Trump And Ryan Set Out To Make War On The Poor-- Take Wisconsin, For Example
This morning Carol Shea-Porter hosted a roundtable discussion at the Strafford Nutrition Program in Somersworth to highlight what her office called "the devastating harm President Trump’s budget blueprint proposal would cause to New Hampshire communities that rely on programs like Meals on Wheels." Despite Mick Mulvaney's lies on Meet the Press yesterday-- namely that the feds' cut to Meals on Wheels only amounts to 3% of their budget-- the truth is that 35% of Meals On Wheels funding comes from the federal government and the proposed cuts in the Trump budget would be catastrophic. Trump has made it commonplace for public officials-- especially his own-- to lie at will and assume there will be no accountability. Meals on Wheels, however, may be their donnybrook. Every really far right congressmen-- like Pete Sessions in the suburbs north of Dallas-- say they can't go along with Ryan on this one. But on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Ryan this:
Are you comfortable with cutting funding for Meals on Wheels which supplies food-- and seniors depend on it-- to two-and-a-half million elderly Americans?Simple straight forward question that, in light of Trump's budget, had to be asked. Ryan said he wants spending caps because they "make us focus on cutting spending that is wasteful spending" and that started babbling about "waste, fraud and abuse." What the hell is he talking about? Meals on Wheels, which began in Pennsylvania in 1954 and turned into a national program in 1974, delivers meals to individuals at home who are unable to purchase or prepare their own meals-- the housebound elderly poor and handicapped. Research has consistently shown that these meals significantly improve diet quality, increase nutrient intakes, reduce food insecurity and improve quality-of-life among the recipients. The program also reduces government expenditures by reducing the need of recipients to use hospitals, nursing homes or other expensive government-subsidized services. Meals on Wheels provided approximately 218 million meals to 2.5 million Americans, half of whom are veterans, at an annual cost of $2,765 each. Mulvaney's claim that the program is "just not showing any results" is widely rejected by... everyone who isn't part of the Trump Regime.
Over the weekend, the biggest newspaper in Wisconsin-- a state whose 10 electoral college votes Trump won (with alleged vote machine tampering) 1,409,467 (47.9%) to 1,382,210 (46.9%)-- 27,257 votes (1% of the total)-- looked at how TrumpCare would impact Trump voters in rural parts of the state. Former reality TV personality-turned-right-wing congressman, Sean Duffy, was the first member of Wisconsin's congressional delegation to jump on the Trump bandwagon. His sprawling northern district-- WI-07-- was solidly Democratic, the home of Dave Obey, until recently, when the DCCC ceded it to Duffy. In 2014 they refused to support progressive Kelly Westlund and last year they refused to support progressive Mary Hoeft. The district, strong Bernie territory in the primary, is not on any DCCC target lists for 2018, despite the fact that Obama beat McCain there 53-45% and then lost narrowly to Romney 50.9-47.8%. Instead, the DCCC brain surgeons are only looking at Trump's 57.8% to 37.3% win over Clinton. (Bernie would have won the district.) WI-07 was Trump's strongest district in the state-- and the one that will suffer the most if TrumpCare passes. Trump won 50-60 year old Obamacare enrollees in Wisconsin by 15 points-- "and they disproportionately live in rural areas that voted for Trump and are represented by Republicans in Congress."
Take the case of a fairly typical Obamacare enrollee-- a 60-year-old with an income of $30,000.
Nationwide, this man or woman would lose an average of $4,150 per year in health care tax credits and subsidies under the GOP plan, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
But those cuts would vary dramatically from county to county.
In Wisconsin, the cuts would be much smaller in the southwest and south central parts of the state. In Sauk County, for example, a 60-year-old with an income of $30,000 would lose $1,300 in tax credits and subsidies for his or her health care plan compared to current law.
But in some northern and western counties, that assistance would decrease by more than $7,000.
The main reason?
Under Obamacare, the financial aid people get to help them buy their health insurance is more generous in areas where health care costs are higher. Those areas include many rural counties where there are fewer health care providers.
“They’re getting a larger tax credit under the Affordable Care Act. And they would lose out on that under the House bill,” Cynthia Cox, an analyst with Kaiser, said of those areas.
Under the GOP plan, tax credits would not differ from county to county or region to region. There would be no boost in aid for people in places with high health care costs. That’s why those enrollees would see the biggest decline in their tax credits.
And because those areas are disproportionately rural and Republican, that complicates the politics of getting the GOP plan through Congress, where it may be voted on this week.
Republicans are weighing changes in the bill to secure the votes they need from within their own party for final passage, and those changes could include tweaks to the tax credits.
The biggest losses in tax credits in Wisconsin would occur in two mostly rural congressional districts, the northern seat held by Duffy and the western seat held by Democrat Ron Kind.
Duffy’s district has the highest number of Obamacare enrollees in the state (more than 35,000 last year) and Kind’s has the third highest.
