NOW is THE Time!

We’re in danger of losing our health care. The Senate is inching closer to passing a devastating health care bill. If they do, then millions of people will see their health care coverage disappear. But you can do something about it.

Nevada is particularly important in the fight to save our health care. Why? Because our senator, Dean Heller, is a deciding vote on the Senate bill.

You have a critical part to play, and there is no time to waste. As a constituent, you have the power to influence Senator Heller’s vote on health care.

The over 600,000 Nevadans who rely on Medicaid would be most adversely affected as Nevada is poised to lose approximately $5 billion in federal Medicaid funds by 2028 if the Senate health care bill passes. This would harm 300,000 children, 13,000 seniors, and 42,000 people with disabilities in Nevada.

But that’s only what we actually know today.  Are you insured through an employer plan?  You do know that employers shop insurers country-wide for the best policy prices they can find, right?  Have you heard this bill allows States to seek waivers of  EHBs (Essential Health Benefits, like maternity coverage, ER visits, Xrays,  cancer screenings, etc.)?  What do you think will happen to the healthcare insurance coverage you now have once your employer, like everyone else’s employer starts shopping “EHB-waivered” states for their insurance policies to save money, while holding what you pay constant or even charging you a larger percentage of the cost, all to pad their bottom line?

  • Read the over-glorious summary from the Senate Budget Committee glossing over the dreadful impacts.
  • Browse the actual bill text.
  • View a section by section summary by the Congressional Research Service here.

TrumpedUpCare harms us all and we can’t let that happen!  The clock is ticking with an expected vote no later than next  Thursday.  Call Senator Heller’s offices today and often (call all of them).  Let him know that if he takes a meat cleaver to our healthcare, he might as well take a meat cleaver to his 2018 campaign, because he’s done!

202-224-6244 (DC)
702-388-6605 (LV)
775-686-5770 (Reno)
775-738-2001 (Elko)

Term: 2013-2018

Heller’s High (or should I say Low) Water on Healthcare

In case you haven’t heard, Senator Dean Heller supports MASSIVE cuts to Medicaid.  In fact, Senator Heller has drug the proverbial tea and has expressed his support for PHASING OUT the Medicaid expansion over the next 7 years.

After weeks of denying, fudging and wriggling, Heller is finally admitting he’s ready to end the Medicaid expansion covering more than 138,000 Nevadans—including children—since Obamacare became law.  THAT is unacceptable. Senator Heller was elected to look out for Nevadans, but he’s instead ripping the rug out from those who count on Medicaid.

“I support seven, I support seven,” Heller told reporters on his way into a healthcare working group meeting in the Capitol. “So do a number of us, including [Sen. Rob] Portman [R-Ohio] and others who have been working on this.”

Full story here.

Apparently Heller figures blame won’t fall back on him if they just “slowly” take Medicaid away from over 130,000 Nevadans and millions across the U.S.  … over a 7 year time frame. What folks need to understand is, that without Federal “matching funds” which enable States to open up the Medicaid insurance program to those whose incomes are below or just above the poverty line, it will be detrimentally consequential. Thirty-one states chose to expand Medicaid, and, as a result, 11 million to 12 million newly eligible people were finally able to obtain health insurance.  If federal matching funds are withdrawn, most states will likely return to the more restrictive eligibility rules for Medicaid eligibility ― effectively wiping out the coverage gains, leaving millions of low-income Americans with worse access to health care and more exposure to crushing medical bills.  In other words, it’s the equivalent of legislating a “death panel” where access is denied or expensive procedures/surgeries are denied as funding will not be available and people WILL die.

At a time when the Nevada Legislature is seriously considering a “Medicaid for All” healthcare delivery model that would let Nevadans buy into a “public” delivery system to assure Nevadans can more effectively access healthcare coverage, it appears that Senator Heller has chosen to throw his constituents under the first bus he can find.  Even Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican who doesn’t support blocking healthcare coverage access for so many Nevadans, has shared his concern about rolling back the Medicaid expansion.

We can’t let Heller and his spokespeople get away with playing loose with the truth, calling this “fake news,” and blaming it on Democrats.  He made the comment and it’s on tape!

We must defeat Senator Heller in 2018. Nevadans can’t afford to lose the Medicaid expansion.

Related posts:

CBO Rpt on H.R. 1628—American Health Care Act of 2017

 CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimate that enacting the legislation—which would repeal or modify many provisions of the Affordable Care Act—would reduce federal deficits by $119 billion over the coming decade.

CBO and JCT estimate that in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the legislation than under current law. After additional changes to subsidies for insurance purchased in the nongroup market and to the Medicaid program took effect, the increase in the number of uninsured people would rise to 19 million in 2020 and then to 23 million in 2026.

 CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the American Health Care Act would reduce federal deficits by $119B over the coming decade and increase the number of people who are uninsured by 23 million in 2026 relative to current law.

