Trump inherits Obama boom

http://bcove.me/fja9zv0x

POLITICO

The president is handing his successor an economy that’s now the envy of the world.

NEW YORK — On the campaign trail, Donald Trump repeatedly described the U.S. economy as a hollowed-out disaster of high unemployment and stagnant growth.

But the latest numbers show the president-elect will in fact inherit a fairly robust economy with the lowest jobless rate in nearly a decade, record home and stock prices and a healthy growth rate.

It’s a radically different position from the one President-elect Barack Obama found himself in 2008 with markets crashing, the financial crisis spinning out of control and joblessness headed toward 10 percent.

Trump instead will take office with an economy near full employment and wages and spending rising. The economy is in such strong shape that the Federal Reserve is likely to raise interest rates again later this month to try and cool things off.

“President-elect Trump will inherit a much stronger economy than his predecessor did,” Standard & Poor’s economists said this week. “Largely forgotten in all the rhetoric and fanfare of the campaign is the fact that data show the world’s largest economy continuing to expand at a reasonably good pace.”

The recent gains are now allowing outgoing Obama officials to take something of a victory lap as they head out the door.

“I’ve been here eight years and it is really exciting to see that number, 4.6 percent. I didn’t think I’d ever see the unemployment rate that low,” Jason Furman, chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, told CNBC on Friday. “It’s fallen more than half. It’s because we’ve just created these steady jobs, month after month, 15.6 million of them in the private sector.”

The latest positive news came Friday, with the government reporting a gain of 178,000 jobs in November and the jobless rate falling to 4.6 percent, the lowest level since August 2007.

Some of the drop came from a decline in the size of the labor force. But the trend in the labor force has been up. Wages ticked down slightly in November after a large gain in October. But take-home pay is now rising at a solid annual rate of 2.5 percent.

And other major economic indicators are rising fast.

U.S. house prices this week hit new record highs, finally erasing the steep declines following the financial crisis. The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Thursday closed at another record high, hitting 19,191. The Nasdaq and Standard & Poor’s 500 also hit records last month. Consumer spending and incomes are both rising at a solid pace.

“Between surging consumer confidence levels, a booming stock market and home prices back above pre-recession levels, a number of boxes indicative of a healthy economy are being checked off,” Bankrate.com senior economist Mark Hamrick said in a note on Friday.

Put together, the picture is radically different than the one painted by Trump on the campaign trail, where he railed repeatedly against the Obama economy. “We have no growth right now,” Trump said in August. “The country’s a disaster.”

On the campaign trail in February he suggested the government’s numbers were faked.

“Don’t believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 and 5 percent unemployment,” Trump said in his victory speech after the New Hampshire primary. “The number’s probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent.”

No figures ever backed up Trump’s claims of soaring joblessness and no growth. The economy grew at a 3.2 percent pace in the third quarter. It could slow down again in the final quarter of the year. But the pace of job growth remains quick enough to keep the jobless rate falling and wages rising as employers compete for a smaller share of available workers.

“The labor market is pretty healthy and it’s clearly growing enough to stabilize the jobless rate,” said Jim O’Sullivan of High Frequency Economics. “In fact it’s booming relative to our underlying demographics right now.”

Despite the strong overall numbers, the economy is far from perfect and Trump and other Republicans continue to focus on pockets of weakness — including in manufacturing states in the Rust Belt that delivered the GOP nominee his stunning Electoral College victory last month despite losing the popular vote by over 2 million.

The November jobs report showed manufacturing employment declining for the fourth month in a row. Workers without at least a high school diploma continue to suffer far higher jobless rates while the unemployment rate for those with a college degree or higher is just 2.3 percent. Productivity gains remain low and the U.S. corporate tax code continues to discourage companies from expanding domestically.

Trump went to Indiana on Thursday to tout a deal with Carrier to keep around 1,000 jobs in the state that were slated to move to Mexico. The deal reportedly offered $7 million in tax breaks to Carrier and the company still plans to move more than 1,000 jobs south of the border.

Still, Republicans say Trump’s plans for lower tax rates and fewer regulations will unleash even faster and more widespread growth and keep more jobs in the U.S. “We need to create more opportunities for all Americans,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said in a statement after the jobs report. “For eight years, the American people have watched Washington focus on everything but jobs — and that’s about to change. I’m very pleased that the incoming Trump administration is already making it clear that job creation and economic growth are their top priorities.”

Democracy, Meh?

