Category Archives: Everyone

Conservatives Demand End to Pre-Existing Conditions Ban

Mother Jones

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I guess I was wrong last night. The New York Times says President Trump has caved in to demands to repeal the minimum set of required benefits for health care insurance:

President Trump agreed to the demands of conservative House Republicans to remove federal requirements that health insurance plans provide a basic set of benefits like maternity care, emergency services, mental health and wellness visits as he struggles to round up enough votes to pass a broad health care overhaul.

But the Washington Post reports that this still wasn’t enough:

Conservative House Republicans rebuffed an offer by President Trump on Thursday to strip a key set of mandates from the nation’s current health-care law, raising doubts about whether House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has the votes to pass the bill.

….Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), asked whether the White House had made its final negotiating offer, said that if that’s the case, “They’re not going to pass the bill.”…As of mid-afternoon Thursday, 37 House Republicans — mainly Freedom Caucus members — had announced their opposition to the bill, known as the American Health Care Act.

So what do conservatives want? Here’s the Post again:

Conservative lawmakers have asked to eliminate much of Obamacare’s Title I, which….bars companies from setting insurance rates based on a person’s sex, medical condition, genetic condition or other factors.

In other words, insurers could charge you more if you have a pre-existing condition. That would effectively kill off the Obamacare provision that requires insurers to cover everyone who applies. They’d simply price policies out of reach for people with expensive pre-existing conditions and that would be that.

Would this pass muster with the Senate parliamentarian, who has to agree that repealing Title 1 “directly affects” the budget? I doubt it. Would Mike Pence go ahead and overrule her? Maybe. Is this whole thing a debacle beyond imagining? Oh yes.

POSTSCRIPT: It’s worth pointing out that if Republicans go down this road, they’ve essentially killed the filibuster completely. Basically, they would have set a precedent that anything can be added to a reconciliation bill—which can’t be filibustered—and the vice president will overrule the parliamentarian and declare that it’s OK. At that point, the Senate can include reconciliation instructions for just about anything in its annual budget resolution. As long as the president and vice president are from the same party, they can then pass anything they want with 51 votes.

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Conservatives Demand End to Pre-Existing Conditions Ban

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CNN: Trump Team Gave Russians "Thumbs Up" to Release Hillary Smears

Mother Jones

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CNN has some breaking news:

The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, US officials told CNN….The FBI is now reviewing that information, which includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings.

….One law enforcement official said the information in hand suggests “people connected to the campaign were in contact and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready.” But other U.S. officials who spoke to CNN say it’s premature to draw that inference from the information gathered so far since it’s largely circumstantial.

Apparently this is all “raising suspicions” among counterintelligence officers about ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

If everything we’ve heard today is true, members of the Trump team were (a) in frequent contact with the Russians to coordinate the release of smears against Hillary Clinton, and (b) in frequent contact with some other group of people who were under surveillance for…something. What busy beavers!

Meanwhile, Devin Nunes is pretending to be shocked that the NSA does stuff that everyone on the planet knows the NSA does. I can only assume he was hoping to distract everyone from what’s really going on, the way Trump does with his tweets. But Trump is a master, and Nunes is apparently an idiot. His attempt at misdirection was so barefaced and hamhanded that he probably just made things worse.

Link – 

CNN: Trump Team Gave Russians "Thumbs Up" to Release Hillary Smears

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A Recently Bankrupt Coal Company Is Being Honored at Mar-a Lago

Mother Jones

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President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort will host the opening reception Wednesday evening for a conference where a recently bankrupt coal company will be a guest of honor. The annual Distressed Investing Summit will bestow one of its “Restructuring Deal of the Year” awards to Arch Coal for clearing $5 billion in debt after it filed for bankruptcy in 2016.

“They emerged from bankruptcy in 2016 after shedding huge amount of debt, obligations to workers, and environmental cleanup,” Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal director Mary Anne Hitt says. “When a company is in bankruptcy, you don’t have a lot of leverage in there with all the lawyers and stakeholders. To have them feted at Mar-a-Lago as a turnaround is salt in the wound for workers and people representing the public interest.”

The summit, hosted by financial company The M&A Advisor, has held its opening cocktail reception at Mar-a-Lago for the past two years, ever since Trump emerged as a serious contender for president. In its invitation email, M&A Advisor names Arch Coal as one of its winners alongside a number of other firms, including energy companies Alpha Natural Resources, Midstates Petroleum Company, and Venoco, an oil and gas development company.

Here’s how the invitation describes Mar-a-Lago, “the new Winter White House”:

The agenda for roundtables that are held at a nearby hotel reads like a laundry list of Trump’s campaign themes: “Making America Great Again,” “Informing and Silencing The Media,” and the “Art of Dealmaking: Getting Deals Done In The New Economic Order.”

Not everyone agrees that Arch Coal’s 2016 bankruptcy deal warrants celebration. During the bankruptcy proceedings, environmental opposition forced the company to abandon its proposal that taxpayers should foot the entire bill to clean up its abandoned mines. The company also laid off hundreds of its miners that same year.

