2:00PM Water Cooler 3/24/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


New Cold War

On incidental collection: “Things begin to get a little frightening when we learn that this inadvertent collection of Trump staff conversations was followed up with transcriptions of those conversations and the disclosure (or unmasking) of the persons involved in the conversation. These transcripts would be considered raw intelligence reports” [Pete Hoekstra, Wall Street Journal]. “When I was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, I was routinely involved in briefings as a member of the “Gang of Eight”—both parties’ leaders in the House and Senate and on the intelligence committees. I cannot recall how many times I asked to see raw intelligence reporting and was refused because that stuff is just not made available to policy makers…. The raw transcripts of masked persons—or unmasked persons, or U.S. persons who can be easily identified—making their way to the White House is very likely unprecedented. One can only imagine who, at that point, might be reading these reports. Valerie Jarrett? Susan Rice? Ben Rhodes? The president himself? We don’t know, and the people who do aren’t talking at the moment.” Hoekstra was a Tea Party member and a WMD nutter. But non-nutters are pretty thin on the ground these days, and this is one of those process arguments insiders nod their heads when they read….

UPDATE “The media pounced [on Trump’s “wiretap” tweet] and rightfully demanded proof to support such a charge. When it was clear that no evidence would be produced, the media (again rightfully) pummeled the White House for failing to support one of the most alarming claims ever made by a president against a former president. However, that is when the media seemed to switch roles and fell into a loop of repeating the same accusation over and over again like Jack Torrence endlessly typing ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ The media seemed so delighted by the quagmire created by Trump’s tweet that it refused to acknowledge reasonable interpretations of the tweet or the possibility that there might have been surveillance” [Jonathan Turley, The Hill]. “One of the most telling examples of media mania was the insistence that Trump was referring only to wiretapping and no other form of surveillance. From the earliest days of the scandal, I balked at that narrow reading. As someone who has written and litigated in the surveillance field for over three decades, the narrow reading is absurd.” Turley is not only seen as a liberal, he’s listened to, so this is significant. Oh, and the headline? “Trump was right after all about the Obama administration wiretaps.” Oopsie, Democrats. Hey, Neera! How much would you pay me for an article titled “Turley’s Russian Paymasters”?

“The Moscow Project” [Center for American Progress]. No doubt Neera paid to have this focus-grouped.

Health Care

2:00PM: As of now, we don’t know whether it will have been possible for the Republicans to make a bad Republican bill even worse. Exciting!

“One theme [Trump] kept coming back to [in The Art of The Deal] is that you’ve got to be willing to walk away or, more precisely, convince the people you’re negotiating with that you are” [WaPo]. Hence Trump’s ultimatum.

“Paul Ryan Rushes to White House to Tell Trump Votes Are Lacking to Repeal Obamacare” [New York Times]. Suddenly Ryan is a subordinate who can’t get the job done! “Privately, White House officials conceded that competing Republican factions were each demanding changes that could doom the effort, placing the measure in peril and Mr. Trump’s chances of succeeding at a high-stakes legislative deal in jeopardy.” “Conceded.” Ha. I’ll go out on a limb here, and say I’d be very surprised if Trump didn’t come out of this smelling like a rose, at least with voters (even if liberal Democrats go nuts in their echo chamber). If the bill passes, Trump got it done by setting a deadline and knocking Republican heads together. If it doesn’t, he was an insurgent anyhow; it’s the establishment that couldn’t get the job done (after having had eight years to get their act together, too). And last I checked (things may have changed) the pain won’t really start ’til after the midterms. The new pain, I mean, if the bill passes.

And then there’s this:

If true, the Republicans — and especially the Freedom Caucus, who are driving the process — are as clueless and inept as the Democrats. Amazing but true!

“The president’s move effectively forces the hand of recalcitrant members of Congress. The moderates seem unlikely to budge, so it all comes down to the libertarian-leaning Freedom Caucus conservatives. Is half a repeal loaf better than no loaf at all?” [BBC]. “Looming over all of this is the stark reality that the proposed legislation is woefully unpopular with the public at large – garnering just 17% approval in one recent poll. Conservative interest groups are sharply divided over whether to support the bill or not. What should have been a moment of triumph for Republicans in Congress has turned into an exercise in political pain minimalisation.” So best get the pain over with fast, right?

“Trump, who has branded himself a dealmaker without parallel, gave this whole health-care process 18 days — including weekends and days Congress was out of session! Let us be abundantly clear: We were in the Capitol yesterday and talking to our vote-counting sources until late last night, and the situation is extremely fluid. Nobody knows how this is going to play out. But in Congress, 18 days is nothing” [Politico]. Rip off the bandaid and move on!

“The Congressional Budget Office warned senators on Friday that recalculating the rewritten House bill could take a week or more to produce, said several officials familiar with the discussions, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter” [WaPo]. “That was expected to upend McConnell’s plan to finish their work and send the legislation to the White House for Trump’s signature before a two-week Easter recess, according to three people briefed on the matter. Senate budget rules require that party leaders provide an official estimate of how much the legislation would cost and how it would change the deficit before scheduling a vote.”

“Want to really blow up the Senate – and fast? A new proposal is emerging that would likely do just that, and it has nothing to do with Senate Democrats’ vow to filibuster Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. A proposal is being pushed by some Senate Republicans that would seek to ensure that a House-passed bill could be passed intact by only a simple majority of senators. How would that work? Well, the vice president, of course, is the president of the Senate. The thinking goes that if the Senate parliamentarian ruled that parts of the bill can’t be folded into budget reconciliation, Vice President Mike Pence could simply overrule that. Sen. Rand Paul wants the White House to make that commitment now: ‘That alone, I think, would break the logjam,’ he told reporters Thursday. Perhaps, but that’s not all it would break. This would be the executive branch’s changing the rules of the upper legislative body. Filibusters could be broken, perhaps in any circumstance, at the whim of the vice president. In honor of a certain former veep, that would be a BFD” [ABC].

“Don’t miss what Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, tweeted last night: ‘FYI: The ‘Byrd Rule’ is actually a law.’ Translation for those unfamiliar with Senate arcana: The legislation that House Republicans are trying to pass probably don’t meet the rules that can avoid a Senate filibuster. Think about it, Cornyn is warning his House colleagues that this legislation can’t pass the Senate. And that’s precisely what Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) stated earlier this month: ‘I would say to my friends in the House of Representatives with whom I serve, ‘Do not walk the plank and vote for a bill that cannot pass the Senate and then have to face the consequences of that vote'”[NBC].

UPDATE “Loss Aversion, Trump and the New Opening for Medicare for All” [Robert H. Frank, New York Times]. “If the repeal effort stalls, attention will shift to what comes next. In an earlier column, I suggested that Mr. Trump has the political leverage, which President Obama did not, to jettison the traditional Republican approach in favor of a form of the single-payer health care that most other countries use.” As I’ve been saying for a long time, I don’t think this will happen. At the same time, Trump is the only politician I can even imagine reversing course like this. And if Trump wants to (a) cement Republican power for a generation, (b) throw the Democrats into utter disarray, (c) own Paul Ryan like a boss, and (d) cripple those obstructionist weasels in the “Freedom Caucus” and stick it to their higher-on-the-food-chain squillionaire backers, the Koch Brothers, he’d do it. Only Nixon can go to China. Oh, (e) win the thanks of a grateful nation.

Trump Transition

“Obama’s science diaspora prepares for a fight” [WaPo]. A diaspora? Really, WaPo? Like the “African diaspora” caused by the slave trade? Or the Jewish diaspora under Hadrian? Really? The self-regard is a little much.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Trump: The Scramble” [Michael Tomaskey, NYRB]. “One can select a day almost at random and quickly work up a list of four or five developments that defy belief.” Yeah, that day Obama renamed his “kill list” the “disposition matrix.” That was a good day.

“Honkala to file suit in Federal Court to void election” [Green Party].

Stats Watch

Durable Goods Orders, February 2017: “Aircraft has been giving a significant boost so far this year to durable goods orders which otherwise are soft” [Econoday]. “The weakest part of the report is perhaps the most important part, that is core capital goods (nondefense ex-aircraft) where orders slipped 0.1 percent in February vs expectations for a 0.5 percent jump and following January’s revised 0.1 percent gain. This points to continued weakness in business investment and eventual trouble for GDP.” You’d think in a capitalist society, investment in core capital goods would be something to watch…. And: “This series has wide swings monthly so our primary metric is the three month rolling average which marginally improved. The real issue here is that inflation is starting to grab in this sector making real growth much less than appears at face value – and this month if we inflation adjust the rolling averages they decline. The trends on this series are not indicating any real economic improvement” [Econintersect]. “What should be concerning to analysts is the continuing contraction of backlog (unfilled orders) which have been contracting year-over-year since mid 2015.” And: “The latest data does not suggest a major boost to capital sending and no real evidence that increased business optimism has translated into higher spending, although there will inevitably be lags and the data from the second quarter onwards will be a more important indicator of underlying trends. There will not be any significant short-term monetary policy implications” [Econintersect].