FiveThirtyEight

This week, The New York Times sent me and a lot of other millennials into a mild existential crisis with a report showing that only about 30 percent of us think it’s essential to live in a democracy. In comparison, about 75 percent of Americans born in the 1930s thought democracy was essential. According to political scientists Roberto Stefan Foa and Yascha Mounk, this could be a symptom of a deeply troubled nation sliding toward authoritarianism. Whoa. Guys. Are we really OK with that?

First, the bad news: That data is legitimate, and it fits with research other pollsters have done on the millennial generation — loosely defined as everybody born from 1980 to 1997. In general, compared with older Americans, my generation is less religious and less patriotic, said Paul Taylor, a former executive vice president of the Pew Research Center who has written a book on millennials’ values and beliefs. We trust other people less, and we’re less attached to political institutions. All of that could, in fact, make those political institutions less stable, just as Mounk and Foa suggest.

That said, this isn’t exactly the same thing as millennials not liking democracy or clamoring for a dictator, Taylor said, and that isn’t how we should think about the Mounk-Foa data. Instead, Taylor thinks this generational divide reflects a couple of sociopolitical trends. “By any metric, government has performed badly” over the last 20 years, he told me. Millennials have come of age in a time when our democratic government has been characterized by gridlock, partisanship, ineffectiveness and resistance to change. We don’t see democracy as an important part of what makes America great, in other words, not necessarily because we don’t like democracy, but because we’re frustrated with the way ours is operating. Meanwhile, Taylor said, older generations came of age in a cultural climate where defending democracy — from fascism, from communism — was heavily emphasized. Twentieth-century hangover drives their ratings of democracy up, while 21st-century political migraines drive ours down.

By

Maddow Goes on a Tear Over Trump Call: ‘This Conceivably Is the Way Wars Start’

MEDIAITE

Rachel Maddow last night had a pretty bewildered reaction to President-elect Donald Trump‘s call with the president of Taiwan.

She walked through the history of U.S. relations with China and Taiwan before saying that Trump may have “torn up” the relationship with China the U.S. has worked decades on.

“We don’t know if he did it on purpose or if he just bumbled into it,” she said. “Either way, this conceivably is the way wars start.”

Maddow seemed to genuinely not know if this was planned or just “a huge screw-up,” though she did say it seems “likely that he has no idea what he just stumbled into.”

Either way, she concluded, this is a pretty abrupt and “radical” shift in policy “without anybody having any warning at all that it was happening.”

Maddow also brought on Senator Chris Murphy to break down the issue after he basically echoed the same sentiments as her on Twitter:

You can watch above, via MSNBC.

by

Carrier To Employees: Donald Trump Lied, We’re Still Sending 1,300 Jobs To Mexico

Carrier To Employees: Donald Trump Lied, We’re Still Sending 1,300 Jobs To Mexico

Getty Images (Tom Pennington)/screengrab

ADDICTING INFO

In a deal that even stalwart Trump supporter calls a “hallmark of corruption” and “crony capitalism,” Trump and Pence offered the company $7 million to keep a small portion of the jobs they planned to move across the border in Indiana. The problem is that the company will still be moving 1,300 jobs Trump and his crew refuse to speak about. But Carrier was forthright with employees in a companywide letter explaining The Donald’s attempt to deceive the American public into thinking he was doing some actual good.

“While this announcement is good news for many, we recognize it is not good news for everyone,” the letter tells employees. Carrier explains that regardless of any deal with Trump they intend to “move forward with previously unannounced plans” to relocate 1,300 jobs to Mexico by the end of the year.

“We recognize that this has been very difficult for your families,” the letter says, praising employees for continuing to work even knowing the company intended to f*ck them over with or without Donald Trump’s input. “We greatly appreciate this and sincerely thank you for all your efforts.”

Trump’s dangerous decision to show companies that he will give them special favors if they merely threaten to take jobs elsewhere will have far-reaching impact, but the Wall Street Journal says that another aspect of the deal — Trump’s threats against the company if they didn’t comply — is far more dangerous than the bribe:

Mr. Trump’s Carrier squeeze might even cost more U.S. jobs if it makes CEOs more reluctant to build plants in the U.S. because it would be politically difficult to close them.

Yes, more jobs were lost than were saved and yes, Trump just set a precedent for providing financial gifts to companies who threaten to take jobs elsewhere, but Trump has managed to make it dangerous for companies to bring jobs here while he is President — something that we can expect will cause a lot of damage down the road.

