Category Archives: PND Opinion

How compassion becomes contempt in America

Source: Our Future
by Sam Pizzigati

“Somebody get this man a dictionary. Mick Mulvaney, the Trump administration budget chief, desperately needs some serious lexicological support. That became obvious when Mulvaney stepped up before reporters to defend the new Trump budget for the federal fiscal year starts in October. The assembled scribes, noting the hundreds of billions in cuts for the poor and the vulnerable in the new budget plan, wanted to know if Mulvaney considered his budget compassionate. Mulvaney promptly set about defining ‘compassion’ — in his own terms. We have too many people out there, he told reporters, ‘who don’t want to work. We don’t have enough money to take care of people who don’t need help. We’re no longer going to measure compassion by the number of programs or the number of people on those programs, but by the number of people we help get off of those programs.’ And getting folks off ‘those programs,’ the budget chief insisted, would be an act of true compassion.” [editor’s note: Conflating charity and compassion with bureaucracy and big government continues to be the “progressive” regimen- SAT] (05/25/17)

The entire public sector is about to be put on trial

Source: In These Times
by Naomi Walker

“Within the next year, the Supreme Court is likely to rule on the latest existential threat to workers and their unions: Janus v. AFSCME. Like last year’s Friedrichs v. CTA (a bullet dodged with Justice Antonin Scalia’s unexpected death), the Janus case is a blatant attack on working people by right-wing, moneyed special interests who want to take away workers’ freedom to come together and negotiate for a better life. For years, the Right has been hammering through state-level ‘right-to-work’ laws in an effort to kill public sector unionism; it would see victory in the Janus case as the coup de grace.” [editor’s note: We libertarians should be cheering for this to happen; by definition, the term “labor union” should have no place in the “public sector” – SAT] (05/25/17)

Ethics watchdog can only do so much

Source: The American Prospect
Eliza Newlin Carney

“For more than 30 years, watchdogs have pleaded in vain with Congress to strengthen the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), an independent agency set up in the wake of Watergate to ward off executive branch conflicts of interest. Now, lawmakers may finally take notice. Until this year, it’s been easy for Congress to overlook the OGE’s relative lack of clout, sleepy profile, and reluctance to take forceful action. After all, until now all presidents have voluntarily followed fixed ethics conventions, such as disclosing their taxes and placing their assets into blind trusts, and have stood squarely behind the OGE in its inevitable clashes with other federal agencies. But Donald Trump’s determination to throw those conventions out the window, and his administration’s moves to not only reject OGE’s advice but block it from doing its job, have made it impossible to ignore just how tightly the ethics agency’s hands are tied, as OGE Director Walter M. Shaub Jr.’s recent showdown with Trump’s Office of Management and Budget clearly illustrates.” (05/25/17)

Where is the Democrats’ plan to fix ObamaCare?

Source: Investors Business Daily
by staff

“This week ObamaCare suffered two more blows, making a replacement plan all the more urgent. Not that you’d know it, since all anyone wants to talk about is how horrible the Republican replacement plan supposedly would be. Why aren’t Democrats being pressured to produce their own fix? The big news this week is supposed to be the Congressional Budget Office’s decree that the Republicans’ ObamaCare replacement plan would cost 23 million their insurance coverage. This number should be taken with a huge grain of salt, given the fact that the CBO predicted twice as many would sign up for ObamaCare plans as did so. What got considerably less attention, however, was the announcement by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas that it will drop out of ObamaCare next year, citing the fact that it had lost more than $100 million on its ObamaCare business, which ‘is unsustainable for our company.’ If no other insurer steps up to the plate, that could leave 25 counties in the region with no ObamaCare plans, adding still more areas in the country that may end up with no insurers in their exchanges next year” (05/24/17)

Fact check: No, the Republican healthcare bill would NOT cause 23 million people to “lose healthcare”

