2:00PM Water Cooler 6/25/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Trumka whines, rolls over, shows belly to Democrats [Politico, “AFL-CIO: 2016 endorsement doesn’t hinge on fast track”]. That was fast.

“To secure broad and bipartisan support for trade agreements, the administration needs to reach deals that address the legitimate concerns raised by many Democrats.” [Editorial, New York Times]. Fine word, legitimate…

Potential impact of King v. Burwell opinion on TPP [@nielslesniewski].

Hmm. Written in secret. Limited opportunities for debate. Bypassed the filibuster requirement. Remind you of anything? And “inartfully drafted.” Tinfoil hat time: Roberts laying in some footings?

Senate passes TPA and TAA as separate bills, returns them to the House [New York Times]. “The burst of legislative action secured a hard-fought victory for Mr. Obama and the Republican congressional leadership.” Yes, that’s the bipartisanship promised by the Obots in 2008. Well played.

“Obama Bolsters His Leverage With Trade Victory, but at a Cost” [New York Times]. “The open warfare within his own party was searing and may be slow to heal.” Good.

And see the Corruption section below.

Health Care

King v. Burwell: “Court backs Obama administration on health-care subsidies: In Plain English” [SCOTUSblog] (the majority opinion; proceedings and orders). Scalia: “I stole election 2000 for this?”

“HCA Holdings Inc., Tenet Healthcare Corp. and Community Health Systems Inc. all gained more than 8 percent after the ruling. Health insurers also advanced” [Bloomberg]. Cui bono.

Shocker: Roberts Court upholds Heritage Foundation plan to rescue health insurance industry [Wall Street Journal, “Supreme Court Upholds Obama’s Health-Law Subsidies”]. Since citizens consumers can how be legally mandated to enter lemon markets for necessities, this removes a key roadblock to a “Retirement Marketplace” where Social Security is a “public option.” Thanks, progressives!

Roberts: “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them” [WaPo]. Health care is a lemon market; it can’t be “improved.” And health insurance is a lemon market if the insurance companies have their way writing the policies to profit by denying people care.

“‘This decision allows (state officials) to move forward with a level of confidence that their markets will not see significant disruption due to a paradigm shift,’ said Ben Nelson, CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and [ka-ching] a former Democratic senator from Nebraska” [AP].

“Subsidies upheld, but health needs still unmet” [PNHP].

“Between 16 and 17 million people have gained health insurance as a result of the health law, most studies have concluded. About 35 million remain uninsured”  [Wall Street Journal, “5 Things About People Who Remain Uninsured Despite Obamacare”]. What a stark failure for “progressives,” despite the pom-pom waving.

Emails show Gruber wasn’t just “some advisor,” as Obama said [Wall Street Journal,  “MIT Economist Jonathan Gruber Had Bigger Role in Health Law, Emails Show”]. There’s this: “In a Jan. 14, 2010 email, [White House Mr. Furman emailed that “we got a deal with labor. Keep that very close hold.” Lot of interesting material on the time-line of Democrat and “progressive” betrayal on single payer, here. And then there’s this:

In a Sept. 23, 2009, email, Mr. Gruber emailed Ms. Lambrew saying “pharma is going to be a huge winner from this bill—maybe $15 billion/year in incremental revenue. Any way to go after them harder for financing?”

Ka-ching! Obama cut his secret deal with Big Pharma in summer 2009, so it looks like Gruber had his model working by that point?

“[At least three hospitals in the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center system have] banned the sale of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from some of its hospital gift shops, accusing the newspaper of “slanted” coverage, the newspaper reported Wednesday [Charlotte News-Observer]. Thin-skinned, aren’t they?



“Bernie Sanders is gaining on Hillary Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire, with an appeal as an issue-oriented protest vehicle potentially capable of slowing any coronation of the popular front-runner” [Bloomberg].

The S.S. Clinton

“A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found Hillary Clinton defeating former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) by 8 percent, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) by 10 percent and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) by 14 percent” [The Hill].

Clinton to give Netroots Nation a miss [Newser]. Awww!

Republican hot takes on King v. Burwell [WaPo].

Rubio and Graham service squillionaire Adelson [The Hill]. They “introduced legislation Wednesday that would push the government to crack down on most forms of online gambling. The legislation is backed by GOP mega-donor and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.” Because the children.