 

View Document (1.03 MB)


Summary:

CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have completed an estimate of the direct spending and revenue effects of H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act of 2017, as passed by the House of Representatives. CBO and JCT estimate that enacting that version of H.R. 1628 would reduce the cumulative federal deficit over the 2017-2026 period by $119 billion. That amount is $32 billion less than the estimated net savings for the version of H.R. 1628 that was posted on the website of the House Committee on Rules on March 22, 2017, incorporating manager’s amendments 4, 5, 24, and 25. (CBO issued a cost estimate for that earlier version of the legislation on March 23, 2017.)

In comparison with the estimates for the previous version of the act, under the House-passed act, the number of people with health insurance would, by CBO and JCT’s estimates, be slightly higher and average premiums for insurance purchased individually—that is, nongroup insurance—would be lower, in part because the insurance, on average, would pay for a smaller proportion of health care costs. In addition, the agencies expect that some people would use the tax credits authorized by the act to purchase policies that would not cover major medical risks and that are not counted as insurance in this cost estimate.

Effects on the Federal Budget

CBO and JCT estimate that, over the 2017-2026 period, enacting H.R. 1628 would reduce direct spending by $1,111 billion and reduce revenues by $992 billion, for a net reduction of $119 billion in the deficit over that period. The provisions dealing with health insurance coverage would reduce the deficit, on net, by $783 billion; the noncoverage provisions would increase the deficit by $664 billion, mostly by reducing revenues.

The largest savings would come from reductions in outlays for Medicaid and from the replacement of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) subsidies for nongroup health insurance with new tax credits for nongroup health insurance (see figure below). Those savings would be partially offset by other changes in coverage provisions—spending for a new Patient and State Stability Fund, designed to reduce premiums, and a reduction in revenues from repealing penalties on employers who do not offer insurance and on people who do not purchase insurance. The largest increases in the deficit would come from repealing or modifying tax provisions in the ACA that are not directly related to health insurance coverage—such as repealing a surtax on net investment income, repealing annual fees imposed on health insurers, and reducing the income threshold for determining the tax deduction for medical expenses.

Pay-as-you-go procedures apply because enacting H.R. 1628 would affect direct spending and revenues. CBO and JCT estimate that enacting H.R. 1628 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027. CBO has not completed an estimate of the potential impact of the legislation on discretionary spending, which would be subject to future appropriation action.

Effects on Health Insurance Coverage

CBO and JCT broadly define private health insurance coverage as consisting of a comprehensive major medical policy that, at a minimum, covers high-cost medical events and various services, including those provided by physicians and hospitals. The agencies ground their coverage estimates on that widely accepted definition, which encompasses most private health insurance plans currently offered in the group and nongroup markets. The definition excludes policies with limited insurance benefits (known as mini-med plans); “dread disease” policies that cover only specific diseases; supplemental plans that pay for medical expenses that another policy does not cover; fixed-dollar indemnity plans that pay a certain amount per day for illness or hospitalization; and single-service plans, such as dental-only or vision-only policies. In this estimate, people who have only such policies are described as uninsured because they do not have financial protection from major medical risks.

CBO and JCT estimate that, in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under H.R. 1628 than under current law. The increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number projected under current law would reach 19 million in 2020 and 23 million in 2026. In 2026, an estimated 51 million people under age 65 would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law. Under the legislation, a few million of those people would use tax credits to purchase policies that would not cover major medical risks.

Stability of the Health Insurance Market

Decisions about offering and purchasing health insurance depend on the stability of the health insurance market—that is, on the proportion of people living in areas with participating insurers and on the likelihood of premiums’ not rising in an unsustainable spiral. The market for insurance purchased individually with premiums not based on one’s health status—that is, nongroup coverage without medical underwriting—would be unstable if, for example, the people who wanted to buy coverage at any offered price would have average health care expenditures so high that offering the insurance would be unprofitable.

Under Current Law. Although premiums have been rising under current law, most subsidized enrollees purchasing health insurance coverage in the nongroup market are largely insulated from increases in premiums because their out-of-pocket payments for premiums are based on a percentage of their income; the government pays the difference between that percentage and the premiums for a reference plan. The subsidies to purchase coverage, combined with the effects of the individual mandate, which requires most individuals to obtain insurance or pay a penalty, are anticipated to cause sufficient demand for insurance by enough people, including people with low health care expenditures, for the market to be stable in most areas.

Nevertheless, some areas of the country have limited participation by insurers in the nongroup market under current law. Several factors could lead insurers to withdraw from the market—including lack of profitability and substantial uncertainty about enforcement of the individual mandate and about future payments of the cost-sharing subsidies to reduce out-of-pocket payments for people who enroll in nongroup coverage through the marketplaces established by the ACA.

