In all of the debate around the repeal of the Affordable Care Act…terms sometimes get lost in the discussion. The GOP likes to talk about improving health care or increasing access to health care. Well their bill does nothing of the sort. Health care as we know it has existed for decades. We have doctors, doctor offices, clinics, emergency rooms and hospitals. That really hasn’t changed in my life time. The ACA didn’t change that and the American Health Care Act won’t change that.

Health Insurance is how we pay for health care (for those of us who are fortunate enough to have it). And that has changed significantly…particularly in price as health care has gotten more expensive. Don’t let the GOP confuse the two.

side note: something that may impact health care in the country in the very near term. Restrictions on H1-B visas and the cost of medical school.

Prior to passage of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies imposed a lifetime cap on how much coverage any individual was entitled to. There is no longer a life time cap…my guess that goes away under the American Health Care Act.

Some of the fallout from the GOP’s American Health Care Act is starting to become apparent when the numbers start getting crunched. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an interesting article on Sunday March 19th and some of the effects of the bill on Wisconsin. Let’s start with this lead in:

No congressional district in Wisconsin delivered a bigger victory margin for Donald Trump last fall (20 points) than the rural northern one represented by Republican Sean Duffy.

But by one key measure, no district in Wisconsin would lose more health care aid under the GOP plan to replace Obamacare.

Wisconsin is part of a national pattern in which the Obamacare enrollees who appear to be hit the hardest by the Republican plan fit the demographic and geographic profile of Trump’s political base.

Here are some of the crunched numbers…and they hurt:

These enrollees are in their 50s and early 60s. Trump won that group by 15 points in Wisconsin, according to exit polling.

And they disproportionately live in rural areas that voted for Trump and are represented by Republicans in Congress.

Take the case of a fairly typical Obamacare enrollee — a 60-year-old with an income of $30,000.

Nationwide, this man or woman would lose an average of $4,150 per year in health care tax credits and subsidies under the GOP plan, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But those cuts would vary dramatically from county to county.

In Wisconsin, the cuts would be much smaller in the southwest and south central parts of the state. In Sauk County, for example, a 60-year-old with an income of $30,000 would lose $1,300 in tax credits and subsidies for his or her health care plan compared to current law.

But in some northern and western counties, that assistance would decrease by more than $7,000.

Man oh man…if I was making $30,000, I couldn’t afford to lose $4,150 in health insurance subsidies much less $7,000. In either case I would probably have to do without…just sayin’

Hmmmm…so the very people that candidate Trump promised to help and protect are the ones who will suffer the biggest losses under the AHCA. If President Trump weren’t totally behind the bill and like his predecessor was threatening to veto it if it hit his desk…there would be some hope that he meant his campaign promise to deliver a better health insurance plan than the Affordable Care Act. But that ain’t gonna happen.

But then it goes rather down hill from there…when Representative Sean Duffy enters the picture.

Duffy’s district has the highest number of Obamacare enrollees in the state (more than 35,000 last year)….

But Duffy said he did not favor the approach under Obamacare of offering bigger tax credits to people in higher-cost counties (though that has meant more generous subsidies in his rural district). And that view appears to be the prevailing one among House Republicans.

Duffy said that is the kind of government “micromanaging … we’re trying to get away from.”

More broadly, Duffy argued that Obamacare was unpopular in his district and was making health care more costly. He argued the GOP plan would create more competition, lower costs and, as a result, “my communities will get helped far more than what they have under Obamacare.”

There’s an awful lot of supposition there…and he’s playing with the health and well being…and the lives of his constituents to stick with his party and his ‘ideology’. It would be interesting if someone actually goes back to his constituents now that the GOP plan is on the table and see if they still think Obamacare is unpopular…and if they think anyone is micromanaging their access to healthcare. To me, the blatant disregard of the risk to people’s health is nearly criminal on the part of the GOP and Rep. Duffy in particular…given the facts on the ground in his district.

And we haven’t even started the head count on how many people might lose Medicaid coverage (note: Governor Walker did not accept the enhanced Medicaid program offered by the ACA…but Wisconsin’s Badgercare is different than the general Medicaid program in other states that also turned down expanded coverage).

In the continuing all day everyday coverage of President Donald Trump’s preposterous claim that the Obama White House was involved in surveillance of the Trump Tower during the 2016 Presidential Campaign…as the events unfold…it seems the identifier of ‘fake news’ is actually the world’s biggest victim of said ‘fake news’.

The initial wire tape ‘evidence’ itself came from Breitbart News and right wing radio host Mark Levin. Evidence that was debunked during FBI director James Comey’s testimony in Congress today.

An incendiary idea first put forward by right-wing radio host Mark Levin is now burning across Washington, fanned by President Trump’s tweets…even though the facts don’t back up the conclusion.

