Saturday, September 23, 2017
This chart shows the results of a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between September 17th and 19th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,292 registered voters), with a margin of error of 3 points.
Democrats can take heart that they are 6 points ahead of Republicans in the generic vote (39% to 33%). But that is not enough to carry the day in 2018 (and flip control of Congress). There is still a significant 19% who say they are unsure how they would vote, and that 19% could decide the election (if most of them break the same way on election day).
The message Democrats should take from this is twofold.
1. It's not yet time to celebrate, because Trump having low numbers does not insure victory in congressional races.
2. And there's a lot more work needing to be done before November of 2018.
Republicans still want Obamacare repealed and replaced. Some Democrats are now willing to abandon Obamacare and pursue a single-payer system. What do Independents want?
The chart above shows what they want. By a 34 point margin, the Independents want the Republicans to stop trying to repeal Obamacare and concentrate on fixing its problems. And by a 17 point margin, they want Democrats to also concentrate on fixing the problems with Obamacare.
The two parties need to pay attention to what Independents want. Neither party has enough members (i.e., voters) to win in 2018 or 2020 by themselves. Independents will decide the election in those years, and the party that gives Independents what they want will be the party that wins.
I personally think a single-payer system would be best, but that's not going to happen right now. Democrats need to focus their efforts right now on fixing Obamacare.
The chart above is from a new Kaiser Family Foundation survey -- done between September 13th and 18th of a random national sample of 1,179 adults, with a 3 point margin of error (with the margin of error for Independents at 6 points).
It's starting to look like the latest version of Trumpcare (the Graham-Cassidy bill) is in deep trouble. Yesterday, Senator McCain (R-Arizona) came out against the bill. He said:
"I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will (affect) insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full CBO score, which won't be available by the end of the month, we won't have reliable answers to any of those questions."
That means only one more Republican "no" vote will kill the bill, and Senator Collins (R-Maine) has said she is leaning toward voting against the bill. Sen. Murkowski (R-Alaska) has not said how she would vote, but she voted against the last version of Trumpcare and many expect her to vote against this bill also.
This is probably a good thing for Republicans, even though they are unlikely to admit it. As the chart above shows, the public is against the bill -- with only 24% supporting it and 50% opposing it. And every demographic group (except Republicans) has significantly more opposing the bill than supporting it.
The chart reflects the results of a new Public Policy Polling survey -- done on September 20th and 21st of a random national sample of 638 registered voters.
The ABC News / Washington Post Poll (done between September 18th and 21st of a random national sample of 1,002 adults, with a 3.5 point margin of error) asked the question in a different way -- Which do you prefer, Obamacare or Trumpcare (Graham-Cassidy)? The respondents chose Obamacare 56% to 33%.
Doctors, Hospitals, AARP, insurance companies, and a host of medical societies have all come out against the latest version of Trumpcare (the Graham-Cassidy bill) in the Senate. Now the NAMD, representing Medicaid directors in all 50 states, has joined in that opposition. Here is part of an article by Jessie Hellmann in The Hill:
Friday, September 22, 2017
There's an old saying that a man can let people think he's a fool, or speak and remove any doubt. A couple of days ago, Donald Trump spoke to the United Nations -- and removed any doubt that he's a complete and utter fool.
There were a lot of foolish things he said -- from threatening war with several countries to telling the U.N. he would always put the U.S. first (regardless of how that might affect the rest of the world). But perhaps the stupidest thing he talked about was the Iranian Agreement.
He said it was a bad agreement because the United States got nothing from the agreement -- an agreement that benefitted only Iran. And he gave the countries of the world the distinct impression that he was going to rescind that agreement. That simply makes no sense.
What was the most important thing the United States wanted from the agreement with Iran? Wasn't it to stop Iran from trying to develop a nuclear weapon? That was not only accomplished, but Iran also agreed to let international inspectors check to make sure they are complying with the agreement -- and even the U.S. government admits that they have been complying. That sounds to me like the United States (and other countries) got exactly what they wanted from the agreement.
White House aides are now saying that Trump is either getting ready to ask Congress to rescind the agreement, or ask our allies to re-nogiate the agreement (and re-institute sanctions to try and force Iran to comply).
The latter is simply not going to happen. Iran has said it will not re-nogiate the agreement, and our European allies don't want that either. As long as Iran complies with the agreement (as it is currently doing), our allies will not try to re-nogiate it or put any sanctions back on Iran.
That means the U.S. will be acting unilaterally if they rescind the agreement. And it will accomplish only one thing -- to show the world that the United States cannot be trusted to keep it's word. It will make it much harder for the United States to make any kind of agreement or treaty in the future -- because other countries could not be sure the U.S. would abide by it (especially while Trump is in the White House).
