Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Clinton’s figured out how to ensure her victory: Threaten Sanders that if he doesn’t endorse her, pronto, she’ll begin campaigning as a triangulator.

The risk is that [Sanders] will lose his moment because some Clinton partisans already see a more centrist campaign as the best way to win over millions of middle-of-the-road voters who find Trump abhorrent. Sanders has to decide if accelerating his plans to endorse Clinton is now the best way to maximize progressive influence.

Sanders is making his long goodbye count, E.J. Dionne, Washington Post, today

So there it is.  The moment that Sanders endorses Clinton, Clinton will conclude that a more centrist campaign is the best way to win over millions of middle-of-the-road voters who find Trump abhorrent.  Because there are just so very many middle-of-the-road voters who find Trump abhorrent but find the idea of a Medicare-for-all-type healthcare system, a $15/hr. minimum wage, tuition-free public colleges and universities, and compelled reduction in the size and consequent economic and political power of a few mega-banks even more abhorrent.

Throw in sizable tax increases on the wealthy, and the abhorrence of this platform as compared with a Trump presidency shoots off the charts.  At least if you’re a Clinton partisan—Bill Daley, for example, who’s a Democrat only by convenience—and your Wall Street career depended initially upon your family contacts and later upon your Clinton ones.  Or you’ve made your Wall Street fortune the new-fashioned way: private equity.

The very definition of middle-of-the-road, in other words.  Just not the definition of middle-class.  Or working-class.  Unless your work is parlaying your money into ever greater political power in order to ensure a continued inflow of huge amounts of money.

Working-classless, maybe.

In any event we have it now from the horse’s mouth—someone in Clinton’s inner circle.  The risk is that Sanders will lose his moment because some Clinton partisans already see a more centrist campaign as the best way to win over middle-of-the-road voters with millions of dollars who find Trump abhorrent.

Too late, Bernie.  You missed your moment.  You can now withhold not only your endorsement but also your mailing list of three million donors, none of them middle-of-the-road ones.

And some of those three million donors and the many millions more who voted for you, being deemed not as important as the middle-of-the-road voters who hate the idea of a Medicare-for-all-type healthcare system, a $15/hr. minimum wage, tuition-free public colleges and universities, and compelled reduction in the size and consequent economic and political power of a few mega-banks, even more than they hate Trump, may find themselves hating Clinton even more than they hate Trump.  And every bit as much as those millions of middle-of-the-road voters hate a progressive policy platform.  Which is even more than they hate Trump.

What prompted this threat, presumably, was Sanders’ response in an interview with Jake Tapper on Tuesday, when asked what he thought it would take for Clinton to win over his supporters.  “We are trying to say to Secretary Clinton and the Clinton campaign, ‘Make it clear which side you are on,’” he said.  The punditry is up in arms about that.

I myself thought it was a bit harsh, when I read about it on Tuesday.  But Sanders’ instincts were right, apparently.

Tags: , , , , , , Comments (19) | |

More Lies

After almost 8 years the Party of NO and me too, the Republican Party through Mr. Paul Ryan has announced its sketchy version of a national healthcare plan. There is nothing unusual (maybe I should not say this, as distortion and out-right telling lies is unusual) or earth shattering being offered in Mr. Ryan’s plan. For sure, Mr. Ryan’s plan lacks many of the things the PPACA offers today. I do not want to get tied up examining the detail right now so I will move on to something else I wish to point out

Riding on the back of Mr. Ryan’s plan is a complaint, a complaint the PPACA leaves many people without coverage due to its design. As read in Mr. Ryan’s plan;

“as a result of Obamacare’s poor design and incentives, many Americans — who do not have an offer of health insurance through their employer— have fallen into a coverage gap between their state’s Medicaid eligibility and the eligibility criteria for the Obamacare subsidies.”

This statement in Mr. Ryan’s Plan is a blatant lie perpetuated by Mr. Ryan and the Republicans. 19 states did not expand Medicaid to cover their citizens up to 138% FPL. These states were allowed to do so by a SCOTUS ruling supported by Mr. Ryan and Republican. Furthermore, Republicans in their efforts to block anything done by Barack Obama made it clear they would not allow the PPACA to be expanded to cover those citizens who fell into this gap.

