NV GOP Apparently Believes — When You Can’t Win, Stoop to Gutter Politics!

— An “ask” from Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto

What Nevada Republicans are doing right now is disgusting. Truly an all-time low.

The people of Nevada made their voices heard loud and clear last November. In fact, Nevada was one of the few bright spots on Election Day. Because of your hard work, you sent me to the U.S. Senate – which I am eternally grateful for – and you also flipped both chambers in the state legislature back to a Democratic majority, including winning key battleground districts.

But right now, Republicans in Nevada are so desperate to gain control back, they have stooped to an all-time low by completely disregarding the will of Nevada’s hardworking families. Republicans have filed recall petitions against three women in the Senate Democratic caucus: Joyce Woodhouse, Nicole Cannizzaro, and Patricia Farley – all in extremely competitive districts. And now, I need your help to fight back.

At this very moment, right-wing special interests are funneling incredible amounts of money into Nevada to pay folks to collect the petition signatures they need to get these recalls on the ballot.

Let me be clear: This recall effort is a scam. It is pathetic and it is wrong. The election was nearly 10 months ago, and the people of Nevada have spoken. They want a Democratic majority in the state legislature.

If Nevada Republicans get the number of signatures they need, Democrats will have a tiny window to challenge it in court. This is not good. And we’re running out of time. Please consider stepping up and giving $25 or more to the Nevada State Democratic Party right now so we can fight back against this Republican scam to roll back our Democratic majority?  If you can’t afford giving funds, consider calling NSDP headquarters (702-737-8683) and giving of your time to participate in phone-banking southern Nevada residents in the affected districts and asking them NOT to sign the GOP’s recall petitions.

Thank you for your support and for standing up for our hard-fought Democratic majorities. We will not let Nevada’s Republicans fool us.

¡La lucha sigue!
The fight continues!


Note: The citizens of Nevada are granted the authority to perform a recall election by Section 9 of Article II of the Nevada Constitution, which says:

“Every public officer in the State of Nevada is subject, as herein provided, to recall from office by the registered voters of the state, or of the county, district, or municipality which he represents.”

This broad right of recall in Nevada applies to all elective “State” officers (not Members of Congress, as they’re Federal officers) after the first six months of the term to which the incumbent was elected and does not require a “reason” in order to start a recall petition. For the GOP to get to a recall election, they need gather signatures from 25% of those people who actually voted in the election for that member of the legislature.

  • For Farley — Need to gather more than 7,100 signatures from people who voted in Nevada’s 8th Senate district in 2014 (a low turnout mid-term election) by Nov. 9.
  • For Woodhouse — Need to gather more than 13,000 signatures from people who voted last year in the Senate District 5 race by Oct. 31.
  • For Cannizzaro — Need to gather more than 14,975 of the people who voted in District 6 in 2016 by Nov. 14.

You should also note that GOP “conservatives” are attempting force the State to pay for a repeat election at taxpayer expense for “no stated good reason.” It is NOT “conservative” to force an election just because they don’t like the fact that the voters chose Democrats to represent them in the State Legislature.  Such actions consume vital tax dollars that should be spent on vital infrastructure, education, healthcare, etc.

Also worthy of noting is that should the GOP be successful in a recall, it would shake up the powerful Nevada Legislative Commission. That commission handles the Legislature’s business when it is not in session and when constituents have little input into decisions being made.

GOP Against Consumers Faring Better Using Class Actions—Vote to Repeal Consumer Protection Rule

News from Economic Policy Institute (EPI)

Many financial institutions use forced arbitration clauses in their contracts to block consumers with disputes from banding together in court, instead requiring each consumer to argue their case separately in private arbitration proceedings. Recently, members of Congress introduced legislation to repeal a new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that restores consumers’ ability to join together in class action lawsuits against financial institutions.

Opponents of the rule have suggested that the CFPB’s own findings show consumers on average receive greater relief in arbitration than class action lawsuits. In a new fact sheet, EPI Policy Director Heidi Shierholz explains that this is enormously misleading. While the average consumer who wins a claim in arbitration recovers $5,389, consumers win only 9 percent of disputes. Overall, the average consumer who enters arbitration with a bank or lender is ordered to pay $7,725. Furthermore, Shierholz points out, evidence shows that allowing consumers to join together in court does not increase consumer costs or decrease available credit.

“The numbers couldn’t be more clear—class actions return hundreds of millions of dollars to consumers, while forced arbitration only pays off for banks and lenders,” said Shierholz. “Congress should side with the American people, not big banks, and vote down this capricious attack on consumer freedom.”


Fact Sheet • By Heidi Shierholz • August 1, 2017  Download PDF


The new arbitration rule from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) restores consumers’ ability to join together in class action lawsuits against financial institutions.

H.J.Res.111 – Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection relating to “Arbitration Agreements”.

