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

Recounts and Runoffs – 2018

Senate:

Arizona:In Arizona’s race for the Senate, two candidates are separated by about 16,000 votes with approximately 75 percent of results in. Republican Rep. Martha McSally was leading her Democratic opponent Rep. Kyrsten Sinema by less than 1 percent in the race to fill outgoing Republican Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat.”

The last I read somewhere, Sinema had over taken McSally and the race was too close to call. This will not throw the Senate into a majority Democrat; but it will narrow the gap just in case a Republican suddenly wants to take the high ground.

Florida: Sen. Bill Nelson is preparing for a recount in a race too close to call against Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Scott held a 0.21 percentage lead over Nelson on Thursday afternoon. Since the results are less than .25 of 1% a recount is mandated under Florida law.

Challenger Rick Scott has filed in court alleging Broward County Supervisors of Election Brenda Snipes on Thursday, asking the court to order Snipes to turn over several records detailing the counting and collection of ballots. Scott’s thin lead over Nelson has narrowed in the vote-counting in the days since he declared victory on Tuesday. Quelle Surprise!

Florida’s phony status as a perennial swing state is reassured again in this election year as it consistently decides important National and State elections with the thinnest of margins and a ton of excuses as to why it happened this way. Since Gore, it still has not brought the voting process under control. As long as it worked for Scott and other Republicans, they were happy. When it starts to slip away from them and their popularity dissipates, they look to the courts to contest alleged violations which were perfectly alright when it favored them.

The irony of Scott and Republican’s anger at Democrats for trying to all the votes counted as Repubs have been suppressing voter turnout in both Florida and Georgia.

Mississippi: Senate candidates in a special election to replace retired Sen. Thad Cochran will go to a runoff at the end of the month because no one candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote. Republican incumbent Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith received 41.5 percent of votes and her opponent Democrat Michael Epsy received 40.6 percent. The runoff will take place on Nov. 27.

For Mississippi??? and the race is that close? Unbelievable! Stennis was the last Democrat elected to the Senate for Mississippi. I am not sure I would call him a Democrat. He served from 1949 to 1989.

House

Nearly 20 races for the House remained too close to call, with the outcomes uncertain in states such as California, New York, Georgia, New Jersey and Washington state. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., the chairman of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, said House Democrats were still counting ballots and assessing races too close to call.

California: Some races (6) in California are still up for grabs, including four in the one-time Republican stronghold of Orange County.
Georgia: Republican Reps. Karen Handel and Rob Woodall races remain too close to call as absentee ballots are still being counted. Democrat Lucy McBath, the Democrat challenging Handel, said “this race is far from over.”

Utah: Republican Rep. Mia Love trailed Democratic challenger Ben McAdams. McAdams had a strong showing in his home county of Salt Lake County. Love hoped to flip the deficit by winning a large portion of the votes left to be counted in her stronghold of Utah County. Apparently long polling lines led to slow vote tallies.

Maine: Computer-assisted tabulations under the state’s new voting system will be used to determine the winner of the congressional race between Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin and Democrat Jared Golden. A test of ranked voting methodology, since neither candidate collected a majority of first-place votes under Maine’s ranked-choice voting system (used for the first time Tuesday); the results triggered an additional round of voting. As I understood this from reading the article, other finishers in the four-way race are eliminated and the votes are reallocated.

The allocation process will take place next week. Voter’s second choice will be applied to the candidates and so on till a candidate secures 50+% of the vote.

This should be an interesting test (Fair Vote Org. has been advocating for this).

Governors:

Florida: In the governor’s race, Democrat Andrew Gillum’s campaign said Thursday it is preparing for a recount. Gillum conceded to Republican Ron DeSantis on Tuesday night. The counting has continued and the race has tightened with DeSantis leading Gillum by .47 of 1% percent.

Georgia: Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams’s campaign argued in a press conference today, a recount or runoff is still possible if all the votes in the state are counted. As he did on Wednesday, Republican candidate Brian Kemp can not declare a victory as thousands of votes remain uncounted and unaccepted ballots have been reconciled.

