Trump Is Going After Health Care. Will Democrats Push Back?

Source:NY Times

Author:

Emphasis Mine

Where should Democrats head after their recent electoral rout? As it happens, coming fights about federally subsidized health insurance offer the party a golden opportunity to engage people far beyond its urban strongholds, in communities that will be hard hit by Republican plans to shrink Medicaid, privatize Medicare and eliminate the taxes that pay for Obamacare subsidies.

Donald J. Trump won the Electoral College, and Republicans maintained congressional majorities, because of overwhelming victories in small cities, outer suburbs and rural counties. Yet the president-elect and the Republicans are poised to deliver blows to the social fabric and economic underpinnings of those very communities. Along with Representative Tom Price, Mr. Trump’s nominee for secretary of health and human services, congressional Republicans say they want to move quickly to revolutionize all types of federal health insurance spending, using special procedures that require only 51 votes in the Senate.

Congress will be asked not only to cut the taxes levied on businesses and the rich to finance Obamacare benefits for 20 to 30 million low and middle-income Americans; Republican leaders also plan to slash federal commitments to Medicaid, giving states the authority to shrink this health care program for the poor and elderly. And Republican House members, led by Speaker Paul D. Ryan, seem determined to abolish traditional Medicare insurance for retirees and replace it with “premium vouchers” that would throw older Americans on the mercies of private insurance markets and require them to pay more for their care.

Trump voters will be especially hard hit if just part of this sweeping agenda comes to fruition.

Conservatives often point to poor blacks and Latinos as the primary beneficiaries of federal health insurance programs. But such rhetoric obscures the enormous importance of Medicaid, Medicare and Obamacare subsidies to economically struggling white Americans living in small cities and rural areas. In Pennsylvania, where Mr. Trump narrowly beat Hillary Clinton with overwhelming support outside big cities, about 17 percent of residents are 65 or older, above the national average. Meanwhile, some 16 percent of Pennsylvanians benefit from Medicare, and 18 percent from Medicaid. With the bulk of Medicaid going to elderly and disabled residents, that program is the single largest federal subsidy flowing into the Keystone State.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act would also hit Pennsylvania hard. Under the act, some 468,000 low-income Pennsylvanians had gained Medicaid coverage by August 2016, and another 439,000 bought private coverage on the Obamacare marketplace, with more than three-fourths of those people getting tax credits averaging $251 per month. Health care is often sparse in nonurban areas, and the providers that do exist depend on federal insurance programs that help many patients pay for care. If radical Republican cutbacks in federal contributions to health insurance are enacted, Pennsylvania hospitals and health care businesses will lose vital revenues, leaving many lower-income and sick Pennsylvanians at risk of losing access to care.

This is the case in other states as well, meaning many rural and small-town Trump supporters may soon see that Make America Great Again means accelerating economic decline and social devastation. Mr. Trump shows little understanding of the intricate interplay of subsidies and rules in the health care system, and probably has no inkling that federal taxes collected from liberal states like California, Massachusetts and New York heavily subsidize vital health services, businesses and family benefits in the very places that voted heavily for him. In delegating plans for huge health care cutbacks to hard-right congressional Republicans, he will be hurting his own base. But will Mr. Trump suffer repercussions if the Republican Congress plows ahead? Its proposed changes are unpopular — including repealing the Affordable Care Act, which only one in four Americans support — and eliminating benefits usually arouses anger in the affected groups. But political punishment will not be automatic, because Democrats currently have little organized presence outside urban areas. Small cities and rural areas are overwhelmingly represented in Congress and state capitols by Republicans, who will do all they can to displace blame.

For the Democratic Party, the coming Republican assault on public health insurance represents a huge political opportunity. But to seize it, the party will have to beef up state committees and place a priority on activating volunteer supporters everywhere — getting people to write messages to local newspapers and social media sites, and reach out to hospitals, health care providers and nonprofits to beat the drums about losses the Republicans are inflicting. Even if Democrats cannot soon win outright majorities beyond their urban base, they must be actively involved in communities damaged by Mr. Trump’s false campaign promises.

Democrats cannot just defend Medicare; they must loudly point out that repealing Obamacare means eliminating the taxes that subsidize health care for low- and middle-income people. That huge and immediate tax cut for the rich would lead to the demise of subsidized health insurance for millions of less privileged Americans in rural, suburban and urban communities. Proclaiming this truth could help Democrats gain a new hearing from many Trump voters. But it remains to be seen whether the party can rise to the challenge of showing up everywhere.

