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Trump's Jobs-for-Medicaid Scheme Is Based on Warped Logic—Here's What Might Actually Work Instead

February 4, 2018 in Blogs

By Marshall Auerback, AlterNet

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A Job Guarantee would offer a job to any American who was ready and willing to work at the federal minimum wage.


Earlier this year, the Trump administration said it would support state efforts to require able-bodied adults to work or participate in other “community engagement activities” as a future condition of eligibility for Medicaid. States are already taking up the president’s offer: On January 12, Kentucky became the first U.S. state to require that Medicaid recipients work or get jobs training, after submitting a waiver for federal approval in 2016. Others, such as Maine, Utah and Wisconsin, are making similar noises.

The professed goal behind the measure is to save the states some money, especially as the Affordable Care Act gave them the option of expanding Medicaid to cover more poor Americans under the health insurance mandate. There is also an ideological component to the proposal, given that many still see programs like Medicaid as a lucrative benefit that discourages poor people from looking for jobs.

So, goes the thinking, get the “undeserving poor” to work if they want to keep those benefits. But here’s the thing: you can’t demand work as a precondition for receiving a benefit like Medicaid if the work isn’t available in the first place. If you want to help people become less dependent on government benefits, why not tackle the problem more directly via a Job Guarantee with a living wage and benefits package, including contributions to Social Security, receipt of Medicaid, and other health care benefits?

The JG would not constitute a radical departure for the federal government, as it could be modeled along the lines of old New Deal programs, such as the Works Progress Administration (WPA, in existence from 1935-1943 after being renamed the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Paul Ryan Celebrates a Public School Secretary’s $1.50 Weekly Raise

February 4, 2018 in Blogs

By Nicole Karlis, Salon

He tweeted the news, and a backlash ensued.


House Speaker Paul Ryan retweeted an article published by AP News about how the GOP tax cuts are reportedly delivering bigger paychecks to workers across the country.

Ryan’s tweet, which has since been deleted (see a screenshot below), praised a public high school secretary, Julia Ketchum in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who told AP News that she received a $1.50 weekly pay raise—an extra $78 a year, which came as a surprise.

Ryan presumably saw this as a proud win for the GOP, which is why he tweeted, along with the article: “A secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, PA, said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week… she said [that] will more than cover her Costco membership for the year.”

According to US News & World Report’s “Best Places” rankings, the average annual salary in Lancaster is $42,150. The median home price is $176,167, and the average monthly rent is $908. A Costco membership, the Gold Star package—the tier which provides the least benefits— costs $60 a year, which is presumably what Ketchum’s $78 annual raise can cover.

People on Twitter, including democratic lawmakers and their teams, quickly responded, noting that $1.50 a week—an extra $6 a month—isn’t something to brag about.

“Paul Ryan deleted his embarrassing tweet of a blatant admission because he and Republicans don't want you to know the truth: the #GOPTaxScam is a gift to corporate America and the top 1% at your expense,” the political team for Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tweeted.

 

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, responded, writing “Wells Fargo, fresh off of defrauding millions of Americans, gets $3.4 billion.”

 

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CNN Panel Destroys Rick Santorum's Memo Conspiracy Theory Rants

February 4, 2018 in Blogs

By David Edwards, Raw Story

“It gives this whole deep-state conspiracy crank stuff more oxygen.”


Conservative CNN contributor Rick Santorum got shot down on a CNN panel on Sunday after he asserted that there was a conspiracy between President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the FBI to take down Donald Trump.

During an panel discussion on CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper asked Santorum if he agreed with Donald Trump Jr. that the controversial GOP memo smearing the FBI’s Russia was “sweet revenge” for Trump supporters.

“The FBI is to blame here,” Santorum said. “You can say this is partisan attempt by Republicans, but it’s a partisan attempt to counter a narrative that’s out there.”

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (D) took issue with Santorum’s attack on the FBI.

“When you say the FBI has been hiding information, it gives this whole deep-state conspiracy crank stuff more oxygen,” she insisted.

“When you say stuff like that, when the president says the stuff he does,” Granholm continued, “you’ve got a poll out this weekend that says 38 percent of Republicans have an unfavorable view of the FBI, which has plummeted.”

According to Santorum, Republicans “see this as a real problem within the Obama administration politicizing, not just the DOJ, but the IRS and every other agency of government to come after conservatives and Republicans.”

“Oh my God!” Granholm exclaimed. “These were Republican FISA judges [who approved surveillance on a former Trump staffer], all appointed by George Bush, there were four of them. The head of the FBI is a Republican appointed by Trump. This is like Alice in Wonderland. It is totally topsy-turvy.”

“If they were really in the tank for Hillary Clinton as you’re suggesting,” she told Santorum. “Why wouldn’t they have leaked that there was an investigation ongoing about Donald Trump instead of 10 days before the election, a memo comes out about Hillary Clinton’s emails. It is a ridiculous argument.”

Watch the video below from CNN.

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Robert Reich: 20 of Trump's Biggest Broken Promises

February 4, 2018 in Blogs

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

You bought what he was selling, but it hasn't arrived.


