The attempts to sabotage Obamacare

Now that the attempts to repeal Obamacare failed in the US Senate, a peevish Donald Trump vows to sabotage it by cutting off administration support for it, mainly by withdrawing the subsidies for the program that made it affordable. The problem for Trump is that some of the Byzantine features of Obamacare that are embedded in the law will tend to neutralize his efforts. For example, if the subsidies are cut, then the tax credits get increased, resulting in a net loss for the government. Kevin Drum tries to explain this trade-off and why cutting the subsidies may actually be a good thing.
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The Republican excuse machine in overdrive

Seth Meyers looks at how Republican leaders, White House officials, and Trump’s daughter and son-in-law are trying desperately to shield themselves from criticisms for Trump’s actions and comments without repudiating him or quitting. He ends by focusing on Steve Bannon’s role. This episode aired last night before the announcement today of Bannon’s ouster.

How hospitals and insurance companies rip you off

Adam Conover of Adam Ruins Everything explains why it is that health care costs per capita in the US are the highest in the world and so uneven. It is because of a bizarre pricing system (encoded in a book called the Chargemaster) that has been cooked up between medical care providers and the for-profit health insurance companies system that negatively impacts everyone but is most devastating on those who are the least capable of dealing with it – the uninsured.
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Donald Trump and religion

One of the cardinal rules of American politics is that if you want to gain high office, you have to express religious beliefs. If you are not a believer or are lukewarm, then you have to fake it. Some fakers are better than others at conveying sincerity but it does not really seem to matter even if you are a pretty obvious phony. All that the religious base cares about is that you pay lip service to the Christian god. If you also push for the policies that the religious right favors (anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-LGBT, and anti-sex), then it does not matter even if you do not go to church regularly or mangle your religious references.
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How long will Kelly last?

The political establishment is swooning over the choice of Department of Homeland secretary John Kelly to be chief of staff to Donald Trump as a sign that finally, finally, there might be an adult near the top to whip things into shape. Trump, like many in the establishment media and political class, seems to be in awe of high-level military officers, a telling indicator of his own weakness and insecurity, and they think that thus Kelly will be able to stand up to Trump and bring order to the chaos in the administration.
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The rapid rise and even faster fall of the Mooch

So Anthony (‘the Mooch’) Scaramucci has been fired after just ten days on the job as White House communications director, apparently before he had even been sworn in. While he has revealed himself to be a connoisseur of colorful sexual imagery, he has also shown himself to be somewhat less than a tactical genius. Consider the facts. He comes in and then immediately sets about getting the firing of the chief of staff Reince Priebus who officially should have more power than him but in reality has less. He succeeds. But Priebus is replaced by someone who actually has more clout than the Mooch, and that person promptly gets him fired because his boss Donald Trump does not show loyalty to anyone. If the Mooch had let a weak Priebus keep his job, he could have kept his own job plus have more influnce. Bad-mouthing Trump’s close confidante Steve Bannon was also not a smart move since it left him without any powerful allies.
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