See:http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/21/opinion/trump-is-going-after-health-care-will-democrats-push-back.html?em_pos=large&emc=edit_ty_20161221&nl=opinion-today&nlid=67843644&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

Obama to Bernie supporters: Don’t let disillusionment set in

Source:Washpo

Author: Greg Sargent

Emphasis Mine

Any day now, some very prominent Democrats will get down to the business of helping to unite the party behind likely nominee Hillary Clinton. One of them will be President Barack Obama, who is popular among young Democrats and thus well positioned to argue to Bernie Sanders supporters that it in their interests — and the interests of the larger Sanders movement — to support Clinton.

The President is set to give a speech at Rutgers University next week, at which (given the audience) he might begin to lay out this case. And in an interview with The Daily Targum, a student paper at Rutgers, he offered a long monologue that is perhaps a preview of the bigger argument he’ll make.

Notably, Obama called on people not to “oversimplify” how change is achieved, and argued that “incremental changes” via “consensus building” can add up to meaningful progress. Asked about the fact that many Americans who are worried about stagnant wages, the shrinking middle class, and rising inequality are turning to Bernie Sanders, the President answered:

“It is absolutely true that there are a lot of folks who still are struggling out there, and we can’t minimize that. There (are) trends that have been taking place over the last 20 (or) 30 years that have dampened wage growth, that have made it tougher for folks to save for retirement or for their kids’ college education…

“More needs to be done there. And some of the steps that we’ve taken are going to pay off over the course of the next 20 years. There are things like raising the federal minimum wage or rebuilding our infrastructure — that would put people back to work right away and that would accelerate growth….

“If we are changing just a few laws that make it easier, for example, for workers to organize, that close corporate tax loopholes or tax loopholes used by wealthy individuals so that they’re not paying their fair share — if we take that money and make sure that we’re investing in the kinds of things that make an economy grow, if we ensure that we’ve got a healthcare system that is affordable and accessible for all people, then I’m confident that America’s best days are still ahead….

“We have to make sure we also recognize this is a big country, and there’s very rarely a single set of silver bullets out there that would immediately solve all of these problems. We’re part of an interconnected global economy now, and there’s no going back from that. It’s important for us to not oversimplify how we’re going to bring about the kind of change we need.

“We’ve got to also recognize that, in a democracy like this, it’s not going to happen overnight. We have to make incremental changes where we can, and everyone once in a while you’ll get a breakthrough and make the kind of big changes that are necessary. That consensus building is important because that’s historically how change has happened in America. Those are the kinds of things that I’ll be talking about at the commencement.”

This is both a subtle rebuke to Sanders’s call for a revolution and a preview of the argument he’ll likely make in urging his supporters to get behind Clinton. Obama’s warning against oversimplification is an implicit criticism of Sanders’s suggestion that liberating lawmakers from the grip of plutocratic money and rallying millions to storm the ramparts of Congress would compel the sort of far reaching, transformative social democratic reforms that Sanders envisions — single payer, free public college, enormously ambitious action on to combat climate change.  

More to the point, though, Obama is previewing an argument he’ll likely make against allowing unrealistic assessments of what is possible to morph into political disillusionment. Here Obama makes the case that change has historically been won in a long, hard, incremental slog, and that the big breakthroughs are historically very rare. There is a lot to this: throughout the progressive era, gains in the areas of economic regulation, the minimum wage, and the graduated income tax proceeded fitfully and with great difficulty, suffering big setbacks in the courts. It took decades until a horrific depression and landslide electoral wins for Democrats helped lead to the big New Deal sea changes, which included the Supreme Court upholding (among other things) wage floors, unemployment insurance and social insurance for the elderly. Yet even Social Security had to be subsequently expanded many years later to cover millions who’d been excluded from it.

Likewise, Medicare was only achieved more than 15 years after President Harry Truman called for universal health care in 1949, and its core guarantee of government health care for the elderly actually represented a scaling back of reformers’ goals, disappointing many liberals who lamented that it only reached a segment of the population.

