Monday, September 30, 2019

Trump Betrayed


Trump has a system to deal with problems: Deny with indignation. Bash the media. Pivot and divert to an accusation of another. Raise questions and keep raising them.

His system ensnared him.

Diversion. Accuse and Distract.
The Trump system works so reliably, and is so habitual, that it is no wonder Trump made the Ukraine call. He thought it was no big deal.

As this blog has described, Trump understands and exploits the current media and partisan environment better than any other politician. He deals with accusations by denial, then an immediate pivot to an accusation of the accuser. To cover the Trump story the media must cover the new story. The new story does not need to be true or even plausible. It can have been investigated and found to be untrue. It does not matter. 

I described the system in detail on October 31, 2017:

His early dealing with the Access Hollywood tape was to point to Bill Clinton; to deal with Ted Cruz by claiming Cruz's father was involved in the JFK assassination. Wild, conspiratorial accusations are best. A wild claim is more newsworthy, and if vague, then the questions, doubts, and suspicions can never be answered and resolved.

The birther gambit was the first and most visible. Was Obama was born in Kenya? Maybe, probably, could be. People told him. Investigators have questions. Something isn't right. There is no finality. Same with Hillary's emails.

It made all the sense in the world to Trump to call Ukraine and suggest they re-open an investigation of something--anything--that relates to Hunter Biden or Joe Biden.  As long as an investigation is underway there was a news story. The investigation is the political interference in the election. It is the government sanctioned--Ukraine government--proof that something may not be right, that there is some problem, some lingering question. Dirt. Guilt.

Every time Rudy Giuliani would fly to Ukraine to meet with someone there--anyone--would be a new news story, some progress report on some vague, unresolved shocking developments. Endless news, endless suspicion.

The response of Trump and his media allies in the past three days create an odd complication for Trump. Trump was caught red handed attempting to bully Ukraine into doing Trump/America a "favor" by re-opening an investigation. Their steadfast criticism of Biden demonstrates that this wasn't a trivial request--a no harm no foul situation. They have confirmed that Trump was asking for something consequential.

The complication is that now Trump and his media allies have to argue that the request was completely legitimate, an innocent search for the truth about a serious problem of corruption, and therefore not a cynical political ploy. Trump, the argument goes, was actually doing serious non-political good government.

Unfortunately for Trump, the facts go the other direction, that Biden was on the side of ending corruption not encouraging it. The mainstream media is now regularly reporting the Trump narrative as untrue, as false--investigated and resolved.

Click: Chris Wallace does journalism
 Meanwhile, Trump, the GOP, talk radio, and opinion shows on Fox stick to their story and call the mainstream media fake. Normally people in the conservative media bubble need never hear anything but that Trump was noble and that Hunter Biden and Joe Biden are corrupt. But Fox actually has some news shows, and the Wall Street Journal has news as well as opinion. 

Chris Wallace called the Trump narrative "deeply misleading."  He grills Steve Miller and is adamant that the actual facts vindicate Biden. 

Click the video. It is quite stunning to be found on Fox. 

Shepard Smith called it a "constant attacking of the facts."

 If Shepard Smith and Chris Wallace are allowed to call the Trump narrative dishonest, it creates dissidence within Fox and within the Republican media silo. 

If it persists it might create cover for Republican senators to break ranks. I don't expect that, but it could happen.

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Sunday, September 29, 2019


The world is in a new era. 

When we were at the high point of the old era, we didn't realize it, but looking back we can see it.

Populist William Jennings Bryan

High tide in the old era of liberal, secular democracy: In the aftermath of 9-11 a Republican president said we were invaded by criminals, not by Islam, and that Islam was a religion of peace.  We elected Barrack Obama. NAFTA and the TPP were in place. America's trade links were growing with China. Turkey was requesting to join the EU. Theocracy in Iran and Saudi Arabia were considered outliers. The US Supreme Court says same sex marriage is an "equal protection" right. Free trade was assumed to lift all boats.