Abrams through her litigation team demanded from Kemp’s office as the office of the secretary of state to release the data on uncounted provisional ballots and military and overseas votes. Kemp’s spokeswoman Candice Broce claimed those votes amount to around 22,000 to 24,000. There also appears to be some discrepancy on early votes being tallied. The belief is and contrary to what Kemp has stated; if all of the remaining votes are counted, there could be enough additional votes for Abrams to trigger an official recount or even a runoff election.

Kemp should have been more careful on eliminating voters. All of the effort, it was not enough, and if he loses; you can bet on a more thorough investigation on voter fraud and civil rights violations by elected officials.

I am sure there are more to be added to this list. Please do so.

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Why Congressman Mike Bishop Lost in Michigan’s 8th District

Tom MacArthur a multimillionaire former insurance broker who negotiated the House legislation to repeal the ACA taken to the wood shed by a constituent. Tom MacArthur met with his constituents in a Town Hall meeting and he listened to them and took the abuse he rightfully deserved. Mike Bishop consistently refused to meet with his constituents face to face in a high density, Gerrymandered Republican District. People were angry and we needed the right candidate to emerge and lead. Elissa Slotkin won!

It did not have to be this way. It could have been different. MacArthur like Mike Bishop chose his political party over country and constituents. Tom MacArthur and Mike Bishop lost.

The eleven minutes to hear this rebuttal are worth hearing.

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If Migrants Throw Rocks, Military Will Respond with Paper or Scissors . . . Trump

PENSACOLA, FLORIDA (The Borowitz Report)—Backtracking from his earlier suggestion that the military should fire upon migrants if they throw rocks, Donald J. Trump said on Saturday that he was ordering the military to respond to rocks with either paper or scissors.

Speaking at a rally in Pensacola, Florida, Trump said that the decision about whether to use paper or scissors to retaliate against rocks would ultimately be left up to military commanders at the border.

“If rocks come flying at them, they should go ‘paper, scissors’ until they have an answer,” Trump said.

He issued a stern warning to the migrants approaching the border, telling them, “The United States military sees your rocks and is raising you paper or scissors.”

At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary James Mattis insisted that Trump’s latest order was “not a stunt” but refused to answer how the military would come up with fifteen thousand pairs of scissors on such short notice.

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Who is Lying in the 8th District Congressional Race?

Michigan 8th District Congressman Mike Bishop’s ad:

“Additionally, under the American Health Care Act (AHCA), insurance companies cannot deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions – yet Elissa Slotkin continues to lie about Mike Bishop’s record.

Sec. 137 of H.R. 1628 of the AHCA states:

“Nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting health insurance issuers to limit access to health coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions.”

Under the bill, health status cannot affect premiums, unless a state asks for and receives a waiver — a condition of which is the state having other protections in place for those with pre-existing conditions. To obtain a waiver, states would have to establish programs to serve people with pre-existing conditions. No matter what, insurance companies cannot deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.”

It is a tossup in Michigan and Mike Bishop and his campaign manager “Stu” are scrambling and slinging all the mud they can to sway many of the voters he ignored over the last two years when he was invited to meet in townhall meetings. He could care less and there was always an excuse not to be there and listen to the people talk about his priorities and what he is doing as their Congressional Representative. He will ignore many of his constituents again over the next two years if we return him to office.

Everyone can have access to buy anything they want to buy; but, can they afford it is the question? Charles Gaba at ACA Signups; “The AHCA did not protect pre-existing conditions” the same as the coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). What the AHCA does do is allow states to strip away those protections via the waiver process.

Quickly, the ACA prevents insurance companies from: refusing to insure someone with pre-existing conditions, charging more for pre-existing conditions, denying coverage of the condition, not covering a minimum of 60% of enrollee medical costs, having an arbitrary maximum annual or lifetime claims cap, and capping maximum out-of-pocket costs for in-network healthcare expenses.