As the above remarks indicate, Obama will likely make the case against being dismissive of the incremental changes that Hillary Clinton has promised to pursue. He’ll argue for the value in achieving a $12 minimum wage (and $15 in certain localities); continuing to build on Obamacare (though Clinton should be pressed on how she’d do this); investing more in infrastructure (even if it isn’t as much as Sanders would invest); and tax reform that makes the system marginally more progressive. Also, Clinton would seek to implement the Paris climate deal, while a Republican president would pull the U.S. out of it.

To be clear, none of this is to denigrate Bernie Sanders’s ambitions. Indeed, I hope that Obama will make a genuine effort to acknowledge the force of Sanders’s big argument — his insistence that the constraints of our political system, however real the obstacles they pose, ultimately should not cause us to scale back our idealized vision of a far more fair economy and just society. I also hope he’ll make the case to Sanders’s supporters that they have an important role to play in trying to pull Clinton and the Democratic Party towards them on their issues and in trying to erect a bulwark in Congress against any caves to regressive centrist deal-making. If the goal is to prevent disillusionment from setting in, those might serve as two key pieces of the argument.

See:https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2016/05/12/obama-to-bernie-supporters-dont-let-disillusionment-set-in/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_popns

Obamacare is helping a lot of people. Not everyone thinks that’s good news.

Source: WAPO

Author: Paul Waldman

Emphasis Mine

In politics there are some issues where liberals and conservatives share the same goal, but disagree about how to achieve it — we all want to have as little crime as possible, for instance, but there are different ideas about how to accomplish that. Then there are issues where the two groups have different goals — liberals want to preserve women’s reproductive rights, and conservatives don’t. And sometimes, there are issues we think fall in the first category, but actually belong in the second.

Health care may just be that kind of issue, where we talk as though we all have the same fundamental goals, but we actually don’t. There’s an interesting article in the New York Times today on a major success of the Affordable Care Act that demonstrates why we’ll never stop arguing about it. Here’s how it begins:

The first full year of the Affordable Care Act brought historic increases in coverage for low-wage workers and others who have long been left out of the health care system, a New York Times analysis has found. Immigrants of all backgrounds — including more than a million legal residents who are not citizens — had the sharpest rise in coverage rates.

Hispanics, a coveted group of voters this election year, accounted for nearly a third of the increase in adults with insurance. That was the single largest share of any racial or ethnic group, far greater than their 17 percent share of the population. Low-wage workers, who did not have enough clout in the labor market to demand insurance, saw sharp increases. Coverage rates jumped for cooks, dishwashers, waiters, as well as for hairdressers and cashiers. Minorities, who disproportionately worked in low-wage jobs, had large gains.

Before we go farther, we should remember that the ACA is a complex piece of legislation that affects every area of American health care, but for now we’re going to talk just about insurance coverage. When liberals see a report like this one, they say, that’s terrific — some of the most vulnerable people in America, and those who had the hardest time getting covered before, now have health insurance. They offer this as practical evidence of the law’s success.

But conservatives (not all conservatives, but many of them) don’t see that as a success at all. If the government is helping an immigrant who washes dishes for a living get health coverage, then to them that means means that government is redistributing tax money from deserving people to undeserving people. The two groups look at the same practical effect, and interpret it in opposite ways.

That isn’t to say that the ACA didn’t give benefits to everyone, because it did. Millions of middle-class and even upper-class people were hurt by the fact that insurance companies used to be able to deny you coverage if you had a pre-existing condition, but the ACA outlawed that. And if the payment reforms in the law bring down overall health spending, we all benefit. But the most visible and dramatic parts of the law relate to the tens of millions of Americans who used to be without health coverage but now have it.

This is why Republicans continue to call the ACA a “disaster” and a “catastrophe” despite the good it has done. Liberals hoped that once the law was implemented and its practical effects became clear, the law would become hugely popular. Instead, views of the law divide closely on ideology and partisanship, and that hasn’t changed and won’t change.

That’s because there’s a fundamental clash of values at work, which means that liberals and conservatives will always judge it according to different standards. Because the law did a large amount to bring coverage to those who couldn’t afford it (through both the expansion of Medicaid and subsidies), and because it included a raft of new regulations meant to solve a variety of problems within the health care system, conservatives will always oppose it, whether it succeeds on its own terms or not. To doctrinaire conservatives, a government regulation that accomplishes what it sets out to isn’t a success at all; it’s a moral failure by definition. That’s why liberals will never convince them to support the ACA by pointing to its practical successes.

