Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Factual truths, substantive lies

The Washington Post is trying to scare you away from supporting single-payer health insurance.

First, they claim that "it would raise government spending by $32 trillion over 10 years."

Second, they go for the old "government is inefficient canard:
The public piece of the American health-care system has not proven itself to be particularly cost-efficient. On a per capita basis, U.S. government health programs alone spend more than Canada, Australia, France and Britain each do on their entire health systems. That means the U.S. government spends more per American to cover a slice of the population than other governments spend per citizen to cover all of theirs.
My colleague Jason Antrosio got into the comments section and pointed out two of the three flaws with this pair of "arguments," if that's what they deserve to be called.

On the second point, the Post's statement is factually true, yet misleading enough to be a sort of lie in substance. As Jason observes, the populations covered by Medicare and Medicaid are more expensive than average (old people and people with lower incomes).

Monday, June 12, 2017

More wind-spitting (health insurance take whatever)

Today's call to John Faso's office was to confirm that he still hasn't found the spine to have an opinion about the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the bill Faso voted for, the trillion-dollar tax cut dressed up as a health-insurance bill.

And no, he doesn't have an opinion that he's willing to share.

It seems like there are three reasonable choices:
  1. Accept the CBO’s findings
  2. Put forward your own findings, with an equal level of transparency as to how you made your estimates
  3. Admit you really don’t care what effects the law will actually have.
If Faso’s not willing to say what effect he thinks the law will have on people’s ability to get health insurance, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that that’s absolutely unimportant to him.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Maybe a position on being a nation of laws?

Another week, another call to John Faso's office in D.C. (202 225-5614).

I asked if Mr. Faso had a position on yesterday's testimony by former FBI director Comey.

Not yet.

I asked if he had a position on Comey's allegation that Trump asked for loyalty to him personally.

Not yet.

I suggested that a request like that showed a complete lack of understanding of the concept that we are a nation of laws; people's loyalty should be to the law, not to a particular person.

I mentioned Paul Ryan's defense that Trump didn't know what he was doing because he's new at this, and pointed out that this defense is ludicrous, given that Trump allegedly cleared the room before asking for loyalty.

I suggested that if Mr. Faso doesn't see a problem with asking loyalty to a person rather than to the law, then he is fundamentally unqualified to be an elected representative in a democracy.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

You're wrong, but I won't say what's right

I called Faso's office this morning to see if the congressman had a reaction to the CBO score of the AHCA.

The staffer thought there was something about it on the website, but he couldn't guide me to it. I clarified that I was calling about the CBO score that came out just yesterday.

"Oh. ... No, I don't have anything about that. Is there something you'd like to convey?"

"Yes. One of the reasons Mr. Faso gave for voting for the AHCA was that under Obamacare there are still 20 million people without coverage. But the CBO says that the AHCA will lead to 23 million fewer people having insurance than under Obamacare. If he's concerned about not enough people having coverage, why would he vote for that?"

"I'll pass along your concern. Is there anything else?"
"Yeah. When the CBO scored the first bill, the one that didn't get voted on, Mr. Faso said he didn't agree with the CBO's analysis. But does he have his own estimate of how many will lose coverage?"

"I don't know."

Doesn't trust his own president

Last week I was in touch with John Faso's office (NY-19) a few times, asking about Trump's sharing of highly secret intelligence with his Russian visitors to the oval office.

According to his staff, the congressman was resolute in not having an opinion.

I ended the last of those calls by telling the intern that if Mr. Faso is really interested in finding out what happened, he can vote for the discharge petition calling for an independent commission to investigate Trump's ties to Russia.

So a couple days ago I got an emailed letter from his office - about the Comey firing.

The full text is below. The "fun" takeaway is that in discussing the firing, Faso is still stuck on the White House talking points from May 10th. There seems to be no recognition that Trump himself invalidated that in his interview with Lester Holt.

It's understandable that Faso doesn't trust Trump's own account of his own actions. After all, the man has given little reason to believe that any particular thing he says is true.

It's also convenient for Faso not to believe Trump.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Summing up our current reality

The budget proposal released by the White House has a lot of problems, including double-counting $2 trillion that don't actually exist.

The $2 trillion is the increased revenues that they claim will come from all the super-duper economic growth unleashed by their tax cuts. This is fundamentally non-credible.

Tax cuts sometimes lead to increases in economic growth, particularly if you're starting from a very high tax level (we aren't). Or if you're seriously underperforming what it seems like you should be able to do (we're not - we're on a long-run trend of slowing growth, and past tax cuts have done nothing to stem that trend).

So that's why the $2 trillion doesn't exist.

The first place the White House proposes to use the non-existent money to finance the tax cut they claim will produce it.

But then it also wants to use the same money to pay for balancing the budget.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Can't figure out if betrayal of national security is wrong

Another day, another phone call with my Congressman's office.

"Yesterday morning I called about the president’s decision to take highly sensitive info derived from a foreign partner and share it with a hostile power. At the time, Mr. Faso didn’t have an opinion as to whether this was a good thing. Does he have one now?"

Pause, pause. "No."

"He's got no opinion on it?"

"I'm just an intern. I'm not aware of any statement of his on that. I would urge you to follow his web page. He released a statement on Director Comey's firing."

"Yes, I saw that. That's a week old. This is new. He really doesn't have an opinion on the betrayal of national security?"

"Not at this time."