Under the Legislation. CBO and JCT anticipate that, under H.R. 1628, nongroup insurance markets would continue to be stable in many parts of the country. Although substantial uncertainty about how the new law would be implemented could lead insurers to withdraw from or not enter the nongroup market, several factors would bring about market stability in most states before 2020. In the agencies’ view, those key factors include subsidies to purchase insurance, which would maintain sufficient demand for insurance by people with low health care expenditures, and grants to states from the Patient and State Stability Fund, which would lower premiums by reducing the costs to insurers of people with high health care expenditures.

The agencies expect that the nongroup market in many areas of the country would continue to be stable in 2020 and later years as well, including in some states that obtain waivers from market regulations. Even though the new tax credits, which would take effect in 2020, would be structured differently from the current subsidies and would generally be less generous for those receiving subsidies under current law, other changes (including the money available through the Patient and State Stability Fund) would, in the agencies’ view, lower average premiums enough to attract a sufficient number of relatively healthy people to stabilize the market.

However, the agencies estimate that about one-sixth of the population resides in areas in which the nongroup market would start to become unstable beginning in 2020. That instability would result from market responses to decisions by some states to waive two provisions of federal law, as would be permitted under H.R. 1628. One type of waiver would allow states to modify the requirements governing essential health benefits (EHBs), which set minimum standards for the benefits that insurance in the nongroup and small-group markets must cover. A second type of waiver would allow insurers to set premiums on the basis of an individual’s health status if the person had not demonstrated continuous coverage; that is, the waiver would eliminate the requirement for what is termed community rating for premiums charged to such people. CBO and JCT anticipate that most healthy people applying for insurance in the nongroup market in those states would be able to choose between premiums based on their own expected health care costs (medically underwritten premiums) and premiums based on the average health care costs for people who share the same age and smoking status and who reside in the same geographic area (community-rated premiums). By choosing the former, people who are healthier than average would be able to purchase nongroup insurance with relatively low premiums.

CBO and JCT expect that, as a consequence, the waivers in those states would have another effect: Community-rated premiums would rise over time, and people who are less healthy (including those with preexisting or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive nongroup health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all—despite the additional funding that would be available under H.R. 1628 to help reduce premiums. As a result, the nongroup markets in those states would become unstable for people with higher-than-average expected health care costs. That instability would cause some people who would have been insured in the nongroup market under current law to be uninsured. Others would obtain coverage through a family member’s employer or through their own employer.

Effects on Premiums and Out-of-Pocket Payments

CBO and JCT projected premiums for single policyholders under H.R. 1628 (before any tax credits were applied) and compared those with the premiums projected under current law for policies purchased in the nongroup market. H.R. 1628, as passed by the House, would tend to increase such premiums before 2020, relative to those under current law—by an average of about 20 percent in 2018 and 5 percent in 2019, as the funding provided by the act to reduce premiums had a larger effect on pricing.

Starting in 2020, however, average premiums would depend in part on any waivers granted to states and on how those waivers were implemented and in part on what share of the funding available from the Patient and State Stability Fund was applied to premium reduction. To facilitate the analysis, CBO and JCT examined three general approaches states could take to implement H.R. 1628. Because a projection of a specific state’s actions would be highly uncertain, the agencies’ estimates reflect an assessment of the probabilities of different outcomes, without any explicit predictions about which states would make which decisions. CBO and JCT estimate the following:

  • About half the population resides in states that would not request waivers regarding the EHBs or community rating, CBO and JCT project. In those states, average premiums in the nongroup market would be about 4 percent lower in 2026 than under current law, mostly because a younger and healthier population would be purchasing the insurance. The changes in premiums would vary for people of different ages. A change in the rules governing how much more insurers can charge older people than younger people, effective in 2019, would directly alter the premiums faced by different age groups, substantially reducing premiums for young adults and raising premiums for older people.
  • About one-third of the population resides in states that would make moderate changes to market regulations. In those states, CBO and JCT expect that, overall, average premiums in the nongroup market would be roughly 20 percent lower in 2026 than under current law, primarily because, on average, insurance policies would provide fewer benefits. Although the changes to regulations affecting community rating would be limited, the extent of the changes in the EHBs would vary widely; the estimated reductions in average premiums range from 10 percent to 30 percent in different areas of the country. The reductions for younger people would be substantially larger and those for older people substantially smaller.
  • Finally, about one-sixth of the population resides in states that would obtain waivers involving both the EHBs and community rating and that would allow premiums to be set on the basis of an individual’s health status in a substantial portion of the nongroup market, CBO and JCT anticipate. As in other states, average premiums would be lower than under current law because a younger and healthier population would be purchasing the insurance and because large changes to the EHB requirements would cause plans to a cover a smaller percentage of expected health care costs. In addition, premiums would vary significantly according to health status and the types of benefits provided, and less healthy people would face extremely high premiums, despite the additional funding that would be available under H.R. 1628 to help reduce premiums. Over time, it would become more difficult for less healthy people (including people with preexisting medical conditions) in those states to purchase insurance because their premiums would continue to increase rapidly. As a result of the narrower scope of covered benefits and the difficulty less healthy people would face purchasing insurance, average premiums for people who did purchase insurance would generally be lower than in other states—but the variation around that average would be very large. CBO and JCT do not have an estimate of how much lower those premiums would be.

