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

Scott Brown Solves the Mystery of What All Those Mega-Corporations Are Doing With Their Record Profits

They’re spending it on lawyers!

I’m not kidding.  Brown told a 27-year-old Fidelity Investments retirement specialist that big corporations can’t afford to hire people because they’re spending so much money on lawyers.  Which they have to do because of all those regulations.  Which is why he wants to “loosen regulations on big companies”: “So they could spend more money on hiring instead of on lawyers.”

And to think that I thought he wants to loosen regulations on big companies because the owners of one of the biggest companies of all—Koch Industries, which can afford to hire as many people as it wants, despite its big attorneys’ fees—wants loosened regulations and is spending huge sums of money to buy his election.  Silly me.

Obviously, I’m wrong about that, because the 27-year-old Fidelity Investments retirement specialist—her name is Erin Henson—accepted this and now plans to vote for Brown.

Although there also is another reason she’s decided to vote for him.  His opponent, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, has been highlighting her support for small businesses.  “Her ads show her walking around Main Street, America — that means nothing to me,” Henson told Associated Press reporter Holly Ramer, who’s in New Hampshire covering the race.  “I don’t think small businesses are going to be the wave of the future for people of my generation. I think she’s a little too focused on the little guy, and I’m not the little guy.”

No, she’s not the little guy. But her clients will be if they don’t change financial advisers, since their current one doesn’t keep up with corporate-profits news.  And if her supervisors at Fidelity read the AP article and realize that she’s clueless about current corporate profits and about what big corporations do with those profits, she might soon become a little guy herself.

Unless, of course, Paul Krugman’s been pulling my leg.

Shaheen should point this out.  If Brown isn’t aware that U.S. corporations are seeing record profits, and if he actually believes that the reason that companies aren’t hiring more than they are is that their regulatory lawyers’ fees are so high, he’s probably not someone most people would want in the U.S. Senate.  I mean, what if he becomes chairman of the Banking Committee or the Finance Committee?

Then again, Ms. Henson’s a Fidelity Investments retirement specialist, and she thinks Brown is onto something.  Although on second thought, I’m guessing that if Brown wins, Henson plans to recommend that her clients invest in those derivatives that bet against the stock market.

____

ADDENDUM: Does anyone know how to reach someone high up in Shaheen’s campaign or in the DSCC?  I saw Ramer’s report on Yahoo News yesterday; it’s my opening page on Chrome.  But it certainly wasn’t a big political story–I just happened to catch it—and neither the Shaheen campaign nor the DSCC may be aware of Brown’s comments.  But this is exactly the kind of thing that the voting public should be told of, because it really does get into the essence of public policy.

So, please, if anyone knows how to reach someone high up at the Shaheen campaign or at the DSCC, and cares about the outcome of the Senate elections: Can you contact whoever and pass along the link to my post here?  Even reaching someone important in Harry Reid’s office might work.

Political pundits, our-side economists … anyone who can reach someone, directly, who matters ….

I mean it.

Thanks!

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Sooo …. which of Obama’s economic policies do you want to repeal or defeat, Repubs?? And replace those policies with whose–I mean, what–economic policies, exactly? Do tell!

Barack Obama wanted to galvanize Democrats when he insisted this week that his economic policies are on the ballot in November. Instead, the soundbite has already become the centerpiece of new Republican attack ads.

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell uses the clip in a new commercial, shared first with POLITICO. Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts turned his own ad earlier Friday morning. And New Hampshire Senate candidate Scott Brown is using the clip in a web video against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

“Alison Grimes says this election is not about her support for Barack Obama and his failed policies,” a narrator says over footage of a Grimes commercial that showed her shooting a gun. “But Obama himself says a vote for Alison is a vote for his policies.”

Obama’s comments Thursday came in front of a supportive crowd in Illinois during a speech billed as an attempt to refocus the national discourse on his economic agenda.

“I am not on the ballot this fall … But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot — every single one of them,” he said.

GOP ads pounce on Obama’s economy comments, James Hohmann and Kyle Cheney, Politico, today

The article goes on to say that Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts and New Hampshire Repub. Senate nominee Scott Brown will run similar ads in their respective states.

To which I say: Please do.  It is, after all, Obama himself, not Obama’s actual economic policies—which most people have no clue about—that creates the problem for the Democrats.  Much less is the problem for the Dems the Senate Democrats’ proposed economic policies— which most people have no clue about.  The economic policies that the Senate Republicans are blocking.