Now: Populism is on the rise, most often appearing as authoritarian ethno-nationalism. Turkey is rejecting secularism and becoming Muslim. India is becoming Hindu and overtly anti-Muslim. Fox cheers Trump for saying "Merry Christmas" as he overtly represents the traditional social order of white Christians as the default "real" Americans. Britain nearly split off Scotland and is leaving the EU. Parties that reject immigration are gaining strength in Western democracies. Trump unapologetically  ignores separation of powers norms including the Congressional power of the purse, and Congress goes along. 

What happened?

Liberal secular values of the Enlightenment--religious and cultural tolerance, rule of law, democracy--won big. Too big, too fast, for many people. The problem was brought to a head by immigration of ethnic outsiders into Europe and the US, Muslims into Europe, Latinix from Latin America into the US.

Bernie Sanders
In the US, the economy stopped providing access to the secure middle class--and they revolted. The Financial Crisis of 2008-09 brought to a head an economic problem in the US. Health care costs had been gobbling up all of the productivity and wage gains of the previous twenty years. Employment costs had in fact gone up--but employees saw none of it. Automation and offshoring meant middle class factory jobs were disappearing. 

Populist movements arose, rejecting the status quo. 

Right populism was presented and rejected when voiced by Pat Buchanan twenty years ago but now found a popular expression in the Tea Party and Trump. Right populism found a threat in foreign outsiders in trade and immigration. 

Left populism found expression in Bernie Sanders and now others. It rejects ethno-nationalism and authoritarianism, but it locates a different enemy, a system rigged for the benefit of "millionaires and billionaires" against the average American.

Klobuchar, in Sioux City, Iowa
Right populism is comfortable with executive rule breaking on behalf of "the people" for whom Trump governs. Left populism is comfortable with progressive wealth redistribution: Warren's 2% wealth tax; Andrew Yang's $1,000/month citizen dividend. 

Populism is winning, but is victory is not complete. Many GOP officeholders are still old school. Trump overwhelmed them in 2016 but they are still there. Mitt Romney is uncomfortable with Trump from a new, safe Senate seat. Paul Ryan is uncomfortable, from his place on the Fox Board of Directors. Republicans in government are uncomfortable, condemned as Deep State traitors by Trump, but they remain.

Joe Biden represents the Democratic old school, a now-injured spokesperson. Barrack Obama also represents it, but is off stage. Democrats have people on deck to replace him: Klobuchar, Booker, Bullock, Bennet, Buttigieg, O'Rourke. They have potential to split the difference between old and new, between old school liberal democracy and left populism because they are new faces, younger, and have not been locked into now-unacceptable positions by past votes. 

Booker, in Nashua, NH
If there is a middle ground, it comes from those second tier Democrats who are waiting for Biden to collapse.

There may not be middle ground. This may be an era of populism and populism only, right or left

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Bernie Sanders leads among college students

Young people will decide the nominee and the general election victor--if they show up.

Fully 30% of College Students choose Bernie Sanders. 

Sanders' support among college students will not be a surprise to readers. But the weekly poll of 1500 students by a college tracking company shows some trends:
     1. Bernie Sanders was an early favorite, and he has essentially maintained his support while other candidates have surged or fallen.

     2. Elizabeth Warren is gaining momentum and has support from 25% of college students, up from near zero.

     3. Joe Biden and Beto O'Rourke have dropped in support.

     4. Pete Buttigieg started strong with about 10% support, and has held but not grown it.

     5. Andrew Yang has grown from near zero to 10%.

     6. The other candidates are mired near zero with little trend.

Below: Sanders, Warren, then everyone else:

Young adults are the primary demographic for field staff for campaigns. They organize and recruit people in the early Iowa caucus and staff the field offices for canvasing, phone volunteers, and get out the vote in New Hampshire. They are the most active demographic on social media.

There are 4 million new 18-year-olds every year. This has the potential to change every election calculation.

