Friday, July 28, 2017

Healthcare Repeal Stalled

Let's hope the politicians stop playing partisan games now and start working to improve ACA...  Probably won't happen, but I can dream.

CNN ACA Repeal Effort Fails

The skinny bill would have been foolish, since it would have:
  • Removed the mandates
  • Removed funding sources
  • And not cut the expenses significantly
In other words it would have been a disaster.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Who Would Want to Work for Trump?

After watching how Trump is treating Sessions, I really am curious why anyone in their right mind would want to work for Trump?

I mean it is hard enough to put up with a boss like him when he treats you like that in the privacy of their office.  But to put up with a boss who rips you a new one in front of everyone in the whole world...

And then it looks like Rex Tillerson may have had enough of Trump's antics.  And given that he is ~65 years old and worth ~$245 million... Why should he?

CNN Trump - Sessions Soap Opera
VOX Why Trump Suddenly Hates HIS AG
Fox News Trump Leaves Session Dangling
CNN Chill Emanating from the WH

GOP Senators Pass First Hurdle

Well they just got off the starting line...  It seems to me they should spending less time on this and more time on taxes, budgets, etc.  Thoughts?

MP Would Stalemate Bring DEMs and GOPers Together

CNN Senators Advance Bill
CNN Boehner's Thoughts
Fox News McCain Comments
VOX What Happens Next
VOX DEM Game Plan

Monday, July 24, 2017

Dayton and The Estate Tax

Apparently Dayton wants to re-negotiate the estate tax change amongst other things. MPR Dayton Veto Now I think MN should get rid of their estate tax since they are one of the few states that have one. Therefore it encourages many wealthy households to relocate out of this State.

And yet I get so frustrated when Conservatives say things like this. "Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, chair of the House Taxes Committee, describes the estate tax as "not very Minnesota nice." People who already pay taxes on their wealth should not be hit again when they die, he added. "I want to work every day to try and raise those numbers so more families can keep more of what their mothers and fathers and grandfathers and grandmothers have earned."

The strange thing from what I understand is that dying is one good way to ensure you do not pay your capital gains taxes.
"Much of the money that wealthy heirs inherit would never face any taxation were it not for the estate tax. In fact, that’s one reason why policymakers created the estate tax in 1916: to serve as a backstop to the income tax, taxing the income of wealthy taxpayers that would otherwise go completely untaxed.

Under the current tax system, capital gains tax is due on the appreciation of assets, such as real estate, stock, or an art collection, only when the owner “realizes” the gain (usually by selling the asset). Therefore, the increase in the value of an asset is never subject to income tax if the owner holds on to the asset until death.

These unrealized capital gains account for a significant proportion of the assets held by estates — ranging from 32 percent for estates worth between $5 million and $10 million to as much as about 55 percent of the value of estates worth more than $100 million. (See Figure 4.)

The estate tax also serves as a modest corrective to other tax rules that provide massive tax benefits to income from wealth, such as the fact that capital gains are taxed at lower rates than wages and salaries. The top 0.1 percent of taxpayers — those with incomes above $3.1 million — will receive 56 percent of the benefit of the preferential capital gains rates in 2017, worth more than $600,000 apiece. Other tax rules allow part of the income of the very wealthiest to go completely untaxed, even with the estate tax.

Since the estate tax serves, in part, to tax capital gains that have not otherwise been taxed, some people have proposed taxing estates at the top capital gains rate, currently 23.8 percent. This argument is flawed: the capital gains tax rates typically apply to nearly all capital gains income, whereas the estate tax applies only to the part of an estate that exceeds the exemption level. (The estate tax’s average effective rate of 17 percent in 2017 is below the capital gains rate.) "

Friday, July 21, 2017

Buy American or Not

Since you know that I think many of the challenges American workers face are self inflicted by our limitless consumer desire for the low cost best stuff.

I mean many Americans want the lowest cost, highest feature, highest quality, best performing , etc products and services, and don't care where that money goes as long as they save a few bucks and get their dream product / service.

While at the same time insisting that American workers should be paid.  Which of course is kind of insane.

 I find Trump's Buy American pitch promising, though I think he and his company should start putting their money where their mouth is.

