It's either a smart, practical transition plan or a complete betrayal of everything honest and good. We love primary season.
Over the weekend, Elizabeth Warren released her plan for transitioning to Medicare for All. It's a not-inconsiderable prospect, since America doesn't so much have a healthcare "system" now as it has a messy, incomplete patchwork of public and private providers and payment systems that leaves tens of millions of us with inadequate care, or no healthcare at all. (GoFundMe is not a healthcare system.) Warren's proposal lays out a two-stage roadmap for getting to single-payer: Phase in a very strong "public option" (including government-paid coverage for all children and low-income folks) first, then as people realize there aren't any death panels and Republicans are still lying to them, switch over to a true single-payer healthcare system like other industrialized countries have.
As Dylan Scott notes at Vox, the plan makes a "tacit concession" to where primary voters seem to be at the moment: They like the idea of single-payer, but they're also scared of remaking healthcare all at once. Fine, this plan says: Dip a toe in, and you'll see this works. The plan she suggests has M4A as the goal, but this transition allows her to put forward a package she can "argue is more likely to actually pass 18 months from now." Let's take a nice Policy Dive!
Imagine being stupid enough to spend $30k on a purse.
Once upon a time, in my shopgirl days, a very rich lady came into the store, got some things to try on, and then refused to come out of the dressing room for two and a half hours. She stayed in there, sobbing to me (a person who was, at the time, making $13.00 an hour plus commission, working 39.5 hours a week so that my boss didn't have to give me health insurance) about how her friend got ahead of her on some waiting list and got the Birkin bag she wanted before she did. Birkin bags. For those of you not into this kind of thing, Birkin bags are purses made by Hermés that cost anywhere from $15K to, I shit you not, $379,261.
But anyway, I stood and listened to this woman sob for two hours, brought her white wine and told her it was all going to be OK, and every time I spoke to another customer, she would sob more loudly. Then she left without buying anything, never to darken our doorstep again. And to this day, I hate her. I hate her so much.
Why am I telling you this story? Because I am about to tell you another one — about a lady who is trying to sue someone, anyone, over some wine getting spilled all over her $30,000 pink Hermés Kelly clutch at a $19,000 a year country club.
Rich people, they're just like us!
Balls of steel, these people.
Some people have trouble advocating for what they want in life. They don't want to look pushy, or greedy — they don't want to inconvenience others.
Those people are not payday lenders in Arizona.
Well. Technically nobody's a payday lender in Arizona. The predatory practice has been illegal in the state since 2010, when the law allowing it to exist expired. In 2008, payday lenders got a proposition on the ballot to allow the practice to continue, and it was soundly defeated, 60-40. Since then, instead of payday loans, these creeps have switched over to "title loans," which is basically the same thing except that it means that poor people people put their car titles up as collateral for a short term, high interest loan — up to 204% APR.
This grossness pushed a group called Arizonans for Fair Lending to put a new measure on the ballot for 2020 — one that would place restrictions on this type of loan as well. And you might well guess what happened next!
Hear me out.
For the last several weeks, we have been hearing a lot from billionaires. Billionaires who are very, very sad and disappointed that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are going around suggesting that maybe they should give back more so that the rest of America can be a little less miserable. So we can all have things like health care and child care and education, all of which will help to create a society in which the distribution of wealth is slightly less ridiculous.
Absurdly rich human beings like hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman and JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon are going on TV wailing about these proposed taxes and the way in which they feel they are being vilified. They're out there begging their fellow billionaire Michael Bloomberg to run for president so they at least have some representation in government. You know, other than the kind they buy.
I mean, seriously. This motherfucker is openly weeping.
The after-school special is inside the school!
Sen. Kamala Harris introduced a bill yesterday that would fund schools to experiment with making school schedules better meet the needs of working parents. Called the Family Friendly Schools Act, the proposal would relieve the child care burden for working families, which is considerable, as Mother Jones reporter Kara Vogt explains:
The majority of schools days end around 3 p.m., two hours before the end of 70 percent of parents' workdays. And most schools don't have a way to make up the difference. Fewer than half of all elementary schools—and fewer than a third of low-income schools—offer after-school care. Beyond that misalignment, schools shut down, on average, for 29 days during the school year, the majority of which are reserved for professional development, parent-teacher conferences, and myriad vacations and minor holidays the federal government doesn't recognize. That's a full two weeks' worth of days more than what the average American has in holidays, vacation, and paid leave combined.