Maybe people are immune to the lies coming out of Congress and subsequently do not comment on such an outrageous lie fostered by Mr. Ryan. They are quick to complain about the PPACA and slow to call out Republicans for their lies about the PPACA, which is far better than what is offered by the Party of No.

Tags: Comments (49) | |

Interesting Phenomena

According to the New York Fed Reserve Bank the PPACA appears to be doing what it was intended to do besides grant more people healthcare. States that opted into the Medicaid expansion and the PPACA have experienced a decrease in the number of billings going to collection agencies.

Per Capita Collection Balances

“We see that between 2009 and 2015, the series is statistically and economically indistinguishable from zero in every quarter, which is consistent with the constant and parallel trends of the series in the first chart. This means that collections in counties that did not expand Medicaid grew along similar trends as in counties that did. However, starting in the first quarter of 2015, the difference in differences turns sharply negative. By the fourth quarter of 2015, the chart indicates that, on average, collections declined by more than $100 per capita in the counties most affected by the Medicaid expansion relative to less affected counties. This is a sizable decline, given that the mean of collection balances over our sample period is $280 (and the standard deviation is $186). Note that the declines do not start as soon as the ACA is implemented (in the first quarter of 2014)—this should not be surprising since bills can take many months to enter collections.”

Change in Per Capita Collection Balances

States opting out of the Medicaid expansion and the PPACA experienced a continued rise in collection agency balances.

Hat Tip to Nancy Letourneau at the Washington Monthly who points out Obamacare’s Success in Protecting our Finances

Tags: Comments (6) | |

Jon Chait rhymes with Click Bait

I find Jon Chait extremely interesting and stimulating. I often check his blog and regret the rareness of his posts (look who’s typing). He usually overstates his case and has an even the liberal New Republic hippy punching background.

This subtitle is pure click bait

How Can Hillary Clinton Win the Bernie Sanders Vote?
By moving to the … right? That’s what the data says.

In the post Chait argues that the (surprisingly useful) concepts of Left and Right can’t capture the diversity of political views. In particular he notes the NBC-Survey Monkey result that a majority of people who support Sanders but not Clinton over Trump describe their orientation as “Moderate” placing themselves to the right of the median Clinton supporter.

It is clearly true that many people supported Sanders’s nomination for reasons other than his leftism — Chait notes that he keeps noting this. He puts it well

As I argued a month ago, Sanders has tapped into a good-government tradition that has run through a century of progressive politics, and animated campaigns by figures like Adlai Stevenson, Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Gary Hart, Jerry Brown, Howard Dean, and Barack Obama. Sanders has the image of an authentic, independent, non-corporate conviction candidate that contrasts perfectly against Clinton’s scandal-tainted persona.

If this is completely true, it provides no support for Chait’s subtitle. The claim that politics can’t be reduced to left and right is combined with the assumption that politics can be reduced to left and right, so if Clinton shouldn’t move left, she should move right. The subtitle is mere contrarian provocation, that is, click bait. So is mine.

According to Chait’s actual logic, to win Sanders supporters who don’t support her, Clinton shoult convince them that she is more honest than Trump. Since he is a con man and pathological liar, this should be possible.

The interesting question is whether strong support for Sanders suggests that Democrats should move left. Chait argues against this noting that not all Sanders supporters are leftists. This doesn’t follow at all. The general assumption (certainly Chait’s and mine) was that the label “socialist” was electoral poison. It clearly isn’t. Sanders calls himself a Democratic Socialist and leads all recent general election polls . He leads general election polls in North Carolina ! This isn’t your father’s electorate.

On issue after issue, the main stream Democratic position is to the right of the median adult’s (although elected Democrats are shifting their positions quickly).

This is true on Social Security, Medicare (click and search for “increase spending”), marijuana, taxes on the wealthy and corporations, , Medicare, and Medicaid, and Medicare-for-all (click and search).

The surprising support for Sanders is not all due to surprising leftism. However, it is additional evidence (as if any were needed) that the views of ordinary people in the USA on bread and butter issues are well to the left of those which members of the elite imagine ordinary people have.

update: Clearly Hillary Clinton isn’t following Chait’s advice as Dara Lind notes “Think Hillary Clinton is pivoting to the center? Her new video sure isn’t.
It’s a celebration of protests and difficult women.” What does the savvy disciplined (ok calculating) Clinton up to ?

