More gruel
Link Roundup, 3/24/2017

Link Roundup, 3/24/2017

From The Atlantic: Really interesting question: Why are Republican lawmakers so obsessed with removing the maternity coverage requirement in health insurance?

From ArsTechnica: Why does anybody think it’s a good idea to let ISP’s sell your browsing history?

From the MIT-Sloan Business Review: AI has potential to be a huge job-creator.

From Buzzfeed: Who should pay for Evan Karr’s heart?

From The Atlantic: Researchers have released a grim follow up to the Case-Deaton study on white mortality. It begs the (largely unasked) question – what is it about white people and white culture that has left them uniquely susceptible to despair in the present economic climate?

Chris Stapleton, Outlaw State of Mind


      1. I did wonder for a moment if some reverse psychology was going on (don’t throw me in the briar patch!!), but is Bannon capable of being that subtle? I had heard he didn’t like the AHCA, but perhaps the “win” was more important??

  1. So when the going gets tough, Trump quits. And blames the Dems, every though the GOP has majorities in both chambers of Congress. And had 7 effing years to craft this bill. This weekend’s Twitter rant should be epic.

    Pro tip- if you wanted the Dems to join you, you should have ditched “repeal & replace” in favor of “repair & restore”. If you really care about your base having the best health care, you’d pressure the holdout GOP governors to accept that Medicaid $. But since the freedom caucus just owned you, you’re going to find it much harder to bully anyone. Sad!

    Final observation on the AHCA epic fail- the Tolkien-esque irony that it was defeated by the freedom caucus for not being evil enough.

    1. FWIW, read my opinion in response to Tmerritt. Republicans never really cared about a replacement. This was really just a prelude to tax reform and they needed the money from cuts to the Medicaid program ($880B plus) to make tax reform easier. They rushed it; didn’t build consensus; were arrogant and they offered up an inferior plan to the ACA. People saw it for what it was and they reacted. Loudly. Town halls and phone calls were incredibly effective. It is one of the best expressions of public involvement in the political process that I have witnessed. The best part is these people now understand how the process works and they are much more likely to vote in ’18. Now we guard against more attacks on ACA via regulatory reform and budgeting tricks until finally everyone realizes that health reform is bi-partisan and it will never work any other way.

      1. Mary, this article sums up the GOP disaster very nicely IMO:

        My take away is that the GOP got too greedy. They wanted those tax cuts for the rich and figured they could do an end-run around the Dems in the Senate TWICE(!) with the budget reconciliation rules. A tricky needle to thread, but they might have pulled it off if they had spent the last 7 years putting together a replacement rather than bitching and shutting down the government. Although they still would have been plagued with the “can’t please the freedom caucus and the moderates at the same time” problem.

        I’m not surprised Trump thought he could bully and bulls*** his way through this, but I am surprised at just how badly Ryan fumbled here. Pleasantly surprised.

      2. Excellent article, Fly. What I did not know was how critical the timeline in all of this was. Talk about threading the needle – indeed. We’ve got to watch what Trump does next. There’s a major case pending against the ACA and if T decides to not defend against it, it would be the final blow. Would he do that to his base?

    2. “the Tolkien-esque irony that it was defeated by the freedom caucus for not being evil enough.”

      The bad thing is that Trump predictably and even lazily threw this at the Dems, the public seems to generally be throwing this at Ryan, and the media is overly eager to throw it at Trump, and it’s really on the Freedom Caucus. Since nobody is BLAMING the Freedom Caucus, if they even really understand that the Freedom Caucus is really the group responsible, this mucks up the discourse and muddies the lesson learned.

      What I mean by this is, pass or fail, my groups had strategies in place to deal with the results of the AHCA vote either direction. If it was pulled because they couldn’t get votes from moderates, there were still options. But because it’s on the Freedom Caucus and nobody is blaming them for it, it’s unclear to know how that will affect the next year, and 2018 midterms.

      The GOP now faces the knowledge that they have to either commit to the Freedom Caucus to get anything done, or they have to reach out to the Democrats to figure out some way of getting stuff done without the Freedom Caucus. Reaching out to the Democrats is the smarter option. History has shown the GOP always chooses to double down, so I think they’ll take a step to the right instead.

      Meanwhile, because the Freedom Caucus isn’t blamed, but either the Dems or the moderates or Trump will be, in 2018 it’s more likely for moderates to be primaried to replace with more Tea Party extremists. If the blame was placed more squarely on the Freedom Caucus for the failure of ACA to be repealed, it would be an opportunity to work at primarying them. Because I can’t trust the public to recognize that, 2018 movements are unclear and it doesn’t necessarily advantage either Democrats nor moderates in any visible way.

      So once again the Republicans managed to make their own horrible leadership decisions even worse — not only did they fuck everything up, but managed to do it in a way that doesn’t readily make it easy to isolate the blame, fix the issue, and move forward. They’re not only great obstructionists, but obscurantists.

