Schumer Offers GOP a Deal

What a deal. Democrats have offered to let Congress spend about $15 billion more on defense in exchange for keeping Obamacare’s Cost-Sharing Reductions (CSR’s) in place. Thank you Chuck Schumer. How can we not be grateful? The CSR’s were placed on the table by the White House as a bargaining chip to force Democrats to agree to a budget deal. So this has worked out well hasn’t it?


While Senator McCain - who wants more spending on everything, especially defense - would be modestly pleased with this, as would his sidekick Senator Graham, the real problem for the Trump administration is not really the Freedom Caucus. It's the Tuesday Group Republicans, the 50 or so moderates on the GOP side of the aisle who have been resisting any sort of real reform to Obamacare, and were one of the main reasons Ryan had to pull the AHCA before a vote was ever held.

That means that using the Cost-Sharing Reductions as a bargaining chip always risked losing support of moderate GOP's. Precisely Tuesday Group Republicans. But rather than give the Trump administration funds amounting to a couple of billion dollars for the southern border wall, the Democrats are appealing to the defense hawks, who are not at all fiscal hawks for the most part.

And in the process, Schumer gets to throw another wrench into the gears when it comes to repealing and replacing Obamacare. Heck, when it comes to just reforming Obamacare.

Does sequestration and reconciliation - arrived at by default a few years ago in the absence of a deficit-reduction agreement in Congress - now also act as a straightjacket for any meaningful reduction of spending by Washington? Try to cut anything in Washington and you will have pods of interest groups approach the shore, their Orca-like fins cutting through the waves, and destroy any well-meaning attempts to actually cut back spending. But you will also have fiscal watch-keepers insist that new funding sources (taxes iow) need to be found for any spending, like a border wall. So government spending is partly, sometimes, until-we-can-do-something-bout-it, stuck at a proportionately high level of GDP. And all Congress can do is add to it in a piecemeal fashion. 15 billion here for defense. Keep CSR's in place. Don't repeal Obamacare.

And nothing substantial changes. Is this inevitable? Nothing is of course. But one wonders what it will take - beyond the administration's executive orders - to really trim government. Because tax reform as well as repeal and replace depend on that.

Let's see what deals do get struck by the weekend. They will likely be piecemeal and big-government. Unless - this just in - Senator Ted Cruz's proposed legislation somehow gets passed. It's called the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order (EL CHAPO) Act, and it would take forfeited or seized assets of El Chapo Guzman (whose drug cartel has wreaked havoc on America) to pay for the border wall.

Forfeiture instead of Sequester? The idea could just work, even if Senator Cruz's act goes nowhere on The Hill. Because who knows what exactly drug money seized by the government gets spent on.

Posted by Keeley at April 26, 2017 7:23 PM
Comments
Comment #415575

1) Look, here’s what your threat was: Have America Pay for my wall, breaking my promise to make Mexico pay for it (which he will be unlikely to do), or I will crash the insurance markets and send them into a death spiral.

2) Shorter: Unless you let me shoot both of us in the foot, I’ll shoot myself and my party in the head. To mix metaphors, such a threat is Trump providing himself and his party with the rope to hang themselves.

3) I think civil asset forfeiture is on shaky ground at best, constitutionally speaking, if not on a practical basis. I’m not a lawyer, but common sense would tell you that unless El Chapo’s money is in a US Bank under American Government Jurisdiction in some form, they might just end up telling us to take a hike.

Forfeiture itself, at its heart, is questionable, because it takes assets and property from people before they are convicted of a crime. It might please some, even serve some practical value, but it runs afoul of due process in the worst possible way in my opinion. It invites an abuse of government power, something that folks on the right now seem okay with since it serves their party and cultural agenda.

All these years, I’ve listened to folks talk about how evil big government is, but if you see what Republicans actually do in state legislatures and in Washington, you can plainly see that they are hypocrites, and that their hatred of government intrusion and love of localized power only extends as far as what they want. For everybody else, they don’t see that kind of freedom and liberty they preached about as so important.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 27, 2017 7:45 AM
Comment #415576

Your problem here?