Source: Town Hall
by Guy Benson

“the latest Congressional Budget Office score of the House-passed American Health Care Act contains good news and bad news for the GOP. On the bright side, it appears that its central fiscal outcome complies with reconciliation rules, which would allow the process to move forward without a complicated tweak-and-do-over vote in the House. The nonpartisan scorekeeper also found that individual market premiums ‘would decline on average,’ and would reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion. On the other hand, media outlets are running with false headlines. … This is deeply misleading, for reasons that we explained in detail when the CBO released its March analysis of the initial ACHA. In short, the large bulk of those who are said to be ‘losing’ coverage do not currently have coverage. You cannot ‘lose’ something that you don’t have.” (05/25/17)

The rise of the alt-center

Source: CounterPunch
by Jennifer Matsui

“In this day and age, ‘dissent’ means little more than feeding mostly vetted, crowd-pleasing opinions into some online algorithm that will yield better results for a pharmaceutical giant or a law enforcement agency. We can say all kinds of shit to a highly selective, built-in audience of multiple selves, and feel good about exercising our right to free speech — in the meantime forgetting that all this ‘activism’ is just more content to be harvested like organs for marketing and surveillance purposes.” (05/25/17)

Nicolas Maduro doesn’t really control Venezuela

Source: The Atlantic
by Moises Naim

“It’s hard to pick the Venezuelan president’s greatest flaw. Which is more serious: his cruel indifference to the suffering of his people, or his brutal autocratic behavior? Which is more outrageous: his immense ignorance or the fact that he dances on television while his henchmen murder defenseless young protesters in the streets? The list of Nicolas Maduro’s failings is long, and Venezuelans know it; over 80 percent of them oppose him. And it’s not just Venezuelans. The rest of the world has also discovered — at last! — his despotic, corrupt, and inept character. And yet … Maduro doesn’t really matter. He is simply a useful idiot, the puppet of those who really control Venezuela: the Cubans, the drug traffickers, and Hugo Chavez’s political heirs.” (05/25/17)

Republican health care bill indicted, again

Source: USA Today
by staff

“Now we know why House Republicans were so quick to ram through an Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill last month, not waiting for an estimate of its impact or holding any public hearings. On Wednesday the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office got around to ‘scoring’ the bill, and the results are not pretty. By next year, 14 million fewer people would have health insurance. Within a decade, 23 million fewer people would be covered. … Many of these people would lose coverage because the bill savages Medicaid. Others, with private coverage, would be priced out of the market because they have expensive medical conditions that insurers would no longer be required to cover. Indeed, the CBO analysis states that these less healthy people would face ‘extremely high premiums’ in some states.” [editor’s note: This is one more distorted analysis of the CBO report; see the Town Hall piewce on this page for another perspective – SAT] (05/25/17)

Why are environmental agencies celebrating Trump’s cuts?

Source: The New Republic
by Emily Atkin

“The Environmental Protection Agency is thrilled with Donald Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018. According to an agency press release on Tuesday, the budget ‘provides $5.655 billion to help the agency protect human health and the environment.’ It ‘aims to reduce redundancies and inefficiencies and prioritize EPA’s core statutory mission of providing Americans with clean air, land, and water,’ and it allocates millions of dollars for clean air programs, Superfund and Brownfield site cleanups, and safe drinking water. Given such rosy language, one would be forgiven for missing the fact that Trump’s budget would reduce the EPA’s funding by 31 percent — the highest percentage cut to any federal agency — and ax 3,200 employees. The Superfund program would get cut by 25 percent, the Brownfields program by 36 percent. And while the agency says the budget is ‘improving America’s air quality’ and ‘ensuring clean and safe drinking water,’ it ignores the dramatic cuts to programs that aim to do both things.” (05/24/17)

Can Trump salvage his presidency in Syria’s war?

by Shamus Cooke

“The political noose is tightening around Trump’s neck, and he’s got only one way out: war. The U.S. involvement in the Syrian war is accelerating as Trump’s talons dig deeper into the conflict. If he successfully clutches his prey he stands a chance of clinging to the presidency. The Democrats, now circling a wounded Trump, will happily feast instead on a rotting Syria: the only thing that can keep the Democrats from destroying Trump is if Trump destroys Syria.” (05/25/17)