By John Prager

China lodges complaint over Trump-Taiwan call

capture

In MY opinion the ignorance and stupidity coupled with a narcissistic personality will make the Trump presidency one for the history books…on how NOT to be a President-elect. (ks)

CNN

“We urge the relevant side in the US to adhere to the ‘one China’ policy, abide by the pledges in the three joint China-US communiques, and handle issues related to Taiwan carefully and properly to avoid causing unnecessary interference to the overall China-U.S. relationship.”
Earlier Saturday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi labeled the phone call “a shenanigan by the Taiwan side” when he was asked about it on the sidelines of a foreign policy seminar.
“The ‘one China’ policy is the cornerstone of a healthy China-U.S. relationship. I hope this political foundation won’t be disrupted or damaged,” he said.

First time in decades

Trump’s transition team said Friday that the President-elect had chatted with Tsai, who passed along her congratulations.
“During the discussion, they noted the close economic, political, and security ties (existing) between Taiwan and the United States. President-elect Trump also congratulated President Tsai on becoming President of Taiwan earlier this year.”
The chat marks the first publicly reported call between a US President or President-elect and the leader of Taiwan since Washington established diplomatic relations with Beijing in 1979, said Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
It is perhaps the first major sign of the unpredictability that Trump has vowed to bring to long-held US relations with the rest of the world.
The call, first reported by the Financial Times, risks throwing US-China relations into a tailspin before Trump takes the oath of office on January 20.
And it has prompted questions over whether Trump intends a shift in US policy, or if this was a blunder by a team with limited experience of international affairs.
Trump on Friday night emphasized that Taipei initiated the call.
“The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!” tweeted the President-elect.

MORE>>>

10 things you need to know today: December 2, 2016

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

THE WEEK

1. Trump picks ex-Marine Gen. James Mattis as defense secretary
President-elect Donald Trump said Thursday that he had chosen retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to be his secretary of defense. Mattis, known as “Mad Dog,” has a reputation for strong, aggressive thinking, and shares Trump’s hardline stance against potential enemies abroad, especially Iran. Mattis, 66, only left the military four years ago, so before he can be confirmed in the job, Congress will need to pass legislation to bypass a law requiring defense secretaries to have been out of uniform for at least seven years. Trump’s transition team and Mattis declined to comment. An official announcement could come as soon as next week.

Source: CNN, The Washington Post

2. Trump kicks off ‘thank-you’ tour with campaign-like rally in Ohio
In the first rally of what is being billed as a “thank-you” tour, President-elect Donald Trump returned to campaign mode in Cincinnati on Thursday, calling the media “very dishonest” and mocking those who predicted he would lose. Supporters chanted familiar campaign slogans about Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, shouting, “Lock her up!” They also urged him to follow through on his promised immigration crackdown, saying, “Build the wall!” Trump repeated his nationalistic message, vowing to put “America first” and “find common ground” to unite the country. He also said he would depend on high-energy rallies to build support for his legislative agenda in Washington.

Source: Los Angeles Times

3. Tennessee wildfire death toll rises to 11
The death toll from eastern Tennessee’s wildfires rose to 11 on Thursday, as emergency crews shifted from a rescue operation to recovery. Wildfires in and near Smoky Mountain National Park have scorched about 17,000 acres, including roughly half of the tourist town of Gatlinburg. About 700 homes and businesses have been damaged or destroyed, about 300 in Gatlinburg and 400 in nearby Pigeon Force. Some of the dead were found in burned rental cabins and motels. About 70 people were missing as of late Thursday. Officials say the fire was “likely to be human-caused.”

Source: USA Today

4. Trump and Carrier detail deal to keep 1,000 jobs in U.S.
President-elect Donald Trump visited a Carrier air-conditioner factory in Indiana on Thursday for the announcement of a deal to keep 1,000 jobs at the plant instead of moving them to Mexico. Another 600 jobs from the plant still will move to Mexico, and the company also plans to move about 700 jobs from another Indiana plant south of the border. The agreement that Trump struck with Carrier and its parent, United Technology, includes $7 million in incentives from Indiana in exchange for a $16 million investment in the plant over two years. Critics said Trump opened the door for other companies to request perks for keeping jobs in the U.S. Trump said his effort was “very presidential,” and he warned of consequences for companies that move jobs overseas.

