Monday, February 27, 2017
AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
► From Politico — Exclusive: Leaked GOP Obamacare replacement shrinks subsidies, Medicaid expansion — The legislation would take down the foundation of Obamacare, including the unpopular individual mandate, subsidies based on people’s income, and all of the law’s taxes. It would significantly roll back Medicaid spending and give states money to create high risk pools for some people with pre-existing conditions. Some elements would be effective right away; others not until 2020.
The replacement would be paid for by limiting tax breaks on generous health plans people get at work — an idea that is similar to the Obamacare “Cadillac tax” that Republicans have fought to repeal.
► From the AFL-CIO — Leaked House Republican health care plan is a non-starter — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:
“The leaked Republican health plan is a non-starter because it would lower the bar on care when we should be raising it instead. It exposes the fact that Congress is intent on slashing health coverage for tens of millions of Americans and imposing a new tax directly on working people, threatening to destroy the health coverage we earn on the job.
“The truth is, the people lowering America’s healthcare under the banner of “reform” have never had to worry about care for themselves or their families. CEOs and billionaires and right-wing politicians get the best care because cost for them isn’t a factor. The rest of us don’t have that luxury. If we are to take a plan seriously, it must show exactly how it will improve and expand coverage for more working people, not put high-quality care out of reach.”
► From AFL-CIO Now — Congress’s plan to tax your health benefits — Do you get your health care coverage through work? If you do, it’s time to start paying attention to what’s going on in Washington. Especially to the new plan to tax our health benefits.
► In the NY Times — The adults a Medicaid work requirement would leave behind — Republican governors want to reverse what they consider an incentive not to work, but critics say putting employment before health care is backward.
► In today’s Columbian — Supporters rally in defense of Affordable Care Act — As Congress gears up to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a crowd met Saturday morning at Clark College to make their message clear: Health care is a human right.
► MUST-SEE from Last Week Tonight — Obamacare: ‘Tic toc, mother*%$@%s’ — John Oliver reminds all of us that Republicans still haven’t created an alternative to Obamacare at all, and what they do have looks more like a dad in a thong than a program that provides decent coverage.
► In the Bellingham Herald — Hearing for Sen. Ericksen recall goes before Whatcom judge Thursday — The recall effort was started Feb. 9 by some voters in Ericksen’s 42nd District who said the Ferndale Republican wasn’t adequately doing his job as a state senator while also working in Washington, D.C., as part of President Donald Trump’s transition team.
► From CrossCut — A future star in Olympia? — Over the course of her first months as a member of the state Senate, Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle) appears to have adjusted completely to the sense of constant motion that defines the place. Her background with labor and advocacy groups shows in her new office, where seven of the 10 framed posters on the walls memorialize labor struggles or efforts for migrant rights. Three feature Cesar Chavez quotes.
► In the Seattle Times — Town-hall avoiders include Democratic Sens. Murray and Cantwell, too — It’s not just Republican members of Congress who have been ducking town halls, despite a chorus of demand from constituents. Washington’s Democratic U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray also have avoided the open forums. Tired of waiting, a local activist group organized one for them.
► In the NY Times — Immigration agents discover new freedom to deport under Trump — The Trump administration’s far-reaching plan to arrest and deport vast numbers of undocumented immigrants has been introduced in dramatic fashion over the past month. And much of that task has fallen to thousands of ICE officers who are newly emboldened, newly empowered and already getting to work.
► In the NY Times — Trump immigration policies pose conflict for police in ‘Sanctuary Cities’ — Local law enforcement must walk a fine line to adhere to both federal law and local rules on enforcing immigration.
► In the NY Times — The immigration facts Trump doesn’t like (editorial) — Oust millions of people from the economy and just watch the G.D.P. drop.
► From Bloomberg — Republicans’ national ‘right-to-work’ measure faces hurdles — It’s still not clear whether Republican leadership will push to get the measure passed or even bring it to the floor for a vote. The national bill will need some Democratic support to avoid a filibuster in the Senate. Other hurdles include potential reluctance from some Republicans in states that use existing right-to-work laws as a tool to lure business from states without similar restrictions on union organizing.