      1. The Freedom Caucus was the big vote miss, but credit has to be given to the Dems for staying put and the people of America for putting pressure on those moderates that still exist in the GOP. The only wild card, Aaron, is how potus will treat this. Will he exact revenge from the FC ? With the budget coming due on 4/28, we’ll get a strong signal as he can’t pass it without the FC’ help unless Dems give him the votes he needs…which they might if they get something they want. What a mess!

        You mentioned you had both scenarios covered in the event of win or loss. Care to share more on that?

  2. DS

    Well, that’s a wrap on healthcare. Once again, I think Chait has a pretty good handle on the politics/policy angle:

    I don’t really know where healthcare goes from here. It strikes me as possible that this finally settles the healthcare as a right debate. Maybe we’ll now start grinding out the slow, steady changes to Obamacare that can make it a more functional system.

    1. I truly hope you are correct regarding the issue of healthcare being a right. However, being a doubting Thomas, I am skeptical. If more states start accepting the Medicaid Expansion and the R’s get a significant shellacking in 2018, then I will believe that. However, until then I think the R’s will continue to try to cripple Obamacare anyway they can.

      1. I agree, TMerritt. Republicans still have regulatory power and Trump E.O. power. They can damage it further if they want to. From all the discussion today on CNBC, which looks at issues like this from a market perspective – their take was that the focus on repeal was more to set the stage for tax reform. They wanted to attack medicaid costs first as a prelude to tax reform and decided to go at it first through the repeal of the ACA because they thought that would be a slam dunk. However, when faced with the loss of health care, people started speaking out, then raging, then the details of the AHCA came out and people clearly saw the bill for what it was and raised hell and pressured their MoC as well as Trump for his promises….Having to work the replacement side hurt, too.

        The biggest criticisms I’ve seen are that the Republicans underestimated how personal the health care issue is when you start to mess with it; their goal was never really about a replacement but always about tax cuts and curbing medicaid cost; and they took a highly complex issue on a break-neck pace without building consensus from parties who would be impacted – hospitals, doctors, etc – and the bill hurt too many people. Left too many out, was too draconian, was not going to reduce premiums/deductibles it was going to help with tax cuts…again – it was really all about tax reform. Frankly, I want universal health care but I want the ACA to work while it is the operating system. This other plan was poor. If it had passed, it would have been even worse for the Repubs. I think the outrage expressed continuously by people all over the U.S. rattled MoC who started looking at mid terms and they backed off. Now we need to keep the pressure on to bolster the ACA so that it can work decently for people until a bi-partisan effort can happen to come up with a better plan…which is what is needed. Republicans got greedy, they were cocky, and they misjudged the American people. In my opinion (-;

      2. Doubtful as to whether Republicans can even tackle tax reform now. Paul Ryan’s border adjustment tax has fallen flat with a lot of GOPers and, obviously, all the money they wanted to get out of their healthcare bill isn’t an option anymore. They may be able to squeeze through some tax cuts (though even that’s not guaranteed) but broader tax reform? I wouldn’t bet my money on it.

      1. DS

        Frum makes a lot of good points about how we got here, but I’m not entirely convinced this will pave the way for conservative healthcare ideas. As much as folks are crediting the town halls and grassroots activism, the Freedom Caucus had as big a role as any group in killing this thing. They will be an obstacle to any sort of plausible reform.

      2. The Freedom Caucus is dangerous. They don’t care about being re-elected and they have a very singular focus. They do not compromise and they are in a body politic that is built upon compromise – never mind that it hasn’t worked for a decade.

        And their opposition to the AHCA was major. But it is difficult to overstate the importance of the power of public angst. Does it matter at this point? No, except for the next battle where public sentiment won’t be a player – raising the debt ceiling. And, that’s soon.

      1. Agree. Tonight on Laurence O’Donnell, one of the panelists referred to a pending lawsuit to the ACA which could doom it if Trump chooses to not defend it – or, defend it ineptly. Our jobs are far from over, but maybe we can catch our breaths. I don’t know how people function in this nonstop political tension…Maybe that’s why Congress is so dysfunctional – the process drives you mad!

      1. Krauthammer’s piece was one of his best. However, he left out a critical, important democratic force in his list: grassroots activism. Consider the people-power that has been stoked, released, and empowered. Those Jeanie’s are not going back in the bottle. I think that was a major omission in his article but the rest was solid. Republicans are having to learn how to govern. It will be interesting to see how their base reacts.

      2. Krauthammer makes some accurate observations about checks and balances, but he can’t help but make snarky remarks about liberals and leftists, for whom he has contempt. That’s what I mainly get from his writing: arrogant contempt.

      3. Yes. He just couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge the tremendous effort of rank and file Americans all over this nation. Just.couldn’ That is his weakness. In defeat, just as in victory, honesty can’t be limited to only those elements that are comfortable. Humility is a tangible part of honesty. By omitting any reference to the people power in the defeat of this bill, his observations become partisan when they could have been laudable.

    1. Krauthammer’s piece–a handful of politicians making a decision based on their political calculation does not equate to the system of checks and balances being just fine, and does not equate to a functioning system.