Source: The Washington Post, CNN

5. Wisconsin kicks off presidential election recount
Wisconsin started its presidential election recount on Thursday, soon to be followed by Pennsylvania and Michigan. President-elect Donald Trump won all three states, sealing victory in the Electoral College, after pre-election polls indicated they would go to his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. Wisconsin’s recount will be the first candidate-requested review of presidential ballots in 16 years, but it was Green Party candidate Jill Stein, not Clinton, who demanded it and offered to foot part of the bill. Trump won by less than a percentage point — about 22,000 votes — in Wisconsin, but almost nobody expects the recounts to give Clinton victory over Trump.

Source: The Associated Press

6. Francoise Hollande says he won’t run for another term as France’s president
French President Francois Hollande, whose popularity is dropping, said Thursday that he would not run for reelection next year. The unprecedented move contributed to the country’s political turmoil. With France facing high unemployment, far-right populists are gaining strength as anti-immigrant sentiment rises. Some praised Hollande for giving his allies on the left a chance to find a stronger candidate. “As a Socialist, because that is my life’s commitment, I cannot accept, I cannot come to terms with the dispersion of the left, with its splitting up,” Hollande said. “Because that would remove all hope of winning in the face of conservatism and, worse yet, of extremism.”

Source: The New York Times

7. U.N. apologizes for slow cholera response in Haiti
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon apologized Thursdayfor the world body’s failure to do enough to fight Haiti’s 2010 cholera outbreak, but he avoided mentioning evidence that the deadly disease had been brought to the Caribbean nation by U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal. “We simply did not do enough with regard to the cholera outbreak and its spread in Haiti,” he said. “We are profoundly sorry for our role.” Ban made the remarks as he announced the U.N.’s new push to help communities affected by cholera, which has killed more than 9,000 Haitians.

Source: CBS News

8. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to step down in 2017
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said Thursday that he would step down next year. Schultz built the company into the world’s biggest coffeehouse chain, with 25,000 outlets in 75 countries. The company also sells its coffee through other retailers. On his watch, Starbucks also joined debates on hot-button issues from gun violence to gay rights to race relations. Schultz will be replaced by Starbucks president and longtime board member Kevin Johnson, a close friend. “This is a big day for me,” Schultz said. “I love the company as much as I love my family.”

Source: The New York Times

9. Bolivia suspends airline after deadly Colombia crash
Bolivia’s Civilian Aviation Authority on Thursday suspended LaMia airlines, the Bolivian-based company that operated the charter jet that crashed near Medellin, Colombia, on Monday, killing 71 people. Many of the victims were players or coaches for a Brazilian professional soccer team, Chapecoense, which was on its way to play in the biggest match of its history. Relatives of victims expressed anger after hearing reports that the pilot had told air traffic controllers that the plane had run out of fuel.

Source: The Associated Press

10. Ex-USC, New York Jets player Joe McKnight fatally shot
Former NFL player Joe McKnight was fatally shot in Louisiana on Thursday in what police are describing as a “possible road rage incident.” McKnight, 28, was shot several times at an intersection in Terrytown, Louisiana, about five miles southeast of New Orleans. Police took a suspect, Ronald Gasser, 54, into custody. McNight, a running back known for his versatility and speed, was a standout at the University of Southern California, and played for the New York Jets from 2010 to 2012.

Source: ESPN, The New York Times

New Analysis Finds SIGNIFICANT Voting Anomalies In Wisconsin – Recount To Begin Today

Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)

Darren Hauck via Getty Images

ADDICTING INFO

It turns out that there are a few new reasons for Wisconsin to proceed with their recount, and they have nothing to do with Jill Stein’s recount petition. Yes, she filed the petition and yes, she paid the fee, but the state needed to do this even without Stein’s request. A new analysis in the Washington Post discovered significant voting anomalies in several wards.

Trump now leads Hillary by just over 22,000 votes in Wisconsin. The WaPo analysis didn’t look at precincts or counties – they looked at wards, which are the smallest unit where votes are counted. This helped create a more detailed picture of what’s happening there.

Walter Mebane, an associate researcher at the Center for Political Studies and a professor of political science and statistics at the University of Michigan, looked at small wards that used optical scanning technology, and found that certain features in the vote tabulations reveal the possibility that these counts were tampered with.

For instance, using a method called “last digit diagnostics,” Mebane found that the tabulations he looked at should have last digits that, when averaged together, show a mean of around 4.5. Lower could mean that the counts were manipulated.