► In today’s NY Times — Missing: Donald Trump’s trillion-dollar infrastructure plan (editorial) — If he had a proposal to rebuild the nation, it would be a slam dunk. If!
► In the NY Times — Trump is off to a slow start on trade promises — The president has not acted on campaign promises to move quickly to declare China a currency manipulator or to initiate renegotiation of the NAFTA.
► From The Hill — Working women see Acosta as labor chief upgrade, but remain vigilant (by Liz Shuler) — In the end, working women aren’t asking for the world. We want equal pay and equal opportunity. We want respect on the job and at home, and a steady schedule that allows for child care and education. We want to be protected from violence and sexual harassment. We want to be judged for our skills and dedication, not the color of our hair or the shape of our body. Finally, we want a labor secretary who will stand and fight for us.
► From Huffington Post — Perez elected DNC Chair; appoints Ellison as Deputy Chair — Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez was elected chair of the Democratic National Committee on Saturday after a contentious race that highlighted divisions within the party. Perez immediately moved to appoint the opponent he bested, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), as deputy DNC chair and accepted a hug from his rival on the conference room stage. “I’m asking you to give everything you’ve got to support Chairman Perez,” Ellison told his supporters.
► From Huffington Post — Buoyed by anti-Trump activism, Democrat wins Delaware special election — In the most expensive special election in Delaware history — a contest to decide which party controls the state Senate — Democrat Stephanie Hansen was on track to annihilate her Republican rival on the back of extraordinary turnout.
► In the NY Times — Angling for a comeback, Democratic governors sharpen focus on jobs — As Democrats battle President Trump on a multiplying array of issues, from immigration and climate change to health care and transgender rights, a group of Democratic governors is pressing the party to set one concern above all the rest: jobs.
► From Bloomberg — AFL-CIO dismissing staff amid declines in U.S. union membership — The AFL-CIO is dismissing dozens of staff members as part of a restructuring amid continuing declines in union membership and fresh political threats to labor rights. “We will have to end support for some programs that don’t go to our core priorities,” said an AFL-CIO spokesman.
► In today’s NY Times — Kansas’ trickle-down flood of red ink (editorial) — Gov. Sam Brownback’s deep tax cuts failed to increase state revenue; they led, instead, to alarming deficits.
► From The Week — Public pensions are in better shape than you think — The beleaguered condition of state and local pension plans is one of those ongoing disaster stories that crops up about once a week somewhere. The explanation usually goes something like this: Irresponsible politicians and greedy public employee unions created over-generous benefit schemes, leading to pension plans which aren’t “fully-funded” and eventual fiscal crisis. That in turn necessitates benefit cuts, contribution hikes, or perhaps even abolishment of the pension scheme. But a fascinating new paper from Tom Sgouros at UC Berkeley’s Haas Institute makes a compelling argument that the crisis in public pensions is to a large degree the result of terrible accounting practices. He argues that the typical debate around public pensions revolves around accounting rules which were designed for the private sector — and their specific mechanics both overstate some dangers faced by public pensions and understate others.
► In today’s NY Times — The uses of outrage (by Paul Krugman) — Outrage at what’s happening to America isn’t just justified, it’s essential. In fact, it may be our last chance of saving democracy. Even in narrowly partisan terms, Democrats would be well advised to keep listening to their base. Anyone who claims that being seen as obstructionist will hurt them politically must have slept through the past couple of decades. Were Democrats rewarded for cooperating with George W. Bush? Were Republicans punished for their scorched-earth opposition to President Obama? Get real.
I’m sure many readers would rather live in a nation in which more of life could be separated from politics. So would I! But civil society is under assault from political forces, so that defending it is, necessarily, political. And justified outrage must fuel that defense. When neither the president nor his allies in Congress show any sign of respecting basic American values, an aroused public that’s willing to take names is all we have.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.