Reflections on Opportunities Lost and Opportunities to Come

Tina Griego has an excellent column exploring the reasons her cousin voted for Trump.  It is a highly personal column which forced me to reflect on what was and what could have been accomplished that might have prevented the rise of Donald Trump, with all the risk of disaster his administration represents.

When first elected in 2008, President Obama had an overwhelming mandate to institute the change he promised in his campaign. With control of Congress, and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, he could have implemented an agenda bringing fairness and opportunity to all.

However, his desire to achieve a post-partisan consensus with a Republican Party united in outrageous opposition — bent on painting him as Hitler, Stalin, a foreign born Muslim — combined with his innate sense of moderation, led him to fall short of the expectations he had raised during the campaign.

The Great Recession of 2008 and the aftermath have raised the very real concern that the income disparity between the very wealthy and the rest of us is accelerating, and that our children will be the first to suffer a lower standard of living than that of their baby boomer parents.

Thus the frustration and squandered idealism of the past 8 years driving not only support for Bernie Sanders, but ironically Donald Trump as well, despite his many and nefarious flaws.  After eight years, Obama, while personally popular and respected by voters, had become to represent the status quo.  I believe a false equivalence ultimately doomed Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016, through an effective portrayal of her as corrupt, but with the added flaw of also being the standard bearer for the status quo.

But for the young idealists that voted for Trump the likely outcome will be crushing disappointment as his empty promises to “fix” things are only vaguely honored and subverted into vicious policies by cynical legislators and bureaucrats that place the greatest burden on those that needed and expected most to benefit.

But so as not to end this on a sour note, I believe today’s nationwide demonstrations, led most appropriately by women, show that our spirit is not broken.  Trump and his dystopian view of the world will not go unchallenged.  Women’s voices will be heard across the country and likely the world.

I can’t predict the outcome, but I do believe we’ve crossed an inflection point that will radically change the world.  I think it will be hard, with much sacrifice.  Fasten your seatbelts because it will be a bumpy ride.

Health Co-ops Designed to Fail?

(“The GOP landmine was armed and planted” – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A prophecy Congress fulfilled?

A prophecy Congress fulfilled?

Reading today’s coverage in the Denver Post of the shutdown of Colorado’s Non-Profit Heath Co-op left me wondering “Why?”

Other than the parenthetical note that Sen. Gardner called for “an investigation” a few days earlier, no historical background was provided in the reporter’s article that would indicate the cause for this mysterious and apparently unforseen terrible outcome affecting 80,000 Coloradans.

One quick Google search and the information the Post appears unaware of was published by the Washington Post almost exactly two years ago, explaining what Republicans who controlled congress at the time had in mind for these co-ops.

Although the co-op plan originated in the Senate, resistance to the initial proposal quickly materialized on Capitol Hill, in part because of pressure from insurance industry lobbyists.

So Congress saddled its new creations with onerous restrictions that, experts say, doomed many co-ops to failure. Federal grants for the co-ops were converted to loans with tight repayment schedules; they were barred from using federal money for crucial marketing; and they were severely limited from selling insurance to large employers, which represent the most lucrative market.

So I believe Sen. Gardner’s “investigation” should be fairly quick:

But Karen Davis, a professor of health policy management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said the co-ops were not designed with the support they need to thrive. “One provision after another got stuck in there to limit their probability of success,’’ she said. “It’s a little ironic to say you are for competition in the free market and then you don’t make it easy for new entrants.’’

The changes still rankle (former Democratic Senator) Conrad, who left the Senate in January. “The long knives were out for this,’’ he said in an interview. “No money could be used for marketing? Really? That was clearly intended to be a poison pill.’’

Last year, as Washington approached what was being called the “fiscal cliff,” the White House again put co-op funding on the table. With hours remaining before the deadline, Senate Mi­nority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) buttonholed Democrats in a Capitol hallway and said, “We want the co-op money,” according to a person familiar with the negotiations. The White House agreed.

Republicans had Obama’s White House over a barrel due to the threatened GOP-driven government shutdown, so they caved on this funding.

The GOP landmine was armed and planted, waiting to go off at the most opportune time.

Sadly, as reported in the Denver Post, this didn’t need to happen:

HealthOP said Friday that projections by an independent actuary showed the insurer would make money in 2016, be able to add to its reserves and pay down the federal loans.

So, a program intended to help individuals and small businesses with affordable health coverage is now doing exactly what the GOP designed it to do — fail — and even better, waste taxpayer’s money to prove that their dystopian view of government prevails.

Thank You Gallup, And Don’t Let The Door Hit You On Your Way Out!

Remember those Gallup Polls showing Romney with a slight, but persistent lead? Did you hate it when your GOP acquaintances would quote them to you, confident that Mittens would soon rule? В Well, it turns out their methodology was fatally flawed. В  USA TodayВ just dropped the company so as not to suffer the same embarrassment in 2014.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank the Gallup organization for providing the GOP with a false sense of security, and providing even more motivation to Democratic activists to help get out the vote!

The fact is that Gallup has only pegged the correct winner in 60% of elections since 1976 – which is not much better than a coin flip. That record drops to 25% since 2000. In four elections since 1976 in which the election margin was less than five points, Gallup has not called the right winner.

Apparently, Gallup must be run by Romney supporters, because they adopted his business В tactics as well:

And yet, the most troubling accusations lobbed Gallup’s way came when the justice department filed charges against it
. The suit, brought in 2012, alleges that Gallup submitted $13m in false claims to the US government, by inflating the cost of polling work. These charges include milking the US mint, state department and other organizations.

Pardon any formatting oddities (there are two blockquotes above from the linked article). В I’m just getting used to posting diaries.