You didn't have any plans for that Medicare trust fund, did you?
Two weeks ago, Donald Trump tried to shore up his crumbling poll numbers among older voters by promising he'd send virtually everyone on Medicare a beautiful $200 gift card that could be used to offset their out-of-pocket costs for prescription meds. As with so many of Trump's brilliant schemes, that came as a complete surprise to just about everyone in government who had to suddenly create a big new benefit out of thin air, and Politico yesterday ran a jaw-whompering look at the last-minute scramble to get the benefit in place before the election, although it's not clear the cards themselves will actually arrive in the remaining three and a half weeks.
But when Dear Leader has a bug up his ass about something, his underlings can work wonders, so now there's a plan in place to send out letters next week to the 39 million Medicare beneficiaries who'll be getting the cards, to let them know Trump cares about them. At least when he's not calling for coronavirus policies that put their lives in danger. And the administration even came up with a way to pay for the roughly $8 billion program without getting an appropriation from Congress: Just dip into the Medicare trust fund, which is like free money, and if that leaves Medicare short of funds down the road, that'll be some later president's problem, suckers.
It's amazing how you can go through life and not be aware at all of some pretty well-known person, and then suddenly you learn they exist and then you know about them. Like for instance how I got yelled at by character actor Nick Searcy yesterday on Twitter, and I'd never heard of him before, but then I found out he was in "Justified" and directed a rightwing propaganda movie about unlicensed abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell.
Or, in perhaps a far better instance, how I had somehow never been aware of public health expert Dr. William Foege until the news broke this week that he had written a letter to CDC Director Robert Redfield urging him to publicly condemn the Trump administration's mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic. It's an astonishing letter, but to understand how significant it is, you need to know a bit more about Foege, who isn't just the former CDC director under Presidents Carter and Reagan, but a genuine giant in the field of public health. Foege played a key role in wiping out smallpox in Africa and India, and has since gone on to serve with the Carter Center, where he's led initiatives to eradicate other horrible diseases like river blindness and Guinea worm disease. Here's Barack Obama awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, although Foege kind of towers over the shrimpy little 6-foot-1 president:
Donald Trump, on the other hand, gave the Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh
So when William Foege wrote a letter to Redfield urging him to take a stand for science, and to do it in such a way that he would surely be fired, it's a pretty big deal.
They're going to kill us all!
Love the smell of burning credibility in the morning! To celebrate this crisp autumn day, the White House has decided to throw the last crumbs of the public trust on the Rose Garden bonfire and shitcan the FDA's safety guidelines for for the release of a coronavirus vaccine. Because the important thing isn't whether Americans feel confident enough to take it — it's whether the vaccine is announced before the election. Obviously!
The New York Times reports that the FDA hoped to publish the guidelines that vaccine candidates have agreed to meet before their COVID vaccines will be approved for market use, but the White House won't let the agency put them out because of a mandatory two-month observation period after vaccination. The extra time would postpone announcement until after the election, which is double plus UNALLOWEDABLE!
How many sharks are these guys gonna jump today?
Why won't Joe Biden infect himself with coronavirus like that specimen of perfect manhood Donald J. Trump? If he wants to prove he's fit for office, the vice president should go out and lick the buffet ladles like our nation's ubermensch did at his New Jersey fundraiser on Thursday, just hours before announcing his positive COVID-19 diagnosis. Allegedly, and also not allegedly.
After putting all their chips on the "Joe Biden Senile and Dying Just Like Hillary" storyline — and isn't it amazing how she beat the odds and is still with us? — the Trump campaign now finds itself with its candidate in the hospital doodling his signature and screaming out all-caps tweets in a desperate attempt to show that his patent inability to lead remains unaffected by coronavirus. Which ... okay, that one is just factcheck true.
But of course the Trump campaign has to take it one step further. Not content to let the president endanger the health of his Secret Service detail for a useless photo op, campaign surrogates have taken to the airwaves to brag that fecklessly flouting his own CDC guidelines and exposing himself to a highly communicable disease actually shows what a bigly strong leader their guy is.