This joint resolution nullifies a rule submitted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regarding arbitration agreements.

(The rule regulates the use of arbitration agreements in contracts for specific consumer financial products and services. It prohibits the use of a pre-dispute arbitration agreement to prevent a consumer from filing or participating in certain class action suits. The rule also requires consumer financial product and service providers to furnish the CFPB with particular information regarding arbitrations.)

ROLL CALL VOTE 412:

  • Republican Mark Amodei voted FOR passage to repeal and thus deny those Consumer Protection rights for not just his constituents, but ALL Americans to enable his Corporate benefactors to profit from their customer abuses.
  • Democrats Ruben Kihuen, Jacky Rosen and Dina Titus voted AGAINST passage — to protect consumer protection rights

Based on five years of careful study, the July 2017 final rule stems from a congressional directive instructing the agency to study forced arbitration and restrict or ban the practice if it harms consumers. Many financial institutions use forced arbitration clauses in their contracts to block consumers with disputes from banding together in court, instead requiring each consumer to argue their case separately in private arbitration proceedings.

In recent weeks, members of Congress have introduced legislation to repeal the CFPB rule and take away consumers’ newly restored right to band together in court. Opponents of the rule have suggested that the bureau’s own findings show consumers on average receive greater relief in arbitration ($5,389) than class action lawsuits ($32). This is enormously misleading.

While the average consumer who wins a claim in arbitration recovers $5,389, this is not even close to a typical consumer outcome. Why? Consumers obtain relief regarding their claims in only 9 percent of disputes. On the other hand, when companies make claims or counterclaims, arbitrators grant them relief 93 percent of the time—meaning they order the consumer to pay. If you consider both sides of this equation, in arbitration, the average consumer is ordered to pay $7,725 to the bank or lender. That’s right: the average consumer ends up paying financial institutions in arbitration.

But let’s consider the consumers who do win in arbitration. How do those numbers stack up against class action lawsuits? In an average year:

  • At least 6,800,000 consumers get cash relief in class actions—compared with just 16 consumers who receive cash relief in arbitration, according to available data.
  • Consumers recover at least $440,000,000 in class actions, after deducting all attorneys’ fees and court costs—compared with a total of $86,216 in arbitration.

Banning consumer class actions lets financial institutions keep hundreds of millions of dollars that would otherwise go back to harmed consumers every year.

The financial industry often claims that arbitration is cheaper and faster for consumers. How do these claims stand up to the data?

  • Consumers pay an average cost of $161 to file a claim in arbitration. Consumers generally don’t pay anything to join a class action.
  • Consumers typically wait 150 days for a decision in arbitration, compared with a typical wait of around 215 days for a conclusion in most class actions.

Arbitration is certainly not cheaper—especially considering the average consumer pays a bank or lender $7,725 in the end—and only a couple months faster.

Finally, opponents of the rule argue that allowing consumers to join together in court will increase consumer costs and decrease available credit. This claim is contradicted by real-life experience. Consumers saw no increase in price after Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, and HSBC dropped their arbitration clauses as a result of court-approved settlements, and mortgage rates did not increase after Congress banned forced arbitration in the mortgage market.

The numbers are clear: class actions return hundreds of millions to consumers, while forced arbitration only pays off for banks and lenders.

Sources: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “New Protections against Mandatory Arbitration,” web page accessed July 31, 2017; Sylvan Lane, “GOP Lawmakers Introduce Measures to Repeal Consumer Bureau Arbitration Rule,” The Hill, July 20, 2017; U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, “Senators File Resolution Disapproving of CFPB Arbitration Rule” (press release), July 20, 2017; Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Arbitration Study: Report to Congress, pursuant to Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act § 1028(a), 2015; Adam J. Levitin, “Mandatory Arbitration Offers Bargain-Basement Justice,’ American Banker BankThink (blog), May 13, 2014.

Unless otherwise hyperlinked, the data in this fact sheet are EPI computations of data from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Arbitration Study: Report to Congress, pursuant to Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act § 1028(a), 2015

Trump Announces He’s Kicking Thousands of Transgender People out of the Military

During his campaign for the presidency, this is where Donald Trump claimed he stood regarding LGBTQ “rights and beliefs.”

It appears he’s “lied” to the public yet again.  Without warning or explanation, President Trump announced on Twitter Wednesday morning that he is unilaterally reversing the military’s plan to allow transgender service:

While the tweets are lacking for details, they suggest that thousands of transgender people already serving in the military will lose their jobs. Last June, the Pentagon announced that they no longer had to hide in the shadows — that their positions were safe if they were public about their identities. That plan was to allow openly trans people to enroll starting July 1 of this year, but Defense Secretary James Mattis agreed to delay that implementation six months to allow for further review.