On top of that, there's summer vacation, which was a fairly useful idea when America was mostly rural and kids were needed on the farm, but mostly leaves working parents desperate to find something to keep the kids safe and occupied for two or three months while they forget everything they learned. Thank Crom there's TV, video games, and friendly internet Nazis willing to keep the kids busy!
As a result, Vogt notes, during the school year, "3 percent of elementary-school students and 19 percent of middle-school students look after themselves from 3 to 6 p.m. on school nights," and parents who can afford to pay for after-school childcare shell out an average of $6,000 a year for it. (See also Vogt's longread on the problem at the Atlantic.)
Instead of solving the problem by blaming single moms for all social problems, Harris's bill would establish a five-year pilot program to fund grants of up to $5 million in 500 elementary schools that mostly serve low-income families. The schools, working with parents and community groups, would develop programs that would keep the schools open from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM Monday through Friday during the school year, with no closures apart from federal holidays and emergencies. No school closures for in-service days or parent-teacher conferences; those would still go on, but the community partners would provide enrichment and activities for kids while they took place. And already overworked teachers won't simply be forced to work longer hours -- if they choose to, they'll be compensated for it.
Let's get out the washable markers and the butcher paper, spread out around the room, and take a look at how this would work, shall we?
This post is staying here till I can't stomach it a second longer. Scroll down for new ones!
Hey, remember last night, when I freaked out at you guys? Probably not, because I only left the comment up for about five minutes before I deleted it, too embarrassed at my WHINE and WHAAH and OUTBURST and PETULANCE and WAAH SOME MORE. But it was long enough for like 50 people to feel bad at the sulky shouty lady having a breakdown and SEND HER MONEY, for WONKETTE and LOVE. So thank you, 50 people, I will get to your thank you notes later, after ALL THE NEWS IN THE WORLD.
So let's talk about why I am having breakdowns, what we need, what I'm doing right, what I'm doing wrong, what I'm going to continue doing wrong because I can't help it, and what YOU need to do, because CITIZENSHIP.
First: I can't help hiring new people, all the time, like constantly. If I waited to do this until I had the money in the bank, we would never hire the people! And we neeeeed the people. Two more full-time staffers will allow our writers to take their time on SOME posts, SOMETIMES, like PROFESSIONALS; it'll allow us to have news for you in the morning instead of oh is it TEN THIRTY ALREADY AND I HAVE TO KILL EVAN NOW? Do you want me to kill Evan? OF COURSE YOU DON'T. Also, my therapist says I am impulsive and he is correct. But if my "impulsive" is limited to "hiring people you love and giving them fully funded healthcare so Elizabeth Warren can bone us," I'd say that "impulsive" is GOOD! :D
We'll be able to focus on all the things we're good at, and maybe SOME FUCKING DAY one of us will do a podcast, gross, ugh, how do you even listen to people YAMMERING ALL OF THE TIME. (Can you tell I don't have a "commute" or go to "gym"?)
Second: No, I'm not doing premium content for subscribers; everyone is equal at the Wonkette, and no animal is more equal than others. Second part B: I don't think ads are going to work. I had a brief vision of this ONE AD solving our problems and me not having to beg and whine at you, and ... it just won't. Not just because some of you mewled about that ONE AD which I'd WARNED YOU WAS COMING after TWO AD-FREE YEARS, and it HURT MY FEELINGS and MADE ME YELL AT YOU ... this is not a good apology.
It actually adds up, says Paul Krugman.
Elizabeth Warren has posted her plan to pay for Medicare for All, and it's getting a pretty enthusiastic review from Paul Krugman, who says it's a serious plan whose numbers -- though you can argue about 'em -- add up. Democratic primary debates will probably still start off with a mandatory 40 minutes dedicated to bickering about whether we really want to provide health coverage for all Americans or just for more Americans than we do now, plus some bad-faith moderator questions that inject Republican fears of socialism into the discussion. But at least Warren has shifted the terms of the debate from "she hasn't said how she'd pay for it" to "will this plan work?" Warren even managed to put together a plan that doesn't call for new taxes on the middle class, although honestly, that's still a bullshit way of framing the debate.
