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If Trumpcare Fails

2017 March 24
by Ian Welsh

Update: And, they have pulled the bill. Now Trump needs to get a win. (Note: This would have been a loss if it had actually passed, though Trump may not realize that.)

It will be for the best for both America and Trump. The original deal was bad, and the deal that Ryan and Trump have negotiated would have been disastrous–literally worse than no bill at all.

This is true for Americans, who would have worse quality care, along with less, more expensive coverage; and it is true for Trump, who promised something better and whose marginal followers will know he betrayed them. Indeed, polls have shown a collapse of Trump’s approval ratings since the first viewing of the draft bill.

If Trump is pushing for a vote when he knows he doesn’t have the vote, perhaps there’s some dim idea of that fact in there. A bad deal, as Trump knew in the 1980s, is worse than no deal at all.


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88 Responses
  1. March 24, 2017

    I hope you’re not implying that Trump *wants* to lose the vote. That is very 11-dimensional chessy, I thought that was supposed to be my turf.

  2. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    March 24, 2017

    Maybe now he can focus on another one of his pet projects — the reinstatement of the death penalty in New York State so the Central Park Five can be executed for a crime they did not commit. I have a feeling that one would pass both houses of Congress and their constituents would be happy happy.

  3. Effem permalink
    March 24, 2017

    Trump struck political gold and doesn’t even know it. Now as healthcare costs continue to skyrocket he can blame “establishment DC.”

  4. Ian Welsh permalink*
    March 24, 2017

    Mandos,

    have you read “The Art of the Deal”? Trump himself says not to make a deal at any cost: to just walk. I assume he wanted a deal, yes. He may not want this deal.

    Or he may.

    Whether he does or not, he shouldn’t, and he’ll be better off if it fails.

    Also, reports are he wanted healthcare done so he could get to stuff he actually cares about, like Trade. This may not be a “must do” for him.

  5. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    March 24, 2017

    I think Trump believes he can blame Congress as his scapegoat (just as Obama did) but what the moron doesn’t realize is, any intelligent person can see this is veritable proof, as if you needed any more proof, that he is not quite the negotiator he claims to be. Lyndon B. Johnson he is not. Don’t get me wrong, I despise Johnson — he was a sleazy, slimy, crude, creepy-crawly creature — but he sure knew how to work Congress to get done what he wanted done. He was one of the last of a dying breed in that regard. The only thing Congress agrees on any longer is legislation that furthers the interests of The Rich. The rest is pretty much Gridlock, and I’d say it’s purposeful Gridlock.

  6. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    March 24, 2017

    “Trump didn’t do this on purpose, it was just blind luck” said the increasingly nervous man for the 68th straight time.

    Maybe Trump gave Ryan just enough rope.

  7. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    March 24, 2017

    Maybe Trump gave Ryan just enough rope.

    If so, per Putin’s instructions as part of the plan to implode America. Putin’s the only one who benefits from this morass. He couldn’t ask for anything more.

  8. Buzzard permalink
    March 24, 2017

    But if Trump believes that “no deal” is better than a “bad deal”, then one would think he’d be advocating no vote at all. The optics of Trumpcare (or, as I’ve seen it referred to as, the Republican Insurance Plan) failing in a very public vote in a GOP-controlled House are far worse than the optics of just no vote, at all. That would allow Trump to move on to other things without the millstone of a failed vote around his neck.

    Or maybe it’ll pass. I can easily see enough “moderate” Republicans ultimately supporting the bill for the right bribes.

  9. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    March 24, 2017

    TSMB, next you’ll be telling me to expect a Trump-Putin 10th Crusade to re-take Constantinople. Please no, don’t throw me in that briar patch.

  10. StewartM permalink
    March 24, 2017

    I am hoping Trump wants this awful deal to fail. This is a deal that has only 17 % popular support (56 % strongly against), there is absolutely *no* constituency beyond Congress clamoring for this deal (and yet note, how the pro-capitalist ideologues are trying to push it out in 1/10th the time spent on passing Obamacare). I’m not thinking even the PTB in the insurance industry and medical service providers like this bill (fewer insured, fewer paying customers). The original bill was awful enough, the most recent version (stripping many currently-required essential services away) is even worse.

    For all the dire warnings of “death spiral” of the private insurance industry under Obamacare, to me it’s hard to imagine that Ryancare wouldn’t make this worse (more people lose insurance, more people have to rely on emergency room care, providers raise prices to pass the cost of this to those having insurance, insurance companies raise premiums to recoup costs, higher premiums in turn lead to more people unable to afford insurance, etc). A “death spiral” of private insurance might in the long run be a good thing (forcing Medicare-for-all) but a lot of people would suffer before that necessity became obvious (and given how corrupted our leadership is across the board, and how insulated they are from the distress facing ordinary Americans, I’m not 100 % sure even then).

  11. Mallam permalink
    March 24, 2017

    As Buzzard says, it is strategically and politically stupid to vote on things you know will fail so you can “take names”. Trump sucks at negotiation, always has. If he truly knew when to back down, he’d call off a vote indefinitely until the votes are there. But hey, if he wants to force Paul Ryan and his Merry Pranksters to walk the plank on a bill polling at 17% support, be my guest. Tax reform won’t be any easier.

  12. realitychecker permalink
    March 24, 2017

    Ian is surely correct that a failed vote is the best political outcome for Trump.

    I am fairly certain that Trump sees it that way as well.

    It’s really amusing to see how many are willing to just read their own personal wishes into a confusing situation, though. 🙂

  13. Willy permalink
    March 24, 2017

    ‘Repeal it, replace it, get something great!’

    Since it’s obviously not so great, does Art of the Deal describe how one advances a Plan B? I’m wondering if even Tony Schwarz remembers.

  14. S Brennan permalink
    March 24, 2017

    I concur with RC’s remark above, Mandos postulate that Trump is so-ooo Stu-pid that he can’t figure out what is best for himself is foily.

    Oh, and one other thing, we are talking about GOPcare vs GOPcare, Obamacare is the early 90’s Heritage-Plan*/RomnyCare, watching “liberals” laying themselves down on the wire to defend the thing would be humorous, were it not so pathetic.

    * A plan that was meant to forestall true healthcare reform, alas, unneeded at the time, thanks to Hillary’s ministrations.

  15. Mallam permalink
    March 24, 2017

    What Paul Ryan is proposing is actually what Heritage proposed. Where ACA and Trumpcare differ is where ACA and 90’s Heritage differ. I understand why this is so confusing for you, the Freedom Caucus doesn’t see the difference either because of the same basic structure. Heritage similarly destroyed Medicaid, while ACA expanded it, for example. Heritage subsidies didn’t amount to anything because they never outlined how they’d be paid for — so it never put a dollar amount. Which is another difference: ACA soaks the rich with a surtax, and then provides heavily subsidized insurance for the lower middle class and Medicaid for the poor. It is a transfer of wealth from rich to poor. That is the fundamental difference.

    Now we should push for more. Medicaid or Medicare for everyone. Every succession creates new baselines. This is difficult to repeal because of the Medicaid expansion.

  16. Mallam permalink
    March 24, 2017

    Trump called to have the bill pulled. No vote on it. Even he knows what a disaster it is to vote on something you know will fail to “take names”. Anyone who thought such a strategy was smart like five minutes ago just because Trump seemingly employed it can stop now. Or wait, that was his strategy all along!!! Remember, he can never fail.

  17. StewartM permalink
    March 24, 2017

    @Mallam

    Trump called to have the bill pulled. No vote on it. Even he knows what a disaster it is to vote on something you know will fail to “take names”.

    Trump wanted a public vote to be able to retaliate against the “no” voters (or so Spicer said).

    Both “no” and “yes” Repugs didn’t want to face possible backlash of a public vote (in Republican primaries, or in general elections). A “no” vote might result in a primary challenge (“you failed to repeal Obamacare!”), while a “yes” vote might result in a general election loss in a swing district (especially considering how unpopular the bill was, even from Republican voters). Given that the prospect of the Senate passing this bad bill was even less, then either risk (from their POV) was unacceptable.

    So did Trump cave to Paul Ryan? Or was he seeking to damage Paul Ryan? Or (as some suggest) he’s not that big on repealing Obamacare and wants this behind him?

