The scandal right in front of our eyes

Great take from Ezra:

Donald Trump’s budget, alongside the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the revised American Health Care Act, is a test of our capacity for outrage in American politics. Can we be as shocked about lies told in public, and revealed through appendix tables, as we are about lies told in private and revealed through shadowy leaks? Can we muster as much fury on behalf of the stark facts revealed by the Office of Management and Budget as for the titillating what-ifs being investigated by the Senate Intelligence Committee? Will we care as much about Trump’s betrayal of the poor and the sick and the disabled as we do about his betrayal of James Comey and the Israeli intelligence services?

Because make no mistake: Trump lied in public about the most consequential policy decisions he is now making as president. He lied on the trail, and he is lying again now from the Oval Office…

Trump promised he would make sure everyone had health insurance plans with “much lower deductibles.” The AHCA removes regulations stopping insurers from offering yet higher deductibles than they do now, and then it shrinks and redesigns its tax credits to push people into the new, cheaper, plans. The results are so dystopic, CBO writes, that it expects millions of people to end up in “policies that would not cover major medical risks.”

As recently as April 30, Trump told the country that “preexisting conditions are in the bill — I mandate it.” He said the AHCA has “a clause that guarantees” protection for anyone with preexisting conditions. In fact, the crucial provision that permitted it to clear the House allows states to waive the Affordable Care Act’s protections for preexisting conditions.

The CBO predicts that about a sixth of states would use those waivers, and in those states, “less healthy individuals (including those with preexisting or newly acquired medical conditions) would be unable to purchase comprehensive coverage with premiums close to those under current law and might not be able to purchase coverage at all.”

But it’s not just the health care bill. Trump’s budget also represents a breathtaking reversal on core campaign promises with the same result — harming vulnerable Americans.

“I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid,” Trump told the Daily Signal in May 2015. But his budget cuts Medicaid by $1.49 trillion — about half its expected budget — and slashes Social Security’s disability insurance program by $31.4 billion.

During the campaign, Trump said his tax plan was “going to cost me a fortune, which is actually true.” It is not actually true…

He lied. And yes, I use that word advisedly. While calling Trump a liar occasionally gives some in the media vapors, there’s no other word that fits. Trump is president now. His budget is a vetted document constructed by people appointed by Trump. The American Health Care Act and its likely effects have been exhaustively covered in the press. If at this point Trump doesn’t know that he’s breaking his promises, then it’s because he doesn’t want to know. If at this point Trump hasn’t bothered to discover he is betraying his supporters, and the people his policies will hurt, then that is the most damning fact of all.

Either way, this is a political scandal of massive proportions. Trump ran promising to protect the sick and the poor, and he is governing in ways that will grievously harm them. We should be outraged.

Alas, many of have long been and continue to be outraged by Trump.  As for his Republican supporters. they were all for screwing the poor and the sick all along anyway.  And we’ve clearly seen how amazingly little they care about the brazen lies of Trump.

And EJ Dionne hits a similar note:

Particularly astounding from a president who promised better health care for Americans who can’t afford it is the $1.85 trillion reduction over a decade from Medicaid and subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. But didn’t Trump promise not to cut Medicaid? Never mind, budget director Mick Mulvaney told CNBC’s John Harwood. That pledge, Mulvaney explained, had been overridden by Trump’s promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Right, and my commitment to losing weight was overridden by my insistence on eating anything I wanted. We demean ourselves if we cynically normalize the reality that every Trump promise is meaningless claptrap aimed at closing a deal — and that the vows will be forgotten even before the ink on the agreement is dry. Many who did business with Trump learned the hard way not to trust anything he said. His supporters are being forced to learn the same dreary wisdom.

Trump lies so often that journalists tied themselves up in an extended discussion of when it was appropriate to use “lie” and when it was better to deploy such euphemisms as “misstatement” and “fabrication.” We should stick to the short and simple word. Allowing Trump any slack only encourages more lying.

Quick hits (part I)

1) Mike Pesca’s interview with Clint Watts on Russia was among the most enlightening experts I’ve read/heard on the matter.

2) Really interesting story on how Google has taken over classrooms– and universities in a different way.  I love google’s system at NCSU.  I have an @ncsu.edu account that’s actually gmail and unlimited Google drive space.  It all works great for me.  Interesting issues in K-12, though.