Except for preventing insurance companies from refusing to insure someone with pre-existing conditions, the AHCA Mike Bishop voted for allows states to opt out of all of the other protections of the ACA. If we were living in a state which sought to protect its citizens from predatory insurance companies and assist them in getting affordable healthcare and healthcare insurance, I would not worry as much as to what Michigan Republicans would do.

Since 1992 Michigan has been controlled by a majority Republican Senate, a Republican majority House 18 of 26 years, and a Republican governorship 20 of 28 years. During that time period, Republicans have favored business over its constituents. The Medicaid expansion barely passed in Michigan with Senator Joe Hune (Senate Insurance Committee Chair) proclaiming he was sick to his stomach with its passage. Lana Theis is running for his seat as well as Adan Dreher. Lana favors farming out the administration of Medicaid insurance to insurance companies such as what might be found in an Advantage Plan which produces no better results than Medicare and costs taxpayers and Medicare recipients 14% more. Adam Dreher is more in tune with the constituency.

In the end Elissa Slotkin is not lying about Mike Bishop and the AHCA as Congressman Mike Bishop’s AHCA which he voted for does not protect constituents with pre-existing conditions in Michigan in the same manner as the ACA. His vote for the ACHA allows states to wavie the ACA protections in favor of insurance companies who can charge more, limit coverage, or deny coverage.

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Abigail Spanberger Taking Dave Brat to the Wood Shed

If you have not seen this yet, take a moment, watch, and listen. It makes you feel good about being a Democrat.

This is the 7th District Virginia’s Elissa Slotkin, Abigail Spanberger running for the Congressional Representative in Virginia. After verbally wondering if Dave Brat knows which Democratic candidate she is, listen to her remind Dave Brat she is not the Democratic candidate who supports Bernie Sanders healthcare plan he attacks her for and she is the candidate who supports a public option. She closes with, as Dave Brat raises a Red Card, “I ask for your vote on November 6th, Abigail Spanberger is my name.”

Like Esquire’s Charles Pierce tells us, it reminds you of the Ali-Terrell fight—What’s my name, motherf***er?

Abigail took teabagger Dave Brat to the wood shed and just tore him apart. It is a great take down.

HT to EMichael

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Claiming Voter Fraud, Trump Is Poised To Disregard a Democratic House Victory

HuffPost Politics:

New York Times columnist Economist Paul Krugman fears that President Donald Trump’s insistent complaints of “voter fraud” are a setup to deny the legitimacy of a Democratic majority in the House should the party win in the midterm elections.

Those who don’t believe such a scenario is possible “haven’t been paying attention,” the Nobel laureate warned.

Trump has complained, without evidence, that as many as 5 million people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election.

Hillary Clinton beat Trump in the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. Trump’s claim, if true, would wipe out that margin and then some.

Trump set up a commission to investigate the votes, but it has not substantiated his claims, nor has it issued any reports. Commission member Matthew Dunlap, Maine’s Democratic secretary of state, said the panel was the “most bizarre thing I’ve ever been a part of.”

Yet, Trump keeps raising the issue.

Myself: There has been no evidence of massive voter fraud. Examination after examination of voter fraud claims reveal fraud is very rare, voter impersonation is nearly non-existent, and much of the problems associated with alleged fraud relates to unintentional mistakes by voters or election administrators. In 2016, Trump claimed he won the popular vote besides the Electoral College if one deducts the millions of people who voted illegally. This is false and made only worse by those in his administration who would promulgate and foster his delusional stories and outright lies.

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Win for Students Having Loans From For – Profit Educational Institutions

A Federal Court cleared the way for students who have been defrauded by for-profit institutions (I hesitate to call them schools).

“This court ruling is a major victory for thousands of students across the country who were defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges taking advantage of our broken student loan system. We commend Attorney General Maura Healey for her leadership fighting for students who were left with thousands of dollars in debt after their for-profit colleges collapsed.

The federal student loan system creates perverse incentives that enable bad actors to prey on students. Without adequate protections for students, these predatory corporations will continue to base their business models on the availability of these loans, with little commitment to providing quality education.”