  18. Mallam permalink
    March 24, 2017

    Stewart, well never say never with Trump: Bob Acosta of CNN is reporting his sources say Trump wanted the vote anyway, and that Ryan begged him not to force one. So we have finger pointing and circular firing squads. Trump or Ryan, the answer is clear: Trump wanted a vote, Ryan knew it’d be a disaster. Matt Fuller reports that there was maybe 170-180 votes for it.

  19. March 24, 2017

    The problem is he needs the money for tax cuts. This is a generation of wealthy people who can figure out any other way to make money.

    ( https://wordcounter.net/3g2fom A novella – satire on Trump)

  20. realitychecker permalink
    March 24, 2017

    @ Mallam

    Other sources, like NPR, are also reporting that Ryan went to the White House and asked Trump in a private meeting to call off the vote for now.

    That sounds to me like Ryan needed to avoid the vote, and promised to do something for Trump in exchange later on.

    Before you dance on the graves of those who got it ‘wrong,’ remind yourself that delaying the vote was never part of the question.

    It’s always hard to predict what weasel pols will do, they are so addicted to their secrecy and kabuki, but when the facts change, the analysis also changes, n’est-ce pas?

  21. realitychecker permalink
    March 24, 2017

    P.S. I just saw the video of Trump asserting today, correctly, that he said all along that the best POLITICAL strategy for him was to leave ACA in place and let the Dems own it while it implodes.

    I guess that settles the question, doesn’t it?

  22. Heliopause permalink
    March 24, 2017

    They decided to have this political disaster on a Friday afternoon, not surprisingly. While Dems and the MSM crow about this over the weekend the country will be mostly paying attention to other things, and Trump will be playing golf and cooking up his next distraction. Fun times ahead.

  23. Mallam permalink
    March 24, 2017

    Lol, no one is going to buy that argument. He is in charge. There’s also no imploding happening. State such as Tennessee and Arizona have one provider; other states like Michigan have stabilized markets. If I were the Democrats, I’d call his bluff and offer Medicare drug negotiation, expanding Medicaid to states that refused to take it, Medicare buy-in, etc. Shit, offer Medicare for all with a CBO score showing how many people it covers.

    The reality is he doesn’t know what he’s doing. If he was ever going to do things, he was going to need 150-180 Democratic votes with 30-40 Republicans who don’t care about policy. Of course, to do that he’d have to tell Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to fuck off — and that’s not going to happen.

  24. March 24, 2017

    Ian,

    as others have pointed out, “walking away” is not having the vote, not letting the vote take place. Government and law-making is not doing casino deals. It is not a question of whether Trump is “stupid” or otherwise, it is that “doing government” is a different skill from the things that Trump has done before. It is that there is a parliamentary entity who is not precisely a negotiating partner, not precisely a competitor, not precisely a subordinate entity (not at all, technically), etc, etc, and actions that take place in that parliamentary entity are not precisely business deals. (A very neoliberal idea, that.)

    I can, however, well believe that Trump might have wanted to *avoid* the vote. But at least from the comments here, I see that there are conflicting stories about who wanted to avoid what.

    If Trump wants to “retaliate” against GOP congresscritters who voted against the bill, he would be retaliating against the people who *stopped* what is rightly known as a truckload of horse-hooey. ie, that would show that *this is the bill he wanted*. It is certainly possible that he wanted any bill to pass, and he wanted to move on to “more important” things like trade. Having a bad bill go through Congress under *his* name and then *fail* cannot bode well for his performance on “more important” things.

    Having it *pass*, even though it is a bad bill is strictly better than failing on a bad bill. Even if the bill is bad.

  25. StewartM permalink
    March 24, 2017

    RC:

    I just saw the video of Trump asserting today, correctly, that he said all along that the best POLITICAL strategy for him was to leave ACA in place and let the Dems own it while it implodes.

    But the ACA isn’t imploding, according to the CBO. And even if you disagree with the CBO on that, for almost any reason you’d care to propose why it would implode then by that logic Ryancare/Trumpcare would speed up the implosion, not postpone it. The very reason why US healthcare is so costly, so crappy, and has such bad outcomes is the very fact we don’t adequately cover everyone. Anything that makes coverage worse (which Ryancare/Trumpcare certainly would) would make it costlier and crappier and less sustainable, not more.

    There was *NO*, repeat *NO* constituency for this bill. It was widely unpopular among voters (even among Republican voters). A more cynical view would say that it was the opposition of many industry groups that killed RyanCare/Trumpcare, more than the phone calls of mere voters protesting it. There were just few lobbyists making calls to get this bill through; they have more interest in keeping the ACA.

    The only people for this bill were capitalist ideologues who believe in magical free market unicorns which solve all problems, and for many of them, this bill wasn’t pure enough.

  26. March 24, 2017

    I mean it’s great that the bill has not been put through, for those who would have been hurt by it. Whether the ACA will collapse on its own is another matter — since the ACA must be administered by, you know, the administration, they have some power to sabotage it, I gather.

  27. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    March 24, 2017

    Left-right Grand Bargain: single payer in exchange for closing the borders. Who says no?

  28. March 24, 2017

    The only people for this bill were capitalist ideologues who believe in magical free market unicorns which solve all problems, and for many of them, this bill wasn’t pure enough.

    Yes, one ignores at one’s peril that these people exist and have power and have an influence on politics apart from that of corporate paymasters due to cultural narratives deeply embedded in American society. The true believers in the magical free market unicorns, they are real, and you cannot ignore the existence of Rand-worshippers.

  29. March 24, 2017

    Left-right Grand Bargain: single payer in exchange for closing the borders. Who says no?

    Depends on what you mean by “closing the borders”. Does it involve the summoning of the border-closing unicorn?

  30. March 24, 2017

    And no, I have not read “The Art of the Deal” nor do I spend a lot of time considering Trump’s business smarts as a serious topic, in the same sense that reading homeopathy textbooks and trying to imagine how it works is low on my list of priorities — despite that homeopathy is a huge industry pulling in a lot of revenue! So, clearly, homeopathy is doing something right in something, but in the context of “how does it work as medicine?”, I suggest it’s not really a high-priority item, because, you know, it doesn’t.

    In the same way, I will wait until something about Trump works as politics and as policy. Surely something about him works as politics — he got elected over Clinton, after all — but everything after that seems not to have gone to his advantage, neither in politics nor in policy. On the other hand, while the ACA is clearly suboptimal, look at the clever Chinese finger-trap design, almost precisely crafted to make it difficult for the GOP to get rid of it in one blow — partly because it is better than not having it!

    But, as I keep saying, it’s early yet, maybe the 11-dimensional chess will take hold and he is actually steering the ship towards single-payer. Let’s all hold our breath…

  31. StewartM permalink
    March 24, 2017

    Mandos:

    you cannot ignore the existence of Rand-worshippers.

    Yeah, every time I hear a libertarian compare the skyrocketing cost of healthcare to the more constrained cost of veterinary care (neglecting, of course, that much of the cost for humans occurs in the last year of life, and you can’t put Grandma down when she gets arthritis, like people do with dogs) it makes me want to barf. Yet this is what passes for “serious discussion and perspective” on TeeVee politics.

  32. S Brennan permalink
    March 24, 2017

    Mallam; I could put a lot of links that call bullshit on your claim ~ “ObamaCare DID NOT spring from the right wing “think tank” Heritage Foundation”, but I like this one because it has you and right winger Hannity on the same page…which often the case with Hillary supporting nut jobs.

    http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2013/nov/15/ellen-qualls/aca-gop-health-care-plan-1993/

  33. Tony Wikrent permalink
    March 24, 2017

    The only people for this bill were capitalist ideologues who believe in magical free market unicorns which solve all problems, and for many of them, this bill wasn’t pure enough.

    Cenk Uygur on The Young Turks: Koch Brothers Sabotage Trump’s Big Plans. Koch’s Americans For Prosperity have gathered $300 million to $400 million for next election cycle and are openly telling Rethugs in Congress anyone who votes for the RIP bill (Republican Insurance Plan) will not get a cent, but their primary opponents will, and those who vote against RIP will be rewarded.

    https://youtu.be/oMNTy43dLdo

    $300 million in return for $600 billion in tax cuts. As Stirling Newberry wrote above, “This is a generation of wealthy people who can’t figure out any other way to make money.” (I believe Newberry meant to write “can’t” not “can.”)