Obama prefaced those comments with some actual specifics about the results thus far of one set of his policies, Obamacare. Justic Sink of The Hill reported yesterday (H/T Paul Waldman):

“There’s a reason fewer [Republicans] are running against ObamaCare — because while good, affordable healthcare might still be a fanged threat to freedom on Fox News, it’s working pretty well in the real world,” the president said.

The day after the anniversary of rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges, Obama argued that a “dramatic slowdown in the rising cost of healthcare” had led to more individuals being covered and prices staying lower.

“If we hadn’t taken this on, and premiums had kept growing at the rate they did in the last decade, the average premium for family coverage today would be $1,800 higher than they are,” Obama said. “That’s $1,800 you don’t have to pay out of our pocket or see vanish from your paycheck. That’s like an $1,800 tax cut.”

And, Obama said, the cost of government healthcare programs like Medicare and Medicaid are decreasing alongside the costs of private insurance.

“Healthcare has long been the single biggest driver of America’s future deficits,” Obama said. “Healthcare is now the single biggest factor driving those deficits down.” …

“In just the last year, we’ve reduced the share of uninsured Americans by 26 percent,” Obama said. “That means 1 in 4 uninsured Americans — about 10 million people — have gained the financial security of health insurance in less than one year.”

The president also argued that the availability of insurance through ObamaCare meant young entrepreneurs were freed “to strike out on your own and chase that new idea,” rather than remaining in jobs that provided medical coverage.

It’s great that Obama finally deigned to speak publicly about the specifics—including specific results—of one of his policies, Obamacare.  He generally doesn’t do speaking publicly about the specifics (and certainly not specific results) of his policies, or, regarding most of his and the congressional Dems’ economic policies, even the existence of their policies and policy proposals.  Which may be why no one knows the specifics, or even the generalities.

But, the press being the press, and the political punditry being the political punditry, what matters is that Obama said the words, “I am not on the ballot this fall … But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot — every single one of them.”  “These policies” could mean … well … it doesn’t matter.

As it happens, a majority of the public, even in “red” states, aren’t all that keen on the prospect of the Koch brothers’ policies becoming Congress’s blatant policies.  So the new Republican ads about Obama’s policies being on the ballot should be countered not only with a demand to know which specific economic, fiscal and regulatory policies these candidates want to repeal but also with reminders that the Koch brothers’ policies are on the ballot, too.

Every. Single. One. Of. Them.

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Browncare. Go for it, New Hampshirites! It’s BETTER!

In a new radio interview, [Massachusetts senator-cum-New Hampshire senate candidate Scott] Brown professes support for protecting people with preexisting conditions and other general goals of the law. But he reiterates his support for repealing Obamacare, claiming its goals should only be accomplished by states:

“I believe states can do it better. They can certainly cover preexisting conditions, cover kids to X age, whatever you want — catastrophic care, covering those who need additional coverages…other states have addressed these issues.”

But when asked whether, under Brown’s vision, states could decline to offer protections for preexisting conditions, Brown replied:

“I have to respectfully disagree. It’s something that’s very important for our state and its citizens. It’s something that more than likely would be covered in any type of plan that we offered…that is one thing that is important to me. I’ve already voted on something like that. And I would continue to support that.”

That appears to be a reference to Brown’s previous support for Romneycare in Massachusetts.

— Morning Plum: Scott Brown calls for replacing Obamacare with Romneycare, Greg Sargent, Washington Post, today

I, too, believe states can do it better.  If, say, they wanted to.  Which, since there was nothing to stop from doing better, or even from doing as well as, Obamacare, before 2010, and in fact there still is not—and since only one state, Massachusetts, did in fact do better. (Romneycare’s coverage of everyone who needed subsidies did not depend upon whether the person’s county agreed to accept payments from the state for people whose income is between the poverty level and 133% of the poverty level, after all, which for those who fell into that category, was, y’know, better.)

Since Obamacare is, in essence, Romneycare on a national level, with the exception that (to my knowledge) Romneycare had no distinction between in the way the subsidies worked, on the one hand, for people whose income under Obamacare means that they have no coverage at all if their state has not adopted the Medicaid expansion, and people whose income entitles them to federal subsidies under Obamacare irrespective of whether or not that their state has not adopted the Medicaid expansion.  And with the exception that, well, under Romneycare, the total cost of the subsidies was paid by the state of Massachusetts.  Rather than, y’know, the federal government.