1. He told you he’d cut your taxes, and that the super-rich like him would pay more.You bought it. But his new tax law does the opposite. By 2027, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the richest 1 percent will have got 83 percent of the tax cut and the richest 0.1 percent, 60 percent of it. But more than half of all Americans — 53 percent — will pay more in taxes. As Trump told his wealthy friends at Mar-a-Lago just days after the tax bill became law, “You all just got a lot richer.”

2. He promised to close “special interest loopholes that have been so good for Wall Street investors but unfair to American workers,” especially the notorious “carried interest” loophole for private-equity, hedge fund, and real estate partners. You bought it. But the new tax law keeps the “carried interest” loophole.

3. He told you he’d repeal Obamacare and replace it with something “beautiful.” You bought it. But he didn’t repeal and he didn’t replace. (Just as well: His plan would have knocked at least 23 million Americans off health insurance, including many of you.) Instead, he’s doing what he can to cut it back and replace it with nothing. The new tax law will result in 13 million people losing health coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

4. He told you he’d invest $1 trillion in our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. You bought it. But after his giant tax cut for corporations and millionaires, there’s no money left for infrastructure.

5. He said he’d drain the Washington swamp. You bought it. But he’s brought into his administration more billionaires, CEOs, and Wall Street moguls than in any administration in history, to make laws that will enrich their businesses, and he’s filled departments and agencies with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who are crafting new policies for the same industries they recently worked for.

6. He said he’d use his business experience to whip the White House into shape. You bought it. But he has created the most dysfunctional, back-stabbing White House in …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How Washington Power Might Corrupt Google

February 4, 2018 in Economics

By David Boaz

David Boaz

Two news items from recent days are reminders about the dangers
of mixing business and government. In 2017 Google outdid itself (and all other companies) in its
efforts to influence Washington, spending more on lobbying than any
other company that year. Meanwhile in Brazil, the largest-ever
corruption investigation in Latin America’s history has spread to
14 countries, due to bribes paid by Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction
firm, in efforts to secure government contracts. What’s already
known is that Odebrecht paid $29 million to Peruvian officials in
return for $12.5 billion in contracts.

These stories are very different. The United States is not Latin
America, and Google is not Odebrecht. Nevertheless, they do have
something in common. When a government has a lot of money and
power, individuals, businesses and interest groups will expend
their money and effort to get a piece of it — or simply to be
left in peace.

Such aims couldn’t be more different. Notably, much if not all
of Google’s lobbying is defensive. It wants to be
left alone to innovate and serve consumers. It seeks to resist
restrictions on immigration, excessive taxation, antitrust suits
and regulation of its advertising. Odebrecht, on the other hand,
seeks to get billion dollar government construction contracts,
sometimes by bribing high-ranking officials.

But both firms may simply see these expenditures as the cost of
doing business. Business people know that you have to invest to
make money. Businesses invest in factories, labor, research and
development, marketing and all the other processes that bring goods
to consumers and, they hope, lead to profits. But businesses can
also invest in political processes that may yield profits. If more
money can be made by investing in Washington — or Brasilia or
Lima — than by developing a new app or drilling another oil
well, money will be spent there.

Money spent by politicians in Washington, as with most national
capitals, is taken from the people who produced it all over
America. Washington produces little real value on its own. National
defense and courts are essential to our freedom and prosperity, but
that’s a small part of what the federal government does these
days. Most federal activity involves taking money from
some people, giving it to others and keeping a big chunk as a
transaction fee.

Every business and interest group in society has an office in
Washington devoted to getting some of the $4 trillion dollar federal budget for itself:
senior citizens, farmers, veterans, teachers, social workers, oil
companies, construction companies, labor unions, the
military-industrial complex — you name it. The massive
<a target=_blank href="http://www.businessinsider.com/national-debt-deficit-added-under-president-barack-obama-2017-1" …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Why Is Going Without Makeup Such a Big Deal for Women Who Usually Wear It?

February 4, 2018 in Blogs

By Jamie Friedlander, AlterNet

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Instead of feeling liberated, going barefaced made me feel anxious and unkempt.


The thought of staring at myself in the mirror for an hour in a workout class where I’m not wearing makeup makes my stomach turn. Aside from the occasional hiking trip, I haven’t gone a day without makeup in years. Until today.

It’s Day 1 of a self-imposed experiment not to wear makeup for a few weeks. The idea came out of a situation that had me seriously questioning my self-esteem.  

One Sunday in November, my husband was working an overnight shift at the hospital. I visited to bring him dinner. I had just showered, so my face was bare and my curly hair was clipped up and still dripping wet.

“You should come to the call room to meet my co-workers,” he said. My husband had been a first-year medical resident for four months and I hadn’t met any of his colleagues yet. 

“But my hair is wet, and I don’t have any makeup on,” I replied, filled with dread at the thought of meeting his co-workers in such a state. I looked at myself using the camera on my phone, and immediately noticed the dark bags under my eyes, the dry skin flaked around my nose and my cracked lips.

“You look beautiful!” he said. “And they won’t think anything of it, I swear. We’ve all been working overnight, so it’s not like any of us look our best.”

No matter how much he reassured me (he always tells me I’m beautiful without makeup on), I still couldn’t do it. Instead, I drove home, and the entire way, I beat myself up. Do I really have such low self-esteem? Am I that vain? Why do I care so much about …read more

Source: ALTERNET