Purchasing Managers’ Index Composite Flash, March 2017: “[A] significant moderation in growth is the signal from Markit Economics’ U.S. diffusion indexes” [Econoday]. “Respondents are citing customer caution this month and are reporting slowing in employment, especially in the service sector where job creation is at a 3-year low. And in a negative for future hiring, backlog orders are starting to fall. Inventories at manufacturers, in another sign of slowing, are being cut back. Input prices are described as subdued. The weakness in the manufacturing flash is notable, as it contrasts with extraordinary strength in regional factory reports and also the rival ISM where readings have been in the mid-to-high 50s. The weakness for this report, however, does correspond to mixed readings in hard economic data coming out of Washington.” And: “There will also be expectations that the Euro-zone economy will outpace the US over the next few months which is likely to dampen support for both the dollar and US equities” [Economic Calendar].

New Home Sales (yesterday): “More than expected but as per the chart it looks like they’ve peaked and are working their way lower. And as no house is built without a permit, and permits are also soft, I don’t see anything good happening. Also, bank lending for real estate has been decelerating and mortgage applications are going sideways” [Mosler Economics]. And: “Note: February 2017 was warmer than normal in most of the country, and since new home sales are counted when the contract is signed, the nice weather might have had a positive impact on sales in February” [Calculated Risk].

Shipping: “United States trade with its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico headed up 6.7 percent to $88 billion on an annual basis in January, the most recent month for which data is available, according to the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS)” [Logistics Management]. “This marks the fourth increase in the last six months and the third straight month there has been an annual increase, as well as the largest annual increase going back to September 2014.”

Shipping: “Rail Week Ending 18 March 2017: Short Term Rate of Growth Slowing” [Econintersect].

Shipping: “Container shipping line share prices declined sharply today after news that US Department of Justice (DoJ) investigators served subpoenas to liner executives at the biannual Box Club meeting last week” [The Loadstar]. “An Investor analyst source said: ‘We find that any mention of the word subpoena tends to strike terror into the minds of investors. … [A] subpoena is simply an order to request testimony or production of evidence, with a penalty for failure to do so.’ Part of the problem is that Box Club meetings are notoriously secretive – the shipping industry’s equivalent to the Bilderberg. They are held behind closed doors and there are no reports of what was discussed, leaving shipping’s hoi polloi to simply speculate. However, the analyst suggested there was little suspicion of collusive behaviour. ‘Importantly, the [Box Club] room swarms with antitrust lawyers who ensure that no precarious topics – most notably pricing – are discussed,’ he said.”

Shipping: “[T]he International Council of Containership Operators [the Box Club]. consists of a who’s who of top groups, AP Moller-Maersk, CMA CGM, China COSCO Shipping, Crowley Maritime, Evergreen Marine, Hamburg-Süd, Hapag-Lloyd and Hapag-Lloyd USA, HMM, K Line, MSC, MOL, NYK, OOCL, Pacific International Lines, United Arab Shipping Company, Wan Hai Lines, Yang Ming, and Zim Integrated Shipping Services” [Handy Shipping Guide].

Shipping: “The United States is concerned that the proposed alliances of several major companies, covering about 45 percent of all global shipping capacity, could lead to anti-competitive behavior” [Reuters].

Concentration: “Some think that Amazon could become a new kind of utility: one that provides the infrastructure of commerce, from computing power to payments to logistics” [Economist]. “And here lies the real problem with the expectations surrounding Amazon. If it gets anywhere close to fulfilling them, it will attract the attention of regulators. For now, Amazon is unlikely to trigger antitrust action. … But as it grows, so will concerns about its power. Even on standard antitrust grounds, that may pose a problem: if it makes as much money as investors hope, a rough calculation suggests its earnings could be worth the equivalent of 25% of the combined profits of listed Western retail and media firms…. Amazon’s business model will also encourage regulators to think differently. Investors value Amazon’s growth over profits; that makes predatory pricing more tempting. In future, firms could increasingly depend on tools provided by their biggest rival. If Amazon does become a utility for commerce, the calls will grow for it to be regulated as one.” If only Jeff Bezos had a voice in Washington…

Real Estate: “Strong Demand for Data Center Space in Northern Virginia” [Data Center Frontier].

Co-ops: “Every Commune is a Cooperative: Self-organisation and self-sufficiency are progressing in Rojava” [Cooperative Economy (Diptherio)].

Political Risk: “Can “Trumponomics” extend the recovery?” (PDF) [Stephanie Kelton]. Important!

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 33 Fear (previous close: 30, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 45 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 23 at 11:50am. Last updated Mar 24 at 11:47am. Rolled over and went back to bed…

Health Care

“Most Cancer Cases Arise from ‘Bad Luck'” [Scientfic American] (full text of the original in Science). “In a study published on Thursday in Science, they double down on their original finding but also labor mightily to correct widespread misinterpretations of it. This time, using health records from 69 countries, they conclude that 66 percent of cancer-causing genetic mutations arise from the ‘bad luck’ of a healthy, dividing cell making a random mistake when it copies its DNA…. Similarly, the cause of many cancers might be environmental factors. But the difference in cancer rates in different tissues can still be the result of different underlying rates of cell division. That’s what the Hopkins scientists found.” Plenty of controversy here, which Scientific American summarizes.


“Sea Ice Extent Sinks to Record Lows at Both Poles” [NASA]. “Arctic sea ice appears to have reached on March 7 a record low wintertime maximum extent, according to scientists at NASA and the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. And on the opposite side of the planet, on March 3 sea ice around Antarctica hit its lowest extent ever recorded by satellites at the end of summer in the Southern Hemisphere, a surprising turn of events after decades of moderate sea ice expansion.”

“7,000 underground gas bubbles poised to ‘explode’ in Arctic” [Siberian Times]. Must-read. Many pictures.

Guillotine Watch

UPDATE “Just like her mother, Chelsea Clinton never gets a break” [Los Angeles Times]. So a $600K no-show job at NBC ins’t “a break”? I don’t think “just like her mother” means what the Los Angeles Times thinks it means.

“Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of “Hamilton,” sees a direct connection between his finances and healing the political divisions in America” [MarketWatch]. “The 37-year-old Pulitzer Prize-winning author and actor said one of the greatest lessons he learned about money came from writing about one of the founding fathers of the U.S. ‘In writing about Alexander Hamilton, I had to learn a great deal about the birth of our financial system,’ he told Morgan Stanley in an interview this month. ‘He intuitively understood that if the states are tied together financially, we begin to transcend our colonial mindset and thinking of ourselves as one nation. I’d never thought of money as a unifying or stabilizing force prior to telling his story.'” Making Deray look like a piker.

“Ivanka’s lawyer, a Democrat, defends herself” [Politico]. “Attorney Jamie Gorelick had just finished vetting potential Cabinet secretaries for Hillary Clinton — and raising money for the failed 2016 Democratic nominee — when Jared Kushner called her last year, seeking legal counsel.” One big happy!

Class Warfare

More on the new Case-Deaton study:

“On Mocking Dying Working Class White People” [Matt Stoller, Medium]. As Stoller says on the Twitter: “Yes, there’s open chatter all the time among certain Democrats on how they wish white working class males would die.” Also:

Of course, the elites took out a lot of the black working class too, in Flint, Ferguson, and elsewhere, with different techniques. Use the the tool that comes to hand!

“So the theory comes back to despair. Case and Deaton believe that white Americans may be suffering from a lack of hope. The pain in their bodies might reflect a “spiritual” pain caused by “cumulative distress, and the failure of life to turn out as expected.” If they’re right, then the problem will be much harder to solve. Politicians can pass laws to keep opioids out of people’s hands or require insurers to cover mental health costs, but they can’t turn back the clock to 1955″ [WaPo]. Rule #2 of neoliberalism. And if I were one of “these people,” I might just decide to take some of “those people” with me. Wouldn’t you?