Republican Principled Insurgents

Walker optimistic on stalled state budget passage, University guts, Bucks stadium giveawats [Capital Wisconsin].

“Stein is starting early by joining other third-party contenders who have been excluded from CPD [Commission on Presidential Duopoloy Debates] debates as plaintiffs in a historic legal challenge to the commission’s practices” [The Nation].

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of June 19, 2015: “[J]obless claims are steady at historic lows” [Bloomberg].

Personal Income and Outlays, May 2015: “The consumer came to life in May, boosted by a 0.5 percent rise in personal income and helping to support a 0.9 percent surge in personal outlays that reflects heavy spending on autos and retail goods” [Bloomberg]. “This is a good report for the bulls.”

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of June 21, 2015: Up following two prior declines  [Bloomberg]. “In line with the mid-month consumer sentiment report that showed a sharp burst.”

“U.S. architects’ billings grew strongly in May as demand for multifamily housing rose and a recovery in the market for non-residential construction spread to institutional buildings like schools and museums, architects and a trade association told MNI” [Market News].

PMI Services Flash, June 2105: “PMI services are down sharply in this month’s flash, to 54.8 vs 56.5 in the final May reading. Growth rates for new orders and shipments, instead of showing a spring burst, are among the slowest this year” [Bloomberg]. “This report is a surprise, suggesting that June will prove to be a disappointing month for the economy and will not see an extension of the wide economic acceleration during May.”

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, June 2105: “[R]emains depressed” [Bloomberg]. Weakness in exports.

“Week 24 of 2015 shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) contracted according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data. Intermodal traffic expanded year-over-year, which accounts for half of movements – but weekly railcar counts continues in contraction” [Econintersect]

“Longer term year over year view on durable not looking so good” (FRED charts) [Warren Mosler]. The cheerleading continues….


Bold-faced names: Democrat trade traitors. Readers, more like this, please (contact form below). List of traitors; is one of them “your” “representative”?

“Sen. Maria Cantwell broke federal election laws by not promptly disclosing emergency loans made late in her 2000 campaign… from a branch of U.S. Bank in Bellevue in the closing days of the campaign” [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]. This is 2000. Has Cantwell reformed, or is she a recividist?

“The greatest investment of [Richard] Blum’s career was undoubtedly his marriage, roughly 30 years ago, to the politically Joe Lieberman-esque US Senate Democrat, Dianne Feinstein [Anderson Valley Advertiser]. How cozy.

“Last week, Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio voted down a measure that would have cut subsidies to Florida’s lucrative sugar industry” [Florida Center for Investigative Reporting]. “Big Sugar is a big donor to political campaigns all over the country — but especially in Florida.”

“Florida Sen. Bill Nelson cashed in on Florida’s foreclosure crisis, purchasing a lavish $1 million golf course condominium from a major donor on the cheap” [Washington Free Beacon]. “County real estate records reveal that in November 2011 Nelson purchased a 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom condo at 10339 Kensington Shore Drive for $717,800—$350,000 less than the condo’s $1.07 million value.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“The Spreading Opposition to Confederate Symbols” [The Atlantic]. The end of Nixon’s Southern Strategy?

“The Emancipation Proclamation doesn’t discuss the ideology of white supremacy or the narrative of racial difference, so I don’t believe slavery ended in 1865, I believe it just evolved. It turned into decades of racial hierarchy that was violently enforced” [The Marshall Project]. Very good.

Class Warfare

“There are now 211,275 people Wealth-X categorizes as UHNW [Ultra-High Net Worth] living globally, collectively owning almost US$3 trillion of real estate, making up 10% of their net worth” [Mansion Global]. There are not very many of the Shing.

“Targeted by Governor Rauner, Illinois State Museum’s Chicago facilities are emptying out” [Chicago Reader].

“Puerto Rico Debt Crisis Mounts With Key Deadline Just Week Away” [Bloomberg]. Little-watched story, closer than Greece.

News of the Wired

Boeing’s union-busting plastic plane loses money every time one rolls off the production line. $26 million bucks a pop [Forbes]. “This terrible drag on profitability would have been partly avoided if Boeing management had taken a different approach to labor.”

“Mr Muilenburg’s appointment could be the signal that Boeing intends finally to crack a longstanding problem — how to force the commercial aircraft and defence divisions to work closely together, and thereby become a more efficient group”” [Financial Times, “New Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg eyes jet production challenge”].

