Category Archives: Legislation

The House Always Wins

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

I’m not a gambler, but I do know that Sin City isn’t prospering because those who visit its casinos win more than they lose. Rather, the casinos of Las Vegas and those all around the world, prosper because in the end, the house always wins.

That truism comes to mind when I think about our Arizona Legislature and their non-stop assault on the state’s public education system. Yes, it is sad that on the day Save Our Schools Arizona turned in over 111,000 petition signatures for a voucher expansion veto referendum to our Secretary of State, I’m thinking about how the battle has just begun. Not only that, but I’m worrying the battle is likely to not end in the people’s favor because just like the casinos, the game is rigged against us.

Senator Debbie Lesko, the sponsor of SB 1431, (full expansion of vouchers) is no doubt already planning repeal of the law should the referendum actually qualify for the ballot. Why would she do that? Well, for one, because when Arizonans are given the opportunity to vote on public education, they usually support it. For another, if the repeal of the voucher expansion actually gets on the ballot in November 2018, she and her GOP colleagues know that the issue will bring public education supporting voters out to the polls. We know which party the majority of those voters are likely to come from, right? Continue reading

White nationalists making immigration policy in Trump White House

Donald Trump played to nativist and racist fears in the 2016 campaign by focusing heavily on illegal immigration: “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will make Mexico pay for that wall.

However, Trump’s alt-right campaign advisors, Steven Bannon and Stephen Miller, are also opposed to legal immigration.

On Wednesday, Trump, GOP senators reintroduced a bill to slash legal immigration levels (this is a modified version of a bill submitted in February that went nowhere):

Trump appeared with Republican Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.) and David Perdue (Ga.) at the White House to unveil a modified version of a bill the senators first introduced in February to create a “merit-based” immigration system that would put a greater emphasis on the job skills of foreigners over their ties to family in the United States.

The legislation seeks to reduce the annual distribution of green cards awarding permanent legal residence to just over 500,000 from more than 1 million.

The bill also gives a preference to those who speak English.

The bill faces dim prospects in the Senate, where Republicans hold a narrow majority and would have difficulty reaching 60 votes to fend off a filibuster. But the president’s event came as the White House sought to move past a major political defeat on repealing the Affordable Care Act by pivoting to issues that resonate with Trump’s core supporters.

White House alt-right advisor Stephen Miller attended the White House press briefing with Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to explain and defend the bill, and wound up being the story with his outrageous behavior.

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States can intervene to prevent GOP subterfuge on ‘Obamacare’ cost sharing reduction subsidies

There is a status report due to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals later this month in the case of House v. Price (née House v. Burwell), a bizarre lawsuit that could still blow up the ACA insurance markets:

House v. Price offers a back door to undoing Obamacare’s exchanges.

To destabilize the ACA insurance markets, all the administration would have to do is dismiss its appeal and stop fighting the case. At that point, the district court’s injunction — its order to stop making the illegal cost-reimbursement payments —would spring into effect.

Faced with enormous financial losses, many insurers would flee the market. Recall that the Affordable Care Act would still require insurers to cut their low-income enrollees a break — it’s just that insurers wouldn’t get reimbursed. The only way to make the numbers work would be to jack up premiums on everyone. In that scenario, the Urban Institute estimates that premiums would rise, on average, by $1,040, and that hundreds of thousands of people would lose coverage.

On Tuesday, the court permitted a coalition of state attorneys general to intervene in the lawsuit to prevent this GOP subterfuge between president Trump and the Tea-Publican Congress to sabotage “Obamacare.” Court ruling could help keep Obamacare subsidies:

A federal appeals court issued a ruling Tuesday that could help preserve a key subsidy that benefits health insurers and millions of Americans under the Affordable Care Act. The ruling could make it more difficult for the White House to carry out recent threats by President Trump to cut off the payments, giving legal standing to a new set of the payments’ ­defenders.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that a coalition of 16 state attorneys general, all of whom want to preserve the subsidies, may intervene in the appeal of a lawsuit over the fate of cost-sharing subsidies — payments the government makes to insurers on behalf of about 7 million low-income Americans who receive breaks on their health plans’ deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs.