Both areas were carried by Trump last fall. They are also the two congressional districts in Wisconsin that saw the biggest swings toward the GOP in 2016.
In both districts, a 60-year-old making $30,000 would lose an average of more than $5,500 a year in health care tax credits under the GOP plan, based on a Journal Sentinel analysis of the Kaiser data.
For older, low-income couples, the loss in tax credits would top $15,000 in parts of both districts.
“When I saw their plan ... I immediately said, ‘This is not going to be good for rural Wisconsin or rural America generally,’ which is ironic, given where (Trump’s) base of support came from,” said Kind, who voted against the GOP plan when it was approved along party lines by the House Ways and Means Committee.
“Without the means to pay for (plans), they won't be able to get covered,” said Kind.
Duffy said Saturday he has concerns about the ability of some older people to purchase a health care plan with the GOP tax credit as it is currently designed.
“The final page hasn’t been written” on the bill, he said. “Maybe we can improve the amount of money that an individual in their 60s gets in regard to their refundable tax credit.”
But Duffy said he did not favor the approach under Obamacare of offering bigger tax credits to people in higher-cost counties (though that has meant more generous subsidies in his rural district). And that view appears to be the prevailing one among House Republicans.
Duffy said that is the kind of government “micromanaging … we’re trying to get away from.”
More broadly, Duffy argued that Obamacare was unpopular in his district and was making health care more costly. He argued the GOP plan would create more competition, lower costs and, as a result, “my communities will get helped far more than what they have under Obamacare.”
While northern and western Wisconsin would see the biggest losses in tax credits under the GOP plan, parts of southern Wisconsin would be hurt a lot less.
The district that would see by far the smallest cuts in tax credits for older enrollees is one that voted heavily against Trump: the seat anchored by Madison and represented by Democrat Mark Pocan.
In Pocan’s district, the average loss in tax credits for a 60-year-old with a $30,000 income would be less than $2,000 a year-- a much smaller reduction than in northern Wisconsin.
And a 40-year-old enrollee in Pocan’s district with the same $30,000 income would actually get more assistance, not less, under the GOP plan, which treats younger and higher-income enrollees more favorably than the current system.
There were roughly 240,000 people enrolled in health plans on the federal marketplace under Obamacare last year in Wisconsin. The analysis in this story is based on just one measure (premium subsidies and tax credits) of how those Obamacare enrollees would fare under the GOP plan.
For example, it does not take into account the loss of cost-sharing subsidies for lower-income enrollees, the impact of Medicaid changes and cutbacks, or the potential of higher premiums for older enrollees.
A recent analysis by the Congressional Budget Office found that the GOP plan would save more than $300 billion over 10 years but would result in an additional 24 million people being uninsured.
You hear a lot of this from Trump voters in the Midwest: "Originally the president said he wasn’t going to do nothing to Medicaid. Now they say he wants to take $880 billion out of Medicaid. That’s going to affect a lot of people who can’t afford to get insurance." That may account for his steadily plummeting favorability ratings-- down at 37% now. The NY Times reported yesterday that "As Republicans in Washington grapple with how to meet their promise of undoing the greatest expansion of health care coverage since the Great Society, they are struggling with what may be an irreconcilable problem: bridging the vast gulf between the expectations of blue-collar voters... who propelled Mr. Trump to the presidency, and longstanding party orthodoxy that it is not the federal government’s role to provide benefits to a wide swath of society. If they push forward the House-drafted health bill, which could come to a vote as early as this coming week, Republicans may honor their vow to repeal what they derided as Obamacare, but also risk doing disproportionate harm to the older, working-class white voters who are increasingly vital to their electoral coalition."
A new Pew Research Center survey indicated that the number of Republicans making below $30,000 a year who believe the federal government has a responsibility to ensure health coverage for all had risen to 52 percent from 31 percent last year. And while just 14 percent of Republicans who make between $30,000 and about $75,000 last year said the government bore responsibility for health care, now 34 percent of such voters do.
“This is a function of Donald Trump engineering a takeover of the Republican Party,” said Whit Ayres, a longtime Republican pollster. “It was takeover more than assimilation, and this is the eminently predictable result.”
But now that it is Mr. Trump’s Republican Party, those who elected him will expect him to fulfill his campaign commitments.
2018 should be a good electoral year for Democrats in Wisconsin-- if only there was no DCCC. The DCCC isn't targeting any Wisconsin GOP-held districts and plausible candidates don't want to run because they don't trust the DCCC not to interfere with their fundraising efforts and undermine their campaigns. So, even with the popular Tammy Baldwin at the top of the ticket, it now looks like Sean Duffy, as well as sociopaths Glenn Grothman, Mike Gallagher and Paul Ryan will all get free tickets to reelection courtesy of Nancy Pelosi and Ben Ray Lujan. well... at least Green Day will be on with Stephen Colbert tomorrow night. And even if no one at the DCCC understands their resistance, normal voters do-- in Wisconsin and everywhere else.