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

Oh, but Janell Ross, you promised to cite EXAMPLES of racist comments by Bernie Sanders. If you can’t actually deliver on that promise, then maybe a retraction of the racism allegation against him is in order? Just sayin’.

Folks, you really just have to read this for yourselves.  Excerpting from it or summarizing it can’t possibly do it justice.

Which is what it deserves.

Suffice it to say that I’m not eager to engage in a debate of this sort, and I agree that some comments by Sanders supporters about the devotion to the Clintons that so many middle-aged and elderly African-Americans have is condescending and in some instances downright demeaning.  As for me, I’m pretty sure that everyone is entitled to vote for whichever candidate he or she prefers. As an obsessive Sanders supporter myself, I think everyone should vote for Sanders.  But that’s just my opinion; everyone else is entitled to hold another one.

And there really is no question that, as Ross says, if Clinton wins the nomination it will be African-Americans who are responsible for it.

But if Sanders has made racist comments, it appears that about half of younger African-American voters missed it, because they’re voting for Sanders. So if Ross knows of actual instances of direct or implicit racist comments by Sanders, she might want to apprise younger blacks of these.  She’s a blogger for the Washington Post, so she has a high-profile forum to do that.

So do that, Ms. Ross.  Do that. Unless of course you can’t.


Tags: , , , Comments (5) | |

The IMF and the Next Crisis

by Joseph Joyce

The IMF and the Next Crisis

The IMF has issued a warning that “increasing financial market turbulence and falling asset prices” are weakening the global economy, which already faces headwinds due to the “…modest recovery in advanced economies, China’s rebalancing, the weaker-than-expected growth impact from lower oil prices, and generally diminished growth prospects in emerging and low-income economies.” In its report to the finance ministers and central bank governors of the Group of 20 nations before their meeting in Shangahi, the IMF called on the G20 policymakers to undertake “…bold multilateral actions to boost growth and contain risk.” But will the IMF itself be prepared for the next crisis?

The question is particularly appropriate in view of the negative response of the G20 officials to the IMF’s warning. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Law sought to dampen expectations of any government actions, warning “Don’t expect a crisis response in a non-crisis environment.” Similarly, Germany’s Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schaeuble stated that “Fiscal as well as monetary policies have reached their limits…Talking about further stimulus just distracts from the real tasks at hand.”

The IMF, then, may be the “first responder” in the event of more volatility and weakening. Theapproval of the long-delayed 14th General Quota Review has allowed the IMF to implement increases in the quota subscriptions of its members that augment its financial resources.Managing Director Christine Lagarde, who has just been reappointed to a second term, has claimed the institution of new Fund lending programs, such as the Flexible Credit Line (FCL) and the Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL), has strengthened the global safety net. These programs allow the IMF to lend quickly to countries with sound policies. But outside the IMF, Lagarde claims, the safety net has become “fragmented and asymmetric.” Therefore, she proposes, “Rather than relying on a fragmented and incomplete system of regional and bilateral arrangements, we need a functioning international network of precautionary instruments that works for everyone.” The IMF is ready to provide more such a network.

Comments (7) | |

Hillary Clinton Admits That She’s an Idiot. Seriously.

In 2012, President Obama campaigned as a champion of the auto industry by taking credit for the auto bailout and repeatedly hitting his opponent, Mitt Romney, for opposing it. Some think the strategy helped Obama win reelection.

Four years later, Hillary Clinton appears to be using the same playbook — only this time she’s doing it in the Democratic primary. In Sunday’s Democratic debate in Flint, Mich., Clinton underscored her support for that bailout and — somewhat disingenuously — suggested that Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) didn’t support it.

“I voted to save the auto industry,” she said. “He voted against the money that ended up saving the auto industry. I think that is a pretty big difference.”

What Clinton said is technically true, but it glosses over a lot of important nuance, including the fact that Sanders is actually on the record as supporting the auto bailout. He even voted for it.

Clinton clearly figures the auto bailout may prove to a big factor going into Tuesday’s primary in Michigan and the one next week in Ohio, where both candidates are hoping to do well and where the auto industry is big. So it seems like she’s willing to take the gamble that fact checkers may call her out for her tactic Sunday — but that voters won’t.

The Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders clash over the auto bailout, explained, Amber Phillips, reporting on Sunday’s debate, Mar. 7

Phillips then details the procedural background of the auto bailout:

As the magnitude of the 2008 financial crisis swept the nation in the waning days of his presidency, President George W. Bush announced he was injecting $17 billion in taxpayer money to auto giants Chrysler and General Motors, which warned they needed an immediate influx of cash to stay afloat.

