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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Do your jobs CBS News staff

Dianne Barrette of Winter Haven Florida claims that instead of paying $54 a month for health insurance (no hospital coverage and a $ 50 deductible for office visits) she will have to pay $ 591 for ACA level health insurance. says that a single adult over 50 in Winter Haven which is in Polk County Florida can get Obamacare (catastrophic) for $235.08 a month (before subsidies and she sates an income which would make her eligible). I discovered this after the intense journalistic effort of googling Winter Haven Florida county and a few minutes at (no log in required to check prices). This seems to hav been too much work for Fox (no surprise) or CBS (the irony is killian me).

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The West Is Red

Who said it ?  2013 edition
"that which the American people have been waiting for for the last 200 years, politicians listening to the people instead of the ruling class"

That would be far right tea-partier Raul Labrador (R-Idaho)
The mountain West is red.  Red Staters vs the capitalist class.

In the same post Dave Weigel quoted a Texas businessman in the 1930s

 “The capitalist system can be destroyed more effectively by having men of means defend it then by importing a million Reds from Moscow to attack it,”  

It is true that reds from Moscow Russia are not much of a threat to the capitalists system.  But red staters from places like Moscow Idaho practically destroyed it last week. 

And yes, of course I found the Republican against the ruling class contrarianism in Slate. What did you expect ?  The Daily Right To Worker ? 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Yglesias & K

I am going to put two comments on Matt Yglesias's blog here.  I am somewhat concerned.  My previous view on Yglesias is that I agree with him except on monetary policy (and the effect on asset price of Abe/Kuroda and of FOMC hints of possible tapering on asset prices partically convinces me that he was more nearly right about monetary policy than I thought).

Now he seems to have gone on a pessimist contrarian trip.  I note that I began reading him partly based on enthusiastic praise which compared him to a young Michael Kinsley.  I won't go there (yet) but you can guess my fear.

Post 1 "Obamacare sign ups way behind schedule" is a discussion of the results of the following solid quantitative empirical reporting " the Department of Health and Human Services was targeting 500,000 signups by the end of October which seems—shall we say—unlikely at this point."  Now I may be old fashioned but I expect a very definite and emphatic claim in the indicative in a title to be supported by evidence other than "seems".  Also note that not counting any activity, there have been 185,000 applications for Obamacare just in the states with state set up exchanges.  Also it's not Halloween yet.  

I don't think it is ideal to report a hunch as a fact.  

Earlier Yglesias reported on the continuing resolution/debt ceiiling increase bill without, you know, reading the damn bill. 

He asserts that the bill includes the following provision 

  • Income verification under the Affordable Care Act will be beefed up.
This is absolutely 100% false.  The new bill does describe income verification under the Affordable Care Act.  It says that to find out what that means -- read section 1411 of the Affordable Care act (AKA 42 U.S.C. 18081).  The bill could not assert that the law on verificiation is unchanged more be more firmly, spficically or undeniably.  The bill is at a more useful blog here.  It is exlained here at that blog.   I excerpt the relevant bits of the bill  and comment here.

The only changes relate to "certification" that the ACA is being faithfully executed, a Secretary's report on how it is being faithfully executed and an inspector generals report on how it was faithfullyexecuted.  All these provisions add nothing to Congress's oversight authority.  The majority of Issa's comittee could demand all that without any agreement form Democratic Senators or Obama.  

There is nothing there.

Now Yglesias does not consider the totally mythical beefing up of income verification to be a very bad thing except that  the precedent that the Democrats made a concession is very bad.  He falsely claims "And the reality will be that the strategy of sticking with the majority-of-the-majority principle until the eleventh hour and then passing bills with mostly Democratic votes is securing policy concessions from Democrats." 

The reality is and will be no such thing  But Yglesias correctly notes that the perception that Republicans secured a concession is bad for the country.  loppy boggers who claim that a non concession is a concession share the blame for that.  Harry Reid who inclued text which might appear to be a concession until you read it does not share the blame for that.

