Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Here's the big headline at Vox right now:
By picking Tom Price to lead HHS, Trump shows he’s absolutely serious about dismantling Obamacare
Apparently, up until now the intelligentsia wasn't quite sure that Republicans meant it the eighty thousand times they told us that their most important domestic policy goal was the end of Obamacare. They were just joking! It was an elaborate, sustained bit of performance art!

No, really, guys, Republicans were serious. Trump knew they were serious, and Trump's going for it, just as every other Republican who had a chance to win the party's presidential nomination would have gone for it.

From the Vox story:
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for health and human services secretary, already has a plan for how to abolish Obamacare....

Price ... is the author of the Empowering Patients First Act, one of the most thorough and detailed proposals to repeal and replace Obamacare. He’s the HHS secretary you’d pick if you were dead serious about dismantling the law.

It would replace the law with a plan that does more to benefit the young, healthy, and rich -- and disadvantages the sick, old, and poor....

The biggest cut to the poor in Price’s plan is the full repeal of the Medicaid expansion, a program that currently covers millions of low-income Americans, which Price replaces with, well, nothing.
But even if Price's plan isn't enacted as he wrote it, whatever takes the place of Obamacare will cover fewer people, and will be especially hard on those who need healthcare most. That has Paul Krugman asking,
So here’s the question: how many people just shot themselves in the face?

My first pass answer is, between 3.5 and 4 million.
That's Krugman's back-of-the-envelope estimate of how many Trump voters will be thrown off the healthcare rolls.

Greg Sargent writes:
I have obtained new numbers from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index that suggest that a lot of poor and working-class whites -- who voted for Trump in disproportionate numbers -- have benefited from Obamacare, meaning they likely stand to lose out from its repeal (and even its replacement with something that covers far fewer people). ...

Gallup-Healthways tells me that among whites without a college degree who have household incomes of under $36,000, the uninsured rate has dropped from 25 percent in 2013 to 15 percent now -- a drop of 10 percentage points.

... it now looks more likely that we’ll see a substantial rollback of the progress toward universal health coverage we’ve seen in the past few years. News organizations love to venture into Trump’s America to hear voters explain that Trump spoke far more directly to their economic struggles than Democrats did. Maybe now we’ll get more coverage of those inhabitants of Trump’s America who are set to lose their health care, too.
But if you're thinking that those voters will direct their anger at Trump and fellow Republicans when their healthcare is taken away, ask yourself: Were heartland whites angry at Ronald Reagan when he busted the air traffic controllers' union, a signal event in the decline of the American labor movement? No -- a few years later their votes contributed to a 49-state landslide for Reagan. Did heartland whites rail at big banks after the 2008 financial crisis? No -- Tea Party members denounced President Obama and his fellow Democrats for alleged spending excesses and for Obamacare.

The pattern always holds. In Strangers in Their Own Land, Arlie Russell Hochschild writes about Tea Party supporters who refuse to direct their angry at the very people who do harm to them. This is from Nathaniel Rich's review of the book in The New York Review of Books:
The paradox that most baffles Hochschild is the question of environmental pollution. Even the most ideologically driven zealots don’t want to drink poisoned water, inhale toxic gas, or become susceptible to record flooding. Yet southwestern Louisiana combines some of the nation’s most fervently antiregulatory voters with its most toxic environmental conditions....

Hochschild discovers a walking personification of these ironies in a Cajun oil rig engineer named Mike Schaff. In August 2012, Schaff was entering his home in Bayou Corne, about seventy miles west of New Orleans, when he was jolted by a tremor. His concrete living room floor cracked apart. The sound, said a neighbor, was like a “garbage truck had dropped a dumpster.”

More than a mile beneath the bayou, a Houston-based drilling company named Texas Brine had drilled into a vast salt dome, ignoring warnings from its own engineer.... Texas Brine drills for salt, which it sells to chlorine manufacturers, but other companies had used sections of the salt dome to store chemicals and oil. Texas Brine drilled too closely to an oil deposit and the structure ruptured, sucking down forest and causing seismic damage to the homes of 350 nearby residents. Officials began referring to Schaff’s neighborhood as the “sacrifice zone.”