Meanwhile, conservative House Republicans have been attempting to find various ways to curtail this policy through amendments to the defense spending bill. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) originally floated an outright banto transgender service, then ultimately advanced an amendment banning military funds from being spent on transition-related health care. That amendment was surprisingly defeated earlier this month by the Republican-controlled House in a close 209–214 vote. Nevertheless, Hartzler and others were continuing to explore additional options as of this week, apparently encouraged by Vice President Mike Pence.

In proposing her amendments, Hartzler repeatedly claimed that the medical costs to the military would be $1.35 billion over ten years. On multiple occasions, her office refused to respond to ThinkProgress inquiries to identify the source of that number, which is 16 times higher than the highest estimates provided by the RAND corporation in its report released along with the Pentagon’s policy change last year. RAND found that the military’s health costs would increase at most around $8.4 million per year, an increase of only 0.13 percent.

Since Hartzler started floating her bogus number, the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBTQ hate group, has estimated even higher numbers. This numbers game appears to have persuaded Trump to ignore the review and unilaterally decide to kick all transgender people out of the armed services. 19 other countries allow transgender military service — and have for some time.

On Tuesday, the Log Cabin Republicans highlighted an interview with new White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci proclaiming how “pro-gay” (albeit not pro-trans) the Trump administration is. Indeed, that has been the argument made by conservatives who claim to be LGBTQ-friendly throughout the campaign and well into this year. While it’s true Trump did mention LGBTQ people in his convention speech and once hold up a rainbow flag, he only ever made these references when fanning Islamophobia.

Though Trump appeared to be trans-friendly the first time he was presented with a question about North Carolina’s transphobic bathroom law HB2 during the campaign, his position quickly shifted and he began to claim that transgender inclusion is a “state’s rights” issue. As has been the case in just about every civil rights fight, “state’s rights” is code for “if a state wants to discriminate, let them.”

The administration’s other actions, such as rescinding the Obama administration’s guidance protecting transgender students in schools and working to reverse Obamacare’s guidance protecting transgender patients in health care, further demonstrate that Trump seems to have little concern for transgender people whatsoever.

The White House dubbed this week “American Heroes Week.” Secretary Mattis is notably out of the office on “personal travel.”


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe. ‘Like’ CAP Action on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Twitter

Trumpka on the GOP’s Gutting of Healthcare

— Richard Trumka — President, AFL-CIO

We are—and always will be—stronger together. You’ve proved that again by standing united in opposition to the GOP health care bill.

More than 400,000 working people like you signed petitions aimed at Congress. More than 26,000 people made phone calls to their senator or representative urging them to oppose a health care bill that will leave 22 million Americans without the care they depend on. And thousands more of you showed up at events across the nation to speak up for all working families’ freedom to have decent health care.

Despite all we’ve done, the fight is far from over. You can help keep up the momentum by sharing this image with your friends and family.

Not only does this plan put millions of working families at risk of losing their care, it also would destroy 1.45 million jobs in the health sector in order to pay for more tax breaks for the wealthy.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t have enough votes today to guarantee a win if he brings this terrible piece of legislation to the floor for a vote, because working women and men continue to take action. It’s up to all of us to keep it that way. Sharing this graphic right now on social media is a great, simple way to do just that.

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?

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.

Undermining Women’s Healthcare—RW Jihadist Pence Gleefully Breaks The Tie to Defund Planned Parenthood

Senate pushes forward with effort to allow states to slash funding for “lifeline” reproductive health clinics
— by Nika Knight, staff writer at CommonDreams

Vice President Mike Pence
“Pence is the first vice president ever to break a tie to undermine women’s access to care.” (Photo: Getty)

To widespread outcry, a procedural vote on a GOP effort to slash funding for the Title X family planning program, which funds clinics that largely serve poor women and women of color, passed the Senate Thursday after Vice President Mike Pence was forced to cast a tie-breaking vote.

The measure repeals an Obama-era rule that blocks states from defunding healthcare providers for political reasons. The Republican-led effort appeared designed to target Planned Parenthood clinics, which receive funds under Title X.

“The Title X family planning program is a vital source of family planning and related preventive care for low-income, uninsured, and young people across the country,” wrote the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights in an open letter to Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

“Every year, more than four million individuals access life-saving care such as birth control, cancer screenings, and testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV at Title X-funded health centers,” the advocacy group observed. “Seventy-five percent of Planned Parenthood patients are at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level and half of their health centers are located in rural or underserved areas. People of color comprise forty percent of Planned Parenthood patients.”

“For decades, the Title X Family Planning Program has been a lifeline for women, helping them to have healthier families and lead healthier lives,” wrote the Center for American Progress’ (CAP)

The Title X amendment to the Public Health Service Act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970, and “it is the only federal domestic program focused solely on providing people with critical reproductive health services related to family planning and contraception, including physical exams, prescriptions, laboratory exams, contraceptive supplies, and referrals when medically needed,” Gillette-Pierce and Taylor noted.