Bush was pulling money out of the $700 billion financial rescue program that Congress had approved two months earlier, most of which was intended for and eventually went to prop up Wall Street banks and insurance companies.

Bush didn’t want to use that money for the auto industry; he had hoped Congress would approve a separate bailout for GM and Chrysler. Democrats in Congress tried to, but in December 2008, Senate Republicans blocked a $14 billion plan over a disagreement about its terms.

Republicans weren’t opposed to the aid, so much as they wanted the auto industry to make big cuts in pay and benefits by 2009; Democrats wanted to give the auto industry a few more years to cut its debts. The end result was that Congress didn’t set up a separate bailout for the auto industry, and Bush was forced to draw on the Wall Street bailout to prop up the automakers.

Phillips continues:

Clinton and Sanders were both in the Senate at the time, and contrary to what Clinton implied Sunday, both supported the idea of an auto bailout.

Sanders argued that letting the auto industry go under was too big of a risk for middle-class workers — it could lower wages across all sectors of the economy and have a ripple effect on states like Vermont that were fairly far removed from the auto industry. He was quoted by Vermont Public Radio at the time as saying:

The problem is if you don’t act in the midst of a growing recession, what does it mean to create a situation where millions of more people become unemployed? And that could spread, and I have serious concerns about that. I think it would be a terrible idea to add millions more to the unemployment rolls.

But Sanders was vehemently against the larger $700 billion bailout to prop up the banks. (As evidenced by his presidential campaign, Sanders is no fan of Wall Street.) So he voted against the bank bailout.

The bank bailout was so big it had to be doled out in portions. In January 2009, Senate Republicans tried to block the Treasury Department from releasing the second half of the money, some of which was designated for the auto industry. Sanders, based on his opposition to the Wall Street bailout, voted against releasing that money as well.

That vote gave Clinton the opening she needed to hit Sanders as anti-auto bailout on Sunday. “If everybody had voted the way he did, I believe the auto industry would have collapsed, taking 4 million jobs with it,” she said.[My boldface.]

Phillips sums up:

Clinton is technically correct that Sanders voted against releasing the money that went to the auto bailout, but Sanders can also correctly argue that he supported the auto bailout when it wasn’t tied to the Wall Street one.

I’ll add this: Taking Clinton at her word, she believes that if everybody had voted the way he did, the auto industry would have collapsed, taking 4 million jobs with it.  The operative words in the sentence in which she said this are: “I believe that”.

I suggest that we do take her at her word, which is that she believes that the Democratic-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate, together with an outgoing Republican president who supported the auto bailout and an about-to-be-inaugurated Democratic president who did too, would not have separated the finance-industry bailout from the auto industry bailout, and instead would have allowed the industry to collapse.  Which makes her about as in touch with reality as Donald Trump is.

The alternative is what Phillips says; that:

Clinton clearly figures the auto bailout may prove to a big factor going into Tuesday’s primary in Michigan and the one next week in Ohio, where both candidates are hoping to do well and where the auto industry is big. So it seems like she’s willing to take the gamble that fact checkers may call her out for her tactic Sunday — but that voters won’t.

In other words, the alternative is that Clinton is a sleaze bucket who is willing to demean voters by incessantly misrepresenting facts about things that are really important to them.  And that it hasn’t occurred to her that this is exactly the kind of thing that has gained her a reputation among Democrats and millennials as dishonest.  She is dishonest and has run her campaign against Sanders as a taunt that she can get away with sleights of hand that amount to brazen misrepresentations because she’s, well, Hillary Clinton.  And a woman.

Fielder’s choice, folks.  But establishment Democrats need to reckon with her decision to employ an army of campaign consultants who feed her gimmicks, sleight-of-hand falsehoods, and comments that taken at face value suggest that she is an idiot.  She falls back on this stuff whenever new polls are about to be released showing Sanders gaining again, which is why today’s poll didn’t surprise me.