Yglesias weighs in, to the extent a butterfly can be said to weigh in:

Who on earth said “prescription policies” weren’t part and parcel of neoliberalism? At least as practiced in the United States, where the rot has progressed farther than anywhere else? See “Credentialism and Corruption: Deaton on Opioids, Trump (and What Does “Rural” Mean?)” and “Credentialism and Corruption: The Opioid Epidemic and ‘the Looting Professional Class.'”

News of the Wired

“How iTunes built, and then broke, my meticulous music-listening system” [CNBC]. We treat these digital platforms as if they were a commons. They aren’t.

And then there’s this:

Readers, care to run your own tests on this?

* * *

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 (CB):

A final point on apples: If you’re thinking about starting a garden, now is the time to start thinking about fruit trees. Plant a fruit tree now, and you’ll have fruit in two to five years. Don’t be like me and say “I wish I’d planted some fruit trees five years ago!”

Readers, Water Cooler is a standalone entity, not supported by the very successful Naked Capitalism fundraiser just past. Now, I understand you may feel tapped out, but when and if you are able, please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your continued help.


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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. Tom_Doak

    Guillotine Watch: I saw the Lin-Manuel Miranda “story” somewhere the other day, but I could have sworn that version was just a straight-up advertisement for Morgan Stanley. Did MarketWatch actually run their ad copy as a story? Not that such stuff doesn’t happen all the time, but usually they conceal it much better.

  2. Marco

    Watching TrumpCare crumble is fun I’ll admit. But I propose a Bizarro Universe thought experiment where a prez Sanders and Pelosi are trying to get single-payer Medicare for All through the House. Which Dem factions would be aiming to torpedo THAT bill?

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        Nancy “we’re capitalists here” Pelosi will join the marine corps before she helps pass single payer

        1. Marco

          Doh!! I should have know better to suggest it would even come up for a vote. I remember the town-hall incident from early Feb but only just now watched the video. Ugh!!! You can see in her eyes as Mr Hill is finishing up his question that she was ready to tear open another hole had he asked her that same question in a back alley. Regarding the defeat of TrumpCare I am a bit jealous that their leadership offered up the opportunity to vote for their ideals (horrible as those are). Rank-and-file Dems would never be given that opportunity. So we are left to watch Team Blue gleeful that Heritage Foundation Healthcare remains in place.

          1. Elizabeth

            About a month ago, I e-mailed Pelosi and asked whether or not she would support single payer healthcare. She replied how wonderful the ACA was, and how it has helped so many people. She never mentioned single payer. Today I received an e-mail where she called the defeat of the Trump a HUGE victory for “hard working American families.” (I hate that phrase). I sent another e-mail today asking whether or not she would support HR 676. I wonder what her reply will be?

            I wish Trump and Bernie could somehow get together to craft a Medicare for All bill. Pelosi is hopeless.

            1. Marco

              Thanks for sharing that. More dissembling from Pelosi? What a surprise! Although the more I watch the Freedom Caucus the more I envy the Republican Party. Perhaps this IS a BIG defeat and Trump certainly hates them now. But what’s the point of politics if you can’t have a minority willing to go balls-to-the-wall to support their principles. I hate every last one of them but wish we had a similar contingent on the Left. If we did Pelosi would not be speaker. Asked this question before here on the threads but Trump keeps mentioning ACA is going to blow up within a year. It would be nice to see some numbers / projections about ACA rate increases nationally because Dems are certainly NOT out of the woods.

              1. Procopius

                I don’t actually mind Pelosi nearly as much as I hate Chuck Schumer. The fact that he was elected to be the Democratic Senate Leader makes me question if I’m ever going to be able to vote for a Democrat again. However, both my Senators and my Representative are good, so I guess I can, but we need to find some way to punish those Blue Dogs/New Democrats.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We Little People are the losers again. That’s how I feel, as premiums will go up again.

    2. Pat

      Hmm, what. Pelosi would be working with Schumer to make sure no bill ever made it to committee, not trying to get it passed. You can only allow that sop to the plebes when there is no chance of it ever coming to the floor…

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Nancy Pelosi was Speaker from 2007 through 2009. She let Waxman interview baseball players, and she is a member of the gang of eight. I wouldn’t look to Nancy for good policy.

    4. sleepy

      If and when single payer comes to pass in the US, I suspect that the health insurance companies will still play the leading role in managing the system. Everyone will get a medicare card, but for a set government payment the companies will be the ones negotiating with the providers and setting prices, etc., with the objective of maximizing their profits. Much like privatized medicaid. They will also be selling “supplemental” policies to fill in the coverage cracks that medicare doesn’t provide.

      There are many models, but medicare part D works as one model with private insurers inserted into the revenue stream for no apparent reason other than to grab a piece of it.

      1. marym

        That’s why it’s important to stop calling it single payer without specifying that it needs to be a not-for-profit public system. No country that has universal healthcare got there with for-profit insurance. It’s a waste of time and lives not to put this front and center.

        HR 676 Expanded and Improved Medicare for All

        30 pages. By now we should have had a copy on every doorstep.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Maybe it will happen by people dropping a cope on every doorstep.

          “The product is so good, it sells itself, no need to buy Super Bowl halftime ads.”

          Or we hasten it by asking Nixon to go to China and meet with Mao

          “Yes, we have something in common after all.”

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Still, sending a copy of a bill in every email box won’t get it passed.

              We need arm-twisting, deal making, people negotiating face to face.

      2. SpringTexan

        Yes indeed — original Medicare has a lot wrong with it and one thing is that the private companies insisted it not cover a lot so they could sell “supplemental policies” — which are a good idea to have. So both “supplemental policies” and “medicare part d” and also “medicare advantage” are all part of the we-MUST-throw-$$-to-private-companies grift.

        Another thing it has wrong with it is while it’ll cover every expensive hospital admission and procedure in the book, it doesn’t cover dental care, hearing aids, and barely and rarely covers stuff like home health care and self-propelled scooters, also it ought to cover toenail clipping (often very difficult for the elderly).

        1. robnume

          Good idea. I’m sure that AARP would jump on board. (sarc)
          AARP was a fine institution representing older Americans in public policies such as the implementation of Medicare under LBJ. Then in the 1980’s it turned itself into unabashed shills for the for-profit walking oxymoron that comprise the “health insurance companies” industry. I wouldn’t join that group now if they paid me to do so.
          What a shame that we have to throw granny under the train. Especially when you become the granny getting thrown under. Like so many of us here at NC are now.

        2. joe defiant

          I have medicaid and if you don’t show up for a interview every year they drop you then you have to reapply and get it again. When you reapply for the first month you have what they call “regular medicaid” until the insurance company policy starts the following month. Everyone tells you i you need anything done go get it now before the policy kicks in because it works so much better before the policy kicks in.

          1. marym

            Thanks for posting information about the service experience difference.

            It’s important that any of us talking about using an existing system like Medicaid, Medicare, or the VA, as a basis for a universal, public system be aware of all the privatization that has been introduced in these systems.

      3. jawbone

        Insurance companies do not set the payments for Medicare as it stands today.
        The payments are way too low for them to have a hand in it. Those which offer Medigap supplements charge about twice what Medicare with the 20% co-pays costs, so if they get enough of us who want to make sure we don’t go bankrupt from co-pays –and can afford the supplemental– they seem to do quite well. NOT as well as when they control the whole enchilada, but well enough to stay in the business of selling supplemental insurance.

        And, of course, Medicare does not pay for any prescription drugs other than, iirc, flu shots. Medicare Part D helps, but does have major problems.

        The role of private insurers is, as I understand it, is to serve as the payment mechanism to doctors, labs, hospitals, etc. I don’t know how they’re contracted. Anyone know for sure?

        The Medicare Improved for All that I’m aware of does not give the private insurers control over the amounts paid to the health care industry. I’m not sure if you’re making an assumption that they will power their way into that role to keep up everyone paying for their huge salaries to CEO’s, etc.?

        That would not be good, at all. If that happened — dang.

    5. Pwelder

      I think Robert Frank and Lambert are on to something with that Trump-does-Medicare-for-all conjecture. IMO the odds are a lot more favorable than most seem to think.

      The question is timing. If Trump/Bannon decide to try this, they would want it to pass close enough to the next Presidential election to give them a big boost – and before the associated tax increases would bite on the affluent and well-insured sector of their base. That sounds like late 2019 or early in 2020. Can the existing structure of the ACA last that long?

      1. robnume

        That, Pwelder, is a capital idea. It would absolutely guarantee a second term for Trump. Plus, it’s good policy.
        Whether the ACA will last that long is also a question well worth positing. Thanks.
        Great Water Cooler, today, Lambert. Thank you for finding all of these gems for us!

