Discuss: the impeachment and Warren’s Medicare/tax plan

November 1, 2019 • 9:00 am

The big news in the U.S. is, of course, the House of Representatives’ vote yesterday to proceed with a formal impeachment inquiry, which will probably wind up with a vote to impeach Trump. (Remember, impeachment is just a requirement for a Senate trial, which needs a 2/3 vote to convict. Only that vote will remove Trump from office.)

You can see HR660, the impeachment-inquiry bill, here, and Newsweek analyzes exactly what the bill stipulates and how things will proceed.

The House vote, which is broken down here, was 232 in favor and 196 against. Though no Republicans voted for the impeachment inquiry, two Democrats, Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, voted against it. This is going to be one partisan inquiry!

I’ll be in Torres del Paine National Park all day, so I’m putting up a discussion post as I’ve observed some readers eager to discuss impeachment. Please weigh in below on predictions, analyses, and so on.

My own prediction, which isn’t hard to make, is that Trump will be impeached by the House by a partisan vote similar to the one above, but that the Republican-controlled Senate will fail to convict. Given the 2/3 majority required to convict, and remove the “President” from office, something like 20 Republican Senators would have to vote against Trump.

I expect things should get lively given my discovery that there are some Trump supporters who comment on this site.

And I just read on the news that Elizabeth Warren has provided more details of her “Medicare-for-all” plan, including how the country will come up with the $20.5 trillion dollars to pay for it.  I’m not surprised that she isn’t proposing to raise taxes on the middle class, as that would have made her look bad given her repeated evasion of that question during the debates.

From the New York Times:

Ms. Warren would use a mix of sources to pay for the $20.5 trillion in new spending over a decade, including by requiring employersto pay trillions of dollars to the government, replacing much of what they currently spend to provide health coverage to workers. She would create a tax on financial transactions like stock trades, change how investment gains are taxed for the top 1 percent of households and ramp up her signature wealth tax proposal to be steeper on billionaires. She also wants to cut $800 billion in military spending.

Ms. Warren’s estimate for the cost of Medicare for all relies on an aggressive set of assumptions about how to lower national health care costs while providing comprehensive coverage to all Americans. Like Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, she would essentially eliminate medical costs for individuals, including premiums, deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses.

. . . But in responding to her rivals and more tightly embracing Medicare for all, Ms. Warren is taking a significant political risk. Although she is not proposing broad tax increases on individuals, her proposal will still allow Republicans to portray her as a tax-and-spend liberal who wants to dramatically expand the role of the federal government while abolishing private health insurance. Her plan’s $20.5 trillion price tag is equal to roughly one-third of what the federal government is currently projected to spend over the next decade in total.

Here’s who pays (from CNN):

  • Employer contributions: Instead of paying premiums to insurers, companies would send an estimated $8.8 trillion over 10 years to the federal government as an “Employer Medicare Contribution.”

  • Taxes on the wealthy: Billionaires would be subject to a new tax of three cents on the dollar on net worth above $1 billion. This is in addition to the wealth tax she announced earlier this year, which would also place a 3 percentage point levy on billionaires. Also, the wealthiest 1% would be taxed on capital gains income annually, rather than at the time of sale, and the capital gains rate would be raised to match income tax rates. Combined, this would raise $3 trillion.

  • Reducing tax evasion: Warren argues that she can collect $2.3 trillion by empowering the Internal Revenue Service to crack down on tax evasion and fraud, redirecting the agency’s focus to high-income earners.

  • Levies on financial sector and large corporations: Warren would impose a financial transaction tax of .01% on the sale of stocks, bonds and derivatives. She would also make several significant changes to corporate tax law. All together, these would generate $3.8 trillion.

  • Taxing additional take-home pay: Since employees would no longer have to pay their share of health care premiums, their take-home pay would go up. This would raise $1.4 trillion.

Warren also proposes to negotiate down the price of prescription drugs by up to 70%.

My own view: while I would vote for Warren over Trump or any other Republican, this plan, and her promise not to raise taxes while giving the estimates above (which seem low to me given higher estimates of the cost from other people, some over $30 trillion). And I don’t want my own medical plan, which I quite like, to be replaced by a government-run boondoggle, though I strongly favor a public option so that no indigent American need go without medical care. (I’d be willing to pay more taxes to accomplish that).

Politico also reports a fair amount of pushback from Democrats, saying that this plan may even doom Warren’s candidacy. But of course she may well retract it before the election, or, if she’s elected, there’s a good chance that Congress, even if both houses were Democratic, wouldn’t pass it.

But weigh in on that issue, too. I expect economists from both parties will be offering analyses of Warren’s plan in the next few days.


234 thoughts on “Discuss: the impeachment and Warren’s Medicare/tax plan

  1. My only comment is that too many people say “don’t take my plan away” which is selfish and short sited. Universal healthcare works well in so many other countries and the cost is significantly lower than the hodgepodge system in the US. There is a huge layer of costly, useless bureaucracy that is there to deny coverage.

    1. To get functional universal healthcare involves dismantling huge bureaucracies and systems.
      If you just go with single payer but leave those systems intact, very little of the available funding will end up going to patient care.
      If you ever drive through St. Louis, watch for the Express Scripts complex. They don’t treat patients, develop or manufacture drugs or medical devices. They are a mail order pharmacy with 100 billion in annual revenues.
      Hospitals and even local clinics are increasingly owned by giant multinational corporations. They buy the small practices in order to close them, as they could potentially compete with the larger group.
      The providers under the new system end up having to fight to keep giving their patients the proper standard of care. The group only wants to hear about “metrics”, which is about numbers of patients seen per shift, and percentage who receive more expensive tests and procedures. The people setting and checking the Doc’s metrics are not medical professionals. They are bureaucrats. The same goes for the companies that exert similar control over drug manufacture and pricing.
      If we could find a way to eliminate or exert control on the vast bureaucracies that stand between the doctor and patient, we would not need insurance, except for major surgical procedures.

    2. Yes, this bugs me too. We can’t say that our healthcare system is broken and must be replaced and at the same time say we all want to keep our current plans. Similarly, we can’t worry about employment losses in the healthcare and insurance industries. We can’t make a better omelette without breaking some eggs.

    3. That’s my take as well. The Canadian system is a good model. The Germans and Japanese systems use a hodgepodge to some extent, but are basically government sponsored (last I checked). There must be a way to do this. It’s not rocket science (or brain surgery). The question is, how do you most effectively make the transition. Warren may be too optimistic and she might back off later and advocate a halfway measure as a transitional mechanism.

  2. If Warren is elected, the stock market will crash. Billionaires have the majority of their net worth in equities. Imagine having to sell 6% of your stocks every year to pay taxes.

    1. That sounds like something the current administration wants everyone to believe and not reality. No surprise there.

    2. …and planes will fall from the sky, crops will fail, the horses will bolt for the mountains – and lo! from the east, a pale rider will come, all dressed in black, a visage of stony cruelty, endless perfidy…vowing to close loopholes in the American taxation system and ask the super-rich to contribute more to society.

      Ring the bells, light the lanterns, won’t somebody think of the poor rich people

    3. The stock market is going to crash/correct eventually, it’s inevitable, but when and/or why is often unknown until after the fact.

      Even so many constantly tell us when it’s going to crash just as many tell us when the apocalypse is going to happen and Jesus will return. The difference of course is the market will correct.

      Practically every week there is someone telling us the market is oversold and over priced and is going to crash. Many have been saying just that for several years.

      I’m not the least bit surprised that Trump trumpets the continued market upswing but ignores the fact that upswings NEVER last.
      One would think a stable genius would know that. I suppose he could have been talking about horse stables.

      Stock market crashes/corrections are wonderful buying opportunities for those who are prepared and are willing to go against the terror of the crowd.

  3. You say you do not want my medical plan which I like to be replaced by a government boondoggle. But doesn’t that current plan include Medicare as it now stands? So all you have is a supplemental private insurance to Medicare which now pays approximately 80% of your cost.

    I am sorry but that sounds like the old republican who yelled – keep govt. out of my medicare. Keep in mind, I (another old guy) am also on Medicare and have a supplement as well. The problem is, the majority of the people in this country do not have what we have. They have far less and are paying far more if they have any insurance. Is this okay. Just as long as I have mine, that is all that counts.

    I believe Warren is headed in the correct direction and attempting to catch up with the rest of the civilized world.

    1. I’m sorry but do not compare me to an old Republican. As I said, I wouldn’t mind paying more so that everyone can have cheap or free healthcare.

      My experience with the British system (and hearing about the Polish system) doesn’t make me enthusiastic about a 100% single-payer system. Nearly all my friends in these countries take advantage of private medical care on top of the government system.

  4. “…a government-run boondoggle…”

    Sorry, chief, but this is unwarranted bias.

    I’m a beneficiary of Medicare, the quintessential government-run health care program, and quite like it. It is far better than any company-provided or individually-purchased health insurance I had in my younger years.

    How you can call Medicare a “boondoggle” is beyond me.

    1. I agree that Medicare + an Advantage kicker is wonderful. Very well managed and untouchable from the recipient’s point of view.

