Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Prof. Krugman: Trump and Pruitt Will Make America Gasp Again

Prof. Krugman this on December 9, 2016

But in other ways Mr. Trump can indeed restore the world of the 1970s. He can, for example, bring us back to the days when, all too often, the air wasn’t safe to breathe. And he’s made a good start by selecting Scott Pruitt, a harsh foe of pollution regulation, to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Make America gasp again!

Much of the commentary on the Pruitt appointment has focused on his denial of climate science and on the high likelihood that the incoming administration will undo the substantial progress President Obama was beginning to make against climate change. And that is, in the long run, the big story.

After all, climate change is an existential threat in a way local pollution isn’t, and the installation of the Trump team in power may mean that we have lost our last, best chance for a cooperative international effort to contain that threat.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Five Ways The Poor Lose To The Rich With Loss Of Obamacare

A very important article from Steven Rosenfeld appeared in AlterNet.  It is titled Five Ways GOP Repeal of Obamacare is Taking From The Poor and Giving to the Rich.  A must read piece.

Here are five takeaways showing why the known parts of the GOP’s repeal and (most likely not) replace plan amount to Robinhood in reverse: taking from the poor, working- and middle-class and giving to corporate Americans and Wall Street.     

1. Millions will lose coverage. As Obama said, millions of people will be hurt by losing coverage if Republicans eliminate subsidies for households buying policies through the state-based exchanges or federal government. People will go back to not having health coverage because they cannot afford it, especially if they over age 50—which is when insurers really start raising premiums. But vast numbers of people will also lose it when Republicans roll back Medicaid expansion by turning that program into block grants for states, which leaves governors and legislature in the position of having to raise taxes to continue those programs.

2. The transfer of wealth begins. This upward redistribution comes as the GOP starts to repeal the tax penalties associated with the Affordable Care Act. While they will surely argue that removing individual penalties helps the little guy, they will also be letting large employers off the hook for providing coverage for employees, a bottom-line bonanza. It is unclear what the GOP will do with law’s income tax surcharge on the highest earners, as the GOP may seek to retain some revenue for what they will likely advertise as new tax credits to help lower-income people pay for private insurance. The problem, as is always the case with tax credits, is one has to first have enough income to use them.  

3. Wall Street gets to cash in. House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans have long-espoused expanding the use of health savings accounts, as a way to build up the sufficient funds needed when sickness or a medical emergency strikes. That is a very big way that financial institutions will get to make big money by skimming off of the top of these accounts under the guise of management fees. This entire approach is based on a false premise that’s akin to the was 401k savings plans were sold by right-wingers as a replacement for employee pensions—they put money aside, but it is a pale shade of what’s needed to cope with real-life living expenses. Nonetheless, Wall St. profits.

4. Cost shifts will hit consumers. Health care economics are not hard to understand. When profit-driven institutions like hospitals, drug makers and insurers lose money from unanticipated costs—such as people flocking to emergency rooms or facing big surgery after being denied access to preventative care—they stick to their profit goals by raising prices wherever they can. That dynamic is what is behind the recent rise in health care premiums, according to a series of recent astute analyses. Paul Krugman has written that what’s behind recent premium increases in states where insurers aren’t regulated, like California, is a temporary consequence of those without insurance catching up on neglected health issues. Obama, speaking Friday, said that insurers also intentionally offered low-cost initial plans to grab as big a market share as possible. There is no evidence that insurers, hospitals and drug companies will cease price-gouging. Thus, taking federal billions out of the system means either less care or higher costs for all.

5. The race to the bottom begins. Republicans have said they will push for allowing people to buy insurance across state lines. That is not the same as allowing states that regulate insurance companies from forming regional compacts to create bigger pools to support more insurance-buying choices. As Dean Baker, co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington told AlterNet, that “means that every insurer gets incorporated in the least regulated state and the other states can't do anything to prevent them from ripping off their customers (e.g. get incorporated in Alabama and collect premiums and don't pay claims in California).” And that’s not all. “Also they will look to end pooling whereby the more healthy subsidize the less healthy, former tend to be richer, latter poorer,” he said.

The Only Replacement Alternative
The Republicans have no intention of replacing Obamacare with anything that will continue or maintain the same level of coverage that is now under the Affordable Care Act. If they did, it would have been presented by congressional sponsors in the 60 or so pieces of legislation that they passed to kill Obamacare—that the president vetoed. Not one Republican has ever seriously proposed anything close to imposing price controls, which Republican President Richard Nixon entertained amid a struggling economy in the early 1970s.

But there is an alternative to the system of private health insurance that is the status quo and Obama discussed that on Friday, when explaining the history of the Affordable Care Act—which he said was based on a place created by a Republican Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, and intentionally designed to attract Republican support.