      2. Insertnamehere

        Does it have to be that late? The 2018 midterms have 22 Democratic Senators seeking re-election. If one looks at a map it’s all rust belt.

        I’m not sure the Dems could afford to vote no. And the key is actually getting a bill passed.

        I know the popularity boost for Trump in 2019 might be more profound, but I’ve never really seen Trump make a play for anything more than a plurality that wins the EC. In the case of a midterm bill, he still splinters the Dems heading into the 2020 primary season. They either get a “I voted with Trump” label or a “I voted against healthcare” label.

      3. Skip Intro

        A catastrophic collapse of the ACA would serve wonderfully to ‘focus the minds’ of the democrats, and could split the party on the putative single-payer vote. Trump and the GOP have dodged a bullet on Trumpcare. If they had touched it, they would own it.

        1. Allegorio

          “Trump and the GOP have dodged a bullet on Trumpcare. If they had touched it, they would own it.” @ Skip Intro

          Trumpenstien and Ryan had no intention of repealing the ACA. Their corporate sponsors love the ACA, a huge corporate give away, mega mandatory premiums and deductibles, very little affordable medical care. They just went through a big dog and pony show to pretend repeal and replace. The Republicants do own it. Sooner or later the Trumpen Proletariat will discover that their Great White Hope is just another Plutocrat grinding them into debt slavery, poverty and early suicide, while gathering all the productive capacity of this country and the rest of the world, to support their obscene corrupt life styles.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Couldn’t happen to a nicer zombie-eyed granny starver!

      (Of course, the Democrat staffers snickering at dead working class people should go to the same hell Ryan will end up in, if the Gods are good.)

      1. Science Officer Smirnoff

        It’s helpful to remember Ryan was censured by a Catholic faculty organisation as well as a Catholic bishops’ collective (oh, say, about 2010) for a budget “punishing the needy”. So make that: if the Catholic God is good.

        (Curiously news organs have forgotten)

        1. Procopius

          Nothing curious about it. Their bosses love Ryan, for some reason, so of course they have to forget the evil that dwells in his heart.

    2. PhilM

      Ryan. Huh. Old money loathes him like a social disease. Too bad we didn’t let them keep their place as aristocrats, because now we get to deal with the Kochs instead. So Ryan carries on, perched in power by sheer will. He’s a pea on a pedestal. If only he could be gotten rid of, replaced by a Goldwater Republican, lordy, great things could be accomplished.

  3. John k

    (E) win the thanks of a grateful nation. Rushmore!

    I don’t believe it. Both dems and reps take health bri… er, donations. Owners would have a hernia… what’s the point of being rich if the deplorables get to live as long as I Do?Neither party would even allow a vote.

    What part of ‘never, ever’ don’t you get?

    And that pretty graph with all the colors… Europe is playing catch up as we speak. First the south, then the north.

  4. freedeomny

    LOL Alexa- When Vault 7 came out I asked her if the CIA was listening to me. She said ‘Sorry I didn’t understand the question I heard”

    1. Robert Hahl

      A friend told me that Alexa answered “No, I work for Amazon.”
      “So see – no problem ;-)”

  5. MDBill

    Alexa now responds to the question, “Are you connected to the CIA?” with the the response, “No, I work for Amazon”. Some clever side-stepping perhaps.

    1. different clue

      If you asked the “new answer” Alexa the following question: Does Amazon work for the CIA? I wonder what the “new answer” Alexa would do.

  6. ChrisAtRU

    OMG, I just LOL’d at that Yglesias tweet. See Homer Simpson “Guy Incognito”:

    “Neoliberalism? Who is Neoliberalism? My name is Specific Prescription Policies!”

    Bwwwahahaha! I’ll be in tears at some point today over this …

  7. Carolinian

    Yglesias weighs in, to the extent a butterfly can be said to weigh in

    Ouch! And right on….

    1. fresno dan

      March 24, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      I understand that he has velcro soles, lest he float off the earth….

  8. TK421

    RE declining health: Gosh, what do France, Germany, Canada, Sweden, and Australia have that the USA doesn’t???

    1. Dead Dog

      Rhetorical, I know, but suggest little bit more empathy, better food, cleaner water, healthcare systems…

      1. a different chris

        Actually via Wikipedia, per cap Germany has >1/4 as many guns as we do, which is hardly nuthin’ to sneeze at. They seem to be in a large group of “normal” nations, with about 31 (we are at 112).

        Haha, came back to edit it — it went right past me: that’s per capita, so even the “disarmed Germans” have 30 pieces each to chose from.

        1. sleepy

          But few if any handguns. I have noticed that in Canada there seems to be as much of a hunting culture as in, say, Wisconsin, Michigan, or Pennsylvania, with plenty of hunting rifles and shotguns.

          I once taught criminology and have a head full of statistical trivia. My state of residence, Iowa, which is also full of hunters, had a homicide rate that would rank it 3rd from the bottom if it were a Canadian province. I used to joke with my one in-law in Manitoba that I took my life in my own hands when I traveled to Winnipeg, lol.

          1. RMO

            We’ve got lots of privately owned handguns in Canada. I know quite a few people who own and shoot them. Not one of them owns one for the purpose of self defense though (that’s not an acceptable purpose for private ownership of a firearm here under the law anyways). None of them even seem to think that it would be necessary or even a good idea to have one for that purpose. On the other hand I have had no trouble finding U.S. gun enthusiasts who buy and carry handguns for self defense and many who seem to be just itching for the chance to use them. There’s a big difference in the gun cultures of the U.S. and Canada.

          2. cnchal

            > I used to joke with my one in-law in Manitoba that I took my life in my own hands when I traveled to Winnipeg . . .

            It’s no joke. It isn’t likely that you would get shot in Winnipeg, but stabbings are popular. It’s the go to method of mayhem when hand guns are hard to get.

            Although I don’t spend much time wondering about the gun insanity in the US because it’s, well insane, I do wonder who pays for the damage done by guns. Who pays the hospital bill when an innocent bystander in Chicago, let’s say, gets shot in the chest from a gunfight across the street? They get an ambulance ride which costs what, $1000 and then rushed to the hospital where the meter starts running at $1000 per minute the moment the gurney wheels hit the pavement at the emergency entrance and the total, whether they live or die ends up at a quarter or half million dollars for a few hours on the operating table.

            Does health insurance cover that?

  9. Lee

    L.A. Times 15 minutes ago:

    While the White House was not giving up hope that the bill could pass, Spicer’s comments hinted that it didn’t look good.

    He said president doesn’t want to drag out discussions on the healthcare bill because he wants to move on to other issues such as tax reform, immigration and funding the border wall.


    It will be interesting to see how Obamacare fares/unravels on its own.

    1. Carla

      “It will be interesting to see how Obamacare fares/unravels on its own.”

      Probably not exactly “interesting” for the unfortunate victims, who number in at least the tens of millions…

      1. Lee

        Instructive, then, as in one way not to do it. And yes, painful for many. Not something I’m rooting for.

    2. Science Officer Smirnoff

      It will be interesting to see how Obamacare fares/unravels on its own

      If you call years of rightwing undermining and agitprop (through the months of Trump’s “imploding” meme etc) “on its own”.

      1. witters

        Obamacare is perfect! Just perfect! (And if it isn’t, then it is all “rightwing undermining and agitprop.”)

        Is there some kind of award for this?

        1. PhilM

          I know, right? Can you stand it? When I see people say things like this, the line from GalaxyQuest, “Do you have to hit every single mine?” comes to mind.

    3. Procopius

      It’s not going to unravel on its own. The Republicans, especially Trump’s little elves, are going to be sabotaging it, stopping payments that various providers were promised. Breaking contracts. Misinterpreting the law and regulations.

      1. Allegorio

        “The Republicans, especially Trump’s little elves, are going to be sabotaging it.” @Procopius

        Why would they? Guaranteed profits for the plutocrats, what’s not to love. The Republicants are just grandstanding, and sheepherding the deplorable vote. They had no intention of “repeal and replace” It was all for show.

  10. fresno dan

    UPDATE “The media pounced [on Trump’s “wiretap” tweet] and rightfully demanded proof to support such a charge. When it was clear that no evidence would be produced, the media (again rightfully) pummeled the White House for failing to support one of the most alarming claims ever made by a president against a former president. However, that is when the media seemed to switch roles and fell into a loop of repeating the same accusation over and over again like Jack Torrence endlessly typing ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ The media seemed so delighted by the quagmire created by Trump’s tweet that it refused to acknowledge reasonable interpretations of the tweet or the possibility that there might have been surveillance” [Jonathan Turley, The Hill]

    “The media seemed so delighted by the quagmire created by Trump’s tweet that it refused to acknowledge reasonable interpretations of the tweet or the possibility that there might have been surveillance”

    I agree a billion %. Now, I keep thinking Trump isn’t all that smart…Why Couldn’t he at least have said that more carefully and circumspectly???? He has experienced political aides!!!! HOW DUMB to inflame all this opposition needlessly….