Although premiums would decline, on average, in states that chose to narrow the scope of EHBs, some people enrolled in nongroup insurance would experience substantial increases in what they would spend on health care. People living in states modifying the EHBs who used services or benefits no longer included in the EHBs would experience substantial increases in out-of-pocket spending on health care or would choose to forgo the services. Services or benefits likely to be excluded from the EHBs in some states include maternity care, mental health and substance abuse benefits, rehabilitative and habilitative services, and pediatric dental benefits. In particular, out-of-pocket spending on maternity care and mental health and substance abuse services could increase by thousands of dollars in a given year for the nongroup enrollees who would use those services. Moreover, the ACA’s ban on annual and lifetime limits on covered benefits would no longer apply to health benefits not defined as essential in a state. As a result, for some benefits that might be removed from a state’s definition of EHBs but that might not be excluded from insurance coverage altogether, some enrollees could see large increases in out-of-pocket spending because annual or lifetime limits would be allowed. That could happen, for example, to some people who use expensive prescription drugs. Out-of-pocket payments for people who have relatively high health care spending would increase most in the states that obtained waivers from the requirements for both the EHBs and community rating.

Uncertainty Surrounding the Estimates

The ways in which federal agencies, states, insurers, employers, individuals, doctors, hospitals, and other affected parties would respond to the changes made by the legislation are all difficult to predict, so the estimates discussed in this document are uncertain. In particular, states would have a wide range of options—notably, the optional waivers discussed above that would allow them to modify the minimum set of benefits that must be provided by insurance sold in the nongroup and small-group markets and that would permit medical underwriting for people who did not demonstrate continuous coverage. The array of market regulations that states could implement makes estimating the outcomes especially uncertain. But, throughout, CBO and JCT have endeavored to develop estimates that are in the middle of the distribution of potential outcomes.

Macroeconomic Effects

Because of the magnitude of its budgetary effects, this legislation is “major legislation,” as defined in the rules of the House of Representatives. Hence, it triggers the requirement that the cost estimate, to the greatest extent practicable, include the budgetary impact of its macroeconomic effects. However, because of the limited time available to prepare this cost estimate, quantifying and incorporating those macroeconomic effects have not been practicable.

Intergovernmental and Private-Sector Mandates

JCT and CBO have determined that H.R. 1628, as passed by the House, would impose no intergovernmental mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). JCT and CBO have determined that the legislation would impose private-sector mandates as defined in UMRA. On the basis of information from JCT, CBO estimates the aggregate cost of the mandates would exceed the annual threshold established in UMRA for private-sector mandates ($156 million in 2017, adjusted annually for inflation).

So — What Did It Take to Buy Rep. Mark Amodei’s Vote FOR passage of #AHCA

It’s amazing the difference a week can make.  Last week Rep. Mark Amodei was a “NO” on passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), H.R. 1628. I’m not sure what he was offered to buy is “YEA” vote, but it must have been good, for him that is, because it certainly is good for any of us:

Position on April 28, 2017

Position on May 4, 2017

Rep. Amodei’s flip is morally reprehensible and opprobrious. 

Rep. Amodei clearly looked at nothing except how the insurance industry might be affected.  He did little if anything to explore how passage might impact those Nevadans who have what that same insurance industry calls “pre-existing conditions” and who the insurance industry don’t want to have to insure.  Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio masterfully took to time to detail how that impacts real people:

So what is a pre-existing condition? Let’s put it like this – you may pay more for healthcare under their plan if you’ve been affected by:

AIDS/HIV, acid reflux, acne, ADD, addiction, Alzheimer’s/dementia, anemia, aneurysm, angioplasty, anorexia, anxiety, arrhythmia, arthritis, asthma, atrial fibrillation, autism, bariatric surgery, basal cell carcinoma, bipolar disorder, blood clot, breast cancer, bulimia, bypass surgery, celiac disease, cerebral aneurysm, cerebral embolism, cerebral palsy, cerebral thrombosis, cervical cancer, child-bearing age, colon cancer, colon polyps, congestive heart failure, COPD, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, DMD, depression, diabetes, disabilities, Down syndrome, eating disorder, enlarged prostate, epilepsy, female, glaucoma, gout, heart disease, heart murmur, heartburn, hemophilia, hepatitis C, herpes, high cholesterol, hypertension, hysterectomy, kidney disease, kidney stones, kidney transplant, leukemia, lung cancer, lupus, lymphoma, mental health issues, migraines, MS (muscular schlerosis), muscular dystrophy, narcolepsy, nasal polyps, obesity, OCD, organ transplant, osteoporosis, pacemaker, panic disorder, paralysis, paraplegia, Parkinson’s disease, pregnancy, restless leg syndrome, schizophrenia, seasonal affective disorder, seizures, sickle cell disease, skin cancer, sleep apnea, sleep disorders, stent, stroke, thyroid issues, tooth disease, tuberculosis, and ulcers. To name a few. And chances are, you or someone you know has dealt with something (or multiple things) on this list.