That isn’t to say that conservatives don’t make practical arguments against the ACA, because they do. But they’re mostly window dressing placed atop their moral objections to government involvement in health care. So yes, they predicted that Obamacare would destroy the economy, and cost millions of jobs, and lead to fewer people with health coverage, and balloon health care spending, and make premiums skyrocket. When they turned out to be wrong about all these things, conservatives didn’t say, “Well gee, I guess this law was a pretty good idea after all.” Because the fundamental moral objection remains, whatever the practical impact.

You can see it in the decision to accept or reject the law’s expansion of Medicaid. The federal government offered states a huge pot of free money to provide coverage to their poor citizens, and though some conservative governors tried to argue that it would be too expensive, those arguments were laughably weak. As one independent analysis after another has shown — from groups like the Rand Corporation, not exactly a bunch of lefties — taking the expansion leads to healthier state finances and better economic growth, on top of helping your state’s constituents. But for many governors, insuring poor people isn’t a moral good at all; just the opposite, in fact. So they were even willing to incur economic damage in order to avoid it (and to give Barack Obama the finger, of course).

Where this all leaves us is that the ACA will never become something we agree on, no matter what it does or doesn’t do in the real world. But even that’s not the whole story, because there are political factors at work. Smart Republicans understand that with each passing year, the law becomes more and more entrenched and harder to unwind, no matter how much they hate it. It’s one thing to keep people from getting insurance, but it’s something quite different, and far more politically dangerous, to take away insurance people already have — and if they really repealed the law, that’s what they would be doing, not just to a few people but to 20 million or so.

That’s why Republicans have so much trouble coming up with their “repeal and replace” plan. It’s not because there aren’t conservative health care wonks who could give them an outline. It’s because any real repeal would be so spectacularly disruptive to the system that it would a political nightmare. Just today there’s an article in The Hill on the efforts of the Republican task force charged with producing the new repeal-and-replace legislation, under the title, “GOP group promises ObamaCare replacement plan — soon.” If you’ve been following this issue, you know that title is a joke. As the piece says:

Coming up with a plan to replace ObamaCare has been an aim for the Republican Party for so long that it’s become a laugh line even in conservative circles. Despite voting more than 50 times in the House to repeal the law, the GOP has not once voted on legislation to take its place.

But every couple of months, they say that they’ll be releasing their plan any day now.

If Republicans actually took the White House and held Congress, my guess is that they’d pass something they called “repeal and replace” but which would leave the ACA largely intact. Just as they propose to privatize Medicare but rush to tell seniors who love it that their own coverage wouldn’t be affected, it would be some kind of time-delayed change that would avoid kicking people who now have insurance off their coverage. And if Hillary Clinton gets elected in the fall, it’ll be another four or eight years before they could even try this. No matter what happens between now and then, conservatives won’t ever decide that the ACA has worked out well, whether it actually did what it was designed to do or not. As far as they’re concerned, the design itself was the problem. But they may decide, as they did with Medicare, that doing away with it isn’t worth the bother — at least not worth bothering to to try all that hard.

Paul Waldman is a contributor to The Plum Line blog, and a senior writer at The American Prospect.

See:https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2016/04/18/obamacare-is-helping-a-lot-of-people-not-everyone-thinks-thats-good-news/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_popns

Learning From Obama

Source: NY Times

Author: Paul Krugman

Emphasis Mine

Like many political junkies, I’ve been spending far too much time looking at polls and trying to understand their implications. Can Donald Trump really win his party’s nomination? (Yes.) Can Bernie Sanders? (No.) But the primaries aren’t the only things being polled; we’re still getting updates on President Obama’s overall approval. And something striking has happened on that front.

At the end of 2015 Mr. Obama was still underwater, with significantly more Americans disapproving than approving. Since then, however, his approval has risen sharply while disapproval has plunged. He’s still only in modestly positive territory, but the net movement in polling averages has been about 11 percentage points, which is a lot.

What’s going on?

Well, one answer is that voters have lately been given a taste of what really bad leaders look like. But I’d like to think that the public is also starting to realize just how successful the Obama administration has been in addressing America’s problems. And there are lessons from that success for those willing to learn.

