Tuesday Reads: The Death Bill May be Dying.

Vern Hopkinson, 1953-2017.

Good Morning!!

I’m going to begin today’s post with the obituary of Vern Hopkinson from the Salt Lake City Tribune. It was posted on Twitter yesterday by cartoonist Pat Bagley. Bagley tweeted that it reads like a “curse.” Here’s the beginning:

My unbelievably good almost 64 year run of life has now come to an end. I awoke most every morning being thankful for my existence. Born here in the Promised Valley on the Summer Solstice in 1953 (delivered by my grandfather) and then immediately moved to Las Vegas. I escaped Vegas to get both a bachelor’s and a law degree (1978) at the “U”. Go Utes. Died near the 2017 Summer Solstice after a short illness with a rare cancer.
I’m survived by my fiance Liza Rose Loveridge and her great children, Tommy and Josie, and by my extraordinary children Aaron, Jacqueline, and Kelsey (Mike). The love and devotion of my siblings, Rodney and Melanie, also must be heralded. Life has been so enjoyable because of the quality of my family and friends. Hopefully I will be able to rejoin in the hereafter with my quasi-adopted brother, John.
Been lucky enough to have traveled all over the World. From Antarctica to near the North Pole; from Tierra del Fuego to Machu Picchu; from the Great Barrier Reef to Tahiti; from Dell (NBNBC) to Montello; from the DMZ to Istanbul.

And here’s the “curse.”

As for that political climate, please remember the words of Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Please resist the current forms of hate and totalitarianism now threatening to sweep across this Country.
As for you filthy rich people living in your mansions looking literally down your noses at the middle, working and poor classes toiling below, know that everyone, by your own choosing, knows exactly where you live. Your Faustian deal with your shameless shills, the Republican Party, to make yourselves even yet richer on the backs of the middle and working classes by cutting their healthcare, benefits, education, and your embarrassing regressive taxation system, is about to be finally understood by the voters.
The metaphoric pitchforks and torches are being located. Your fate, both here on Earth and hopefully also in the hereafter (remember the camel and eye of a needle), has been sealed. Marley’s chains, once forged, cannot be easily undone.

Read the whole thing at the above link. Vern sounds like a great guy.

Now for the death bill news.

The CBO score evaluating the GOP “Death Bill” came out yesterday, and it is ghastly. The New York Times reports: Senate Health Bill Reels as C.B.O. Predicts 22 Million More Uninsured.

The Senate bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act was edging toward collapse on Monday after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said it would increase the number of people without health insurance by 22 million by 2026.

Two Republicans, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky, said Monday that they would vote against even debating the health care bill, joining Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, who made the same pledge on Friday. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin hinted that he, too, would probably oppose taking up the bill on a procedural vote expected as early as Tuesday, meaning a collapse could be imminent.

“It’s worse to pass a bad bill than pass no bill,” Mr. Paul told reporters.

Ms. Collins wrote on Twitter on Monday evening that she wanted to work with her colleagues from both parties to fix flaws in the Affordable Care Act, but that the budget office’s report showed that the “Senate bill won’t do it.”

The report left Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, with the unenviable choices of changing senators’ stated positions, withdrawing the bill from consideration while he renegotiates, or letting it go down to defeat — a remarkable conclusion to the Republicans’ seven-year push to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

The conservative AMA came out against the bill yesterday. Huffington Post: American Medical Association Slams Senate GOP Health Care Bill.

The American Medical Association, the nation’s largest doctors’ group, opposes the Senate health care bill, the organization announced in a letter to Senate leaders Monday.

“Medicine has long operated under the precept of Primum non nocere, or ‘first, do no harm.’ The draft legislation violates that standard on many levels,” American Medical Association CEO James Madara wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)….

The physicians’ lobbying organization cites numerous problems with the Senate GOP bill, starting with its likely effect of causing many millions of currently insured Americans to lose their health coverage and be unable to afford medical treatments.

“It seems highly likely that a combination of smaller subsidies resulting from lower benchmarks and the increased likelihood of waivers of important protections such as required benefits, actuarial value standards, and out of pocket spending limits will expose low and middle income patients to higher costs and greater difficulty in affording care,” the AMA’s letter says.

The group also takes issue with the legislation’s deep cuts to federal Medicaid spending.

“The Senate proposal to artificially limit the growth of Medicaid expenditures below even the rate of medical inflation threatens to limit states’ ability to address the health care needs of their most vulnerable citizens,” the letter says.

At Vox, Ezra Klein explains that most low income people would be unable to afford any coverage under the Death Bill: The most devastating passage in the CBO’s report on the Senate health bill. Here’s the paragraph:

Under this legislation, starting in 2020, the premium for a silver plan would typically be a relatively high percentage of income for low-income people. The deductible for a plan with an actuarial value of 58 percent would be a significantly higher percentage of income — also making such a plan unattractive, but for a different reason. As a result, despite being eligible for premium tax credits, few low-income people would purchase any plan, CBO and JCT estimate.