If this bill were to become law (which hopefully the Senate will prevent), many people with “pre-existing conditions” will become ineligible to participate in the ordinary insurance programs which they’ve been accustomed to purchasing or participating in.  They’ll be instead, relegated to “sick people plans” which are called “high risk pools.”  Since all the people in those pools will be “sick people” — people who have one or more serious conditions with more expensive drug and treatment costs —premium costs to join such a pool will be much more costly and actual, deliverable benefits will be limited or even rationed.

Rep. Amodei also failed to consider how premium costs will be calculated —> by age.  Claiming that the older one gets, the more likely one is to require receipt of benefits for all those premiums you’ve paid over the years.  So, once you hit your 50s, the bill allows insurance companies to you FIVE times more for the same policy they sell to a 25 year old.  That’s not just going to impact the “individual insurance market” — that’s also going to massively impact the “employer-provided insurance market.”  How do you realistically think that’s going to impact an employer’s aging workforce members.  One of two things are going to happen.  (1) Employers will stop providing insurance altogether (and pocket the money they used to used to subsidize your insurance as their profit without raising your wage/salary a dime. Or (2), they’ll work at making the workplace so hostile for older workers they’ll quit.

Rep. Amodei also didn’t consider that by allowing States to “waiver out” of all kinds of things — like what is covered and whether limits can be placed on deliverable benefits.  What that essentially means is that we could see a race to the bottom as some States wishing to capitalize on the employer-provided market could create all kinds of “waivered plans” that make the ‘junk insurance plans” of the pre-ACA years look like premium plans.  It’s not inconceivable that we could see plans that don’t cover maternity care, or contraception, or emergency room visits or seriously restricted networks.  So when they say … “Hey, don’t worry, you’ll be able to keep your doctor” … Worry!

Then there’s those ACA subsidies that many folks used to be able to purchase insurance.  Those have been flattened to limit the Federal Govt’s liability going forward.  On the surface, that doesn’t necessarily sound all that bad, but if you make $50K/yr, that flat amount is one thing, but if you make minimum wage or less, say $15K/yr or less that flat-rate subsidy won’t come close to enabling them to purchase healthcare insurance and they’re not going to qualify for Medicaid.

To pay for Medicaid, it requires $200B+.  The House GOP allocated a whole romping, stomping $8B in their bill to cover Medicaid.  What that means is they’ll be forcing States to “ration” health care and in the process, become death panels by denying healthcare to the sickest of the sick to be able to pay for healthcare for the less sick.

This bill is supposedly a “reconcilliation” bill, which means it MUST be scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as to it’s costs.  The CBO has not yet completed a rescoring of this latest iteration of the bill.  Thus, Rep. Amodei voted on a bill for which he had no idea as to it’s costs OR it’s impact on his Nevada constituents.  

Lastly, Rep. Amodei ignored the massive tax breaks that will be doled out to those who make well over $200,000/yr.  Basically, they’re cutting benefits to older and poor  Americans to give BILLIONS of dollars to the rich, making America sicker and putting many in graves prematurely in the process.  This bill does absolutely NOTHING to improve healthcare, it’s delivery, or it’s efficacy.  It does however, pad the wallets of the rich at our peril.

Oh … and I almost forgot … none of what the GOP alone passed in this bill would apply to members of Congress.

What do you say we terminate Mr. Amodei’s employment in 2018 and see if he can get insurance on his own?

Press Releases from NV Dems

Getting straight — A rough week for Dean Heller
Dean Heller Still Wants to Repeal the ACA
Heller getting a bit bipolar about Planned Parenthood funding
Heller Cheerleading Trump Attacks on Nevada’s National Monuments
How Does the Senator Explain That?
A complete and total disaster

Not Prepared to Govern

There’s an excellent piece in today’s Washington Post regarding the tracking for key appointments filled thus far by the Trump administration.  I can’t help but compare and contrast Trump with his Republican majorities in both houses with Obama’s 2008 Democrat majorities in both houses and the lackluster performance by the Trump and his Republican majorities.  Clearly, their lackluster performance is yet more proof that Republicans are not only not prepared to govern, but may not know how to govern for ALL Americans.

*Totals above include some posts that are not being tracked as ‘key positions’ in the appointee database.

As of late Tuesday, his 96th day in office, Trump had nominated an estimated 66 officials, just over a third of the 190 President Barack Obama selected in his first 100 days, according to Partnership data. The 100-day number for President George W. Bush was 85; Bill Clinton, 176; and George H.W. Bush, 95.  These positions include Cabinet secretaries, deputy and assistant secretaries, chief financial officers, general counsel, heads of agencies, ambassadors and other critical leadership positions. These are just a portion of the roughly 1,200 positions that require Senate confirmation, but it doesn’t stop there.  There are approximately 4100 appointments the administration will need to make.

