Category Archives: Economics

Action Alert: you have until September 30 to kill this zombie ‘Trumpcare’ bill

The Senate parliamentarian told senators that Tea-Publicans’ ability to pass an Obamacare replacement with just 51 votes expires at the end of September. Repealing Obamacare Just Got Even More Complicated. It was not entirely clear to me whether the Continuing Resolution (CR) that Congress passed a couple of weeks ago would extend this deadline, but everything I have read since indicates that the September 30 deadline remains in effect.

OK, zombie hunters. Last week Tea-Publicans introduced their desperation zombie “Trumpcare” bill. You know what you have to do.

Steve Benen explains, The final fight of the Republican health care crusade has arrived:

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) formally unveiled the only remaining Republican plan to overhaul the nation’s health care system.

NBC News obtained an advanced draft of the proposal, which has been percolating for a couple of months.

The 23-page summary draft and an explanation of funding, which Graham’s office confirmed is authentic, attempts to achieve parity in federal funding between states that expanded Medicaid and those that did not by 2026. That division was one that helped to kill the Senate’s efforts because senators from expansion states tended to oppose the legislation in its previous versions due to the roll-back of the Medicaid expansion.

The bill also provides federal money to states to implement their own health care plan as opposed to one system for all 50 states that exists under Obamacare.

We’ve discussed many of the profound flaws in this plan before, and we can go into more detail once the legislation is available for scrutiny. For now, however, let’s consider whether the Graham-Cassidy plan has a credible chance at success.

Note: There are at least 46 Tea-Publicans who would vote for a blank piece of paper, sight unseen, if they are told it repeals Obamacare,  consequences to Americans, the health care system, and the economy be damned.

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How Would You Answer Nancy Pelosi’s Letter?

“In light of all we have to lose under the Trump-Ryan agenda, success is our only option. But for that to happen, we need your ideas as well as your support.”

As a regular small-amount donor to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), I regularly get form letters from Nancy Pelosi. The latest one included the Official Democratic Unity Survey.

For me, the top priority issue is opposing the plan by the Trump Administration and Paul Ryan to privatize Social Security and Medicare. I have worked for 50 years and contributed my share, so I’ve earned these benefits. There are 98 million people in the US over age 65 who likely feel the same way.

But I wonder which of the 10 identified issues YOU think Democratic House candidates should focus on to win the 24 seats needed to take the majority back in the House. What would you add?

You can answer in the comments or go to www.dccc.org/unite2018.

▢ Access to health care for all Americans.
▢ Keeping America’s promise to our seniors.
▢ Wall Street reforms and fighting corporate greed.
▢ Challenge Trump policies that threaten the human and civil rights of refugees and immigrants.
▢ Climate change and protecting our planet.
▢ Defending a woman’s right to choose.
▢ Protect and defend the rights of the LGBTQ community.
▢ Exposing and blocking attacks on voting rights.
▢ Increasing the minimum wage and reviving the American Dream.
▢ Investigating the Trump Administration.

Frankly, I was disappointed to see that the economy was not spelled out as an issue. It’s the one issue that will win elections. Remember Bill Clinton saying, “It’s the economy, stupid“?

Raising the minimum wage is part of that. You can disagree with me, but I think the Democrats need to spend less time on hot-button social issues, and more on economic development.

Ducey v. Brnovich on ABOR tuition lawsuit

Doug Ducey, the ice cream man hired by Koch Industries to run their Southwest subsidiary formerly know as the state of Arizona, is an ex officio member of the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR), recently sued by Attorney General Mark Brnovich in a publicity stunt over high tuition rates at the state universities.

Governor Ducey says his AG Mark Brnovich is full-o-crap. Ducey stands by ABOR, says tuition rates are constitutional:

Arizona’s three universities are in compliance with constitutional requirements to keep instruction “as nearly free as possible,” Gov. Doug Ducey said Thursday, despite what Attorney General Mark Brnovich contends.

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More to the point, the governor said he believes the regents, in setting tuition — and even in imposing sharp increases during the past 15 years — are keeping the cost of instruction within what the constitution requires.

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New Census Bureau data on median household income

Permanent musical accompaniment to this post: Party Like It’s 1999.

The median income for U.S. households is now slightly higher than what the median income was for households . . . in 1999. Americans are finally making more money than we were in 1999:

Adjusted for inflation, median household income rose to $59,039, which is up 3.2 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to Census Bureau statistics. The previous highest median income, the Associated Press reported, was $58,665, which was recorded in 1999.