Friday, January 6, 2017

MUST READ; Prof. Krugman: The Age of Fake Policy JAN. 6, 2017

My favorite economist and main man all round, Prof. Krugman always hits it right on the head.  Brilliant man he is!  See his column for today

"To highlight the difference between real economic policy and the fake policy that has lately been taking up far too much attention in the news media."

As it currently stands, there is no sign that the president-elect understands the difference. Even more worrying, the mainstream media doesn't either.

An example of real policy is the Affordable Care Act, which is, of course, currently on the Republican chopping block, an act that would deprive 30 million poor and middle class families of healthcare. So, that's a kind of policy, in reverse.

But the media would rather focus on pittances like Trump's supposed intervention to stop Carrier from moving jobs to Mexico, which may or may not have saved 800 jobs that may soon get lost soon anyway. Reality check: 75,000 Americans lost their job that day. "In other words, it may have sounded as if Mr. Trump was doing something substantive by intervening with Carrier, but he wasn’t," Krugman writes. "This was fake policy — a show intended to impress the rubes, not to achieve real results. 

"The same goes for the hyping of Ford’s decision to add 700 jobs in Michigan — or for that matter, Mr. Trump’s fact-challenged denunciation of General Motors for manufacturing the Chevy Cruze in Mexico (that factory mainly serves foreign markets, not the U.S.)."

Simply put, "case-by-case intervention from the top is never going to have a significant impact on a $19 trillion economy."


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Prof. Krugman: Trump Will Fall Disastrously In Time; Courage!

Here is a blog post of Professor Krugman's which is well worth posting yet again here.  It is from his regular blog in the Times, "The Conscience Of A Liberal".  He titled it The Long Haul and his words are sobering and chilling but not without hope and encouraging predictions for the future of Mr. Trump's future as not our President but as himself playing a president in a sort of reality television program he's no doubt ruminated upon, fantasized about for a while now.    

Professor K. wrote prophetically I feel sure that,  "The true awfulness of Trump will become app"The arent over time. Bad things will happen, and he will be clueless about how to respond; if you want a parallel, think about how Katrina revealed the hollowness of the Bush administration, and multiply by a hundred. And his promises to bring back the good old days will eventually be revealed as the lies they are.

But it probably won’t happen in a year. So the effort to reclaim American decency is going to have to have staying power; we need to build the case, organize, create the framework. And, of course, never forget who is right.It’s going to be a long time in the wilderness, and it’s going to be awful. If I sound calm and philosophical, I’m not — like everyone who cares, I’m frazzled, sleepless, depressed. But we need to be stalwart."

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Unspeakably Depraved People Among Us--Animals Possess Far More Moral Integrity

An 18-year-old prostitute, the daughter of a police dispatcher, claimed that she had had sex with officers and said the police had routinely tipped her off to raids. More than a dozen officers are under investigation, Ms. Schaaf said, and at least one of the relationships began while the prostitute was a minor.

Some people are less than human, below the lowest there is, y a know? As Mr. Prine writes "Some humans ain't h
In case you haven't been exposed to this sickening news story yet I am sorry to be the guy to bring it to you.

An 18-year-old prostitute, the daughter of a police dispatcher, claimed that she had had sex with officers and said the police had routinely tipped her off to raids. More than a dozen officers are under investigation, Ms. Schaaf said, and at least one of the relationships began while the prostitute was a minor.
“It’s tragic that this scandal has overshadowed the incredible progress that Oakland has made,” Ms. Schaaf, 50, said in her wood-paneled office above the streets that are being transformed by what has been called Oakland’s renaissance.

“As someone who has worked for nearly 20 years on the issue of the sexual exploitation of minors,” she continued, “this revelation was not just shocking. It was thoroughly depressing.”

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Laughable . . . I mean Laffer . . . Curve trickles down To Us Even Now

Professor Paul Krugman, in his must-read book, End This Depression Now!, takes us step by step through the debacle that began when Laffer drew on a napkin while dining with, among others, the editor of the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal.  Laffer surely is as competent economist.  However, as Krugman notes, "In a way, you can see why the food stamp program — or, to use its proper name, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) — has become a target. Conservatives are deeply committed to the view that the size of government has exploded under President Obama but face the awkward fact that public employment is down sharply, while overall spending has been falling fast as a share of G.D.P. SNAP, however, really has grown a lot, with enrollment rising from 26 million Americans in 2007to almost 48 million now.
Conservatives look at this and see what, to their great disappointment, they can’t find elsewhere in the data: runaway, explosive growth in a government program. The rest of us, however, see a safety-net program doing exactly what it’s supposed to do: help more people in a time of widespread economic distress."