I know that it’s hard for many people on both sides to wrap their minds around the notion of Obama-as-success. On the left, those caught up in the enthusiasms of 2008 feel let down by the prosaic reality of governing in a deeply polarized political system. Meanwhile, conservative ideology predicts disaster from any attempt to tax the rich, help the less fortunate and rein in the excesses of the market; and what are you going to believe, the ideology or your own lying eyes?

But the successes are there for all to see.

Start with the economy. You might argue that presidents don’t have as much effect on economic performance as voters seem to imagine — especially presidents facing scorched-earth opposition from Congress for most of their time in office. But that misses the point: Republicans have spent the past seven years claiming incessantly that Mr. Obama’s policies are a “job killing” disaster, destroying business incentives, so it’s important news if the economy has performed well.

And it has: We’ve gained 10 million private-sector jobs since Mr. Obama took office, and unemployment is below 5 percent. True, there are still some areas of disappointment — low labor force participation, weak wage growth. But just imagine the boasting we’d be hearing if Mitt Romney occupied the White House.

Then there’s health reform, which has (don’t tell anyone) been meeting its goals.

Back in 2012, just after the Supreme Court made it possible for states to reject the Medicaid expansion, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that by now 89 percent of the nonelderly population would be covered; the actual number is 90 percent.

The details have been something of a surprise: fewer people than expected signing up on the exchanges, but fewer employers than expected dropping coverage, and more people signing up for Medicaid — which means, incidentally, that Obamacare is looking much more like a single-payer system than anyone seems to realize. But the point is that reform has indeed delivered the big improvements in coverage it promised, and has done so at lower cost than expected.

Then there’s financial reform, which the left considers toothless and the right considers destructive. In fact, while the big banks haven’t been broken up, excessive leverage — the real threat to financial stability — has been greatly reduced. And as for the economic effects, have I mentioned how well we’ve done on job creation?

Last but one hopes not least, the Obama administration has used executive authority to take steps on the environment that, if not canceled by a Republican president and upheld by future Supreme Courts, will amount to very significant action on climate change.

All in all, it’s quite a record. Assuming Democrats hold the presidency, Mr. Obama will emerge as a hugely consequential president — more than Reagan. And I’m sure Republicans will learn a lot from his achievements.

April fools!

Seriously, there is essentially no chance that conservatives, whose ideas haven’t changed in decades, will reconsider their dogma. But maybe progressives will be more open-minded.

The 2008 election didn’t bring the political transformation Obama enthusiasts expected, nor did it destroy the power of the vested interests: Wall Street, the medical-industrial complex and the fossil fuel lobby are all still out there, using their money to buy influence. But they have been pushed back in ways that have made American lives better and more secure. The lesson of the Obama years, in other words, is that success doesn’t have to be complete to be very real. You say you want a revolution? Well, you can’t always get what you want — but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.

See:http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/01/opinion/learning-from-obama.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fpaul-krugman&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection&_r=1

Why Scalia’s Death Is a Huge Blow to the Right-Wing Agenda in Washington

The impact of Scalia’s death will be felt immediately in a number of pending high-profile cases.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Bill Blum/TruthDig

Emphasis Mine

Justice Antonin Scalia is dead, and his passing is nothing less than a legal and political earthquake. It will have a huge impact, not only on the court’s present term but on the course of constitutional law.

Beginning with his appointment to the high court in 1986, Scalia was the intellectual leader of what I and many other legal commentators have termed a conservative “judicial counterrevolution,” aimed at wresting control of the nation’s most powerful legal body from the legacy of the liberal jurists who rose to power in the 1950s and ’60s under the leadership of then-Chief Justice Earl Warren.

Scalia was a key architect of the jurisprudential theories of original intent and textualism, and the author of numerous landmark opinions. Among his most important rulings was the 5-4 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which held for the first time that the Second Amendment protected an individual’s right to bear arms.

But Scalia was also an unvarnished, intemperate and intolerant ideologue, railing against same-sex marriage, voting rights, Obamacare, affirmative action and other progressive causes. In recent years, often finding himself in dissent, he became unhinged at times, ridiculing his more moderate colleagues for engaging in what he called analytical “argle-bargle” and “interpretive jiggery pokery,” and for doling out legal benefits to allegedly undeserving litigants that he called “pure applesauce.”

The impact of Scalia’s death will be felt immediately in a number of pending high-profile cases, transforming anticipated 5-4 conservative rulings into 4-4 stalemates. Under the court’s rules, 4-4 decisions carry no precedential weight and leave intact the lower-court rulings under review.

