What We're Reading

Daily Reads: A Progressive Alternative to Obamacare, Trumpcare; Kushner Tasked With Privatizing Government Functions

A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

A Progressive Alternative to Obamacare and Trumpcare

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a rally in front of the Capitol, March 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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Health care for all –> Republicans suffered a major setback last week when they failed to get rid of Obamacare, a law they had spent the better part of a decade promising to repeal. “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future,” Paul Ryan confessed Friday.

On the heels of that GOP defeat, top progressives are rolling out a plan for single-payer health care, framing it as “Medicare for all.” The push is led in the Senate by Bernie Sanders and in the House by Keith Ellison. “These lawmakers and grass-roots leaders have long believed that the problems plaguing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, are rooted in the original health care law’s attempt to accommodate, rather than gradually replace, the private, for-profit health insurance system,” Daniel Marans reports for The Huffington Post.

The implosion myth –> Following their defeat last week, Trump and Ryan discussed Obamacare as if it was in its death throes. In fact, Obamacare’s implosion is far from a foregone conclusion. As the CBO noted in its initial assessment of the GOP health care plan, recent problems with the law are growing pains that are likely to work themselves out. Matthew Yglesias notes on Vox: “This matters because you can’t beat something with nothing. If it’s really true that the ACA is doomed to collapse, then even a bad replacement looks pretty good. But the CBO is saying that it isn’t doomed to collapse.”

Poised to privatize –> Trump is putting son-in-law Jared Kushner in charge of a new White House office tasked with increasing efficiency across government, and possibly privatizing key services. According to Washington Post reporters Ashley Parker and Phillip Rucker, Kushner’s goals are broad: “At least to start, the team plans to focus its attention on reimagining Veterans Affairs; modernizing the technology and data infrastructure of every federal department and agency; remodeling workforce-training programs; and developing ‘transformative projects’ under the banner of Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan, such as providing broadband internet service to every American.”

Presumably, Kushner will begin that work once he finishes speaking with the Senate Intelligence Committee today about meetings the president’s son-in-law arranged with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, during the transition. Kushner is continuing to serve as a foreign policy adviser, running what some have described as an in-house State Department in the White House.

A warning about public-private partnerships –> A new paper from the labor-aligned Economic Policy Institute examines the P3s, popular in Congress and the White House, warning that these partnerships have government (and taxpayers) shoulder the risk, while private corporations collect the reward. “The discussion in the political sphere [hinges on statements] like ‘We are going to engage the private sector’ or ‘We need private investment as well as public investment,’” researcher Hunter Blair tells The American Prospect’s Gabrielle Gurley. But it comes with a misconception, notes Blair: “Behind a lot of that is ‘We don’t have to pay for it’ if we get the private sector involved.”

Climate orders coming this week –> EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced on ABC’s This Week that Trump’s long-expected executive order rolling back Obama’s major climate policies, including the Clean Power Plan, will be coming on Tuesday.

You can’t bring the coal jobs back. “I suggested that he temper his expectations. Those are my exact words,” Robert Murray, the CEO of Murray energy and an active Republican donor, told The Guardian. “He can’t bring them back,” he said, of coal jobs. Cheap natural gas and renewable energy have made coal less competitive, and much of the mining process has been automated. Still, Murray, and the coal industry at large, are eager for Trump to roll back environmental regulations (such as one which has already been tossed out that prevents the industry from dumping in streams); even if it won’t create jobs, it will increase these companies’ bottom lines.

Muzzling the press –> An NPR affiliate headquartered at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga fired one of its reporters after a state senator complained about her reporting on anti-transgender bathroom bill that senator supported. The reporter, Jacqui Helbert, traveled with a group of high school students, who opposed the legislation, to the state Capitol, where they met with two lawmakers about the legislation. The lawmakers later claimed they didn’t notice the reporter, despite her bulky gear and the press credential hanging around her neck. “It was glaringly obvious who I was,” Helbert told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Supporters of the bill later complained to the University of Tennessee, which helps fund the public radio station, and the station fired Helbert.

Something’s missing –> The White House attracted outrage last week when a photo of a meeting with the House Freedom Caucus, in which politicians debated whether or not maternity care should be covered under a health care law, revealed that the meeting was only attended by men. At The New Republic, Clio Chang ranks six photos of Trump signing important things amid a gaggle of white men.

Daily Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Kristin Miller.



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