Mr. Casap, the Google education evangelist, likes to recount Google’s emergence as an education powerhouse as a story of lucky coincidences. The first occurred in 2006 when the company hired him to develop new business at its office on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe.

Mr. Casap quickly persuaded university officials to scrap their costly internal email service (an unusual move at the time) and replace it with a free version of the Gmail-and-Docs package that Google had been selling to companies. In one semester, the vast majority of the university’s approximately 65,000 students signed up.

And a new Google business was born.

Mr. Casap then invited university officials on a road show to share their success story with other schools. “It caused a firestorm,” Mr. Casap said. Northwestern University, the University of Southern California and many others followed.

This became Google’s education marketing playbook: Woo school officials with easy-to-use, money-saving services. Then enlist schools to market to other schools, holding up early adopters as forward thinkers among their peers.

The strategy proved so successful in higher education that Mr. Casap decided to try it with public schools.

3) Yes, to hard-right Republicans every health problem is your own damn fault.  Sure diet plays a role in type II diabetes, but genetics plays a hell of a big role, too.

4) Speaking of which, dialysis is just  a giant profit machine in America.  John Oliver is on the case.

5) Julia Azari and 538 friends on how even the biggest scandals cannot break through party identity.

But, at least historically speaking, even the biggest scandals don’t wash away partisanship.

We went back and looked at key congressional votes during three relatively recent periods in which a president was accused of wrongdoing: Watergate(Richard Nixon), Iran-contra (Ronald Reagan) and the Monica Lewinsky scandal (Bill Clinton). Two trends stick out. First, partisanship still matters. And in a big way. Second, when defections do come, they’re more likely to come from the centrist wing of a party.

6) Catherine Rampell on the stupidity of Trump’s “prime the pump” tax plan.

7) On why proper etiquette when addressing professors is important:

The facile egalitarianism of the first-name basis can impede good teaching and mentoring, but it also presents a more insidious threat. It undermines the message that academic titles are meant to convey: esteem for learning. The central endeavor of higher education is not the pursuit of money or fame but knowledge. “There needs to be some understanding that degrees mean something,” Professor Jackson-Brown said. “Otherwise, why are we encouraging them to get an education?”

The values of higher education are not the values of the commercial, capitalist paradigm. At a time when corporate executives populate university boards and politicians demand proof of a diploma’s immediate cash value, this distinction needs vigilant defense.

The erosion of etiquette encourages students to view faculty members as a bunch of overeducated customer service agents. “More and more, students view the process of going to college as a business transaction,” Dr. Tomforde, the math professor, told me. “They see themselves as a customer, and they view knowledge as a physical thing where they pay money and I hand them the knowledge — so if they don’t do well on a test, they think I haven’t kept up my side of the business agreement.” He added, “They view professors in a way similar to the person behind the counter getting their coffee.”

8) This is important– “how home ownership became the engine of racial equality.”  These were policy choices made that dramatically disadvantage Black families through today.

9) Vox took a look at how right-wing media covered the week in Trump scandals.  Squirrel!

10) Duck ramps are awesome.  Amazing lede:

Political turmoil rocked the nation’s capital again on Tuesday evening as politicians from both parties responded to President Trump’s — you know what, never mind. This is a story about ducks.

And a worthwhile expense of taxpayer dollars.  NC Congressman opposing is just an idiot– great comments to him on twitter.

11) Speaking of Republicans unfairly attacking ducks, duck sex is actually an absolutely fascinating area of study within evolutionary biology.  If you don’t know the wonders of duck penises and vaginas (serious), it’s time you learn.

12) William Ayers on the misguided search for ideological purity in college speakers.  He makes a really good case, but I think I would argue against inviting James Watson in the first place.

13) Are men with bears more desirable?  Yes (mostly), says science.  Somebody tell my wife.  She hates mine, but puts up with it for 5/12 of the year.

14) Thomas Friedman gets it with this column (emphases in original):

Since President Trump’s firing of F.B.I. Director James Comey, one question has been repeated over and over: With Democrats lacking any real governing power, are there a few good elected men or women in the Republican Party who will stand up to the president’s abuse of power as their predecessors did during Watergate?

And this question will surely get louder with the report that Trump asked Comey in February to halt the investigation into the president’s former national security adviser.

But we already know the answer: No…

That’s why the only relevant question is this: Are there tens of millions of good men and women in America ready to run and vote as Democrats or independents in the 2018 congressional elections and replace the current G.O.P. majority in the House and maybe the Senate?