Texas Brine refused to take responsibility for the accident.... Four years later the sinkhole is 750 feet deep at its center and has grown to thirty-five acres. Methane and other gases bubble up periodically. Residents who defied evacuation orders avoided lighting matches.

... [Schaff] marched on the statehouse, wrote fifty letters to state and federal officials, granted dozens of interviews to local, national, and foreign press. When state officials claimed they had detected no oil in the bayou, he demanded that the EPA check their work.

But Schaff continued to vote Tea Party down the line. He voted for the very politicians who had abetted Texas Brine at every turn, who opposed environmental regulation of any kind. He voted to “abolish” the EPA, believing that it “was grabbing authority and tax money to take on a fictive mission…lessening the impact of global warming.” The violent destruction of everything he held dear was not enough to change his mind.
(Emphasis added.)

And among Hochschild's subjects, Schaff isn't alone:
When asked about catastrophic oil spills that result from lax regulation, one woman says, “It’s not in the company’s own interest to have a spill or an accident…. So if there’s a spill, it’s probably the best the company could do.” Madonna Massey says: “Sure, I want clean air and water, but I trust our system to assure it.” Jackie Tabor, whom Hochschild describes as “an obedient Christian wife,” says: “You have to put up with things the way they are…. Pollution is the sacrifice we make for capitalism” ...
After repeal, the Trumpers will get inadequate insurance, or no insurance -- and they won't blame Trump, or the greedy insurance companies that won't cover them adequately. If they blame anyone, they'll blame the usual suspects: Democrats, liberals, "big government" (yes, even if the new system is far more privatized). It's what heartland whites always do. Don't expect it to change.


Victor said...

I don't expect change.

I'm not sure whether it's insanity, or stupidity that goes bone marrow deep, but these white assholes do the same thing repeatedly, and figure this time the dice will roll or the cards they draw, will be in their favor.
And they don't learn when they get 'snake-eyes' again, or draw a face-card while they already have 18, and lose.

Unknown said...

What's Wrong With Kansas? KY? Texas? Wisconsin? NJ? To tell you the truth I dont care anymore. Yesterday we learned Walker's Wisconsin faces a $2.3 Billion deficit BUT Koch Bros got heir mine going so its cool? Steve you are 100% correct. Mitch McConnell just stopped Coal Miners, many in his home state of KY, from saving their pensions. "Mitch is a good old boy. If he did it its because Obama made him do it. Obama really is the one who hates us. Trump probably tried also BUT Obama is still the President. Thats who screwed us".
When all those Trump voters lose their Health Care they will probably still blame Obama.

Steve @rhetormorrison said...

I have to agree. Many studies (e.g., Bartels, 2002) have shown that partisans don't punish their candidates for bad events because they simply don't acknowledge bad events that happen when their side is in power (nor do they note good events when the opposition is in power).

For the most part, policies have very little influence on partisan identity (in fact, they're more likely to be a product of that identity--people support the policies of their side, rather than choosing their side because of the policies it supports).

Of course, the "for the most part" is quite important. 90% of people may be unpersuadable with policies (or even facts in general), but you don't need to persuade them. The 10% is enough to swing an election. Still, there are better (more effective, that is) ways to persuade, I believe.

Unknown said...

With the Republicans in charge of all arms of government it's hard to figure how this can be blamed on the Democrats. These people will find a way.

Unknown said...

Unless they see it on Fox, read it on Drudge, Breitbart, or Infowars, or hear it from Limbaugh and his ilk, they won't believe anything. Including what's right in front of their eyes. This is the Republican base. When things get worse, they'll blame it on Obama, or Clinton, or Carter, or any Democrat who's held up as a scapegoat because they've been told for decades that Dems and liberals are evil and they believe it without reservation. No one they talk to over the course of the day disagrees with them, their online activity is a self-sustaining infinite recursion of stupidity, and they won't believe anyone who tries to convince them otherwise -- not coworkers, not friends, not even family. This is the Republican base. The one that the Birchers and the Klan and the Southern Strategy planted the seeds of, that Reagan started bringing into the light of day, and now finds full flower under Trump. They are certain that God is on their side, the Founding Fathers smile down on them, and that anyone who opposes them must be destroyed, utterly and mercilessly. They can not be reasoned with because they do not believe in reason. They have faith, and absolute certainty. They live in a world of binary absolutes. They will not compromise, or moderate, or postpone what they want because what they want is Right and Patriotic and Holy. This is the Republican base, and if the United States is to exist, they can not be merely defeated. They must have unleashed on them what they wish for the rest of us: total annihilation.