In the small wards he looked at where optical scanning tech was used, the last digit diagnostics reveal a mean average much lower than 4.5.

Another statistic Mebane looked at was how often the last digit of a vote tabulation was zero, or five. If there are no problems, then the mean average of that variable should be around 0.2. Larger could mean someone was sloppy, and smaller could mean votes were manipulated.

In these small wards, that number was significantly smaller than .2 for Hillary, meaning that the vote counts show a last digit of zero or five far less often than they should.

He also found evidence of something called “signaling” in the tabulations, which is when fraudsters leave a type of trail that more or less claims credit for the fraud. Mebane points out that this is actually a fairly common tactic amongst fraudsters in Russia.

Finally, a simple test revealed something called “multimodality,” which could show that someone was receiving fraudulent votes. These small wards exhibited that anomaly, too.

None of this is absolute proof of election fraud or vote fraud in Wisconsin, and Mebane is careful to note that. However, it gives credence to the need for a recount, whatever Jill Stein’s motivations are. If nothing else, conducting a thorough recount will lend further legitimacy to our democratic process or concretely reveal problems that need to be fixed. It might also serve to weaken Trump’s efforts to undermine our democracy by repeatedly crying “FRAUD!! FRAUD EVERYWHERE!!”

The recount begins today.

Rika Christensen

Mike Pence’s shameless attempt to rewrite history on his support for conversion therapy

Republican candidate for Vice President Mike Pence pauses during the vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia on October 4, 2016. / AFP / SAUL LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

attribution: AFP/Getty Images

DAILY KOS

Mike Pence suddenly wants the record to reflect that he never promoted so-called “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy,” the completely discredited and dangerous practice of trying to alter people’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This is a flat-out lie.

Let’s review what Pence put on his campaign website in 2000:

Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.

Now Pence’s spokesperson, Marc Lotter, is claiming that he never supported the practice. The New York Times writes:

Mr. Pence had not addressed speculation about his support for conversion therapy until last weekend, when Mr. Lotter told The Times it was “patently false” that Mr. Pence “supported or advocated” the practice.

Lotter said Pence simply wanted the money directed to “groups that promoted safe sexual practices.” Talk about “patently false.” First of all, what did Pence think all those AIDS organizations receiving federal funds were doing? They were promoting safe sex, idiot—as in using condoms.

Second, the notion that Pence was talking about safe sex when he said “those seeking to change their sexual behavior” is at once laughable and craven.

Pence didn’t even know what safe sex was. He’s the guy who in 2002 called condom use “too modern” and “a very, very poor protection against sexually transmitted diseases.” In that same interview, Pence told CNN he believed the “only true safe sex” was “no sex.”

Sorry, Mike. You couldn’t have been promoting “safe sexual practices” when you a) didn’t believe in them, and b) didn’t even know what they were.

Kerry Eleveld

Trump promised he’d make Carrier ‘pay a damn tax.’ Instead he’s doing the exact opposite.

CREDIT: Screengrab

THINK PROGRESS

On Thursday, President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence plan to hold a news conference touting the deal they struck this week with United Technology to keep fewer than 1,000 Carrier jobs in Indiana.

In exchange for not outsourcing some jobs, United Technology, which made a profit of $7.6 billion last year and owns Carrier, will reportedly receive $7 million over 10 years in state economic incentives. The company was also assured the Trump administration will lower corporations’ federal tax burden and ease regulations.

In a Wednesday press release, Carrier acknowledged both the federal and state incentives.

“Today’s announcement is possible because the incoming Trump-Pence administration has emphasized to us its commitment to support the business community and create an improved, more competitive U.S. business climate,” it says. “The incentives offered by the state were an important consideration.”

Trump and Pence dangled carrots in front of United Technology to entice the corporation to not outsource roughly 850 jobs to Mexico. But that’s a major departure from the approach Trump promised while talking about Carrier on the campaign trail.

During a rally in Indianapolis in April, Trump detailed plans to hit companies like Carrier that outsource jobs with a tariff of 35 percent when they try to sell their products in the United States.

Addressing Carrier specifically, Trump said, “you’re going to pay a damn tax when you leave this country and you think you’re going to sell product [here] because we’re all so stupid.”

During a Meet the Press interview three months later, Chuck Todd brought up Carrier specifically and asked Trump to “explain the consequence” for companies that outsource.