Nothing else matters — this is now a raw contest of power.

15) There’s a war between the Washington Post and the New York Times over breaking new scoops on Trump and the American public is the winner.  If you don’t already, you should strongly consider subscribing to at least one.  I could actually have lower-priced educational subscriptions, but I pay the regular rate because I believe in supporting the highest quality journalism.

16) If you are into public opinion polling, this report from Pew on the impact of low response rates on telephone surveys (not all that much, for the most part) is really good.

17)  National Review’s Kevin Williamson needs to tell conservative readers that newspapers are not actually fake news.

18) Jonathan Turley makes the case that the Comey memo is far from the standard of impeachable offense on Trump’s part.

19) Radley Balko on what Mississippi owes a 13 year-old! wrongly convicted and coerced into a false confession.  A hell of a lot more than the nothing he’s getting:

NBC News has published a long story about Tyler Edmonds, a Mississippi man convicted in the 2003 murder of his half sister’s husband. Edmonds and his half sister Kristi Fulgham were both convicted of the crime.

The NBC News story is mostly a look at the limits of the laws states have passed to compensate the victims of wrongful convictions. Most of these laws prohibit victims who contributed to their own convictions from getting compensated, a stipulation that tends to ensnare people convicted because of false confessions. (Edmonds initially confessed, then retracted his confession a few days later.)

This sort of exception to compensation laws is really unfair. It discounts all of the coercion and manipulation that can go into a false confession. In fact, there’s some evidence that innocent people are especially likely to confess under conditions such as prolonged interrogation, sleep deprivation and threats of additional charges. This is because in the moment, they calculate that a confession will at least end the interrogation, and because they’re innocent, the evidence will eventually exonerate them.

But Mississippi’s refusal to compensate Edmonds is particularly troubling for a few reasons. First, there’s Edmonds’s age. He was 13 when he confessed.

Oh, and that’s just the beginning of the wrongness in this case.  I think I might rather be tried in many a third-world country than Mississippi.  Disgusting.

20) In a normal week, the behavior of Turkey’s thugs would be a much bigger story.  So wrong.  And it is deplorable that the Trump administration has not condemned this.  Jennifer Rubin:

Turkey behaves this way in part because Trump ignores, even rewards (by praising an arguably stolen election) bad behavior. He is not putting American values or interests first. He has allowed himself to be “played,” just as he has been by Russia by setting up assistance in the fight against the Islamic State as the sole concern of U.S. foreign policy. This simplistic, inept brand of foreign policy sprinkled with admiration for thuggish leaders has become standard operating procedure in an administration without vision, experience or conscience.

21) Pence’s credibility ain’t looking so great these days.

22) Louisiana looks to become somewhat less an outlier in mass incarceration.  But damn if they are going to let out those feeble, old prisoners to terrorize us!

But in a deal announced on Tuesday, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) agreed to drop the proposal to offer early parole to geriatric prisoners in exchange for state district attorneys’ support for easing penalties for nonviolent offenders — changes that aim to reduce Louisiana’s prison population by 10 percent in a decade.

It’s a landmark agreement for Louisiana, which locks up residents at a rate twice the national average, making it the country’s biggest jailer per capita. An unusual coalition of business and political leaders, religious groups and liberal activists has been working to end the state’s ignominious distinction with a package of bills that would shorten some prison sentences, prevent certain nonviolent offenders from going to prison and expand eligibility for parole.

23) Jill Lepore on how impeachment ended up in the Constitution.

24) Don’t always love Matt Taibbi, but when it comes to writing about the life of Roger Ailes (“one of the worst Americans ever”), he’s perfect.

He is on the short list of people most responsible for modern America’s vicious and bloodthirsty character.

We are a hate-filled, paranoid, untrusting, book-dumb and bilious people whose chief source of recreation is slinging insults and threats at each other online, and we’re that way in large part because of the hyper-divisive media environment he discovered.

Ailes was the Christopher Columbus of hate. When the former daytime TV executive and political strategist looked across the American continent, he saw money laying around in giant piles. He knew all that was needed to pick it up was a) the total abandonment of any sense of decency or civic duty in the news business, and b) the factory-like production of news stories that spoke to Americans’ worst fantasies about each other.

25) I don’t deal with too many hyper-involved college parents (but FB’s on this day reminds me of the few occassions I’ve posted about it), but I don’t doubt that it’s a growing problem.

