Americans truly are clueless

The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering whether Neil Gorsuch should become the next associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, a new C-SPAN/PSB Poll found that just 43% of Americans could name even one Supreme Court justice. Sadly for Justice Stephen Breyer, not a single person surveyed offered his name when prompted to name one of the eight current justices.

America suffers not from maliciousness, but from ignorance. Our politicians, our institutions, our media — all greatly benefit from a clueless citizenry. It’s so sad.

George Carlin

POLITICS

An opening for liberals

Over seven years of promising to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, Republicans finally produced an actual plan last night. Congressional Republicans didn’t bother to wait until the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored the plan, so they don’t actually know how much it will cost. And if they do know how many people will lose coverage under this plan — they aren’t saying.

In his effort to “Make America Great Again,” President Trump promised that he would replace the ACA with something “better” — meaning it would have broader benefits, costs less, and cover more people. The plan that Republicans have introduced does none of those things. And this development presents a political opening for progressives. (Vox has a great breakdown of the ACA and the new bill here.)

The Republicans never actually thought they would be in a position to really repeal and replace the ACA, thus, it really didn’t matter that their math didn’t add up or that the complexities of health reform would make any number of their ideas a non-starter. As long as they were in strict opposition to Barack Obama, they only needed to sound good — not actually promote coherent policy.

But now, things have changed. The Republicans control the White House and all of Congress. They now have the burden of governing. Now, much to their dismay, they must pass something. And there is broad disagreement even among them on what to do.

The reason the GOP didn’t wait for the CBO to score the bill is because they know it’s a budget-buster. Why wait and hand the Democrats a tool to beat you over the head with? And they aren’t even pretending that the new American Health Care Act will cover as many people as the Affordable Care Act currently does. Beyond those two realities are even bigger problems — this new bill contains no individual mandate, and replaces the ACA’s subsidies with tax credits. In other words, it will be easier for rich people to get covered, and far more difficult for poor or sick people to get covered. This new bill also contains almost no incentive for young people to sign up — since there will be no penalty for not purchasing health insurance.

This entire enterprise is a disaster. As The Washington Post notes, the GOP is slow-walking through minefields. The Democrats still have the burn scars from the last time they tried to fix health care in America. Now, they’ll have front-row seats as the Republicans flambe themselves. This represents the first policy opening for a liberal return to governing. The progressives should just sit back and watch the show, and be prepared to pick up the pieces in 2018 and 2020. And should anyone doubt that obstructing a president’s efforts to reform health care is bad politics, well, just look at the Republicans now in power.

 

POLITICS

The case of Timothy Kaine as vice president

KAINE

Earlier today I authored a diary at Daily Kos, arguing the case for Tim Kaine’s selection as Hillary Clinton’s running mate. Here’s an excerpt:

Giving great speeches, commanding great crowds, and landing zingers on Donald Trump is all great fun — but it isn’t the requisite set of skills needed to serve as Hillary Clinton’s governing partner. We know that Clinton is a serious policy wonk. We know that she values preparation, due diligence and networking — even building partnerships across the political aisle. Her campaign has all but acknowledged that, if elected, the administration will forego big wins in favor of smaller victories that could have a cumulative effect. This is the absolute right way to approach a presidency in succession to Barack Obama — and it will require a vice president of varied experience, temperament and political leanings. That vice president is Tim Kaine.

Read the full diary here.

POLITICS

Bernie’s a liar. There will be no contested convention. Here’s why…

Bernie Sanders

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders made news yesterday, when he asserted that next month’s Democratic National Convention would be “contested.” According to Sanders, neither he nor Hillary Clinton will have enough pledged delegates to secure the nomination — and since unpledged delegates (aka super-delegates) do not vote until the convention — the entire event will be “contested.”

That’s a lie.

To be fair, I don’t think Sanders lied intentionally, I just think he misunderstands what a contested convention actually is. The purpose of a political convention is to pick the leader (nominee) of said political party. Generally speaking, whoever receives a majority of all delegates gets the nomination. On the initial ballot, if any candidate gets a majority of all delegates, the process is over and the nominee is established. If no candidate gets a majority on the first ballot, then the convention is said to be “contested” — meaning that a candidate needs to build a coalition of delegates to reach a majority. Contested conventions are only likely when three or more candidates have a significant number of delegates.

Hillary Clinton will end the primary process with more popular votes, more pledged delegates, more super-delegates, and more states won. On the first ballot, all of her delegates will cast their vote for her. Because of this certain fact, there is zero chance that the convention will be contested.

Finally, there is another reason why we know the convention won’t be contested. Sanders and Clinton are the only two candidates with any delegates to the 2016 Democratic National Convention. With only two people on the ballot, it’s mathematically impossible that someone won’t get a majority on the first ballot. Think about it: The overall number of delegates is an odd number; so with only two options, someone will have a majority once all delegates vote.

Bernie Sanders has a lot great qualities, but math and logic aren’t among them.

POLITICS