In politics perception is reality and journalists who don't bother to do their jobs vitiate the triumph of a Senator who worked himself to complete exhaustion and won.

Yglesias is very hard working.  The amount of effort he put into his blog is extreme.  The problem is the ratio of effort to topics he tries to cover.  Now bredth is part of his charm and part of what makes blogs interesting.  But today he went too far.  I have a rude guess as to what is going on.  I can't read his mind and inside baseball is dumb so here goes.  The word is that Yglesias and Klein are both interested in who is the number one alpha extremely young brilliant serious honest blogger.  I dismiss that on the grounds of who knows and who cares, except that it seems to me that Yglesias is trying to cointribute as much as the whole wonkblog team all by himself. 

He can't. He's not that smart.   The smartest person in the world isn't that smart.  But I repeat myself.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Ways to avoid US debt default.

Obiousely the main chance is that Beohner is bluffing and that he will bring a clean debt ceiling inrease bill to the floor of the House and it will pass mostly with the votes of Democrats.  He would then probably lose the gavel to some new Speaker which will make us cry thinking of Boehner.  The problem with hoping for this, other than hope not being a plan, is that Boehner won't cave till the last minute (he has made that clear) and may not correctly judge exactly when the last minute arrives.  I will assume that the Republicans won't just pass a clean debt limit increase -- that they will demand at least a fig leaf.

Now if it is something which amounts to nothing like the last time when it was that the Sente doesn't get paid till it passes a budget resolution, this might do the trick.  Obama might sign it.

I will assume that the rules are that Boehner muust have a case that Obama caved and Obama must have a case that he signed a clean debt limit increase.

If so, I think it would be a very bad idea to pass a clean continuing resolution.  This would make it very hard for any Republicans to vote for a clean debt limit increase and survive.  I think the third best hoe is bill which combines  continuing resolution, a debt limit increase an da fig leaf. Let's say the fig leaf is elimination of theACA tax on medical devices (no huge deal).

The Democrats in the Senate can declare victory -- the Senate buget resolution already calls for elimination of the divice tax.  Obama can say that he would have signed the bill if it consisted only of a continuing resolution (CR) and the tax repeal, since he doens't care all that much about the tax (and since he hasn't been as explicit about no bargaining on the continuing resolution).  Boehner will say that Obama signed an unclean debt limit after all so he won. No one will believe him, but the Republicans won't eel so disrespected that they have to inflict the gavel on someone else.

Maybe this is not acceptable to Obama (Kevin Drum thinks it isn't and shouldn't be) .  So I add the rule that the debt ceiling bill must be a stand alone clean debt ceiling bill with no other provisions at all.  Then the approach would be as follows.  The House passes a CR with a figleaf.  The House starts work on a clean debt limit increase.  The Senate passes the CR with a figleaf. It goes to Obama's deks and sits there -- he doens't have to sign or veto it immediately.  Boehner says they have to pass the debt limit incresae ot get Obama to sign the device tax repeal which is the best thing evarrr.  Obama refuses to say why he is still thinking about whether to veto and especially whether it has anything to do with the debt limit.
The debt limit passes the House.  Obama signs the CR with the dirty figleaf (and beleive me I have recently seen filthy fig leaves).  Then the Senate passes the clean debt limit increase and Obama as he promised signs a clean debt limit increase.

Maybe this is not acceptable tot he Republicans so let's go Rube Goldberg.  The figleaf is attached both the the CR and the debt limit increase.   The CR gets to Obma's desk first. When the debt limit increase get's to Obam's desk he notes that it just raises the debt limit and eliminates a tax which he eliminated the day before yesterday.  So one provision amounts to nothing at all an he consisders it a clean debt limit increase.

OK the device tax figleaf is unacceptble to someone with a veto.  New figleaf is a super committee.  The report of the committee can't be mended of filibustered.  This is what the Republicans got in 2011 in addition to legislated cuts and sequestration.  They declare complete victory and reporters manage not to laugh.  TheSenate passes and Obama signs the bill.  The super committee fails to issue a report (of course) and no harm is done.

