Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Disdain For Ethics


Trump Tries To Revive Health Plan That Public Doesn't Want




Yesterday, Donald Trump invited all the Republican senators to have lunch with him at the White House. The purpose of the lunch was to revive the Senate health plan to "repeal and replace" Obamacare -- a plan that had dies an ignominious death just a couple of days before because it couldn't get enough Republicans to back it.

While trying to revive the plan, Trump piled huge praise on it -- saying it would lower insurance premiums, provide better care for more people, and would "save" Medicaid. Those were all lies. As the CBO scoring has already shown, the GOP's Senate version of Trumpcare would actually raise insurance premiums significantly (because it would remove the individual and employer mandates), would throw millions of people off insurance rolls, and many of those would be the poor who need Medicaid (and couldn't afford to buy private insurance).

The senators would do well to ignore Trump, and pay attention to what the public wants. About 58% say they want to keep Obamacare and fix it, while only 35% say they want it repealed and replaced. And when you just look at the latest version of Trumpcare, only 20% support it while 57% oppose it.

But that last chart may be the one that bothers GOP senators the most. It shows that 53% of voters say they would be less likely to vote for anyone who voted for Trumpcare. A vote for Trumpcare would not be well received by voters in the next election.

The charts above are from the latest Public Policy Polling survey -- done between July 14th and 17th of a random national sample of 836 registered voters, with a margin of error of 3.4 points.

Dug Their Own Graves

Political Cartoon is by Nate Beeler in The Columbus Dispatch.

3 Out Of 4 Believe Trump Will get Us Into A New War


These charts are from a new NBC News / SurveyMonkey Poll -- done between July 10th and 14th of a random national sample of 5,347 adults, with a margin of error of 2.1 points.

It shows that 76% of Americans think it is likely that Trump will get us into a major war -- 10 points more than believed that back in February. The public has watched how Trump has dealt with world leaders, and they were not encouraged by his performance.

And as the charts below show, most think that new war will probably be with North Korea. About 59% say they feel less safe from North Korea than they did a year ago -- only 10% say they feel more safe. Trump is not inspiring confidence in the public.



Let Them Eat Cake

Political Cartoon is by Kevin Siers in The Charlotte Observer.

Most Would Rather Democrats Control Next Congress


Here's a poll result that should worry Republicans. It seems that the public, by an 18 point margin, would rather have Democrats controlling the next Congress -- and among just registered voters that margin is 14 points in favor of Democrats.

Clearly, the public has been disgusted with the failure of the GOP-dominated Congress to be able to govern. That's also verified by the chart below. It shows that while favorable rating of Democrats has remained flat, the rating for Republicans has dropped sharply -- by 7 points since December.

The top chart is the ABC News / Washington Post Poll -- done between July 10th and 13th of a random national sample of 1,001 adults, with a margin of error of 3.5 points.

The bottom chart is the Bloomberg News Poll -- done between July 8th and 12th of a random national sample of 1,001 adults, with a margin of error of 3.1 points.

Death Panel (GOP-style)

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at claytoonz.com.

Trump's Job Approval Rating Average Is Below 40%


The chart above shows the latest polls on Donald Trump's job approval. The average approval of these polls is 39.8% and the average disapproval is 55.8%. That's a negative gap of 16 points. The chart below shows the job approval/disapproval over time. Note that Trump's numbers have been upside-down for several months now -- and they are not getting any better.

These charts are from RealClearPolitics.


Where's The Beef ?

Political Cartoon is by Signe Wilkinson at philly.com.

NOT Patriots


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

It's Harder Being A Liberal


Trump Tries To Distance Himself From Health Plan Failure

(This caricature of a whining Donald Trump is by DonkeyHotey.)

We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans.

I think we're probably in that position where we'll let Obamacare fail. We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. I can tell you, the Republicans are not going to own it.

Those of the words of Donald Trump as he whines to the media after the failure of Senate Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare.

He wants to blame Democrats for the GOP's failure (and his own, since he did very little to get the plan approved). But the truth is that the Democrats were never a part of this repeal plan. They were excluded by the Republicans in the writing of this bad bill, and in plans to get it passed without any hearings or public debate.