Trump, for all his flamboyant dealmaking, doesn’t hold all the cards and can never hold all the cards. He is the leader of one branch among three. He is bound by laws he’s obligated to carry out. His decisions can suffer judicial review, just the same as any other President has. The press is not all FOXNews and Breitbart, the electorate is not all people he can charm and muscle into supporting him. The rest of the world governs itself, doesn’t need or want his leadership, and can potentially do without America’s if it has to.

I don’t see how a man who doesn’t understand the system he’s governing in can make it great again. He’s less a harbinger of hope and change, and more a breaking part of despair and decay, apt to leave America isolated once again, apt to leave us in a hell of a bind economically, apt to create even further fiscal havoc through his irresponsibility. He’s a curse on those who thought they could win at any cost and not pay a great cost for it at some point.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 27, 2017 7:52 AM
Comment #415579

If the spineless Republicans continue to allow the march towards unconstitutional universal health care by not repealing the disastrous ACA, they will lose big in the coming elections.

If the spineless Republicans continue to allow weak immigration over watch and basically open borders by ignoring the tremendous need for reform, they will lose big in the coming elections.

If the spineless Republicans continue to allow a clearly biased media control the narrative better than any supposed Russian could ever hope to do, they will lose big in the coming elections.

All I can say is thank God I chose to build my house last month and went ahead and got my washer and dryer this past week.

Posted by: kctim at April 27, 2017 9:47 AM
Comment #415583

kctim,

The inability to make 2+2=5 should not be dismissed as “spinelessness”. Instead, it ought to cause the Republican base to pause and consider why making 2+2=5 is so important to them.

Posted by: Warren Porter at April 27, 2017 11:59 AM
Comment #415584

Warren,

I don’t think the Republican ‘base’ is why Trump won the election. IMO, the ones who pushed Trump over the top were moderate Republicans and democrats, and the non-political who were tired of surging health care costs, ignoring the terrorist threat, pandering to illegal aliens, the extreme PC BS, and the amped up attacks on the individual rights American’s have cherished since our founding.

We’ve been living in 2+2=5 world for a decade now, it’s time to return to 2+2=4. If the Republican reps won’t fight for that return to 4, they will start falling like flies.

Posted by: kctim at April 27, 2017 12:46 PM
Comment #415585

The Republican base demands a free market for health insurance. The moderates want lower health care costs. You can’t square that circle. Lowering healthcare costs requires either of the following:
1) Denying people necessary lifesaving care in dire circumstances
2) More government involvement in the healthcare system

While I am personally unopposed to option one, we both know that an overwhelming proportion of Americans find the thought of denying lifesaving care to desperate people in need to be abhorrent.

When it comes to government intervention in the healthcare economy, Republicans desperately want to go in for a penny without going in for a pound. That’s 2+2=5 thinking.

At this point, Republicans have put themselves into a damned if they do and damned if they don’t situation. If they repeal Obamacare, they will raise healthcare costs for so many Americans that they will no longer even be able to afford insurance, creating millions of irate voters. On the other hand, they could strengthen Obamacare by increasing the amount of money spent subsidizing premiums or switching to premiums, which would be politically popular, but would totally alienate their base. In the end, Republicans are left choosing between screwing their base and screwing moderates. I suggest screwing the base because even if they are pissed about Obamacare in the short-run, they’ll learn to accept the new normal and go back to supporting Republicans eventually. Whereas, moderates can become permanent members of the Democratic coalition if they aren’t treated well by the current Republican government.

Posted by: Warren Porter at April 27, 2017 1:11 PM
Comment #415590

While I find the idea that you can’t have a free market and lower costs to be hilarious, I will state that those moderates also don’t want government health care. Which at this point is exactly what “More government involvement in the healthcare system” will get us.

I also like your option 1, and while I agree that the majority wouldn’t be for it, I don’t believe it would an as overwhelming number as some suggest. Especially when it is explained that people wouldn’t be dying in the streets, and when people see how much money they would keep in their own wallets.