“But even as the trend toward greater reliance on data has accelerated over the past decades, the information itself has fallen dangerously short of the mark. Sometimes it doesn’t exist at all. But worse than that, all too often it’s just wrong” [Governing]. Refers to state data….

The Archdruid on agnotology and negotiation skills [The Archdruid Report].

“‘You’re in my house!’ President Obama slams, boots White House heckler” [New York Daily News]. Actually, the White House isn’t Obama’s house. The citizens own it, not him.

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (Doug):


Doug writes: Blooming Veronica in Colorado Rockies.

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. I need to keep my server up! And pay the plumber….


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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Vatch

    “Senate passes TPP and TAA as separate bills, returns them to the House [New York Times]. “

    Shouldn’t that be “TPA and TAA” instead of “TPP and TAA”?

  2. nycTerrierist

    “‘You’re in my house!’ President Obama slams, boots White House heckler” [New York Daily News]. Actually, the White House isn’t Obama’s house. The citizens own it, not him.”

    Good catch. I found that slip quite offensive. Patronizing and wrong. Nice to have a so-called
    ‘constitutional scholar’ in the house…

    1. ambrit

      Oh yes, such a telling outburst. It shows us most of what we need to know about the mans’ “character” or lack thereof. A real politician would have handled that differently, like have counter hecklers planted in the crowd and ready to go. This shows the essential ‘damaged child’ at the centre of his ego.

    2. hunkerdown

      The Democratic Party, in four words.

      But only people with Something To Prove seem to be electable anymore. How does one vote against effective evil?

    3. DJG

      For a man who survives on rhetoric, Obama makes some highly foolish rhetorical choices that can be telling. I’m reminded of the “we tortured some folks” problem of folksy human-right violations and undermining of the rule of law. Then there was the recent incident of his highly deliberate use of the word “nigger,” which surely must have been vetted by twelve internal committees and served as confirmation of his daring to the faithful and further evidence of his perfidy to his opponents: Meanwhile, I will await the bill that he works to introduce in the Congress for strict background checks, elimination of classes of guns, and taxes on ammo.

      I suspect that President Obama is still evolving on LBGT issues…. Although large campaign contributions will help him in his evolving.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Um does that mean Hil is now allowed to say it too? What about Dick Cheney? Or is it just Uncle Tom who is allowed? How fitting.

    4. petal

      I thought the same thing yesterday-it isn’t his house, it’s our house and we’re just letting him live in it for a little while, and he shouldn’t forget that. But what he said was quite telling. Cheers.

    1. hunkerdown

      She only wanted to be seen expending effort to bring pork home, not actually get it in the door.

      They know the game.

  3. grayslady

    Can someone turn off the italics, please?

    Re plant image: Looks like Tidal Pool Veronica. Attractive groundcover, but the color is too vibrant for my tastes compared with other prostrate Veronicas.

    Re health insurance fiascos: My best friend’s grandson just had a major operation for a broken leg, including needing to have a titanium rod inserted. Doctors wouldn’t release him unless he had crutches and a wheelchair at home. Aetna refused to pay for either (the family policy costs $22,000 per year). Hospital personnel were so furious after speaking with Aetna, they just gave the poor kid the crutches and wheelchair so he could go home. So much for health insurance for the masses.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, I removed that awkward rightward tilt.

      Good for the hospital people! I just hope the administrators don’t make them suffer for their good deed.

      1. Jess

        Just yesterday a friend posted a cartoon to my FB page. It shows a man and his daughter standing on a lovely balcony overlooking an equally lovely Paris. Dad is saying, “This is the kind of socialist wasteland Bernie Sanders wants to turn the U.S. into.”

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Claire McCaskill on Morning Joe this morning opining that Bernie Sanders is doing “so well” against hillary clinton because the “media” has not “scrutinized” him.

          When asked to help the press out and expose Sanders’ flaws, she stuttered, found her footing and said that “most don’t realize that he’s a SOCIALIST!” He wants “medicare for all!!!”

          When asked to explain the large crowds he draws, she repeated the socialist/populist mantra, and sneered that his policies are “popular” with “the people.”

          No mention of that “democracy” thing. I wonder what she thinks elections are about. Maybe an unofficial donkey / elephant census??

          1. hunkerdown

            That’s exactly what elections are for in *ahem* a republic. When are you going to stop lying about the form of government so that we can see the field without a cloud of pathos gas obscuring the way?