She also said in that debate—she reiterated it; she’d said it before recently—that she thinks Donald Trump, the billionaire who  likely will be the Republican nominee, accepts large speaking fees from the finance industry and pharmaceutical companies. Which is the only way to make any sense of her absurd claim that she need not release the transcripts of her highly-paid speeches to finance-industry folks and other major players in the lobbying-campaign-donations industrial complex.  If Clinton is Trump’s opponent, then under the terms that she herself has set for releasing the transcripts of her paid speeches to these industry folks, her refusal next fall to release them will play a large role in the campaign.  But so, now, in the primaries, should the cascade of manipulative and ridiculous statements that she spouts.


Tags: , , , , , Comments (47) | |

Forget ‘Women and Children’. Women ARE Children. Right?

Okay, y’all know about the controversy: At Sunday night’s debate in Flint, Clinton interrupted Sanders, repeatedly, and tried to talk over him.  And at one point Sanders said to her, “Excuse me. I’m talking,” and, then, when Clinton again interrupted him, said “Wait a minute. Wait. Could I finish? You’ll have your turn, all right?”

Oh, the horror. At least according to an army of political journalists.  Most of whom work for the Washington Post.

Clinton is A WOMAN CANDIDATE.  And she’s running to become the first WOMAN NOMINEE OF A MAJOR POLITCAL PARTY FOR PRESIDENT.  Ergo, commentaries titled “What Bernie Sanders still doesn’t get about arguing with Hillary Clinton,” in which Janell Ross mentioned that Clinton’s campaign was equating Sanders’ comments to the infamous conduct by Rep. Rick Lazio, Clinton’s 2000 Republican senate-campaign opponent, and who seems to agree with that.  And ‘Excuse me, I’m talking’: Bernie Sanders shuts down Hillary Clinton, repeatedly,” the title of a blog post by Peter W. Stevenson, also a Fix-er.  And this from The Fix blog leader writer Chris Cillizza in his post-debate Winners and Losers take on Sunday night:


Bernie Sanders: The senator from Vermont had effectively walked a fine line in the previous six debates when it came to attacking Clinton without coming across as bullying or condescending. He tripped and fell while trying to execute that delicate dance on Sunday night. Sanders’s “excuse me, I’m talking” rebuttal to Clinton hinted at the fact that he was losing his temper with her. His “Can I finish, please?” retort ensured that his tone and his approach to someone trying to become the first female presidential nominee in either party would be THE story of the night.

Well, it was THE story, I guess, among journalists and others who never forget that Clinton is running as a WOMAN but who don’t consider in these writings that she’s campaigning on a platform of equal treatment for women.  Equal pay for equal work.  Break down glass ceilings and other barriers.

Well, at least the glass ceiling that supposedly still exists that would be trying to keep, say, Elizabeth Warren from the White House, had she sought it.  And who, I’m betting, does not consider herself such a delicate flower that she shouldn’t be treated, on the campaign trail or elsewhere, that same a man would be treated in the same circumstances.

And who can actually distinguish between a male campaign opponent who repeatedly physically approaches his female opponent on a debate stage and shoves a document in her face and demands that she sign it, and a male campaign opponent who finally draws the line on a debate stage that his female opponent has repeatedly crossed.

I do not believe that Sanders would not have said exactly the same things to a male opponent.  And I do believe that the criticism is the very height of hypocrisy by a candidate whose primary shtick has been that her election is necessary in the service of equality for women.  And, for that matter, by political commentators or anyone else who professes concern about double standards for women and men

But I also think Clinton came into that debate Sunday night with the very intent to be in-your-face-obnoxious.  And some pundits caught this:

Sanders shot back that if people truly had a problem with the comment that Sanders made, they should look at the speaking time Clinton was given and at the number of times she interrupted the Senator.

“Well, I think that given the fact that during that debate she ended up going on many occasions [over the time allotment] – and when I was speaking she interrupted me. I didn’t interrupt her, despite the fact that she spoke longer.”

Bernie Sanders Responds To Debate Interruptions: Says Clinton Is the Rude One,

The actual link is, so I’m assuming that the original title of the article was “Bernie Sanders responds to ridiculous debate-tone policing”. They shouldn’t have changed the title.

Clinton thinks this type of stuff and her habitual sleight-of-hand misrepresentations of Sanders’ record–a special feature of her debate performance on Sunday–are the path to wrapping up the nomination.  We’ll see about that.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , Comments (8) | |

Why the Refuge Protestors May Have Been Right

Protests have always been a part of America and this one at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge appears to be no different. Violence and the taking of life when it does not have to occur has also played a part in the protests. It was no different at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

In the past unions, facing company and governmental opposition to their demands have resorted to violence when they found peaceful protests did not work to gain recognition. Frustration on the part of union picketers with the appearance of strikebreakers, the delivery of materials, and the shipment of product eventually led to violent reaction. My own personal experience while attending a seminar in San Francisco found me in the midst of a hotel workers strike at the Sheraton on The Wharf. They were not a happy bunch and spent much time verbally abusing the help or scabs, as they called them, guiding us into the hotel. The hotel business continued and after the strike ended, the workers who stayed during the strike were let go. Either way, Labor paid.