  34. Ivory Bill Woodpecker permalink
    March 24, 2017

    Cenk Uygur on The Young Turks: Koch Brothers Sabotage Trump’s Big Plans. Koch’s Americans For Prosperity have gathered $300 million to $400 million for next election cycle and are openly telling Rethugs in Congress anyone who votes for the RIP bill (Republican Insurance Plan) will not get a cent, but their primary opponents will, and those who vote against RIP will be rewarded.

    When is the mighty God-Emperor going to bitchslap the Koch Brothers into quivering submission?

    “…”

    What’s that? I missed that? When what freezes over? 😈

  35. Tony Wikrent permalink
    March 24, 2017

    And from Huffington Post, news portending a huge fight in the Republican Party.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-conservatives_us_58d59507e4b03787d358c5df?5v1gh86hd6f1gx2yb9&

    Until Trump Decides Otherwise, A Bloc Of House Conservatives Now Controls Government
    The Freedom Caucus has a de-facto veto on legislation, for now.
    By Ryan Grim , Sam Stein

    “This will hopefully be a learning moment for President Trump, especially when you look ahead at other big issues like tax reform, the debt ceiling and infrastructure,” said Brian Walsh, a longtime Republican operative. “There’s a small group of Republicans who really have no concept of what it means to govern, and so, instead of trying to reason, cajole or capitulate with them, which was done to varying degrees over health care, the president needs to confront them head on. He needs to use the power of his platform to publicly call them out and put pressure on them at home because the only way to beat a bully is to punch them in the mouth.”

    Bullies punching each other in the mouth! This is going to be bloodier and much more fun than an old NHL game between the Bruins and the Canadiens.

  36. StewartM permalink
    March 24, 2017

    As Mandos says (echoed by Michael Moore tonight) now the Pence Trump administration will now attack the ACA via administrative means, to try to make it implode (as a few commentators noted, the AHCA not only tried to undercut Medicaid’s funding, but also tried to undercut Medicare’s funding to push both towards a contrived fiscal “crises” that only could be “solved” by massive cuts):

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/think-gop-health-insurance-overhaul-021354571.html

    And while I usually can’t stand the likes of Ezra Klein, he seems to echo Ian’s comments about Trump failing his base, and says that Ryan, Prince, and Preibus essentially ran this:

    http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/3/24/15039664/paul-ryan-donald-trump-ahca

    Donald Trump promised to be a different kind of president. He was a populist fighting on behalf of the “forgotten man,” taking on the GOP establishment, draining the Washington swamp, protecting Medicaid from cuts, vowing to cover everyone with health care and make the government pay for it. He was a pragmatic businessman who was going to make Washington work for you, the little guy, not the ideologues and special interests.

    Instead, Trump has become a pitchman for Paul Ryan and his agenda. He’s spent the past week fighting for a health care bill he didn’t campaign on, didn’t draft, doesn’t understand, doesn’t like to talk about, and can’t defend. Rather than forcing the Republican establishment to come around to his principles, he’s come around to theirs — with disastrous results.

    Democrats don’t like this bill. Independents don’t like this bill. Conservatives don’t like this bill. Moderates don’t like this bill. All the energy behind the American Health Care Act is coming from inside the GOP congressional establishment — and now from Trump himself. In a sense, this Matt Drudge tweet says it all:

    The swamp drains you

    Sixty days into his presidency, Trump has lashed himself to a Paul Ryan passion project that’s polling at 56-17 percent against. As political scientist Ryan Enos drolly observed, “in a hyper-partisan political climate, it’s actually an accomplishment to write legislation this unpopular.” Nor is Trump emerging unscathed: Polls show his approval rating falling into the 30s — and that’s before he’s taken away health insurance from a single person.

    The AHCA breaks Trump’s promises to his base so fulsomely, so completely, that when told by Tucker Carlson on Fox News “that counties that voted for you, middle-class and working-class counties, would do far less well under the bill,” Trump was reduced to saying, simply: “Oh, I know.”

    Donald Trump has become Paul Ryan with orange hair. How did it happen?

    (….)

    How Trumpism used to sound

    In September, Donald Trump sat down with Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes and told the world he was a different kind of Republican.

    “Everybody’s got to be covered,” he said, referring to his health care plan. “This is an un-Republican thing for me to say, because a lot of times they say, ‘No, no, the lower 25 percent that can’t afford private.’ But I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not.”

    “Who pays for it?” asked Pelley.

    “The government’s gonna pay for it,” Trump said, and he went on to promise that people on Trumpcare “can have their doctors, they can have plans, they can have everything.”

    This was the Donald Trump who unexpectedly won the Republican primary and then beat the odds to become president. He was a Republican, yes, but a different kind of Republican — a Republican who owed Ryan nothing, who wasn’t friends with the Bush clan, who liked construction workers more than he liked Wall Street executives, who wanted the government to give people health care.

    I don’t mean to whitewash Trump. His populism often edged into xenophobia and bigotry. But it seemed real enough — even as his campaign policy team churned out standard-issue Republican fare, everything he did and said suggested he had very unusual instincts on some issues, particularly health care. Here was a guy who had praised single-payer in the past and promised to protect Medicare and Medicaid from cuts. Whatever Trumpism was, it sure as hell wasn’t Ryanism.

    And then it became Ryanism.

    So, to echo Lisa’s contention (also Ian’s to a degree) that Trump isn’t big on policy, when he climbed into bed with the R establishment and courted the Cruz vote by brining Pence onboard the die for this betrayal was cast. Forget all the populist rhetoric, the show is going to be run by Ryan, by Pence, by Mnuchin, by Price. There is a correspondence with Obama, you could forget all the “hope and change”stuff when it became apparent that Timmeth and Larry were calling his shots. Trump supporters to maintain otherwise are beginning to sound just as tribalist and removed from reality as the Obamacrats who told each other that the “real Obama” was all-out doing the best he could to fight for them.

    You have to hand it to the Freedom Caucus, though. If the “bold progressive” Dems had half their backbone to buck their own leadership over principle, Obamacare would have been far better.

  37. March 25, 2017

    I can’t say it often enough: ability to “make deals” in real estate, ability to engage in private and retail grifting, ability to make or keep a billion dollars, ability even to win an election when some of the population is exasperated with the political system and its insiders…is not ability to govern. It’s no indication thereof.

    By “govern”, I don’t only mean come up with positive policy outcomes. A benevolent dictator with absolute power and a good ideology could probably come up with a policy platform that really works and makes everyone’s lives better. Instead, by “govern”, I mean performing a kind of very complex human juggling act of systems run by other people who don’t have to behave the way you say you want them to behave. That’s a specific skill that some people develop. It’s not clear that Trump is one of them.

    But, you know, there’s still most of four years left. Maybe this is some plan of Trump’s to flush out the libertarian ideologues and be rid of them in 2018, whereafter he’ll pass a plan better approximating single payer. I mean, that’s certainly possible. I don’t recommend making hard predictions this early.

  38. Hugh permalink
    March 25, 2017

    Someone told me recently that The Art of the Deal was ghost written. I can well believe it. Long form writing takes both time and discipline. Can anyone see Trump for hours at a time tapping away at his computer? Me either. I can see Trump bloviating to a professional writer either taking notes or recording a few interviews, and then said writer going off to try to turn a mass of self-glorifying contradictions into something semi-coherent.

    I say this because the deal, Ryancare, was not something he had ever shown any interest in previously. As mentioned above, he contradicted and betrayed his promises to his followers. He then did a shit awful job of trying to get it enacted. He bald-faced lied to his supporters. He was clueless about divisions within his own party. And fundamentally he failed to deal, to negotiate, or to persuade. It was “this or nothing”, “my way or the highway”, “there is no Plan B”. Some art of the deal.

    Trump just lies. I mean I can not think of a politician in the last 30 years who doesn’t. But it is the nature of Trump’s lies. Perhaps it is the offhandedness of his lying. He won’t just tell you matter of factly that day is night. But that it is all his doing (and you can thank him now) and it’s wonderful, amazing, and great. Except what he is describing is a steaming mass of shit.