The Republicans have said they want to repeal and replace Obamacare for seven years now -- and the GOP's Congress has voted over 50 times to repeal. But that was while Obama was president, and they knew he would veto their futile efforts. It was easy to pass a plan that they knew would not go into effect.

And Trump campaigned on repealing Obamacare -- promising to replace it with a plan that covered everyone and had cheaper premiums. And he told Americans that would be done on "day one". That was also easy to do before being elected.

But things are different now. The Republicans now control both houses of Congress and the presidency. They can do whatever they want, and there's little the Democrats could do to stop them. They could have done one of two things: 1) come up with a better plan than Obamacare, or 2) fix the flaws in Obamacare. They chose to do neither. The best they could do was devise a plan that would raise premium costs and throw 22 million people off the insurance rolls. And they couldn't even agree on that.

Trump says he and the Republicans won't own whatever happens now. He's wrong about that. If Trump and the Republicans "let Obamacare fail" by refusing to adequately fund it, the public will know who to blame for that -- the Republicans and their president. And if they fund Obamacare but don't fix its flaws, the public will know who to blame for that -- the Republicans and their president.

Trump may not like it, but the party in power (especially one controlling Congress and the White House) always gets the blame for what is done (or not done). That's the way politics works in a representative democracy. Trump can deny responsibility all he wants, but as Truman told us, the buck always stops at the desk of the president.

Not A Solution

Political Cartoon is by Jeff Darcy at cleveland.com.

Trump Claim Of Increasing Coal Jobs By 50,000 Is A LIE



Shortly after announcing the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Agreement on global climate change, Donald Trump (and EPA director Pruitt) both claimed that 50,000 new jobs had been created in the coal industry thanks to their efforts. That was a ludicrous lie.

As the bottom chart shows, there are only 51,000 current jobs in the coal industry as of May 2017 (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). If Trump's claim was true, that means he created 50,000 of the total 51,000 coal jobs just since he was elected.

It is true that 50,000 jobs have been created in mining and extraction industries -- but the vast majority of those jobs are in logging and the extraction of oil and natural gas. Even if you just consider mining jobs, you must remember that coal is not the only thing mined in this country.

There have been about 1200 jobs created in the coal industry since May of 2016. Almost all of them due to the opening of a new mine (with 800 employees) approved during the Obama administration -- not the Trump administration.

While Trump has probably done serious damage to the fight against global climate change, the truth is he has done almost nothing in creating new coal industry jobs (400 jobs at the most). His claim of creating 50,000 new coal industry jobs is simply NOT true.

Also not true is his claim that President Obama hurt the coal industry. As the chart above shows (from The Atlantic), the problems in the coal industry started long before Obama became president. In 1986, there were 178,000 coal industry jobs. When Obama was sworn in that had already dropped to 86,000.

The coal industry is not going to rebound, regardless of anything Trump might do. Coal is the dirtiest of the fossil fuels (and "clean coal" is just a myth). America is going toward using clean and renewable sources of energy because that's what the people want. As these sources become cheaper all the time, the coal industry will continue to decline.

Making Coal Great Again ?

Political Cartoon is by Marian Kamensky at cagle.com.

Monmouth Poll Has Trump Job Approval At 39%


These charts are from a new Monmouth University Poll -- done between July 13th and 16th of a random national sample of 800 adults, with a 3.5 point margin of error. It shows Trump job approval is 39%, while disapproval is 52% -- a negative difference of 13 points.

The charts below show that the public disapproves of the meeting Kushner, Trump Jr., and Manafort had with Russian officials. But that has not really affected Trump's job approval. It is about the same as it was before the meeting with Russians became big news.

It seem that Trump's loyal supporters don't care that he (or at least his family and campaign aides) colluded with the Russians to subvert the American electoral process.


Game Of Thrones (GOP Style)

Political Cartoon is by Nate Beeler in The Columbus Dispatch.