Illegal and at times legal conduct by any protesting group almost always led to forceful retaliatory action by business, police and the military. The clashes sometimes led to injury and death with the employers, police, and government better equipped than the protestors and strikers. Under cover of the law, the actions of the police and government were just another vindication of employer rights and societal laws. Even in this environment, Labor prevailed. It has changed since those times when Labor was growing in influence. Labor and protesting success is on a downward slope losing ground in each confrontation whether legal or not. Legislatures continually nibble away at unions, worker, and protestor rights.

A Little History and Numbers

I did get in a discussion about the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The history of the refuge and grazing, the diversion of water, the low grazing prices charged ranchers, and the over grazing of land in the early years is mostly correct. To take over a refuge and federal land, it is hard to understand why someone would risk life and limb to challenge the local authorities, the government, and the military. In any case, it is a sure recipe to lose, go to prison, or die when you challenge the authorities, are armed, and considered dangerous. One man did pay with his life and the rest are under restraint by the authorities. This short commentary is not so much an argument of whether their stance was right or wrong as much as whether it was worth it or the right one to make. By taking over the Refuge, I believe the protesting ranchers left the public with the wrong impression.

The domination of the beef production by the meat packers and retailers plus the failure of Government to react to it has increased the costs faced by smaller ranchers and contributed to the controversy of grazing rights. With the consolidation of meat packers and the rise of giant retailers such as WalMart, prices for bringing cattle to feed lots decreased forcing cattlemen to reduce cost. Two ways to reduce cost are increase the size of your herds which requires more land or increase the numbers of meat packers so no one meat packer can influence the market. Smaller ranches have higher costs in production over larger ranches result from the numbers of cattle brought to market. Fewer cattle to feed lots or markets result in higher costs per head. In my opinion, the argument should be made with the government about the consolidation of meat packer market. Grazing rights and the ownership of land by the Federal Government is not necessarily the right argument to make. Whether the Government can own or control land was decided by SCOTUS (Light vs. U. S. and U.S vs. Grimaud) years previous and after the Sagebrush wars when the Federal Government started to charge fees for access after land was designated as national parks.

“In 1990 and after a decade of mergers, 4 companies ‘slaughtered and packed 69 percent of US-grown cows’ as reported by University of Missouri rural sociologist Mary Hendrickson. The progress gained by independent ranchers from the passage of such bills as the Sherman Anti-Trust, Wilson’s Clayton, and Harding’s Packers and Stockyards Acts has deteriorated. Today, the top “four meatpacking companies control 82 percent of the beef market — an unprecedented share of the pie.”

The Issue for Small Ranchers

The issue of grazing comes up when smaller ranchers try to increase the size and volume of their operations to gain the economies of scale achieved by the already much larger manufacturing ranches and there is nowhere to do so except expand on to public lands. A small ranch of 20 to 49 head may have a cost of ~$1600/head as compared to ranch of 500 or more with a cost of ~$400/head. The larger the ranch and herd is, the more the spread of Labor and infrastructure cost. To grow your herd to lower the cost/head as determined by meat packers and retail giants, a rancher needs land. What was previously free, was leased to ranchers and the costs of leasing came into question as added burden as well as whether it was constitutional.

invisible hand

Pressure to reduce costs came into play. As meat packers scaled up their industry through buyouts and the addition of capital, retailers such as WalMart did the same through larger operations. Larger ranching operations meant lower cost per head and also per pound of meat. Cost pressure increased all the way down the processing line. Ranchers which could expand did so, and the rest either turned to boutique businesses, sold out, or went out of the meat business altogether. The alternatives were dire.