OK maybe this outcome is not acceptable to Obama as the principal that caucuses get nothing nothing at all for threatening the full faith and credit of the US Treasury.  So the next day he gives a speach in which he notes that the report of teh committee can't be filibusterer or amended but it will be vetoed if it contains any provision he doesn't support on its own merits. Any provision at all. In particular if a dime is cut form Medicaid, Social Security or Medicare or if a dime is added to the taxes of any couple whcih makes under $250,000/yr or any individual who makes over $2000,000/yr he will veto the bill.  To the committee he says "my way or the highway.  And rather than waste your time why don't you take the highway and disolve.  Then I will be willing to negotiate just as if the whole sorry debt limit impasse never occurred.  I have nothing against super committees and I would even be willing to negotiate possibly setting up a new one untainted by debt limit extortion, but I will not compromise at all with a committee set up using debt limit extortion."

So the Republicans end up with exactly nothing.   Obama wins.  Boehner doesn't read this bog so he didn't see it coming.

Friday, October 04, 2013

There is no Hastert Rule

Dennis Hastert just said that there is not and never has been a Hastert rule.  He insists that he never had a rule that only bills supported by a majority of House Republicans would be brought to a vote.  Hastert is very hard on Boehner.  He also noted that he never brought a bill to the floor then had to withdraw it to prevent it from being voted down and that he never passed a continuing resolution, because he passed appropriation bills.

A rational Democrat who hoped to help the party would leave it at that.  If that's what you want, you are at the wrong blog. I assume almost no one reads this so I can look a gift horse in the mouth.  Hastert adds some Ballance here " “I didn’t have to deal with Barack Obama. I dealt with Bill Clinton, and he came to the table and negotiated.”  

He told a little anecdote

Clinton asked, “What can I do for you?” “A haircut across the board,” Hastert replied. “I would suggest a 1 percent cut.” Can’t take that, Clinton said, offering all the reasons why that wouldn’t work. “What do you suggest?” Hastert asked him. A quarter of 1 percent, Clinton replied. “We dickered back and forth and settled on .86 percent, not because it was a magic number,” said Hastert. “But the moral of the story is Clinton would come to the table. . I’m not going to go into the science of negotiating, but you can put one thing on the table and end up with something entirely different, but you’ve got to talk.”

He neglected to mention that Obama negotiated at length with Boehner in 2011 then Boehner suspended the discussion, because his caucus wouldn't support anything like the possible grand compromise under discussion. Nor does he mention that Boehner has promised not to negotiate privately with Obama.  Finally, he doesn't note that Reid negotiated with Boehner and they reached an agreement.  That agreement is the Senate continuing resolution on which Boehner won't allow a vote.  Democrats are refusing to offer further concessions after a deal was negotated and then the House Republicans decided to treat it as the Democrats opening offer.  I trust Reid on this, because the clean continuing resolution was proposed by Boehner to his conference and he argued for it at length.  Also it is the only explanation of why the Senate passed a sequestration level continuing resolution (that is they kept their word even though Boehner broke his).

So here is my updated modernized version of the story

Clinton asked, “What can I do for you?” “A haircut across the board,” Hastert replied. “I would suggest a 1 percent cut.” Can’t take that, Clinton said, offering all the reasons why that wouldn’t work. “What do you suggest?” Hastert asked him. A quarter of 1 percent, Clinton replied. “We dickered back and forth and settled on 1 percent.  Then I presented the agreement to my conference and they practically lynched me and passed a bill (with the votes of 2 Democrats) which cut spending across the board by 1% except for SCHIP which it cut by 100%.  Then I spent weeks saying that Clinton was totally unreasonable, wouldn't negotiate and demanded 100% of what he wanted, because he didn't agree to cut SCHIP by 50%

The claim that the Democrats won't negotiate is simply false. They negotiated, they basically caved, they made a deal and then then stuck with it.

I don't know much about the science of negotiation, but coming to the table with people whose promises are worthless is stupid.