Here the original point of my original post (which I forgot to type) is that Clinton absolutely does have to worry about Sanders supporters who *tell pollsters* they will vote for her. People who don’t end up voting don’t admit they won’t. In fact, people who didn’t vote don’t all admit it when asked. The key question for Clinton (and for Democrats always) is “will young people vote ?”.

This means that the problem is to get people who definitely will not vote for Trump but may not vote at all enthusiastic. I think this means that a lefty tone is optimal. In any case, it sure seems that Clinton thinks this.

Comments (15) | |

The PPACA and the Uninsured, Sanders, and HRC

I have been listening to the Sanders healthcare Uninsured narrative and his own Undetailed healthcare plan. To me, much of this sounds like Republicans tossing around the usual nonsense about the PPACA. It would be better if Sanders just said we can do better than the PPACA and here is how we can get there (and then explain it). There is something to remember though and pre-PPACA involving the last all out effort to install healthcare in 1992 as led by HRC. It failed because Congress did not lead it and nothing else “major” has been brought to the table by Republicans except a lot of excuses. The Democrats do not escape critiquing either as they have been equally negligent in producing something, anything of plan to get people healthcare. The prelude to the passage of the PPACA was the Senator from Aetna, Joe Liberman, holding the PPACA captive until some fast maneuvering by Reid and Pelosi. Now Sanders may believe he can command a better healthcare plan into being; but, I doubt it will happen until people begin to demand it and change Congress. Not enough of people are doing so today.

“‘You’ve got to take out the Medicare buy-in,‘ Mr. Lieberman said. ‘You’ve got to forget about the public option. You probably have to take out the Class Act (Long Term Care), which was a whole new entitlement program that will, in future years, put us further into deficit.’”

A Blue Dog Senator, Ben Nelson wanted to know the impact of the Medicare buy-in. “I am concerned that it’s the forerunner of single payer, the ultimate single-payer plan, maybe even more directly than the public option.”

What happened then and why we have ended up with the PPACA in its present format was an agreement made by Congress Person Nancy Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid. With the winning of the Massachusetts Senate race by Scott Brown, the dynamics had changed once again in January of 2010.

The Christmas Eve passage of the PPACA bill by the Senate was on the table to be tweaked considerably to get what they wanted to pass into law with the 60-vote majority with Paul Kirk (replaced Edward Kennedy) and later with the election of Martha Coakley. The election of Republican Scott Brown as the new Senator from Massachusetts, stopped any thought of tweaking the Senate bill by the House especially with the conversations going on between Senators Lieberman and Nelson. Instead, Congress Person Nancy Pelosi and Senator Reed decided to take up the already passed bill from the Senate on the Floor of the House. It passed and the PPACA as we know it has been brought up some sixty-something times after the House Republicans passed it 219-212.

Since its passage, there has been a dispute over how many people are actually covered by the PPACA and why those who are not, are not. There have been mega-fabricated-stories on why it has failed people and there has been reasons or facts about why the PPACA does not cover people. Charles Gaba at ACASignups has tracked the signups to the PPACA since it was passed into law in 2010. He has one of the more accurate measurements of signups, why people lose coverage, and why they are not covered detailed on his site.

2016_total_coverage_pie_chart

If you click on the Pice Chart, you will get a readable version of this pie chart. If you doubt its accuracy, Larry Levitt of Kaiser Family Foundation had this to say to Charles Gaba:

“Obviously some of the estimates are approximations, but I do not see any glaring problems. — Larry Levitt (@larry_levitt) March 29, 2016

Let’s get into this a bit and what I want to look into are the “Uninsured.”

• Adults Medicaid Eligible: 5.0 million; And not covered due to the state not expanding Medicaid
• Children Medicaid/CHIP Eligible: 3.0 million And not covered due to the state not expanding Medicaid
• Medicaid Gap: 2.8 million; States not implementing the Medicaid Expansion have penalized citizens from Medicaid (except as already
established under state law) and from the PPACA Market Exchange.
• Undocumented Immigrants: 4.7 million; Federal Law says no coverage available.
• Eligible for Subsidized Exchange policies: 6.5 million; And chose not to sign up.
• Ineligible for Subsidized Exchange policies: 7.0 million; And have the chance for ESI policies or has an income above the 400%.

