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May 17 2018

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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Richard Eskow: Real Corruption: The Scott Pruitt Story

Question: Which of these scandals should result in EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s removal from office?

Answer: None of the above.

Yes, Pruitt seems to be a terrible, self-centered person, who spares no expense on himself as long as someone else foots the bill. But the real reason Scott Pruitt should be removed from office is because he is causing lasting harm to current and future generations.

Scott Pruitt abuses the public trust by using his position to serve the Koch brothers and other fossil-fuel magnates, and he is killing us and our kids in the bargain.

Charles M. Blow: A Blue Wave of Moral Restoration

Donald Trump’s approval rating is rising. The Democratic advantage on survey questions about party preference for control of Congress is vanishing. Liberal anxiety about the fate of the midterms — and I would venture, the country itself — is rising.

To all this, I say: Calm down.

Not relax. Not rest easy. Not coast. But stay the course and don’t panic. Work hard, message well and bring your passion — and a few neighbors and friends — to the polls in November.

If voters do that, as they have already done in special elections, signs are positive for a major realignment in Washington.

As a CNN analysis last month said: “These results suggest that the Republican Party is in trouble heading into the midterm elections. If past trends hold, it is possible Democrats could see a double- digit swing in the average House district in 2018 compared with past elections.”

E. J. Dionne Jr.: Democrats aren’t as obsessed with Trump as you think

Let’s posit three rules of political analysis. First, data is better than presuppositions. Second, actual votes cast can tell us more than the polls. Third, even when we carefully examine the facts, we’re all vulnerable to seeking confirmation of what we believed in the first place.

On the basis of these rules, some widely accepted assumptions about our political moment can be seen as, at best, incomplete.

Democrats, it’s often said, are so obsessed with President Trump and the Russia scandal that they talk of nothing else. But anyone who spent Tuesday listening to a regiment of potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates present their case at the liberal Center for American Progress’s Ideas Conference can testify that this is simply untrue.

Attacks on Trump were far less prominent than promises related to economic justice and warnings about the ways in which the United States is falling behind other parts of the world. When Trump did come under fire, it was usually on health care, his lopsided tax cut for corporations, or administration corruption outside the context of the Russia inquiry.

Catherine Rampell: This is what a death spiral looks like

This is what the start of a death spiral looks like.

Three states have announced preliminary 2019 premium-rate requests for Obamacare individual-market policies, and the numbers don’t look good.

In Virginia, the first state out of the gate, insurers requested hikes as high as 64.3 percent . Across all insurers, and weighted for current enrollment, the average increase is likely to be “only” 13.4 percent , according to calculations from health-care analyst Charles Gaba.

In Vermont, one of its marketplace insurers requested an average 7.5 percent increase, and the other a 10.9 percent average annual rate increase.

In Maryland, insurers have also proposed double-digit increases. There, price hikes average 30 percent, with one plan penciling in an astonishing  91.4 percent  jump.

Again, these numbers are preliminary; further negotiations with state regulators lie ahead and could materially reduce what premiums will look like in 2019. That is especially true in Maryland, where the governor and state legislators are feverishly working to stabilize the market through a “ reinsurance fund,” which would require a waiver from the federal government.

Even so, the numbers are troubling. And they’re a preview of what we should expect nationwide, as more states announce premiums over the next few months.

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