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Shutdown looms, ‘Relief for the Rich’ delayed, save Laura’s life

Wednesday, June 28, 2017




► In today’s News Tribune — State government might shut down this weekend as lawmakers still can’t agree on budget — Lawmakers have until midnight on June 30 to pass a budget before state services shut down and more than 30,000 state workers get laid off temporarily. House Democrats and Senate Republicans have clashed on how to pay for the budget.

MORE coverage in the (Everett) Herald and KUOW.

► From WFSE — File for unemployment benefits now — In the event of a shutdown, state employees can file for unemployment benefits if no state budget is passed by June 30 and they are temporarily laid off as a result.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Washington lawmakers, this is no way to run a state (editorial) — Lawmakers have had years to work this out. It is an embarrassment that just days until a possible government shutdown, the public has no real idea what is happening behind closed doors.




► In today’s Wenatchee World — Red flag warning brings critical firefighting weather — Firefighters battling the Spartan and Sutherland Canyon fires today will face critical weather conditions, with a combination of wind, hot weather and low relative humidity, prompting a red flag warning for the Columbia Basin and Central and North Central Washington.

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Firefighters worry 500-acre Wenas blaze just the beginning — The cause of the Wenas fire was not immediately known. But with the warm weather forecast for the weekend, the sale of fireworks and a landscape of thick and dry vegetation, Yakima Valley firefighters say they’re concerned about more wildfires to come.

► From PubliCola — UFCW 21 — former McGinn backer — picks Jessyn Farrell for Mayor — The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 21 has endorsed Jessyn Farrell for mayor, citing her work on last year’s statewide minimum wage campaign and legislation to provide on-the-job protections for pregnant people.

► In today’s Washington Post — Seattle’s higher minimum wage is actually working just fine (by Ben Spielberg) — Here’s what’s wrong with a University of Washington study that found it hurt low-wage workers.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Real liberals wouldn’t be so defensive about UW minimum-wage research (by Danny Westneat) — Maybe this (UW minimum wage) study is wrong, and more research obviously is needed. But what’s puzzling about City Hall attacking it is that even this bad-news finding suggests only tweaking might be in order.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle’s minimum wage: The plot thickens (by Jon Talton) — Even if the Seattle wage “works” for many low-wage employees, and is profitable politics here, it is no substitute for progressive taxation, strong unions, public investments to create jobs, abundant quality education and job training. No substitute for a national consensus that frowns on imperial executive compensation, stripping companies for parts, and treating workers like commodities to be shed.




► In today’s NY Times — Vote delayed amid GOP disarray on health care bill — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell postponed the vote as he works to corral support, dealing another setback to Republicans and setting up a long summer of health care battles.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Health care bills imperil regional economy (editorial) — Bottom line: The Senate bill isn’t much better (than the House’s), causing 22 million Americans to lose coverage over the next decade. The loss of coverage would also mean the loss of jobs in health-related fields. About 20 percent of jobs in the region are connected to health care.

► In today’s Washington Post — The GOP health-care plan threatens to kill jobs nationwide — It would reduce the country’s Medicaid spending by $772 billion over the next decade. That could shut down nursing homes across the country, health-care leaders argue, and trigger widespread layoffs in one of the nation’s fastest-growing fields of employment.

► In today’s Seattle Times — GOP health bill: Big tax cuts for rich, not much for others — Millionaires would get tax cuts averaging $52,000 a year from the Senate Republicans’ health bill while middle-income families would get about $260, according to a new analysis. The analysis was done by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. It found that half of the tax cuts would go to families making more than $500,000 a year.

► From The Hill — Warren Buffett calls ObamaCare repeal bill ‘Relief for the Rich Act’ — Buffett, one of the wealthiest men in the country, said his tax bill would have been reduced by $679,999 or 17 percent from the House bill.