Except for the 4.7 million undocumented immigrants, all people have a chance to have healthcare insurance of some type unless their state governments disenfranchise them. Now is this going to change with the election of a new president? Probably not until gerrymandering goes away and Congress changes which will not happen under HRC or Sanders. Stomp your foot all you want to, it will remain the same until people wise – up and figure out the Republicans and the big-money people are not on their side. Our biggest issue right now is to get a Justice on SCOTUS who will favor the people and not moneyed or religious interests like the Koch Brothers and Hobby Lobby. To bow out of an election if HRC wins or Sanders wins is self-defeating and not a good choice.

The links are there if you wish to read Kaiser or Charles Gaba. This is briefly what both had to say on the topic of the insured and uninsured. The election comments are my own and I hope you think carefully about the 2016 election.

Tags: Comments (17) | |

There are limits to the analogy between Clinton’s 2008 primary contest with Obama and Sanders’s primary contest now with her. Clinton doesn’t get that. But she needs to figure it out because the differences matter.

We got to the end in June, and I did not put down conditions. I didn’t say, ‘you know what, if Senator Obama does X, Y, and Z, maybe I’ll support him.’ I said, ‘I’m supporting Senator Obama, because no matter what our differences might be, they pale in comparison to the differences between us and Republicans.’ That’s what I did.

At that time, 40 percent of my supporters said they would not support him. So from the time I withdrew, until the time I nominated him — I nominated him at the convention in Denver — I spent an enormous amount of time convincing my supporters to support him. And I’m happy to say the vast majority did. That’s certainly what I did and I hope that we will see the same this year.

– Hillary Clinton, at an MSNBC town hall-style event, Apr. 21

That is true.  Six days after she lost the California primary to Obama in early June 2008 she made a gracious speech strongly endorsing Obama and urging her supporters to support him, and repeated it in a primetime speech at the Convention.

Which almost certainly is what Sanders will do, almost exactly.  But what he also will do is attempt to play a role in the drafting of the party platform.  And when he endorses Clinton and then campaigns for her he will point out both that Trump’s actual fiscal-policy and healthcare policy proposals, published on his website, are geared toward gaining favor with the Republican Party elite, especially the donors who have been (very) effectively financing the so-called think tanks that draft and dictate Republican Party dogma and have been doing so for several decades now.

And Sanders also will remind the public that he remains a senator, as does Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown and three or four others–among them now Chris Murphy of Connecticut, he made clear a day or two ago in an eloquent statement–who comprise the Senate’s contingent of what’s often referred to as the Warren wing of the Party.

Which is why it is so off-base, so missing the point, for Clinton and many pundits to claim that Sanders’s primary campaign and his decision to remain an active candidate seeking additional elected delegates in the remaining primary and caucus states endanger Clinton’s, and the down-ballot candidates’, chances in the general election.  Because of critical distinctions between the nature of Obama-vs.-Clinton in 2008 and Clinton-vs.-Sanders now, the very opposite is likely true: There were few significant distinctions between Obama’s and Clinton’s domestic-policy proposals, but fairly large distinctions between some of Clinton’s and some of Sanders’.

The main policy distinction between Clinton and Obama in 2008 was on foreign policy. Clinton as a senator had voted in favor of the Iraq war authorization.  Obama, not yet a member of Congress, nonetheless had publicly voiced opposition to it.  The virulently angry Clinton supporters—the 40 percent of her backers who, if the poll she referenced was accurate, thought in June 2008 that they would not vote for Obama that November—almost certainly were mostly middle-aged women, many of them upscale career women like her, and older women, who were angry at Obama for halting the road to the presidency for a woman.  They were not, suffice it to say, pro-Iraq war voters; instead, for them the chance to see woman elected president was paramount. Policy differences, such as they were between two candidates, were secondary.

As Paul Krugman often reminds, the key domestic policy difference between Obama and Clinton was Clinton’s support of an individual mandate to obtain healthcare insurance as a key part of her detailed healthcare-insurance proposal, and Obama’s rather craven opposition to the mandate in his own proposal.  As someone who supported John Edwards in 2008 until it became clear that the race was between Clinton and Obama, but who remembers well that it was Edwards who brought healthcare insurance into the primary contest, proposing a plan that Clinton quickly adopted almost in full as her own because Edwards was gaining media and voter admiration for making it an issue—and who was not pleased that Obama needed to be prodded to propose his own plan and then proposed one that clearly was weaker than Edwards’s and Clinton’s—I seriously considered switching my allegiance to Clinton rather than to Obama.