Faces to be eaten, probably served at room temperature.
Donald and Melon Trump last month officially took the plunge and filed paperwork to make the great state of Florida their primary residence, reports the New York Times. A White House source told the Times the move was primarily for tax purposes, although we also wouldn't be the least bit surprised if a future story by the nation's Paper of Record also cites the couple in one of its periodic reviews of 2016 Trump voters who haven't yet decided how they'll vote in 2020.
Who killed Deadspin? Start with the dumb idiot jackal frat boy owners.
You know who is not a sports person? Any of the employees at this mommyblog, Wonkette, except Evan, sort of, when he feels like it. You know who else is not a sports person? Many of the people who read Deadspin every day, a supposed sports website that they will never read again.
People of the Internet are probably already familiar with this week's events at Deadspin. After shuttering Deadspin's politics-focused sister site Splinter News just three weeks ago for nobody knows why, new idiot owners told Deadspin to stick to sports; they absolutely did not; new idiot owners fired the top editor remaining; everyone else waved a giant middle finger at new idiot owners on the way out the door.
This is a hallowed tradition in alternative media, but Deadspin, while originally a Gawker site (as was your Wonkette before they sold it to the guy who sold it to us), is no longer alternative media. It was purchased recently from Univision by some stable geniuses who installed a Forbes guy, who installed his own Forbes guys, who sat around with their thumbs up their asses while the people who actually did the work left the company because they were women and/or people of color.
Seriously fuck you Scott Walker.
Have you guys heard about this new line of parody tweets called Scott Walker, that tweets out really stupid shit that makes you laugh? What? No way, really?
So it turns out that this "Scott Walker" guy is real, and NOT AT ALL a piece of wickedly ironic performance art, and also that he used to be the governor of a fairly large US state. (I know, I know, I thought the beady little henchmen eyes were a dead giveaway too.) Let us now take a look at what this actual real, non-lizard based "person" is publishing on Jack's Internet Emporium of Random Thoughts and Incel Nazi Collective. (Twitter, I mean Twitter.)
You know what, Scott Walker, self-professed human being? Those empty shelves look awfully fucking familiar. In fact, they look suspiciously like the very empty shelves of many food pantries in the good old U S of mutherfuckin' A, grand poo-bah of all the capitalist countries. Maybe that's because they are, in fact, empty shelves in a food pantry, in a capitalist country.
'So they knew.' They sure as hell did.
In testimony before Congress last week, two former scientists for Exxon explained in some detail how the company had initially supported their research into climate change through the 1970s. But in the early 1980s, Exxon (it merged with Mobil in 1999) decided that instead of changing its business -- which was tentatively moving into cleaner forms of energy, like advanced battery research and CO2 reduction -- it would instead suppress its own scientists' work and heavily fund outfits that cast doubt on the science of global warming. It was the first time the scientists, geochemist Ed Garvey and physicist Martin Hoffert, had a chance to testify to Congress about what's already one of the greatest missed opportunities in human history.
If Exxon hadn't decided to divest its clean energy holdings, Hoffert said, the transition to clean energy that's needed to prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change could have started 40 years ago, with lower costs and far less human tragedy than such a transition will now.
This would be a good place to add that even now, the cost will still be far lower than the economic disruption, health risks, widespread migration as some parts of the planet become unlivable, and -- just maybe -- some form of civilizational collapse that could result from doing nothing. (And then idiot fact-checkers can jump in and add that at least humanity won't go extinct.)
Have we used that before? It still fits!
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was held in contempt in federal court last Thursday and fined $100,000 for failing to follow a court order to lay off debt collection from students who had applied for forgiveness of their student loans to a for-profit college. The students were supposed to be eligible for relief of their debts to schools run by super-fraudy Corinthian Colleges, which went belly-up in 2014.
Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim, in the San Francisco Federal District Court, ordered the Ed department to cough up $100,000, and while we wish it could come out of DeVos's own deep pockets, it will at least go to compensate students screwed over by DeVos and her merry band of fraud enablers, who have been entitled to debt relief since the Education Department under Barack Obama found Corinthian had defrauded them.
The New York Times story on DeVos's utter incompetence -- or outright malice? -- in handling the mess is a jaw-dropper. Almost every paragraph will leave you cursing.
That clickbaity enough for ya?
Facebook chair/CEO and pretend Civil Rights hero Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the House Financial Services Committee yesterday, ostensibly to testify about the social media platform's own already-troubled cryptocurrency, "Libra," which may be going virtual tits up before it even launches. Because we love you, dear reader, we will not talk about cryptozoology, the blockchain, or Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" here, except to mention that several Dems warned Zuck that trying to take over online pretend money would get him into perilous antitrust Waters, of the Maxine kind. Which could be a breakup song of a whole 'nother sort.
But since the committee had him there anyway, several members decided to grill Zuckerberg on a bunch of Facebook's other scandals, of which there is no shortage, like its piss-poor record on online privacy, its susceptibility to promoting fake news that has pushed electoral fuckery or even genocide, and its crappy working conditions for the poor schlubs who have literally developed symptoms of PTSD while moderating Facebook's digital sewer. As for Zuck's claim that unbridled Free Speech on Facebook is just like letting Martin Luther King publish works that ended segregation, House Dems weren't about to let him get away with that letter from Birmingham Fail. Let's sample some highlights from the pillory fight!
Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, welcome, sort of, to the movement!
After last week's Democratic debate, which really did take place just eight days ago instead of in another era, the deficit-hawky Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget crunched some numbers on how to fund Medicare for All (M4A) and found that, heavens to Betsy, it would require some kind of tax increases on the middle class. This is hardly an astonishing conclusion, as we discussed last week. Of course, it's also just as clear that talking about taxes in isolation completely misses the point. You have to discuss the larger question of how much we already pay for our existing broken patchwork of healthcare systems.
The CRFB analysis, though brief, is worth a read, and it's especially valuable not simply because CRFB is a respectable think tank, but because CRFB is what you'd have to call a hostile witness, given the group's opposition to federal spending in general and its support for "reforming" Social Security and Medicare -- through big cuts -- in particular. It's a bit like that Koch-funded think tank that found M4A could actually cost a couple trillion dollars less than the current mess would, while covering everyone. When the deficit hawks tut tut that M4A would be expensive but really could reduce the cost of healthcare for many Americans, we're ready to look at their numbers. But remember: Just framing it in terms of taxes is bogus from the get-go.
She came to kick ass and chew bubblegum, but there's no gum allowed in schools.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren made a quick detour to Chicago this morning to show her support for a strike by the Chicago Teachers Union. Warren reminded the striking teachers that sometimes fighting for a better future means standing outside on a cold, rainy Chicago morning and shutting shit down.
Trump in his majestic equality, etc.
Donald Trump and Republicans across the nation are embarked on a great patriotic mission: governing according to the whims and prejudices of Fox News viewers, who know two things about welfare. They are: 1) government assistance should only be extended to the truly needy; and 2) nobody receiving government assistance is truly needy, because they're all cheats and frauds.
To that noble end, the Trump administration and state governments have been working busily to make programs like Medicaid and food assistance much harder to get, because isn't it important to make sure people are working instead of lazily taking from the taxpayers? This of course ignores the fact that most people receiving assistance already work (or are retired or disabled, or are kids), but remain poor. It's almost as if "the working poor" were a term that meant something. The efforts to add more hoops for people to jump through has certainly done the job, though! The New York Times reports today that over a million children have lost health coverage because of federal and state changes to Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and that's not because their parents got jobs with insurance: They're just plain uninsured.
Another Trump rule set to go into effect will drop about a million kids from receiving food stamps. But that's not all! The same rule change will take away free school lunches from half a million of those kids, too, so they can learn to work hard through hunger pangs at home and school. Just think how much character, hard work, and Personal Responsibility will result!
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