Really depressing chart of the day

This NPR/Pro Publica story is amazing and utterly heartbreaking.  Here’s the really disturbing chart:

Maternal Mortality Is Rising in the U.S. As It Declines Elsewhere

Deaths per 100,000 live births

Chart: The maternal mortality rate in the U.S. (26.4) far exceeds that of other developed countries.

 

Some context:

The ability to protect the health of mothers and babies in childbirth is a basic measure of a society’s development. Yet every year in the U.S., 700 to 900 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes, and some 65,000 nearly die — by many measures, the worst record in the developed world.

American women are more than three times as likely as Canadian women to die in the maternal period (definedby the Centers for Disease Control as the start of pregnancy to one year after delivery or termination), six times as likely to die as Scandinavians. In every other wealthy country, and many less affluent ones, maternal mortality rates have been falling; in Great Britain, the journal Lancet recently noted, the rate has declined so dramatically that “a man is more likely to die while his partner is pregnant than she is.” But in the U.S., maternal deaths increased from 2000 to 2014. In a recent analysis by the CDC Foundation, nearly 60 percent of such deaths are preventable.

And some just devastating stories of maternal death if you can bear to read them.

Quick hits (part II)

1) As I’m currently reading Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Unfinished Business, I found this NYT Op-Ed about the role of daughters in providing care to aging parents quite interesting and quite relevant (and on the bright side, I have a daughter):

As Washington debates the relative merits of Obamacare or Trumpcare, many families have already come up with what is arguably the most reliable form of care in America: It’s called daughter care.

The essential role that daughters play in the American health care system is well known but has received little attention. But some health care analysts are beginning to sound the alarm about the challenges women face as caregivers — not just for children but for aging parents — often while holding full-time jobs.

This week, the medical journal JAMA Neurology highlighted a looming crisis for women and their employers: the growing ranks of dementia patients who will end up relying on family members, typically daughters, for their care.

“The best long-term care insurance in our country is a conscientious daughter,” wrote the authors, all of whom are fellows at Stanford University’s Clinical Excellence Research Center, which studies new methods of health care delivery.

2) Thomas Edsall takes on the AHCA, “The Republicans don’t feel your pain.”

3) Evan Osnos on Trump and Comey:

That Trump believed he could fire the person leading law enforcement’s Russia investigation without a meaningful response from another branch of government is a sign of his unfamiliarity with the separation of powers, and, most perilous to himself, an enduring notion of impunity. Before entering the White House, Trump operated by a principle that, as he put it in a moment of “locker room” candor, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” The Constitution disagrees, and, by firing Comey and making a baldly contestable claim to his motives, Trump has invited a new investigation into why he took that step, how he described his reasoning, and whether it represents an abuse of office.

4) So apparently there’s a service you can get that will send telemarketers to a talking robot that keeps them on the line with carefully placed “hmmm” “uh-huh” etc., as long as it can to waste their time.  Okay, I’m not paying for it, but it makes me happy just knowing it exists.

5) Julia Azari and Seth Masket on how Congress must be the check on Trump to prevent a Constitutional crisis.

6) Are their any political creatures more craven and narrow-minded that NC Republican state Senators.  Possibly not.

7) Yes, there really is a four-year old living in the White House.  Trump insists he gets more ice cream scoops than his guests.  Seriously.  What a tiny, pathetic little man.  The fact that anybody supports him truly demonstrates just how powerful partisanship is (and that there’s a lot of other small-minded people out there).

8) Philip Bump on the “one little number” that is all the protection Trump needs.  Yes, yes, yes.

Those engaging in such speculation [about impeachment], though, are warned: There’s one little number that makes such a move unlikely. That number is 84 percent, Trump’s job approval rating among Republicans in the most recent weekly average from Gallup.

9) I think it is cool just how incredibly fast fidget spinners have become the lastest fad.  NYT with a timeline of just how fast they blew up.  And, yes, I’m using one right now while.

10) Thomas Mills on the two North Carolinas:

The Carolina I live in today has a vibrant downtown with plenty of restaurants and a healthy merchant class. Our schools are among the best in the state and some are ranked among the best in the nation. We have well-groomed parks, bike trails, bus service and sidewalks. We’re fifteen miles from a major airport and both north-south and east-west interstates are just minutes away. Our crime rate is low and our biggest struggles concern balancing growth with maintaining our quality of life.