These Obama-era protections and remedies were being blocked by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss rejected a request by for-profit college representatives to halt the regulations. Even with the win, the answer from the Department of Education is arrogant in response. Student loan servicers do not hesitate a moment to penalize a borrower with penalties and fees if the are late.

“DeVos and conservatives have said the Obama-era policies are unfair to colleges and too costly for taxpayers. She has proposed creating a stricter standard for fraud claims and eliminating the ban on mandatory arbitration agreements.

But DeVos’ push to finalize those revised regulations has hit an unexpected snag that will delay having a replacement policy on the books by another year. The Education Department said it won’t meet a key Nov. 1 regulatory deadline, meaning that the replacement regulations aren’t likely to take effect until July 2020 at the earliest.”

Hopefully the State Attorneys and others can convince the Judge to hold Betsy DeVos in contempt for not activating the court’s requirements in a reasonable amount of time less than 2 years.

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Cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid McConnell Says

After instituting a $1.5 trillion tax cut and after signing off on a $675 billion Defense budget, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday, Tuesday, October 16, 2016;

“The only way to lower the record-high federal deficit would be to cut entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security1.”

More McConnell: “It’s disappointing but it’s not a Republican problem.” The deficit, grew 17 percent to $779 billion in fiscal year 2018. “It is a bipartisan problem and a problem of the unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future.”

The deficit has increased 77 percent since McConnell became majority leader in 2015.

A new Treasury Department analysis on Monday revealed that corporate tax cuts had a significant impact on the deficit this year. Federal revenue rose by 0.04 percent in 2018 which is a nearly 100 percent decrease from the previous year’s 1.5 percent. In fiscal year 2018, tax receipts on corporate income fell to $205 billion from $297 billion in 2017.

Still, McConnell insisted the change had nothing to do with a lack of revenue due to the tax break or increased spending resulting from new programs since 2015. Instead he insists the deficit increase is due to entitlement and welfare programs. Now he does the old switcheroo from the yearly deficit to the national debt.

McConnell said, the debt is very “disturbing and is driven by the three big entitlement programs that are very popular, Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. There has been a bipartisan reluctance to tackle entitlement changes because of the popularity of those programs. Hopefully, at some point here, we’ll get serious about this.”

What McConnell does not tell you is 8 years out those tax decreases will go away for much of the population and many will see tax increases. McConnell and Republicans needed a way to keep the 60% of the total tax break going to the 1% of the Household Taxpayers making greater than $500,000 annually since this tax break was passed under Reconciliation rules (Democrats could not block it without 60 votes). Robert Reich has called this a Trojan Horse tax break.

Recently, Mitch McConnell has been considering his legacy. I think it would be adequate to paraphrase it as: “I saved the 2018 tax break for the 1 percenters. To hell with the rest of you.”

1. PGL pointed out the variance is barely audible on scale of the deficits. “I have skipped the chest thumbing about the economy from Mnuchin and Mulvaney to focus on the stupidity ala CNBC. Real government spending barely kept pace with inflation, which is why outlays relative to GDP fell from 20.7% to 20.3%. Real tax revenues clearly fell in absolute terms and as a percent of GDP went from 17.2% to 16.5%. I guess this is what one gets when one lets Lawrence Kudlow become a chief economic adviser. But this kind of dishonesty is well known ever since Kudlow and his ilk tried to pull this intellectual garbage in the 1980’s. Does anyone at CNBC not realize the Trump White House is playing the same games with numbers?

I kept my post the same because it is just another ruse by McConnell to get something done for no reason what-so-ever. It is a lie by McConnell.

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Senate Dems put Republicans on the Spot Over Junk Healthcare Plans

Last March, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin sponsored a bill (Fair Care Act) to block President Trump’s plan to allow insurers to sell short term or what is frequently called junk plans. Senator Baldwin bill would reverse all of what the Republicans attempted to do with short term plans by reinstating protections for pre-exiting conditions, maintaining the community benefit costing of the plans, blocking life-time cost limits, etc.