This means that proponents of affirmative action (Fisher v. Texas), as well as public-employee unions (Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association), can expect constitutional reprieves, because the circuit court rulings issued in their favor will be allowed to stand. It also means that supporters of abortion rights (Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt) and immigration rights (United States v. Texas) will have an easier path toward overturning adverse lower-court decisions.

Scalia’s passing will also alter the prospects for overturning some of the court’s most conservative recent rulings — not only on the Second Amendment but on campaign finance, environmental regulation and the constitutionality of the death penalty, among others.

Politically, Scalia’s passing will unleash a pitched battle on two fronts: first, in the fight to name his successor, and second, as an issue in the upcoming presidential elections.

(N.B.: will this motivate Democratic voters?)

In the coming weeks and months, we can expect to hear a rising and increasingly hysterical chorus of Republicans demanding that President Obama refrain from nominating Scalia’s successor. Indeed, if initial press reports are any indication, the trench warfare has already begun.

But with roughly 11 months remaining in his term, Obama undoubtedly will move forward. Anyone he names will surely be more liberal than Scalia, and anyone he names will tip the balance of the court. Those who remember the televised hearings on the nominations of Justice Clarence Thomas and former Solicitor General Robert Bork can expect clashes in the Senate Judiciary Committee (which conducts hearings on Supreme Court nominations) that will make those bygone proceedings seem genteel.

At the same time, the future of the Supreme Court — always an issue in presidential campaigns — will move front and center. Assuming that GOP senators will filibuster any Obama nomination — as I think probable — voters will be asked to contemplate what the future of America will look like with a court molded by a President Trump or Cruz, or a President Sanders or Clinton. The choice facing voters will be stark.

I take no joy in the death of Antonin Scalia. But speaking as a progressive and as a staunch defender of human rights and as one who believes our Constitution is a living document that must be read expansively over time, I can’t say I will mourn his absence from the bench.

We have an opportunity to repair some of the damage Scalia and his right-wing brethren have done. Our task now is to take advantage of the opening.

See: http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/why-scalias-death-huge-blow-right-wing-agenda-washington?akid=13972.123424.wi7mbf&rd=1&src=newsletter1050646&t=4

American Medical Association: Obamacare Is A HUGE Success, GOP Is Wrong

Source: Occupy Democrats

Author: Colin Taylor

Emphasis Mine

As of July 2015…

If the jury wasn’t in already, it definitely is now. The Journal of the American Medical Association has just released a report declaring the Affordable Care Act a rousing success, especially for minorities without healthcare.

Over the first two enrollment periods, 10.2 million Americans have received private coverage through Obamacare, and another 12.2 million have been covered by Medicaid and the Children’s Health Program- and thanks to Obamacare, costs for Medicaid have dropped dramatically and the program is fully funded for the next thirty years.

Six measures were used to survey the pre-ACA respondents: Self-reported rates of being uninsured, lacking a personal physician, lacking easy access to medicine, inability to afford needed care, overall health status, and health-related activity limitations.

The AMA ‘s report found that “all but one of those measures—days limited by poor health—improved significantly after Obamacare plans went on sale,” reports CNBC.

There was an 11.9% decrease in uninsured Latinos and a 10.8% decrease in uninsured African-Americans. The study concluded that “As states continue to debate whether to expand Medicaid under the ACA, these results add to the growing body of research indicating that such expansions are associated with significant benefits for low-income populations.” If there’s any proof that the Republican Party lives in a reality entirely of their own creation, where the truth is made up and facts don’t matter, it’s their reaction to the Obamacare program. No matter how many times they attempt to repeal it, every one is met with another report trumpeting the program’s success. Which is obviously why it makes sense for the Senate to waste even more taxpayer money on yet another attempt to repeal the law. President Obama’s healthcare law has changed the face of America for the better, and it is here to stay.

See: http://www.occupydemocrats.com/american-medical-association-obamacare-is-a-huge-success-gop-is-wrong/

Bernie Won All the Focus Groups & Online Polls – So Why Is the Media Saying Hillary Won the Debate?

What the public wants out of a candidate and what the beltway press does appear to be two entirely different things.