The deciding factor for me then in choosing Obama?  That I didn’t want another triangulator as a Democratic president, and figured that while Clinton surely would be that, Obama only might be one.  He wasn’t particularly specific about most domestic-policy positions, something that annoyed ad concerned me.  But he was promising change.

Clinton fails at her own (rather large) risk to recognize the differences between the 2008 primary contest and this one, and why Sanders’ campaign is helping her own chances in the general election—a well as those of down-ballot candidates.  To illustrate the key differences between then and now, I’m selecting excerpts from two campaign reports, one by Baltimore Sun political reporters Kate Linthicum and Chris Megerian, from April 24, the other a lengthy Campaign Stops blog post by New York Times correspondent Emma Roller. Both reports are from

Linthicum and Megerian write from the campaign trail in Reading, PA:

In recent months, Bernie Sanders has transformed Dennis Brandau from a guy who hated politics into a first-time voter. On Tuesday, the 29-year-old line cook will proudly cast a ballot for the Vermont senator in Pennsylvania’s Democratic presidential primary.

But the bruising campaign this year also has turned Brandau into a fierce opponent of the Democratic front-runner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He says he has a hard time imagining backing her this fall if she wins the nomination.

“I don’t know if I can vote for her,” Brandau said. “I don’t even want to hear her talk.”

Sanders’ chances of winning the nomination have dimmed since his 16-point loss to Clinton in last week’s New York primary. Polls show he faces an uphill race in several of the five Eastern states that vote on Tuesday, as well as in California’s June 7 primary.

Some of his supporters remain so steadfast, however, that a #BernieOrBust movement has picked up momentum on Twitter. So has an online pledge for supporters who vow to vote for Sanders as a write-in candidate if he loses the nomination.

Roller reports, also from Reading:

KEITH MANDICH had been to this theater before, to see John Mellencamp.

Now Mr. Mandich, a retired steelworker, was back in downtown Reading, Pa., to see another guy he thought of as a hero for working-­class America: Senator Bernie Sanders.

In his bid for the Democratic nomination, Mr. Sanders has nurtured vocal support from young, college-­educated liberals. But he also has fervent support from people who remember the era of well­-paying union jobs at manufacturing plants — and who are very aware of how far we are from that time.

“I just like Bernie because he’s old like me,” joked Mack Richards, 70, another retired steelworker at the Reading event. Pennsylvania is among the five states holding a primary on Tuesday, and it has the most delegates at stake. Since neither party has locked up its nominee yet, the state’s white working­class voters have more of a voice in the primary process than they have had in years past. In 2008, they were considered Biden voters — the white working-­class denizens of Scranton, Pa., and places like it — whom Joe Biden, Scranton’s own, was supposed to win over for Barack Obama.

This time around, the fight for these voters has focused significantly on a somewhat unlikely contender for juiciest campaign issue: international trade deals and their repercussions.

Any presidential candidate on the stump knows how to work a good metaphor into a speech, and Mr. Sanders knew to use the very ZIP code he was rallying in.

“In many ways, what is happening here in Reading, what has happened over the last several decades, is kind of a metaphor for what’s happening all over this country,” Mr. Sanders told the crowd. “We have seen a city which once had thousands of excellent-­paying jobs lose those jobs because of disastrous trade policies.”

He went on to list corporations, including the Dana Corporation, that had shut down plants in Reading and moved overseas. Mr. Mandich, the Sanders supporter and Mellencamp fan, said that he was laid off from his job at the Dana Corporation, which manufactured automobile frames, when the company closed its Reading plant in 2000. The Dana Corporation was one of the companies that supported the Clinton administration’s effort to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement, which activists and liberal economists argue did more harm than good to the United States economy.

Kevin Wright, a high school physics teacher in line to see Mr. Sanders, saw parallels between the populism on the left and similar sentiments on the right. “We’re the response to the Tea Party,” he said.

His sister, standing next to him, laughed nervously. “Careful!” she warned.

“The Tea Party has taken over the Republican Party,” Mr. Wright continued. “I think our movement’s stronger, and has more numbers, and is more rational and grounded in reality. And you can see that just based on the people here.”