There are 16 million new voters since 2016. Meanwhile, 2.8 million people die every year, mostly people over age 65. The 2016 election turned on fewer than 100,000 votes in three states. 

Young people support Democrats 2 to 1. Tufts University's Center for Information and Research has polled young voters since 1992. Young people had split approximately evenly between Democrats and Republicans, but in the Trump era the Democratic edge widened significantly. 

 Click: Tufts, historic margin

Historically, youth have punched well below their weight when it came to actual elections. In 2014 voters 18 to 29 turned out at only a 21% rate.
Click: Tufts--youth share in midterms

In 2018 the youth vote, defined as 18-29, surged to 36% turnout, the largest percentage increase of any group. Still, this is dwarfed by turnout among older voters, age 65+ who turned out at 66%, up from 59% in 2014.

The youngest Americans turn out the least. Nationally, the 18 and 19 year olds turned out at 23%, although in some states more than others. The lowest turnouts for those young voters are in the reddest states, with 13% turning out in Oklahoma and 15% in Idaho and West Virginia. Blue states with easy ballot access like Oregon had 33% turnout. Swing states varied: Minnesota had 37%, Michigan 28, Virginia 29, Pennsylvania only 22%.

Click: Interactive map

Youth in revolt against an intolerable status quo. Political activists write this blog to say a movement is underway, that young people are motivated, engaged, and very progressive. 

Active Facebook sites make an age-based argument for profound change, not "incrementalism" or centrism. Boomers, they say, had their turn, messed things up, and are comfortable with the pollution they caused, the debt they created, and the financial burdens they have put onto young people, with low wages, high cost of college, high cost of home ownership, and health care for seniors but not them.

They want Bernie Sanders, the first and authentic Socialist, who is fighting for the interests of young people and justice more generally.

The young have the potential power to decide the 2020 election. The general election will most likely be decided by people in swing states with margins that are a fraction of the number of young voters who are replacing old ones. 

The young skew Democratic. They skew "progressive." They could do this.

Historically, they haven't shown up. 2020 might be different.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Warren: Powerful enemies on Wall Street

Sometimes the best thing to have is the right enemy.

CNBC's Jim Cramer: "Wall Street is terrified of Elizabeth Warren!"

Net positive for Warren.

Elizabeth Warren has tasks to accomplish to get to the White House. 

First, she has to edge out Bernie Sanders as the genuine electable progressive. Sanders has exactly what a candidate needs in a multi-candidate primary: rock solid supporters. "Bernie or Bust," they write. The social media chatter describes Biden obviously hopelessly bad, so their worst criticism is of Warren, which is strategically reasonable. She is the progressive alternative. She used to be a Republican, they say. She isn't genuine, they say. She comes across as "professional" and "elite" vs. Bernie who comes across as rumpled and working class. They describe Warren as Hillary 2.0.
Warren pays a price for her positions.

She is not Hillary, but that is task number one for Warren: prove she isn't to the Democratic activist left.

Second, she has to deal with that professional class vs. working class problem she has. Democrats under Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Barrack Obama, and Hillary Clinton leaned the party toward the educated middle class--white collar--and away from blue collar. Toward office jobs and away from outside work. Toward women and away from men. Toward cities and away from country. Toward wine and away from beer.

Warren still has a little scent of elitism on her.

Warren's backstory of Oklahoma poverty combined with Robin Hood plans to tax the rich and provide free day care, health care, and education for everyone are her ways to demonstrate that she wants to help working Americans. But criticism from the Bernie progressive left makes that task harder. She isn't Hillary, but she isn't Bernie, either. She wasn't on the strike lines in 1965. She didn't honeymoon in Moscow.
Wall Street opposition: "Terrified."

Third, she needs to look like she can match up well against Trump. She matches up well for California, Massachusetts, and New York. She is Democrat to his Republican, female to his male, energetic and kinetic to his hefty sluggishness, pro immigrant and inclusion to his fortress America.

