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Sep 22 2017

Pondering the Pundits

“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

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Paul Krugman: Cruelty, Incompetence and Lies

Graham-Cassidy, the health bill the Senate may vote on next week, is stunningly cruel. It’s also incompetently drafted: The bill’s sponsors clearly had no idea what they were doing when they put it together. Furthermore, their efforts to sell the bill involve obvious, blatant lies.

Nonetheless, the bill could pass. And that says a lot about today’s Republican Party, none of it good.

The Affordable Care Act, which has reduced the percentage of Americans without health insurance to a record low, created a three-legged stool: regulations that prevent insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, a requirement that individuals have adequate insurance (and thus pay into the system while healthy) and subsidies to make that insurance affordable. For the lowest-income families, insurance is provided directly by Medicaid.

Graham-Cassidy saws off all three legs of that stool. Like other Republican plans, it eliminates the individual mandate. It replaces direct aid to individuals with block grants to states, under a formula that sharply reduces funding relative to current law, and especially penalizes states that have done a good job of reducing the number of uninsured. And it effectively eliminates protection for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Eugene Robinson: This Republican health-care bill is the most monstrous yet

Motivated by the cynical aims of fulfilling a bumper-sticker campaign promise and lavishing tax cuts on the wealthy, Republicans are threatening to pass a health-care bill they know will make millions of Americans sicker and poorer. Do they think we don’t see what they’re doing?

Does Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) think we didn’t hear what he said Wednesday? “You know, I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered,” he told reporters. “But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign. That’s pretty much as much of a reason as the substance of the bill.”

There you have it: Who cares what this legislation would do? Vote for it anyway.

The GOP’s efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act have undergone a process of devolution, with each new bill worse than the last. The measure that the Senate plans to vote on next week essentially takes away most of the protections, benefits and funding of the ACA, but leaves in place most of the taxes.

That’s supposed to be good politics? Seriously?

Francine Prose: Shame on Harvard for welcoming Sean Spicer – but spurning Chelsea Manning

I graduated from Harvard in 1968. (Officially, my diploma was from Radcliffe, the now disbanded women’s college, but all of our classes were at Harvard.) That year, Harvard’s graduation speaker was the shah of Iran, and many of us wore black armbands and boycotted the ceremony to protest against the oppressive Iranian government’s human rights violations.

In 1993, I returned for our 25th reunion. The graduation speaker was Colin Powell, the defense secretary, who had supported the Clinton administration’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on openly gay members of the military. And my class (along with the rest of the audience) gave him a standing ovation.

I recall wondering what had happened to the students who had so passionately demonstrated against the Vietnam war and disrupted the campus visit of one of its major architects, Robert McNamara.

Not only were they (to paraphrase Proust) wearing the masks of middle age – but many of them wore elegant three-piece suits, and I overheard several women commiserating about the tribulations of their second-home renovations. [..]

Having witnessed this, I wasn’t much surprised to hear that Harvard’s institute of politics had invited Donald Trump’s former press secretary Sean Spicer and campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to serve as fellows, and rescinded a similar invitation to whistleblower and trans activist Chelsea Manning.

Ruth Hopkins: Police Militarization Is a Threat to Tribal Sovereignty

What would a police officer do with a grenade launcher? While the notion may seem wild, we’re about to find out.

Congress initially authorized the Pentagon to give surplus military gear to police in 1990 to help fight the drug war, but complaints about the militarization of police and the belief that it tends to escalate police violence rather than curb it were continuous and bipartisan. Then, after police responded to Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson armed to the teeth and deploying vicious dogs and tear gas onto civilians while brandishing loaded assault rifles, President Obama limited the military surplus program via executive order.

While running for President, Trump promised the Fraternal Order of Police that he would do away with Obama’s executive order and revive the military surplus program in exchange for their endorsement. Now Donnie and company are ready to provide your local police department with bayonets, armored vehicles, grenade launchers, weaponized aircraft, and .50 caliber ammo that could drop an elephant.

Trump wants to be viewed as a Law and Order President. His administration, along with Justice Department Head Jeff Sessions are claiming that militarizing police will, “help state, local, and tribal law enforcement better protect public safety and reduce crime.”

Jared Bernstein: This Unique, Terrible, Phony, Fraught-With-Lies Moment In American Politics

This will be brief, because a note about how the political debate is misleading isn’t exactly breaking news or even, admittedly, that interesting. So, I’d consider it a personal favor if you’ll allow me to vent for a moment.

It’s just that the extent to which we’re being lied to right now seems, to me at least, uniquely over the top. The transparency of the BS is just so obvious, especially on Graham-Cassidy, the just-as-bad-as-all-the-others repeal and replace bill that may get a vote in the Senate next week. [..]

My CBPP colleagues have been hammering on how Graham-Cassidy is just as much a wolf as past Republican repeal bills, despite its sheep’s clothing. It cuts health care spending on ACA functions by over $200 billion, 2020-26, and much more in later years (a new study by the health analysis firm Avalere comes up with similar numbers; see their table below) and that doesn’t count cuts to the traditional Medicaid program, which under Graham-Cassidy is no longer guaranteed to expand to meet the health needs of low-income recipients. Under Graham-Cassidy: “Faced with a recession…states would have to either dramatically increase their own spending on health care or, as is far more likely, deny help to people losing their jobs and their health insurance.”