WH List of Accomplishments
CNN Trump Promotes Buy American while Mar-a-Lago Seeks Foreign Workers
WAPO Buy American
Reuters Allowing More Seasonal Workers While Pushing Buy American
WAPO Trump Products are Made Where

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Judge Rules Against Dayton Veto

Briana does a good job of detailing this topic.  MP Judge Rules

Personally I think it is the silliest thing Dayton has done.  Next year we will hear that the GOP legislature has defunded the Courts and the Governor. :-)

Trump's Strange Conflict of Interest Concept

Fox Trump Interview
CNN Trump Interview
VOX Trump Interview

Well the above pieces pretty much support Hiram's comments from the Trump Jr post... Trump seems to think that he is appointing personal employees who should put his wants first, when he is actually appointing government employees who's job is to put our people and the law first. Inside his head must be a very strange place.
"Crimes are statutory things and the criminal statutes are published on the internet. Generally speaking, the criminal law doesn't speak of "collusion", the legal term of art is "conspiracy". Conspiracy is pretty much the same in terms of penalty as the crime itself. 
In terms of right to know, Trump has a basic problem. For the first time in his life perhaps, Donald Trump is an employee. In this new and unfamiliar role, Trump hasn't seemed to grasp that his scope for keeping secrets from the people he works for is highly limited. Nor does he seem to understand that there isn't anybody around him who is under any personal obligation to keep his secrets for him.  
Trump gives every appearance of thinking "leaking" is illegal, which it hardly ever is. Anyone, both inside and the outside of the White House in this free country is free to give their version of events to any reporter that person chooses to. In Trump's business world he prevented that by making everyone sign confidentiality agreements. Nobody he works with now has signed such an agreement." Hiram 
"Agreed. That is why Trump had Comey fired.
Comey was a centrist who worked for the USA.
Trump wants people that are "loyal to him".
Of course that is hard to find in a Public Institution." G2A 
"Trump fired Comey because Comey was pressing the Russian investigation.
Trump still thinks in terms of loyalty. He is mad at some Republican senators because they weren't loyal. He really hasn't figured out that members of Congress don't work for him. His desire for loyalty helps to explain the nepotism, the need he feels to surround himself with family members".--Hiram

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Basic Income to End Poverty

Since the basic income concept intrigues some folks, here is an interesting piece on it.
VOX A Basic Income
The Hill Zuckerberg

I am not sold on it by any means, but am open to the concept if it eliminates all these different welfare programs.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Child Protection Struggles

Here is a worthwhile read.  MP CPS Struggles  Maybe I am sensitive to the topic after listening to NPR Reveal No Where to Run on the way home from the lake on Sunday.

Of course while these folks are concerned about how to raise funding and resources to manage the growing case load...  I am more interested in how we as a society can prevent these dysfunctional  Baby Mamas and Papas from having / keeping kids in the first place.


Police Racial Bias

Where are all the Protesters...  I mean a Black Police Officer shot a White Woman...  Isn't this another case of racial profiling?  Or is it simply a reality that sometimes really terrible things happen to good people.

VOX Australians React
CNN What We Know and Do Not Know

Do you think the BLM folks will protest until the Black officer is thrown in jail?

GOP Healthcare Unravel

This opinion piece is interesting. CNN 7 Uncomfortable Truths

And Trump's response... FOX Let's Repeal Obamacare...

I think practically that is the only way we could get both sides talking about something better...  But I think that uncertainty would be devastating for patients, healthcare systems and the insurance industry.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Trump Approval: How Low Can It Go?

It seems only the Trump true believers still believe, and I would think many of them would be frustrated with his lack of progress.  Though it seems nothing sticks to him in their eyes.

I have heard the True Believers blame Paul Ryan, the obstructionist DEMs, the moderate Republicans, the lying media, etc.  However rarely do I hear them blame Trump for his leadership and communication failures.  It simply amazes me...

It is like they have attached so much of their pride and hopes to him that they can not acknowledge his failures, without harming themselves. I am sure there is some psychological term for this.

CNN Trump Approval at Record Lows
RCP Trump Approval / Disapproval
The Hill Trump Approval at Record Low
Heroes and Villains

Climate, RCPs and Forecasts

Jerry is confusing me again... So here we go:
"The IPCC uses four different "Representative Concentration Pathways," (replacing the complex set of "scenarios" i.e. assumptions about what the future will bring) as far as human emissions are concerned. They make assumptions about population, economic growth, energy requirements and production, "carbon intensity" of that energy, etc. LOTS of assumptions, and put them in 4 general categories: RCP 8.5, 6.0, 4.5, and 2.6. [as I understand it, named after the "old" predictions of temperature rise for each] The 100-year warming predicted, based on those RCPs, range from 0.3 to 4.8 degrees C. [You see why I say their predictive value is worthless?] They then have a "standard" computer tool called MAGICC, which quickly calculates the results of any change to basic parameters, rather than run thousands of hours of computer calculations.

Read Lomborg's paper and you find that he used RCP 8.5 (the "business as usual" scenario) and MAGICC to get his answers, the same thing other researchers have done, and achieved the same result-- that Paris doesn't matter because human CO2 is relatively insignificant, as I have shown using very simple math. You can do it with the lower emissions scenarios-- 6.0, etc.-- but of course the impact of adding Paris is even smaller.