Trump: Lowest Net Approval Of Any President Since 1945


The chart above was made with information from fivethirtyeight.com. It shows that Donald Trump is the most unpopular president since 1945. The figures shown are the net approval ratings (approval minus disapproval) of each president after being in office for 175 days.

Note that only two presidents have a net approval rating in negative numbers -- Gerald Ford (after giving Nixon a pardon) and Donald Trump. And Trump's rating is 10 points worse than Ford's. We have never, since World War II, had a president as unpopular as Donald Trump.

(New) Presidential Seal

Political Cartoon is by R.J. Matson in Roll Call.

Republicans Believe . . .


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

From Woody


Obamacare Is Twice As Popular As Trumpcare



Senate Majority Leader McConnell is keeping Trumpcare alive by the skin of his teeth. He has delayed any vote to bring Trumpcare up to the Senate for a vote, because McCain is recovering from an operation (and without McCain, 49 votes is the best he could do). Two Senators have already said they would vote NO -- Paul (Kentucky) and Collins (Maine). McConnell cannot afford to lose another vote.

But if the senators follow the wishes of the American public, they will kill this odious bill known as Trumpcare (that still will take insurance away from millions of Americans while giving the rich a nice tax break). Currently 50% would prefer to keep Obamacare (and fix it), while only 24% want Trumpcare to be passed.

The sticking point with the public is Trumpcares decimation of Medicaid. About 63% say it's more important to provide healthcare for the poor (which Trumpcare doesn't do) than to give tax cuts to the rich (which Trumpcare does do).

These charts represent the numbers in a new ABC News / Washington Post Poll -- done between July 10th and 13th of a random national sample of 1,001 adults, with a 3.5 point margin of error.

UPDATE -- Senators Lee (Utah) and Moran (Kansas) have now come out against the Senate bill. Trumpcare is dead -- and McConnell will not try to bring it up for a vote. He says he will instead try to repeal Obamacare without replacing it -- and delay the implementation of the repeal for two years to give Republicans time to come up with a replacement plan. Why does he think they can do that in two years, when they've been unable to do it after seven years?

Towers

Political Cartoon is by Steve Sack in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Trump Calls It A "Witch Hunt" - The Public Disagrees






Donald Trump, and his administration lackeys, are desperately trying to minimize the investigations into whether Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election, and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in that interference. They are labeling the investigations as a "witch hunt" with no substance.

But he has not convinced the American public of that. They don't see the investigations as a witch hunt at all. They see them as investigating something important to the preservation of our democratic system.

About 60% say Russia did interfere in the election, 72% say the Russian interference helped Trump to win, 66% now don't trust Trump to effectively negotiate with the Russian leader (Putin), 67% think members of the Trump campaign intentionally colluded with the Russians to affect the election, and 63% say it was inappropriate for Kushner, Manafort, and Trump Jr. to meet with the Russians.

Those are some pretty substantial numbers, and they're not good for the Trump administration. One Republican (Trey Gowdy) says he's tired of the drip, drip, drip of facts about the Trump campaign meetings with Russia, and he asked them to get all the truth out immediately about those meetings. But Trump can't do that. The truth is that his campaign (likely with his knowledge and permission) did collude with the Russians -- and that collusion was both unethical and illegal. It would result in his impeachment.

The charts above are from a new ABC News / Washington Post Poll -- done between July 10th and 13th of a random national sample of 1,001 adults, with a 3.5 point margin of error.

Worse Than Tony Soprano

Political Cartoon is by David Fitzsimmons in the Arizona Daily Star.

Trump Adm. Killing 450% More Civilians Than Obama Adm.

(The image above is from Waking Times.)


During the Obama administration, an average of 80 innocent civilians were killed each month by U.S. bombing. That's a terrible average, but compared to the Trump administration it seems small. The Trump administration is killing an average of 360 innocent civilians each month -- about 4.5 times the number killed during the term of President Obama.

Trump promised to bomb the s**t out of ISIS and he seems to be keeping that promises (one of the few promises he has kept), but that bombing is indiscriminate (and kills many more innocent civilians). He doesn't seem to realize that the bombing of civilians creates more terrorists than it kills.