I disagree in that the Republicans have to “screw” over any of their voters. Repealing the ACA is a big part of what Reps all across the country ran on and won. It is a big part of why Trump won. If they don’t repeal it, prices with continue to skyrocket, free choice is still gone, and those voters will be p*ssed. Same if they half-a$$ it.
The Republicans ONLY choice is a ‘free market’ solution. If they fail at that, they are toast.

Posted by: kctim at April 27, 2017 2:47 PM
Comment #415601
While I find the idea that you can’t have a free market and lower costs to be hilarious

That’s not what I said. Remember option 1? In order for a free market to coexist with low health costs, some people will have to go without necessary lifesaving care, leading to their premature death. That’s a road I’m willing to explore, but apparently not most Americans.

I will state that those moderates also don’t want government health care
I know. These people want to be in for a penny and not in for a pound. It’s impossible.
Especially when it is explained that people wouldn’t be dying in the streets
Uh, option 1 IS people dying in the streets. If a pedestrian clutches his chest and falls over, he isn’t going to the hospital until after we conclusively determine that he or his insurance company have the funds to pay for treating his heart attack.

While you and I may be okay with this, most Americans are not. This “solution” is not politically feasible.

I disagree in that the Republicans have to “screw” over any of their voters.
I know you disagree. You believe 2+2 can be made to equal 5 if only Congress had enough spine to make it so. Making 2+2=5 was a big part of what Republicans ran on these past 7 years.
those voters will be pissed
Those voters will be pissed as long as we don’t have single-payer health care. They might not be terribly warm to the idea right now, but every other possible choice will piss them off even more. Republicans baked this cake and now they will have to eat it.
The Republicans ONLY choice is a ‘free market’ solution. If they fail at that, they are toast.
The voters would love Republicans if they taxed the rich and used the money to make Obamacare subsidies generous enough to wipe out the price increases. Obviously, the GOP base opposes this for reasons of ideology rather than utility so it isn’t going to happen, but it remains a choice Republicans can choose to take. The GOPs problem right now is that their ideology is boxing them in and preventing them from implementing useful solutions to the country’s problems. Posted by: Warren Porter at April 27, 2017 4:52 PM
Comment #415603

Well Folks, there it is, succinctly stated by Warren.

Take more money from the hardest working and most successful among us and give it to others.

Of course this does nothing to keep medical costs from continuing to increase. But, the Lefty Socialists don’t concern themselves with cost as long as it doesn’t come from their pocket.

Much better plans are being formulated than simply giving in to Socialism.

Posted by: Royal Flush at April 27, 2017 5:07 PM
Comment #415607
Take more money from the hardest working and most successful among us and give it to others.

Of course this does nothing to keep medical costs from continuing to increase. But, the Lefty Socialists don’t concern themselves with cost as long as it doesn’t come from their pocket.

I’m only explaining what voters want. I do not think it is the best route. If Republicans want to avoid socialized medicine, they need to persuade the American voter of “option 1” as described above. People need to learn to accept that their fellow citizens will die in the streets due to untreated disease and illness. It is the price of freedom.

Posted by: Warren Porter at April 27, 2017 5:42 PM
Comment #415609

Warren, I don’t accept your conclusions.

We can find a way to afford those unable to pay much, or any premium, with limited health care that will preclude them from dying unaided. That does not mean we will pay for the most expensive or most life prolonging care available.

Every insurance policy I own, life, health, home, and automobile has limits of coverage based upon what I am willing to pay. We, the people, must decide how much coverage we wish to provide the indigent.

To continually increase taxes on the most productive among us is not the long-term solution. Reducing health care costs is the answer. Numerous suggestions are being considered.

Posted by: Royal Flush at April 27, 2017 5:59 PM
Comment #415615
Numerous suggestions are being considered.

Uh-Oh!

Posted by: Warren Porter at April 27, 2017 7:37 PM
Comment #415616

Ruh roh.

The GOP is desperate to kill Obamacare. They need to do this in order to stop funding health care for poor sick people, and fund those tax cuts for the richest of the rich. Without some sort of Obamacare repeal, the tax cuts will blow a hole in the budget of epic proportions.

It is fun watching conservatives try to do something so unspeakably cruel and craven, and then fail.

