MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
As Republicans continue to push for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, it's crucial that we discuss progressive alternatives that would ensure access to insurance for as many people as possible. In an opinion piece in The Hill, Robert Hockett, Edward Cornell professor of law and public policy at Cornell University, proposes that those committed to repealing Obamacare need not look far for a replacement. Just let Obamacare enrollees and eligible individuals enroll in Medicare:
[Republican] Congressional leaders have said that their first order of business upon reconvening this week is to repeal and, at some point, replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — the 2010 legislation that President Obama often is said to regard as his signature achievement....
The impediment...which the leadership and the president-elect alike have noted, is that as yet there is no agreement on what should replace the ACA. Simply throwing millions of newly insured Americans off of their plans would cause hardship among working Americans on a nearly unprecedented scale....
Why not, in the very same legislation that repeals Obamacare, instantly entitle all who lose their insurance coverage under the ACA immediately to enroll in Medicare?
Medicare is probably the most popular health insurance in the United States. Even Tea Party senior citizens have issued a definitive demand at rallies: "Don't touch my Medicare!"
In June of 2016, CNBC predicted -- based on an Urban Institute study -- that 24 million people would lose health insurance coverage if Obamacare were repealed and not replaced.
CARL POPE OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Koch funded right-wing channels, the House of Representatives passed a bill which would effectively repeal future standard setting under every important environmental, public health, consumer protection, labor standards, occupational safety and civil rights law on the books.Last, week, under the cover of a media bliss-out except among
The bill, called the REINS Act, requires that any future major regulation adopted by an Executive Agency -- say a new toxic chemical standard required by the recently enacted Chemical Safety Act, or a new consumer protection rule about some innovative but untested kind of food additive -- must be approved by a specific resolution in each House of Congress within 70 days to take effect.
To give a sense of the scale of this road-block, in 2015 there were 43 such major federal regulations passed to protect the public; among them were food safety regulations, the Clean Power Plan regulating pollution from electrical generating facilities, net neutrality rules protecting the internet from monopoly, restrictions on predatory lending and energy efficiency standards for appliances.
If the REINS Act had been in effect, it unlikely that the Tea Party dominated Republican caucus in the House would have approved of any of these rules. Future standard setting under the entire body of legislation enacted over the past 40 years to protect the public, from the Clean Air Act to the Dodd Frank financial sector reforms, would be frozen. Over time, as new health, safety, consumer and labor protection issues arise, all of these laws will effectively have been repealed, with no public debate and no accountability. It will also be impossible to restore them as long as the REINS Act is in effect, because by requiring Congress to approve every regulation, it makes it impossible to pass technically complex and scientifically valid rules on any topic of controversy.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It's about time America has a president who will stand up to those greed-headed corporate executives who keep hauling our middle-class jobs out of country. Bring those jobs back home, Donald Trump bellowed, or I'll slap you with a huuuge tariff when you try to sell your foreign-made products here.
Great stuff, Donnie. And to prove you mean business, I know just the CEO you should target first: Her name is Ivanka. Yes, your daughter!
Ivanka's multimillion-dollar line of clothing and accessories are sold through major national retailers, ranging from Macy's to Amazon, and she pitches her Ivanka Trump-branded dresses, handbags, boots, blouses, etc. to America's working women. Yet, practically all of her products are made on the cheap in factories anywhere but America, with most coming from the low-wage bastions of China, Indonesia and Vietnam. Imagine the message it would send to runaway corporations and the integrity it would establish for The Donald if he slapped his first tariffs on Ivanka's goods!
But neither Daddy Trump nor his daughter wants to discuss the embarrassing conflict between his political bluster and her ethic of runaway capitalism. Instead, she's tried to dodge the issue by saying it doesn't matter, since she'll "separate" herself from the business if she becomes a White House advisor.
Nice try, Ivanka, but the stench of hypocrisy will only grow nastier if you're at your father's side while he castigates and punishes other corporations that have absconded from America. The only way to salvage even an iota of moral virtue is to repatriate the manufacturing of your brand-name apparel. And bringing those middle-class jobs home to the good ol' US of A would also make a powerful political statement.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If Trump pulls the appointment to head the National Endowment for the Arts from the same barrel of deplorables he has used for many of his administration’s other nominees, we may see Phil Robertson, the patriarch of Duck Dynasty, Scott Baio, or one of the other "celebrities" that supported Trump, heading up the agency. Regardless of who Trump picks, there’s a good chance that there will be another battle over funding the agency.
During Republican administrations, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) tends to be on the chopping block. With Trump in the White House, and Congress in the firm control of the GOP, it may once again be facing significant opposition to its mission and its funding. Even before the highly-respected Meryl Streep delivered a blistering, heartfelt and thoughtful take down of Donald Trump, while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at the annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony last weekend, it was a pretty safe bet that she would not be on Team Trump’s short list to head up the NEA, although she would make a great candidate for the job.
"There was one performance this year that stunned me -- it sank its hooks in my heart," Streep said. "Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
BuzzFlash recently reported on how the reactionary threat in many statehouses is growing.
We noted the fact that 24 states have both Republican-dominated legislatures and GOP governors. Meanwhile, only 17 states have Democratic governors and only 13 statehouses are controlled by Democrats.
These numbers provide an indicator of the right-wing tidal wave -- largely in Southern and small states -- that continues to advance Republican control of states, in part due to state-level gerrymandering after the 2010 election. After the 2016 elections, the Republicans reached a percentage of representation at the state level that is the highest since its founding as a political party.
This high water mark for Republicans on the state level has serious implications. A January 5 article in The Hill reveals the continued efforts of GOP-controlled states to prohibit various progressive laws at the local level, particularly in cities. This is an accelerating strategy to stifle grassroots progressive victories:
After consolidating power in Washington, D.C., and state capitals under President-elect Donald Trump, Republicans are moving to prevent large cities dominated by Democrats from enacting sweeping liberal agendas.
ECOWATCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTRHEA SUH OF
Article reprinted with permission from EcoWatch
Before Inauguration Day, the Trump era has opened with an extremist agenda that poses an alarming threat to our people, our environment and the core values we share about justice, fair play and our commitment to leave future generations a livable world. Already, we've seen a set of cabinet nominees dominated by fossil fuel advocates, billionaires and bankers; a president-elect who says "nobody really knows" what's happening to our climate; and a full-on witch hunt for the experts who know the truth.
This is not normal. It's the most radical approach to American governance we've seen in our lifetime. Whatever we voted on in November, nobody voted for dirty water and air. Nobody voted to walk away from climate leadership and millions of clean energy jobs. And nobody voted to hand over our country to a pollute-ocracy that puts polluter profits first -- and puts the rest of us at risk.
DAN ZUKOWSKI OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
"The Larsen C Ice shelf in Antarctica is primed to shed an area of more than 5000 square kilometers [approx. 3,100 square miles] following further substantial rift growth," wrote the Project MIDAS team, which has been studying the ice shelf.
"After a few months of steady, incremental advance since the last event, the rift grew suddenly by a further 18 kilometers [about 11 miles] during the second half of December 2016."
During the last Antarctic winter, the rift averaged about three miles per month of growth. In December, NASA released a set of images that found the crack measured 70 miles in length, 300 feet wide and one-third of a mile deep.
The sudden acceleration of the split in the ice has scientists convinced that a massive calving event is imminent.
REV. BILLY TALEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
I am facing some jail time for standing up to the evils of Monsanto and other Big Ag usurpers of the Earth.
This week, a prosecutor in Iowa appears corrupted by Monsanto and has proposed to a judge that protesters of its toxins be deprived of their constitutional rights at trial. Let's repeat that. A Des Moines assistant District Attorney has filed a motion that would preclude any "referencing" of the 1st Amendment or free speech protections of the Bill of Rights in my trial. This would retroactively strip a protester, me, of the right to protest simply. Here's a link to the motion that will be litigated against me this week.
Stripping a protester of his or her rights as a citizen in a misdemeanor trial? We cannot find a precedent. There are two of us on trial, me and another person were popped on the charge of trespassing. We face 30 days imprisonment or $500. I'm in New York and Father Frank Cordaro is a Catholic Worker priest in Des Moines Iowa, so this preacher-priest duet doesn't get to talk that much. I'll see him at the rally before the trial on Tuesday night the 10th. Frank is finding me a good church organist because Nehemiah Luckett, the music director of The Church of Stop Shopping, can't come this time.
We don't have videotapes of Monsanto handing brown paper bags of cash to the government lawyers. But that's where politics comes in. We can't prove that Monsanto knew that Agent Orange would be causing birth defects fifty years after the Viet Nam War, but they brag on their website about Agent Orange. We can't prove that Monsanto poisoned the African-American town of Addison, Alabama for years because the statute of limitations has run out on the emails we found between their scheming execs.
LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
faces faster levels of sea-level rise than any other land on Earth—could lose as many as 2,800 square miles of its coast over the next 40 years and about 27,000 buildings will need to be flood-proofed, elevated or bought out, the New Orleans Advocate reported.Louisiana—which
These dire predictions were pulled from a new rewrite of the state's Coastal Master Plan for 2017 released Tuesday by the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.
The plan, first introduced in 2007 post- Hurricane Katrina, acts as a 50-year blueprint for restoring the Pelican State's rapidly disappearing coastal wetlands and protecting the state's natural resources and communities. Louisiana's Legislature unanimously approved the 2007 and 2012 versions.
The new plan, which is now out for public review and must be voted up or down by the Legislature, calls for 120 new projects, including a $6 billion proposal to protect or vacate properties in areas that are at risk of experiencing a 100-year storm. The plan also aims to restore 800 to 1,200 square miles of wetlands and build new levees and flood walls to protect against hurricane storm surges.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
A recent article in Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) scathingly debunks the "racialized rural mythology" that conservative white rural voters subsidize urban residents. In fact, in general, the opposite is true. FAIR rebuts this fiction, which is embedded in rural culture and politics, with the revealing raw facts:
On an individual level, too, rural residents are more likely to receive government benefits than urban or suburban residents; a Pew survey (12/18/12) found that 62 percent of rural residents had received Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare or unemployment benefits, vs. 54 percent of urban dwellers and 53 percent of suburbanites.
In a 2012 BuzzFlash commentary, I noted that Mitt Romney received his greatest support from a significant portion of Americans he referred to as "moochers," who reside in the rural South. The Tax Foundation found that the Southern states have the largest percentage of people who don't pay income taxes, in general, due to low income or tax avoidance:
Nine of the ten states with the largest percentage of nonpayers are in the South and Southwest. In Mississippi, 45 percent of federal tax returns remit nothing or receive money with their federal tax returns; that is the highest percentage nationally. Georgia is next at 41 percent, followed by Arkansas at 41 percent, and Alabama, South Carolina, and New Mexico at 40 percent.
These high percentages of income tax non-filing are indicative of blue states being much more likely to subsidize red states than the other way around. Yet, every election, the myth that white rural voters are paying to prop up poor people of color in cities is trotted out. In fact, as I noted in 2012, the state of Mississippi received $2.73 in federal support for every dollar state residents paid to the IRS. The net flow of tax dollars into Mississippi is fairly typical of Southern states, as a map in a Mother Jones article reveals. Meanwhile, solid blue states -- such as California, Illinois and New York -- receive less money back from the federal government than the state residents pay to the IRS.