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It took 18 years, but the American median income is finally back to where it was before the 2001 recession.

The report covers the final year of the Obama administration, in which poverty rates also decreased from 13.5 percent to 12.7 percent. In real numbers, that’s a drop of 2.5 million people, according to USA Today. The number represent the first time since the recession that the rate wasn’t higher than levels prior to the recession.

In a year filled with debate on health care, the amount of Americans who have health insurance increased by 900,000 to 28.1 million, and the percentage of Americans not covered by insurance dropped from 9.1 percent to 8.8 percent.

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Arizona Supreme Court to hear appeal of Gov. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid expansion plan

Earlier this year, the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the Maricopa County Superior Court decision upholding former governor Jan Brewer’s Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan in 2013. AZ Court of Appeals upholds Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan.

The “Kochtopus” Death Star, the Goldwater Institute, which is litigating the case on behalf of our lawless Tea-Publican legislators who are parties to this lawsuit, of course appealed the decision to the Arizona Supreme Court. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan goes to Arizona Supreme Court.

The Arizona Supreme Court has now said it will hear the appeal. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, AZ Supreme Court to decide on Medicaid tax:

The state’s high court agreed Tuesday to decide whether a levy that funds Arizona’s expanded Medicaid program was illegally enacted.

Without comment, the justices said they want to give foes of the levy — current and former state lawmakers — a chance to make the case that it really is a tax.

What the court decides will be significant, as it takes a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate to raise taxes [the “Two-Thirds for Taxes” Amendment, Prop. 108 (1992)]. . And since the measure did not get that margin, a finding that the levy actually is a tax would mean the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program, could no longer collect it.

More significant, without the approximately $265 million being collected each year, the state could no longer afford to provide care to about 400,000 Arizonans who were added to the plan as a result of the 2013 action.

Tuesday’s action does not mean the justices have already reached a conclusion. But just the decision to review lower court ruling upholding the legality of the levy places it in potential jeopardy.

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ABOR should implead the Arizona legislature as an indispensable party in tuition suit

I posted about this lawsuit over the weekend, AG Mark Brnovich creates a ‘straw man’ for our lawless Tea-Publican legislature on higher ed funding.

The head of the state Board of Regents, Bill Ridenour, blasted Attorney General Mark Brnovich for what he said is a publicity stunt Friday — he called it “political pandering” — in suing the board and blaming its members for the steep hike in tuition in the last 15 years. ABOR chairman calls tuition lawsuit a publicity stunt:

“The AG’s lawsuit, while it makes for good headlines, does nothing to change the burden for students and their families,” he said in a prepared statement. “The suit is full of attacks, but offers no constructive remedies.”

Ridenour said Brnovich is right on at least one issue: The “seismic” shift in cost from the state to students to attend one of the state’s three universities.

What’s wrong with the litigation, he said, is that it seeks a solution from just the regents, ignoring the role he said lawmakers have played in the 300-plus percent increase in tuition since 2003. And Ridenour said if the issue is going to be hashed out in court, then the lawsuit needs to involve more than the regents.

“If it goes to that extent, the Legislature is an indispensable party,” he told Capitol Media Services.

Ridenour is absolutely correct. ABOR should move the court for impleader of the Arizona legislature, because the constitutional provisions for which Brnovich is suing ABOR are actually express directives to the Arizona legislature:

Article XI, Section 6: The university and all other state educational institutions shall be open to students of both sexes, and the instruction furnished shall be as nearly free as possible. The legislature shall provide for a system of common schools by which a free school shall be established and maintained in every school district for at least six months in each year, which school shall be open to all pupils between the ages of six and twenty-one years.

Article XI, Section 10.  The revenue for the maintenance of the respective state educational institutions shall be derived from the investment of the proceeds of the sale, and from the rental of such lands as have been set aside by the enabling act approved June 20, 1910, or other legislative enactment of the United States, for the use and benefit of the respective state educational institutions. In addition to such income the legislature shall make such appropriations, to be met by taxation, as shall insure the proper maintenance of all state educational institutions, and shall make such special appropriations as shall provide for their development and improvement.

I cannot imagine that the court would not grant ABOR’s motion to implead the Arizona legislature as an indispensable party.

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