You simply have to get to the point where you believe the actual math rather than the hyperventilating politicians with vested interests in keeping this scare going. Even some of them will very quietly admit that Paris "doesn't do much" by itself and that "much more is needed" to keep temperature rise below 2 degrees (an increase many consider beneficial). Why should that be, when the average of the 100-year climate models is now 2.5 degrees and falling (because of better understanding of "climate sensitivity," for one thing), and is still above simple projections of the historical record?" Jerry
Now what one has to remember is that this Lomborg is a Political Science major who has been dubbed dishonest and unqualified.  Here is a description of the RCPs and the graphed results.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Baby Charlie Gard

This is a fascinating story and I am sure happy that I am not the judge.  I hoper he is as wise as King Solomon.
  • Does society let the Parents turn their son into a lab rat?
  • Does society let the Baby die by removing life support?
  • How much is society willing to spend on 1 genetically flawed baby as others normal babies and children die needlessly?
  • Other?
CNN Charlie Gard Update

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Trump Jr's Problems

We have discussed this elsewhere... But I thought you would like a actual related post.

FOX News Trump Jr Emails
CNN Trump... "I Know Nothing!!!  Channeling Sgt Schultz...
VOX We Are Beyond Innocent Explanations

Here are the last 2 comments from "elsewhere".

"It definitely does sound like juicy political intrigue, I wonder if any of it was illegal? I guess we will see what Mueller's investigation determines.

Kind of like we did when Clinton purposefully kept her business emails off the business server for questionable reasons.

I keep thinking I will be reusing the old Clinton post title with a new set of names...

"Trump Etal is Irresponsible / Negligent, Not Criminal"

I agree that the Trump etal folks are worse than Clinton, I just don't where illegal starts for Private citizens meeting with foreign parties." G2A

Campaign finance law prohibits the soliciting, accepting, or receiving contributions or donations -- which include in-kind contributions such as research -- from a foreign national.

If there's more where this came from, there could also be (at minimum) a conspiracy case related to election fraud. " Sean

More on Minimum Wage Increases

This is actually a pretty good piece on FOX News regarding Min Wage Increases across the country.

It is interesting how results and analysis varies.

Monday, July 10, 2017

More on Climate Change

From Laurie:
"Nothing I read lately on healthcare interests me enough to share or comment, but something I read on climate change does. There is this from K.Drum:

Our Approach to Climate Change Isn’t Working. Let’s Try Something Else.

I don't have the energy right now to read the Doom's day link Drum's post references. But here it is for people here to also ignore, as this topic never gets much interest here except from Jerry:

The Uninhabitable Earth Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think.

Jerry: Reduce Healthcare Costs, Maintain Quality

From G2A Who Demands Compliance Jerry said
"Healthcare requires money. Well said, but it makes the glaringly erroneous assumption that the only way to deliver health care is exactly the way it is done today. As I've said before, four changes would reduce our total costs by about 50% without affecting quality. So should we NOT do those things, just because we might be able to lower taxes for somebody? I'm not understanding the reasoning, here. It looks like an attempt to keep a political argument alive, regardless of what the "right thing to do" might be. " Jerry
I asked him to provide them and here are the answers.
"Actually, they aren't mine; they come from a Mayo study many years ago. They are:
  1. Eliminate first dollar coverage. Every use of the system costs /something/ (a copay, IOW). 
  2. Eliminate fee-for-service. This is the big one. Rather than doing what is the quickest and best treatment, doctors are led to do what pays the best or, more likely, to add on something unnecessary just to cover their costs.
  3. Eliminate third-party payers. Forget single-payer. Everybody pays their own fees or buys insurance on their own. If they get a stipend or a tax credit to do so, that's their own affair. 
  4. Eliminate defensive medicine. The malpractice system is out of control and drives up costs, not directly, but indirectly.
To that we should add, now, deregulation of the health insurance industry. If I want, I should be able to buy a "catastrophic only" policy, or open an HSA or "prepaid care account," without government telling me I can't. 
"We just have a whole lot of well paid people in the system." G2A
"And yet that marketplace is badly distorted by government regulation. Medicare tells doctors they can only get, say, $250 for an appendectomy (I have no idea, but) the doctor doesn't make a penny unless he charges at least $500. So he makes it up somewhere else or refuses to do it. If the doctor could charge, say $550, he might get "rich," but do we really want to hire the low-cost bidder for something like that?  
And by law, all insurance companies in Minnesota are "non-profit." Why would anybody get into that business?
In fact, the whole idea seems illogical to me. If we had a free (or mostly free) market in health care, prices would be set by the millions of individual choices and implicit contracts made between providers and patients-- sellers and buyers. The best and/or scarcest goods and services would make those providers "rich" and everybody else would enter the market at the point where they saw a beneficial exchange, or exit the business for lack of business. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. " Jerry

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Why GOP Healthcare Plan is Struggling

I find this an interesting piece. CNN Why the GOP Healthcare Message is Floundering I find it fascinating that Trump's promises are one of the reasons.