Breitbart News has given the conspiracy theory a name: “DeepStateGate.”

The next day, Rush Limbaugh echoed Levin’s “silent coup” language, and Breitbart columnist Joel Pollak published an “expanded version of that case.”

That’s how the idea reached Trump’s radar. The Breitbart article “circulated” in the West Wing, a White House official told CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, and the information “infuriated” Trump.

And in the never say die never back down mentality now pervasive in the White House, Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggests that former President Barack Obama engaged British Intelligence to perform surveillance on Trump Tower.

The story took a significant further twist on Thursday when Spicer, speaking from the podium carrying the seal of the president of the United States, repeated an account from a Fox News commentator alleging that, instead of using one of the US agencies, Obama had asked GCHQ in Cheltenham to tap Trump’s phones on his behalf.

Anyone with any knowledge of the intelligence world knew the suggestion was absurd. First, the president of the United States does not have the power to order the tapping of anyone’s phone. Second, the idea of the British foreign secretary signing a warrant authorising such an intrusion into domestic US politics was unthinkable. GCHQ broke its traditional silence and moved quickly to dismiss the allegation as “utterly ridiculous”. No10 followed suit soon afterwards.

The President of the United States has a phone from which he can call anyone in the entire world…and a staff who can find that person’s phone number. And he has 17 intelligence agencies and their respective directors close at hand…but instead of contacting anyone of them and getting the ‘facts’…he takes the word of news agencies and commentators (not even news people) at their face value…sources far closer to the definition of ‘fake news’ than any of the mainstream media he rails against.

Yet he defends his position and forces Mr. Spicer farther out on the limb to defend his narrative…a narrative that is indefensible and now proven to be patently false. And he has totally destroyed the faith that the rest of the free world has held in the United States…pissed off a number of our staunchest allies.

How long are the Republicans on Capitol Hill going to continue to support a White House that is totally off the rails? A White House that is grounded in anything but reality.

I’ve seen the future, and it is female.

No, I’m not clairvoyant. I’ve just recently met the Emerge Wisconsin Class of 2017!

This past Saturday night, Emerge Wisconsin had a meet and greet in Milwaukee where one could mingle with all 50 of the current program members.

I asked everyone I met the following questions: “What is your name? Where are you from? What are you running for?” Here is what I found out.

  • These women come from all over Wisconsin. It is exciting how the regional diversity of Emerge continues to grow.
  • Many of the women already know what office they plan to run for and when they plan to run.
  • There is a wide range of what level of government Emerge women will represent. There is a dire need for women on local bodies of government as well as at the state and federal level.
  • While some members of the Class of 2017 have their eyes fixed on a particular seat, there are some women who are keeping their options open.

No matter what their answers were, in talking with many of the program members, one thing was clear. The members of the Class of 2017 are ready to run for office and they know Emerge Wisconsin is making sure they are prepared to run and ready to win.

“Emerge Wisconsin is an affiliate of Emerge America, a national organization currently working in 17 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.”

(Full Disclosure: I am the former Executive Director for Emerge Wisconsin.)

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Angela Merkel is now the leader of the free world, not Donald Trump : When Barack Obama revealed that his last phone call as President was to Angela Merkel, reaffirming their alliance and friendship of the last eight years, he wasn’t just saying goodbye. He was handing over his baton. The German Chancellor isn’t just the leader of Europe, she is now the de-facto leader of the free world. The thrice-elected, soft-spoken former scientist from East Germany, armed with a doctorate in quantum chemistry, doesn’t just carry the weight of Germany and Europe on her shoulders, but that of defending freedom and liberalism across the world.

GOP health-care plan: Key House panel calls for work requirements, additional cuts in Medicaid : The Republican proposal to overhaul the Affordable Care Act cleared a key hurdle Thursday, as the House Budget Committee narrowly voted to move it to the House floor and recommended a series of changes to the plan reflecting concerns from conservatives and centrists. All of the panel’s Republicans and five Democrats supported a motion to change the system of tax credits created under the plan to ensure they are “afforded to the population that they are intended to serve,” an idea embraced across the ideological spectrum, including among centrists whose votes could be key.

Borsuk: Trump’s budget abandons two bipartisan education efforts : …two of the things that would be dropped entirely under President Donald Trump’s budget outline released last week are programs that fund efforts to improve teaching and provide low-income kids good places to go after school.

Where Will We Get Our Journalism? : It is not going to fly, but Gannett is trying to put a positive spin on its continuing contraction of its news operations in Wisconsin.“There will be enhanced news content across the sate of Wisconsin,” said Pamela Henson, regional president of Gannett Wisconsin Media, to some of its news people recently.