The crowd in Reading skewed a bit older than a typical Sanders rally — possibly because it took place on a weekday afternoon. Fritz Von Hummel, 55, a self­-employed appliance technician who was laid off from his previous job in November, canceled a couple of appointments to come to the event. He said he had not had health insurance for the past seven years because he could not afford it, and he was eager to talk about the shortcomings of President Obama’s signature health care law.

“I’m just furious with the situation the way it is,” he added.

Roller went on to report from a Trump rally a few miles away.  Some of the people she spoke with there echoed refrains similar to those of the Sanders’ supporters.  Here article is titled “CAMPAIGN STOPS: Pennsylvania, Where Everyone Is ‘Furious’.”  The Linthicum and Megerian piece is titled “Voters’ ‘Bernie or Bust’ efforts persist despite Sanders’ vow not to be another Ralph Nader.”

I myself think there’s little danger that most millennials like Dennis Brandau and perhaps-millennials but anyway youngish Sanders supporters like Kevin Wright and his sister won’t ultimately vote for Clinton.  I think they’re more likely to fear Trump than the middle-aged and elderly working-class Sanders supporters.  And I think that thanks in part to social media, they’re more likely to know or learn before November, simply from their web use, that Trump’s fiscal-policy platform is drafted by standard-issue Republican operatives, borrowing from Republican lobbyists and the Club for Growth/Koch brothers’ think-tank-payroll folks.

I think this is so even though Clinton effectively wrapped up the nomination by winning by 16 points in the New York primary in which only those who were registered as Democrats by early October 2015 were able to vote in that primary, and large percentages of young and younger New Yorkers were independents.  Clinton, understandably, doesn’t mention that publicly.  But it is a fact.

And what about the middle-aged one-time factory workers who support Sanders now?  And the middle-class white collar workers whose kids will borrow, or have borrowed, large amounts in student loans?  What about those who pay high healthcare premiums with out-of-pocket expenses that to Clinton may seem negligible but seem less so to the ones who pay these?

These are not people who are livid that Clinton is keeping a Jewish 74-year-old male from gaining the nomination.  They are people who care, deeply, about the policy differences between the two candidates.  And I’m pretty sure that many of them care, as I do, that Clinton keeps feigning ignorance about what people mean when they use the phrase “the establishment.”  And that Clinton has campaigned against Sanders largely using a playbook seemingly co-opted from a used-car-salesman sales manual, pre-lemon-laws.

I myself harbor not so much as a second of doubt that I will vote for president in November, and about whom I vote for.  It will not be the Republican nominee.  And I absolutely know that I will be joined in that by many, many millions of Sanders primary supporters.

And I dearly hope that Sanders will follow the playbook I say above that I expect him to.

And I will say this: Far from hurting down-ballot candidates’ fundraising chances for the general election, those of us who have contributed to Sanders’ campaign—we’ve done so through ActBlue.com—will continue to receive, as we already have, ActBlue’s solicitations for contributions to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  We’ll click the buttons and fill in the blanks, like we have done for Bernie Sanders.  We’ll do so upon our own accord, and also at Bernie Sanders’s urging.  We will be reminded that the Warren wing, the Sanders wing, of the Democratic Party badly needs to grow.  Into a majority in Congress.

Turns out that millennials already have figured this out, according to dramatic results of a newly released poll taken by the Harvard Institute of Politics.  And many progressive older folks know this, too.  At least those who aren’t New York Times op-ed columnists or the like.

____

ADDENDUM: Just want to add that once Trump chooses Scott Walker as his running mate–he seriously seems headed in that direction, and recently hired Walker’s campaign manager as his campaign’s deputy director or something–the Dems’ problems will take care of themselves, thank you very much.

Added 4/27 at 4:29 p.m.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , Comments (14) | |

The US suicide rate has increased markedly over the past 8 years

The US suicide rate has increased dramatically (via Kevin Drum whose commentary is excellent as usual)

I have two thoughts about possible causes

One hand gun ownership. I know the rate of gun ownership has declined (always explained by the alleged decline in hunting). It is rare for people to kill themselves with rifles. I have a sense that handgun ownership has increased, but google didn’t send me to handgun specific data in5 minutes. Gallup & GSS give contradictory numbers. I will look at Gallup. Here there is a strong geographical pattern with increases in the East and MidWest. That can be compared to suicide rates by someone less lazy than me.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/150…

Suicide rates by sex shout out that it has a lot to do with guns. I think the evidence is mainly state level correlation http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/ne…

The other idea is recent wars and suicide. The rate of suicide among veterans is far about that of the general population. The increase in suicides in your graphs is roughly equal to total suicides by veterans. Suicide rates are highest for young men. Young veterans with recent service are most at risk. This can’t be the whole story (the numbers are change compared to total) but the correlation is in the time series.