So, take note, New Hampshirites: Scott Brown wants your state to pay the healthcare insurance subsidies for New Hampshire residents who now receive federal subsidies under Obamacare or who apparently are about to receive coverage paid virtually entirely by the federal government once New Hampshire adopts the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, as it reportedly is about to do.

Well, okay, he doesn’t want New Hampshire to actually provide subsidies to everyone who needs subsidies in order to afford healthcare insurance, as Romneycare did.  No, he wants those subsidies to go only to a certain segment of people who can’t otherwise afford healthcare insurance and who, until this year via Obamacare didn’t have insurance.  Because, y’see, it’s better—his word—to have a substantially higher percentage of New Hampshirites uninsured because they lack access to subsidies to help them afford it.

And he also thinks it’s better—his word—to have insurance premiums skyrocket because, under Browncare would, like Romneycare and Obamacare, prohibit insurance companies from declining coverage to people with preexisting conditions or charging them higher premiums, but unlike Romneycare and Obamacare, would not require anyone to purchase healthcare insurance before, say, they needed major medical care.

Unfortunately, though, Brown is not a candidate for governor or even for the state legislature.  So, as popular as Browncare is likely to be in New Hampshire, electing him to the U.S. Senate won’t cause New Hampshire to take over healthcare subsidies for some state’s residents who now receive federal subsidies under Obamacare, and to return many others to their pre-2014 uninsured status.  And electing him to the U.S. Senate won’t even cause healthcare coverage premiums to price many (most?) individual-market policyholders out of the individual market.

Well, at least not within the following two years, anyway–since Obama will remain president until Jan. 2016.  Or, if Obama is impeached and convicted of high crimes and misdemeanors, Joe Biden will be president for the remainder of the current presidential term.  If Brown is elected, this will be very frustrating for everyone who voted for him, as the continued presence of a Democrat in the White House will prevent New Hampshire from making it’s healthcare coverage system worse, er, I mean better.

Of course, there’s always the option of a coup.

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Scott Brown says no one should work at a minimum-wage job in the U.S. forever. Instead they should move to Canada. Or Germany. Or France. Or …

I’m encouraged any time government functions. We’re a very philanthropic society. We always want people to have safety nets. Medicaid is meant to be a temporary measure to provide benefits for people who are in difficult circumstances. It’s not meant to be going on forever.

— Scott Brown, when Politico reporter Kyle Cheney asked him whether he supports New Hampshire’s Medicaid expansion.

So if he’s elected to the Senate he’ll propose a really large increase in the minimum wage. Expect Walmart and McDonald’s to make sizable donations to Jeanne Shaheen’s reelection campaign committee.  Luckily for us Dems, they’re people and can do that.

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Scott Brown Comes Out for a New Hampshire State Healthcare-Insurance Public Option. In the Name of Freedom. Cool!**

[Annotation added below.]

I’ve written here on AB, extensively now, about the invidious co-opting of the word “freedom” by the political far-right.  I’ve addressed this mainly in the context of the conservative Supreme Court justices’ neat trick of disconnecting the word from any relation to actual physical freedom as long as it is a state court (in criminal cases and in a variety of civil cases, e,g. adult-guardianship and conservatorship cases, as well) or a state or county prosecutor’s office rather than the federal government that violates federal constitutional rights in order to remove physical freedom.  This is done in the name of federalism as allegedly envisioned by James Madison.

And on Saturday, I addressed it in the context of the Cliven Bundy matter, which includes the support he’s received from the likes of Nevada Senator Dean Heller.  The immediate occasion for that post was to note that this bizarre appropriation of the word “freedom” to justify doing whatever the invoker of “freedom” wants to do–which, for the Supreme Court’s invokers, includes obsessively requiring that state courts, but not state legislatures, be entitled as “sovereigns” to violate individuals’ federal constitutional rights; I really can’t stress this enough–is finally, thanks to Bundy, being recognized by actual professional pundits. Specifically, by New York Times columnist Gail Collins in her Saturday column.  Paul Krugman used his bi-weekly Times column this morning to highlight it.

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