Klein writes:

A bit of background is helpful. A “silver plan” is an insurance plan that covers 70 percent of a person’s expected health care costs. Obamacare’s subsidies were designed to make silver plans affordable and to limit out-of-pocket costs. The BCRA cuts Obamacare’s subsidies and designs its own subsidies around plans that cover 58 percent of expected health care costs. Those plans, the CBO estimates, will come with deductibles of around $6,000 — which means they would bankrupt many poor people before they ever got through the deductible.

Michael Ramirez / The Daily Signal

On page 27 of the report, CBO offers an illustrative example. Imagine, they say, a person who makes 75 percent of the poverty line and is currently on Medicaid. The deductible would be more than half their annual income. They would be paying for health insurance that they would destroy them financially if they tried to use it.

So here is what the CBO is saying: The BCRA’s subsidies are too small to make the silver plans affordable for low-income people, and the plans it is trying to make affordable — the ones that cover 58 percent of expected costs — carry such high deductibles that low-income Americans won’t buy them because they won’t be able to afford to use them.

This, then, is what the BRCA actually does: It makes health insurance unaffordable for poor people in order to finance a massive tax cut for rich people.

It doesn’t look good for a vote this week. I guess we’ll learn more as the day goes on. Meanwhile, yesterday Sean Spicer suggested that Trump would withhold Obamacare subsidies if the bill doesn’t pass.

Think Progress: White House threatens to sabotage insurance of low-income people if Trumpcare isn’t passed. Go to the internet and learn more on how to get loans fast at loanload.

Spicer detailed the administration’s position in response to a question about whether the Trump administration will cover next month’s cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments for low-income people who purchase health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges. As ThinkProgress has previously detailed, the payments “partially subsidize deductibles and co-payments for more than 7 million low-income Americans, making it possible for many of them to afford their insurance. Cutting off the payments could potentially kick millions of people off the state exchanges, pushing some private insurers to withdraw as well. Premiums could shoot up across the board.”

Spicer made clear that the administration will do what it can to continue to destabilize Obamacare exchanges by only committing to the CSR payments one month at a time.

“We committed to making them last month, and that’s as far as we will go at this time,” Spicer said. “We’re not committing to them this month.”

But Spicer then signaled that the “dynamic” will change if the Senate passes a health care bill.

Did you see the piece by Masha Gessen in yesterday’s New York Times? It’s a devastating takedown of Oliver Stone’s fawning interview with Vladimir Putin: How Putin Seduced Oliver Stone — and Trump.

Watching four hours of Oliver Stone interviewing President Vladimir Putin of Russia is not a lesson in journalism. Mr. Stone is an inept interviewer, and he does not get Mr. Putin to say anything the world hasn’t heard from him before. Watching the interviews for entertainment is a questionable proposition, too: The four-part series contains many dull exchanges and even more filler, like footage of the two men watching “Dr. Strangelove” together.

Still, “The Putin Interviews,” which were released this month by Showtime, may be worth watching for the view they provide of a particular kind of relationship.

Many Americans have been looking for an explanation for Mr. Trump’s apparent adoration of Mr. Putin. How can a powerful, wealthy American man hold affection for the tyrannical, corrupt leader of a hostile power?

Oddly, “The Putin Interviews” provide psychological and intellectual answers to that question. For Mr. Stone appears to have the same sort of breathless admiration for Mr. Putin as Mr. Trump does. In filming their interaction, he has broadcast the conditions on which this kind of admiration rests. Should you ever wish to experience affection for a dictator, you too should make sure that these conditions are in place.

Read about those conditions at the NYT.

A couple more Russia-related reads:

John Schindler at the Observer: Why Is Donald Trump Enabling Russian Espionage in America?

After months of protesting that the issue of Russian interference in last year’s election was wholly fake, conjured by liberals and journalists, the president at last conceded (or at least strongly seemed to) that Moscow had, in fact, done something nefarious in 2016. Trump subsequently opined that the real collusion with the Kremlin had been done by Obama—without adding any details—and that the current White House resident is therefore owed an apology by the media!

It’s difficult to know what to make of all this. All that can be stated for certain at present is that widely reported efforts by the president’s lawyers to get their client to stop sending inflammatory tweets (which might be used against Trump by investigators and prosecutors) have failed.

 But what is the Trump administration as a whole doing to protect our country from Russian cyberattacks?

…the Trump administration has been slow-rolling efforts to push back against Kremlin lies and propaganda. Last December, Congress passed and the president signed into law a State Department effort to finally start debunking propaganda emanating from Russia of the noxious kind which played an insidious role in our 2016 election. Contrary to the law, nothing of consequence has been done over the past half-year, and the State Department still has no functioning effort to counter Kremlin lies.