          2. subgenius

            …and those damn Scandinavians…it totally sucked there in the 90s…all that equality n shit.

            Mind you, it does cost a shitload for good booze, so either they are trying to socially engineer nonalcoholism (the bastards), or freemarketcapitalism wins….you pick…

          3. sid_finster

            Claire sees it as her duty to make sure Hillary’s coronation comes off without a hitch, and otherwise to cheerlead for Team D.

        2. Chris in Paris

          The great Paris correspondant for the Torygraph @mulhollandrory posted it on his twitter feed this morning. Quite a hoot since today’s French PS is nearly as neoliberal as the Dems in the US. What was Nader polling at this point back then?

      2. EmilianoZ

        Yeah, but dont worry. France is part of the TTIP. Soon we’ll have nothing to envy them for. That’s the meaning of globalization.

        Globalization = same crap everywhere

    2. Doug Terpstra

      The Insurance Racket Bailout Act is a timely reminder of why we are compelled to vote for the lesser of two weevils: the US Supine Court proved vital to defending Obamneycare’s free-market foundation. And that rubber stamp will prove as indispensable for the legitimation of TPP, TTIP, and TISA when they are enacted (against Nancy’s ardent opposition of course. Her pearls and her “feinting” couch will be well-worn by the time voters induce her spend more time with her family.)

      I must admit, however, that it is immensely reassuring to learn that, thanks to Obamney, up 17 million more people now have insurance, which thanks to exclusions and deductibles, they can not possibly afford to use. Insurance stocks are way up.

    3. annie

      a south african tourist i met this week in italy described having an emergency appendectomy while on the amalfi coast. she was taken by ambulance to nearest large city hospital, operated on, spent three days in hospital and they said, it was an emergency, we don’t charge.
      this would be true in most every european country, including england.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        I can attest to that in late 1960s England as an MK (missionary kid) en route to the US. I had contracted hepatitis, showing symptoms for several days before being diagnosed at St Mary’s Hospital in London. The family traveled on, except for my mother, while I was hospitalized for two weeks in London. After two weeks, I was released, not for travel, but to convalesce for another fortnight in a country village near the Chiltern Hills(?) outside Oxford with my mother, as guests of a kindly widow, Mrs. Watson. British taxpayers picked up the entire tab, including my mother’s stay, because my illness was incidental to our travel itinerary. Fortunately, this happened in a civilized country. The US was my final destination.

  4. RabidGandhi

    More depressing than Obama’s lame “this is my house” retort but equally predictable was the reaction from the crowd trying to hush the heckler. The day after the hilt of TPP dagger makes it into the heart of the base, the base continues its mindless adulation of Fearless Leader. Sickening.

    1. James Levy

      When I was young (14 to be precise) I read a review of Kubrick’s version of The Shining in which the writer made an interesting argument that The Overview Hotel was actually the White House and that Jack Torrance was Richard Nixon, and that each “caretaker” going forward was going to be haunted by the possibility that in that insolation madness lay. I’ve never forgotten that review.

        1. James Levy

          Thank you–think better than I type at this stage of the game (although one could argue that the President is more insulated than he is isolated).

  5. subgenius

    damn, boeing are EVEN BETTER at losing $$ on a sale than that shyster Musk… If you can’t beat them, join them?

  6. timbers

    Obama on NPR says ruling affirms right all to healthcare. Even if he meant insurance instead of healthcare, the analyst & reporters that followed didn’t seem area that 35 million don’t have access to healthcare under Ocare. Instead they said the Supremes affirmed the right of people acting in a democracy. As in Obama meeting in secret with insurance & drug corporations to write Ocare, I guess. The state of knowledge and reporting is God aweful.

    1. jrs

      Every single person under the income line in a state that didn’t expand Medicaid pretty much, as they are too poor to even get a subsidy for the exchanges either. It’s better than nothing to have a national policy that half the states follow and half don’t or something …

  7. jo6pac

    ‘Tinfoil hat time: Roberts laying in some footings?’

    Roberts did the right thing in that he protect his friend in corp. health care. If this would have gone the other way they would have lost 100s of millions or billions in free money. So much on helping citizens of Amerika.

    Anderson Valley Advertiser, thanks Lambert one of the last real news papers in Amerika.