Even with the expansion of the ranches, the percentage of retail dollar going to ranchers continued to shrink. It was either scale up and continually lower costs or go out of the beef business. Thousands of ranches did either and still those left struggled to get by. To increase competition amongst ranchers, meat packers offered exclusive contacts to buy meat and added contests (increased prices) which promoted heavier chickens or cattle sold, etc . The problem was, no one monitored what the livestock was fed. The smaller ranches who could not compete in this environment disappeared from the market place.

invisible hand

By policy, federal anti-trust regulators whose funding was cut by Congress, blocked by past administrations, or were pro-business mostly ignored the actions of companies using their market power to drive prices (oligopsonistic?) down. Similar tactics are employed by automotive OEMs who squeezed the supply base on pricing, inventory, payment terms (90 days and then late in payment), etc. If you do not like it, then you do not get the business to sustain yourself. Some Tier Ones such as Delphi, Yazaki, Lear have been able to fight back and then too some of the same (Delphi) have been forced to curtail their businesses through reorganization. The strategy also changed for antitrust regulators as New America Foundation’s Barry C. Lynn; points out; “since the era of Reagan, US antitrust regulators have focused almost exclusively on whether large companies use their market power to harm consumers by unfairly raising retail prices” and leaving small companies to fend for themselves.

What the Rancher’s Argument Should Have Been

What this strategy does is change the focus to “low pricing to consumers” (think China manufacturing of product) from competitive and fair business practices of meat packers and retailers in the market place. In other words, if it is low pricing to the customers, it has to be good. Well, past practices of such environments have shown it was not good in the end. Yes the consumer gets a low price; but it is fatal to small businesses and Labor by leaving a concentrated market controlled by a few corporations. Today, the meatpacking industry is controlled by 4 majors having >80% of the business. This type of concentration was largely put to rest in the past by the passage of Sherman Anti-Trust, Wilson’s Clayton, and Harding’s Packers and Stockyards Acts and the enforcement of these laws in the past until reinterpreted narrowly by Reagan’s DOJ. This practice hurt small farms and ranchers decades ago and in the end the consumer as competition is lessened.

This should have been the rancher’s argument. The take over of the Refuge was a distraction from the real issue faced by small ranchers and small businesses. It may have been a reaction of last resort; but, it was fatal to their cause.

What President Obama Tried To Do to Help Small Ranchers

After his election in 2008, President Obama took up the cause of independent farmers and ranchers against the excesses of meat packers. Starting with a series of 5 meetings with various farm groups representing cattle, hog and chicken farmers, the USDA who was charged with rewriting regulations and President Obama found themselves blocked by a Republican controlled House. While the Senate supported appropriations for the overall meat industry, the House went full out blocking food stamp and food safety programs. No one wanted to place the poor at risk. In December 2011, the USDA published 4 watered down regulations of which the only full strength regulation eliminated arbitration. In May 2012, the DOJ followed through with a report on the five 2010 meetings detailing a lack of competition. The DOJ went to state:

“It could not act to address these wrongs because, no matter how outrageous the conduct of the processing companies, their actions did not amount to “harm to competition” as defined by the current antitrust framework” which was skewed to protect consumers. Obstructionist Republicans in the House not only blocked any reform efforts but also any change to the law or USDA regulations and threatened budget cuts to the Department of Agriculture. It would be interesting to discover which Republicans blocked the reform efforts of Obama and the DOJ and came out in support of grazing rights for ranchers.

How the Administration’s Actions Harmed the Ranchers

The efforts of the administration to reform the industry may have caused more harm than good; “documenting the big processing companies’ exploitation of independent farmers” through the five meetings held by the administration” and “then failing to stop that exploitation and retreating in almost complete silence before entirely predictable resistance from the industry, the administration, for all intents, ended up implicitly condoning these injustices.”

The failure to succeed and subsequent silence gave further support to the “processing companies and they were now free to do whatever they wished to in the meat industry” knowing whatever they did would not be countered.

Furthermore, the raising of hopes and the backing of independent ranchers against big farming business interests frustrated the hopes of the independents who hoped for a fair shake in the open market. They were left again with few if any alternatives. Some gave up and others chose a more militant reaction forcing the administration to take action against the very ones they were seeking to help. And the Republicans, laughed at the moral failures of the administration.

The rest of the story . . .