Ok said...

We should deport these simpletons to China so they can see what happens when you trust business to take care of the environment.

Feud Turgidson said...

All this talk of deporting assumes cooperation on the part of countries receiving deportees. IOW it's most bull crap talk. These folks are great at screwing things up, but hopeless at making anything work.

The more I've seen of Republicanism since first becoming aware of civics in middle school, all those decades ago, the more I come to think that I really understood all I needed to from reading DC comic books on Bizarro Superman and Bizarro World.

I've come across refs to "the king In yellow" dozens or I don't know how many times; I expect just a tiny sliver compared to the total of them. It's a fictional device connoting unspeakable horrors - at least that's the way I think of it, & how writers who've used to it use it for.

But those comix and wyrdfic writers and I have never been inside the head of even one authoritarian, out of that vast toad pond of the unloved, the scarred, the scared, the damaged, those vicious, thoughtless, gullible, kneejerk tribal folk. For all we know, to many of them, the king in yellow is the culmination of some prophecy of salvation.

To some people, Felix Dzerzhinsky, first head of the Cheka political police, was a patriot for the working class, during the various Russian Revolutions during the early decades of the 1900s. To others, he was a terrorist. There's a famous essay/interview in an underground political paper (today we'd find it in a blog) where he admitted deliberately behaving either 'as' or 'like' a terrorist, in that it was an essential part of his work over the first 25 years of the 20th century (when he wasn't in prison or exiled). There are actually debates over the differences if any between 'as' and 'like' in that context. While reading those, I wondered, Did the difference make any difference to his victims?

So right now we're between the king in yellow fans and the wingnut justifiers of domestic terror, and all I can think of is that timeless comment Enrico Fermi had about people accepting new ideas over time, that it really doesn't work that way at all, it's just that folks who think that way die off.

pbriggsiam said...

So what do you think the way forward is for taking back power at state and federal levels again? Seems hopeless if what you say is true for most of these white working class voters.

Martin Longman wrote about our rural problem here:


He seems more optimistic we'll peel off enough of them to make a difference.

Itchybod said...

pbriggsiam, That's NOT TRUE.

On the same front page of his blog, Booman also posted this:


"it doesn’t seem likely that Tim Ryan will succeed in dethroning Nancy Pelosi as the leader of the House Democrats when they hold their leadership elections on Wednesday"

Who TF R U, anyway? Ryan voted FOR the Stupak Amendment (and not for minute do I buy his bull crap recant). Ryan is against even the soft financial industry reforms and increased SEC & Treasury supervision of the banking industry that came in with Dodd-Frank. Ryan co-sponsored the inanely naive and short-sighted bill aimed at somehow 'punishing' China for currency manipulation, obviously oblivious to even the most elementary understanding of how China's policies in propping up its currency were dooming its capacity to broaden and sustain its private small entrepreneur class movement (which then died of SIDS). Ryan is NOT broadly supported in the Dem caucus, except among those threatened by the empowerment of women. Ryan might just as easily be a Republican for all the good he does working people, women and minorities. Ryan is a closet Dumpster, and nor promising nor genuine a challenger to Pelosi's leadership than that moron failed NFL football QB out of NC who tried to pull off this same inside job after 2010.

It's bad enough that you get Ryan so wrong; explain how it is you can justify citing Booman for the OPPOSITE of what he's saying.

Lit3Bolt said...

Biblical ethics have been twisted by a ruling class into a Great Chain of Being that unwitting serfs serve without question. News at 11.

Unknown said...

Sorry air traffic wasn't health care. People will die and suffer and they will remember. L live in one of the reddest districts in the Sierra Foothills and died in the wool republicans voted for Hillary because tRump said he'd scrap the ACA. They did this because they have family remember who rely on the ACA to stay alive. When a loved ones life is threatened you don't forget.