Obamacare Repeals back. Again.

Oh for the love of…

The Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal the ACA, also known as Obamacare, has twelve days to pass before reconciliation ends, and their chance is gone. The bill would in effect transfer all of the funding for the ACA into block grants, parcel them out to states and overhaul Medicaid and repeal some protections, like pre-existing conditions. The only question I have is:

Why. Is this. Still. A thing.

I mean, I know why. It’s Obamacare, and the whole GOP has been basically redefined as the repeal and replace party, and this really is their last chance to do it. On the other hand, they’ve already lost. Four times (they had four bills, and McCains dramatic final No vote on the skinny repeal was the final straw. Or so I thought). And yet this persists.

Likely this will come down to the wire, assuming it can get past the CBO and the parliamentarian in less than two weeks, and then Leadership okays it (likely, again “repeal and replace”), and no more than two senators vote against it (Rand Paul is already opposed, and Murkowski and Collins haven’t yet weighed in), but hey. It could happen.

We’ll see what the CBO has to say about this.


Slow day: 15 September edition

This is one of those weird days where a lot is technically happening, it’s just not very exciting. or rather there’s ┬álot of reporting on stuff, which is new, but it happened yesterday, or is new information or reflections or…

Also I’m feeling lazy today. So there’s that.

Anyway, it’s been confirmed that in the meeting with the Democrats held yesterday, there was a tentative agreement regarding the Dreamers, and an agreement that it will not involve a trade for a border wall. The base is furious, the Republicans feel betrayed, but whether anything will actually happen is anybodies guess.

There’s other details (the left and right are turning on silicon valley, Putin’s opponents won some seats in Moscow) but for the most part things have been…slow. I guess.

See ya next week.

Bernies’ Single Payer Plan

Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont with the improbable presidential run, has released his newest Single-Payer plan. It’s basically a medicare for all package, parceled out over four years, with lowering thresholds from the upper quotient until everyone is officially registered in the program. The program itself is redesigned and massively more expansive, covering basically everything, but there’s a catch: he doesn’t explain how he’s going to pay for it.

Now, look, single-payers a nice idea, the bigger goal is generally considered Universal Coverage, the point being everyone has insurance. We don’t have single-payer in New Zealand, technically, just a very solid medical system, and cheap(ish) insurance which is fairly simple to get. It’s a multi-payer system and everyone’s covered which is another option for the US. This plan is too, but the actual method of paying for it will be key. Sanders does recognize this, and writes that there will need to be ‘vigorous debate’ as is his wont and that all options are available to be discussed until they reach an acceptable option.

So of this two things need to be said:

  1. This ain’t gonna pass. It’s a Republican congress so it is dead on arrival, but debate among the caucus could still be had.
  2. This price of insurance is the big issue in all this. Part of that is insurers who profit from high premiums and so on, part of that is hospitals that hike prices up when there’s little competition and a number of insurers clamoring for them. Finally pharmaceuticals is one of those other sectors which makes a lot of money from the current system, and all three of these will fight any single-payer plan.

Currently it looks like any Democrat looking at a presidential run is lining up behind this bill and this concept, which is good, but also leads to a particular point which they haven’t quite addressed yet: avoiding the Republicans mistake. The GOP made a big deal of repealing Obamacare, but never had a plan to do so. Democrats need to know how this system would work, and how to pay for it, and not just use it as a slogan.

What to do with North Korea

With the vote on Monday for new sanctions on North Korea, the UN has placed another bout of restrictions on North Korea’s trade and imports, which will likely have as much effect on Pyongyang as the last dozen or so. That is, little to none. With the Norths revealing of their nuclear capabilities, their ability to create both long-range missiles and nuclear warheads for them, North Korea has established itself as a nuclear power and accordingly the rules for dealing with them have changed. Sanctions remain one recourse, but are simply too limited, and easily avoided, to have the impact needed to bring Pyongyang to the table or to force the nation to relinquish their nuclear arms.

So, what are the options? As Mattis, Tillerson and Trump have repeatedly pointed out, all options remain on the table which includes a military response. Either an invasion, tactical strike, or nuclear attack remain available for the nations involved. However it is simply undeniable that there is no guarantee that any such strike would remove all of Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities, and this would therefore invoke reprisal on any nation that attacked, certainly including South Korea, Japan, the US if possible, and potentially China. Most everyone knows that so it isn’t really a feasible option. Nevertheless it remains (more due to politics rather than actual likelihood).