Here’s another striking statistic from the Partnership for Public Service: “The pending number of appointees to clear federal ethics requirements is striking compared to that of the Obama administration. As of April 17, Trump had only submitted 41 percent of the nominee reports that his predecessor submitted in 2009, according to Office of Government Ethics data.”

The Senate can only act on nominations that have been formally submitted by the Trump administration. Those marked “awaiting nomination” above have been announced but not yet submitted, while those marked “formally nominated” are awaiting action by the Senate.

Think about their slow progress thus far, and then compound it with the fact that Trump fired all the Ambassadors upon his oath of office.  Trump fired all the US Attorneys.  Trump/Tillerson fired all the career folks at the State Department.  Of 556 key positions requiring Senate confirmation … Trump has no nominee for 468 positions, only 40 are awaiting confirmation, and 24 have actually been confirmed as of April 26th.

So, at this point, he appears to be running the US Government by the seat of his pants whose seat is stained with the stench of Russia.

The article on the Washington Post is a a “tracking post” which means it identifies all the positions to be filled and the status of each position.  You might want to bookmark it for your future reference.

GOP Is In Chaos—and 2018 is just around the corner

70 days in and it’s already been pretty rough for residents of Trumpland.

  • The “Obamacare” repeal? Couldn’t get a vote.
  • The Muslim ban 1.0 and then 2.0? Laughed out of court.
  • The budget? “Dead on arrival,” at least, according to Senator Lindsey Graham.
  • “You’re fired” seems to have taken over as the mode of operation, thus far: every US Ambassador effective upon his inauguration (without a single identified replacement to date),  every high-level State Department employee,
    46 District Attorneys General, Acting US Attorney General, National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh 
  • The president thinks it’s a great idea to threaten and mount primary challenges against ultra conservative Republican Freedom Caucus members who defy his will. (He might want to look back in history.  That tactic didn’t work so well, even for a very popular FDR.)
  • This is supposed to be the presidential “honeymoon” period.  Uh — not with ratings in the mid-thirties and dropping like a rock!
  • House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, who was also a member of the trump transition team, flunked the “smell test” and appears to have completely derailed the House’s efforts to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether the trump campaign colluded in any way with the Russians.
  • Then there’s our Internet Privacy? ISPs are now free to sell your browsing history to the highest bidder without our permission.
  • Via executive fiat, climate change is now collectively being ignored across the board in every governmental department and LGBT statistics have been wiped from the 2020 census.
  • And what’s next? Passage of an actual budget and the need to once again raise the debt ceiling to pay for government spending Congress has already authorized.  Is yet another government shutdown on the near horizon? Will that force Democrats to vote for passage of a horrific budget just to keep the United States afloat?

The corruption of this administration is both brazen and incompetent. Case in point: Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is about to sell his debt-laden Manhattan office tower to a bank owned by the Chinese government —> for several billion dollars above fair market value.

And if that’s not bad enough, it appears there might be evidence of Trump’s campaign coordination with Russian intelligence, strong enough that Mike Flynn won’t testify  before Congress without immunity.  Isn’t that the same Flynn who raled about if  one needs immunity, that’s an indication of being guilty?  The same guy who went on an on about that throughout the campaign?

Surprisingly, the Republican congressional delegation continues to insist that the emperor is fully clothed and has all his real hair. They are going to go down with this ship.  Once again, the Republican party is destroying itself.

Now the question is: Are progressives ready with a positive vision of a just society and the policies?  Are you ready to step up and run against the void?  Are you ready to step up to the plate and throw your hat in the ring?  Let us know, we’re listening and ready to step up and support your campaign run.  Need training?  Need folks willing to contribute or provide shoe leather for door-to-door canvassing?  We can help with that!  We just need to know who you are and how we can help.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

‘Sheer Reckless Folly’: Trump Destroys Obama-Era Climate Rules

“Aside from provoking a large-scale nuclear war, it is hard to imagine an American president taking an action more harmful to the U.S. than Trump’s effort to accelerate greenhouse gas emissions”
— by Nika Knight, staff writer at CommonDreams

Smog envelopes the Salt Lake City skyline in November 2016. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/cc)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday set about aggressively dismantling Obama-era climate policies with an executive order decried as “sheer reckless folly,” which will increase U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the climate crisis.

“Aside from provoking a large-scale nuclear war, it is hard to imagine an American president taking an action more harmful to the U.S. than Trump’s effort to accelerate greenhouse gas emissions,” said David J. Arkush, managing director of Public Citizen’s Climate Program, in a statement.

“This day may be remembered as a low point in human history—a time when the world’s preeminent power could have led the world to a better future but instead moved decisively toward catastrophe,” Arkush added.