      However, with SS and other provisions added, FedGov Social Services already consume 70% of
      $4.5 Trillion annual spending. And that spending is already $1 Trillion in the hole every year, and growing. And Elizabeth’s target for collecting is already paying almost all the cost …

      The reason Medicare is good now is that is untouchable ‘ethos-wise’ and funded by deficit spending.

      Also, private health insurance is or could be no less wonderful

      1. Private insurance is necessarily less wonderful if only because cost, a lot of it, is added to the system to benefit shareholders of profit-making corporations.

        1. Take away the profit motive, and what would motivate current health care institutions, and move medicine forward? The Queen Elizabeth Five-year plans a la Mao?

          1. You know, John, the rest of developed world figured this out years ago.

            Somehow, mysteriously, other government programs manage to advance through the years. The military is not equipped as it was a hundred years ago. Our road systems have managed to improve oner the last century. Fire departments across the country manage to move forward over time. But nobody knows how this is even possible!

            1. Jeez, let’s privatize the military, the interstate highway system, and the fire & police departments, too. That oughta lead to libertarian Shangri-La.

          2. It seems that you are conflating profits for the insurance industry with the profit motive in health care R&D, two completely different things. Now just how does the profit motive improve health insurance? Actuarial science is really just applied probability. Does one insurance company have better math than another? Or is the money that now goes to the insurance companies better spent directly to the health care providers?

          3. I think there should be some kind of equivalent of the Godwin law, only for the likelihood of someone bringing up Chairman Mao whenever a discussion about free healthcare or social security comes up.

          4. A good deal of R&D is financed by the federal government via taxpayer money. Under much of this research the costs and losses are public while the profits are privatized.

            Millions of Americans will never benefit, even those who are desperate for the drugs, medical hardware or new surgeries because they can’t afford the excessive costs, or can’t afford treatment period.

            Many hospitals that teach, do research and ground breaking medicine are non-profits.
            Many hospitals are classed as non-profits but act like for profit operations that exist to funnel money to top executives or churches.

  5. And I don’t want my own medical plan, which I quite like, to be replaced by a government-run boondoggle

    I’m not sure I understand the American system; why can’t you keep your health insurance plan? In the UK we have the NHS but we still have employer provided health care insurance, and many have private health care plans, on top.

    1. Mark, I am sure that every country out there has differences in their medical insurance plans. Canada, U.K. Japan, Germany and on and on.

      In the U.S. we currently have Medicare for older folks – 65 and older. It is compulsory and mostly automatic when you hit 65. I don’t want to get into all the things involved in this but just say it covers approx. 80 percent of your health costs. You still would need some private insurance to cover the rest. This new proposed Medicare for all is not going to be the same. But it is essentially complete health insurance with no outside help needed. The real question is how is it going to be paid for. I personally think those of us who can afford it should be paying. Everyone who can, should be paying for it, just like we pay for schools and the military and everything else.

      1. I agree. I think the middle class should help pay too. They are beneficiaries of the efficiencies, so why not pony up? A Value Added Tax would be a good way to go. In the end you get what you pay for. I suspect some of these solutions are not on the table right now because they are not yet acceptable to the voters.

      2. Thanks Randall

        That’s fine, I understand that it has to be paid for, and that’s perceived as a problem; it was always thus whenever anyone has suggested the state take over responsibility for some part of a country’s infrastructure.

        My query is why folk (like Jerry) are worried about having their existing medical insurance replaced. Government can supply the 80% and private insurance can provide the additional comfort for those who want to pay for it – existing policies can be rolled over to the new circumstances.

        But presumably it’s not that easy, and I’m missing some vital piece of the puzzle!

        1. As I tried to say earlier – the current Medicare in America is not what they are talking about. It will be different. It will be all inclusive for all ages and all coverage. A single payer system. They would be better not even calling it Medicare.

          Medicare as it currently stands is only for 65 and older. It is not covering everything and it is not free. I and PCC are both on Medicare and we pay a little over $100 dollars a month. So right there tells you it is not free. We also paid though payroll deduction a small bit of our wages while we were still working. So again, not free. All of this said, it still only covers about 80% of your doctor and hospital costs. It does not cover most pharmacy or drugs. That is why you need to buy extra if you want coverage for those things. It does not currently cover dentist or eyes either. It is simply confusing to most people to call this proposed new system Medicare for all. I wish that Bernie and Warren had called it simple single payer health care.

  6. The problem with the American health care system is that it is too expensive.

    Health care spending constituted 17.9% of U.S. GDP in 2017 and 17.07% in 2016.

    Per the World Bank (2016):
    France spent 11.54 % of GDP on Healthcare
    Germany spent 11.14 % of GDP on Healthcare
    Canada spent 10.53% of GDP on Healthcare
    UK spent 9.76 % of GDP on Healthcare.

    We spent over 1/3 more than other comparable nations on healthcare, and almost twice what the UK spends.


    Personally, I don’t care how it is done through private insurance, public insurance, or socialized medicine, any serious health care plan needs to reduce aggregate health care spending by at least 1/3 rd. [This means a massive haircut to health insurance companies, drug companies, medical device manufacturers, and the AMA, which is why I am skeptical that any serious health care policy is ever going to make it into law short of a constitutional crisis.]

    Medicare for all or public insurance allows for control of costs by dictating costs to providers. You could have a serious proposal for private insurance, but you would have to have a government agency dictate the compensation rates, which is why there are no serious private health care policies under consideration. [The current system is about maximizing profit for corporations in oligarchical and fixed markets, not an abstract debate about state control versus free markets.]

    As far as the tax issue, its just funny accounting. Private health insurance costs money, even if employers provide free health insurance to employees. If the government taxes to pay for public health insurance, it costs money from the economy, but at the same time, employers and employees who are currently paying premiums suddenly have money they did not have before. Even if you don’t change reimbursement rates, all you do is take 17.9% of money spent privately and shift it to the public sector.

    Of course, if you expand health coverage, you have more people and probably more medical services, but if you can dictate prices (in accordance with international pricing norms), you actually spend less for more.

    Our wasteful medical system makes our industries less competitive internationally, limits our abilities to effectively address public health (Got Typhus?), not to mention the inhumanity of having millions without insurance and millions more with insurance but too poor to use insurance.

    [Now extending coverage to illegal immigrants is the kind of cartilage-brained leftism that signals that they actually aren’t serious about making policy, they just want gin up support from the moonbats and fanatics while actually giving right-wing radio cheap talking points.]

      1. I think the last paragraph is OK. Amnesties to uninsured people piss off those who dutifully pay their insurance and taxes. Where I live, the uninsured are not covered (except for emergencies) but are time and again forgiven and allowed to rejoin the system after paying symbolic sums. Most uninsured I know are not particularly poor, and those who are, are poor because of their choice not to work.

          1. No. They deserve to have their money taken off for health insurance, as mine is taken off every g*ddamn month.
            Frankly, I am tired of women forced to carry lazy irresponsible men on their backs (every single person whom I know without a job or health insurance is male).

        1. “Most uninsured I know are not particularly poor, and those who are, are poor because of their choice not to work.”

          Jesus H Corbett. Maybe you should expand your bubble of acquaintances a bit then instead of making inferences about hundreds of millions of people from the relatively tiny handful of ‘people (you) know’.

          1. Before I expand my bubble, I want it dealt with. In my bubble, lazy irresponsible men (they are all male, without a single exception) live as parasites on women and the taxpayers. I have no intention to deny my experience for the sake of some “millions of people” whose existence, let alone any other quality, I have no easy way to verify.

        2. I am amazed by the opposition to my opinion that lazy irresponsible people should not be allowed to live at the expense of others. I think that this idea is mainstream, and in fact even banal.

      2. Perhaps my rhetoric is too strong, but handing the GOP the narrative that “the Democrats are going to raise your taxes, take away your health insurance just so they can give free health insurance to 30 million illegal aliens” is exactly the kind of Us and Them politics that prevents constructive change. . . and its hard to believe the candidates are too stupid to realize that.

        [While I am offending people, one of the horrible features of Obamacare was not offering a de minimus plan which would have been affordable, instead caving to every liberal lobby in D.C. resulting in added coverage mandates so you have to mental health, substance abuse treatment, etc., which results in making people buy a limo rather than a yari.

        This is one of the weaknesses of the identity politics driven approach, because you can’t do a policy unless you have something that ticks off all the boxes, woman’s health, mental health, substance abuse, or you hate women, crazy people and drug addicts. But you end up with coverage which is out of many people’s budget, so it fails out of the box.]

        1. “…but handing the GOP the narrative that…

          Worrying about what Republicans will say is a fool’s errand. Democrats should have learned by now that they will be called socialist tax-raisers no matter what. The only way to avoid Republican ire is to support Republican candidates and Republican policies.

          Democrats should focus on advocating for good policies without worrying about what Republicans will say.

          1. Agreed. But, it doesn’t hurt to soften the message as a way to lead the way toward sound policies. People take time to adjust to change, and the Democratic party is all about change.

            1. “Softening the message”, in the context of worrying about Republican response, is a mistake. It easily translates as “lie about what you want to do”. There’s no value in that. It will inevitably expose you as deceitful and dissembling.

              1. I disagree. Republican will always say “Democrats want to raise your taxes”. There is no way to prevent Republican rhetoric from being what it always is.

                Diluting your message in service of this goal is counter-productive.

          2. Give me break, the whole point of political correctness is to create an ideological double-bind where someone rude enough to point out the logical incoherence or empirical nonsense in your talking point is immediately dismissed as some kind of sinister cryto-Nazi. It is entirely about enforcing orthodoxy, and orthodoxy is all about controlling what your opponents can say (or get burned at the stake or trotted off to the gulag).

            The point of politics is to find rhetoric to drum up enthusiasm in your base while simultaneously demoralizing the opposition. If your rhetoric inspires 2 of the opposition to turn out to vote against you for every 1 of your side you get out, you generally lose.

            1. If your rhetoric is dishonest it will be seen as such and you will have no support.

              I have no idea where that rant about “sinister cryto-Nazi” came from or how it bears on the subject. (crypto? not that this makes the rant relevant)

              1. Any one who seeks to succeed at politics must consider both the influence of his or her words on supporters, as well as the influence of those words on detractors.

                Not sure why this is hard for people to grasp.

                Orthodoxy is about suppressing the ability of detractors to oppose you, whether you are talking about Byzantium, the Soviet Union, the Puritans, or modern Political Correctness.

                Any political movement that adopts “orthodoxy tactics” is being disingenuous if they want to claim that they don’t care about the response of their critics.

                This source is from the NRO, which is right-wing but I don’t see any reason to doubt the basic facts of a guy who got fired for publicly expressing belief in “objectivity” and “academic merit” (which would intrinsic to a scientific understanding of nature in contrast to po-mo relativism):


                This is no different from firing someone for believing the Earth may be older than 7,000 years in terms of form, if not content).

                It is true that the Progressive Left does not in general demonstrate coherence, probably because of the lack of a clear hierarchy and organization, but they do sometimes care quite a lot about what there opponents say, and sometimes they are too concerned with signaling purity that they abandon prudence. Maybe its just hubris, who knows.

              2. Any one who seeks to succeed at politics must consider both the influence of his or her words on supporters, as well as the influence of those words on detractors.

                Not sure why this is hard for people to grasp.

                Because it’s not always true. Some people are impossible to influence in certain decisions. There are probably 30-35% of the electorate that will vote for Trump no matter what, and it would be wasted energy to try to influence them. It would be a political mistake to allow them to influence your message.

              3. Who are you arguing with, and about what, KD?

                The subject here has to do with the utility, or lack thereof, of using a “don’t give Republicans the X argument” strategy. This is a pointless strategy since because they will always make that argument no matter what. When your goal is actually THIS, then you should advocate for THIS. Not to do so, for fear that Republicans will say something, is to position yourself in a corner, denying what you say is what you mean.

    1. I am glad you typed all that so I did no thave to. Yes we spend 50% more than other countries, cover less people and provide no better (and sometimes worse) medical outcomes. This message should be relentlessly repeated.

      1. You also have a much higher standard of living than most other countries, and that higher standard comes with more healthcare products. More products -> higher costs. On a healthcare spending-to-living-standard axis, the US is perfectly in line with other countries, just much further ahead. Re: lifespan benefits, the numbers seem to suggest that more interventions beyond a certain point doesn’t translate to lifespan benefits. The US passed that point a long time ago. Spending at the level of Span is about all that’s needed. The problem is, that people want the new innovations: like CAR-T cancer cell therapies, or gene therapies. Very expensive, with only a mild net lifespan benefit for the population at large. But what country wants to be the one to arbiter between lives and cost? These are hard questions, and if it was easy to come up with better solutions, you can bet someone would have thought of them already.

        1. Yeah, that’s the story we are told: our healthcare is really expensive because we consider treatment with expensive meds and procedures as normal and expected. While that might be the case, I worry that this is what the healthcare and insurance monopoly would like us to believe. My guess is that this far outweighed by the monstrous inefficiency and high charges by all the middlemen that want their cut.

          1. I remember when I was a kid, it was normal for health insurance companies to pay over 90-95% of premiums towards care. When the ACA was enacted, I remember reading articles about how insurance companies were (fraudulently, in my opinion) reclassifying various expenses as medical care so they could get up to the 80% threshold required by the law. It seems to me that the cut taken by middlemen has grown over time and there’s certainly some fat that could be trimmed…

        2. You also have a much higher standard of living than most other countries

          To have higher costs and poorer results in the context of a higher standard of living is another indication of how inefficient our healthcare system is.

      2. You also have a much higher standard of living than most other countries, and that higher standard comes with more healthcare products. More products -> higher costs. On a healthcare spending-to-living-standard axis, the US is perfectly in line with other countries, just much further ahead. Re: lifespan benefits, the numbers seem to suggest that more interventions beyond a certain point doesn’t translate to lifespan benefits. The US passed that point a long time ago. Spending at the level of Span is about all that’s needed. The problem is, that people want the new innovations: like CAR-T cancer cell therapies, or gene therapies. Very expensive, with only a mild net lifespan benefit for the population at large. But what country wants to be the one to arbiter between lives and cost? These are hard questions, and if it was easy to come up with better solutions, you can bet someone would have thought of them already.

        1. In your 1st sentence “You..” seems confused, but I’ll take the meaning to be the claim that USians have a much higher standard of living than other ‘western’ countries’ people, in particular the countries mentioned in what you are trying to reply to. This statement is utter nonsense for any kind of cost-of-living calculation which defines that notion regarding the citizens of each country as equal to each other in constructing averages. It seems to me to be very typical of many woefully educated USians who wouldn’t even know enough to drive north to get to Canada (Alaskans, and perhaps Maineiacs, excepted), or east to fly to Europe. But give me some details of your statistical claim and maybe I’ll change my mind. Can you find even a single economist of any real decent research reputation who seriously makes this claim?

          I think your “axis” remark is therefore also nonsense.

          The question of expensive and marginally effective treatments is one difficulty equally for the most rapacious (e.g. USian), and for the most so-called ‘socialistic’, health systems. In the latter, one usually has some provision for billionaires and lesser to buy additional insurance. I do not believe that even Warren says she would outlaw the latter.

  7. The easiest solution to begin fixing Obamacare is to pass legislation opening State Medicaid plans on the exchange at their per capita cost. This could be done at the State or Federal level.

    This would push everyone into Medicaid because of the significant cost savings (Medicaid has no shareholders to pay off and has some of the lowest reimbursement rates, so Blue Cross has no way to compete).

    But physicians and hospitals and health insurance companies would scream bloody murder. Any time it is contemplated on the State level, the insurance lobbyists just sweep in and up their contributions to the politicians.

  8. My own prediction, which isn’t hard to make, is that Trump will be impeached by the House by a partisan vote similar to the one above, but that the Republican-controlled Senate will fail to convict. Given the 2/3 majority required to convict, and remove the “President” from office, something like 20 Republican Senators would have to vote against Trump.

    That’s exactly what I think will happen too. The only hope is that the public hearings that will now follow will highlight the utter hypocrisy* of the GOP position so vividly that their vote will collapse in 2020.

    *what else do you call screaming for in camera hearings to be made public and then voting against a resolution that will make the hearings public.

    1. And what do you call it when a third of the GOP congress critters who stormed the SCIF in the capitol basement for a pizza’n’selfie party to protest impeachment-inquiry depositions being taken behind closed doors were themselves entitled to attend the depos and to ask questions, but blew it off without doing so, apparently so they could remain ignorant of testimony damaging to Dear Leader?

      1. Trump supporters will never hear or read that since they have been trained for decades to not trust “fakenews”.

    2. There is, of course the possibility that the public hearings turn out so damaging that more than 20 Republican Senators will vote to condemn. Much depends on the public opinion in purple and red states.
      I do not hold my breath though.

        1. there are several possibilities when it comes to a Senate trial:
          1 – It looks so bad these odd 20 Senators will cut their losses and will vote to remove.
          2 – Same as above but they are not willing to cut their losses , but risk not to be reelected. (or worst case: will still be reelected)
          3 – The public hearings can be twisted as not that bad. Mr Trump will stay.

          No 1 can, of course, be ‘mediated’ by Mr McConnell, who concludes that a President Pence might be more opportune. Mr McConnell has no loyalty to Mr Trump and could dump him anytime.

      1. One possibility ( a long shot) is that as the hearing go on, a gang of 20 Republicans forms which reasons that if they vote against tRump, they won’t have to live in fear of him any longer, so why not?

        1. There is a dam that’s fit to burst there. If/when it does, I sincerely hope the American people don’t let these Republican gits forget that they propped this man up for four years and dragged the name of liberal democracy through the dirt every single hour of every day.

          In a perfect world this presidency would, should, mean the end of the Republican party.

          I think some of them sense this, which is why their tactics are growing more and more deranged.

          1. There’s a fault line that runs through today’s Republican Party between those who see Trump as the means to an end (an end such as packing the federal courts with right-wing judges) and those who see Trump as an end unto himself (the ones who revel in his xenophobia and nastiness and vulgarity).

            Once Trump takes his ignominious fall (be it by impeachment or by defeat in the next election), this fault will rupture, and all the GOP’s men won’t be able to put the Grand Old Party back together again.

            1. Let’s hope so. But never underestimate the appeal of fearmongering conservatism. The best you can hope is that the party that replaces the GOP on the right isn’t as openly appalling.

  9. On the issue of impeachment, I have been for it for a long time. That has not changed and now, finally they are going to start the process. If I were giving advice on how it will turn out, I would first say, wait a bit. See how the open public hearing go before you determine the outcome. Remember, these public hearing are still in the House and will be run by the intelligence committee. This is key and most important. It will determine not only the vote in the house to move on to the Senate, it will educate, or not, the public out there who still seems to know very little about what is going on.

    In the Watergate impeachment of the 1970s the open hearing in the house determined the outcome and the Senate never held a trial or voted. Nixon was dead in the water due to the public hearings that educated the public and Nixon knew he was finished.

    1. Very good (and hopeful) points about public hearings. Sad thing about tRump is his affliction, affluenza, disrupts his ability to recognize the damages he has caused. If some alternative universe came about and Cheeto Benito sincerely held himself accountable and tried to rectify his legacy, he’d face a 200+ year project with glacial paced progress.

    2. Yes, but times have changed since the Watergate Era. According to CNN, back then the vote to start the impeachment investigation got many Republican votes, whereas they were unanimously against it in yesterday’s vote. Still, I hope you are right.

      1. Yes, but yesterday’s vote was a procedural vote. It will be interesting to see their actual vote for impeachment once the public hears open testimony. The next vote will be the real test of Republican resolve.

        1. What is remarkable is that all those bleating about “secret” hearings and asked for a public process, voted against public hearings. That seems odd, peculiar, to say the least.

            1. Exactly. This kind of blatant lying and hypocrisy is completely normal for the GOP. So normal it’s freakin cliche. It’s one of the reasons I’ve come to the conclusion that anyone who supports the GOP is seriously compromised in some way because it’s impossible to not notice this kind of drastically inconsistent behavior by the GOP.

  10. Dear Elizabeth,

    Are you going to make an entire industry, namely health insurance, illegal?

    Are you going to compel all health care industries to only receive payment from the Federal Government of the United States of America? Turning all health care workers into surfs of Gov?

    It took an amendment to the Constitution to even allow FedGov to tax income directly. Now you want to tax wealth directly. I repeat: you want to attach a yearly obligation of 3% of a wealthy person’s net worth [why not everyone?], which had to be accumulated by navigating a blizzard of regulation and income taxation in the first place.

    Hmm. Who are the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States of America again?

    Elizabeth, perhaps a once-free nation will now go along with your plan to nationalize and collectivise to this extent.

    Or perhaps some will Shrug.

    1. The health insurance (prevention) industry doesn’t have to be deemed illegal. The government can make them obsolete by controlling healthcare costs, including eliminating all the bureaucrats who don’t add to providing healthcare.

    2. My goodness, “collectivism” is a term that sends shudders down my spine. Keep up the good work and before long the masses will revolt against social security and current Medicare. You can convince them that all those government bureaucrats are socialists, if not damn Commies.

      1. You don’t have to worry about “TheMasses” revolting against SS/Med et al. They love it. It is still collectivism, however, and there is no will to pay for it now, let alone $30 Trillion from now.

      2. Heaven forfend that struggling billionaires should have to squeak by without taxpayers subsidizing their private jets.

  11. I’m betting on resignation as the outcome. I think the public hearings are going to go very poorly for Team Trump and I don’t think Moscow Mitch wants a vote at all. Acquittal only saves Trump’s hide, not Mitch’s own.

    Expect a full Nixon redux.

    1. If I recall correctly, when Nixon resigned, 72% of the public felt he should resign or be impeached (I can’t remember which the stat was). It was clear that he would be found guilty in a Senate trial. That’s why he resigned. The numbers aren’t there for Trump.

        1. The Republican party back then was very different. It had leaders like Goldwater who had some integrity. The current Republican party has none. Yes, there is Mitt Romney but he is a voice crying in the wilderness.

          1. Haven’t we sunk low to have recourse to Mr Romney as a paragon of righteousness?
            (I do not mean that as an aspersion on Mr Romney, but still, are there so few that would do?)

          2. The Republican party back then was very different.


            The GOP has transformed itself over the past few decades by 1) adopting a post-truth platform and 2) catering to the religious fundamentalism (those are 2 distinct efforts but they align nicely). The post-truth movement stems from the GOP’s partnership with the fossil fuel industry and the religious fundamentalism connection stems from Nixon’s Southern Strategy.

            These 2 efforts have molded the American conservative electorate into an irrational and intellectually malleable group – don’t believe the scientists, don’t believe the historians, don’t believe the economists, don’t believe the press; believe me instead.

            Thus the GOP set the table for someone like Trump to come in and steal their harvest – remember, the GOP didn’t like Trump’s invasion at all, but they have, over decades, cultivated a post-truth electorate ideally suited to someone like Trump and now they’re stuck with him.

            So yes, the Republican party back then was very different. Goldwater is turning over in his grave (as is Reagan, as is McCain).

            1. There are still many Republicans who hate Trump but don’t understand that Trump was the inevitable result of Republican (and Republican propaganda) policies.

              I don’t see an easy way to fix it since many Trump/Republican supporters are firmly in a bubble.

              On a more frightening note there appears to be an increase in the number of evangelical preachers and right wing Youtube nuts calling for or ‘predicting’ the killing of liberals and or Democrats.
              They appear to be getting more unhinged every day.

              1. This talk of violence and civil war from Trump fans reminds me of the abusive man that blames the battered woman for inciting the man to violence.

                “Why do you make me do this?!!!!”

        2. I fear Dr Brydon may be right. Mr Nixon’s approval rating was much less stable, more volatile, than Mr Trump’s, varying from nearly 67% to nearly 42% (a 25% range) over ste same period, long before the Watergzre hearings)..
          Despite licking Mr Putin’s boots, government shut down, loving Mr Kim, tearing children from their parents, etc, ect (the list is long), his approval remains solidly between 36+ and 43% (6% range). That ia admittedly a low percentage, but it comes predominantly from states that have a disproportionate weight in the Senate.

          1. Yet some polls say that a slight majority thinks Trump should be impeached. And they haven’t even started the public impeachment hearings yet. I’m definitely not saying its likely Trump will be removed but there’s a chance. Even if he is not removed from office, I don’t think he’s going to be able to turn his hollow victory into a second term.

            1. I think the most likely scenario is that Mr Trump is impeached, but acquitted by a large minority in the Senate, even if the evidence is most damning (as explained above).
              He most probably will lose the 2020 election, and the Senate will be even closer to 50/50 than now, possibly even a small Democrat majority. If I were a US-ian Democratic party strategist I would put most of my efforts in the Senate race.
              The skew in favour of the Republicans is much larger in the Senate than in the EC. The latter is somewhat proportional, the former not at all.

              1. Yes, that sounds about right. I suspect public opinion will be swayed against Trump by the impeachment proceedings but this will not sufficiently impact GOP Senators to force them to change their vote against Trump. In the 2020 election, voters will remember those GOP senators who voted Trump and party over truth and country and will vote accordingly.

  12. Financing universal medical care, or any other government service, with a financial transaction tax (FTT) will be fought tooth and nail by the Republican Party, denouncing the idea for its wild, extreme radicalism. FTTs are currently levied in such wildly radical places as Switzerland, Taiwan, Japan, and Columbia, not to mention Italy, France, Finland, and Sweden. Why, if a Warren government imposed an FTT, it might even do things as wildly radical as taxing the income of hedge fund managers as income, or taxing (gasp!) capital gains as income.

  13. As I have stated several times before at this site, the debate over Medicare for All is an absurd waste of time. This is because the chances of a plan such as Warren’s actually being implemented are near zero. And if it ever is implemented, it would be around a decade for it being phased in having, in the interim, survived numerous Republican legal and legislative efforts to have it repealed. From a purely political perspective, Warren’s plan is a great political negative because she is being branded a radical for a plan that is likely going nowhere. Democrats need to support a plan that offers universal coverage, but without denying people private insurance, which they seem to be wedded to rationally or not.

    This raises the question: if people love their private insurance, why is the vast majority eager to sign up for the current Medicare when they reach age 65? I have seen little evidence that they are dissatisfied with the current Medicare. By the way, the term “Medicare For All” is misleading. Under current Medicare, beneficiaries need to pay a deductible and co-pays unless they purchase private supplemental insurance. Under the Warren plan, virtually all health care will be free.

    All this leads me to believe that the Democrats need a more centrist candidate than Warren or Sanders (such as Klobuchar or Buttigieg). Note, by “centrist” I mean a candidate who is liberal by any definition, just not so far to the left as to alienate people in the middle of the ideological spectrum. In today’s NYT, columnist Tom Edsall makes this argument.