Posted by: phx8 at April 27, 2017 8:13 PM
Comment #415626

Warren,

We can keep our freedoms without people dying in the streets. As Royal stated, there are options to prevent that. He11, just think how many people would actually be helped if the left stopped talking about how cruel others are, and used their money to actually help those they pretend to care about.

“You believe 2+2 can be made to equal 5 if only Congress had enough spine to make it so.”

No, I fail to accept the blind premise that people will be dying in the streets without single-payer health care. The idea that people can no longer handle their freedoms and will eventually warm to be being forced to do things against their will.

I know you are addressing things how they are now, but I think you underestimate the number of moderates of non-political folks who voted for Trump in hopes of holding onto those freedoms.
Are there more people who wish to be dependent on government? Or more Americans who cherish their rights? I used to believe it was no contest, like 70-30 in favor of dependency on government. Today though, I think it might be around 55-45, or closer, and that the Republicans simply cannot afford to lose those votes.

“The GOPs problem right now is that their ideology is boxing them in and preventing them from implementing useful solutions to the country’s problems.”

The country’s problems are our loss of individual rights, and the division brought about by identity politics, the intentional destruction of our culture, and the overall transformation of who we are in the name of some supposed ‘progress.’ If Republicans continue to stop fighting to maintain those things, they are done.

Posted by: kctim at April 28, 2017 8:45 AM
Comment #415634

Republicans are good at running election campaigns, raising money and getting elected. Once in office, many of them forget about the promises they made to voters and refuse to stand up and publicly vote for the very issues that got them elected.

Most of the elected conservatives I know have the integrity to vote as promised. We all know that some compromise is necessary in law making; just as it was necessary in forming our nation from among thirteen colonies all with varying interests.

Elected democrats have the necessary political glue, or threats hanging over their heads, to remain mostly unified in their goal of defeating Republicans on important legislation.

House and Senate Democrats have been successful in thwarting many Republican legislative desires by using the threat of government shutdown.

I call on President Trump to explain what a government shutdown actually entails and why the general public need not panic at the prospect.

Republicans finally grew a “pair” and did what was necessary to confirm Gorsuch as Supreme Court Justice. It was just that important.

Balancing our national budget, fixing Obamacare, restoring our military power, and addressing our horrendous individual and corporate tax revenue laws are very important.

President Trump, along with House and Senate leaders need to actually inform Americans why balancing budgets and no further national debt are critical for them and their offspring.

Posted by: Royal Flush at April 28, 2017 4:33 PM
Comment #415635
We can keep our freedoms without people dying in the streets
No, 2+2 cannot equal 5. Repeating 2+2=5 over and over won’t make it true.
As Royal stated, there are options to prevent that
Royal Flush mentioned several ways to prevent people from dying in the streets, all of which involve either limiting or restricting the freedoms you cherish or they involve increasing the cost of health care.
No, I fail to accept the blind premise that people will be dying in the streets without single-payer health care. The idea that people can no longer handle their freedoms and will eventually warm to be being forced to do things against their will.

The “blind premise” you construct here is a strawman. There are plenty of ways for the government to intervene in the healthcare economy short of single payer that prevent people from dying in the streets. Obamacare is a perfect example of this.

The aspect you are ignoring is that single payer is the cheapest way to keep people from dying in the streets. Limiting government’s involvement in the healthcare economy is EXPENSIVE. Too expensive for most Americans it seems. These people will be voting with their wallets next year.

I think you underestimate the number of moderates of non-political folks who voted for Trump in hopes of holding onto those freedoms.
Are there substantial number Americans hoping that Republicans can make 2+2=5? Absolutely. They constitute perhaps 40% of the electorate. The question is, are these Americans willing to pay more money for their health care in order to maintain these ‘freedoms’? Are these Americans willing to let their fellow citizens die in the streets in order to maintain these ‘freedoms’?
The country’s problems are our loss of individual rights, and the division brought about by identity politics, the intentional destruction of our culture, and the overall transformation of who we are in the name of some supposed ‘progress.’ If Republicans continue to stop fighting to maintain those things, they are done.
Republicans are the primary drivers of reductions in individual rights as well as the division brought about by identity politics. I don’t see their current grip over the levers of government lasting for much longer. Posted by: Warren Porter at April 28, 2017 4:35 PM
Comment #415638

“The aspect you are ignoring is that single payer is the cheapest way to keep people from dying in the streets.”