    AND ITS STILL EARLY….but the idea that ALL the MSM thought Trump was INSANE for believing himself to have been WIRETAPPED…..
    well, to me the MSM looks more and more like its wants to be as wrong about this as they were about Hillary being the next president…the LOCKSTEP uniform belief….
    And I keep thinking….is …. it … p o s s i b l e???
    Was this ALL planned ahead of time by Trump and his supporters? Was it put out there ….to LOOK as if it was a casual, off the cuff tweet….with the idea that it would stew…steep, and ferment for weeks…that “double down” carefully done to keep the outrage boiling and the fury hot. Was the very use of “wiretapped by Obama” phrasing carefully DRAFTED, METICULOUSLY ASSEMBLED TO ASSURE that the Press went into paroxysms of OUTRAGE, meant to wave a red flag in front of the bull of the media, get them to obsess about it, and make it indisputable and undeniable that the media is biased and incapable of dispassionately looking at circumstances????

    I don’t know….I think not…..but….but still……

    Or as they used to say, Clinton is lucky in who is enemies are…. maybe the press is just much, much stupider than Trump.

    1. Montanamaven

      I’m going with your theory. Lambert often calls the Republicans “feral”. And maybe there is a bit of Cheshire Cats goings on in the WH.

    2. HotFlash

      Was the very use of “wiretapped by Obama” phrasing carefully DRAFTED, METICULOUSLY ASSEMBLED TO ASSURE that the Press went into paroxysms of OUTRAGE

      I just figured it was because Trump’s spell checker balked at ‘surveilled’, as does NC’s.

  11. Ernesto Lyon

    Ice-T gets the truth of identity politics.

    “No Lives Matter”

    It’s unfortunate that we even have to say ‘Black Lives Matter’, I mean, if you go through history nobody ever gave a fuck. I mean, you can kill black people in the street, nobody goes to jail, nobody goes to prison. But when I say ‘Black Lives Matter’ and you say ‘All Lives Matter’, that’s like if I was to say ‘Gay Lives Matter’ and you say ‘All Lives Matter’. If I said, ‘Women’s Lives Matter’ and you say ‘All Lives Matter’, you’re diluting what I’m saying. You’re diluting the issue. The issue isn’t about everybody. It’s about black lives, at the moment

    But the truth of the matter is… they don’t really give a fuck about anybody, if you break this shit all the way down to the low fucking dirty-ass truth

    We say that ‘Black Lives Matter’
    Well truthfully they really never have
    No one ever really gave a fuck
    Just read your bullshit history books
    But honestly it ain’t just black
    It’s yellow, it’s brown, it’s red
    It’s anyone who ain’t got cash
    Poor whites that they call trash

    -Ice T (Body Count)

    1. fresno dan

      Ernesto Lyon
      March 24, 2017 at 3:28 pm

      The people in charge will use killing to maintain their power, and under such a scenario the palace guard is exempt from the rules of killing that apply to the rest of the populace.

      1. robnume

        Right on, Fresno Dan. Like the lyrics of Rage Against the Machine’s song: “Calm Like a Bomb,” the final refrain which states, “There’s a mass without roofs, there’s a prison to fill, there’s a country’s soul that reads “Post No Bills,” there’s a strike and a line of cops outside the mill, ’cause there’s a right to obey and there’s the right to kill.”

    2. clinical wasteman

      “No lives matter” should be the last word in matter-of-fact description of what is. Not least because, unlike the insufferable “all lives…”, it doesn’t deny that some sorts of lives matter less than not at all as far as the Relevant Authorities are concerned. That group who can be hunted for sport or worked to death for the sake of abstract ‘prosperity’ may even be a worldwide majority: perhaps not 99 or even 90%, but who’s to say it’s not 60 or 70 or more when it’s absolutely a matter of class and class is always stratified ‘racially’ and ‘nationally’. Apologies for the statement of the obvious, but the prevailing, faux-adversarial alliance of mostly-white-on-the-Other’s-behalf liberal identity politics and outright white nationalist identity politics so consistently fails or pretends to fail to see this point that those who do are sometimes reduced to this sort of gibbering. (Wm. Blake: When I tell any Truth it is not for the sake of Convincing those who do not know it but for the sake of defending those who Do.
      When Ice-T was booked to play the Auckland, NZ Town Hall with Public Enemy (check the nuanced programming by anglo-colonial promoters!) in 1993, the city council tried to get his entry visa blocked on the grounds that he was sure to license underclass mayhem with the song ‘Cop Killer’, actually by Body Count, his short lived and (way-sub, say, OBNOX-standard) rock band who were definitely not coming. That city-funded lawsuit fell flat on its sorry face, so the great Aotearoa/NZ artist Daniel Malone [https://ocula.com/art-galleries/hopkinson-mossman/exhibitions/daniel-malone/] and I didn’t have to go through with our plan of performing the song — or the whole Body Count album, I forget — outside the venue on Aotea Square for the duration, but it still says something about the presumptions of the anglo-anglo-anglosphere* proprietors of Culture. (Since you ask, pre-self-parody P.E. were amazing, even better than Iggy Pop playing mostly Stooges and ‘The Idiot’/’Lust for Life’ stuff in the same place — without the blink of a municipal eyelid, ‘Neighborhood Threat’ notwithstanding — a year or so later. Ice T was a bit like Drake, only back then we called that ‘Tom Jones’.)
      *Akaranga/Auckland is much less obviously anglospheric — i.e. more visibly Pasifikan, Māori and Asian (which, contra the NZ Herald, doesn’t just mean ‘rich Chinese’, or indeed, rich anyone) — now than it was then. But in the meantime it has become the nanolab of choice for an experimental real estate/homelessness bubble even more insane than the latest one.

      1. robnume

        Thanks. I love Public Enemy. I recently saw Chuck D and Rage’s Tom Morrello performing as “Prophets of Rage” here in San Diego. They were great.
        Public Enemies cover of the Isley Brothers song, “Fight the Power” is a must-listen-to for all.

    3. different clue

      Could there be less clunky versions of . . .

      Black lives matter just as much as other lives matter.

      Black lives matter just as much as your lives matter.

      If Black lives don’t matter, neither do anyone else’s.

      Something to address the “all lives matter” reply and still preserve the original point?

      1. PhilM

        Nobody’s life matters as much as my child’s. Other than my child’s life, nothing matters as much as my wife’s. Other than my wife’s life, nothing matters as much as my brother’s. Other than my brother’s life, nothing matters as much as the rest of my family’s lives. Other than the lives of my family, nothing matters as much as my village’s well-being.

        Beyond those things, nothing matters as much to me as my prosperity, which pays for, protects, and feeds all of the above.

        Especially, nothing that starts with a racial, gender, or sexual-preference modifier matters in any extra-special way, except to those who discriminate among strangers on those bases—which, by definition, makes them racist, sexist, or otherwise “phobic.”

        Most lives don’t matter to other people. They won’t matter any more to those other people because some rapper says they should. But he will certainly be more popular with his “constituency.”

        1. clinical wasteman

          1. “Most lives don’t matter to other people” — short answer: speak for yourself. Longer answer: did it take long to learn, this trick where non-family, non-village people apparently don’t matter much to you but you still know better than they do what matters to them?
          2. “…because some rapper says they should…” — see William Blake above one more time: When I tell any Truth it is not for the sake of Convincing those who do not know it but for the sake of defending those who Do. Perhaps that means playing to a “constituency”, but even that would mean solidarity with a lot more human beings (and a lot more different “kinds” of same — you should have seen the audience at the Public Enemy/Ice T show in question, or for that matter at the triumph of Awful Records in London last year…) than biological family and fellow villagers.
          You don’t have to like particular people personally to acknowledge that their lives (i.e. what they live through, not just whether they’re alive or dead) matter, and to want political/economic institutions to acknowledge that in practice too.
          3.I scarcely believe I have to repeat this now, but “black lives matter” is not an instruction to white people to feel extra-warm personal feelings towards their black neighbors. Nor is it exclusive: there’s no way it can be twisted into saying that any other lives are not important. It IS a statement of refusal to accept a body of policy and “tradition” in which black lives manifestly “matter” less than certain well-known others do. (That’s “less” as in “nearly not at all”. And neither “inclusive” nor “colorblind” rhetoric is going to fix that while it’s business as usual for a racialized and nativist (almost everywhere) class system, as seen in Scheisswork-and/or-poverty blackmail, a rampant “Corrections Industry”, cynical border arbitrage (free movement/non-movement for capital but not for labor), post-colonial looting and old-fashioned war.)