Democratic senators testified passionately against the attempt to cut Title X funding:

In fact, the effort to dismantle Title X funding proved so unpopular that two female Republican senators—Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine—refused to vote for the measure to move forward with it.

As a result, the effort gridlocked, and virulently anti-choice Pence was forced to cast a tie-breaking vote. “Pence is the first vice president ever to break a tie to undermine women’s access to care,” tweeted Planned Parenthood.

A final vote on repealing the Obama-era rule could take place as early as Thursday afternoon, according to The Hill.

Meanwhile, people are outraged, and taking to the streets to protest the latest GOP attempt to severely limit access to women’s healthcare.

“Republicans have literally had to fly in a senator to vote and haul the Vice President—Mr. Defund-Planned-Parenthood-himself—to the Senate floor to cast a tie-breaking vote. All of this makes the GOP desperation and obsession with taking away reproductive health care crystal clear,” NARAL Pro-Choice America national communications director Kaylie Hanson Long charged in a statement.

Opponents of the measure are also tweeting under the hashtags #TitleX, #ProtectOurCare, and #HandsOffMyBC.

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!

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.

Debunking the GOP Myth: Selling Insurance Across State Lines

— by Vickie Rock

Graphic credit: MomemtBloom at VectorArt

Have you noticed of late, that one Republican after another is proclaiming that “if only” we remove federal impediments and allow Insurance Companies to “sell insurance across state lines” costs for insurance will magically go down?  UHHH, NO!

Let me be very clear here.

  1. There is NOT one U.S. federal law that prohibits health insurance policies from being sold across state lines. Insurance companies, should they choose to do so, can do that today.
  2. Doing so will NOT miraculously lower the cost of insurance.  It will however, most likely increase the size and expense of Insurance company bureaucracies.
  3. Declaring that any insurance company can sell whatever policies they want in any state they want, technically stomps the crap out of States’ Rights, since State Insurance Commissioners regulate insurance policies sold in their states.

Two things come into play for insurance being sold today and everyday across state lines:  rules established by State Insurance Commissioners and Networks established by Insurance Companies.

Let’s start with State Insurance Commissioners.  They’re charged with protecting the rights of consumers and the public’s interest in dealing with the insurance industry and are responsible for regulating the insurance industry in their State.  They review insurance policies proposed to be offered for purchase within the state to ensure compliance with Nevada insurance laws and regulations.  They make sure insurance companies are solvent and have the ability to pay claims. And, when you’re unable to resolve a conflict as to coverage or billing with your Insurer, they’re the ones we turn to for help in resolving the issue.

None of those functions are performed by the Federal Government!  Those are State functions and for Republicans to be putting forth arguments that are ludicrous and stomp the crap out of clear States’ responsibilities for their constituencies is pure hypocrisy on their parts.

Secondly, let’s talk about the insurance companies themselves.

For those of us who are familiar with employer insurance, we know that the line “if you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance” was pure bumpkiss at best.  We’ve been hostage to whatever policies our HR department can obtain through negotiation with various insurance companies for our pool of employees.  If our small pool has a number of catastrophic health events, our premium rates will be going up as well as our deductibles.  We might also find ourselves in a restrictive network where any services provided by those outside of that network can be outrageously expensive.

Insurance companies establish relationships with various doctors, hospitals, labs, clinics, etc. and group them into “provider networks.”  Urban areas have much larger and more inclusive networks service-wise, that do rural areas which frequently have mostly general or family practice physicians and fewer specialists like endocrinologists, gastroenterologists, oncologists, etc.  Urban networks may include all hospitals in the urban area or may include just one, while rural areas may have no hospital and merely a local clinic.

Our rural town is lucky to have a rural hospital which may see some serious challenges under the GOP’s “American Health Care Act (AHCA)” given it will cut all support to “rural” hospitals.  Some of the improvements we’ve seen of late with its ability to pull in “specialists” from our State’s urban centers might be in jeopardy.  If your AHCA  “network” should include only our local hospital, but the surgery or the treatment you need is not available locally as “in-network,” it’s going to cost you big time when you get charged for “out of network” care you seek from that urban center hospital up or down the road.

We have limited Insurance providers in Rural America because insurance companies don’t want to the bother of serving us.  They don’t want to have to span across America and try to establish relationships with providers spread across vast areas and devise appropriate networks of providers.  It’s more convenient for them to concentrate on the the competitive urban centers.

So NO, the GOP’s AHCA is not going to magically increase the number of policy options for those of us in Rural America as they claim.  It does absolutely nothing to encourage “across state line” availability of insurance policies.  AND, it does nothing to reduce the costs of either insurance policies or fees for services rendered.  It may, however, actually make it worse for many of us who live in Rural America who are actively seeking medical services and/or insurance at costs we can actually afford.