"Congressional GOP messaging about what the final product would deliver ran up most rudely not against Democrats' objections, or protesters at town hall meetings, but the most powerful Republican of them all: the President. Throughout his campaign, Trump promised, vaguely but consistently, that his health care plan would cover more people and -- crucially now -- not mess with Medicaid. 
"We're going to have insurance for everybody," he told The Washington Post days before taking office in January. "There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can't pay for it, you don't get it. That's not going to happen with us." 
The realities of governing -- and doing it in concert with Republican lawmakers -- always suggested otherwise, and the House negotiations illustrated that it was plainly impossible. Not long after celebrating the House bill's passage alongside Ryan and the GOP conference, Trump doubled back to describe the legislation as "mean.""
So is WP / CNN making this up, was Trump lying or is Trump not too smart.  I think it is a combination of the last two.  I mean they have the source identified on this one.

CNN Opinion: What GOP / DEM Compromise
CNN Money: Most GOPers Like Medicaid

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Who Demands Compliance? DEM or GOP

I find these comments interesting. MP CBO Score
"You don't get it---your definition of what a "good citizen" is and what "successful" is are not the same as most of the people here. Your definitions seem to be mostly centered around money and money accumulation as the main measure of worth of a person. Further, the idea that your definitions of those terms is how you want to divide society into the "deserving" and "undeserving" columns is unpalatable to those same people." Neal

"What's interesting is the idea that the function of Government in a democracy is to "herd" citizens. Again, your problem is that your notions of capability, responsibility, and self sufficiency are not universally accepted. I keep saying one of the primary characteristics of the reactionary conservative mindset is a rejection of democratic society on a basic level. For all their chatter about individual rights and responsibilities at the end of the day the Republican agenda isn't about participating in the democratic process, it's about capturing the levers of government and using them to force everyone into compliance." Paul

"What does it reveal about Republican preferences? What it reveals about their character and moral fiber is more to the point." Steven

I'd say that the key attribute to their character is an overwhelming desire for conformity to a rigid "moral" standard for which they have christened themselves as the final arbitrator. Their preference is authoritarian in nature and punitive to anyone that doesn't fit their definition of what a productive member of society is." Ian

"I wish I'd written that. Can I copy it and just paste in the future whenever this discussion arises? :)" Paul
What I find fascinating is the Liberal belief that the GOP is trying to "punish people into compliance" somehow by "not giving them free stuff and services" that is paid for with additional taxes on other citizens that are required to be paid?

Now I do understand the concept of expressing one's displeasure with a Spouse by withholding sex, conversation, etc.  Or punishing a child by taking away a toy that they enjoy or putting them in time out.

But the idea that the GOP is trying to force people to be good citizens by withholding freebies, and  allowing them to experience the natural consequences of their poor choices seems silly to me.

By the way, I asked them for their definition of a good citizen and got no response.
"What is your definition?  Mine is centered around what is good for the USA (ie our society):
  • Makes good use of society's investment in their education. (ie graduates HS and is proficient academically)
  • Obeys the laws of our country (ie drugs, immigration, other)
  • Gets financially stable before having children, only has the number of children they are capable of caring for themselves. (ie don't require additional investment from society)
  • Both Parents are actively involved in the support and raising of the children. Ensure kids are fed, learn and mature to become good citizens.
  • Continues life long learning, works, volunteers, gives to charity, etc to help themselves and our country be all we can be.
 Do these seem unrealistic? Rationale?" G2A
If anything it seems to me that the Liberals are trying to force American citizens to comply with their beliefs regarding what a "good citizen" is...  Unfortunately they seem to have only one requirement:
  •  If you learn, work, save, invest and are financially successful, you shall pay a high tax rate to give a cut of your wealth to others who made different choices. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

FOX Viewers Misunderstand

After ~4 days at the lake checking in on FOX News shows like The FIVE occasionally.  I totally understand how people who watch that stuff on a regular basis have been indoctrinated into a paranoid state of mind where NPR's simple regular communication confused them.  NPR Declaration Of Independence Misunderstanding

I  mean the hosts of the FOX News shows spend most of their time preaching what their viewers want to hear..
  • All other news outlets are in collusion against Trump and Conservatives
  • In doing so they lie and are unethical / unprofessional.
  • Trump is an honest and unfairly maligned hero of the people
  • Trump is accomplishing many important things
Then I turn on NPR, CNN, etc and they actually talk about more news than just politics... Thoughts?