The most accepted option now is an opening of negotiations with North Korea in an attempt to forge some peace agreement with the nation and prevent a nuclear attack. Likely this would include recognition of the state, peace between the North and the South, some form of oversight of their nuclear program(though whether Pyongyang would agree with that is questionable at best) and a negation of hostile actions on both sides. That both China and Russia are now pushing for this option points to how expected this end result is; the only nation really pushing for anything else (the US) is simply digging their heels at this stage, likely due to an unwillingness to admit they failed to prevent North Korea’s shift into a nuclear power.

Are talks likely to happen soon? No, Trump and his administration despise ‘losing’, though why they would prefer a possible nuclear attack on their country rather than negotiations is beyond me, but given his mercurial nature it is still a possibility.

Just wait and see I guess.

The Debt Ceiling Deal

Yesterday Trump made a deal with the Democrat Party Leaders Rep. Pelosi and Sen. Schumer regarding the Debt Ceiling, pushing the debt upwards long enough to last for three months while sending money to Texas. Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell opposed the deal, Ryan dismissing it as ‘disgraceful‘. Personally I’m mildly amused they’re surprised: he back-stabs everyone, remember? Weren’t you paying attention to Christy?

Anyway, what this means is that the actual debt ceiling debate has been pushed back to December, and that by this time the Democrats are likely to use the debate to try to protect the Dreamers from DACA. Without the pressing need of Harvey, Irma and any other hurricane running around right now (Jose and Katja, 4 Hurricanes are happening now! Four!) and hopefully no other natural disaster, maybe it will actually work. Or the Republicans will resist and there’ll be a government shutdown. Or something, this shit’s way to unpredictable for me to guess at.

Still this was an interesting twist, and it upended current established rules in Washington politics i.e. don’t work with the other side.

Also, the fact that rule breaking is now required for bipartisanship? There’s something seriously wrong with that country.

DACA’s done

Yeah, this happened too.

Right, so uh…Trump has decided to discontinue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. If anyone is surprised by this they really haven’t been paying attention to trumps moves. I mean, look, he left the Paris Agreement, to spite the Europeans at the G20 and to push back on the thought of being controlled by his administration, he fired Comey because he didn’t like being investigated – the guy tends to act out of spite. The more you try to convince him not to do something, the more likely he is to do it.

I’m not that shocked honestly, and now the Dreamers have about six months to prepare before they are officially declared Illegals and can be deported again. Also fired probably from whatever jobs they have so, yeah that’s not fun.

Apparently Google’s going to go to court for their Dreamers, a lot of companies have outright condemned this so maybe they’ll follow suit. I don’t know what to say about this, I just don’t see the point of it. Is spite really all that drives this guy? Well spite and self-aggrandizement.

Two Economic showdowns

In both America and France, two economic showdowns are about to happen. Admittedly they are fairly different, one a tax cut, debt raising, aid receiving debacle, and the other an attempt at reforms for a struggling economy, but still. Showdowns! (heh)

Anyway, the Americans (mainly the GOP) are trying to pass a raise to the debt ceiling, Conservatives naturally gunning for as many cuts as they can get, but the leadership knowing that they will need Democrat votes to pass it in the Senate after September 30, making a clean hike an option. Additionally they need to get Texas aid after Harvey (Mnunchin tried to link that to the Debt Ceiling, though it didn’t seem to go down well). Oh and they still need to pass a budget, defense spending, and a short term spending bill while they work on the former two. So, messy day over there.

France, meanwhile, is trying to reform its economic and business strategies fairly fundamentally. Naturally this is going to piss off every union and Melanchon, so expect protests. Anyway the five major shifts are

  • a shift from sector discussions for employment to in house discussions, which is arguably better for the employee and definitely better for employers,
  • a change in the power of judges to prevent layoffs
  • a set scale for wrongful dismissal (which will piss of unions but the Government is offering to increase minimal damages in case of dismissal)
  • a big cut to regs for companies with over 50 employees
  • and changes to the Short term contracts common in France and the introduction of a new, middle term contract which concludes once a project is complete and with some protections for employees (employers have to try and find them a new role before dismissing them).

So very different from each other, but also big deals for them both. While its likely that Macrons bill will pass and could indeed have a positive impact on the economy in the long term, it needs to be fairly useful in the current time frame for people to accept it. Also negotiations with the Unions. Fun. And Americans of course have their own problems, which I will most likely poke my head into as they develop.

Never though I’d enjoy economic policy as much but, hey it’s interesting.