That said, Foggy Bottom’s decisions regarding the Russians now appear worse than merely ignoring the will of Congress. According to a new report from Politico, State is derelict in its duty to monitor the activities of Russian diplomats in our country. Keep in mind that not less than one-third of those diplomats are actually spies, and they are supposed to report to the State Department when they plan to travel more than 25 miles from their duty station, customarily with 48 hours’ notice.

That gives the FBI and other American counterspies time to prepare to monitor illegal Russian espionage activities in our country. Yet, to the frustration of our Intelligence Community, State is failing to force compliance from Russian “diplomats,” despite the fact that Congress in May ordered the department to get serious about its counterintelligence responsibilities here.

Read the whole thing at the link. Schindler is also critical of Obama’s responses to Russian spying.

Jay Seculow

Finally, a story from The Guardian on Trump’s new lawyer Jay Seculow: Trump lawyer’s firm steered millions in donations to family members, files show.

More than 15,000 Americans were losing their jobs each day in June 2009, as the US struggled to climb out of a painful recession following its worst financial crisis in decades.

But Jay Sekulow, who is now an attorney to Donald Trump, had a private jet to finance. His law firm was expecting a $3m payday. And six-figure contracts for members of his family needed to be taken care of.

Documents obtained by the Guardian show Sekulow that month approved plans to push poor and jobless people to donate money to his Christian nonprofit, which since 2000 has steered more than $60m to Sekulow, his family and their businesses.

Telemarketers for the nonprofit, Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism (Case), were instructed in contracts signed by Sekulow to urge people who pleaded poverty or said they were out of work to dig deep for a “sacrificial gift”.

“I can certainly understand how that would make it difficult for you to share a gift like that right now,” they told retirees who said they were on fixed incomes and had “no extra money” – before asking if they could spare “even $20 within the next three weeks”.

In addition to using tens of millions of dollars in donations to pay Sekulow, his wife, his sons, his brother, his sister-in-law, his niece and nephew, and their firms, Case has also been used to provide a series of unusual loans like the long term personal loans and property deals to the Sekulow family.

Read the rest at the link.

What else is happening? What stories are you following today?

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15 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: The Death Bill May be Dying.”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    TPM on the Death Bill:

    5 Points On The Brutal CBO Score Senate Republicans Must Overcome

    The CBO score released Monday on the Senate health care bill rained down what must have been the worst nightmare—or close to it—for the GOP senators squeamish about the bill: blockbuster coverage losses just about as bad as the House version’s, Medicaid provisions that kick off even more people from the program than the House bill and average premium reductions that come at the cost of making insurance inaccessible for many low income people.

    Already, it appears Senate Republicans don’t have enough votes to advance the legislation, and it will be a scramble to get that number up to 50 for Senate Republicans to pass the bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, this week, as planned.

    Lawmakers will only have a day, maybe two, to analyze the report before GOP leaders are expected to move forward with a procedural vote to advance the legislation Tuesday or Wednesday, with the goal of a final vote by the end of the week. Before the score was released, a handful of conservatives and two moderate Republicans had signaled opposition to the draft legislation, though the conservatives said they were mostly open to negotiations. About a half dozen more moderate Republicans, and particularly those from Medicaid expansion states, are in the hot seat to make up their mind about supporting the bill, and the CBO score only turns up the temperature.

    Read the 5 points at TPM.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Another awful SCOTUS decision.

    The Texas Tribune: Texas death row inmate loses at U.S. Supreme Court, could face execution date

    SCOTUS said that death row inmates do not have a right to competent counsel after conviction.

    The question before the high court in Erick Davila’s case was whether claims of ineffective assistance of counsel during state appeals should be treated the same as during the original trial. Appellate courts throughout the country have ruled differently on the issue, a situation that often prompts the Supreme Court to step in. In the Monday opinion presented by Justice Clarence Thomas, the justices ultimately decided that the different types of lawyers should not be treated the same, making Davila’s case ineligible for consideration in federal court.

    “Because a prisoner does not have a constitutional right to counsel in state postconviction proceedings, ineffective assistance in those proceedings does not qualify as cause to excuse a procedural default,” Thomas wrote in his opinion, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch.

  3. bostonboomer says:

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  4. bostonboomer says:

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    • joanelle says:

      Hmmm, as a child in Civic class, I learned that aiding and abetting another country to have a negative impact on our country is treason, Me. Trump

    • jane says:

      I think the republicans are playing to the people who don’t want health care because they are healthy and don’t want to buy it until they are sick (so many people do not understand insurance and how it works) They they will buy it at the exorbitant price the insurance companies will charge them and they will die soon and keep all the republican business people happy.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    The Senate vote has been postponed!

  6. Fannie says:

    Oh hell, Trump’s going to have to celebrate in the Rose Garden all by himself!

  7. NW Luna says:

  8. NW Luna says:

    If you’re feeling exhausted, you’ve got plenty of company. I empathized with so many of the replies to this tweet, especially this reply: