It has been four months since the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act aka ObamaCare closed, and the most reliable numbers to date are being released. A new survey by The Commonwealth Fund pdf reveals that the program has surpassed all estimates of success and is broadly viewed favorably by the American people. Here are some of the highlights of the survey InfoGraphic below:With 9.5 million fewer uninsured adults, the uninsured rate for those 19-64 decline from 20% to 15%.The uninsured rate for young adults 19 to 34 declined from 28% to 18%, more than any other age group.In the 25 states and D.C. that expanded their Medicaid programs, the uninsured rate for low-income adults declined from 28% to 17% Texas and Florida – neither of which expanded Medicaid – have the highest uninsured rates.More than half of adults with new coverage said their plan included all or some of the doctors they wanted.More than three of five adults who selected a private plan or enrolled in medicaid were uninsured prior to gaining coverage.Two-thirds of those who found a primary care doctor got an appointment within two weeks.More than three-quarters of adults with new coverage said they were very or somewhat satisfied with it Including 74% of Republicans, 82% of Independents, and 84% of Democrats.
Jon Stewart takes a week off every once in a while and we are consigned to watching his reruns for a fix, which is okay because they stand up fairly well. It also gives us a chance to take a step back and savor some of his finest insults. Stewart might have torn a page or two from Shakespeare’s book—the bard was known to sling a good insult here and there. When Hamlet says, “They have a plentiful lack of wit,” and a character in Coriolanus says, “More of your conversation would infect my brain,” they could certainly be talking about Fox News. Henry V’s line: “Such antics do not amount to a man,” could certainly apply to John Boehner or Ted Cruz, and “Thou mis-shapen dick,” seems tailor-made for Scalia, Alito and Limbaugh. Take your pick.But Stewart has his own way with words or he and his scribes do. Too bad he took Hobby Lobby week off, but let’s take a moment to remember some of his best digs, some of which sound positively Shakespearian.
Last week, Marco Rubio delivered a speech outlining his economic agenda, and it was widely hailed as the cutting-edge statement of “reform conservatism,” an intra-Republican movement that is also the subject of a nearly 7,000-word feature in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. Neither the speech, nor the profile, nor the thousands of other words written about this movement provides a clear explanation about what the Republican agenda would actually look like should the “reformicon” takeover succeed. Their plans are filled with unreconciled contradictions, gaping policy holes, airy generalities, and, in the few places where they are specific, they are exceedingly small-bore in their focus.Yet to attempt to define the agenda for what it says about itself is to miss the far more significant message lying in what it does not say: that Barack Obama’s agenda poses a dire threat to the fabric of American life, that a reversal must be sweeping in its scope and undertaken immediately. The movement’s true contribution lies in its challenge to Republican apocalypticism.Glenn Beck’s moment of maximum influence already passed several years ago. But Beck was merely the most comic incarnation of a pervasive Republican alarm. The unhinged versions of this sensibility held that Obama had launched a sinister ideological assault on the Constitution and American freedom, perhaps in the name of Islamism, or socialism, or, somehow, both. The hinged version tended to fasten onto touchstones like Greece, hyperinflation, and looming fiscal catastrophe. The whole Republican worldview has been a series of furious scrawlings on mental chalkboards.
“Happy birthday to Ronald Reagan!” Senator Rand Paul R-KY tweeted on Thursday, swiftly followed by his Tea Party compatriot Sen. Ted Cruz R-TX. While praise from this sort of Republican on what would have been President Reagan’s 103rd birthday isn’t surprising, it is somewhat ironic. Though Reagan was extremely conservative often terribly so, he bucked the sort of hardline conservative line the Tea Party has become synonymous with repeatedly throughout his career in politics. Here are 7 Reagan moves that may well have led to his excommunication from today’s Republican Party if he were alive today:
The Republican Party is at war with itself – and has been since 2010 when several self-styled “insurgents” identified with the Tea Party challenged established Republicans in the primaries. Not all challengers win, but to date upsets by Tea Party challengers have cost the GOP at least seven seats in general elections for the U.S. Senate. This is a source of continuing friction between the officially entrenched and Tea Party factions of the Republican Party, and key policy disputes between the two camps further fuel discord. Policy cracks in the Republican Congressional conferences emerged during the debt ceiling disputes of 2011, when top House and Senate GOP leaders sought compromise with Democrats but Tea Party types refused to go along. Similar disagreements have emerged over a series of issues including immigration reform, renewal of federal highway funding, tactics for opposing the Affordable Care Act, and now the issue of the renewal of the federal Export-Import Bank.In fact, the rift is now so wide that Senator John S. McCain of Arizona, a pillar of the GOP establishment, has taken to calling Tea Partiers “wacko birds.” Continuing unresolved fratricide could threaten the survival of the Republican Party.
That nostalgic time of year for newly minted college grads and their professors has now concluded. I admit to being affected by the academic robes I pull out for commencement, not to mention the students I’ve taught for the past four years, who are finally ready to make the leap into the “real” world.This spring was a bit different. It marked the thirtieth anniversary of my own graduation from college. And as I headed east for my reunion, I thought about how my daughter a sophomore and the rest of her millennial cohort have inherited a radically different academic world than the one I toasted with my friends from the Class of 1984. The changes — and they were dramatic — occurred on my generation’s watch, and were not just a series of unrelated misfortunes. On the contrary, the new world is the end product of a fiendishly successful conspiracy.During my first semester of college, John Lennon was assassinated 40 blocks south of my freshman dorm, and Ronald Reagan, the former governor of California, was elected president of the United States. I was devastated by both of these events. At the time, I had no idea that the Great Communicator had cut his teeth on campus protests during the 1960s, using long-haired Berkeley students as perfect foils. Reagan assailed the Free Speech and anti-war movements, promising the taxpayers that if elected, he’d get college kids off picket lines and back in class. With comments like, “They are spoiled and don’t deserve the education they are getting” and that the state “should not subsidize intellectual curiosity,” he won in a landslide. Fourteen years later, Reagan was elected President, running against a host of mythical foes from “welfare queens” to an omnipotent “Evil Empire,” but he and his administration never shed their antipathy towards “elitist” campuses and the young people who dared question the system.
A Seattle millionaire is urging his super-rich peers to support a $15 minimum wage or face the possibility of a devastating populist revolt.In an essay published this week by Politico Magazine, venture capitalist Nick Hanauer warned that the widening income gap in the U.S. would eventually spark a violent revolution.“No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality,” Hanauer wrote in the piece, shared nearly 200,000 times on Facebook by Tuesday afternoon. “In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out.”
The growing wealth gap in developed countries is an incredibly disturbing development. New research suggests that inequality might be growing even faster than we thought. Worryingly, this concentration of wealth has coincided with a concentration of debt at the bottom, as families struggle to maintain their standards of living with stagnating incomes. But even this data understates wealth inequality, argues Gabriel Zucman in “The Hidden Wealth of Nations,” because official statistics fail to capture offshore wealth holdings.Zucman is an assistant professor of economics at the London School of Economics and a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley. At only 27, he’s already co-authored papers with economics superstar Thomas Piketty. His most recent paper estimates that global offshore holdings total $7.6 trillion and rob governments of hundreds of billions in tax revenues each year. He also finds that over the past few decades, companies have stored more and more profits overseas, making the effective corporate tax rate less than half the tax rate on the books.All of this is happening at the same time as Thomas Piketty’s blockbuster treatise, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” has brought the issue of wealth and income inequality to the forefront of the political discussion by introducing historical data on inequality. Piketty argues that the best way to address the data, political and economic concerns of wealth is a progressive international tax on wealth holdings, as well as policies to build wealth for the middle class. What was once a technocratic discussion about efficiency has become a deeply political debate about who gets what, as slow growth makes distribution more important. Even the most conservative economists have to grapple albeit clumsily with addressing the moral dimension of inequality.
Sad, isn’t it?
The American public willingly surrendered to the oligarchs, and willingly gave them all the money.
We deserve whatever is coming.
The United States of America is not a political entity, it’s a holding corporation. What a joke.