In contrast, the Carolina where I was raised is losing population and the unemployment rate is above the state as a whole. The downtown of Wadesboro is a shell of the place where I sold newspapers and bought everything from clothes to bicycles to baseball gloves. A major artery connecting downtown to Highway 74, the major road running through the county, stayed closed for more than year because the town didn’t have resources to repair a collapsing bridge. Other towns in the county are essentially empty, devoid of any businesses other than a convenience store or two…

Republicans claim their tax cuts have led to magazines citing North Carolina as among the best states for business. That may be true, but those national publications are talking about places like the Triangle, the Triad, and Charlotte, not places like Anson County, Scotland County or Wilkes County. The GOP budget has hung those places out to dry…

In many of those areas, the state is the largest employer, but the Senate would stop providing health insurance to state government retirees for anybody joining the state workforce after 2020. That’s a great recruiting tool.  It’s like throwing an anchor to a sinking boat.

If rural North Carolina is going to catch up and compete they need a serious investment in infrastructure including broadband internet, not more tax cuts.

11) In recent years I’ve become convinced the key to the greatest success in men’s college basketball is getting not the best recruits– who invariably leave after only a year– but, the next best recruits (say, roughly those ranked 25-50) who are still really good but much more likely to give you 3-4 good years of basketball.  Gary Parrish with a nice piece arguing essentially this.

12) Great Charlie Sykes column on how so many conservatives have simply become anti-liberal:

If there was one principle that used to unite conservatives, it was respect for the rule of law. Not long ago, conservatives would have been horrified at wholesale violations of the norms and traditions of our political system, and would have been appalled by a president who showed overt contempt for the separation of powers.

But this week, as if on cue, most of the conservative media fell into line, celebrating President Trump’s abrupt dismissal of the F.B.I. director, James Comey, and dismissing the fact that Mr. Comey was leading an investigation into the Trump campaign and its ties to Russia. “Dems in Meltdown Over Comey Firing,” declared a headline on Fox News, as Tucker Carlson gleefully replayed clips of Democrats denouncing the move. “It’s just insane actually,” he said, referring to their reactions. On Fox and talk radio, the message was the same, with only a few conservatives willing to sound a discordant or even cautious note…

But perhaps most important, we saw once again how conservatism, with its belief in ordered liberty, is being eclipsed by something different: Loathing those who loathe the president. Rabid anti-anti-Trumpism…

actions, his conservative champions change the subject to (1) the biased “fake news” media, (2) over-the-top liberals, (3) hypocrites on the left, (4) anyone else victimizing Mr. Trump or his supporters and (5) whataboutism, as in “What about Obama?” “What about Clinton?”

For the anti-anti-Trump pundit, whatever the allegation against Mr. Trump, whatever his blunders or foibles, the other side is always worse.

But the real heart of anti-anti-Trumpism is the delight in the frustration and anger of his opponents. Mr. Trump’s base is unlikely to hold him either to promises or tangible achievements, because conservative politics is now less about ideas or accomplishments than it is about making the right enemies cry out in anguish.

13) Dahlia Lithwick with Laurence Tribe’s case for impeachment regarding the Comey firing.

14) Why everything we know about salt may be wrong.

15) Of course the Trump administration and Betsy DeVos are doing all the wrong things on student debt:

But with a series of regulatory changes, the Trump administration is taking us in the wrong direction, making student loans riskier, more expensive and more burdensome for borrowers.

First, the Education Department has weakened accountability for the companies that administer student loans. Second, it has made it more difficult for borrowers to apply for, and stay enrolled in, income-based payment plans. Third, Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, has given banks more leeway to charge borrowers high fees — as much as 16 percent of the balance owed — if they fall behind.

16) The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer and Peter Beinart on Comey.  Both really good takes.

17) Donald Trump wants steam catapults on aircraft carriers, damnit!  If it was good enough for Maverick and Ice Man…

18) Honestly, it never ceases to amaze how breathtakingly ignorant Donald Trump is about policy and how incoherent he is when attempting to discuss it.  Yglesias breaks down his recent Economist interview.

19) Big 538 piece on the long, complicated story behind all the false voter fraud claims from the right.

Quick hits (part I)

1) More evidence of the ongoing damage of environmental lead.  As Brendan Nyhan says (and Drum, of course):, “Can’t believe lead removal and mitigation isn’t a first-order policy concern.”  Yep.

2) Ed Yong on the evolution of beauty in animals, and the always-fascinating story of duck sex.