ISIS is going to lose the territory it currently holds in Iraq and Syria. It was losing that territory under Obama, and Trump has continued that. But don't be fooled into thinking that will be the end of terrorist acts committed by ISIS, al-Queda, and others. Terrorists have never needed to hold territory to commit their atrocious acts. That will continue -- and the increased bombing of civilians just insures there will be more terrorists to carry out those acts.

Trapped

Political Cartoon is by Adam Zyglis in The Buffalo News.

Science Has The Lowest Of Priorities In Trump Administration

It became clear soon after his election that Donald Trump doesn't have much respect for science. Scientific facts don't go with his pro-corporate agenda. And it's not just environmental science or global climate change science. The Trump administration is largely ignoring science in general -- and that is not good for the future of this country.

Here is part of an article on this subject by Sara Reardon at nature.com:

US President Donald Trump has pledged to shrink the federal government, and he seems to be starting with science. Nearly six months after taking office, Trump has not chosen a science adviser, and the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has dwindled from around 130 staff members under former president Barack Obama to 35.
The vacancies have diminished the White House’s ability to coordinate science policy and spending between agencies, and have left government-wide programmes on topics such as cybersecurity, regulation of genetically modified organisms and science education without clear direction. And the problem is expected to worsen, with the continuing exodus of the OSTP’s non-political (or ‘career’) staff; four senior people left on 30 June alone. Many are frustrated that the White House is not calling on scientific expertise when making decisions. 
OSTP insiders fear that it may be difficult for the next science adviser — who normally directs the office — to restore it to its role of scientific coordinator. “Anyone who is nominated, if they are confirmed, is going to have to play catch-up,” says a former OSTP staff member, who is still a government employee and not authorized to speak to the press. “And I don’t know if they’re ever really going to have a seat at the table.” 
Trump has waited longer than most recent presidents to choose a science adviser. Obama and Bill Clinton each named theirs the month after they were elected, whereas George W. Bush announced his pick in June 2001, about six months after taking office. A White House official says that Trump is considering three or four candidates, but declined to say when a decision might be announced.
For now, it is unclear who is running the OSTP. Long-time staff member Ted Wackler has been acting director since Obama’s science adviser, John Holdren, left in January. But a mid-level Trump appointee — deputy chief technology director Michael Kratsios — represents the office at meetings of the president’s senior staff, the anonymous White House official says. That slot is normally occupied by the president’s science adviser. 
Kratsios, former chief of staff to venture capitalist and Trump donor Peter Thiel, has helped to hire eight people to work on technology issues in three of the OSTP’s five Obama-era divisions: environment and energy, national security and the office of the chief technology officer. But two divisions — science, and technology and innovation — are now completely unstaffed, according to several former employees. “It begs the question: if science and technology is in your name and you do not have a science or technology division, what are you doing?” one former staffer says.
(NOTE - The caricature of Donald Trump above is by DonkeyHotey.)

Nothing Burger ?

Political Cartoon is by Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

How ?


Monday, July 17, 2017

For Republicans


Trumpcare Would Shift The Financial Burden To States

(This chart shows the amount the states would need to increase taxes to cover current Medicaid patients if the Senate bill is passed -- with the darker the color the more taxes would have to increase. You can go here for an interactive version of the map, where you can click on an individual state to see exactly how much taxes would have to rise in that state.)

The Senate Republicans are bragging that their version of Trumpcare will reduce the cost to the federal government of sustaining the Medicaid program. What they won't tell you is that they are just shifting the financial burden of Medicaid to the individual states. And to meet that burden, states would have to raise taxes or kick people off the Medicaid insurance program -- probably both.

The sad part of this is that there is no reason why we need to pay more taxes (on federal or state level) or make citizens go without health insurance coverage. Other developed nations cover all their citizens with health insurance, and they do it at less cost per capita than the United States. There is no reason why the United States could not cover all its citizens, and do it for less than is currently spent.