    1. Sure but I think they all know that no one’s plan will survive unchanged once it meets the enemy. Any candidates plan, for health care or otherwise, serves only as an indication of their position, values, and ability to create a coherent (or not) plan. I’m not saying that Warren’s plan is good, just that its details may not matter so much.

      I fear more her strange attitudes toward global trade and her calls for “breaking up” technology companies. IMHO, government’s role in commerce is to set the rules by which corporations play the game, not to just kill those who do wrong based on some vague notions of fairness.

      1. Breaking up large technology companies? I think she’s just following the example of (Republican) Teddy Rooseveldt there. Not to worry.
        More generally, I would not be worried at all about the economy if Ms Warren were to become POTUS, she’s very, very knowledgeable and shrewd in that department.
        I agree with you that the details of her plan -even if not changing when elected The Candidate- are not very important.

    2. Just to correct a couple of things in your piece. Medicare currently is for those who are 65 and older. If you paid in during your working years you automatically go on it at 65. It is not a choice. If you cannot pay to get it then your only choice would be medicaid, until they started ACA. People need to know the reason why Medicare was created in the first place back in the 60s. The insurance companies either would not pay to cover old people or charged so damn much, no one could afford it. And it was Democrats that got Medicare passed. Also, there are no co-pays on Medicare.

      1. In fact, Medicare is not required. It IS optional. I know this for a fact. Many retired federal workers choose not to sign up for Medicare Part B to avoid paying the premium. They consider their federal health insurance, which continues into retirement, good enough that Medicare Part B is not needed. They also do not have to sign up for Medicare Part A, although since there is no premium, it is foolish not to do so. In other words, to get Medicare, people need to take the initiative to enroll.

        People sign up for private Medicare supplemental insurance to avoid paying the approximate 20% that Medicare does not. I would call the 20% a co-pay.

        1. Please go back and read some more because you are also wrong. You can avoid or delay Medicare if you are still working and also if you are not already on social security. However, many people are already retired at an earlier age and are on social security when that age 65 rolls around. In that case you are automatically signed up for Medicare. This is what happened in my case. I did not call anyone, I did not do anything. At 65 I was notified that medicare had started.

          I was considered a federal employee. I retired early, very early (age 53). But I was required to go on social security at age 62. I was required to go on Medicare at 65.

          I would not call the 20% that medicare does not pay co-pay. This is just confusing because exactly how much medicare pays can change over time and is sometimes specific to what we are covering medically. Co-pays are usually what you pay when you go to a doctor or specialist with Private health insurance.
          On medicare you do not pay these co-pays for visits.

    3. I’m hoping that as Biden’s supporters gradually come to recognise that he’s not cut out for this that they’ll shift to Buttigieg.

      It seems to be happening, to a certain extent.

      I think more than any other candidate Buttigieg is pure kryptonite to Trump. If Trump was a character in an RPG, Mayor Pete would be the character that neutralises all his strengths and plays on all his weaknesses.

      1. I agree, though I doubt Trump will get in the ring with the next Democratic candidate. He’ll attack via twitter, helicopter backdrop word salad sessions and his Nuremberg rallies. I don’t think there is any upside for him appearing in a formal debate.

          1. Yes he can refuse. Normally that would be a devastatingly bad decision (like refusing to release financial info, and refusing to fully disconnect from business interests), but with Trump, who knows? His 2020 campaign is going to be a series of Hail Marys, so you never know.

            1. I have to say, I don’t think it’s a good look for mr tough guy president macho man not to turn up to a debate, particularly if his opponent is Buttigieg or Warren. He’ll have a hard time spinning that.

              1. When Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry the Trump campaign tried to spin that as a positive for Trump, and many Trump fans bought it. Many of them think Trump did nothing wrong by asking for an investigation into the Bidens.

                The malleable thinking of Trump’s fans is quite amazing.

            2. I suspect all incumbents would like to avoid debate as it’s a kind of no-win situation with lots of opportunities to screw up. On the other hand, Trump likes the mano-a-mano conflict.

        1. If Trump is down in the polls, he’ll have no choice but to take to the debate stage. (The underdogs are always hot-to-trot to debate; it’s the frontrunners who demur when they can.)

          Plus, Trump, should he dare to peek out the White House windows after refusing to debate, won’t be able to stand all the protesters marching down Pennsylvania Ave wearing chicken masks and making clucking sounds.

          1. The KFC memes ought to be good at least. Just a picture of him with a KFC box and the word ‘Cannibalism’ in big, unsubtle letters. The memes write themselves.

        2. I agree though, if he refuses to debate, the Democrat candidate could hound him mercilessly as a coward. He’d hate that and perhaps his followers would also care. It would dent his reputation as a manly bastard.

          1. If Trump refuses to debate I hope the TV networks would give the allotted TV time to the opponent to make his/her pitch uninterrupted, or allow them a town hall format. The networks should present this policy in advance to pressure Trump to show up.

              1. Or: allow the Dem candidate debate Alec Baldwin playing Trump.

                That would get the ratings!

        3. I think Mr Trump is so full of himself he thinks he will win any debate. After all, didn’t he ‘win’ the debates against Ms Clinton? (his followers actually thinks he did).
          Mr Trump will not listen to good advice, and jump into such a debate, I’d think. And his followers will think he won, no matter what.

          1. Buttigieg is a midwesterner. He’ll overperform in Iowa. His big test will be how well he does with non-whites (Biden’s strength).

            1. True enough, Mike, but I think Biden’s support in the black community is shallow. They’re going with him because they figure he’s the old white guy can beat the old orange guy. If Biden falters in Iowa and New Hampshire, both of which are essentially all white, his support among African-American voters could falter significantly.

              The black vote is a yooge deal in South Carolina (the forth state in the Democrats’ primary/caucus line-up) and in the southern states that vote on Super Tuesday. I originally thought Kamala and Cory Booker would get a chunk of this vote. But neither has yet registered high enough in the polls to warrant such recognition. Black folk figure they can’t afford to waste their ballots on sentiment, especially this year.

              Hell, the black vote didn’t really line up behind Barack in 2008 until he proved he could beat Hillary and the other white candidates in Iowa.

              Mayor Pete will have to work hard to earn black support. But if he were to get the nomination, I think they’d show up at the polls to support him in the general election (especially if he put a PoC in the second spot on the ticket).

              1. I worry about Mayor Pete since black voters are typically pretty Christian and have probably learned Leviticus 18:22 since they were just out of childhood.

              2. @merilee:

                Yes, exactly like Stacey Abrams. If a white male ends up at the top of the Democratic presidential ticket, I’d make Ms. Abrams the odds-on favorite to be offered the VP slot.

                Plus, Abrams’s home state of Georgia seems (like Texas) to grow increasingly purple with each passing election. Once the Republicans can no longer count on those two states as reliably red, they’re in deep trouble trying to win a national election.

              3. @ Rickflick.
                Exactly my fear if he were to be ‘The Candidate’.
                Many black voters are deeply ‘Old Testamental’. Could they bring themselves to vote for a homosexual?
                And one, moreover, that could not solve racial problems in the police force in his town? (I admire his honesty there, but it is not really a plus for POC voters, I fear).

              4. Maybe in another election cycle or two, but the US isn’t ready for Mayor Pete.
                Another weakness he has is (politically) he’s only ever been a mayor of a smallish city. He’d make a good VP. Especially for one of the antideluvians running in first place. A safety net. A kick stand.

  14. The House will impeach Donald Trump, likely by numbers similar to those in the procedural vote taken yesterday. But the odds of the Senate removing Trump by the requisite two-thirds vote are long indeed.

    The interesting thing to see will be whether enough Republicans vote against Trump after trial in the senate to constitute a majority for removal. To do so, four or five Republican senators would have to join the Democrats in voting against Trump. The most likely candidates to abandon Trump are the four Republican senators who are retiring (and, thus, need no longer fear the political wrath of Trump’s hardcore, dead-end base), the four Republicans running for reelection in swing states — Collins (ME), Gardner (CO), McSally (AZ), Tillis (NC) — and Mitt Romney, who’s in a category of his own.

    Such a majority vote alone would constitute a moral victory of sorts, one that would likely cripple Trump in the 2020 political election. It would also send a signal, however faint, that it’s not okay for a sitting US president to put his own narrow political interests ahead of this nation’s national security by shaking down a foreign ally already in desperate existential straits for dirt on his political opponents.

    Any chance of removing Trump in the senate rests upon the hard-shell back of the chelonian Republican senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell (who is himself up for reelection in Kentucky in 2020). McConnell is a ruthless politician with ice-water running through his veins and holds great sway over his Republican caucus. (It was interesting to see that, the moment opinion polls showed a majority of Americans in favor of impeachment, McConnell came out and publicly contradicted Trump’s claim that McConnell had told him privately that the memo/transcript of Trump’s controversial telephone call with the new Ukraine president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was “perfect.”)

    McConnell would prefer to keep a Republican as president, so he can continue to ram reactionary judges onto the federal bench in record numbers. But the only thing that REALLY matters to Moscow Mitch (aside from his own reelection, which isn’t a slam dunk) is his remaining the majority leader of the United States senate. (McConnell, I think, would consider it a fate worse than death to find himself playing minority leader to Chuck Schumer’s senate majority leader come 2021.)

    McConnell is keeping a keen eye on opinion polls, and an even keener eye on the early election polling in the 23 states where the Republicans are defending a senate seat in 2020. If McConnell ever concludes that having a very unpopular Donald Trump at the top of the 2020 Republican presidential ticket will cost him his senate majority leadership, McConnell will chop Trump into chum and feed him to the sharks. THAT is the only chance of removing Trump from office, the overwhelming evidence against him notwithstanding.

    1. “If McConnell ever concludes that having a very unpopular Donald Trump at the top of the 2020 Republican presidential ticket will cost him his senate majority leadership, McConnell will chop Trump into chum and feed him to the sharks.”

      By the time McConnell concludes that Trump can cost him the Senate (if that ever happens), it will be too late for him to do anything about it because the Senate trial will already have been over. So, even if McConnell determines that Trump will sink the Republican ship, there is nothing he will be able to do about it.

      1. McConnell understands the window of opportunity better than anyone else and, once the articles of impeachment are voted out of the House, he’ll be the only person in the country with any power over the timing of its opening and closing.

        Never underestimate McConnell’s Machiavellian ruthlessness or the dearth of his ethical compunction.

        Ol’ Mitch will not let this pistol pass from his grip should he find it in his interest to pull its trigger.

        1. This is my fear as well. Mitch has no bottom. As with pretty much everything else, the Constitution assumes the participants have good intentions and respect for our form of government. Trump, O’Connell, and others know how to take advantage of the system and are willing to do so.

          1. I agree wholeheartedly. Further, as you correctly observe (and it must be stressed in all current discussions about impeachment), “the Constitution assumes the participants have good intentions and respect for our form of government.”

            Trump brazenly declared that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and wouldn’t lose any voters, a comment that William Consovoy, one of his lawyers recently reiterated. In the present circumstances, I can only imagine the hoots of derision that would accompany Joseph Walsh’s comment, “Have you no sense of decency?” Even given the Red Scare and the perfidy of those arch-villains, Cohn and McCarthy, public decency hadn’t yet descended to the nadir that’s sadly endemic in our contemporary society.

    2. “McConnell, I think, would consider it a fate worse than death to find himself playing minority leader to Chuck Schumer’s senate majority leader come 2021.” If you are right about that, it is the best reason of all to work for Democratic senate candidates in the 2020. Dare we hope for McConnell to suffer an embolism if the Dems take the senate? He could be shipped to Moscow for treatment.

      1. That implies that McConnell has principles which I doubt. If he had to suffer under Schumer, he would grin and bear it just fine. As with Trump, it is all just negotiation with McConnell. You win some and you lose some.

        1. Should the Democrats take the presidency and senate in 2020 (which would all but guarantee that they also would hang on to the House), Mitch McConnell’s only power in congress would be derived from the filibuster that he himself did much to weaken — that, and hoping for the best in appealing legislation to the US Supreme Court onto which he rammed the fifth and deciding vote. I’m quite sure that THAT is not a future he contemplates with relish.

          “Principle” has nothing to do with it; his unslakeable lust for power is supreme.

          1. Agreed. He wouldn’t like it one bit. My point was that he’d go on. He’d immediately start working toward the GOP taking back power, rather than quitting and going home to “spend more time with his family”. Though perhaps he is approaching retirement age.

              1. To be fair, once he reached his teenage mutant ninja years he became a real hero in a half shell.

    3. I wonder why Trump kept using the word “perfect” when referring to the conversation. In light of Vindman’s testimony that the tape was scrubbed, the word “perfect” takes on a whole new meaning. It was “perfect” after being scrubbed by omitting Biden and Burisma.

      1. Given the placement of the first ellipsis in the memorandum of conversation, the deleted material may have to do with Trump’s bringing up “Crowdstrike.” This is shorthand for a lunatic-fringe theory regarding Russia’s non-interference in the 2016 election and the location of the hacked DNC server.

        Trump’s requesting Zelensky to look into it is tantamount to asking him to find Elvis at a Kiev 7-11 or to search the old Soviet archives for Obama’s long-form birth certificate.

          1. I’m actually quite impressed (and pleasantly surprised) by the Dems messaging and focus: abuse of power and soliciting foreign political aid.

            They’re sticking to that and it’s working.

            1. The problem as I see it is that those claim only that Trump has broken laws and conventions. Trump supporters don’t care about those. In fact, they often react with, “Yeah, that’s what I like about him.”

              Dems need to tell their audience why they should care. For example, Trump has made a big deal about America looking out for only itself but Trump seems to do Russia and Turkey’s bidding whenever he gets the chance. Many have suggested that Putin suggested he should implicate Ukraine in election meddling. I know that is not what they are trying to impeach him on but they should work these things into their statements.

    1. There are other reasons too. The extremely high sums awarded in case of litigation, forces Drs to do all kind of unnecessary tests and imaging. That increases costs substantially too.

  15. I’m no economist and I didn’t even stay in a Holiday Inn recently. But I do have some thoughts on Warren’s healthcare plan.

    If we want healthcare for all, something like most other wealthy nations and many not so wealthy ones have managed, then ultimately it is going to look something like Warren’s plan. The main problem, how to pay for it, will always exist. The places the money can be gotten from will always be the same. The biggest significant variable I see that could affect successful implementation of healthcare for all is how quickly the changes that would need to be made are made. Warren thinks gulping it down in one quick gulp is the way to go. I don’t think that is the best way to go because I don’t think minds can adapt quickly enough. People will resist and the more they do the more they will empower political forces that oppose healthcare for all increasing the chances that its implementation is distorted into something much less than hoped for or even worse than what we have. I’m not in favor of Warren’s plan.

    As far as paying for healthcare for all, it seems pretty evident to me that the money already in the current system could pay for it. If single payer and similar systems are so much less expensive than our current system, and lots of data supports that, then the money needed to do it is already there. All (heh) that needs to be done is to figure out where the various monies in the current system are coming from and then figure out how to collect and redirect them to pay for the new system.

    Yeah, that would be complicated. But what shouldn’t be complicated is the basic fact that if we have enough money for the current system then we’ve got plenty for the new system. In my opinion claims like “the new system will cost $30 trillion” are red herrings. Whatever the cost the money needed, more actually, is already being spent on the current system. Saying the new system will cost trillions to implement, as if we’ve got to find new money somewhere to pay for it, is just wrong.

    I also think that taxes should go up and people should expect that their taxes will go up. And they should be fine with it. Because they should also realize that though their taxes will increase they will no longer have medical insurance payments either and that their additional taxes will be less than their medical insurance costs used to be. In other words they will save money. Sign me up.

    1. I think the key is the transition and peoples psychological preparation. I can’t believe Warren hasn’t heard these arguments. Maybe Warren will modify her plan after the shock wears off. I think Sanders has talked about this idea that money is already in the current system, yet he too came out for raising trillions of dollars that sound like new money. Maybe they need better ad agencies.

  16. Medicare for all would be the biggest change ever made to an economy. Two trillion dollars a year is over 10% of the US economy. Whether it is a good idea or not, the transition will have several disasters because no one can plan for that large a change.

    “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

    1. That was Mr Mencken, IIRC.
      If so many other industrialised countries can do this (medical care for all at less costs, and with better outcomes) I do not see why the US couldn’t do it. I think it needs more than Ms Warren’s plan though.

      1. Yeah, and you know what you never hear? Citizens of those industrialized nations having a public healthcare system clamoring to ditch theirs for a Rube Goldberg-style US system.

        The USA will end up with a national single-payer system of universal healthcare (even though we will likely have to pause at the way station of a “public option” first). It is written in the wind that propels Steve Pinker’s copious statistics demonstrating progress.

        1. “Yeah, and you know what you never hear? Citizens of those industrialized nations having a public healthcare system clamoring to ditch theirs for a Rube Goldberg-style US system.”

          Indeed you don’t. And if you care to take a look at the tiny, tiny minority of politicians who DO actually advocate for the private sector to take over the national health systems in Commie countries like Britain you’ll notice they all have one quirky characteristic in common: they’re utter bastards.

          Every politician that advocates for the private sector to seriously increase its involvement in the NHS is an avaricious free-marketeer, usually with some kind of personal financial interest in gutting our health system like a pig.

          Take a look at the people who support the NHS(almost everybody basically)…and then take a look at the kind of people who want to see it hollowed out and sold off. That should say it all.

      2. Do you think we can move 10% of the US economy from private to public without a hiccup? Remember the initial fiasco with the Obamacare website (cost 1.7 billion dollar.) Multiply that complexity by over 1000 times.

        Other countries have public options but they built it up over many decades and did not destroy a $2 trillion business. I guarantee someone you know will lose their job when their local insurance office/clinic/pharmacy closes down.

        Would it be worth it? Possibly but if you only look at the upside you are not taking the issue seriously.

  17. What I want to hear from the public impeachment hearings are actual recordings of Trump saying outrageous things. Given what we know of Trump and his crimes, this would most sway the public and the GOP wall of collusion. He’s got to have said some mind-blowing things in the relative privacy of his interactions with his insiders. It seems there are a few “fly on the wall” observers who are not happy with him and are willing to tell us about what he actually said. Even better, perhaps there are tapes!

    He is most vulnerable in the eyes of his supporters when he reveals how little he cares about the country and its citizens. They like him as a dirty fighter for their vision of the US but if it can be revealed that he is only a dirty fighter for his own interests then things will go very badly for him.

    1. Trump has been saying mind-blowing things for years now. At first there is a kerfuffle, and then it becomes normalized. If he were recorded ordering a hit on one of his rivals, the Republicans would end up saying it is normal politics.

    2. There is a super-secret compartmented computer server in the White House reserved for information regarding national-security matters such as the bin Laden and al-Baghdadi operations.

      White House lawyers have been stashing memos regarding Trump’s most embarrassing and lawless conversations with foreign officials (including his 7/25/19 conversation with Ukraine president Zelensky) on this secret server, even though those memoranda of conversations do not qualify for such storage by virtue of their classification level alone.

      Therein lies (along with Trump’s tax returns and his Deutsche Bank records) the “family jewels” that would expose the full extent of Donald Trump’s perfidy.

  18. The problem with healthcare in America is not that everyone doesn’t have insurance. This was ACA’s flaw. The problem is cost, availbility, and, from what I’ve seen, quality at the provider level. “Medicare for all” is the kind of bullshit campaign promise that makes a candidate seem compassionate, but which, even if followed through on, wouldn’t address the underlying problems.

    1. That is simply wrong. There are millions of people out there that have no health insurance. None. Under the ACA it was suppose to be mandatory to get health insurance. However, the republicans got that killed. So cost is a big issue but it certainly is not the only issue.

      1. If we did somethings that were effective around cost, insurance would be easier to get. We might even get to the point where you don’t need insurance just to see a doctor. The Affordable Care Act had nothing to do with the affordability of health care. It used insurance as a proxy for health care, which I contend it is not.

      2. If health care were cheap, most would have insurance. Insurance is expensive because health care is expensive. Obamacare tried to work on the symptom not the root cause.

        1. Today there are approx. 26 million in the U.S. with no healthcare insurance at all. There are millions more that are under insured. The reason for this is the people cannot afford it or in many cases, they flat cannot get coverage. If you and the Dr. are the experts, you tell me? Or is it just a case of, I got mine, you get yours. That would be the republican way. This is suppose to be the richest country in the world and with good health care only for the rich or upper class. The comments from the posting would indicate just that.

        2. If pigs had wings they could fly.

          Health care isn’t cheap. It costs money. It needs to be paid for. Some people have little money. Meanwhile, let’s divert ten or twenty percent of the money involved to pay for paper work and profits for insurance company investors.

          Insurance is not health care. Finding a different, more efficient, way to pay for healthcare and providing it to everyone is the goal. Cheaper insurance is missing the point.

          1. Those would have to be some hellacious Icarian wings to get a porcine beast airborne, GBJ.

            OTOH, if the Queen had a pair of testicles, she’d be … well, you know. 🙂

  19. Warren’s plan is the starting point for a compromise to be made down the line.

    People who want her to present a “more realistic” plan are in effect asking her to begin negotiations against herself and compromise before the other side has made any demands. This is abysmally poor strategy. And it’s why we don’t already have a public option today.

  20. Paul Krugman has a piece in the NYT today, Did Warren Pass the Medicare Test? I Think So, that looks at the finances. I thought this interesting,

    “would basically require employers who are now offering health insurance to their employees to pay the cost of that insurance to the government instead. Bear in mind that large employers are already required by law (specifically, the Affordable Care Act) to provide insurance. So this would just redirect those funds.”

    In spite of his general approval, he ends with,

    ” I still think that a public-option-type plan, which lets people buy into Medicare, would have a better chance of actually becoming reality — and may well be where a President Warren actually ends up if she gets to the White House.”

  21. That’s a good article though many of those inventions weren’t truly inspired by science fiction. They merely realized things that science fiction speculated upon. For example, it is hard to imagine the moon landing program really took any inspiration from Jules Verne. Everyone imagined being able to go to the moon since we knew it was a place and not just a shining disk.

  22. Medicare-for-all-that-want-it is so popular, and Medicare-that-outlaws-private-insurance isn’t popular, so I’m not sure what Warren is doing (politically) with this proposal.

    Possibly it’s just a platform to win the Dem primaries, and she’ll pivot to a more popular position if she wins the nomination.

  23. The charity Remote Area Medical provides medical care to people in remote areas of developing nations.

    After realizing there was a tremendous need in the USA, they now operate in the USA, mostly (though not entirely) in red states.

  24. As a non-USian, I should not expect my opinion on the medical question to be as important here as that of a citizen of U.S.
    However that opinion is, I suppose, buried shallowly in the following lengthy question:

    Why do not candidates for the Dem. Pres. nomination say the following, 1/ to 5/ ??:

    1/ No, you can keep your employer health plan if you are dumb enough to want that.
    2/ There will be a government health plan available to every citizen who wants it.
    3/ The cost of this plan will be paid by taxes, so everybody’s fed. tax will rise compared to what it would have been without this (but see 5/ below). This tax increase will apply also to those who insist on remaining in their private health plan and remaining vulnerable to bankruptcy due to either being fired from their job, or to other circumstances (e.g. a broken neck) causing job loss. Such people will get no break on taxes, nor may they join the government health plan without a (considerable?) delay after changing their minds. As we used to say in Northern Canada where I was brought up: ‘Shit, or get off the pot (metaphorically of course)’.
    4/ Here is a list with thorough references of 5 or 6 ‘western’ countries with longstanding government health plans for which:
    firstly, the overall costs are ⅔ what our costs have been; and
    secondly, health is overall better in these countries, in particular, their mortality rates are noticeably lower than those in U.S.
    5/ So the overall costs to that large majority who drop their private insurance and join the government health plan will be noticeably less than they have been, and even lower due to the idiots in 1/. After all, surely USians are neither irredeemably less healthy and/nor more corrupt or stupid than the people in these countries.

    I do realize that there will be a large minority of people oppose this because their personal gravy train will be derailed, and will do this by raising problems (issues, for those who don’t know that word), but mostly pseudo-problems. There will of course be complications related to a few conditions where the government plan requires some small portion to be paid by the patient, but see the word “stupid” just above, and indeed, see the 5 or 6 countries referred to above. I include ‘unwilling to learn from foreigners who do it better’ as part of the adjective “stupid”.

    Fixing the U.S. tax system to remedy its extreme wealth inequality is a separate issue, so of course the statements about costs to people deceasing is ‘on average’.

    1. My first thought was that it was a political gesture, at least partly anyway.
      Given that Florida is always such a crucial decider in elections, and given that everyone hates him in New York already, declaring that you’re now officially a resident of arguably the most electorally important state in the country surely can’t do him any harm. Cosy up to them a bit.

      Or am I barking up the wrong tree?

      1. Hell, if 2020 is as close as 2000 in Florida, Melania’s vote alone could make the difference.

        I’m bettin’ she pulls the lever for the name with a “D” next to it. Good thing we maintain the sanctity of the balloting booth.

        I’m also betting that the two of them will be splitsville within 18 months of leaving the White House. Any takers? 🙂

        1. I thought the main impediment was the prenup. And that’s not going to change once he’s left office.

          Who knows with her though – I’d say she’s inscrutable but it’s more likely just the botox.

      2. I suspect that his motivation is somehow that this will prevent New York prosecutors from coming after him for some crime(s) or other.

    2. Could this change of residency have any benefit with respect to law suits from the state of New York? Surely it couldn’t except possibly a bit more paperwork for New York?

      More likely the change is for business benefits.

      1. Since Trump has some of the poorest lawyers around it is hard to say. The governor of New York said the state attorney is still after his taxes and that does not change. If he someday ends up in jail, that would also likely be New York. Florida has no state income tax but I’m not sure that makes much difference for someone like Trump.

      2. The only potential significance is pretty technical — a defendant in a state-court civil lawsuit can “remove” the case to federal court if the parties resided in different states (under what’s known as “diversity jurisdiction”).

        It sure wouldn’t stand in the way of the criminal prosecution that Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr.’s office is eye-balling against Trump and his grifting progeny.

    3. “Florida man swims canal to avoid federal agents at his door”
      “Florida man attacked in canal by large alligator but survives due to foul taste”
      “Florida man dredged from bottom of canal with pockets full of beef and cheese sandwiches”

      These wrote themselves. It wasn’t me. 😉

  25. Republicans will use any and every opportunity to decry (honestly or otherwise) Democrat’s health care plans, it should beg the question, what plans have Republicans put forward? What plans did Republicans or Trump put forward when they held the House?

    Where is Trump’s plan to provide his promised better health care that covers everyone and costs less?

    Republicans and Trump have shown themselves to be at best disingenuous and at worst completely dishonest on the subject of healthcare. At this point they appear to have completely given up even the pretense of having a plan. Besides the proposed reduction of funding for Medicaid and Medicare in 2020.

    1. Why, the GOP and Trump has put up the best health care plan the AMA, medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, for-profit hospitals and the insurance industry could think up!

      The only thing that would make it better would be some kind of retroactive protections for all the drug companies pushing opioids who are now facing lawsuits. I know, set up a federal fund at a pittance of the actual damages the lawsuits would collect and then take away the public’s right to sue, like the tobacco settlement, maybe direct some payments to the States to buy off any opposition.

      Time to wheel out “tort reform”!

  26. The GOP will never remove Trump from office. While the House has no choice but to try, this whole exercise is playing into Trump’s hands.

    If either Sanders or Warren is the nominee, I think Trump will win 40 states. Warren just gave the GOP a perfect talking point. The only way the Democrats can win, in my humble opinion, is to have a Black on the ticket. Without that, I don’t think Trump’s reelection can be avoided. My choice would be Booker/Klobuchar. Unlikely to happen.

    I suggest reading the book “How Democracies Die” by Steven Levitsky. Trump’s re-election will mean the end of our democracy.

    1. David, you make a good argument, but I do not think it will win the day. I think you are too pessimistic (well, of course I maybe wrong). I think any candidate that is not completely bonkers, or is not gay (sadly), will win hands down.
      The real uphill struggle is the Senate though.

  27. …the wealthiest 1% would be taxed on capital gains income annually, rather than at the time of sale

    How can you have a capital gain without a sale? A tax on imputed capital gains? If that’s the case, charitable organizations would take a hit, too, since the advantage of donating an appreciated asset and taking the appreciated value as amount of the donation instead of paying tax on the capital gain would be lost.

      1. Aside from the end justifying the means aspect of that, we’d hear no end of “Elizabeth Warren wants to tax you on money you haven’t received yet, and may never will,” or less articulate version of the same. And that would go a long way toward tanking her campaign.

        That part of the scheme sounds to have been concocted by people with no concept of taxation, and accepted by people who have never done their own income taxes more than a 1040EZ, (especially Die Wokenkinder).

  28. I’ll leave it to the experts to dice up Warren’s plan, vis a vi the number crunch.

    However, you can put me in the Bill Maher school of thinking as far as the Dems should put up a center-left candidate like Biden or Klobuchar. Far left candidates like Warren or Sanders are to risky in the general, and I view defeating Trump as an A1 priority. Far more important then any particular policy.

    The stakes are getting high.

    I am the only person I know that is confident that Trump will be impeached and removed. (If he resigns, I’ll consider this an accurate prediction).

    Perhaps I’m the fool. It may turn out that way. But I have my reasons.

    1) Based on the public record, this guy is guilty of witness tampering, document fraud and other obstructions of justice (Mueller Report), campaign finance violation (Stormy payment) and wire fraud, extortion, abuse of power, witness intimidation and soliciting campaign contribution of a foreign national (Ukraine scandal). I may be forgetting some.

    2) Based on his pattern of behavior, he’s likely committed more crimes. Perhaps more evidence will come out once open hearings start. His business career suggests corruption.

    3) He’s stupid but insists on being in charge. I expect at least 1 more bone head maneuver as damaging as the release of the incriminating ‘transcript’.

    4) Regardless of what you think of Senator’s like Cruz, Rubio, Basse, etc. they are more accomplished politicians and more intelligent then Trump. Whispers have it that these guys resent having Trump holding over them. He does hold over them, BTW. This is innuendo, more then fact. But still, intriguing to consider.

    5) Giuliani may be arrested/indicated prior to Senate trial. Not a good look when two prior attorney’s and prior campaign manager sit in jail.

    6) You can take number’s 1 – 5 and throw them in the garbage. It’s the polls, stupid. Nothing else matters. While we’ve reached a plurality of support for impeachment (roughly), we’ve also reached a stubborn area insofar as how much polls will move. I do believe we’ll see the creep up to 55%+ in favor of removal. Not if 1 poll hits 55%, but if it starts regularly hitting that area, he’s gone. If it approaches 60%, Mitch calls Nancy to expedite the process.

    7) To any Trump supporters who my be lurking, my question to you is this:

    If a socialist gets elected president, will it be OK for them to use the power of the office of the presidency to go after political rivals?

    1. One last thing…

      I predict that the Supreme Court will have to get involved to draw the line on ‘executive privilege’.

      I believe Trump is way to aggressive in defining the term, but I admit that I’d quickly be in over my head if I tried to define it myself. Apparently, SCOTUS has never defined it.

      BTW, if any clown tries to take advantage of the ambiguity in the comments here, I call bullshit. No one knows any better then anyone else. It’s undecided law.

      Unless you’re on the SCOUTUS. Or possibly this guy:


    2. “If a socialist gets elected president, will it be OK for them to use the power of the office of the presidency to go after political rivals?”

      I worry that the Trumpians will do the calculation and answer “yes”, knowing that the Dems or Socialists probably wouldn’t do it even if Trump is able to set this precedent with no consequences.

      More generally, I find this “precedent” argument for impeachment the weakest of all in terms of motivating GOP Senators to vote Trump out of office. In their brand of politics, the only vote that matters is the one that keeps them in power.

    3. It doesn’t matter how much evidence there is against Trump; he will not be removed by the Senate. Even if the polls show a decided tilt to removal or most Republican senators hate Trump, there won’t be 20 Republicans to vote for conviction. This is because Trump’s cult, the Republican base, will not forget or forgive those Republicans who should vote for conviction. On the other hand, those who support removal will forget about the actions of those Republicans who didn’t vote for removal. If enough Republicans in the Senate should vote for conviction, it will mean the end of the Republican Party to be replaced by a radical right party (even more so than the Republican Party) today. Mitch McConnell and his ilk do not want this. The Trump cult has made the toxic nature of American politics much worse than it was before Trump was elected. A relatively small group of aggrieved whites, great practitioners of identity politics, has placed American democracy at its greatest risk since the Civil War. They will not be going away even if Trump loses in 2020.

    1. I suspect this is normal behavior for both parties. Reward your friends. Unfortunately, these friends will also be his jury. Perhaps he’s made just as many enemies.

      1. Donald Trump has no friends in the US senate. Well, maybe two — Marsha Blackburn and Josh Hawley, from a pair of red states (Tennessee and Missouri, respectively) — who first won office in the 2018 midterms on always-Trump platforms. Every other Republican senator secretly (and, some, not-so-secretly) HATES Trump. None of them endorsed him during the 2016 Republican presidential primaries and many wanted him to step down from the ticket after release of the Access Hollywood hot-mic pussy-grabbing tape. They know he’s a vulgar incompetent and national embarrassment who may well be the ruination of the Republican Party.

        They’d all like to be rid of him right now. The only thing holding them in line is their abject, gutless fear that, if they criticize Trump in public, he’ll send out a nasty tweet and rouse his hardcore, dead-end base (which has, essentially, taken over today’s Republican Party) against them. The 23 senate Republicans up for reelection in 2020 live in mortal fear of facing a far-right, pro-Trump candidate in next year’s Republican primaries.

        Should there come a day, however, when senate Republicans believe it’s in their own electoral interests to turn against Trump, they’ll do so in a heartbeat. Donald Trump has no real “friends” anywhere, least of all in the United States senate.

        1. Good point. Let’s hope the day will come, and soon. Perhaps the vote on impeachment could be the time. What have they got to lose?

        2. Yes Ken, I know that.
          But is his giving 6-figure sums to Senators that are going to judge him not ‘Jury tampering’? Is that not a felony?
          I’m very interested in your opinion there, since you are knowledgeable in that field.
          (IANAL, as they say)

          1. US senators sit as “jurors” at an impeachment trial, Nicky, but they are not subject to the usual rules regarding juror disinterest in the outcome of a case. In an ordinary jury trial, potential jurors (or “veniremen” as they are known) would be subject to being stricken for cause if they have any firsthand knowledge, or even excessive exposure to pretrial publicity, regarding the case or the parties. Plainly, no sitting US senator would be qualified for service as a juror in an impeachment trial under this standard (notwithstanding the Republican senators’ willful blindness regarding Donald Trump’s malfeasance in office).

            Still, Trump’s importuning the Republican National Committee to dump piles of money on cash-strapped incumbents in purple states — senators like Susan Collins of Maine and Corey Gardner of Colorado, who are the most likely to be wavering in their support of Trump — is a very sleazy look (one that could well redound against Collins and Gardner, or any other senator accepting such funding, come the 2020 general election).

        3. I have a gut feeling that if (Ceiling Cat forbid) RBG left her post, Moscow Mitch would fill her seat with another partisan hack and dump Trump like a used piece of toilet paper.

  29. Best exit, IMHO, is that Amendment 25, section 4 gets invoked and he’s gone without further ado. Impeachment proceedings could drag on for months.

    The worst thing about all of this is that it sets a precedent that anyone parked in the Oval Office can go nearly a whole term before something happens.

    1. I have a different idea of the ‘best exit’, involving a KFC-baited trebuchet on the White House lawn.

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