But can she win Upper Midwest swing states? Yes, with Wall Street's help, in the form of their opposition.

Enemies are credible. Friends are convenient to fake because their friendship is a benefit. Enemies are proof that one is paying a price for a position. 

We define people in part by who they dislike and who dislikes them. Trump does this,  inserting Maxine Walters--perceived by his base as an uppity black woman--in his tweets as someone he disdains and mocks. He mocks and condemn Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He is still running against Hillary. Look who hates me, he brags.  

Warren talks about the rigged system and corruption in business and government. She talks about breaking up the too big to fail banks and ending private health insurance.

She deserves to have enemies. She will raise the taxes on hedge fun billionaires and make life harder for bankers and miserable for health insurers and drug companies. If she gets what she wants she will cost them money.

"Stop Wall Street Looting" lays down gauntlet.
She has them, good demonstrable proof she represents a change in direction for Democrats. Democrats participated and encouraged the trend toward "financialization" of the American economy. More of the American economy involves managing capital allocation and risk, and less involves producing physical things. It means that banks, brokerages, insurance companies and energy traders have prospered while farms, factories, mines, forests, and energy producers have struggled.

The trend reflects the blue state/red state divide. Democrats get the big cities with office towers of capital allocators; Republicans get rural America and the factories.

Warren represents a change away from the institutions of financialization and back toward the interests of working Americans. The fact that she is a Democrat who is not Donald Trump puts her in good position to win the states Hillary won. The fact that she has the credibility of powerful enemies may win back the Upper Midwest.

The best headline she could hope for is the one saying Wall Street will vote for Trump, not Warren, and she is getting it.

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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Biden is collateral damage

    "Out, damned spot! Out, I say! Here's the smell of blood, still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand."

             Lady MacBeth 


“Trump’s lost it and he’s terrified of Biden, and Biden’s not going to take any of his guff at all. This is actually good for Joe Biden. It puts him right at the forefront.”

                    Terry McAullife, (D) former Virginia Governor

Who is right?  Lady MacBeth or Terry McAullife?  

Answer: Lady MacBeth.

The Trump defense is working. It isn't about him. It is about Joe Biden.

The 2020 election will be a matchup, a comparison between two candidates. Theoretically, and traditionally, a re-election campaign is a referendum on the incumbent. That is part of why the Approve-Disapprove polling has been going on for decades. It was a good test of something important.

Not in 2020. Trump defines himself by his enemies. He has perfected "What-about-ism." Every criticism of him becomes an attack on the accuser. We see it happening right now. Trump is saying Biden. Look at Biden. What Biden did is treason. Biden asked that a prosecutor be fired. Biden. Investigate Hunter and Joe Biden.

Even when Trump is under the gun of impeachment for having pressed Ukraine to investigate Biden, Trump is relentless. This is all really about Biden, so investigate Biden, Trump says.

The non-Fox media has learned from 2016 the problem of treating false allegations as he-said/she-said. The news stories now include prominently that Trump's charge is groundless, that it has been investigated and found false.  No matter. The subject is the conclusion. Trump has Fox, talk radio, 70 million Twitter followers, GOP allies, and the status as President saying it is true, and the other media saying it isn't true. What is important is that it is being said. 

Biden. Biden. Biden. Biden.

Biden made an un-forced error. His son got a big payday from a Ukraine company. That is real. It is the equivalent of Hillary Clinton's speeches to Goldman, Sachs. Not illegal but awesomely stupid and short sighted. The Hillary speeches were a symbol of connection to what Trump--and voters--see as a corrupt system. The speeches documented that Hillary was somehow corrupt. The fact that Trump is demonstrated to be corruptly colluding with Ukraine is irrelevant. What-about-Biden? There is an equivalency, and Trump is far better at accusing.