Is that the official Bernie Sanders Socialist position Warren?

Single payer will spread the pain of limited care and long waits equally. The working class will continue to pay for the non-working class. No one will be allowed to purchase the care they desire. Government bureaucrats will be behind every medical and health care decision. Socialist nirvana.

Posted by: Royal Flush at April 28, 2017 5:03 PM
Comment #415639

Almost…

Single payer will spread the pain of limited care and long waits equally. The working class will continue to pay for the non-working class. No one will be allowed to purchase the care they desire. Government bureaucrats will be behind every medical and health care decision. Socialist nirvana.

In every single payer system ever proposed, people who can afford it are able to purchase care above and beyond that which is provided by the government. Thus, citizens are allowed the purchase the care they desire.

Also, I want to issue a correction from my previous comment. I originally said that “We can keep our freedoms without people dying in the streets” amounted to 2+2=5. It was a mistake to phrase the situation as a dilemma. It is actually a trilemma. One of these three objectives is always unachievable:
A) No citizens dying premature deaths due to lack of health care
B) Cheap health care
C) Government uninvolved in health care markets

Of course, “We can keep our freedoms without people dying in the streets”. The problem is that this is the most expensive choice.

Posted by: Warren Porter at April 28, 2017 5:27 PM
Comment #415643

Obviously Warren does not consider the fact that, according to www.usdebtclock.org, the current unfunded liability for Medicare is nearly $28 Trillion. When he claims national health insurance is the least expensive health care he forgets about costs delayed for some future generation to pay.

Posted by: Royal Flush at April 28, 2017 6:04 PM
Comment #415647

The unfunded liability for Medicare is a gigantic number, but that does not provide any evidence to demonstrate that national health insurance is more or less expensive than free market insurance.

On the other hand, Medicare consistently spends fewer dollars (per capita) than private health insurance.

Posted by: Warren Porter at April 28, 2017 6:32 PM
Comment #415649

Medicare consistently spends fewer dollars (per capita) than private health insurance.
Posted by: Warren Porter at April 28, 2017 6:32 PM

Please provide proof.

Does Warren believe that Medicare provides the same benefits as private health insurance? Let’s look at apples to apples here Pal.

Is Medicare providing maternity services? NO

What else does private health insurance pay for that Medicare does not?

Posted by: Royal Flush at April 28, 2017 6:39 PM
Comment #415653

Mea Culpa, I meant to say Medicaid not Medicare.

Posted by: Warren Porter at April 28, 2017 10:09 PM
Comment #415678

Warren,
The ACA is the perfect example of loss of freedom of choice (government mandates) and skyrocketing costs. Single-payer would be worse on both.

People weren’t dying in the streets before the ACA, or even before we started giving the irresponsible $25 aspirins at the ER. They wouldn’t start dying in the streets IF we were to dump the ACA and go back to our Constitutional principles.
That is all nothing but a scare tactic that seems to have worked pretty well on you.


“Republicans are the primary drivers of reductions in individual rights as well as the division brought about by identity politics.”

Wanting to be left alone to live ones life as they see best is NOT a “reduction in individual rights” of others. Not agreeing with special treatment for special interest groups is not divisive.

I’m not sure where this blame the other side for that which you yourself are guilty of, came from, but you have been shown to be wrong about this before and nothing has changed since.

Posted by: kctim at May 1, 2017 8:26 AM
Comment #415679

WP: “In every single payer system ever proposed, people who can afford it are able to purchase care above and beyond that which is provided by the government. Thus, citizens are allowed the purchase the care they desire.”

Reprint below from NPR article review on Canada’s single payer system. (See last sentence). The first sentence of your statement above is factually true, but misses the point that you are stuck with basic services as provided by the government. I’m not sure the second sentence of your statement is true, since you can’t “purchase the care You desire” if you are restricted to one option. Since we collectively don’t seem to be able to ever reduce government benefits, we would end up controlling costs by wait-listing expensive procedures.