Source:AlterNet

Author:Adam Johnson

Emphasis Mine 

Who “won” a debate is inherently subjective. The idea of “winning” a debate necessarily entails a goal to be achieved. What this goal is, therefore, says as much about the person judging its achievement than the goal itself. Pundits are ostensibly supposed to judge whether or not a candidate said what “the voters” want to hear. But what ends up happening, invariably, is they end up judging whether or not the candidate said what they think voters wanted to hear. This, after all, is why pundits exist, to act a clergy class charged with interpreting people’s own inscrutable opinions for them. The chasm between what the pundits saw and what the public was quite big last night.

Bernie Sanders by all objective measures won the debate. Hands down. I don’t say this as a personal analysis of the debate – the very idea of “winning” a debate is silly to me. I say this because based on the only relatively objective metric we have, online polls and focus groups, he did win.  And it’s not even close.

Sanders won the CNN focus group, the Fusion focus group, and the Fox News focus group – in the latter, he even converted several Hillary supporters. He won the Slate online poll, the CNN/Time online poll, 9News ColoradoThe Street online poll, Fox5 poll, the conservative Drudge online poll and the liberal Daily Kos online poll. There wasn’t, to this writer’s knowledge, a poll he didn’t win by at least an 18 point margin.  But you wouldn’t know this from reading the establishment press. The New York Times, The New Yorker, CNN,Politico, Slate, New York Magazine, and Vox all of which unanimously say Hillary Clinton cleaned house. What gives?

Firstly, it’s important to point out that online polls, and to a lesser extent focus groups, are obviously not scientific. But it’s also important to point out that the echo chamber musings of establishment liberal pundits is far, far less scientific. It wasn’t that the online polls and focus groups had Sanders winning, it’s that they had him winning by a lot. And it wasn’t just that the pundit classes has Clinton winning, it’s that they had her winning by a lot. This gap speaks to a larger gap that we’ve seen since the beginning of Sanders campaign. The mainstream media writes off Bernie and is constantly shocked when his polls numbers go up. What explains this phenomenon? Freddie DeBoer, writing about the gap between what the pundits saw and what the public saw, had this to say:

This morning, I’ve been pointing out on Twitter that the unanimity of pro-Hillary Clinton journalism coming from the mouthpieces of establishment Democratic politics — Slate, Vox, New York Magazine, etc. — is entirely predictable and has no meaningful relationship to her actual performance at the debate last night. That’s because, one, the Democrats are a centrist party that is interested in maintaining the stranglehold of the DNC establishment on their presidential politics, and these publications toe that line. And second, because Clinton has long been assumed to be the heavy favorite to win the presidency, these publications are in a heated battle to produce the most sympathetic coverage, in order to gain access. That is a tried-and-true method of career advancement in political journalism. Ezra Klein was a well-regarded blogger and journalist. He became the most influential journalist in DC (and someone, I can tell you with great confidence, that young political journalists are terrified of crossing) through his rabid defense of Obamacare, and subsequent access to the President. That people would try and play the same role with Clinton is as natural and unsurprising as I can imagine.

So many establishment journalists were in a hurry to declare Clinton not just the winner of the debate, but the election. One fairly creepy exchange between Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker and Alec MacGillis summed it up nicely: “Pretend” there’s a race? Isn’t that sort of the whole point of democracy? To have as much debate and vetting as possible before nominating a potential leader of the free world? Matt Yglesias at Vox also dismissed this entire primary process out of hand: It’s unclear what the rush is. The first primary is months away and they’re ready to call it based entirely on they and their pundit buddies ad hoc analysis of one debate. This tweet by Michael Cohen of the Boston Globe would perfectly sum up mainstream media’s cluelessness…

A “protest candidate”? If Cohen hasn’t noticed the electorate is full of piss and vinegar and rancor which is precisely why an otherwise obscure, self-described socialist has rose in the polls the way he has.

But the question still remains: why the rush to write off Sanders? Why the constant gap between how the public perceives Sanders and how the mainstream media does?  Why, most of all, would anyone listen to the very same pundit class that was wrong in ’08 and continues to be wrong in 2015? 

Adam Johnson is an associate editor at AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter at@adamjohnsonnyc.

 

See:http://www.alternet.org/media/bernie-won-all-focus-groups-online-polls-so-why-media-saying-hillary-won-debate?akid=13575.123424.33yFJd&rd=1&src=newsletter1044066&t=2