    I have said before that Trump’s actual personnel and policies (in so far as policy can be applied to anything Trump does) are the polar opposite of his populist positions. I see Trump as talking the populist talk but walking the richman’s kleptocratic walk. Trumpcare/Ryancare would have slammed poorer Americans while favoring richer Americans. You look at his tax cuts which might be the next item up on his to-do list and it is more of this. Millions for the rich, crumbs for everyone else. Ditto with his public-private infrastructure spending, another one of his legislative priorities. Whatever happens, the rich must get their cut. I initially thought it would take a couple of years for his supporters to turn on him. But if things keep up as they are, his Presidency could implode a lot faster. Of course, that would leave us with a President Pence and an even greater crisis of legitmacy.

  39. Hugh permalink
    March 25, 2017

    Mandos, Trump is 70 years old. What you see is what you get. There is no eleventy dimensional chess going on. He was born rich and connected. He is used to getting his way and beating and suing anyone who stands in his way into submission. He is self-aggrandizing and a narcissist to the nth degree. He is also incredibly lazy, undisciplined, and uninformed. None of this is going to change. He is who he is.

    His only function is inadvertent. He sharpens the contradictions of our ruling order. He not only shows how awful he is. He shows how awful both the Democrats and Republicans are.

  40. V. Arnold permalink
    March 25, 2017

    Hugh illuminates our present ruling class quite well, missing few details.
    I find it very illustrative of the Usian’s willingness to suck hind tit.
    I also see posting as more an exercise in self flagellation, as opposed to anything
    resulting in meaningful change or action.
    How many years have I, for one wasted, ranting/raging against the tides of governmental
    edicts and politicians empty promises?
    Too many for sure; but, do carry on if it makes you feel empowered and purposeful in your
    endeavors; no matter how futile and empty…

  41. realitychecker permalink
    March 25, 2017

    @ Stewart M, and various others

    At least we can all agree that the stage is now set: Either ACA will implode on its own because it was always designed to pass muster only until Obama was safely out of office, OR Trump’s administration will TRY to make it implode. I truly hope we can all see the humor and irony in this political framing.

    I try not to waste a lot of time and energy in playing this game.

    I believe the ACA will implode, and is already well on its way to doing so. The exchanges are disappearing, without competition the whole thing fails. But either way, this is a tarbaby for discussion, 99% of all our comments are going to be useless as far as getting to the realities.

    Accepting health care as a RIGHT is the only reasonable path, IMO. All else is just one kind of shit sandwich or another.

    But hell, we can’t even get a serious discussion of a public option, can we? Not even under Democrats!!!!

    Bottom line here, for me, is that Trump can now move right to tax reform, and I really think it is delusional to think he is real unhappy about that. I know this is what the financial markets care most about. Money, money, money, money. Money. 🙁

  42. realitychecker permalink
    March 25, 2017

    @ Hugh

    “His only function is inadvertent. He sharpens the contradictions of our ruling order. He not only shows how awful he is. He shows how awful both the Democrats and Republicans are.”

    Exactly. Trump greatest value, to me, has always been his potential to destroy both parties. I view the destruction of the Dem party to be most essential, because only after that can we ever hope to get a party that actually represents regular folks.

    But the possibility of also seeing the Republican party destroyed is just delicious gravy. Two birds with one stone. Priceless lol.

  43. Ché Pasa permalink
    March 25, 2017

    The Trump regime was effectively neutered by the last week of February. He’s alienated almost all the natural constituencies he needs within the government. He cannot control the courts, the DoJ, the congress, the “deep state,” the media, nor — apparently — can he even control the military. The bureaucracy — ie: the permanent government — is in defiance.

    He’s been checkmated.

    There can be no further forward motion by Trump or his cohorts in the White House.

    For all intents and purposes, his regime is over.

    How this plays out, however, remains to be seen. He’s obviously trying to make deals with the Democrats — now — since he failed at forcing the Rs to yield to his will. It is the nature of the Dems to comply with R leadership. This time, though, it may not happen.

    So what does happen?

    It appears that the government will be paralyzed for the foreseeable future. Maybe it’s just as well.

    

  44. StewartM permalink
    March 25, 2017

    RC:

    I believe the ACA will implode, and is already well on its way to doing so. The exchanges are disappearing, without competition the whole thing fails.

    No quarrel with that . That’s why the the public option, or allowing people to buy-in Medicare, was so critical. My point was that Trumpcare doesn’t fix the problem, it only makes it worse. The lack of competition (mostly in red states) is largely because, following the model devised by the internet/cable companies, there is collusion among insurance providers to divvy up the country into blocks to restrict competition. You’d need *more aggressive* antitrust action and *more* aggressive regulation to fix that, and Trump is promising less.

    As it stood in the recent bill Trumpcare required almost *nothing* covered by negotiations end–not outpatient care, not hospitalization, not lab tests, not rehab, not drugs, not preventative services, not mental health care, not pediatric care, not pregnancy, maternity, or prenatal care. Why then would anyone bother carrying any insurance at all if your insurance company reads back the fine print to you on what you thought was covered when you get the bill? You want to see a system implosion? You need look no further.

    But here’s a quick patch: let anyone who’s been denied coverage, or faces premiums that exceed a certain percentage of their disposable income (after deductions; say, 10 %) automatically eligible for Medicare and/or Medicaid. Let the insurance industry’s greed to insure only the healthy and/or the young cut their own throat.

    Exactly. Trump greatest value, to me, has always been his potential to destroy both parties. I view the destruction of the Dem party to be most essential, because only after that can we ever hope to get a party that actually represents regular folks.

    I was hoping that Trump could remake the Republican party, kicking and screaming, into something less awful at least on economic policies. The great lesson of Trump’s win is that it demonstrated conclusively that the average Republican voter isn’t gung-ho about tax cuts for billionaires, lowering the corporate tax rate, repealing gay marriage, ending public education, deregulating Wall Street, ending or privatizing Medicaid and Medicare, or privatizing Social Security. The average Republican voter sees the country’s in a world of hurt, that their town of Bedford Falls has become Pottersville, but blame this on those new brown people coming in and think the solution to it all is electing Mr. Potter mayor (Democrats, by contrast, think that electing a *Ms. Potter* or a black or brown Mr. Potter solves the problem).

    Trump didn’t need to go this route. I think Lisa has had it pegged right–his first disastrous mistake was selecting Pence and sucking up to the Cruz vote. He didn’t need the Cruz vote to win, if he had outflanked Clinton to her left in the general he might have won not only the electoral vote, but the popular vote too. He could have appointed non-ideologues and non-crooks to his cabinet. But he didn’t, as it turns out he’s no FDR after all, and his failure represents maybe as epic a chance for American revival as Obama’s failure to do the right things in 2009. In both cases the people they surrounded themselves with determines policy.

    As for the Democrats–ugh. So far, the battle for trying to push the Clintonistas and Obamacrats out hasn’t gone so well. I agree with you that’s the real battle that counts.

  45. March 25, 2017

    The American people do not want Obamacare – but that does not mean they want some worse than it. 4 years and we get another chance. Someone younger the Sanders or Hillary.

  46. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    March 25, 2017

    Good point, Ché Pasa, about maybe it being just as well. Once upon a time, I was all for Single Payer or Medicare for All if you will, but now? Not so much. Not because it’s not the most effective way on paper, because it is, but because what is effective on paper would never make its way to reality once it passed through the crucible of the Permanent Government. It would be transmogrified into something that would be deleterious to The Little People and beneficial to The Rich — as is ALWAYS the case and that mechanism is now worse, but even more effective, than ever. Worse for The Little People means better for The Rich. That’s the equation and it’s as tried and true as the Theory of Relativity and maybe even more so since it’s more than a theory — it’s as factual as factual can be.

    Still, it keeps nagging me — the phenomenon that is Donald Trump and his purpose. Not his purpose as in what his intentions are as if his intentions are anything but self-agrandizement and economic enrichment, but rather his purpose symbolically and whether that symbolic purpose was strategic on the part of those who wish to use the phenomenon that is Trump as a foil to further an even more pernicious agenda than just the boring ol’ Banality of Evil to which we’re accustomed.