In the years before bankruptcy, United Mine Workers of America complained that Arch Coal moved 40 percent of its employees’ health care coverage to Patriot Coal, a volatile offshoot company. When Patriot went under, those health benefits were at risk and continue to be because of Arch Coal’s bankruptcy. Patriot and Arch Coal are only two examples of a larger problem. The union shop has been pressing Congress for a long-term solution for 22,000 miners’ benefits in jeopardy because of coal bankruptcies—an issue that won’t go away no matter what happens to federal environmental regulations.

The idea that the coal industry can recover is a cherished narrative for Trump. Earlier this week, at a campaign-style rally in Kentucky, the president claimed that he will “save our coal industry” and put miners back to work with executive orders that are expected any day. Trump likes to blame “terrible job-killing” regulations, but there are other pressures beyond federal regulation driving coal out of business, namely competitive natural gas.

Nonetheless, on Wednesday evening, a coal turnaround will be celebrated. Even though it might only be, as the Sierra Club’s Hitt notes, “one of many of the alternative facts they like to celebrate at Mar-a-Lago.”

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A Recently Bankrupt Coal Company Is Being Honored at Mar-a Lago

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Trump Wants to Turn the Skies Black With Coal

Mother Jones

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Donald Trump is gonna bring back the coal:

President Trump is poised in the coming days to announce his plans to dismantle the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s climate change legacy….In an announcement that could come as soon as Thursday or as late as next month, according to people familiar with the White House’s planning, Mr. Trump will order EPA chief Scott Pruitt to withdraw and rewrite a set of Obama-era regulations known as the Clean Power Plan, according to a draft document obtained by The New York Times.

….At a campaign-style rally on Monday in the coal-mining state of Kentucky, Mr. Trump told a cheering audience that he is preparing an executive action that would “save our wonderful coal miners from continuing to be put out of work.”

This is part of Trump’s plan to repeal all of Obama’s “stupid” climate change policies. “We’re not spending money on that anymore,” Trump’s budget director told reporters. No more funding for climate change science; no more worrying about carbon emissions; no more auto mileage standards; and lots and lots of beautiful, black coal.

Except for one thing:

This is from Lazard’s most recent energy analysis. Coal just isn’t competitive anymore. Oh, existing plants will keep going for a while, and maybe Trump’s executive orders—if they ever go into effect—will keep them in operation longer than otherwise. But there’s nothing on the horizon that’s likely to reduce the cost of coal, whereas wind and solar continue to drop every year. Gas is also likely to stay cheap for a long time thanks to fracking.

None of this is a secret. Everyone knows that Trump isn’t going to save any coal jobs, but the coal miners like to hear him say that he will. Based on previous reporting, I gather that even they know it’s mostly blather, but they still appreciate it. They give Trump an A for effort.

Back in the early part of last year, there was a mini-upwelling of comments from liberals suggesting that Trump might actually be better from a progressive point of view than more conventional conservatives like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. That was never true, and climate change is an example of why. Cruz or Rubio would have both tried to get rid of Obama’s Clean Power Plan, but I don’t think they would have literally tried to defund every bit of research into climate change or just flatly deny that carbon even mattered. They’re too conventional. But with Trump there’s always the danger that a combination of his signature ignorance and his rabid vengefulness will motivate him to go nuts. That’s what’s happening here. On the bright side, maybe his well-known incompetence will also keep him from being effective. But then again, maybe not.

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Trump Wants to Turn the Skies Black With Coal

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The Composite Trump: Some Notes Toward Understanding Our President’s Level of Sanity

Mother Jones

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Bob Somerby has been oddly disparaging about people who say that Donald Trump is a liar. Today he explains why:

Is Donald J. Trump a liar? Or could an accurate diagnosis perhaps be more troubling than that?…Is it possible that Donald J. Trump truly is some version of unhinged/crazy?…When Barry Goldwater and Hugh Scott told Richard Nixon he had to resign, Nixon succumbed to reality. What would Trump do in a situation like that?

A mere “liar” would know it was time to go. Do you feel sure that Donald J. Trump would react like that?

We don’t feel sure of that at all.

Let’s roll the tape. Trump is vain. He’s peculiarly unwilling to learn anything new. He feels endlessly persecuted. His attention span can be measured in minutes. He’s paranoid over the slightest sign of disloyalty. He is vengeful. He demands constant attention. He makes up preposterous fictions to sustain his worldview and shield his ego from the slings and arrows of reality. He desperately wants to be liked by everyone. He’s domineering. His personal relationships are almost entirely transactional. He never laughs. He can’t stand people poking fun at him. He’s often unable to control his emotional outbursts. And he likes his steaks really well done.

Does that mean he’s unhinged? I dunno. No single one of these things is debilitating, but what happens when you put them all together? Back when I was a kid there was a super-villain called the Composite Superman. He had the powers of, like, 30 different superheroes, and apparently that was enough to drive him mad:

Maybe this is Trump. Being, say, vain and domineering would make him a bit of an asshole, but nothing more. But put all of his bizarre personality traits together, stir in the pressure of being president, and that might be enough to qualify him as detached from consensus reality. Who knows?

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The Composite Trump: Some Notes Toward Understanding Our President’s Level of Sanity

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