“Varney contradicts the oft-repeated claim that Canadians can’t purchase health insurance coverage by writing that many Canadians purchase private coverage for “optometry, dentistry and outpatient prescription drugs” — services the public plan does not cover. Yet at the end of the piece, she quotes a pollster who notes that the Canadian health care system “’is not something that everybody is completely satisfied with or complacent about.’ About half of Canadians say they would like the option to buy a private health insurance plan. Currently, that’s not allowed.”

Canadians can purchase supplemental private coverage for services that are not covered by the public plan, but cannot purchase private insurance for basic services.”

Posted by: Mike in Tampa at May 1, 2017 2:16 PM
Comment #415680

kctim,
“People weren’t dying in the streets before the ACA…”

Actually, people were in fact dying because of the health care system at that time, and according to the CBO estimate of the recent GOP proposal, they would be dying again for lack of care if it were enacted.

The non-partisan CBO scored the recent ‘repeal and replace’ proposal. They estimated 14 million would lose health care insurance immediately, and after 10 years, 24 million would lose coverage. As a result, it is a matter of statistics. If millions of people no longer obtain preventative health care- colonoscopies, mammograms, annual physical check-ups, and so on- how many will die?

https://www.cbo.gov/publication/52486

If you download the PDF, on page 33 you will se this quote:

“f. Consists mainly of the effects of changes in taxable compensation on revenues. CBO also estimates that outlays for Social Security benefits would decrease by about $3 billion over the 2017-2026 period.”

Social Security outlays will decrease by $3 billion over a 10 year period because people will who would otherwise be alive under the ACA would NOT be alive under the AHCA.

It comes out to about 1/860 people over a ten year period.

Premiums would increase 15-20%.

But the truly monstrous thing is that the GOP wants to pass a version of the AHCA in order to use the money that would have gone to poor people for their health care insurance, and re-distribute it as tax cuts to the richest of the rich.

Posted by: phx8 at May 1, 2017 4:44 PM
Comment #415681

“GOP wants to pass a version of the AHCA in order to use the money that would have gone to poor people for their health care insurance, and re-distribute it as tax cuts to the richest of the rich.”

No doubt, phx8 can prove this comment. Please give us the link to the GOP AHCA and the tax plan being considered by congress.

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 1, 2017 5:03 PM
Comment #415682

Will my Pals on the Left please explain why taxpayers living in states with low, or non-existent state income taxes, should subsidize income earners in High state income tax states.

The deduction on federal tax returns of state income taxes should be eliminated. This will not harm middle income folks as they will receive double the current amount for standard deductions. The higher income earners will pay more…not less as phx8 would have us believe.

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 1, 2017 5:19 PM
Comment #415683

RF,
The CBO link gives you information on the last known version of the GOP AHCA.

At this point, the tax ‘plan’ is a one page document, literally a double spaced outline. It consists of tax cuts for individuals, tax cuts for corporations lowering collections from an effective rate of 22% down to 15%, and the elimination of the estate tax. There are no provisions for increasing revenues.

The assumption is that the cuts would increase economic growth. The previous chairman of the Federal Reserve, Bernancke, doubts GDP would increase beyond 3%.

Given what little we have to work with, the estimates are that the ‘plan’ would increase the national debt by $4.6 trillion over ten years. Obviously, annual budget deficits would increase a great deal.

The only source of money to offset the huge deficits would come from taking away money from the ACA. That is why it is so important for the GOP to pass some version of the AHCA; only then would money be available for the tax cuts for corporations and the richest of the rich.

Posted by: phx8 at May 1, 2017 5:25 PM
Comment #415684

“The only source of money to offset the huge deficits would come from taking away money from the ACA.”

“huge deficits” are “guesstimates” phx8.

Huge tax savings come from eliminating deductions that were designed to favor a few at the expense of the many.

Posted by: Royal Flush at May 1, 2017 5:35 PM
Comment #415839

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