What a Shutdown Means

Senator Chuck Schumer announced the intention of the Democrats to oppose any ‘poison pill amendments’ which would fund a border wall on any budget bill proposed by the Republicans, including the threat of a government shutdown. I’m sure McConnell and Cruz will appreciate the irony. This now only shows how serious the Democrats are to opposing any diversion of funds towards such a process, but also the consequences of this precedent the Republicans set not two years ago: shutting down the government whenever a budget bill doesn’t go your way.

But what does shutting it down actually mean? Bluntly it means all government services are temporarily stalled and prevented from not only being operated but also being paid.

That means teachers, roadworkers, any organization controlled and led by the federal government like the IRS, the FDA and so on, and off course a shutdown on any legislative process. This is coupled with absolutely no pay for any civil servant, bureaucrat or otherwise. It’s a dramatic threat with serious consequences which is something a lot of ideologues on both sides tend to forget.

There’s a reason there were so many protests, and why Cruz was vilified by both sides for a time.

So a warning to Chuck Schumer: make your threats but be wary of acting on them: actions have consequences, and livelihoods and lives may well hang in the balance.

 

Citation:
Politico: Schumer to GOP

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CPO report out

Well, the CPO came out with their scorecard for Trumps healthcare plan. It’s about as bad as you would expect for actual people, though the deficit gets better so republicans will tout that.

Broadly the plan details how 14 Million people would lose their health care by 2018, with that number rising to 24 million people by 2026, with 7 million more losing their employers health insurance over a decade. Medicaid will bear the cost of the bill, with and $880 billion-dollar cut starting around 2019 when the Obama Medicaid expansion is pulled back. The heaviest taxpayer cost would go to those earning less than $26,500, many which are older Americans would foot the bill at $14,600 per year whereas those in the top 1% would be looking at a $75,000 tax cut. Compare that to Obamacare, where those only earning $26,500 would only have to pay $1600. The Deficit will go down by about $337 billion over a decade so there’s that. Finally, for whatever reason it seems that the individual insurance marketplace isn’t in a death spiral, and won’t be even if this bill passes. Huh.

This is all an estimate mind, and when the CPO came out with their estimate for the Affordable Care Act, they estimated that 28 million would lose their health care, rather than the 24 million who gained theirs, so there’s no guarantee this is correct, though it should also be pointed out that the CPO does have a good reputation for a reason. They’re not just non-partisan (by requirement) they do make a sincere effort to be correct and predictive whenever possible regarding these bills.

Regardless, congress is most likely gonna vote by party lines regardless so I don’t know how much this matters.

Citation:
Politico: 5 Takeaways from the CBO’s Report 

Why it matters that the Activists and the Establishment can’t get along

Within the Democratic Party two factions seemed to have formed in the aftermath of the democratic primaries: The Establishment side, which sided with Hillary Clinton and won the primaries, though not without contention, and the new progressive Activist side, henceforth referred to by the latter (mostly because the term progressive annoys me. What does it even mean?) which sided with Bernie Sanders and remains firmly entrenched with the new, firmly liberal and activated base. Now with Trump in the White House and most of the US controlled by the Republican party, the two sides need to come together and take back some (but not all) of the country, not only because Trump could very well be a disaster of a President, but also to ensure the survival of a liberal democracy.

So, what’s the holdup? Neither side trusts the other.

The Establishment is concerned with the ‘purity’ of the activist side, and concerned that with the rise of the Resistance that they might end up doing to the Left what the tea Party did to the right, force radicals into the picture who are just as motivated to harm their own side as the opposition in the name of an ideological agenda. As such there is a distinct level of concern and mistrust coming from the Establishment towards the activists, even as they realise they need them to not only to stay relevant but to move forward on plans that they do agree with.

Conversely the Activists are still convinced that the Establishment has no respect for them, discounts their grievances especially in regards to their candidates failed primary (they remain convinced there was sabotage regarding their candidate, that the DNC deliberately chose to oppose Sanders throughout the primary. They aren’t wrong, but nor is that the whole story) and the firm belief that if the establishment doesn’t realign itself with the base, and move forward to progressive policies and standards, they will remain a losing party clinging to outdated policies and tactics, the Third Way and the like.

The reality is that both sides need each other, that the Establishment needs its reenergized base to retake parts of the country and push forward legislation to combat Trump and protect their constituents is undeniable, and for that they need the Activists. On the other hand, the Activists need to realise that for all that the DNC and the party had their role to play in their candidate losing the primary, they still need their access, their workers and aides, and their money and connections to win the elections coming up.

This is reality, and this is politics, the compromise necessary for the Democrats to win statewide elections will be unpleasant for both sides. It’s also a basic fact of politics, that to succeed you must swallow your pride and work with the other side. If both sides can’t get their act together it won’t matter how many Resistance members are opposing the Republicans, or how active each side is in fighting in the election, the sides simply do not have the manpower or the money necessary to win on their own.

They have to work together.

My concerns about illegal immigration and its myths

At The Atlantic David Frum and Conor Friedersdorf held a debate regarding the validity of the current immigration system, a holdover for now) of the Obama Administration, and a new more conservative approach focusing on highly skilled migrants and spousal relations over the current system, and massive restrictions on any further illegal immigration from the southern border. Conor supported the former, David the Latter.

David Frum won. And that was not because his argument, eloquently put as it was, was indeed better. Conor is a poor debater but what points he did make tarnished the validity of Frum’s chief arguments, that illegal immigration encouraged crime, economic damage, cultural deterioration and illegal behavior. As Conor rightly pointed out these same fears occurred within the US during the 1980’s, and precipitated several beliefs on the conservative spectrum that illegal immigrants were dangerous threats to society and the culture of the United States. At the time the belief was that LA would turn into some sort of hellhole, crime would spike (as it was t the time) and America may well fall.