    Meanwhile, the Keystone Pipeline has been approved and its time to start constructing it. There will be no Gridlock in Congress over this because, applying our tried & true equation, it benefits The Rich at the expense of The Little People.

    Trump Approves Keystone Pipeline

    It’s interesting that the State Department is part of this process. If any issue related to energy is National Security, then how can Oil & Gas Concerns still be “private” and “for profit?” One would think the risk is too great to leave such matters in the hands of politically inexperienced CEO’s who are only interested in maximizing shareholder wealth. Instead, we have Rex Tillerson, a former energy company CEO, as Secretary of State and what a fine job he’s doing and what a fine job he’ll do.

    The Trump administration gave the Keystone XL pipeline its key federal permit Friday, clearing a major hurdle for the project that former President Obama rejected in 2015.

    The State Department announced Friday morning that its undersecretary for political affairs, Tom Shannon, issued the permit, two months after President Trump signed a memorandum to revive the project after Obama’s rejection.

    “In making his determination that issuance of this permit would serve the national interest, the under secretary considered a range of factors, including but not limited to foreign policy; energy security; environmental, cultural, and economic impacts; and compliance with applicable law and policy,” State said.

  47. dude permalink
    March 25, 2017

    President Trump was never interested in health care. He was interested in expanding his base within the Republican Party. He already had the White reactionary fringe, but he has always needed to connect with main-streamers if he expected to achieve his more limited objectives (The Wall sop to his base and developing his personal brand to include all things Presidential for his own enrichment). The center right Republicans have been screaming about health insurance for years and Medicare/Medicaid even longer. Trump has discovered the main-streamers to be an incoherent group (who knew health care could be so complicated) and realized his mistake. I am positive he has realized his “team” is uncoordinated and is quite willing to drop them for their own failures. He is moving on to a subject nearer to his wallet (taxes) and will continue to feed his own base at the expense of the main-streamers unless or until they can become the machine they were touted to be.

  48. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    March 25, 2017

    I think the message is becoming more clear as to what the End Game is if Trump is a purposeful strategic foil and I think that End Game may be the utilization of a Pull Strategy by creating a pretext whereby The Unwashed Masses so yearn for decisive change of any sort that they are willing to accept a suspension of rights and the bold & unwavering assurance of Autocracy.

  49. dude permalink
    March 25, 2017

    On Implosion:
    If the Republicans let the existing health insurance system collapse, Trump will be able to say “I told you so”, but he is too lazy to do anything one way or the other about it. He doesn’t care. If the main-streamers decide to help the collapse, and somehow elude detection, that only helps the main-streamers coalesce a little as a force. To that extent Trump will welcome the result so he can move on to other things. However, Congress-critters are more vulnerable than Presidents, so the Dems should make a big show of trying to enter bills to repair the existing system and make the Republicans block them. It is not as though they haven’t done this for years already, but they have done it in a media blackout. The spot-light is on now, the contrast is higher. The Republicans can be painted as a group out to crush the have-nots now–and they should be.

  50. realitychecker permalink
    March 25, 2017

    @ Stewart M

    The wealthy and powerful have a right to be represented, just like anyone else; I don’t begrudge them that right.

    My grudge is more against a Democratic Party that is SUPPOSED to represent regular folks, who are the vast majority, but betrays them instead by ALSO being primarily about representing the wealthy, leaving the regular folks effectively without any meaningful representation.

    Traitors are more to be despised than honest adversaries, IMO.

    Aside from that, I decline to engage in the details of your political characterizations, many of which I disagree with, but life is too short and persuading you is too unlikely. I will just say there are very different ways to look at this stuff than what you are laying out, which is not to say your views are illegitimate or that I don’t respect your intellect, but just that these in-the-weeds debates never seem to lead to any good resolutions.

    I think health care should be a right in a society that claims to value life. I could maybe live with a good public option system. I’m not willing to waste my time or energy debating anything less than either of those. Because anything less is still unacceptable, IMO.

  51. S Brennan permalink
    March 25, 2017

    StewartM;

    I was agreeing with most of your comment until I came to this:

    “The average Republican voter sees the country’s in a world of hurt, that their town of Bedford Falls has become Pottersville, but blame this on those new brown people coming in”

    Patent nonsense; Trump won by carrying districts/counties in Michigan/Wisconsin/Pennsylvania that voted heavily for Obama, it was working class Obama voters that sent Mr Trump to the White House, not bigots. Until Democrats get that through their thick skulls, that [D]’s fail at the polls because their neoliberal/globalist-[neocolonial] policies have failed [for forty years], they will continue their death spiral. Not that [D]’s care.

    They immigration issue [in the USA, not Europe] isn’t culture or skin, Mexicans don’t bow five times a day to Mexico City, Rome or some other 8th century power center in the hopes of realizing a new world empire. But Mexicans do take working class jobs that are in short supply and they do boost rents in working class neighborhoods and they do so in massive numbers. If working class people were getting raises for the last forty years and could quit a job where they were mistreated and get a better job, much of what you perceive to be “racism” would disappear.

    To the elitists in the Democratic party it’s far easier to blame the victims of their self-serving policies by labeling them “racist”than address the basic needs of the working class.

  52. wendy davis permalink
    March 25, 2017

    yes, trumpDontcare was even worse than obmaDontCare crap health *insurance*, not *health care*; fancy that. the T/ryan scheme would have killed and immiserated more of the Expendable Underclass more quickly, of course. and from wsws.org:

    “Trump and Ryan had already acceded to the Freedom Caucus demand to end the requirement that insurance plans provide essential benefits such as maternity and pediatric care, emergency services such as ambulances, mental health coverage and other rudiments of health care. They had also agreed to allow states to impose work requirements on recipients of Medicaid, the federal-state health plan that covers some 74 million poor people, and permit states to take their federal funds in the form of block grants, ending Medicaid as an open-ended entitlement program.” (plus more on pleasing the Tea People)

    “While the collapse of the bill is a significant setback for Trump, the claim by Democratic leaders that it is a “victory for the American people” is a lie. The failure of the Republican bill leaves in place the scheme largely devised by the insurance and health care corporations and implemented by the Democrats under Obama, which has already dramatically cut health benefits for millions of working people, increased their out-of-pocket costs, and imposed deductibles so high as to make it impossible for many workers who have policies to see a doctor or obtain prescription medicines.

    Obamacare is a program to slash costs for the corporations and government, undermine employer-paid insurance, and impose the burden of extending bare-bones coverage to some 20 million previously uninsured people on the working class as a whole. The split in the Republican ranks over the Trump-Ryan bill mirrored the split within the corporate elite.”

    last i’d checked, in 2016 almost 30 million still had no health insurance under the obama scheme, but partially due to states that said ‘never mind’ to medicaid expansion.

    http://shorturl.at/kpstL

    the rest is largely illustrative of this anthony freda image:

    http://alturl.com/kj386

  53. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    March 25, 2017

    The wealthy and the powerful don’t have a right to be represented as the wealthy and the powerful, meaning anything that’s legislated shouldn’t favor in any way the wealthy & the powerful as a designated group. Government shouldn’t be used to maintain or increase the disparity in wealth, yet a strong argument can be made that Government should instead seek to level the playing field and engender an egalitarian environment where all people can flourish and thrive and when I say flourish and thrive, I’m not necessarily talking about what’s in your wallet, but rather the means and access to live a purpose-driven life with minimal impact on the habitat that sustains and supports all life, human or otherwise.

  54. realitychecker permalink
    March 25, 2017

    @ TSMB

    I am sympathetic to a lot of what you say, but this last comment I cannot agree with. We all have legitimate interests that are peculiar to our selves and/or our group, and we all have the right to ask our representatives to cater to those interests, short of corruption or blatant unfairness.

    That is what the right to petition the government means.

  55. March 25, 2017

    Mind you, trying to *make* Obamacare fail due to, you know, administrative neglect, especially when one clearly has no intention of replacing it with something that covers more people, is, well, even more evil than passing Trumpcare.