3) Pretty sure my undergrads could tear apart this pretty anemic “rich people always get better stuff” defense our Republican health care.

4) Economists who believe in Trump’s approach to supply side economics (tax cuts pay for themselves through greater economic growth) = economists who misread the question.

5) The Russian experiment to tame foxes is so fascinating and deserves the wider audience this book should bring it.

6) I hope it’s actually good, because I’m pretty sure I’m going to see Blade Runner 2049 no matter what.

7) How the damn anti-vaxxers created a measles outbreak in Minneapolis.

8) Yascha Mounk throws a glass of cold water on happiness over Macron’s win:

But while it’s only natural to be relieved, this is no time to get complacent. On the contrary, there are four reasons why the triumphalist narrative that is already taking hold in the aftermath of the French elections is understating the populist threat to liberal democracy…

Finally, and most important, a lot of the commentary on the rise of populism is treating the success of candidates such as Trump as though they were the result of a mysterious virus that might subside just as quickly as it spread. But to make this argument is to close our eyes to the fact that the current challenge to the political system has been steadily growing over time—which suggests that it has deep, structural causes.

9) I presume I missed this two years ago, but nice to see Columbia Journalism Review give credit to the terrific (and incredibly rare) state politics coverage from our local TV station, WRAL.

10) So, somehow I had never read the famous 1948 short story, “The Lottery.”  Alexandra Petri has, and she has a lot of fun with it.  Well worth reading both.

11) Will Saletan with all the ways Republicans are trying to defend the AHCA.  A lot of explanation that really comes down to one thing: lie.  

12) Catherine Rampell makes the case that Trump’s policies are basically waging a war on Millennials.

13) Warren Buffett appreciates the biggest long term threat to our economy– health care:

Mr. Buffett, in a remarkably blunt and pointed remark, implicitly rebuked his fellow chief executives, who have been lobbying the Trump administration and Washington lawmakers to lower corporate taxes.

In truth, Mr. Buffett said, a specter much more sinister than corporate taxes is looming over American businesses: health care costs. And chief executives who have been maniacally focused on seeking relief from their tax bills would be smart to shift their attention to these costs, which are swelling and swallowing their profits.

It was clarifying to hear Mr. Buffett frame things this way. The need for corporate tax relief has become the lodestar of the corner office, with C.E.O.s rhapsodizing over President Trump’s plan to try to stimulate growth by cutting tax rates for businesses.

14) The key to Trump’s win… white turnout up; Black turnout down:

15) With Comey, it’s easy to forget the mess that is Michael Flynn and Trump’s failure to fire him after he knew he was compromised by the Russians.

16) In no surprise at all, cultural anxiety– not economic concerns– where key in white working class voting for Trump.  German Lopez with summary of PRRI report:

The new survey, by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) for the Atlantic, focused on white working-class voters (those without a college education or salaried jobs), who were part of the key demographic behind Trump’s rise. It looked at how much of their support for Trump correlated with, among other factors, “fears about cultural displacement” — a polite way of describing fears of immigrants from other countries and people of other races.

PRRI concluded: “White working-class voters who say they often feel like a stranger in their own land and who believe the U.S. needs protecting against foreign influence were 3.5 times more likely to favor Trump than those who did not share these concerns.”  [emphasis mine]

17) This interactive dialect map is from 2013 and I probably shared it then, but a friend recently posted on FB and it is so amazing how accurate this is.  It pegged me to Arlington, VA– just miles from my childhood home of Springfield, VA.

18) Good thing Jessica Colotl has had her DACA status revoked and is being sent back to Mexico.  Just the kind of person who is ruining this country.  And, oh my, this 60 Minutes story about the woman married to an illegal immigrant who voted for Trump because she didn’t think her husband was a “bad hombre.”  Ugh.

19) Dylan Matthews on how liberals can improve the tax code.

20) Okay, I really don’t know enough history on the matter to say “worst Attorney General ever,” but now Sessions wants to re-up harsher punishments on low-level drug offenders.

21) Very much enjoyed Friedersdorf’s practical political advice for liberals.

22) David Leonhardt on how the French media got the leaks right and American media didn’t:

The two cases obviously are not identical. (And van Kote wasn’t criticizing American journalism; the criticisms are mine.) But they are similar enough to say that the French media exercised better, more sober judgment than the American media.

This issue isn’t going away. Our digital world ensures that the private information of public figures, and not-so-public ones, will be released again in the future.