The order instructs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rewrite former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), which would have limited the emissions of coal-powered power plants. It also lifts the moratorium on federal coal leasing, repeals limits on methane emissions from fracking, and directs the agency to reconsider the Social Cost of Carbon and the National Environmental Policy Act guidance on greenhouse gas emissions.

“The EPA’s rollback of basic environmental rules demonstrates that when it comes to the health of our children, our communities, and our climate, this is an administration of lawlessness and disorder,” said Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of the grassroots sustainability group UPROSE, in statement.

“Indigenous peoples will not stand idle as we tell the world the Earth is the source of life to be protected, not merely a resource to be exploited and abused.”
—Tom BK Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network

“For frontline communities, those of us impacted first and worst by the extraction economy, this means an escalation of public health crises, from asthma to cancer. It means an utter disregard for those of us most vulnerable to climate disasters,” Yeampierre added. “It means a world of volatility and exploitation for our children and grandchildren.”

Environmentalists, local and state leaders, and advocacy groups are vowing to resist.

“The best way to fight against these executive orders is to take to the streets,” as 350.org executive director May Boeve put it.

“President Donald Trump tearing apart the CPP is an act of aggression and violence against the sacredness of Mother Earth and Father Sky,” said Tom BK Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, in a statement. “Our indigenous prophecies and teachings tell us that Life as we know it is in danger. The atmosphere and the environment cannot absorb anymore concentration of greenhouse gases. As Indigenous peoples, we still understand our responsibility as guardians and the need to take action as defenders of the Earth. Indigenous peoples will not stand idle as we tell the world the Earth is the source of life to be protected, not merely a resource to be exploited and abused.”

“As a member of the climate justice movement, we stand defiant in the face of these orders and are prepared to hold the line,” Yeampierre said. “We will meet these violent policies with a deeper commitment to a Just Transition away from fossil fuels, toward renewable energy, local resiliency, and a regenerative economy worthy of leaving our children.”

The climate movement has numbers on its side, groups observe. “Millions of Americans have called for strong climate action, submitting more than 8 million comments asking the EPA to take action to cut carbon pollution from power plants,” noted Environment America. Recent polling confirms that a vast majority of Americans support climate action.

Moreover, despite the Trump administration’s dubious claims of job creation, the Department of Energy showed that renewable energy jobs have already overtaken fossil fuel industry jobs, and the trend shows no sign of slowing.

As the federal government gives up its role in the climate fight, many now see local and state leaders taking up the charge.

“The West Coast will be allied with the rest of the world that understands science.”
— Washington Gov. Jay Inslee”

[A]s our most successful climate programs face attack on the federal level, it is incumbent on states to double down on their climate commitments,” Environment America wrote. “We are calling on our governors to keep leading the charge and push the progress we need to tackle the climate crisis and get 100 percent renewable energy.”

West Coast politicians are already uniting under the umbrella of the Pacific Coast Collaborative to battle the federal government’s rightward turn on climate.

“As the governors of Washington, Oregon, and California and the mayors of Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles, we speak today in support of the Clean Power Plan,” the Pacific Coast Collaborative wrote in advance of the executive order. “We speak in unified opposition to the idea of any decision by the President to limit our region’s economic opportunities or our commitment to doing what’s right to make our cities and states cleaner and healthier for future generations.”

“The West Coast is going to move forward to beat climate change,” said Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington state, according to Northwest Public Radio. “The West Coast going to move forward to build clean energy jobs. The West Coast will be allied with the rest of the world that understands science.”

“It is up to the American public to move the nation in the right direction on climate and clean energy despite the worst efforts of the so-called leader in the White House.” — David J. Arkush, Public Citizen

“Many states and cities in the West will continue to lead on clean energy because it makes economic sense, and those states that tie their fate to Scott Pruitt’s doomed strategy of delay and deny face an increasingly risky future,” said Bill Corcoran, Western campaign director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.

And despite the frightening actions of the Trump administration, states and cities are already taking strong action to fight climate change. California last week passed the nation’s strictest methane regulations, and on Monday the Maryland state senate passed a statewide fracking ban. Maryland’s Republican governor has already signaled his support for the ban.

People nationwide are also ready to rise up and march for climate justice.

“Even as Trump dismantles environmental protections to shore up the fossil fuel industry, support for action to stop global warming is at an all-time high,” said 350.org’s Boeve. “Now it’s up to communities to bring our vision of a healthy climate and a just transition to renewable energy to life.”

Those who support climate action and oppose Trump’s fossil fuel-friendly administration will gather for the Peoples Climate March in Washington, D.C., on April 29, as well as the March for Science in D.C. and elsewhere on April 22.

“From the upcoming congressional recess through the Peoples Climate March and beyond, we’ll be putting pressure on lawmakers to defend the climate and building power to stop the fossil fuel industry for good,” Boeve said.

“Now is the time to come together and build an economy where investments are made to benefit workers, communities of color, women, and low-income folks, not the fossil fuel industry,” said Rae Breaux, lead climate justice organizer for the People’s Action Institute, in a statement.

