visa delays, Afghan girls’ robotics team arrives in D.C. for global competition

It would have been (much) better if they had just been allowed to come to the US anyway, but at least they are here now.  

Finally, a reminder to take care of yourselves. 

It is important that we keep fighting (supporting candidates and progressive organizations with time and $$; making calls to our representatives, protesting, etc..)

But it is also important to take care of ourselves and continue enjoying our lives in this amazing country we are fighting so hard to protect.

It is easy to get discouraged with Trump in power and the Republicans controlling the house and senate but try not to get too down.

Remember, although they are in charge, they are far from winning.

Trump made a lot of promises for his first 100 days.  How is he doing almost six months in on those promises?

FIRST: No repeal of Obamacare  THIS IS HUGE!!!  They RAN on this.  They said this would be EASY.  There is no “winning” side for them on this issue.  And our wins on this are due to OUR HARD WORK!!!  The resistance is strong, organized, and on the right side of history.

What else?

No wall – and not even close to a deal on one.

No trade punishment for China

No infrastructure plan (although that would have been nice, if it wasn’t just a gift for big business)

No tax overhaul.

No tariff on companies that ship production abroad.

No renegotiation of Iran nuclear deal

Did not move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

Although he did executive actions, not one of his legislative items has passed.  Not one.

The travel ban has faced huge hurdles.  Yes, a part of it is in effect right now, temporarily, but it is still being reviewed and he does not have the ban he wanted (or the ban he promised for that matter).

In terms of immigration and the environment, yes he has done damage.  But look what WE have done!  Cities are fighting back against what he has done.  States are fighting back.  Many companies are fighting back.  The rest of the world is fighting back.  *We* are fighting back!

Finally, here is one more promise he failed to keep: 

Trump promised not to tweet anymore because it’s “not presidential.” 

Trump on April 25 2016: “I tweeted today. At ‘realdonaldtrump,’ I tweet. You know it… don’t worry, I’ll give it up after I’m president. We won’t tweet anymore, I don’t think. Not presidential.” 

This man is a clown.  Honestly.  He has less control over his impulses than the typical 3 year old.

We’ve got this.

Keep fighting.  Keep resisting.  Keep enjoying our wonderful country.

I know this is hard; I know 2018 seems far away sometimes; I know it is discouraging.

We don’t pick the times we live through, but we do pick how we respond to them.

We are stronger together and WE’VE GOT THIS!!!!!

So proud to be in this with every one of you