Obama’s Game of Chicken Washinton Monthly, November/December 2012

Are Monopolies Destroying America

The Oregon Militia Is Picking the Wrong Beef With the Feds Mother Jones, January, 2016

Cattle group alleges corruption in meatpacking industry

Tags: Comments (47) | |

To Honor Scalia

by Mike Kimel
  To Honor Scalia
I’ve been thinking about the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the death of  Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.  Apparently, he died while on a free, all-expenses paid trip to a very exclusive resort.  The trip was paid for by an undisclosed benefactor and the identity of Scalia’s companions on the trip are also unknown to the public.  News stories from the past few weeks indicate that Mr. Scalia had a long history of accepting such gifts, as do some (all?) of his colleagues on the Supreme Court.
By unhappy coincidence, it turns out that a public servant receiving gratuities from and engaging in surreptitious conversations with unknown parties is often a public servant on the take.  Worse, the American public is ignorant.  Most of us believe that if a behavior is indistinguishable from theft, or graft, or bribery in both appearance and outcome, well, then it must be theft, or graft, or bribery.  As a result, most public officials are subject to a code of ethics.  However, no such rules apply to the Supreme Court.
Fortunately, as Chief Justice Roberts pointed out, he and his colleagues are all “jurists of exceptional integrity.”  That’s why they can take hundreds of free vacations without it influencing their behavior.  They know it.  Sadly, many of the rest of us don’t.  So the problem lies with us, the American public.
Educating the proletariat to think correctly, unfortunately, is an almost impossible task.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t need a class of people who are completely unaccountable to tell us what we can and cannot do.  So if we cannot bring wisdom to the peasantry, how else can we ensure that the Scalias are afforded the deference they are due?   One way to protect our betters is to remind them that the rest of us truly don’t get it.  They need to know that we really are simple enough to confuse the appearance of impropriety with impropriety.
Unfortunately, it will take a code of ethics applying to the Supreme Court for the public to “get it.”  And it turns out this isn’t a new idea.  Every so often, (beginning in 1973!) someone in Congress introduces something called the Supreme Court Ethics Act.  I can’t speak for the details of the bill, but conceptually, this is just the sort of thing that would protect the reputation of Scalia and his peers from gutter-sniping by the peons.
But that points to yet another way the public has failed our esteemed superiors:    the Supreme Court Ethics Act never gets the votes it needs to protect the Guardians of the Constitution.  But I sense an opportunity, a way for us, the ignorant non-members of the rarified Judiciary, to redeem ourselves for the offenses we caused to Scalia’s reputation.  We can petition Congress to support the Act.  More importantly, we can ask that the bill be renamed.  Who, after all, could possibly oppose the Honorable Justice Antonin Scalia Ethics and Integrity Act?






Tags: Comments (6) | |

You read it here first, AB readers. … [Important addendum added.]

I scooped everyone!


ADDENDUM: I would note that Ruth Bader Ginsburg will turn 83 on March 15 and that, while clearly still mentally very sharp, does not appear to be in good physical health.  There’s been a lot of speculation that if the Dem nominee, very likely now Hillary Clinton, wins the general election, and the Republicans retain control of the Senate (very unlikely, in my opinion, but probably not in theirs), they will continue to refuse to allow hearings on a Supreme Court nominee to fill Scalia’s seat.

I (strongly) suspect that the Republican idea is that Ginsburg will leave the Court fairly early into the next administration because of physical disability or death, and that the two overtly political cases currently before the Court, whose clear purpose is simply to skew elections to Republicans—and which now are deadlocked 4-4, and which the Court, rather than affirming by deadlock in a non-precedential ruling the lower appellate courts’ ruling not in favor of the Republican Party’s bald political interests, will instead be reargued next term.  Voila! Precedential opinions, by a 4-3 vote, profoundly skewing elections to favor the Republican Party.

The Federalist Society has gamed this out.  Trust me.

Meanwhile, the wingnut “legal foundations” that represent the petitioners in those two cases and that regularly fabricate cases for the Supreme Court to employ by a one-vote margin as their quiet-coup mechanism, will be working overtime (no, I mean even more so than usual) cooking up other cases on the wingy to-do list.

They know that this is not sustainable forever.  But they think it is sustainable long enough for them to accomplish their top priorities.

The Dem presidential candidates should talk about this.  I call this the Republicans’ wing-and-a-prayer strategy.  The Dem candidates, and Obama as well, should call it this, too.

They also should call it this: an attempt to orchestrate a silent coup.  I’ve been wondering whether issues other than the damn culture-wars ones that are at issue in Supreme Court appointments will ever get any attention from the Dem candidates.