“If they’re going to fire all their people, move their plant to Mexico, build air conditioners, and think they’re going to sell those air conditioners to the United States — there’s going to be a tax,” Trump said. Pressed on exactly what that tax would be, Trump replied, “It could be 25 percent, it could be 35 percent, it could be 15 percent — I haven’t determined.”

Trump went on to denounce government officials for naively thinking that providing economic incentives to corporations keeps jobs in the United States — the exact approach he’s now taking with Carrier.

“We have been working on trying to stop — this government, because we don’t know what we’re doing, and not only Obama, they’ve been trying to stop this from before Obama — but they don’t know,” Trump said. “They’ve tried low interest loans, they’ve tried zero interest loans — these companies, they don’t need money.”

Since Carrier still plans to outsource a good number of jobs to Mexico — Fortune reports 600 from an Indianapolis plant and another 700 from a Huntington, Indiana plant are still slated to move south of the border, despite this week’s deal — it remains to be seen whether Trump will follow through with his campaign promise to hit the company with a stiff tariff.

The contradiction between what Trump said on the campaign trail and the deal he and Pence struck with Carrier was highlighted by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in an op-ed published by the Washington Post on Thursday entitled, “Carrier just showed corporations how to beat Donald Trump.”

“Just a short few months ago, Trump was pledging to force United Technologies to ‘pay a damn tax.’ He was insisting on very steep tariffs for companies like Carrier that left the United States and wanted to sell their foreign-made products back in the United States,” Sanders wrote. “Instead of a damn tax, the company will be rewarded with a damn tax cut. Wow! How’s that for standing up to corporate greed? How’s that for punishing corporations that shut down in the United States and move abroad?”

The Carrier deal isn’t the only example of President-elect Trump abruptly breaking with the tough rhetoric of candidate Trump. Just weeks after his last campaign ad featured singled out Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein as representing the “global power structure” responsible for pillaging America’s working class, Trump picked numerous Goldman alums for high-ranking positions in his administration. His Treasury Secretary choice, Steven Mnuchin, spent 17 years at Goldman before buying mortgage lender IndyMac in 2009, where he ran a “foreclosure machine,” in the words of the California Reinvestment Coalition.

Aaron Rupar

Schumer Fires Back After Ryan Accuses Dems Of ‘Medi-Scare’ Tactics

J. Scott Applewhite

TPM LIVEWIRE

This will get dark, comical and ridiculous. Republicans – particularly Marco Rubio – did significant damage to Obamacare by getting rid of the so-called ‘risk corridors’ in Obamacare by labeling them bailouts. They were not ‘bailouts’ but systems to cushion the transition to the Obamacare system, given the inability to make perfect guesses about the risk pools in the system. Now, according to The Hill, Republicans are looking at giving vast sums of money to insurance companies to give them a way to ride out the market collapse that the repeal of Obamacare would likely trigger – that is, ride it out until Republicans can think up something to replace Obamacare with.

From The Hill ...

One Republican lobbyist said that in discussions about a plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a replacement, insurers are “painting a picture of the market that isn’t very pretty and Republican staffers are getting the picture.”“They want to pump money back in to the insurers without appearing like they’re giving them a handout or bailing them out,” the lobbyist added.

A second lobbyist said Republican staff is discussing the effects of actually getting into law a repeal bill similar to the one passed last year through the fast-track process known as reconciliation. That measure would have taken out the core of ObamaCare on a two-year delay.

The lobbyist said Republicans are discussing: “What’s the impact on the 2018 plan year for that, and if it’s as bad as some people say, what are our options to mitigate the impact without looking like we’re bailing out the health insurance industry?”

This brings us to the essential copout behind all the ‘repeal’ jawboning. The health care industry has significantly remodeled itself around the Affordable Care Act. You can’t just pull the plug on that without all hell breaking loose, at least not all at once and not without a specific and visible framework for how you get from the repealed system to the new one. Republicans also have no policy or political answer to tens of millions of people losing their health care. In other words, they not only have no answer to ‘replace’ they don’t even have one for ‘repeal’.

The gargantuan giveaway to the health care industry we’re talking about here is supposedly to give Republicans time to figure out a replacement. But time isn’t the problem. They had more than six years to mull this one. They are simply unwilling to confront the actual alternatives. So the ‘bailout’ is a way to put off figuring out what to do.

Given Republican fears of being tarred with voting a “bailout” for the health care industry they are apparently also looking at ways President Trump can provide the cash through regulatory action, thus avoiding the need for a vote.

Lauren Fox