    4. Allegorio

      Ice-T gets the truth of identity politics.

      “No Lives Matter”

      Perfect new definition for neo-liberalism: because the markets, no lives matter.

  12. Oregoncharles

    ““Honkala to file suit in Federal Court to void election” [Green Party]. ”

    Lesson: Democrats can and will cheat in elections. In fact, this kind of cheating was the basis of the big-city machines. Apparently, Philadelphia still has one. “Brotherly love,” huh?


  13. Jess

    On the subject of real estate prices, a little local anecdote: By virtue of having purchased my house in the late 70’s when prices were affordable I now live in one of the 50 wealthiest zip codes in the country. (A beach community on the south end of Santa Monica bay. Very blue country. My Congresscritter is the awful rising Dem star Ted Lieu.) Next zip code over is home to everyone from Maria Sharapova (9,700 sq ft manse built at a cost of $9 mil) to the owner of Sketchers. (Five connected lots taking up an entire beachfront block.)

    My street is only two blocks long and there are at least 12 properties that have sold for, or would sell for, in excess of $1 mil. About a year ago two new houses one block over sold for north of $1 mil on the first day they went on the market. I bring this up because we have a local free newspaper that publishes once a week and is distributed free to every residence on Thursdays. Lots of people just chuck it in the trash but many others actually read it for coverage of the local city happenings, restaurant and bar guide, etc. It also typically has at least several pages of real estate ads, sometimes as many as 25 pages.

    Yesterday I found my copy not in my driveway but by the curb. It was painfully thin, a shell of its usual thickness. In fact, so thin that it wouldn’t fly like a normal paper. I actually tried chucking it at the front porch but it died in flight halfway there. And guess what: Not a single real estate ad. Not only not a single page, not even a single ad. A realtor friend told me the market has tightened up immensely. If the rich are cutting back, what, pray tell, does that portend for the rest of us?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Since it’s the rage, Sharapova is Russian. Could it be a Russian plot?

      On a more serious note, what kind of vacancy rate is there? Did your area have Chinese investors?

      1. Jess

        Vacancy rates in my area? Not much. Far as I know, every type of rental — apt, condo, single family home, is not on the market long. Great school district in the two cities and people will pay a lot for that. Also, not aware of much, if any, in the way of foreign buyers stockpiling properties or laundering money. Very few properties sit unoccupied, although a few are part-time residences. Tiger Woods has a place on the beach which he uses when he’s in town for meetings, commercials, charity events, the L.A. Open, etc. Believe Johnny Depp also has a place. Lots of celebs and actors here. I think something like 19 Kings players live in this area, as do both the USC and UCLA football coaches, some Dodgers, Lakers, many Olympians, etc. (Not surprisingly, the local athletic teams are pretty good.)

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Hard to believe that in an area with residents like that, school districts make any difference. You are talking about public schools, right?

        2. fresno dan

          March 24, 2017 at 4:45 pm

          Hard to believe the FED rate increase would dry up that market like that, but I guess the number of people who can pay cash and are unconcerned about the monthly payment are still probably a minority of buyers, and perhaps a small minority….
          Unless somebody has good info on CA falling into the ocean….

          1. Oregoncharles

            Real possibility – a news item today said the big San Andreas quake is likely to submerge some areas of Cali in the ocean. The same could/will happen in Oregon. It’s because subduction pressure has raised the coast line; remove the pressure, it drops, by astonishing amounts – 10s of feet, which would submerge whole coastal towns. After collapsing most of the buildings.

            1. Procopius

              Saw that link but didn’t read it because that’s been a joke for decades. When I was living in Los Angeles fifty years ago, the common wisdom was, “When the next Big One hits, everything east of the Rockies is going to break of and drop into the Atlantic Ocean.”

    2. MoiAussie

      In a completely different country, and community, I noticed the same phenomenon about 3 months ago – no more house ads in the local free weekly. Here, however, it seems to be because web-based RE advertising has completely taken over, and realtors and sellers no longer regard print ad campaigns as delivering value for money. Funnily enough, they still run advertorials promoting “realtor of the week”, just no house ads, so the realtors are still advertising in print to their market, the sellers.

  14. dbk

    Sorry to revert to current events – I watched the entire floor debate on H.R. 1628. Word just came out (c-span) that they’re pulling it. Ryan has a presser at 4 pm.

    I checked my Congressman’s FB comments – he asked constituents for counsel on how he should vote. My comment: H.R. 676, please, now has 72 co-sponsors.

    I live-blogged the entire debate for friends. Quite an experience.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Take H.R. 676 to the White House and try to get Trump on board.

      “In every crisis, there is opportunity.”

      No one can then say, the advocates didn’t give it their 110%

      From Forbes, Aug. 7, 2015:

      Last night in Cleveland, the 17 declared Republican presidential candidates participated in the first official debates of the 2016 election season. Health care policy was a bone of contention. “How can you run for the Republican nomination and be for single-payer health care?” asked former Texas Gov. Rick Perry of Trump. When Fox anchor Bret Baier later asked Trump to defend his position, Trump responded: “As far as single payer, it works in Canada, it works incredibly well in Scotland.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        How many politicians are perceived to be working for us?

        They are working for us when or because they try harder, when everyone else gives up or gets caught in the Swamp.

        They have to take the extra step.

        Or we just wait for more people to miraculously sign up for HR 676, and water to turn into wine.

  15. toshiro_mifune

    That was a very good article on iTunes. I am familiar with every single complaint.

    1. schultzzz

      1) have you considered moving to Media Monkey? It’s free, lets you store more files than itunes, and imports almost all your tags from itunes, intact.

      2) naked capitalism was the first site to explain why The Cloud is awful, in language which I could understand: they want us to rent our own data, on their terms, rather than own what we paid for.

      3) bigger thought: between The Cloud, the push to move from cash to electronic-money, apps which are rented rather than owned, and hardware which you’re not ‘allowed’ to open or tinker with. . . . don’t all these modern capitalist ‘innovations’ point towards a weirdly socialist future where private property is outlawed?

      4) is that what Marx meant by capitalism destroying itself?

      1. different clue

        “Your” information on The Cloud will be the private property of The Cloudmasters. It will still be private. It just won’t be “your” private any more.

  16. lyman alpha blob

    From the ‘Chelsea Clinton never gets a break’ link:

    The Clintons don’t make sense as de facto Democratic leaders anymore, but that doesn’t mean they should just fade away, either.

    That’s right. Much better to burn out. Please get on that.

    1. paulmeli

      “…better to burn out than to fade away…” Neil Young – “Hey, Hey, My, My” – Live Rust

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The poor guy doesn’t even know the basics, does he? The Clintons don’t just keep a list; they keep a spreadsheet.*

      * For some reason, calculations are a requirement.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It wasn’t mostly a ploy to derail Hillary’s efforts in the early 90’s as a poison pill with enough great sounding ideas to balance out how poor it is and was resurrected by Mittens, an idiot, when he was governor and McCain when he needed a Healthcare plan to put up against Obama as McCain believed he could win.

      Shrub didn’t even try to resurrect the Heritage Plan, and he adopted every terrible idea.

      The Republicans didn’t expect for Hillary or the next Democratic Presidential nominee to lose. This is key, and Republicans don’t care about fixing Healthcare, so they don’t have plans beyond slogans.

      1. Blockhead

        They are a party of destroyers, not builders. See Thomas Frank’s book “The Wrecking Crew.”

      2. Marco

        With all the talk of ObamaCare collapsing how did it’s evil mini-me RomneyCare do in MA before 2009? Did it have the same problems of ever-increasing premiums, high deductibles and narrowing networks?

    2. allan

      According to the President, it’s the fault of Pelosi! Pelosi!!! PELOSI!!!
      Also too, it turns out that the House has “arcane rules”. Who knew?

      A press conference for the ages. Or at least until next week.

      1. Procopius

        My goodness, isn’t he embarrassed that he lost to a girl? Nyah, nyah, Donnie lost to a girrrulll.