I don’t think Clinton has the intellectual capacity to discuss, or the interest in discussing, anything but the culture-wars issues when mentioning the importance of Supreme Court appointments.  And Sanders, unlike Clinton, has no background in law.  But he should get information about both of the current Supreme Court cases I am referring to–Evenwell v. Abbott and Friedrichs v. California Teachers Assoc.–from people who know quite a bit about them.  And then he should discuss these.  These are the very types of things that his candidacy is about.

Added 3/3 at 12:15 p.m.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , Comments (11) | |

Harry and Louise Now Support Sanders’ Medicare-for-All Plan. With Good Reason.

In the Comments thread today to my post yesterday titled “Clinton Announces When She Will Disclose Her Healthcare Insurance Improvement Plan: She’ll announce it just as soon as the Republican presidential candidates tell us theirs,” reader Urban Legend wrote, as part of a several-paragraph comment:

While a single payer plan is superior in theory — and has been proven in practice — thought should be given to the extreme political danger of offering a program at this time that can and will be painted by Republicans as one that will destroy half a million jobs in many different states. There was more than spite in Joe Lieberman’s objection to the public option. Think Hartford, Connecticut, insurance capital of the country. We would see “Harry and Louise” in spades. (Look it up if you’re too young to remember, and see what happened to Congress in the following election in 1994.)

I responded:

Guys, I’ve pretty much given up on trying to convince Dem baby boomers and silent generationers that it’s no longer the ’80s and ’90s and that the Bernie-is-a-SOCIALIST thing would mean a George McGovern-like trouncing and a Repub sweep in congressional elections. Finally, that argument is no longer being made by the punditry; instead it’s now the reverse: Can Clinton beat Trump, given the public’s now-obvious anti-Koch-brothers-Republican-platform mood.

But I do want to respond to Amateur Socialist’s concerns about Harry and Louise, whom I remember quite well.

The reason for the success of the insurance industry’s anti-Hillarycare ad featuring the young couple Harry and Louise was that the essence of Hillarycare was that it would all-but-force people who had choose-any-doctors-and-hospitals-you-want insurance into HMOs or PPOs that limit the choice of doctors and hospitals to those in a network, sometimes a small network, especially back then, and that sometimes required a referral by a primary care doctor for access to a specialist.

Most people back then had employer-provided insurance that did not have those limitations.  Their insurance was like Medicare—usually like Medicare with a supplemental plan is now.  The problem back then was that there still were tens of millions of people who had no access to insurance, many of them because of preexisting medical conditions, and also that premiums had been skyrocketing. And suddenly many employers were no longer paying the entire premiums.

But of course now, very few employers provide insurance that does not involve healthcare networks.  And very few now pay the full premiums.  And most policies have much larger copayments and much larger deductibles.

These are the really big problems with the ACA’s marketplace plans, too.

And these are the problems that Sanders’ Medicare-for-all proposal would eliminate.  No provider networks, no large copayments, no large deductibles, and affordable premiums.

In other words, Harry and Louise would support the Sanders plan now.

Enough said on that, I would think.

The two paragraphs in Urban Legend’s comment that precede the one I quoted read:

I agree that the Thorpe alleged take-down of Sanders’ single payer proposal is ridiculous. As you say, you can’t expect a candidate to dot every i and cross every t in a broad campaign proposal. The experience of other countries indicates almost certainty that in the long run, everyone would come out ahead with a “Medicare for All” system.


I disagree completely that Clinton has no proposals for healthcare. She has quite specific proposals, including tax credits up to $5000 to reduce co-pays and deductibles (which she says are excessive), efforts to reach 16 million people who are eligible for Medicaid (a single payer plan) but haven’t signed up, and revival of the public option, the primary purpose of which was to make a genuine non-profit, efficient insurance offering available and force insurance costs further downward through direct competition. Whether they are adequate or not is a matter of opinion, but it should not be said that she has no proposals. They are there for everyone with a finger and two seconds to see.

The first of those paragraphs refers to the main point of my post: the sheer silliness of Emory University healthcare economist Kenneth Thorpe’s most recent attempt at a takedown of the Sanders proposal. The second of the paragraphs—well, it’s meaning needs no background.

But it does raise this question: Why has there been no study by mainstream progressive economists about the costs of these proposals of Clintons’, and an explanation of why this would be better than a plan that would, among other things, significantly reduce what are now the very high premiums that employers now pay to private insurers and that employees themselves pay in contributions to the premiums costs and also in copayments and deductibles?

Paul Krugman, maybe?  Nah.

Tags: , , , , , , , , Comments (31) | |