  56. March 25, 2017

    Hugh: oh I have very low expectations about Trump, don’t worry, but I am very much a “benefit-of-the-doubt-to-well-intentioned-disagreement” sort of person. People, it seems Ian included, seem to be trying to fish for a reason why right-wing populism will be the instrument to lever out centrist neoliberalism where left-wing populism has failed.

    OK, well, it’s not looking good from that perspective yet, but there’s lots of time for a low-probability event aka miracle to happen. *I* don’t think it’s likely, but hey, “The Art of the Deal” or whatever might actually be the right model here, more likely than FTL travel…

  57. StewartM permalink
    March 25, 2017

    @ S Brennan

    They immigration issue [in the USA, not Europe] isn’t culture or skin, Mexicans don’t bow five times a day to Mexico City, Rome or some other 8th century power center in the hopes of realizing a new world empire. But Mexicans do take working class jobs that are in short supply and they do boost rents in working class neighborhoods and they do so in massive numbers

    As I have argued, even given worst-case assumptions, immigration is NOT the huge job-killer it is made out to be. It is outweighed massively by other factors (fiscal policy, the Fed’s policy, outsourcing, Wall Street deregulation, lack of overall regulation of business, etc). Moreover, the Reagan economy’s policy of winking at illegal immigration (thundering against any legalization route, while quietly doing little to stop it) is the worst-case immigration scenario (it allows employers to hire illegals, then abuse them). Blaming immigrants for unemployment woes is a huge distraction created by the PTB, a “shiny! shiny!” to point attention away from their misdeeds which do far more harm.

    Trump voters to a significant degree buy this lie. No, they don’t all do, and that doesn’t mean that they are inherently bigoted per se against immigrants as people but many of them mistakenly think that they are “stealing their jobs” and (based on Trump’s own policy positions in the campaign) are less bothered a lot of the crap that really kills jobs. They blame the brown people, but not Mr. Potter. And I’m talking as someone who lives in Appalachia, the home of lot of white working-class angst, and works in a technical field.

  58. S Brennan permalink
    March 25, 2017

    StewartM;

    I know your argument all to well, it’s made in the corporate press on almost an hourly basis and here, just about everyday…over and over alongside the other pedantically argued globalist views.

    I say:

    “The immigration issue [in the USA, not Europe] isn’t culture or skin, Mexicans don’t bow five times a day to Mexico City, Rome or some other 8th century power center in the hopes of realizing a new world empire. But Mexicans do take working class jobs that are in short supply and they do boost rents in working class neighborhoods and they do so in massive* numbers.”

    Then you make an argument against something completely different:

    “immigration is NOT the huge job-killer”

    Which has got nothing to do with what I said; where in my statement do I say Mexicans kill jobs? I never claimed that they did, you simply created a straw-man argument.

    And you feel so sure that the media has so indoctrinated others that you fail to offer the further argument used; that Mexicans are able to create jobs through their employment. And that is indeed true, but ignores the bloody obvious, anybody who takes a job does exactly the same thing, there is nothing unique about an immigrants ability to create economic activity outside of their numbers creating inflation on life’s necessities.

    All good for elites, but bad for working class and the USA’s worldwide competitiveness. Wages are forced up, but not to the benifet of the workers, as inflated prices take those increases. However, those inflated wages are tacked onto exported goods…while countries who have stable populations actually put wage gains into the pockets of workers [see China**].

    *http://s3.amazonaws.com/content.washingtonexaminer.biz/web-producers/042215-chart.jpg

    **http://theparkmanpost.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/2f26fd3b-c29f-48df-8333-39ed720a1ae5.jpg

  59. StewartM permalink
    March 25, 2017

    SBrennan:

    And you feel so sure that the media has so indoctrinated others that you fail to offer the further argument used; that Mexicans are able to create jobs through their employment. And that is indeed true, but ignores the bloody obvious, anybody who takes a job does exactly the same thing, there is nothing unique about an immigrants ability to create economic activity outside of their numbers creating inflation on life’s necessities.

    ?? People who take productive work (and Mexicans do just that for the most part) *create* goods and services. So yes, while they bring their demand too, their participation in the economy is not inflationary. (There is unproductive work that is inflationary, sure, because it creates no goods or services, but this work isn’t being done by Mexicans). Nor are there a limited number of jobs that can only exist at a given time, and the US is hardly filled up with housing. Would you say we were running out of space and we were driving up housing costs unbearably during the baby boom, when our population was growing much faster? Even allowing that US housing costs ares soley determined by population density, the US is ranked 179th in population density, far less crammed than Germany, Denmark, the UK, all Asian countries (including China) and more on par with Sweden and Norway.

    So much of inflation that does exist does so because we don’t regulate markets but allow collusion and gamed markets. It’s not caused by too much demand, indeed the paradox is that with an economy that has such diminished purchasing power like ours we still have any inflation at all.

    As for your links–sure, immigrants make up most of our population growth. Without it, though, we’d have a declining, aging, population, and that’s not ideal either. Japan is not the model you want to follow at least not in the short run (though for the world population to stabilize, immigration helps everyone achieve a soft landing). The US population growth rate (0.7 %) is still considerable below the world average (1.11 %). Moreover the point your argument–that this benefits China–is refuted by the fact that wages as share of GDP in China *fell*–yes, fell–after China joined the WTO, only rising recently again but not back up to pre-WTO levels. Global capitalism ain’t been so great to the Chinese either.

    The real reason we have a crappy economy does not have anything to do with immigrants. The minimum wage, for starters, should be at least $12/hour, if not $15, just to keep up in purchasing power with what it was back when I was young. The Fed shouldn’t be calling 5 % unemployment and the current % workforce participation “full employment” (though to be truthful, we should be careful about that latter number, because we actually had lower workforce participation when real wages were higher and one breadwinner could achieve a middle-class income). We shouldn’t be letting our infrastructure (public and private alike) deteriorate because a deregulated Wall Street demands companies return unrealistic and unsustainable profits each and every quarter (Ian’s post “Burning Down the House in order to heat it” is what many American businesses now do). That by itself is a huge factor in making the US “uncompetitive”, not immigration.

  60. S Brennan permalink
    March 25, 2017

    Again the straw-man argumentation, ignoring what I said, then placing words in my mouth. Why can’t you be honest? I never said anything like:

    “the US is hardly filled up with housing”

    But fair enough, you move to some rural desert area, use YOUR CAPITAL to create the infrastructure, or better yet, YOU start doing a mega commute. Fat chance huh?

    The biggest problem the [D]’s have today is elitists like yourself “advising” others to suffer silently while they reap the benefits.

  61. S Brennan permalink
    March 25, 2017

    And StewartM; to your other Corporate media talking point:

    ======Don’t believe the headlines about Japan’s economy======

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/11/19/dont-believe-the-headlines-about-japans-economy/?utm_term=.b0b87fb8549d

    “…if this is really a recession, it is the strangest one in history. Unemployment, after all, is still only 3.4 percent. The r-word just doesn’t seem appropriate when everyone who wants a job can find one. Indeed, as you can see above, Japan’s share of working-age adults who are, in fact, working has shot up from 80.5 percent to 83 percent today, two recessions notwithstanding…maybe it means looking past the demographics and at the economy itself.

    If the word “recession” is going to tell us what we need to know, it has to be able to distinguish between an economy that’s shrinking because retirement-age people don’t want jobs, and one that’s shrinking because working-age people can’t find jobs. Otherwise, we’ll keep hearing how Japan’s 3.4 percent unemployment is a failure since the country has a lot of old people.

    It isn’t. Not even close.”

    Of course neoliberal economist like the religion/philosophy department they sprung from have an extremely rigid worldview that does not allow for reality.

  62. StewartM permalink
    March 25, 2017

    SBrennan

    It is a simple fact that the US, compared to most of our developed countries, does not have a high population density. Our population growth is well below the world average. and I don’t see the mountains and hollows here here being overrun by immigrants (yuppie retirees, maybe, but not immigrants). Eight US states are actually depopulating.