The job held by Hunter Biden is not illegal nor unusual. There is a revolving door of government service leading to jobs as lobbyists and directors of companies. Air Force generals retire and go to work for Lockheed. Congresspeople and Senators leave office and cash in. Aides to committees and Senators put in a few years, get know-how and know-who, then cash in, working for a lobbyist or the National Association of __.  

It is a piece of the swamp. Voters don't like it, and for good reason. The Ukraine company wanted Hunter Biden on the payroll because of the connections and credibility he lent as the son of the Vice President.

Hunter Biden's deal looks weird. Regular Americans who go to work every day don't have children who get paid $50,000 a month unless they have some special skill. Hunter Biden's special skill is that his father is VP.

Bad. Very bad.

And that is Biden's problem--a problem Bernie Sanders does not have and that Elizabeth Warren is trying to shed. Biden is a lifer in politics, and never got rich doing it, but he raises money from the swamp and a member of the family got into the swamp.

It isn't the corpse of Duncan, but it is a spot of blood.

Trump versus The Democrat will play out on several lines of comparison:
   ***Republican vs. Democrat.
   ***Trump vs. Anyone But Trump.
   ***Trump the anti-immigrant vs. Democrat welcoming immigrants.
   ***Trump the corrupt rule breaker vs. the non-corrupt Democrat

It is that last one that is going to push Biden out of the race. Biden has swamp mud splashed onto him. 

I predict Biden will be shortly eclipsed by Warren and possibly Sanders, and his exit will make an opportunity open for Harris, Buttigieg, Booker, or Klobuchar. 

Possibly Biden will stay in the race until he is defeated in Iowa or New Hampshire, which would be a dis-service to Democrats. Harris, Buttigieg, Booker, Klobuchar or someone else need time in the bright daylight without Biden to get known, get vetted, to show they can stand the heat. With Biden in the race they may not survive until New Hampshire in February. If they stay as understudies too long their reputation is that of understudy, not nominee, which diminishes them.

Biden is toast, but he may not believe it.

The media learned to call Trump's distraction "not merited" but it does no good. Biden is in the headline. That is enough. Denials just spread the spot.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Does Greta inspire or turn people off?

"You have stolen our future."

     "I should be back in school, on the other side of the ocean. You come to us young people for hope. How dare you!  

                      Greta Thunberg

She does both.

Greta has burst into public consciousness right in the middle of another Trump tornado. Readers and the media are juggling Ukraine impeachment and youth environmental activism at the same time.

Greta speaks with moral clarity. Adults are destroying her future, she said, by damaging the planet and not caring enough about it to change. You are stealing our future, she says. 

She accuses and points her finger.

She is young and looks younger than her years. As an archetype character on the public stage, she represents that amorphous unknown future that floats in the minds of adults of an age to be thinking about legacy. She also appeals to the protective instincts humans bring to infants, puppies, and the vulnerable. She is adorable, when she looks vulnerable.

Americans--maybe all humans--have a special set of learned, curated attitudes and emotions when it comes to young women. They represent purity, truth, and the future. Shirley Temple had that going for her. As did Anne Frank, Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, Joan of Arc, Cassandra, Shakespeare's Portia, and the Virgin Mary. 

Respectful truth-teller
Young women represent something: purity and truth telling.

And yet, respect for ones elders is a deeply held moral virtue, widely observed and felt. Greta disturbs the social order in a profound way. She isn't just a truth teller. She is an accuser.

She is not honoring her societal "father and mother." In the correct traditional social order, children obey their parents, school children listen to their teachers. Children are taught the polite form of address for dealing with people who are older, of higher status, and some languages embed polite forms into words and suffixes.

Greta is scolding adults. You should be ashamed, she says. She is a victim, but she is morally right and adults are morally wrong.

There is a bitter-sweet element to Greta. She looks so sweet and vulnerable yet her condemnation is so harsh. 

The condemnation turns some people off, and people who like what she says may be blind to this. Democrats have wondered why Trump would be so foolish as to mock her. The answer is that it was good politics for his base. 