The easiest way would be to institute a single-payer insurance system (something like Medicare-For-All). How could costs be lowered in such a system? By cutting out insurance profits, lowering the costs of administering the insurance program (Medicare has much lower administrative costs than private insurance), and by negotiating medical costs with providers (doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, etc.).

And such a system would also be good for businesses. They would no longer have to provide insurance coverage for their workers (and their share of the program cost would be far less than they currently pay for employee insurance). They could use to money saved to compete more effectively, increase profits, or increase worker pay (thus increasing loyalty and longevity).

Unfortunately, the congressional Republicans (and some Democrats) are not ready to support a single-payer system. They (and the public) need to be educated.

Death Dealer

Political Cartoon is by Milt Priggee at miltpriggee.com.

Trump Ad. Is Just Following A GOP Tradition Of Corruption

(This chart is from Daily Kos.)

The Trump administration is already shaping up to be one of the most corrupt presidential administrations in modern American history. But is that really very different from some other Republican administrations? Not really. While Republicans love to bad mouth Democratic presidential administrations, and claim they are the "values" party, the truth is very different.

The chart above illustrates this. Trump is just doubling down on the tradition of corruption established in previous GOP administrations (Nixon, Reagan, Bush II). Since 1968, there have been 120 criminal indictments, 89 criminal convictions, and 34 prison sentences for people in Republican presidential administrations. For Democratic administrations, it is just 3 criminal indictments, 1 criminal conviction, and 1 prison sentence.

Trump could well turn out to be the king of presidential corruption -- but he is far from being the only Republican president to preside over a corrupt administration.

Blaming The Media

Political Cartoon is by John Cole in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

Are Free Trade Agreements Really Good For Consumers ?

One of the major arguments in favor of Free Trade Agreements is that it allows American consumers to buy cheaper goods made in other countries -- and that this allows them to enjoy a better standard of living. But that is not necessarily true.

We know that these agreements are good for giant corporations and bad for American workers, but it may also be a bad deal for Americans in general (including consumers).

Here is how Josh Bivens at the Economic Policy Institute explains it:

Often, proponents of expanding trade argue that its benefits are progressive because it lowers the prices of goods that are disproportionately consumed by low- and moderate-income households. This, however, looks at only one narrow facet of trade’s impact: lower prices for consumers stemming from cheap imports. But these lower prices for consumers are the gross benefits of expanded trade, so of course focusing solely on them would show trade helps everybody. One also has to examine the other effects of trade—those that impose gross costs as well.
For example, while expanded trade lowers prices for imports, it also raises domestic prices for exported items. At the national level, because imports are more likely than exports to be consumption goods, this does mean that trade’s net effect is to lower prices faced by consumers. But it is possible that exported items are also disproportionately consumed by low- and moderate-income households. Take an obvious example: the U.S. exports a lot of food products (grain, beef, etc.). If it did not export a lot of these food products, their prices would be cheaper in the United States. Given that lower-income households likely spend a higher share of their income on food than higher-income households, expanded trade of food exports could well have regressive effects.
Further (and much more importantly), looking only at prices misses the effect that growing trade has on wages. The same fall in import prices that benefits consumers also leads to lower wages for most workers. Essentially, as growing imports lower prices of import-competing goods produced in the United States, domestic production of these import-competing goods becomes less profitable, and so this production shrinks. As this domestic production shrinks, resources displaced from this sector have to try to find employment in more capital-intensive sectors. This leads to a reduction in demand for labor (as well as bidding up the price of capital), and this in turn triggers adverse wage effects. The more imports drive down domestic prices for domestic goods, the worse the wage effect is. This wage effect, again, harms most workers, not just those located in particularly trade-exposed regions.
It is clear that the decline in wages stemming from this process will be larger than the decline in prices. This means that falling import prices are not a net benefit from trade for the majority of American workers on the wrong end of globalization’s distributional conflict.
Finally, the estimates of wage declines caused by growing trade in this paper are real, inflation-adjusted wage changes—that is, they fully price in the effect of price declines driven by trade (or by anything else). So it is absolutely clear that these workers are losing, regardless of price declines.