Comments (5) | |

I’ve diagnosed the problem (with Clinton’s campaign; one of the problems, anyway): She keeps coming up with vapid soundbite lines that in the context of this primary contest are ridiculous. Like “It’s easy to diagnose the problem. You’ve got to be able to solve the problem.”

I’m getting really good at recognizing instantly the latest vapid or ridiculous soundbite that Clinton has settled on and will be repeating again and again.  So I detected her latest one the moment she introduced it at last Thursday’s debate:

It’s easy to diagnose the problem. You’ve got to be able to solve the problem.

Clinton was busy with private fundraisers on Friday and Saturday, I believe, but she confirmed the accuracy of my radar when on Sunday she told a block party in Washington Heights:

It’s easy to diagnose the problem. You’ve got to be able to solve the problem.

I’m not sure what problem she’s diagnosed that she has in mind.  It’s certainly not, for example, that many millions of Americans remain without healthcare insurance and that many, many millions more live in fear of actually needing major medical care because their deductibles are so high and that huge swaths of Americans find their standard of living significantly impaired because of the high and annually-increasing insurance premiums.

Unless, of course, she means that Bernie Sanders has diagnosed the problem.  And that he is proposing a way to solve the problem.

I mean … just sayin’.

Tags: , , Comments (21) | |

More to the Story on Killing the VHA

run75441: Ater I posted my article on the VA, it received a comment from

Suzanne Gordon

who writes on healthcare and has covered VA healthcare at her blog and also at American Prospect; Unfriendly Fire Fall 2015. Unfriendly Fire discusses the VHA coming under severe criticism from Libertarian ideologues and conservative right wing politicians even though the VHA offers far better care than what the commercial healthcare system offers. I would urge you Suzanne Gordon’s article on American Prospect.

I also checked out Suzanne Gordon’s blog and her latest post. She was discussing the 15 member Commission on Care put in place after the made up Phoenix scandal claiming 40 veterans died while waiting for an appointment (never happened in the manner described or happened at all). It appears a gang of seven members of the commission have taken it upon themselves to meet in private away from the other 8 members and drew up a proposal to eliminate the VHA by 2035 rather than strengthen it. Besides meeting secretly and outside of the public-eye together which may be a violation of the Federal Sunshine Act, the commission gang of seven met with Congressmen Jeff Miller and Paul Ryan.

Congressman Jeff Miller is the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman and a staunch advocate of privatizing the Veterans Health Administration who has decided to interfere with the congressionally appointed Commission on Care not only by meeting privately with select members of the commission but also by writing a stern letter criticizing the one member of the Commission veterans can count on, Phillip Longman. First lets point out in reading Congressman Jeff Miller’s biography, it does not appear he is a military veteran of any type. Yet, he has claimed intimate knowledge of what veterans would and would not accept. For example, he believes veterans would agree with him the VA should be under funded and would reject an increase in US debt to fund the VHA so it could provide better services for veterans. Simple answer Congressman Miller, this veteran believes you should sponsor an increase in taxes on the upper income bracket you and the Republicans have favored over veterans.

I think most veterans (including myself) realized the last administration underfunded the VHA about the time an influx of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were hitting the VHA’s doors and many aged Vietnam veterans needed more care also. Besides attending private meetings with a portion of Commission members, Congressman Jeff Miller has chosen to attack Phillip Longman, a supporter of all veterans being able to receive healthcare under the VHA besides funding the VHA properly. Again, it does not appear Congressman Jeff Miller is a veteran of any type. Yet while attacking Phillip Longman (who helped expose the truth) and calling the Washington Monthly article and Phillip Longman’s editorializing fabrications; Congressman Jeff Miller feels it is ok to meet privately with 7 members of the VHA Commission. Please take a moment and read Congressman Jeff Miller’s attack letter on Phillip Longman to the chairman of the VA Commission on Care Nancy Schlichting. There are flagrant and intentional inaccuracies in Congressman’s Millers letter which I will go through at a later time.