    As for Japan, the Japanese government recognizes their demographic decline as a serious problem. But because of deep-seated prejudice against foreigners, they desperately are trying “womenomics” (adding women to the workforce) and increasing reliance on robotics.
    Still at some point they will have to face the writing on the wall and liberalize their very restrictive immigration policies:

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/04/27/national/japan-eyes-foreign-workers-stealthily-challenging-immigration-taboo/#.WNcnyeS1vCE

    Your citing Japan’s unemployment statistics is misleading–because it’s not unemployment per se that is the problem in a country with a declining population, but the shrinking of the workforce participation rate (i.e, fewer workers having to support a larger nonworking population). 40 % of Japan is going to be 65 or older by 2060.

    (And as an aside, as someone who has spent at least some time in Asia, the low unemployment rate in Japan is mirrored across other Asian countries–in part due to a stronger sense of paternalism (should not be strange, US companies once had it too) and part of the social contract, that everyone should be able to find work. South Korea’s unemployment rate is 4.0 %, Taiwan’s is 3.8 %, Singapore’s is 2.2 %, Vietnam’s is 2.1 %, and Thailand clocks in at an incredible 0.9 %. Japan’s 3 % rate is not because of their demographics.

    But I would agree with you on this–such statistics call bullshit on the Fed’s claim that 4.9 % Americans being unemployed means too many people are working we need to cause them to lose jobs. If you want to be pissed at someone, the Fed is one of the entities deserving the blame).

    But fair enough, you move to some rural desert area, use YOUR CAPITAL to create the infrastructure, or better yet, YOU start doing a mega commute. Fat chance huh?

    What in the heck do you mean “your capital”? It’s OUR CAPITAL, and the public part is not being spent here in the US on infrastructure, period, but being squandered on Middle East wars and Wall Street bailouts. Our private investment is also paltry. Recall Ian’s post about even as profitable an industry as Pharma, how Pfizer’s model is to buy up companies, lay off scientists, kill off R&D programs, but use their money to lobby Congress to extend drug patents. Not to, say, invest in plant or R&D or workforce training or anything. All profits must go to feed the Wall Street beast. A financial sector composing only 4 % of GDP was once plenty enough to manage the largest expansion of prosperity the world had ever seen, from 1947-73. Now it’s 10 %, and steals 50 % of all profits.

    And what has immigration have to do with any of these problems? In a word, nothing.

  63. Ivory Bill Woodpecker permalink
    March 25, 2017

    BEEP BEEP! 😛

  64. S Brennan permalink
    March 25, 2017

    Oh how many corporate media lies can one guy regurgitate in a day?

    1] “4.9 % Americans being unemployed”, U6 stands at almost 10%, shadow stats has it over 20%.

    2] “The Japanese government recognizes their demographic decline as a serious problem.” Only a corporate lackey would say this, my buddy just got back from visiting relatives in Japan, he/they most Japanese find the government/large corporations position on population self serving. Japan times BTW, is owned by an auto parts manufacturer…yes, they want cheap labor.

    3] “I don’t see the mountains and hollows here here being overrun by immigrants”. No, if you want cheap housing it’s easy to find, just find a place that has no jobs and no prospects. As elitist you have no idea of the correlation between the two.

    4]”US, compared to most of our developed countries, does not have a high population density.” High plains and deserts are largely absent from Europe/Japan, but constitute over half of the US, furthermore, the Alps and Pyrenees are tiny in size proportion compared to the Rockies, Appalachian, Cascades, Sierra Nevada and Guadalupe mountains.

  65. March 26, 2017

    “The right thing to do, is the wrong thing to do, no good deed goes unpunished.
    The wrong thing to do, is the right thing to do,
    This all the sages have admonished.
    Whether your god is dollar, franc, or kreugerand,
    Bow down before the invisible hand.”

    https://symbalitics.blogspot.com/2017/03/the-fall-and-rise-of-house-salim.html

  66. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    March 26, 2017

    The Fake News that was/is Pizzagate was intended to be a diversion and distraction from this and it would also explain why Don the Con preemptively exonerated The Clintons and The Clinton Foundation of any wrongdoing. Keep you eye on the Gorilla.

    The Ties That Bind

    Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Roberts?

  67. zot23 permalink
    March 26, 2017

    IMHO Mandos has it nailed down here.

    The biggest issue for Trump is he not only manufactures the conservative kool-aid in an industrial-sized vat, he long ago began dipping into its supply. Not hard for him to do with his mental issues; that is to believe his interests and the country’s interests are one in the same. Add on top of that the ideas of running a country like a company and a nice dollop of trickle-down econ 101. Put all those together and you have an excellent template for what is happening day to day in this WH. The failures aren’t outliers or foibles, they’re the naturally rotten fruit of a very diseased tree.

    Running a govt is not running a business. Although some segments would benefit from competition and an analysis of costs, it just doesn’t work. Prisons don’t make money, militaries don’t really make money, the goal of healthcare is not increased profitability (we are already firmly in the grip of that system and that’s the problem – it doesn’t work.)

    Trump doesn’t even understand how our govt works, Bannon tried to order house reps to vote for the AHCA on Friday. They laughed in his face and then voted as they wished. They are not employees of the WH, Trump can’t seem to grasp this simple fact.

    I think it’s all over except for the impeaching. I just can’t figure out if the corruption that brings him down first is domestic or foreign based.

  68. bruce wilder permalink
    March 26, 2017

    I love the titular “if” of the original post.

    “If” can open many doors of the mind, but only exceptionally is an “if” laid on a threshold to understanding factual reality, at least in the kind of discussions we have in the blogosphere.

  69. Peter permalink
    March 26, 2017

    Poor Zot, he and the other snowflakes thought they were so close to convincing the rubes they actually had the goods on Trump or Putin but that fantasy is fading away. Months of investigations with no evidence produced and no charges because of no evidence.

    Trump’s staking out Mike Flynn, like a sacrificial goat, not only gave the Clintonites a false sense of power but led to the illegal behavior in the Obama WH and the IC that is now making news. It’s telling how easy it was for Devin Nunes to get reams of information directly from the source about this abuse of power just by asking for it in a public forum, he bypassed the gatekeepers.

    Trump and his team know exactly who are his opposition/enemies among the house republicans and although he failed to force them to vote and declare their divided allegiance for the record he is already moving to use his WMD, his feared tweet, to single them out for special treatment.

    There will now be a true need for a special prosecutor to prosecute the actual documented crimes committed at Obama’s WH. The Clintonites can continue chasing their tails and sniffing Putin’s spore but it is a fools pursuit.

  70. March 26, 2017

    I refuse to believe that Peter is for real. His posts on this subject are like those internet parodies of North Korean news services.

  71. Ivory Bill Woodpecker permalink
    March 26, 2017

    @Mandos: I would have said he sounds like “Baghdad Bob”, but you say to-MAY-to, I say to-MAH-to… :mrgreen:

    However, I think he’s sincere. The canine loyalty which Caesar Disgustus receives from all the Peters of the USA may prove to be his greatest asset.

  72. StewartM permalink
    March 26, 2017

    SBrennan:

    1] “4.9 % Americans being unemployed”, U6 stands at almost 10%, shadow stats has it over 20%.

    True, U6 shows we have underemployment problem (hell, I could tell you that). But Shadowstats is bogus, there is simply no measurement there. Even the site’s owner (James Hamilton) says he really doesn’t recalculate any of stats from the raw data. That doesn’t mean that the government numbers are perfect or beyond critique, but Shadowstats fails almost any cross-check you can think of.

    As Rationalwiki says:

    Williams posts older statistics that have fallen out of favor by governmental agencies stating that they are being suppressed by the government to make the economy look better. This ignores the fact that these measures *are still calculated and published along side the newer methods of looking at the data*.[4] The various agencies also publish all of their backup data as well, which for some reason contains all the things he claims they are trying to suppress (where he claims to data mine)…between his claims that it is rigged and manipulated.

    Again, don’t ponder the last statement very long.

    2] “The Japanese government recognizes their demographic decline as a serious problem.” Only a corporate lackey would say this, my buddy just got back from visiting relatives in Japan, he/they most Japanese find the government/large corporations position on population self serving. Japan times BTW, is owned by an auto parts manufacturer…yes, they want cheap labor.

    First of all:

    “The Japanese government” I referenced is the administration of rime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is AGAINST liberalizing immigration, yet who says “yeah, we have a huge looming demographic problem”. They are desperately trying to avoid the logical solution to a problem that *they acknowledge exists* by “womenomics” and robots, but most observers think that’s delaying the inevitable. Already they are allowing “temporary” workers to come work because of the demand (“but don’t call it immigration!”).

