Saturday, November 19, 2016

Stupid Senate tricks and WWC society ladies

Tengrain must have liked my GIFs. Hi MBRU cowpokes!

GIF by headlikeanorange.
Learned something about the possible fate of the Affordable Care Act from an NPR interview with Senator John Thune yesterday. Not from that tool Thune, but from the interviewer:
INSKEEP: We spoke with a health care analyst who thought you might do something like this - pass a repeal and then give yourselves a couple of years to come up with a replacement. And the way he phrased it was that then creates a crisis because there's a deadline, it's expiring, and you'll have a desperate situation where you'll have to agree to something. Is that what you really mean to do?
It's one of those Stupid Senate Tricks, like the infamous Budget Sequester of 2013, where Congress digs itself a deep hole with the express purpose of not falling into it. "We can't agree on how to replace the ACA but if we were forced to, we surely would." Can God create a stone so big He can't roll it? Can Congress write a law so ineluctable they can't evade it?

No, you're right, it didn't work with the sequester either. They decided it was better to fall in, in that case, or roll in, gently. It wasn't so deep anyhow, for them, though pretty deep for the poor folk who lost their food stamps and the scientists who lost their grants and the public at large who lost the benefits of that kind of thing, but the public doesn't know, or doesn't know who to blame.

They can't agree on how to replace the ACA because they don't want to replace it; they want to wander back in time to a world where it doesn't exist.

Thune didn't answer the question, obviously, or any question, but just kept babbling cheerfully—these people are still Republicans!—about how they would preserve all the things people like about Obamacare while throwing away all the means of paying for it, and raise spending on infrastructure while cutting everybody's taxes, too, which will shrink the deficit. Thirty-four years after the budget catastrophe of Reagan's tax cuts led to the largest tax increase in American peacetime history, in 1982 and 1984, they're still sliding down that Laffer curve, like playful polar bears.

I can see some (very fragile) grounds for optimism, though, assuming that they'll never come up with the ACA they're looking for; one possibility when the deadline comes will be to take a bye and renew it for a year, in spite of their law saying they can't do it, because they're Congress and they can, and CBO will tell them it'll be good for the budget, which it will, and they may by these means keep the ACA at least minimally alive or a bit better until the 2020 elections.

GIF by spirit-wq@de.

On the same program, David Greene introduced us to a Trump Democrat, Tina Allen of Uniontown, PA, evidently one of those fearful WWC voters:
ALLEN: Well, my husband is a coal miner. And if he's unemployed, where's he going to go? He's almost 60 years old. You know, where are you going to go find a job? You're not. So I'm hoping that at least the mine that is existing now will stay for a while.
GREENE: And Donald Trump said he's going to bring coal jobs back.
ALLEN: You know, I don't know. You know, I know his heart is there. It's a difficult job, I believe, to actually say, I'm going to open this mine or I'm going to do that. I can only hope that what is there now - maybe they'll hire more people. Maybe they'll get more places for our coal to go to. That's what I'm hoping for.
That's it. Maybe Mr. Trump will figure out a way to make Uniontown coal desirable. On the Democrats' watch people stopped wanting this bulky, filthy, inefficient fuel, for some reason.

But keep in mind that most of the district was tapped out by 1950. Thanks, Obama! The good stuff, the thick-seamed Pittsburgh field, has been gone from Fayette County for years; what's left is mostly too thin to mine profitably at current prices. Maybe Trump can market it under his brand! "Trump Coal is the finest, classiest coal on the market today!" With a prestige, upscale coal like that, you could mark up the price to $300 or $400 a short ton instead of the current $45.

(Up until 2012 it looked as if natural gas fracking from the Marcellus shale was going to replace coal in the local economy, but that wasn't very nice for local property owners, and the natural gas price is too low now too.)

I thought it odd that Ms. Allen was introduced as the fearful spouse of a simple and distressed aging coal miner, when during the interview she was supervising the setup of the town's Home for the Holidays event—"most of it's already done - the hard part. I just have a little bit of touch-ups to do. I have to wait for my vendors to get here." My vendors?

A little tooling around in my Google found that she's pretty upscale herself, as a matter of fact. Whatever her husband does for a living, she's the presiding spirit of the town's public life, organizing just about everything, from last year's campaign to light up the town with some new Christmas lights to the Little Princess and Prince Pageant in next summer's Fayette County Fair, for which she is your go-to person if you have a little princess or prince you'd like to enter. When she decided to give up the Country Bumpkin Shoppe in Hopwood in 2003, because she wanted to spend more time with her grandkids, she got sucked into a part-time job running the Uniontown State Theatre Arts and Crafts Gift Shop (she's "been associated with The State Theatre for years, helping out by performing duties out of 'hospitality' like selling tickets to ushering people to their seats"). In 2005 she was running (as a Democrat) for a job as county tax collector.

She's local volunteer royalty, which is how Greene got to contact her, because some local authority or journalist said "Oh, you should talk to Tina, she's always good for a quote." Distressed white working class my ass. Anyway,
GREENE: What do you need to see him do - and how quickly - for you to stay on board?
ALLEN: My main thing is with Obamacare. I think insurance should be the No. 1 priority because I know my daughter - what they're paying for insurance now is ridiculous.
GREENE: And she's on Obamacare?
ALLEN: I'm not sure if it's Obamacare. But it's still with - you know, the insurance is just outrageous. Everyone I talked to that's on Obamacare - it has almost doubled. So something needs done.
"I can't stand that Obamacare because of the terrible effect it had on my daughter, if it did, which I don't actually have a clue about, but I'm sure I know somebody it had an effect on and it's outrageous."

It's journalistic malpractice not to tell these people, as tactfully as you can, that they don't know what they're talking about.

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