Our President

There was another terrorist attack, this one in London, and Trump tweeted about it:

Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the U. K., we will be there – WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!

Hey, that’s actually ok. I was worried he would say something really bad. Ok, now let’s listen to the mayor of London:

“London stands in defiance against this cowardly attack on our city, our people, our values and our way of life. As the mayor of London, I want to send a clear message to the sick and evil extremists who commit these hideous crimes: we will defeat you. You will not win.”

“Your perverse, disgusting ideology has nothing to do with the true values of Islam. And you will never succeed in dividing our city,” Khan added.

“Our city is filled with great sorrow and anger tonight but also great resolve,” he said. “This is our city. These are our values and this is our way of life. London will never be broken by terrorism. … We will defeat the terrorists.”

and:

“Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. No reason to be alarmed. One of the things the police, all of us need to do is make sure we’re as safe as we possibly can be,”

That sounds ok. What’s that, Trump is tweeting again?

At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is “no reason to be alarmed!”

Oh fuck, he takes a part of a statement and twists it out of recognition … to the mayor of a city that has just been attacked. Unfortunately that’s the Trump we all know. What, there’s more?

Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his “no reason to be alarmed” statement. MSM is working hard to sell it!

Really, what an asshole.

And for fun, here’s some of his other tweets in the middle of those others:

We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!

People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!

The Justice Dept. should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court – & seek much tougher version!

Not only is Donald an asshole, he’s as dumb as a bag of rocks. Hey Donald, your lawyers have been trying to argue that your travel restrictions were not a ban. Good luck arguing that it’s not at the Supreme Court now.

Renewable energy helps the economy

So Trump is taking the US out of the Paris agreement and still won’t say that he believes in global warming:

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt was asked the same question over and over and over again during a Friday briefing with reporters: Does President Trump still believe global warming is a hoax?

And each time, Pruitt refused to answer with a ‘‘yes’’ or a ‘‘no,’’ telling reporters that as he and the president discussed exiting the Paris climate deal, the topic of climate change never came up.

‘‘All the discussions that we had through the last several weeks have been focused on one singular issue: Is Paris good or not for this country?’’ Pruitt said when asked the question a first time. ‘‘That’s the discussions I’ve had with the president. So, that’s been my focus.’’

Trump has long been skeptical of climate change, despite vast scientific evidence showing that human activity has contributed to the problem, and has repeatedly suggested that it is a ‘‘hoax.’’ A Vox analysis found that Trump has tweeted such skepticism at least 115 times since 2011, describing global warming as ‘‘mythical,’’ ‘‘nonexistent,’’ ‘‘fictional,’’ an ‘‘expensive hoax’’ and ‘‘bulls—.’’

Let’s look at the economics:

Trump sees this move as a way to help stoke the nation’s coal industry. But coal’s importance is expected to dwindle anyway. New England’s largest coal plant, the Brayton Point complex in Somerset, closed for good this week. The main reason: It simply couldn’t compete with cheaper natural gas-fired plants.

Nearly 66,000 people work in the coal industry nationwide, compared to roughly 100,000 clean-energy jobs in Massachusetts alone.

Trump is already trying to take an ax to renewable energy programs. The president proposed a 69 percent cut to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which funds advances in everything from automobiles to wind power.

More troubling for Massachusetts: Trump proposed eliminating the “ARPA-E” program, which subsidizes high-tech energy research. Massachusetts has been the second largest beneficiary of ARPA-E grants after California, with more than $150 million flowing into the state since the program’s inception in 2009.

The US under Trump is reducing its funding for the part of the energy sector that is growing faster than any other. Maybe there’s still time to bring back the buggy whip industry.

Greenland

In preparation of Donald Trump announcing that the US will leave the Paris Accord on global warming, here’s a picture of a fjord in Greenland (Credit: NASA/John Sonntag):

Be sure to look at it because if Donald Trump has his way, it really will be green land in the not so distant future.

This is what the Trump administration thinks of veterans

Via here, here’s a nice little story for Memorial Day:

The Marine Corps called him back to Iraq and Afghanistan for three more tours. He was in Fallujah in Iraq’s “bloody triangle” during the surge. In all, he spent about four years in the Middle East.

In between deployments, McGreevey would return to Vancouver, where he managed to buy a house on Northeast 24th Court. But the years overseas took a toll. He says he made a fateful mistake: trusting someone else to make the mortgage payment.

He returned from his third tour in June 2010, just in time to watch PHH Mortgage repossess his house.

They foreclosed despite the fact that it was illegal:

The law prohibits banks and other creditors from foreclosing, garnishing, evicting or repossessing assets from service members while they are on active duty or within 12 months of leaving the service. It is the creditor’s obligation to determine whether the debtor is protected by the law.

And here is the Trump administration taking sides:

Her words rang hollow with McGreevey and Riddell on March 29 when the U.S. Justice Department intervened in their case and effectively sided with PHH Mortgage and Northwest Trustee. The federal lawyers said they were not taking a position on the merits of McGreevey’s complaint. Rather, they echoed defendants’ arguments that the four-year statute of limitations should apply and McGreevey’s case be dismissed.

McGreevey shouldn’t feel that they’re after him, it’s just the Trump administration likes corporations:

Twelve days before it sided with PHH Mortgage over McGreevey, the Justice Department intervened in an ongoing dispute between the New Jersey lender and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The bureau contended that PHH for more than a decade had been operating a mortgage insurance kickback scheme that cost its borrowers hundreds of millions of dollars.

The case got particularly controversial in 2015, when bureau Director Richard Cordray unilaterally increased the fine against PHH Mortgage from $6 million to $109 million. A court froze the penalty after the lender appealed. The Justice Department sided with PHH Mortgage in March.

Betsy DeVos needs to go back to school

Katherine Clark asked her about discrimination:

Rep. Katherine M. Clark (D-Mass.) said that one private school in Indiana that is a voucher school says it may deny admission to students who are LGBT or who come from a family where there is “homosexual or bisexual activity.” She asked DeVos whether she would tell the state of Indiana that it could not discriminate in that way if it were to accept federal funding through a new school choice program. Clark further asked what DeVos would say if a voucher school were not accepting African American students and the state “said it was okay.”

To Clark’s question about whether she would step in, DeVos responded: “Well again, the Office of Civil Rights and our Title IX protections are broadly applicable across the board, but when it comes to parents making choices on behalf of their students …”

This should have been an easy question to answer: all schools need to abide by federal standards to get federal money, but for some reason DeVos couldn’t just say that. I wonder why? Is it because she really thinks that schools should be allowed to discriminate or if she just doesn’t know how the law works?

She was also asked about students with disabilities:

Lowey noted that in voucher and voucher-like programs in which public money is used to pay for private school tuition and educational expenses, families are often required to sign away their IDEA protections, including due process when a school fails to meet a child’s needs. Lowey asked DeVos if she thought that was fair.

DeVos responded that it should be up to the states to decide how to run their own programs, and then she referred to a tax credit program in Florida, where tens of thousands of students with disabilities attend private school with public money. Florida is one of those states that requires voucher recipients to give up their IDEA rights.

So she’s fine with those students losing federal protection.

She doesn’t seem to know that high poverty schools tend to have less funding:

In her first answer, the secretary said she believed high-poverty school districts do get more funding than wealthier districts, which is most often not true. In the second response, she said she believes high-poverty school districts get more federal funding than wealthier districts.  That is not always true.

She doesn’t think private schools should be held to any standards:

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) discussed a private school that took public dollars even though it said students could learn how to read by simply putting a hand on a book. He asked her if she was “going to have accountability standards” in any new school choice program.

Her response: States should decide “what kind of flexibility they are going to allow.”

Wow.

Trump/Republican Tax Cut as bad as predicted

The CBO has released their analysis of the tax cut disguised as a healthcare bill that passed the House:

CBO and JCT estimate that, in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under H.R. 1628 than under current law. The increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number projected under current law would reach 19 million in 2020 and 23 million in 2026. In 2026, an estimated 51 million people under age 65 would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law. Under the legislation, a few million of those people would use tax credits to purchase policies that would not cover major medical risks.

They also compare how non-group insurance would fare under current law (Obamacare) to the new law:

Under Current Law. Although premiums have been rising under current law, most subsidized enrollees purchasing health insurance coverage in the nongroup market are largely insulated from increases in premiums because their out-of-pocket payments for premiums are based on a percentage of their income; the government pays the difference between that percentage and the premiums for a reference plan. The subsidies to purchase coverage, combined with the effects of the individual mandate, which requires most individuals to obtain insurance or pay a penalty, are anticipated to cause sufficient demand for insurance by enough people, including people with low health care expenditures, for the market to be stable in most areas.

Nevertheless, some areas of the country have limited participation by insurers in the nongroup market under current law. Several factors could lead insurers to withdraw from the market—including lack of profitability and substantial uncertainty about enforcement of the individual mandate and about future payments of the cost-sharing subsidies to reduce out-of-pocket payments for people who enroll in nongroup coverage through the marketplaces established by the ACA.

Under the Legislation. CBO and JCT anticipate that, under H.R. 1628, nongroup insurance markets would continue to be stable in many parts of the country. Although substantial uncertainty about how the new law would be implemented could lead insurers to withdraw from or not enter the nongroup market, several factors would bring about market stability in most states before 2020. In the agencies’ view, those key factors include subsidies to purchase insurance, which would maintain sufficient demand for insurance by people with low health care expenditures, and grants to states from the Patient and State Stability Fund, which would lower premiums by reducing the costs to insurers of people with high health care expenditures.

The agencies expect that the nongroup market in many areas of the country would continue to be stable in 2020 and later years as well, including in some states that obtain waivers from market regulations. Even though the new tax credits, which would take effect in 2020, would be structured differently from the current subsidies and would generally be less generous for those receiving subsidies under current law, other changes (including the money available through the Patient and State Stability Fund) would, in the agencies’ view, lower average premiums enough to attract a sufficient number of relatively healthy people to stabilize the market.

However, the agencies estimate that about one-sixth of the population resides in areas in which the nongroup market would start to become unstable beginning in 2020. That instability would result from market responses to decisions by some states to waive two provisions of federal law, as would be permitted under H.R. 1628. One type of waiver would allow states to modify the requirements governing essential health benefits (EHBs), which set minimum standards for the benefits that insurance in the nongroup and small-group markets must cover. A second type of waiver would allow insurers to set premiums on the basis of an individual’s health status if the person had not demonstrated continuous coverage; that is, the waiver would eliminate the requirement for what is termed community rating for premiums charged to such people. CBO and JCT anticipate that most healthy people applying for insurance in the nongroup market in those states would be able to choose between premiums based on their own expected health care costs (medically underwritten premiums) and premiums based on the average health care costs for people who share the same age and smoking status and who reside in the same geographic area (community-rated premiums). By choosing the former, people who are healthier than average would be able to purchase nongroup insurance with relatively low premiums.

Why it almost sounds like things will be worse under this legislation. But let’s get to the important part:

• Repealing the surtax on certain high-income taxpayers’ net investment income;
• Repealing the annual fee on health insurance providers;
• Reducing the income threshold for determining the medical care deduction;
• Delaying when the excise tax imposed on some health insurance plans with high premiums would go into effect; and
• Repealing the increase in the Hospital Insurance payroll tax rate for certain high-income taxpayers.

And here’s what that gets:

The chart below shows the tax changes (the first two major components mentioned) go almost entirely to the highest earning households, while providing little or no benefit to the bottom 80 percent of the income distribution.  In fact, TPC estimates that a $37,000 average annual tax cut will go to the 1 percent of the population with the highest earnings (annual income of over $772,000).  The top 0.1 percent of the income distribution would receive an annual tax cut of over $200,000 (annual income over $3.9 million).

In short, the bill drops 23 million people off insurance to give very large tax cuts to the rich. Now that’s the type of bill a Republican loves.

Trump administration continues to do awful things

It’s easy to miss much of what’s going on in the Trump administration because of its stupidity, such as (Ross is the Commerce Secretary):

ROSS: There’s no question that they’re liberalizing their society. And I think the other thing that was fascinating to me: There was not a single hint of a protester anywhere there during the whole time we were there. Not one guy with a bad placard, instead there was …

CNBC HOST: But Secretary Ross, that may be not necessarily because they don’t have those feelings there, but because they control people and don’t allow to them to come and express their feelings quite the same as we do here.

ROSS: In theory, that could be true. But, boy, there was certainly no sign of it, there wasn’t a single effort of any incursion. There wasn’t anything. The mood was a genuinely good mood.

ummm:

Six years ago, in the midst of the popular uprisings in the Middle East known as the Arab Spring, the Saudi Council of Senior Religious Scholars issued a decree essentially banning public protest in the country. The following February, a 17-year-old named Ali al-Nimr was arrested for participating in an anti-government protest. Two years later, he was sentenced to death by beheading and crucifixion and remains on death row.

So it isn’t “in theory” that protests aren’t allowed, it’s in actual fact. I also wonder why he knows this, he does seem to sleep a lot:

Ross, 79, was seen catching a nap during the president’s speech Sunday in Riyadh to Saudi officials on the need to come together to battle terrorism.

This type of stuff overshadows things that will do real damage to the US, such as:

With Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care to low-income Americans, Trump’s budget plan would follow through on a bill passed by House Republicans to cut more than $800 billion over 10 years.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated this could cut off Medicaid benefits for 10 million people over a decade

….

A key element of the budget plan will be the assumption that huge tax cuts will result in an unprecedented level of economic growth.

Trump recently unveiled the broad principles of what he has said will be the biggest in US history, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told a Senate panel last week that these tax cuts would end up creating trillions of dollars in new revenue, something budget experts from both parties have disputed.

The tax cuts would particularly benefit the wealthiest Americans, as Trump has proposing cutting the estate tax, capital gains and business tax rates.

It’s always a good look to cut aid to the poor and elderly to pay for tax cuts to the rich that will increase the deficit.

They also want to kill Obamacare while pretending it died of its own accord:

The campaign to destroy Obamacare continues apace:

The Trump administration on Monday plans to ask a federal court for another 90-day delay in a lawsuit over Obamacare insurance subsidies, according to two administration sources, leaving the future of the health care marketplaces in limbo through late August. The suit, House v. Tom Price, centers on Obamacare’s cost-sharing program, which reimburses health insurers to help low-income people make co-payments at the doctor or hospital.

This is the suit filed by the House against Obamacare’s CSR subsidies. The delay means insurers won’t get assurance one way or the other about the fate of these subsidies, which in turn means they have to assume they’re going away. Anything else would be irresponsible.

And that means insurers have to raise premiums substantially to make up for the potential loss of CSR payments.

This will mean millions more will lose health insurance.

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