Senator Tammy Baldwin:

“As someone who was branded as a child with the words, ‘pre-existing condition,’ I want to make sure that no parent, foster parent or grandparent has to choose between helping their child get better or going bankrupt,” said Senator Baldwin. “Republicans pushed repeal, but promised they would protect people with pre-existing conditions. The Fair Care Act is an opportunity for lawmakers to keep their word on guaranteed protections for pre-existing conditions.”

The bill is more symbolic than anything as it will not get past Senate Republicans. Senator Baldwin was using it as a way of emphasizing the hypocrisy of Republicans promising constituents at home support of healthcare-for-all regardless of pre-existing conditions and then not supporting pre-exiting condition as we know it to be in healthcare while in Congress. As an example, the Republican AHCA which failed by one vote (McCain) would have established subsidized Risk Pools and insurance companies could have charged higher premiums for pre-exising conditions.

More on this beyond the 13 minute Risk Pool Part YouTube clip by Charles Gaba at ACA Signups which is an update to Why Republican Short Term Healthcare Plans “Suck”. In this version, Charles explores in depth what will happen when the Mandate is eliminated and people either drop out on healthcare altogether or go to short term plans. Charles also ads a solution to subsidies stopping at 400% FPL.

I am hoping you took the 13 minutes to view Charles Gaba review of the impact of the mandate elimination and short term plans implementation plus his solution to the needed relief for those beyond 400% FPL. In the end, we are back to where we were at pre-ACA.

Moving on to Tammy Baldwin’s Fair Care Act and the vote. Under the purview of the Congressional Review Act, which gives Congress the ability to reverse federal regulations within a certain time window; Senator Baldwin was able to introduce a resolution to unwind the Trump administration’s expansion (Executive Order) of short-term insurance plans. Senator Baldwin had the 30 votes needed to force a vote reversing the Executive Order on short term plans. Normally this vote would have never seen the light of day; but this time, McConnell could not stop it.

October 10, 2018 the Senate voted on Senator Baldwin’s S.2494 – Fair Care Act. Forty-nine Democrats and one Republican voted for Baldwin’s resolution, while fifty Senate Republicans voted for an expansion of junk insurance plans that can deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and do not have to provide essential health services like prescription drugs, emergency room visits and maternity care. Senator Susan Collins was the lone Republican voting with Democrats. It failed in the Senate.

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Trump Administration Proposes Limiting Protests Near White House

The Trump administration has proposed changes to limit demonstrations near the White House and National Mall. The limits include closing 80% of the White House sidewalk, placing limits on spontaneous demonstrations, and imposing a “First Amendment fee” for protests (gotta make up for the deficits he created).

✓ The public has until October 15 to comment on the plans.

✓ Under current policy, the National Park Service charges fees for special events (e.g., concerts and weddings), but not for First Amendment demonstrations (e.g., marches and protests).

✓ The American Civil Liberties Union, NAACP, Hispanic Federation, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Women’s Law Center, Human Rights Campaign, Sierra Club and a number of other organizations oppose the change.

Trump clearly wants to limit protesting outside of and near the White House; but, it would not cover protests coming from inside the White House.

Donald Trump continued his tirade against the Federal Reserve in a late Wednesday television appearance, laying into the central bank’s policy decisions and suggesting it is to blame for Wednesday’s sharp market decline. Saying he is “not happy” with the Fed, Trump explained why he was not happy with the Fed in a broad based economic review of Fed policy of continuing increases in Fed Rates to stave off the threat of inflation.

“The problem I have is with the Fed. The Fed is going wild. I mean, I don’t know what their problem is that they are raising interest rates and it’s ridiculous. The problem [causing the market drop] in my opinion is the Treasury and the Fed. The Fed is going loco and there’s no reason for them to do it. I’m not happy about it.”

Earlier Wednesday, Trump suggested; “They are so tight. I think the Fed has gone crazy.”

To date, this has not been a wage driven inflationary spiral as YOY hourly income increases in nonsupervisory has been stuck at 2.7%. Trump does not appear to grasp that his and Republican policies have created the an inflationary spiral which the Fed is trying to slow and which constituents will suffer from soon enough.

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