Tag Archives: federal

Trump: Failure of Health Care Bill Is All Democrats’ Fault

Mother Jones

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It’s laughable watching President Trump whine endlessly this afternoon about how his health care bill didn’t get any Democratic votes. Not one! The Democrats just wouldn’t work with him to craft a bill! Boy, that sure makes things tough.

Needless to say, neither Trump nor Paul Ryan ever tried to bring Democrats into this bill. It was purely a Republican plan from the start, and neither of them wanted any Democratic input. That’s just the opposite of Obamacare, where Democrats tried mightily to get Republican buy-in, and still ended up getting no Republican votes in the end. Not one!

Anyway, Trump’s plan now is to wait for Obamacare to implode and then Democrats will have to do a deal. I guess it hasn’t occurred to him that he could do a deal with Democrats right now if he were really serious about fixing health care. But no. Trump says he intends to move on to tax reform, because that’s something he actually cares about.

In the meantime, it’s very unclear what will happen to Obamacare. With so much uncertainty surrounding it, it’s hard to say how insurance companies will respond. They might give up and pull out. Or they might stick it out and wait. It’s pretty close to a profitable business now, so there’s probably no urgency one way or the other for most of them. And anyway, somewhere there’s an equilibrium. Having only one insurer in a particular county might be bad for residents of that county, but it’s great for the insurer: they can raise their prices with no worries. There are no competitors to steal their business, and the federal subsidies mean that customers on the exchanges won’t see much of a change even if prices go up. In places where they have these mini-monopolies, Obamacare should be a nice money spinner.

April will be a key month, as insurers begin to announce their plans for 2018. We’ll see what happens.

POSTSCRIPT: It was also amusing to hear Trump say that he learned a lot during this process about “arcane” procedures in the House and Senate. Like what? Filibusters? Having to persuade people to vote for your bill? The fact that the opposition party isn’t going to give you any votes for a bill that destroys one of their signature achievements? Reconciliation and the Byrd rule? I believe him when he says this was all new to him, which means he never had the slightest clue what was in this bill or how it was going to pass.

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Trump: Failure of Health Care Bill Is All Democrats’ Fault

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Trump Declares War on EPA Mileage Standards

Mother Jones

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California has made a lot of noise about being the front line of resistance to President Trump, but mostly it’s just blather. This week, however, it’s finally getting very real:

President Trump will direct the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday to shelve aggressive vehicle fuel economy targets that are a pillar of climate action and anti-pollution efforts in California and nationwide, according to a senior administration official.

…Targeting them puts the White House on a path of direct and costly confrontation with California….Under the Clean Air Act, the state has the authority to impose emissions standards stronger than those set by the federal government, and a dozen other states have embraced the California rules, as the act allows. About 40% of the vehicles sold in America are subject to the rules California sets. Automakers have said repeatedly that it is untenable to manufacture separate fleets of vehicles to meet different standards.

The state had refrained from charting its own course on mileage goals as part of a compromise with auto companies and the EPA early in the Obama administration. That agreement will start to unravel Wednesday with Trump’s action, which will direct the EPA to re-open the rule-making for the mileage standards. If, as environmental and auto lobbyists anticipate, the administration ultimately decides to weaken the rules, California will almost certainly move to invoke its federal waiver.

There are other disputes on the horizon between California and the Trump administration, but this is the first big one. From the very beginning, California has had an exemption under the Clean Air Act to set its own standards, and these standards have often led the nation. The state is pretty jealous of this prerogative, and it will fight to prevent any change to the law that weakens it. However, unless the Trump administration succeeds in doing that, it’s likely that California will adopt the current EPA standards and car companies will follow along even if Trump trashes the federal rules. It’s either that or build two separate fleets of cars, one for California and its fellow green states, and one for everyone else.

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Trump Declares War on EPA Mileage Standards

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If Barack Obama Calls You Asking for Money, Don’t Do It

Mother Jones

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President Barack Obama did not record a robocall raising money off the new White House travel ban—no matter what you may have read on the internet.

The report that Obama was asking Democrats for money to fight President Donald Trump caught fire on the right-wing internet over the weekend, inflamed by celebrity Trump supporters such as the actor Scott Baio. The pro-administration subreddit “The_Donald” has even put up a post asking users to report such calls to the Federal Trade Commission. Many of those stories cited a Friday tweet by former North Carolina congressional candidate Thomas Mills, who reported that he had received a call not long after the new Trump order had gone into effect. (Mills, who is a Democrat, confirmed to Mother Jones that he had received a robocall.)

But according to the former president’s office, if you got a robocall with Obama’s voice on it, it wasn’t from him.

“These pre-recorded calls were not authorized by President Barack Obama, have no connection to the former President, and have been reported to appropriate law enforcement authorities,” Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor for and report any misleading or fraudulent uses of the President’s image.”

If you get a robocall from President Obama, record it and send it to tmurphy@motherjones.com.

