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Jun 23 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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Richard Eskow: GOP ‘Health’ Bill: Death, Disaster, and Gilded Age Greed

The Republican Senate’s draft health bill differs from the House version, but its basic purpose is the same: give millionaires and billionaires a massive new tax cut by slashing health benefits for millions of Americans, and take care away altogether from millions more.

People will die if this bill becomes law, but that doesn’t seem to trouble the Republicans’ conscience. The only thing they seem to fear is losing their jobs. That’s why this bill was written in unprecedented secrecy. That’s why it, like the House version, obfuscates and misdirects to conceal its true goals.
Make Them Think It’s More

Once, as a young health financing consultant, I met with the CEO of one of Wall Street’s most powerful firms. He had a reputation for both brilliance and meanness, and he was proposing some complicated changes to his company’s health plan. His own staff seemed reluctant to question him, so I asked him instead: “What are you trying to accomplish?”

“It’s my employees,” he answered. “I want to give them less and make them think it’s more.”

Give them less and make them think it’s more. That’s the Republican Party’s goal with “Trumpcare.”

Eugene Robinson: Senate Republicans ready themselves for a massive theft from the poor

The “health-care bill” that Republicans are trying to pass in the Senate, like the one approved by the GOP majority in the House, isn’t really about health care at all. It’s the first step in a massive redistribution of wealth from struggling wage-earners to the rich — a theft of historic proportions.

Is the Senate version less “mean” than the House bill, to use President Trump’s description of that earlier effort? Not really. Does the new bill have the “heart” that Trump demanded? No, it doesn’t. The devil is not in the details, it’s in the big picture.

Fundamentally, what Republicans in both chambers want to do is cut nearly $1 trillion over the next decade from the Medicaid program, which serves almost 70 million people. Medicaid provides health care not just for the indigent and disabled but also for the working poor — low-wage employees who cannot afford health insurance, even the plans offered through their jobs.

Drew Altman: The Republicans’ Jekyll-and-Hyde Health Care Plan

The Senate Republicans’ health bill that was made public today is a Jekyll-and-Hyde plan: in some ways kinder than the House Republican plan, and in some ways meaner, to use President Donald Trump’s yardstick. Overall the plan will benefit the wealthy and young adults, but hurt larger numbers of people who are old or poor.

On Medicaid, the federal-state health program covering 69 million lower-income people, the Senate plan is harsher than the House plan. Like the House bill, the Senate bill would effectively kill the expansion of Medicaid that was allowed under the Affordable Care Act. It will do this by phasing out, over four years, the law’s requirement that the federal government cover 90 percent of the cost for people added under Medicaid expansion — many of them single adults below or just above the poverty line. Medicaid expansion covers 14 million people in 30 states and the District of Columbia. (The remaining states chose not to expand their programs.) Expansion states would have to come up with hundreds of millions, in some states billions, of dollars from their own budgets to replace those lost federal funds. Based on my experience as a state human services commissioner — for a Republican governor — I predict that few if any states will be able to do that. It is also highly unlikely that other states will join the expansion once the federal match is gone.

Les Leopold: Beware Of The Environmental Trump Trap

As Trump slashes and burns his way through environmental regulations, including the Paris Accord, he continues to bet that political polarization will work in his favor. Not only are his anti-scientific, anti-environmentalist positions firing up some within his base, but those positions are driving a deep wedge within organized labor. And unbeknownst to many environmental activists, they are being counted on to help drive that wedge even deeper.

Trump already has in his pocket most of the construction trades union leaders whose members are likely to benefit from infrastructure projects – whether fossil fuel pipelines or new airports or… paving over the Atlantic. His ballyhooed support of coal extraction has considerable support from miners and many utility workers as well.

But the real coup will come if Trump can tear apart alliances between the more progressive unions and the environmental community. Trump hopes to neutralize the larger Democratic-leaning unions, including those representing oil refinery workers and other industrial workers. That includes the United Steelworkers, a union that has supported environmental policies like the federal Clean Air Act and California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, and has a long history of fighting against the oil industry – not just over wages and benefits but also over health, safety and the environment.

Jeff Bryant: Charter Schools Do Bad Stuff Because They Can

Charter schools have become a fetish of both Democratic and Republican political establishments, but local news reports continue to drip, drip a constant stream of stories of charter schools doing bad stuff that our tax dollars fund.

An independent news outlet in New Orleans, where the school district is nearly 100 percent charter, reports that two homeless children were kept out of class for a month because they didn’t have monogrammed uniforms.

In Oakland, California, a state-based news outlet reports charter school enrollment practices ensure charter schools get an advantage over district schools when academic performance comparisons are made. The advantage comes from charters being able to enroll students who are more “academically prepared” than students who attend district-run schools.

Oakland charters, when compared to public schools, also tend to enroll fewer students with special needs and fewer students who enter the school year late and are, thus, often academically behind.