Just your average lie of the day

You know, it could be a full time position for a team to counter Trump’s lies, but I think some lies are particularly worth calling out.  And, given the all-around Republican war on the federal government and the federal workforce, today’s is definitely worth calling out.  So, today’s #alternativefact, the growing federal workforce.  Drum:

A bunch of little things happened this afternoon. They’re not really big enough for a full post each, so here’s a little roundup. First up, President Trump signed an order freezing the federal workforce. This is part of the standard conservative playbook, and I doubt it means much in the long run. However, press secretary Sean Spicer—who moments earlier had said he would never lie to us—explained that Trump’s order “counters the dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years.” Just for the record, here’s that dramatic expansion:

If you look closely, you can see the dramatic expansion at the far right of the beige line. Do you see it? No? Look harder. Use your browser to zoom in. See? There it is! The federal workforce increased from 2.09 million in 2014 to 2.12 million in 2015. And it probably went up to 2.14 million or so in 2016. That’s less than it was at the end of the Reagan administration.

And, it’s not even stable, but losing if you look at share of the workforce:

Another day, another (dozen or so) empirically verifiable lie.

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Map of the day

Roughly 1 in 100 Americans (and a good 20% of my FB feed 🙂 ) participated in protests on Saturday.  Cool.  And a nice map from Vox:

Map of protests across the US

Also… how sad to be a Democrat in Montana.

Photo of the day

I semi-randomly just came across this one.  Wow.

The atmospheree does an amazing job of turning water into fire. Photo: Steve Arklay

How the press should respond to an Alternative Facts world

Great piece from Jay Rosen:

Trying not for elegance but for accuracy, I would call this event a “relationship message delivery vehicle,” operating on three levels.

First, it told staffers who work for Trump: this is what we expect. If The Leader is reeling from a narcissistic wound (crowd figures too small) you will be expected to sacrifice dignity and best practice to redress that wound. That’s what you bought into when you agreed to work for President Trump. This is a stark statement. No wonder Spicer sounded tense…

A second message was to the press. You will be turned into hate objects whenever we feel like it. We can do that to you without providing right of reply because… what are you going to do about it? Small mistakes quickly corrected will be treated as evidence of malicious wrong doing by the entire group. (And you deserve that.) We are not bound by what you call facts. We have our own, and we will proceed to put them out regardless of what the evidence says. It’s not a problem for us if you stagger from the room in disbelief. We’re not trying to “win the news cycle,” or win you over. We’re trying to demonstrate independence from and power over you people. This room is not just for briefings, announcements and Q & A. It’s also a theater of resentment in which you play a crucial part. Our constituency hates your guts; this is the place where we commune with them around that fact. See you tomorrow, guys! …

A third “relationship” message went to the listeners, in tripartite.

* To the core Trump constituency — and an audience primed for this over years of acrid ‘liberal media’ critique — two things were said. “We’re going to rough these people up.” (Because we know how long you have waited for that.) But also, and in return, you have to accept our “alternative facts” even if your own eyes tell you otherwise. This too is a stark message. The epistemological “price” for being a solider in Trump’s army is high. You have to swallow, repeat and defend things that simply don’t check out…

When I say #sendtheinterns I mean it literally: take a bold decision to put your most junior people in the briefing room. Recognize that the real story is elsewhere, and most likely hidden. That’s why the experienced reporters need to be taken out of the White House, and put on other assignments.

Look: they can’t visit culture war upon you if they don’t know where you are. The press has to become less predictable. It has to stop functioning as a hate object. This means giving something up. The dream of the White House briefing room and the Presidential press conference is that accountability can be transacted in dramatic and televisable moments: the perfect question that puts the President or his designate on the spot, and lets the public see — as if in a flash — who they are led by. This was always an illusion. Crumbling for decades, it has become comically unsustainable under Trump. [emphasis mine]

Please note: I am not saying that as a beat the White House is unimportant, or that its pronouncements can be ignored. I’m not saying: devote less attention to Trump. Rather: change the terms of this relationship. Make yourself more elusive. In the theater of resentment where you play such a crucial part, relinquish that part.

Yes, yes, yes!  Though, we’ve been heading towards this, Spicer’s “press conference” as presidential press secretary represented something new, different, and bad.  And, hopefully something that will truly shake the press out of business as usual.  The time for “both sides” false equivalence journalism and access journalism is long gone.

Yes, Obamacare affects you too!

As for people thinking, “Well, Obamacare repeal will hurt those on the individual market.  I’ve got a large employer and a good plan.  It’s all good.”  Actually, not so much.  There’s lots of stuff in Obamacare that benefits pretty much everybody with health insurance.  NPR summarizes:

Nonetheless, as tensions grow in Washington over the future of the health law, it is important to understand some of its effects on large-group plans.

No copays for preventive services

The health insurance offered by big companies is typically pretty comprehensive, the better to attract and keep good employees. But Obamacare broadened some coverage requirements. Under the law, insurers and employers have to cover many preventive services without charging people anything for them. The services that are required with no out-of-pocket payments include dozens of screenings and tests, including mammograms and colonoscopies that are recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force; routine immunizations endorsed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices; and a range of services that are recommended specifically for children and for women by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration…

No annual or lifetime limits on coverage

Even the most generous plans often had lifetime maximum coverage limits of a few million dollars before the health law passed, and some plans also imposed annual coverage limits. The health law eliminated those dollar coverage limits.

Annual cap on out-of-pocket payments for covered services

The health law set limits on how much people can be required to pay in deductibles, copayments or coinsurance every year for covered care they receive from providers in their network. In 2017, the limit is $7,150 for individuals and $14,300 for families.

“Many employers often had an out-of-pocket limit anyway, but this guarantees protection for people with high needs,” said JoAnn Volk, a research professor at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms, who has written on this issue

No waiting periods for coverage of pre-existing conditions

Prior to the ACA, employers could delay covering workers’ chronic and other health conditions for up to a year after they became eligible for a plan. Under the ACA, that’s no longer allowed. As a practical matter, though, coverage of pre-existing conditions was rarely an issue in large-group plans, say some health insurance analysts.

Repeal could reopen the door to that prohibited practice, however.

If you or someone in your family has a serious medical condition (like, oh, I don’t know, at random, I’ll just pick “rare genetic disease“), those lifetime limits really matter (as do the waiting periods on pre-existing conditions).  Or, say my good friend anxiously awaiting a new kidney.  But, I guess in Paul Ryan’s world, we’re all just takers.

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