Update: Thanks to reader Greg Flynn, we have audio of one of these calls purporting to be on behalf of President Obama. (If you follow the prompts, you’ll be asked to donate in increments of $100 or $200.) Here it is:

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If Barack Obama Calls You Asking for Money, Don’t Do It

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The Economy Is Not Booming

Mother Jones

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Neil Irwin writes about the fabulous Trump economy:

The stock market reached yet another new high on Wednesday, the latest development to make a mockery of what savvy economic commentators thought they knew about the world.

Consider how things looked one year ago. The world economy seemed hopelessly trapped in a cycle of low growth and inflation. Markets recoiled at the mere possibility that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates. Populist political insurgencies seemed to threaten yet more financial market chaos.

Now, interest rates and inflation forecasts have risen substantially from last winter’s lows; financial markets are shrugging off — or even rallying at the possibility of — imminent Fed rate increases; and it is all taking place during Donald J. Trump’s presidency.

Why do we keep hearing this? Once again, here’s the S&P 500 since the end of the Great Recession. I’ve even adjusted it for inflation just to be super fair:

There nothing there. The stock market is growing at precisely the same rate as it has for the past eight years. If you zoom in and take look at the S&P 500 just since Election Day, you see the same thing: it’s been bouncing tightly around a trend line the entire time. There has been no rally at the possibility of interest rate increases from the Fed.

As for inflation, I’ve already dealt with that today. It’s been closely following a trendline too, and literally nothing new has happened since the election. However, it is true that inflationary expectations started rising last June—though a little context helps here:

If you start your chart in mid-2016, you can make it look like inflationary expectations are taking off like a rocket. But in reality, we’re still nowhere close to where we were five years after the end of the Great Recession, and expectations have flattened out in the past couple of months.

Finally, economic growth. You can talk about animal spirits all you want, but GDP growth in the US has been running steadily between 1 percent and 3 percent since 2010. Last quarter it was 1.9 percent, and there’s no particular reason to think it’s about to take a sustained jump. As for the rest of the world, the IMF doesn’t seem especially optimistic:

US growth might be a little sluggish, but it’s still a lot better than China and Europe, which are projected to decline in 2017 and 2018. The rest of the world will do a little better, but only a little.

However, there is one part of the economy that has unquestionably been booming since Trump was elected: big Wall Street banks.

Wall Street has been kicking major ass since November 8. And why not? The economy may or may not be booming, but they’re pretty sure that Trump is going to lower their taxes and ease up on all those pesky regulations that Obama tried to force on them. If I were a big bank, I’d be pretty excited too.

I’m not especially trying to badmouth the economy here. It’s doing fine, if not great. Growth is decent, wages are showing signs of life, we’re getting close to full employment, and inflation is under control. As labor markets tighten, we might even some real improvement in wages and living standards. That’s not bad, especially compared to the rest of the world. But there’s really not much evidence that we’ve been in any kind of boom times since November. Growth is steady, the stock market is steady, employment is steady, and inflation is steady. Just because Wall Street is excited doesn’t mean they know something we don’t.

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The Economy Is Not Booming

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Don’t Blame Oroville on Environmentalists

Mother Jones

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Victor Davis Hanson is a native Californian who hates California because it’s become too brown and too liberal. Today he takes to the LA Times to use the Oroville Dam disaster as a way of riding all his usual hobbyhorses:

The poor condition of the dam is almost too good a metaphor for the condition of the state as a whole; its possible failure is a reflection of California’s civic decline.

….The dam was part of the larger work of a brilliant earlier generation of California planners and lawmakers….The water projects created cheap and clean hydroelectric power…ensured that empty desert acreage on California’s dry west side of the Central Valley could be irrigated…spectacular growth in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles Basin.

….Yet the California Water Project and federal Central Valley Project have been comatose for a half-century….Necessary improvements to Oroville Dam, like reinforced concrete spillways, were never finished….A new generation of Californians — without much memory of floods or what unirrigated California was like before its aqueducts — had the luxury to envision the state’s existing water projects in a radically new light: as environmental errors….Indeed, pressures mounted to tear down rather than build dams. The state — whose basket of income, sales and gas taxes is among the highest in the country — gradually shifted its priorities from the building and expansion of dams, reservoirs, aqueducts, bridges and highways to redistributionist social welfare programs, state employee pensions and an enormous penal archipelago.

LOL. The reason the Oroville Dam wasn’t upgraded ten years ago is because all those salt-of-the-earth farmers that Davis admires didn’t want to pay for the upgrades via higher water rates. Here’s the San Jose Mercury News:

Environmentalists noted Friday that they had tried in 2005 to persuade the federal government to require the state to cover the emergency spillway with concrete. But the agency that was relicensing the dam, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, declined after opposition from the state Department of Water Resources and the State Water Contractors, a group of 27 water agencies who were concerned about the cost.

Hanson should have listened to his initial instincts: the Oroville Dam is too good a metaphor for the condition of the state as a whole:

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Don’t Blame Oroville on Environmentalists

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