The media cannot always ignore that information, tempting as it may seem. But it also should not pretend that the only two options are neglect and sensationalism. There is a middle ground, one where journalistic judgment should prioritize news over the whiff of news.

23) The Census is important.  The director quitting in protest is not good.

24) The 13-year old Spanish girls soccer team that beat all the boys.  At younger ages, there’s really no reason girls teams shouldn’t be able to beat boys.  13 is probably about the last age this could happen.

25) The nationalist/populist right can only do as well as the center-right will let it.  In France, that was a huge loss.  In the U.S., the mainstream right gave it the presidency.

26) Congratulations to EMG (or actually, EGW now) on her lovely wedding yesterday evening.  My guess is she’s not spending her post-wedding morning catching up on quick hits– but she better get to it.

AHCA– what’s next?

The Senate, of course.  And how to make sense of that?  Still haven’t come across anything better than Jonathan Bernstein’s take from right after the House passed it:

The biggest questions now are about what will happen in the Senate. This is a “reconciliation” bill, which means it will be protected against filibusters and will need only a simple majority to pass. But it also means that only certain provisions (those that affect the federal budget) can be included. It’s entirely unclear what the Senate parliamentarian — an unelected official who singlehandedly makes major decisions on the reconciliation process — will allow, and what Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans will do if the parliamentarian turns what the House has done into Swiss cheese by stripping various provisions from it.

Nor is it clear that 52 Senate Republicans (with the support of Vice President Mike Pence to break ties) are enough to pass anything. To begin with, it seems likely Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski will oppose anything that retains the House bill’s hit on Planned Parenthood. Another half dozen or more Republican Senators have spoken against the measure’s cuts to Medicaid. And then Kentucky’s Rand Paul wanted a full Obamacare repeal, and it’s possible a handful of others (Ted Cruz of Texas? Mike Lee of Utah?) might join him in opposing the House bill (let alone anything modified to get the votes of Collins and Murkowski) as too weak.

It’s absolutely possible that Senate Republicans can figure out a way forward, but it should be at least as hard for them to get their version of the bill over the finish line than it was for House Republicans to do so. [emphases mine] It may be even harder at this stage of the process: Several members of the House said that they were counting on the Senate to modify things, but senators have less leeway to pass the buck in the same way.

Harder, but not impossible. If the Senate does pass something, and assuming the House isn’t willing to just rubber-stamp that version, then the two chambers would have to hammer things out in a conference committee. And the math is still extremely daunting: House Freedom Conference radicals simply want a bill that doesn’t appear to have 50 votes in the Senate…

My guess is that it’s still fairly unlikely that any version of this makes it into law. President Donald Trump is hosting a victory party at the White House for House Republicans today, and I still think their best strategy is to just pretend that they’ve killed off Obamacare for good, and then go on administering it.

But make no mistake about it: Something could very well pass. Even if very few House or Senate Republicans are excited by their bill and are fully aware of the electoral risk some of them are taking, politicians like to do what they promised, and they — as a group — promised to repeal and replace Obamacare. Many of them also remain individually more worried about being defeated in primaries if they take the blame for failure than they are about being defeated in general elections because they are blamed for voting for something unpopular. Only the latter can cost Republicans their congressional majorities. 

Also, Perry Bacon with a very nice analysis in 538 looking at the various competing concerns which will make this so difficult to get through the Senate.  Again, something certainly can, but it is far from a given.

Also, I’ll re-quote Bernstein:

And the math is still extremely daunting: House Freedom Conference radicals simply want a bill that doesn’t appear to have 50 votes in the Senate

So, first can 50 Senators actually agree on something?  And, if they can, will the Freedom Caucus vote for it?  Both are possible, but far, from an easy yes.

In fact, I think there’s a non-trivial possibility we could end up with something like we did on a health care bill from long ago– the 2001 Patients Bill of Rights.  The House passed a version.  The Senate passed a version.  But they could never pass a reconciled version that they both agreed upon.  Those, actual patients rights had to wait for the ACA.

Chart of the day

Via the Incidental Economist— total transfer effects of wealth of ACA vs. AHCA.

Transfer effects of the ACA, by Henry Aaron at the Brookings Institution.

Transfer Effects of the AHCA, from the Urban Institute.

Honestly, when people look back on this political era, I think they will be in awe of the Republicans ability to win so many elections while so transparently being a political party primarily designed to serve the interests of the very wealthiest Americans.

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