    As for your Japanese friends, get back to me when 40 % of Japanese are over 65 and tell me how that’s going. The Japanese are not resisting immigration as a solution because it’s good economics for Japan, but due to cultural reasons, due to a history of non-acceptance of foreigners (even Japanese raised abroad are “Gaijin”, and the police are known to stop and check non-Japanese simply walking down the street) . AND…to reiterate, other Asian countries that don’t have Japan demographic problem have equally low unemployment rates, so you don’t need a shrinking workforce and demographic time bomb to achieve that.

    3] “I don’t see the mountains and hollows here here being overrun by immigrants”. No, if you want cheap housing it’s easy to find, just find a place that has no jobs and no prospects. As elitist you have no idea of the correlation between the two.

    Duh, I live in Appalachia. I see the results of decades of shitty economic policy all around me. I see the factories closing, I see the pill epidemic, I see people losing good jobs and having to work at WalMart, and even the new manufacturing jobs that have come back are low-pay. But none of this is because we’re overrun by immigrants.

    As for “neoliberal” and “elitist” I would say that it’s you, not me, who are hewing to a neoliberal supply-and-demand model for labor which determines unemployment (too many workers, not enough Daddy Warbuckses to hire them), instead of a FDR/Hubert Humphrey “there’s work for everyone” model that I hold. The reason why we have high persistent unemployment is that we’re using a bad economic model, not because there’s too many workers for a limited supply of jobs.

    Based just on US history (the real one, not the fantasy one) if you rely on neoliberal economics of labor supply-and-demand as your model to achieve full employment, good luck. Based on history, you will end up with periods of prolonged unemployment. Economists and historians have gone back and tried to estimate previous employment rates, and come up with estimates upwards of 15% unemployment in the 1870s and 1890s (and not just one year, for prolonged periods).

    ”US, compared to most of our developed countries, does not have a high population density.” High plains and deserts are largely absent from Europe/Japan, but constitute over half of the US, furthermore, the Alps and Pyrenees are tiny in size proportion compared to the Rockies, Appalachian, Cascades, Sierra Nevada and Guadalupe mountains.

    Europe’s mountains are tiny compared to what? Europe is smaller than the US, and there’s not just the Alps and Pyrenees but the Apennines and the Carpathians and others! Japan has the Japanese Alps which eat up a lot of space. Taiwan, where I have visited, surprises you when you visit because it’s so mountainous. And moreover, some of these mountains in Europe and Japan are active volcanoes! China for its part has huge stretches of desert and mountains.

    Population Density Map of Japan:

    https://www.stratfor.com/sites/default/files/styles/stratfor_full/public/main/images/Japanese_Population_Density_800.jpg?itok=3w61NxwK

    Of China:

    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/a6/f2/33/a6f233c64c68c255a229d3b031267a6d.jpg

    Of Taiwan:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/88/Population_density_of_Taiwan_by_district.svg/1200px-Population_density_of_Taiwan_by_district.svg.png

    Of the United States:

    http://sedac.ciesin.org/downloads/maps/usgrid/usgrid-summary-file1-2000/population-density.jpg

    And for good measure, of the US and China using the same scale colors:

    http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/china/geog/populationdensitymap.gif

    I could also go on to post maps of Germany, of the UK, or France, or Italy, and you’d see what is plain as day–the US isn’t running out of space, even considering our mountains and deserts. We have a rent problem (rent is far cheaper in Taiwan, for instance, despite it being so population dense–how do you explain that by your population density model?) but a lot of that is because we’re letting the rich buy up properties.

    One last question, SBrennan. You do realize that some of that Chinese population plateau you showed (and applaud?) was due to China’s one-child policy. Sooo…it seems to me that if someone was really against population increases for the good of the nation, they’d not only be full-out against immigrants (regardless of country of origin) but they’d also be full-out for women’s reproductive choices on preventing pregnancy here.

    Yet one of the first thing that Trump did when he entered office was to declare war on birth control:

    http://www.salon.com/2017/01/07/a-new-war-on-birth-control-trumps-victory-has-empowered-the-sex-scolds/

    So, it does seem that Trump isn’t really terribly interested in keeping the total number of workers down, as you say you are, but just making sure those future workers scrambling for a job, any job, are native and (largely) white. As my original comment implied, that’s what at least some of his supporters want too.

    (Ian, please delete the first comment).

  73. zot23 permalink
    March 26, 2017

    I invite Peter to stand in front of an avalanche. It’s just a bunch of snowflakes right?

    I’ll tell you what though, let’s go ahead and have two independent investigations into Trump and Obama. Let’s see who gets indicted first. And if both, then the more the merrier IMHO.

  74. March 26, 2017

    *applause for StewartM*

  75. bruce wilder permalink
    March 26, 2017

    The world is overpopulated. Most developed countries should be seeking decline. This is obvious to me. Apparently not to everyone.

  76. Mallam permalink
    March 26, 2017

    Demographic analysis doesn’t agree, Bruce. In fact we are going to need to have babies. Or mass immigration — I’m not picky, but as you can see, we have nativists in our midst who hide behind economics to defend their racist inclinations, and by golly, too many dark people apparently cause people to go fascist (this is nonsense, btw). Capitalism is the problem, not overpopulation.

  77. StewartM permalink
    March 26, 2017

    @Mallam

    I agree with Bruce, the world doesn’t need to have more babies overall, it’s just that the optimal solution is to allow immigration to everyone to achieve “soft” demographic landings across the globe. I am of the opinion that *people* need to be more free to move around, while capital should be restrained in its movements–almost the opposite of today, where the movements of people face far more restraints than capital.

  78. Mallam permalink
    March 26, 2017

    We are in agreement about the solutions, Stewart, but the blood and soil types still have too much power. Point is rich states are going to need to find ways to either increase fertility, or allow more immigrants. Generous leave policies and universal child care are good combinations.

  79. Tom W Harris permalink
    March 26, 2017

    “Peter” is actually Steve Bannon. It must be true, I read it on the Internet.

  80. Tom W Harris permalink
    March 27, 2017

    clearly, homeopathy is doing something right in something, but in the context of “how does it work as medicine?”, I suggest it’s not really a high-priority item, because, you know, it doesn’t.

    Actually it does< Mandos. Sorry to burst yer bubble.

  81. KT Chong permalink
    March 27, 2017

    I know Trump will be able fulfill at least one of his campaign promises, the most important one: the mass deporation of illegal aliens, once Palantir Technologies’ Investigative Case Management (ICM) comes online for ICE in September. You may think deporting 11 million illegal immigrants is impossible. However, the power of ICM will make it very feasible. Immigration enforcement is THE issue that won him the election. As long as he keeps that one promise and cracks down hard on illegal immigrants, his supporters will be very happy.

  82. Peter permalink
    March 27, 2017

    @KTC

    It’s good to have goals and to keep promises but Trump doesn’t have and probably won’t be able to get the money needed to deport all 11 million illegal aliens. With the use of the Palantir Tech they will be able to more efficiently hunt down the million or so criminal illegal aliens who have left a trail from their crimes and convictions.

    The non-criminal illegal aliens don’t have a police record and investigations for Palantir to help organize and analyze so they pose a completely different demographic and they may be treated to a different solution.

  83. Tom W Harris permalink
    March 27, 2017

    What can I say, Ivory?

  84. Ivory Bill Woodpecker permalink
    March 28, 2017

    One of the major factors in the lamentable rise of the Right in the USA over the past few decades is the rise of the “my mythology is just as good as your science” attitude.

    Nowadays, people feel entitled to their own “facts”.

  85. Tom W Harris permalink
    March 28, 2017

    T-Relief is a homeopathic ointment for soreness. It works. That’s a fack, Jack. .

  86. Ivory Bill Woodpecker permalink
    March 29, 2017

    *sigh* I’ll leave this to somebody with more medical knowledge than I have, but–

    I don’t need to hold a Ph.D in political science to know that Nazi or Communist ideology is horse manure.

    Likewise, I don’t need to hold a medical degree…

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