Public Citizen’s Arkush added: “It is up to the American public to move the nation in the right direction on climate and clean energy despite the worst efforts of the so-called leader in the White House.”


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Senate passed bill reversing FCC privacy rules for internet service providers

Senator Dean Heller voted to take the side of corporate communication giants like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T over the side of privacy for his Nevada constituents.  “This resolution is a direct attack on consumer rights, on privacy, on rules that afford basic protection against intrusive and illegal interference with consumers’ use of social media sites and websites that often they talk for granted,” Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said ahead ofthe Senate vote.  Clearly Senator Dean Heller didn’t listen to those words.

Reputlican “corporatists” are using the Congressional Review Act to pretty much gut any regulation put in place during the Obama administration that gets in their way to making profits hand over fist.  So, this last week, corporatists in the Senate took the lead on CRA resolutions, passing a resolution (S.J. Res. 34 ) which disapproves of  an FCC rule concerning privacy rules for internet service providers, gutting those rules on a pure partisan party line vote (50 Republican Yeas, 48 Democrat Nays).

Republican corporatists in the Senate voted to undo FCC’s broadband privacy rules. If also passed in the House and signed by the president, S.J. Res. 34 will make sure the FCC can not interfere with internet service providers (ISPs) being able to sell user data, including browsing history and location data, without user consent. The bill promoting the communications giants’ agenda now heads to the House.

No, Paul Ryan, Your Healthcare Defeat Wasn’t Because of “Growing Pains”

— by Robert Reich

House Speaker Paul Ryan talks to reporters on March 24, 2017, during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, about the American Health Care Act President Donald Trump on Friday asked Ryan to withdraw an embattled Republican health care bill, moments before a vote, signaling a major political defeat for the president. (Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty)

House Speaker Paul Ryan, in his press conference following the demise of his bill to replace Obamacare, blamed Republicans who had failed to grasp that the GOP was now a “governing party.”

“We were a 10-year opposition party, where being against things was easy to do,” said Ryan. “You just had to be against it. Now, in three months’ time, we tried to go to a governing party where we actually had to get 216 people to agree with each other on how we do things.”

It was, he said, “the growing pains of government.”

Rubbish.

Apparently Ryan doesn’t grasp that he put forward a terrible bill to begin with. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, it would have resulted in 24 million Americans losing health coverage over the next decade, hardly make a dent in the federal debt, and transfer over $600 billion to the wealthiest members of American society.

The so-called “Freedom Caucus” of House Republicans, who refused to go along with the bill, wanted it even worse. Essentially, their goal (and that of their fat-cat patrons) was to repeal the Affordable Care Act without replacing it at all.

Ryan is correct about one thing. Congress is in the hands of Republicans who for years have only said “no.” They have become expert at stopping whatever a president wants to do but they don’t have a clue how to initiate policy.

Most of the current Republican House members have not shared responsibility for governing the nation. They have never even passed a budget into law.

But their real problem isn’t the “growing pains” of being out of power. In reality, the Republicans who are now control the House – as well as the Senate – don’t like government. They’re temperamentally and ideologically oriented to opposing it, not leading it.

Their chronic incapacity to govern didn’t reveal itself as long as a Democrat was in the White House. They let President Obama try to govern, and pretended that their opposition was based on a different philosophy governing.

Now that they have a Republican president, they can no longer hide. They have no philosophy of governing at all.

Sadly for them – and for the rest of the country, and the world – the person they supported in the election of 2016 and who is now president is an unhinged narcissistic child who tweets absurd lies and holds rallies to prop up his fragile ego.

His conflicts of financial interest are legion. His entire  presidency is under a “gray cloud” of suspicion for colluding with Russian agents to win office.

Here’s a man who’s advised by his daughter, his son-in-law, and an oddball who once ran a white supremacist fake-news outlet.

His Cabinet is an assortment of billionaires, CEOs, veterans of Wall Street, and ideologues, none of whom has any idea about how to govern and most of whom don’t believe in the laws their departments are in charge of implementing anyway.

Meanwhile, he has downgraded or eviscerated groups of professionals responsible for giving presidents professional advice on foreign policy, foreign intelligence, economics, science, and domestic policy.

He gets most of what he learns from television.

So we have a congress with no capacity to govern, and a president who’s incapable of governing.

Which leaves the most powerful nation in the world rudderless.

The country on whom much of the rest of the world relies for organizing and mobilizing responses to the major challenges facing humankind is leaderless.

It is of course possible that Republicans in congress will learn to take responsibility for governing. It is possible that Donald Trump will learn to lead. It is possible that pigs will learn to fly.

But such things seem doubtful. Instead, America and the rest of the world must hold our collective breath, hoping that the next elections – the midterms of 2018 and then the presidential election of 2020 – set things right. And hoping that in the meantime nothing irrevocably awful occurs.