Liberals and conservatives are different in their moral values. Liberals understand and feel the moral value of fairness and kindness. It is morally wrong to be unfair or cruel.  Conservatives share those values, but add others: respect for authority, loyalty to the home team, and the sacredness of traditional symbols. Greta doesn't represent truth-telling to social conservatives in Trump's base. She represents to them an out of control spoiled and entitled child, yet another liberal calling normal people deplorable. Trump is defending his base and the social order by mocking her.

Greta pleases liberals, in asserting the need to be fair to the next generation. She offends conservatives by her display of disrespect.

The two American political tribes see her differently.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

John Kasich rant: Stop Trump

      “The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, with largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place and largely the fact that we don’t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine."

Donald Trump, verbatim, on Sunday

"If we don't deal with this, we become like a banana republic. And where are the Republicans?"

       John Kasich, Republican, former governor of Ohio

John Kasich has the sound of outrage down pat. He is on the outside at CNN, looking in, telling GOP officeholders what to do.

Step up, he tells Republicans. 

Actually, he should step up.

Click: two minute uninterrupted rant by Kasich
Donald Trump is flagrantly disobeying the Whistleblower statute which unambiguously directs the Inspector General to turn over to Congress what the whistleblower said.

Trump is saying no.

If what is reported and rumored is true, and as Trump publicly admitted, then Donald Trump held up a military appropriation to Ukraine as an inducement to interfere with the US election by starting an investigation of Joe Biden. 

The testimony of the whistleblower would clarify if this is true. The transcript of the phone call would likely provide direct evidence. It is available, right there. Donald Trump says they cannot have the evidence.

Trump says he didn't use taxpayer money to demand interference in the election--trust him--but it would have been all right if he had:

"I don’t even want to mention it, but certainly I’d have the right to”

One good way to make clear that Trump's behavior is outside the bounds of legal, ethical, presidential behavior is for a major Republican candidate to emerge, now. 

     ***That would make it a matter of principle and law, not a matter of partisanship
     ***That might re-claim the Republican Party as heir to Reagan, not Trump.
     ***That might embolden Republican officeholders looking for leadership by someone with a big microphone and audience.
     ***That might set the stage for that candidate to be elected president, most likely in 2024.

So far three not-real candidates have stepped up to challenge Trump. Mark Sandford, Joe Walsh, and William Weld. None are plausible. 

John Kasich is. Kasich is a Republican in the tradition of Ronald Reagan and both Presidents Bush, who won election. He represents kinder, gentler conservatism of a Party that cares about fiscal responsibility, about the morality of presidents, about the rule of law. It was the party that won a majority of the votes in the early primary states in 2016, when Trump was winning twenty or thirty percent and the other dozen or more Republicans were dividing up the vast majority.
Kasich website.  Us? He is flirting with running.

Kasich represents the pre-Trump Republican Party, the one Trump defeated.  Officeholders are hiding out. Voters are leaderless.

An opportunity has emerged. Trump has exhausted Americans. There is room for a candidate with a message of unity. Support for Biden, of all people, is evidence of this. He is a weak, flawed candidate, but he represents bipartisanship and government that works to address problems. His support shows that that message has traction--but just not this year for either party. Trump has set a fire and Democrats are fixed on dousing it, not side-stepping it. Democrats are trending toward pitting a fighter against a fighter, Sanders or Warren left populism against Trump right populism. 

Whoever is elected in will likely disappoint in the face of gridlock--the inevitable result of how we will have gotten to an election result. Neither Sanders nor Warren have any real chance of getting Medicare for All, nor free college, nor expungement of college debt, nor free day care, nor a wealth tax of 2%. Trump cannot ban abortion, nor end immigration from Latin America, nor book a tremendous victory in a trade war. We have gridlock.

Besides, it is not the nature of Trump, Sanders, or Warren to communicate peace. Their supporters would define bi-partisanship as failure, as selling out. 