    1. JonboinAR

      Really!? What’s it like now? It wasn’t much larger than a good sized pamphlet in the ’70s. My mom received it in the mail for years. But Booneville and Philo were all loggers and sheep farmers then. I imagine it’s pretty yuppie-rural there now, a different readership..

        1. jonboinAR

          I would guess there are still several small-community newspapers scattered in the country that are actual NEWSpapers and truly independent of some kind of higher-up-the-corporate-chain agenda, but it’s good to hear that about the Advertiser.

  8. Doug Terpstra

    “The open warfare within his own party was searing and may be slow to heal.” Thus the NYT paints Obama’s highest act of treason as a courageous, principled stand for bipartisanship. 

    But given that the warfare was mostly theatrical anyway, with a pre-scripted squeaker vote count, there will be reconciliation of course, and in the end, all will come together in patriotic solidarity. Nancy and Harry will recover faster than a treadmill mishap. And new lines will be learned for Act II, the “bruising battle” ahead.

    1. pretzelattack

      remember those halcyon days when obama would be unleashed in his second term, the lame duck status allowing him to free his inner class warrior? we just didn’t realize which class, quite.

      1. Propertius

        I’m still waiting for the Obots to “hold his feet to the fire”. If they’d done as they promised, he’d be cinders from the waist down by now.

  9. ambrit

    Our local paperette uses material from USA Today, and this mornings issue had an ‘opinion’ piece from USA Today shilling for the TPP! How to preserve Americas’ prominence in the world by passing TPP. The fix is truly in for this movement.
    We need to be preparing for massive civil disobedience over implementation of this system.

  10. Vatch

    211,275 ultra high net “worth” people. That’s about 0.003% of the world’s population.

    Interesting that you mention the Shing. They were conceived by Ursula LeGuin’s 8 year old daughter back in the 1960s. “They’re bad.”

      1. Vatch

        The Left Hand of Darkness is on my list of books to reread; now I guess I need to add City of Illusions to that list. Too many books, not enough time.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      I’d move your quotation marks:
      211,275 ultra high net worth “people”

  11. Chris in Paris

    Re the Puerto Rico debt crisis, the commonwealth just lost in court versus some rentiers’ consiglieri. The case in question is Franklin California Tax Free Trust v. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Appeal by PR pending. Nasty stuff.

  12. Oregoncharles

    So the ACA is now officially a conservative measure. John Roberts says so.

    Are there recent figures on the number of uninsured? It kinda looks like 6-10 million got insurance (for what that’s worth) on the markets; how many are left?

  13. Oregoncharles

    “http://www.pnhp.org/news/2015/june/%E2%80%98subsidies-upheld-but-health-needs-still-unmet%E2%80%99-doctors-group” –

    Answering my own silly question (very quick work, Lambert): about 35million still uninsured. IOW, all of that to cover (inadequately) about one fourth of the uninsured.

    And, of course, fasten the insurance companies even more firmly to health care.

    Why does this remind me of the “trade” agreements – also an enormous lift to make things worse.

  14. abynormal

    The Algorithm will see you now
    More controversially, I suspect, is their finding that “algorithms may be one way to improve care, at least for common situations like emergency treatment of heart attack.” This would seem to threaten physician autonomy. If it’s true that algorithms can improve care—even if in a few, circumscribed ways—is physician autonomy an important consideration nonetheless? (One concern might be that fewer people will want to be doctors. Another concern is that an algorithm might be “right” on average but not capture patients’ physiological or preferential heterogeneity. As Peter Ubel wrote in NEJM today, sometimes in guidelines values masquerade as facts. Are there other concerns?)
    …nope. ponder’n earlier which ring of hell we’re squat’n on

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      V. glad to have relocated to Australia after Bush got reappointed, excellent health care at very reasonable prices. I understand some docs in the US are now scheduling “group appointments”, people expressing the same or similar symptoms get an appointment en masse. Nice.
      We have very affordable drugs here for the moment, I’m sure TPP will fix that shortly. I also understand TPP makes medical procedures patentable, so when a doc figures out a new way to stitch somebody up he can charge a license fee anytime another doc wants to do it that way.
      Q; is it time yet? I think it is. Bring your torch and your pitchfork.

  15. tongorad

    I recall the Obots chanting that Obamacare would pave the way for single-payer. How’s that working out?

  16. Oregoncharles

    ““Puerto Rico Debt Crisis Mounts With Key Deadline Just Week Away”

    P.R. doesn’t have its own currency, either.

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