► In today’s NY Times — The health care hoax has been exposed, Senator McConnell (editorial) — Sen. Mitch McConnell hoped that keeping his wretched bill secret until the last minute would make it easier for him to railroad fellow Republicans. The facts the majority leader had hoped to suppress came back to bite him on Monday when the CBO released a detailed review of the bill that confirmed what governors, doctors and indeed the American public had been saying for days: The bill is a cruel hoax that would help the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the poorest.

► From TPM — Poll: Just 17% of Americans approve of GOP health care tax cut plan — Since the bill was released last week, just 17 percent of Americans are enthused about the Senate Republican’s Obamacare repeal bill, 55 percent disapprove, and about a quarter of those surveyed said they didn’t know enough about it to form an opinion.

► In today’s NY Times — How health costs would soar for older Americans under the Senate plan — A 64-year-old at nearly every income level would have to pay a much larger share of income to buy insurance that covers a smaller share of her medical bills. Plus, the CBO report predicted that about half of states would eliminate rules requiring insurance plans to cover a minimum, standard set of benefits, such as mental health treatment and prescription drugs. That means people would be required to pay for substantial parts of their care out of their own pockets.

► In today’s Washington Post — ‘Repeal and replace’ was once a unifier for the GOP. Now it’s an albatross. — After seven years, Republicans’ promise to overhaul the health-care law is a sprawling objective still in search of a solution. It also has cost the Trump administration precious months of its first year, with tax reform and other priorities left unresolved.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Moral: Governing is harder than sloganeering.

► From TPM — A delay won’t solve the Senate GOP’s deep divide on health care — Republicans acknowledged that deep ideological divides remain, and that any changes to the bill made to win the votes of hardline conservatives like Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) would invariably lose those from Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

► From HuffPost — Elizabeth Warren calls for Democrats to embrace single-payer healthcare system — President Obama “tried to move us forward with health care coverage by using a conservative model that came from one of the conservative think tanks that had been advanced by a Republican governor in Massachusetts,” Warren said, referring to Mitt Romney. “Now it’s time for the next step. And the next step is single payer.” Her comments represent a shift to her position on the U.S. health care system.




► In today’s Washington Post — Rep. Chaffetz: Members of Congress should get stipends to afford homes in D.C. — The Utah Republican made the comment that lawmakers have trouble stretching their $174,000 salaries to cover housing weeks after stating that poor people should give up iPhones to pay for health insurance.

► In today’s Washington Post — Gorsuch asserts himself early as force on Supreme Court’s right — In his short 2½ months on the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch has proved himself to be a self-assured jurist unafraid of the big stage.

► In today’s Washington Post — Manafort files as foreign agent for Ukraine, discloses $17.1 million in payments over two years — The report makes Paul Manafort the second former senior Trump adviser to retroactively acknowledge the need to disclose work for foreign interests.

EDITOR’S NOTE — “Oh. Didn’t I mention that?”




► From the U.S. News & World Report — Save Obamacare, save my life. — My name is Laura Packard, and a few months ago I was a healthy person with a nagging cough. I finally went back to urgent care to get more pneumonia medication, a couple of days before a scheduled trip to New York and Washington D.C. And then I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. I am self-employed (have been off and on for a decade now), and I have Obamacare as my health insurance. I’m single, so there is no fallback plan. There’s no employer plan. Just me and my Obamacare exchange basic plan. The kind of cancer I have, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, can be cured – even in stage 4, which is the worst of the worst. My oncologist says there’s a 90 percent cure rate. Obamacare is going to help save me – if I can keep my health insurance.

The various versions of health care reform being discussed in Washington D.C. terrify me and my new cancer friends. Getting rid of lifetime and/or annual limits? That means many of us will die when we hit those caps and can no longer afford treatment. Getting rid of pre-existing condition protections? Many of us will die, because we won’t be insurable anymore. Allowing insurers to remove essential health benefits (such as chemotherapy, or hospitalization, or many of the drugs we need to stay alive) means many of us will die, because our insurance won’t cover our treatment anymore.

This is not an academic question for me, because I am undergoing chemotherapy right now. I may need radiation after, or if this fails, immunotherapy. Will I be able to get affordable insurance next year, or will I die?


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