I dally here in anger and I want to move the readers on to Suzanne’s blog post “Secret Group Trying to Kill VHA” on the topic.

Suzanne Gordon

This has been a pretty amazing week in D.C. when it comes to healthcare. We just discovered about a secret cabal — made up of right wing ideologues and hospital executives with a huge financial stake in VHA privatization –within the VA Commission on Care. The group has been promoting a plan to totally privatize the VHA. I wrote about it on The American Prospect blog. Please read and be alarmed and act to protect the VHA.

Deliberations by the VA Commission on Care, the congressionally mandated group planning the future of the Veterans Health Administration, have, as The American Prospect has reported, become increasingly marred by controversy. When the 15-member commission met in Washington in mid-March, another furor erupted. A recently uncovered proposal to privatize the VHA set off a firestorm of protest within the veterans community.

Several members of the commission learned that seven of their colleagues had been secretly meeting to draft a proposal to totally eliminate the Veterans Health Administration by 2035 and turn its taxpayer-funded functions over to the private sector. Those commissioners dubbed the plan “The Strawman Document.”

The authors of the Strawman Document insist that the VHA is so “seriously broken” that “there is no efficient path to repair it.” Although the commission’s work is supposed to be data-driven and done by the all the commissioners together, the faction meeting independently of the full commission has ignored many of the studies that indicated that treatment at the VHA is often better and more cost-effective than the care available in the private sector.

It is not surprising that the Strawman group has chosen to ignore this research—its members have a vested interest in dismantling the VHA. The Strawman authors include Darin S. Selnick, a part-time employee of the Koch-funded group Concerned Veterans for America, as well as Stewart M. Hickey, a former leader of Amvets, a group that broke away from a coalition of large veterans service organizations because of its support for Concerned Veterans’ interest in dismantling the VHA.

The Strawman authors acknowledge that private-sector health-care systems do not provide integrated care, high-quality mental-health treatment, or many other specialized services that the VHA currently delivers. But if the VHA became an insurer—paying the bills instead of providing direct care—it could spend more money trying to “incentivize” providers to give better care in these areas.

Private hospitals would also get federal funding to run what are now VHA Centers of Excellence, which treat epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and other conditions veterans face.

Representatives of veterans service organizations (VSOs) believe the secret meetings of the Strawman group may violate the Sunshine and Federal Advisory Committee Acts, as well as the commission’s agreed-upon processes. The commission had set up working groups to consider key VHA issues. Unlike the secret Strawman meetings, the subcommittee members were well known by all members and the public. Meeting times were posted, and discussion minutes were recorded.

The Strawman faction engaged in another end run around their colleagues when they met with Republican Representative Jeff Miller, chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Speaker Paul Ryan. One representative of a major VSO, who asked not to be identified, observes: “If the authors requested the meeting with the House leadership, that constitutes lobbying. If they were invited by the House leadership, that constitutes more interference into the commission’s deliberations. Either way, this meeting, funded by the U.S. taxpayer, was totally inappropriate.”

“The plan does represent a complete deflection of responsibility to subject these men and women to an alternative ‘payer-only’ system of care that not only is ill-equipped to absorb the demand but is also, at best, minimally equipped in terms of expertise and the ability to coordinate such complex care over a veteran’s lifetime,” says Sherman Gillums Jr., acting executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America.

Before the Strawman proposal became public, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) launched Setting the Record Straight—a social media campaign against proposals that would privatize some or all of the VHA. Garry Augustine, DAV’s Washington executive director told the Prospect, “Although we have voiced our views about VA health care for the future, it seems many on the commission are committed to [doing] away with the VA health-care system and turn veterans over to private health care, which we believe would result in uncoordinated and fragmented care for veterans.”

The commission would do far better to consider the views of VA Undersecretary of Health David Shulkin and commission member Phillip Longman. Shulkin has argued for strengthening the VHA and giving it a more active role in directing and coordinating any care veterans receive in the private-sector system. Longman believes that the VHA should serve all veterans—not just those with service-related conditions or those who are low-income veterans.
- See more at: Secret Group Trying to Kill VHA

Tags: Comments (2) | |