It’s very dramatic. It also didn’t happen.

Los Angeles is currently booming, and while there was a shortfall in terms of wealth within California (around 26 billion) it remains one of the largest economies in the world, even on its own merits and not as part of the United States. There has in fact been a sharp decrease in crime over the last 25 years, the culture of the United States has changed, but primarily by focusing on its current citizens, its blacks and Asians and Latinos, and not through some sudden Mexicanization or any such belief. Beyond artists like Jennifer Lopez and Ariana Grade and the like, very few Hispanics have much of any impact on America or its culture.

And yet these concerns, unfounded and historically inaccurate, remain. Conservatives worry about change; they have a preference for patience and a measured approach to any such development while also stubbornly refuting anything they consider moving too far forward or fast without proper consideration. They resist shifts in culture, the detriment to all of this being sometimes they resist it in the face of facts or realities they do not wish to admit. This occurs in other areas, but in this case the focus on Illegal Immigration as some great evil ignores the realities of it (that very few illegals commit any further crimes, and the ones that do while certainly criminals are also soon found. The police aren’t that incompetent over there) in preference of their assumptions that they have no real data to back up. It’s an effective political stratagem, don’t mistake me, but this stubborn refusal to adapt is also why conservatives, real conservatives, lost their own elections.

Reality trumps fear people. Focus on what matters, focus on the healthcare issues, infrastructure, education and urban development. The guys who clean your toilet bowl, make your bed, and pick your oranges just aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things.

(Which is a point in itself: who do you think cleans/prepares your food/picks your fruit for you? It certainly isn’t Americans)

 

Citations:
The Atlantic: Debating Immigration Policy at a Populist Moment

 

Israels Safe Space

The Israeli Government has released its own travel ban on the same day that the second ‘Muslim Ban’ as some would call it, was put into effect. This one prevents access to any individual who has desired or taken part of a boycott of Israel. In a certain way, it stands as a rejection of any individual who believes that the current actions of Israel are unacceptable, by denying access and an opinion within the land they are most concerned with. How this will stretch depends on how the right-wing government frames the narrative: already they far-right party the Jewish Home Party has labeled it a way to defend Israel from ‘those who wish it harm’ or rather those who would detract from its reputation.

Because god forbid they take responsibility for the hundreds of thousands at risk from their policies.

If they take this further and label any victim of this new ban as a threat to the nation it immediately places any individual boycotting, divesting or calling for sanctions in the same mental space as legitimate threats to Israel, terrorists, Hamas and the like.  By creating this sort of environment, they limit the effects and potency of free speech within their nation and prevent themselves from hearing any opinion that they either feel cannot be trusted or simply do not wish to tolerate within their space.

In a sense, the right-wing government of Israel is trying to create its own safe-space.

 

Citation:
The Atlantic: Is Israels travel Ban comparable to Trumps?

Ryancare not going to plan

Ryan’s healthcare plan is out, and every republican under the sun is challenging it! Well, not every republican, just the Freedom Caucus, the Libertarians, the Pro-Planned Parenthood senators (there’s two) multiple representatives, and uh…huh.

Well, Ryan’s in trouble. Oh and Price and Trump too.

The main point here is that a number of opponents are challenging this ill because of the clauses the 146-page document has regarding Medicaid expansion, entitlements and allowances, and planned parenthood, with the die hard conservatives opposing due to the lack of sufficient reduction in entitlements and taxes, the Libertarians (mainly Rand Paul) due to the sheer level of federal government control and so on.

Four Senators even wrote a letter to Mitch McConnell, regarding the lack of protection for Medicaid the plan lacks. Never a good sign.

So the plan may be dead in the water, and if this doesn’t pass republicans may need to either outright just repeal Obamacare to keep their promises (which would result in the insurance single-payer market collapsing and god knows how many that would hurt, at least 20 million, and what that would do to the economy) or keep Obamacare and break their promise to their constituents.

The latter won’t happen, and the former terrifies anyone who can grasp the consequences and many, myself included, who don’t.

 

Citations:
Time: Grand Old Problems

Israel Prime Minister meets with Putin to discuss Iran.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss what the former considers the significant threat of Iranian entrenchment in Syria, an attempt to bolster and maintain influence in the region according to Netanyahu. Due to the common belief that Russia holds the balance of power in the Syrian conflict, it perhaps comes to no surprise that Israel is attempting to speak with Putin himself, rather than make the case to Syria, an ally to Iran whose leader Assad has greatly benefited during the conflict from Iranian support. What this means is contentious though a few ideas can be posited.:

 

  1. By discussing this matter with another prominent ally of Assad and Syria, it is possible they may be able to convince, or rather encourage a different opinion on the matter, regarding regional control of the area, one perhaps more in favor of Israel’s independence than Iranian supremacy.
  2. This could show a change in geopolitical interests, as rather than go to the United Nations for influence, or the United States to pressure Iran and gain some measure of influence on the situation, instead Netanyahu has gone to Putin, showing at the very least his influence in the area and conflict.
  3. Finally, this could reflect the shift in internal politics within Israel, it’s slow drift to the right over the last decade culminating in the growing of ties with more authoritative nations which may be considered more agreeable and welcoming of their own right-wing efforts than perhaps Israel’s more traditional allies i.e. the United States.

Honestly, I don’t have much of a clue on this matter (or many others for that matter). But the shifts in power are noticeable from interactions like these and what it means for western liberal thought and democracy is of concern to me. And hopefully to many others as well.

 

Citation:
Reuters: Netanyahu to meet Putin to Discuss Iran