    3. RUKidding

      When dealing with Republican tinkering around with what’s laughingly called “health care,” you have think in opposite terms. When Republicans say they are going to “improve” the ACA (which already sucks but does some good for some citizens), what Republicans mean by “improvement” is to make sure that the health insurance plan they offer covers the least amount of citizens with the least amount of benefits for the most of direct cost to the taxpayer that they can possibly manage to pull off. That, for Republicans, is a vast great “improvement” over the present version of ACA.

      Why else would you have a bunch of Old White Men running around with their frat boy sniggering about how they certainly do NOT need mamograms, maternity and neo-natal care, so why the EFF should THEY have to pay for worthless trivial unncessary sh*t like that?? As long as the “health” insurance covers cialis, penis pumps and prostate cancer, that’s all that’s needed.

      I must say, I thnk the Rs really outdid themselves in terms of pitting men against women.

      1. Marina Bart

        I think you mean some men. No man I know wants women to be chained by pregnancy, die in childbirth, or be killed by their breast tissue.

      2. PhilM

        Yeah, Old White Men. Why, they’re even worse than the “white working class.”

        Listening to y’all colored folk jabber makes me yearn for the days of slavery. At least we could shut y’all up definitively; now we actually have to listen so’s to know how far y’all can go before we need to put you down again.

        No worries at this end, though—to judge by the whining on this board, we still have y’all shackled up pretty good.

      3. Allegorio

        “Why else would you have a bunch of Old White Men running around with their frat boy sniggering about how they certainly do NOT need mamograms, maternity and neo-natal care, so why the EFF should THEY have to pay for ….” @RU Kiddding

        These people do not understand the whole concept of insurance, to spread risk and costs. The thought of any kind of “sharing” is anathema to the “every ‘man’ for himself” crowd. These are the same people who call social insurance “entitlements”

  17. Jess

    Regarding Case-Deaton, Lambert remarked: “And if I were one of “these people,” I might just decide to take some of “those people” with me. Wouldn’t you?”

    I wrote a novel based on this premise (with constitutional reform the ultimate goal): Averaging 4.6 out of 5 stars on 98 reviews. Available in e-book, audio-book, paperback, and hardcover:


  18. Carl

    Regarding the ACA, I think the R talking point ought to be, it’s​ going to die anyway, so we’ll just let it.

    1. Procopius

      But they won’t, of course. That’s what they need Tom Price for. But, yeah, he’ll sabotage it and then they’ll crow, “See, we said it was failing!”

  19. George B

    Lambert, as I was reading Matt Stollers tweetstorm from yesterday that preceded his Medium article, the rules of neoliberalism were resounding in my head like a gong! They should get much more airtime than they do outside of NC as they explain almost all of the news I read these days.

    You’ve done society a great service just by publishing them!

    1. different clue

      I believe I remember Lambert’s way of expressing the Two Rules was . . .
      1: Because Markets.
      2: Go Die.

      I wonder if an even more biting way to express that might be . . .
      ” You can’t afford it? Go die! Because Markets!”

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thank you. Don’t forget the contexts, which are more subtle but still important.

      1) The rules don’t apply to those who write them (“neoliberal practitioners”)

      2) The rules don’t apply to the 0.01%

      I mean, obvious, right? But should be said.

  20. Plenue

    >”7,000 underground gas bubbles poised to ‘explode’ in Arctic” [Siberian Times]

    It’s stuff like this that convinces me it’s already too late. The feedback loops have already kicked in. We can close all the coal plants we want, even if that reduced humanities greenhouse emissions (and it’s likely it wouldn’t), we’re already reached the point where the planet itself is vomiting up gases as a consequence of the warming we’ve already caused.

  21. MoiAussie

    Yup. If the whole world magically switched over to 100% renewable electricity for all energy needs tomorrow, we’d still be in for a wild climate ride for centuries if not millenia. Earth may release as much CO2 and other GGs over this century as Homo Asinalis has in the last 150. Then there’s albedo change. I suspect that bright sparks in the pentagon have already concluded that only Nuclear Winter can “save” us, and are preparing for it.

  22. PlutoniumKun

    “7,000 underground gas bubbles poised to ‘explode’ in Arctic” [Siberian Times]. Must-read. Many pictures.

    Scary and fascinating. Many years ago I spent a little time searching old aerial photos in Ireland searching for collapsed pingos. Ireland was glaciated and there was an intense cold snap after the last glaciation, leaving many permafrost features, including collapsed pingos. They are like bomb craters (in fact, thats what locals often think they are). I was taught that they were caused by ice domes collapsing during thaws. But it seems that methane had quite a role too. I suppose in one sense that means that its happened before (10,000 years or so ago) and wasn’t catastrophic, although the deglaciation was extremely rapid. But there can be little doubt that features like this are push factors, which could make climate change much faster and more intense than current models predict.

    1. witters

      “I suppose in one sense that means that its happened before (10,000 years or so ago) and wasn’t catastrophic”. That hunter-gatherer forager thing is pretty robust, hey.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Well, there were no shortages of mammoths to munch. Well, not until they were all gone.

    2. Allegorio

      Ultimately global warming leads to ice ages, super warm oceans, only high altitude land mass, cold, and never ending precipitation as snow. Imagine it snowing for centuries. Sure man can survive, barely. After all the big mammals that enabled that survival are gone. Ice Ages result from a harmonic climate oscillation with an increasing period, until now. Human intervention has reduced the period drastically, by releasing carbon that had been removed from the atmosphere and stored for millennia. I recently heard Michael Savage on the Larry King Show using Ice Ages and warming as proof that climate change is natural and not caused by human intervention. All these alpha male climate deniers are so enamored of their ridiculous life styles that they cannot see the forest for the trees. Future generations, if there are any will describe us as Homo Struthio Camelus.

  23. Ed

    I can’t get over liberals embracing Alexander Hamilton as their hero but then again it makes sense if you consider how full of it the vast majority of liberals are and Hamilton was surely full of it

    1. JTFaraday

      Well, but he was a proponent of big, centralized federal (in today’s speak) government, to include directing “the” economy.

    2. Allegorio

      He was also a supporter of Government debt and plutocracy. Sound familiar. He was the founder of Wall Street, need to know anything else?

  24. Paid Minion

    If anyone wants to know why the wretched refuse is dying off faster, let me give a couple of numbers:

    (Note: Major airline pay @ Delta and American started at approx 25% higher)

    Newbie Aircraft mechanic at General Aviation OEM Service Center starting pay in 1979 = 6.63/hour

    Corrected to 2016 (assuming you believe that the Federal CPI reflects reality)……… $24,28 to 24.58, depending on whose online converter you use.

    Current mechanic starting pay (current contract)? $16.43/hour

    On top of this, the pension plan was better, and the insurance plan was better.

    After a few years, you have to start working overtime, just to stay even. At the end of my twenty years there, most everybody in the shop was putting in 700-900 hours of overtime a year. EVERY YEAR.
    (My personal max was 1100 hours plus in 1991. Unfortunatly, salaried-exempts didn’t get overtime differential).

    The higher up the food chain you get, the worse it gets. A “Crew Chief” in 1979 was earning $45/hour (in corrected 2016 dollars) , or thereabouts. Now? He “Maxes out” at $35.48, This doesn’t include all of the additional “work harder, not smarter” BS that the 2016 crew chief has to deal with, vs. 1979.

    Essentially, the “market” is giving itself a 20% or more discount on labor, compared to 1979. Or, putting it another way, 30-40 years of experience and proven performance is worth ZIP, in the “free market”.

    So, we have a high stress job, working on multiple shifts in all kinds of weather, tons of involuntary overtime, adding responsibilities constantly without adding help, and doing it at a discount, creating money stresses at home. IOW, the way business is run in America, 1980 to 2017.

    A nice formula for killing people off early,……. the cull of the “weak” starts around age 45-50. It continues in the 50s, by early retirement/buyouts, because “the old guys make too much”.

    And this is a job where “they” are bitching about “no qualified/experienced applicants”. Imagine the screw job the guys who are NOT working in a business with the same “shortages”.

    1. Spring Texan

      Great comment. Yes, this is typical and some jobs are even worse. Today you get a job from hell and very little money, and are expected to be grateful and dedicated cuz look at all the people w/o them.

      Back in the old days a lot of jobs came with “on-the-job” training . . . today they expect people to guess at what skills will be needed, go into debt to acquire them, and them maybe they will get a job and if they’ve guessed wrong or don’t have the exact other skills on an employer’s long wish list, no job and lots of debt.

      1. Paid Minion

        Exactly. When I started, I got a year of grunt work/OJT, then after 12 months, went to my first FlighSafety class. Everyone went, after a year in the shop.