That leaves a lane open, for 2024 in the face of the upcoming disappointment. Kasich could be the Republican who kept his head, who stood up against nihilistic populism and the mood of tear everything down. 

He will lose in 2020 so he could win in 2024--if he sets the stage now. 

Monday, September 23, 2019

Another voice: Medicare for all who want it.

Facebook comment regarding my blog post

Heads up to supporters of Medicare for All. There is a potential generation gap.

Seniors like Medicare. For some, even progressive liberals, "Medicare for All" raises concerns of continuity of care and political viability. 

An Elizabeth Warren supporter comments.

Alan Weisbard is a college classmate, as was the author of yesterday's Guest Post. We are all about 70. Alan supported Bernie Sanders in 2016 and is currently most favorably impressed by Elizabeth Warren. On a left-right political spectrum, I would characterize Alan as "far left but practical, deeply concerned about fairness and justice." 

Alan had a distinguished career as a legal scholar. He retired from the University of Wisconsin as professor of Law, Bioethics, and Jewish Studies. He split his career between the academy and service on a number of bioethics commissions at both federal and state levels. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School and an elected fellow of the Hastings Center.

Alan Weisbard

Alan Weisbard Guest Post

"I agree with Elizabeth Warren that people care about and mostly want to keep their existing health care providers, not so much their insurance plan. 

As many of us know from personal experience, employers can switch insurance carriers and insurance plans can drop providers (or providers can disassociate with plans) more or less at will, consistent with contractual terms. Under Medicare for All, one can reasonably assume a greater, not lesser, degree of continuity with preferred providers. For most people (depending on taxing provisions), the combined tax and premium costs are likely to go down; it is probably impossible to know how much of the previous employer costs for health care will be turned into higher wages for employees. In theory, all of it, but who knows what the real world will bring.

While Peter Lemieux [author of yesterday's guest comment] and I may have some differences in our starting points and analyses, I think we come to the same conclusion on the politics: Warren and Bernie should gently move toward something like Mayor Pete’s Medicare for All who want it, at least as a transitional strategy toward universal participation in some form of single payer system (which might preserve a limited role for highly regulated private insurance, as instrumentalities or supplements to a common core). I would like to see this disappear as a point of difference among Democratic candidates in the coming debates and primaries.

For what it's worth, I wonder if the different Democratic candidates could agree to treat illicit border crossings as misdemeanors rather than felony offenses, and to attend to the legal consequences of that (no separations of families, etc.). I think that achieves most of the goals of “decriminalization”, without using that politically incendiary scare term.

My hope is that some reduction in rhetorical and detailed policy differences would allow the candidates to focus their attacks more on Trump and the Senate Republicans and less on one another."

                                                     _____     _____     _____

I share Alan Weisbard's concerns.

Yesterday a blog comment presumed that I oppose Medicare for All. I don't, but I have concerns that it will be an operational and political disaster. Too much, too disruptive.

1. It re-arranges one sixth of the American economy and I expect screwups.The ACA rollout was a bad first impression of government competence.

2. I like having options so I don't feel stuck with one system. I can move from ATT to Verizon. I can fly United or Alaska.

3. I like progressive taxation but I understand that it has political consequences. Currently the tax rate of essentially 3% on earned income does not create big opposition. But if health care for everyone is paid for by the progressive tax system, then highly paid professionals and the truly wealthy--i.e. the political donor class-- will be paying much more than they do now, and working and middle income people will pay less. 

That is politically defensible, and indeed the intent. But it changes the system. 

Instead of mentally "paying for ones own future health care," one would be paying for health care for everybody, and that powerful donor class will be visibly subsidizing health care of others, including people who make very bad lifestyle choices. Some will be smokers who need cardiac care and alcoholics who need liver transplants. 

They will be the new poster children of Medicare for All, and it willl stick in people's craw. Medicare for All will get strong political pushback that doesn't exist for the current Medicare system.