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The rehabilitation of Martha McSally as a mythical moderate Republican begins

Oh, this is rich. Rep. Martha McSally, who rallied House GOP members to pass House Speaker Paul Ryan’s American Health Care Act in the House with the battle cry of “Let’s get this fucking thing done!”, has now joined a bipartisan House group to stabilize “Obamacare.”

This is like the arsonist who burns your house to the ground and then pretends to be a hero by rescuing you from the fire she set. And the GOP-friendly media in Arizona is playing along with McSally’s attempt to rehabilitate her image by again pretending that McSally is a mythical moderate Republican when she votes with Donald Trump’s agenda nearly 100% of the time.

The Arizona Republic reports, With GOP health-care efforts in tatters, 3 Arizona lawmakers want a bipartisan fix:

[T]hree Arizona members of Congress have joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers trying to shore up a portion of the nation’s insurance system.

A proposal released Monday by the 43-member Problem Solvers Caucus would effectively guarantee insurance subsidies for the individual markets and exempt more businesses from mandated health coverage.

U.S. Rep. Martha McSally helped craft the bipartisan plan for the Republicans as a way to help stabilize the individual markets, which face a deadline next month for setting premium levels even as President Donald Trump has suggested he may withhold subsidies to them.

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John McCain casts the decisive vote to kill GOP ‘Obamacare’ repeal; now comes more GOP sabotage

When a politician does the right thing, a rare occurrence these days, I will give them the credit and respect they deserve.

In a totally unexpected move early this morning, Senator John McCain in the end did the right thing, joining two GOP women stalwarts, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, to defeat evil GOP bastard Mitch McConnell’s ultimate act of legislative malpractice to repeal “Obamacare.”

Thank you Senator McCain. After all the calls and emails to the senator’s office that you all have made over the past several weeks, today I would urge you to do the same to offer a word of thanks to the senator. And do the same for Sens. Collins and Murkowski.

The New York Times reports, Senate Rejects Health Law Repeal, With McCain Casting the Decisive ‘No’ Vote:

The Senate in the early hours of Friday morning rejected a new, scaled-down Republican plan to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, derailing the Republicans’ seven-year campaign to dismantle President Barack Obama’s signature health care law and dealing a huge political setback to President Trump.

Senator John McCain of Arizona, who just this week returned to the Senate after receiving a diagnosis of brain cancer, cast the decisive vote to defeat the proposal, joining two other Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, in opposing it.

The 49-to-51 vote was also a humiliating setback for the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who has nurtured his reputation as a master tactician and spent the last three months trying to devise a repeal bill that could win support from members of his caucus.

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Evil GOP bastard Mitch McConnell’s final desperate act to repeal ‘Obamacare’ (updated)

The straight repeal of “Obamacare,” the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act, a policy that Tea-Publicans had voted for over 60 times in the past seven years when they used it as a bludgeon against Democrats and campaign fundraising talking point to the GOP crazy base — secure in the knowledge that their ideological antics would never actually become law — failed spectacularly in the Senate on Wednesday on a vote of 45 to 55, with seven Republicans (including Sen. John McCain) and all Democrats voting to block it. The latest vote to repeal Obamacare fails in the Senate.

Evil GOP bastard Mitch McConnell is down to his final desperate act to repeal “Obamacare,” the so-called “skinny repeal” bill that has yet to be drafted in secret in the dark recesses of McConnell’s star chamber,  a bill strategically designed to attract 50 GOP senate votes so that Vice President Mike Pence can, once again, break the tie vote to pass anything in the Senate to get it to a House-Senate conference committee.

Andrew Prokop at Vox.com provides analysis, Republicans’ last-ditch plan to save their health bill, explained in 500 words:

Republican leaders now have one last-ditch plan to keep their effort to repeal Obamacare alive.

Senate leaders’ new plan is to try to pass a simple, stripped-down “skinny repeal” bill that gets rid of just a few Obamacare provisions — like the individual and employer mandates and the medical device tax — while leaving the bulk of the law in place.

We don’t yet know whether skinny repeal will pass the Senate, or whether enough Senate Republicans will unify around some alternative proposal that can squeak through. We don’t even yet know what, exactly, would be in a skinny repeal bill.

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