        This was SOP until 1985 or thereabouts. Offsite training went to zero. Didnt take the suits long to realize how much money they would save, if they stopped paying for training.

        When training restarted, it changed to limited slots per shift, selection by seniority. Training slots dropped to 20-30/year. Down 75% from 1980 numbers. With the backlog, a new hire needed to put in 10 years before he would be eligible for a slot.

        Which led to a new “Liars Figure” technique. When something got screwed up, and it was a wrench turner fault, the cost was calculated at full retail. If it was a management screw up, it was calculated at the OEM wholesale cost.

        Tons of management blunders can be swept under the rug when you calculate the costs that way.

      2. RMO

        “On the job training” That was my problem when I tried to become an aircraft mechanic – I completed the two years of formal training (and paid dearly for it) but then I would have needed to be hired as an apprentice and work for about two years in order to become a licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (I’m in Canada). When I graduated there were almost no jobs for apprentices in Canada. We were all willing to work for minimum wage up north to get a start but in the end only one guy in my class actually found a job. Before going to school we had all heard about how it was a great field to get into because of the shortage of applicants. We kept hearing the same thing from aviation company flacks and industry associations after we graduated and were desperately looking for work too. Bitter cynicism and wry comments were but little relief from the feeling of having been royally screwed:-)

  25. bkrasting

    The networks went wild on Donny tonight over the failure to pass a bill on healthcare.

    “Epic failure”.
    “Will mar DT presidency for the next 4 years.”
    “Ensures that DT is a one-term prez.”
    “The 2018 bi-election will swing Senate and House to Dems”.

    I don’t see that outcome. The USA now owns Obamacare. By 2018 people will be begging to dump this plan. Premiums will soar, co-pays will double, networks will be narrowed. It will be a disaster for the Dems. Nancy Pelosi owns this. Schumer will wear it around his neck.

    We shall see.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Nice to see Bruce K back here. Quite agree that by next week, this “epic failure” will be all but forgotten.

      If the R party whiffed an easy pitch like repealing Obamacare this badly, try to imagine them grappling with the rampaging Godzilla of the Social Security Trust Fund headed for zero in 15 years or so.

      Might be worth putting the D’s back in charge to take the hit for the Ponzi collapse. When the going gets tough, the wise punt.

      1. Divadab

        Haygood you are generally a good commenter but for some reason you lie outrageously about Social security. The trust fund is fully-funded for 20-25 years, then in order to stay solvent absent more funding, can only pay out benefits at 70% of formula – and continue to do so indefinitely.

        It’s not ‘headed to zero in fifteen years’ in any reality but that of filthy lying republicans who want to kill social security and make life harder for poor working people. Fucking cut it out.

        1. different clue

          He won’t cut it out. He will never cut it out. It is his mission in life to say it over and over and over again, forever.

          So every time he says it, you or me or somebody else will have to say in reply what you just said, over and over and over again, forever.

    2. flora

      I think Donny played a smooth hand and got exactly what he wanted: a weakened Paul Ryan, a Congressional GOP in turmoil with itself, and as you say, the Dems now own Obamacare.

  26. robnume

    On R.E.: “Strong Demand for Data Center in No. Virginia.” Lambert, you could’ve filed that one under “The Bezzle!”

  27. robnume

    On WaPo article re: Case-Deaton study: I’ve always said that if just one terminally ill person took just one politician of their choice with them, then CONgress, or your state leg. reps, might just wake up and pay attention to their constituents. Why the hell not try my idea? We’ve tried and failed at almost every other idea to get these scuzzballs to throw us a bone!

  28. flora

    Case-Deaton study.

    “Why education is such an important health indicator is difficult to untangle, Case added. “But when you think about what happens when industries pull out of towns, the tax base implodes, schools [are] not well funded, and the death spiral continues.”

    There’s another thing that happens when industries pull out of towns: the focus and connection to the larger world those factory jobs supplied leave, too. A whole way of life leaves with those jobs; not just income and benefits. 40 hours a week, maybe overtime, working with people you’ve known a long time, some become friends, the factory sponsored softball teams or little league teams, cookouts with co-workers, going to the lake on weekends, going to car shows or joining the Elks, ….. these aren’t just about money but about having a place in a larger world. What happens when that world is destroyed? When the larger group is destroyed does one belong anywhere? When the factory that brought everyone together leaves the pin holding all those parts together is gone. And there are fewer factory jobs or jobs of any sort. At least if there were Medicare for All everyone might still feel a part of the larger country and a community even if their job vanished.

    “To be clear, the study authors don’t buy the idea that one’s income relative to what one expected is influencing mortality. Rather, “It’s the life you expected to have relative to your father or grandfather — it’s just not there anymore,” Deaton said. “

    1. flora

      adding: I think a lot of workers expect that by working hard and well they’ve fulfilled their part of the employment bargain (and they have), and expect the employer to fulfill its part of the expected bargain – decent wages, stable hours, and safe working conditions.
      Too many employers have been cheating their employees on these terms for a long, long time. When Trump said he’d get a voters a better deal he was talking about trade. However, a better deal is needed in a lot of areas.

  29. allan

    Seven Days in May March, Part Deux:

    Devin Nunes Vanished the Night Before He Made Trump Surveillance Claims
    [Daily Beast]

    Hours before the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee announced his shocking claims about surveillance of the Trump transition team on Wednesday morning, he practically disappeared.

    Rep. Devin Nunes was traveling with a senior committee staffer in an Uber on Tuesday evening when he received a communication on his phone, three committee officials and a former national security official with ties to the committee told The Daily Beast. After the message, Nunes left the car abruptly, leaving his own staffer in the dark about his whereabouts.

    By the next morning, Nunes hastily announced a press conference. His own aides, up to the most senior level, did not know what their boss planned to say next. Nunes’ choice to keep senior staff out of the loop was highly unusual.

    The Republican chairman had a bombshell to drop. …

    This is just like Kirk Douglas saving the republic from Burt Lancaster. EO 12333 is the new EComCom.
    But who’s the Eva Gardner character?

  30. Blockhead

    I predict that after this failed vote, health care reform and ACA repeal/replace will become a new third rail for Republicans. They will cower in fear at just the mention of it. It won’t come up again under Trump. They will say they are too “busy” working on other things.

  31. Ed Miller

    Case-Deaton Study (Class Warfare)

    The despair among the working class, whether white or not, was documented quite well in my opinion in Jeremy Grantham’s Q4 2016 Quarterly letter. I believe this correlates with Case-Deaton. The money quote for the reason people voted for Trump is in the Post Script:

    “Save me, oh leaders, from the rich and powerful!”


    Voting out of desperation knowing that the status quo Clinton meant worse to come. I see the vote as reflecting real despair more than just a desire for change – any change.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It seems to be impossible for Clintonites to understand that desperate people rolled the dice with Trump, despite knowing who and what he was. They go on tilt.

      I guess when you’ve got the rest of Maslow’s hierarchy solid, you can do the self-actualization/virtue signaling thing; when food and shelter, at the base, are up for grabs, the mind becomes wonderfully concentrated.

  32. Ptolemy Philopater

    The corporate give away that is the ACA, is here to stay. The insurance companies love Obamacare, government monopoly with big government subsidies. Of course the Republican’ts weren’t going to repeal. They think that this big dog and pony show “repeal & replace” will get them off the hook. Trumpenstein has already said now the Democrats own this. The electorate is no longer so naive. Trumpenstien is right, the ACA will implode reaping devastation in its wake. Progressives had better heed Rahm Emmanuel, let no serious crisis go to waste. Medicare for all is the issue that will marginalize these losers, Democrats and Republicans, the Corporatecrats can no longer hide behind their phony divisions. The Cat is out of the Bag! Time to twist the knife!

  33. IDontKnow


    Keep in mind Abe’s animosity toward labor unions: Two years ago, he was warned by the president of his own Liberal Democratic Party for heckling a minority party Diet member’s speech, calling out “Nikkyoso!” (the name of the Japan Teachers’ Union in Japanese).


    Although it may sound like a Trumpian defamatory lie, the government in fact decided to set the number of possible overtime work hours per month at 100. There’s no extra zero in that. The new law will blast through the karōshi line of 80 all the way to 100 hours of overtime a month — nearly the 105 hours that pushed Takahashi over the edge.


    It is therefore with a heavy heart that this month I lambaste Rengo’s recent decision to agree to a policy I believe will endanger the health and lives of workers in Japan. Criticizing our own tribe is never easy and leaves a sour taste, but if we cannot criticize ourselves, we have no right to criticize others.

    Horrific, but also not last para, no chance this could be US political party (or union)

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