      That system will continue to be purposely undermined by the Party’s love for conflicts of interest, unbridled infusion of money into politics, demonizing of the press , and propagating alternative facts. We aren’t even through the first 100 days

      I usually stop reading a Kraut piece before I get to the cut-and- paste whine about the “Media” bogey man, of which apparently the National Review, WSJ, RedState, Breitbart, Fox are apparently not a part of.

  3. Republicans have always been opposed to having babies outside marriage….Well, then, support and provide easy access to affordable contraception! Logico, eh? And support pre-natal care and maternity care to prevent danger to unborn and mother that is not only life-threatening but also more costly than a healthy baby.

    This is so simple and logical that it hardly bears commenting. Let women manage their own health choices.

    1. Knee-jerk, stream of conscious responses often reveal the ugly side of one’s views. Despite a later apology, this is a case in point:

      “Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), when asked if he supports scrapping EHBs, deadpanned: “I sure don’t want my mammogram benefits taken away.”

      Maybe we should take away his prostate benefits.

      1. I thought the picture said it all. A table surrounded by straight white men discussing whether or not insurance had to include maternity benefits and mammograms . My god, it could just as easily been a New Yorker cartoon.

      2. Ha! I recall a similar scene at a hearing in Congress over health care….a string of males discussing women’s issues. I hope you heard about the TX (female) legislator who filed the bill about viagra? It was delicious.

  4. In regards to The Atlantic article, people should read “The Empty Cradle”, by Phillip Longman. Prosperity, power, survival all depend on the little gal having children. The main reason that Japan’s economy is not so perky anymore is the baby bust be upon them. This will not be China’s century after all because of their dumb one child policy and forced abortions of all children after the one. This is one of the main reasons I changed my opinion on women’s choice. A government that can say you cannot have an abortion can also mandate them. Once started a demographic death spiral is very hard to turn. Without people your economic, military and soft power declines. It will be India that will I think eventually become our peer. One of the main reasons many women decide to limit children is because even though the whole of society depend on her doing so, almost the whole expense is dumped on her and her husband if she has one. This policy of dumping on moms is very stupid and short sighted. I only had two kids because that was all I could afford to take care of properly and I made good money most of my whole working life. We should be making it easier for people to afford kids not harder. The native born population is not even replacing itself. Only because of immigrants and their first generation children is the population of the country still growing. This is strongly link to our economic, military and soft power. Such a stupid policy to remove maternity coverage on women . This is the kind of stupidity that has made me a political orphan.

      1. You know, many times I finish a fine piece of writing and decide to scan the comments. I am usually disappointed by the tone, sarcasm and in too many instances, stupidity. As a result, less often do I look at the comments. It doesn’t spoil the article.

    1. Here is a concept. Perhaps the entire capitalist idea of an ever-growing consumer base that is required to grow profits is well…insane. Last time I checked, we live in a closed system, with finite resources. We are not getting off this planet anytime soon. Nothing, NOTHING, can continue to grow forever in a closed system.

      Now, most ecosystems reach equilibriums, and then get on nicely. But the idea of a zero-growth human population makes CEO’s, religious fanatics’, and racists’ collective heads explode .

      A capitalist system, as well as our tax system, does not run on a zero-sum game, which is what you have if there is a stable population with flat consumption levels. But given global warming, plastic pollution in the oceans, the depletion of aquifers, and the wiping out of fish stocks, which are far more of an existential threat to us than North Korea’s nukes, that zero-sum game is we need on this planet.

      Not that this will happen anytime soon. There are far too many greedy or stupid people on this planet for logic to grab hold. Plus such a system would be virtually impossible to implement, given human nature. For those that have watched the Matrix, Mr. Smith had it right.

    2. Regarding the Atlantic article and the one that Creigh linked to last night, in the previous post from Chris , I have a feeling that one of the problems is that in many of these communities the social support base has withered. The family has fragmented. As I mentioned last evening, in many of these communities there are not many young white families. Even though the problem is 50’s white men having a supportive family nearby can make a major difference. This is a thought and if others have any comments, I’d like to hear them. I do know that at one point in my life, I was really in a bad way and would not admit it publically. But my partner, through just being there and providing caring support made a huge difference.

    3. I think a lot of people on the conservative side still have a very outdated view of family economics- that their mentality is stuck back in the past when children were economic assets once they were old enough to work on the farm or in the family craft or the sweatshops. But now children are an expense and a large one. Our policies need reworking to reflect that fact. People raising children is a necessary function, and needs to be supported as such. I also think that deliberately choosing single parenthood is not wise, as children have better prospects with 2 parents (and an extended family structure is even better), but the right wing approaches to discourage single motherhood end up hurting the children the most.

      1. Yes, and the right wing refusal to allow women affordable access to contraception while criticizing them for bringing more poor children into the world, is yet more telling.

        The hypocrisy is mind-numbing. Family planning is a modern concept and it is a good one when managed by the people who are directly involved. Anyone else is just interference.

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