Hey…we are on week two of the all day every day wiretapping nonsense…the American Health Care Act is on the table…President Trump released his skinny budget…Judge Gorsuch interviews coming up…and FBI Director Comey is set to talk about Russian interference in the 2016 election…there’s gotta be something on your mind today!

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In just two days, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson changed his tune on the US response to North Korea. On Thursday he’s saying that North Korea has nothing to fear from the United States: Tillerson says NKorea ‘need not fear’ United States

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on North Korea on Thursday to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, saying the isolated nation “need not fear” the United States.

Tillerson made that declaration after meeting Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, where they discussed possible new approaches in dealing with Pyongyang.

He said 20 years of U.S. diplomatic and other efforts to get North Korea to denuclearize have failed, but gave no specifics about how the Trump administration, which is currently doing a policy review, would tackle the issue. Tillerson described the weapons programs as “dangerous and unlawful.”

And yes, the whole world is pretty much in agreement that the current North Korean direction with nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems is unlawful. It even seemed like China was getting ready to make some efforts to rein in Pyongyang and work with the world community to defuse the situation.

But then on Friday, Secretary Tillerson goes off in another direction entirely: Tillerson: Use of pre-emptive force an option with NKorea.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday it may be necessary to take pre-emptive military action against North Korea if the threat from their weapons program reaches a level “that we believe requires action.”

Tillerson outlined a tougher strategy to confront North Korea’s nuclear threat after visiting the world’s most heavily armed border near the tense buffer zone between the rivals Koreas. He also closed the door on talks with Pyongyang unless it denuclearizes and gives up its weapons of mass destruction.

Asked about the possibility of using military force, Tillerson told a news conference in the South Korean capital, “all of the options are on the table.”

It’s bi-polar foreign policy like this that can get all of us killed. And President Trump’s proposed cuts to the State Department aren’t going to help either. We can’t afford to lose anymore career State Department employees or diplomatic channels or programs. Diplomacy is far cheaper than bullets…

This is a very unusual article from a very unusual source (for Blogging Blue at least). But America’s gun industry is suffering under the Trump regime and layoffs have already been announced. Why you ask? Because he’s not coming for your guns and the hoarding of guns and ammunition has ground to a halt. Go figure.

For the previous eight years, gun rights advocates, gun owners, and the firearms industry had been fighting an all-out war with the Obama administration and its allies in Congress, the media, and the courts to fend off the constant chipping away of the Second Amendment. From magazine limits to ammunition bans to attacks on the character of gun owners, it seemed each day brought a new skirmish.

Unfortunately, Trump’s win has had the unintended consequence of throwing the firearms industry into a deep slump, forcing major companies to lay off workers, driving prices deep into the red, and forcing some gun dealers out of business. While the Obama years might have been a dark time for gun rights, the Democrat president was a boon for gun retailers and manufacturers (a fact Obama has admitted himself). Each time the needle ticked further in the direction of gun restriction, Americans flocked to their local gun store and plunked down cash for more irons.

The industry swelled because of the “panic buying,” with new manufacturers popping up, old names in the industry swelling their ranks, and more new gun owners pushing into demographics with previously tepid interest.

n the Trump era, however, that fear is gone, and with it the market’s urgency to beat the clock on the next “commonsense” gun ban. That’s helped nudge iconic gunmakers Colt and Remington to lay off hundreds of workers and shut down entire divisions of their companies, forced manufacturers to close their doors, and prompted retailers and distributors to offer deep discounts on firearms, with one offering an AR-15 rifle at prices below even the cheapest handguns.


Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Who Wins From Anti-Poverty Programs? : A recent analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) helps in understanding who benefits from government anti-poverty programs. As the CBPP reports, “poverty reduction programs play a much more critical role in the economic security of working-age adults who lack a bachelor’s degree, including working-class whites, than they play for adults with a college degree.” This is true both nationally and in Wisconsin, although there are differences between the state and national picture.

Trump adviser Flynn paid by multiple Russia-related entities, new records show : Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign as national security adviser amid controversy over his contacts with Russia’s ambassador, collected nearly $68,000 in fees and expenses from Russia-related entities in 2015, a higher amount than was previously known, according to newly released documents. The records show that the bulk of the money, more than $45,000, came from the Russian government-backed television network RT, in connection to a December 2015 trip Flynn took to Moscow.

America First A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again [the official White House version]

Federal judge in Hawaii freezes President Trump’s new entry ban : A federal judge in Hawaii on Wednesday issued a sweeping freeze of President Trump’s new executive order hours before it would have temporarily barred the issuance of new visas to citizens of six Muslim-majority countries and suspended the admission of new refugees.

In a blistering 43-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson pointed to Trump’s own comments and those of his close advisers as evidence that his order was meant to discriminate against Muslims and declared there was a “strong likelihood of success” that those suing would prove the directive violated the Constitution.

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