In displaying his ignorance and incompetence to the U.N., Trump has made the world a much more dangerous place -- because the country once the leader of the free world (U.S.) can no longer be trusted.
This chart reflects the results of a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between September 17th and 19th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,292 registered voters), with a margin of error of 3 points.
It shows that only 30% of Americans think Donald Trump is honest and trustworthy, while a majority of 51% say he is NOT honest and trustworthy -- a negative gap of 21 points. And every single demographic group has more people believing he is dishonest than honest.
This chart is from the Gallup Poll -- with the latest survey being done between September 6th and 10th of a random national sample of 1,022 adults, with a 4 point margin of error. It shows a significant majority of Americans (68%) trusts the judicial branch of our government. The executive (45%) and legislative (35%) branches don't fare so well -- with both garnering only the trust of a minority of Americans.
The image above is no surprise. Everyone but the rich and Republicans oppose the Senate GOP's latest effort to repeal Obamacare (the Graham-Cassidy Trumpcare plan). Now even the private insurance companies are coming out against the plan. Here is a small part of an article by Robert Pear in the New York Times:
The health insurance industry, after cautiously watching Republican health care efforts for months, came out forcefully on Wednesday against the Senate’s latest bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, suggesting that its state-by-state block grants could create health care chaos in the short term and a Balkanized, uncertain insurance market.
In the face of the industry opposition, Senate Republican leaders nevertheless said they would push for a showdown vote next week on the legislation, drafted by Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. . . .
The two major trade groups for insurers, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans, announced their opposition on Wednesday to the Graham-Cassidy bill. They joined other groups fighting the bill, such as the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, AARP and the lobbying arm of the American Cancer Society.
“The bill contains provisions that would allow states to waive key consumer protections, as well as undermine safeguards for those with pre-existing medical conditions,’’ said Scott P. Serota, the president and chief executive of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. “The legislation reduces funding for many states significantly and would increase uncertainty in the marketplace, making coverage more expensive and jeopardizing Americans’ choice of health plans.”
America’s Health Insurance Plans was even more pointed. The legislation could hurt patients by “further destabilizing the individual market” and could potentially allow “government-controlled single payer health care to grow,” said Marilyn B. Tavenner, the president and chief executive of the association. Without controls, some states could simply eliminate private insurance, she warned.
Insurers had been reluctant to speak out against the Republicans’ previous proposals in hopes that the White House and Congress would agree to stabilize insurance markets by providing critical funding for subsidies aimed at low-income Americans. But with hopes of securing that money before they finalize their rates virtually extinguished, insurers have less to lose by coming out against the proposal.
And many within the industry are worried that the next two years will be chaotic, with little support for the current market while states scramble to come up with a new way for individuals to buy policies.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
The two political parties seem to both want to become more extreme in their views. Many Democrats want their party to move further to the left, and many Republicans want their party to move further to the right. Both seem to think that is the way to appeal to the American voter. They both could easily be wrong.
If these polls are correct (and there's no reason to believe they're not), then a plurality of voters already see both political parties as too extreme. In the Morning Consult Poll, about 43% see the Democratic Party as being too liberal. And an equal 43% see the Republican Party as being too conservative.
The results of the new YouGov Poll is similar -- with 37% viewing the Democrats as too liberal and 36% viewing the Republicans as too conservative.
This leaves many voters in a quandary -- which party do they vote for, since they see them both as being too extreme? We know that most Democrats will vote for their own party, and most Republicans will vote for their own party. But neither has enough members to carry the 2018 election. That election, like most elections in this country, will be determined by Independents (most of whom are moderates).
I know my progressive brothers and sisters will not like this, but those Independents will mostly go for the party they see as the more moderate party. If the Democrats want to win in 2018, just being against Trump is not going to be enough. They must be viewed as the moderate alternative to extremist Republicans. And winning is the only thing that matters.
The Politico / Morning Consult Poll was done between September 14th and 17th of a random national sample of 1,994 registered voters, with a 2 point margin of error.
The Economist / YouGov Poll was done between September 17th and 19th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,292 registered voters), with a 3 point margin of error.
A couple of days ago, I brought you the results of a recent Rasmussen Poll showing that a plurality of Americans (48%) would support a single-payer health insurance system, while 36% would oppose it and 16% are unsure about it. Now two new polls have been released on the question, and both also show pluralities supporting single-payer.
The Politico / Morning Consult Poll was done between September 14th and 17th of a random national sample of 1,994 registered voters, with a margin of error of 2 points. It shows 49% support it, while 35% oppose it and 17% are unsure.
The Economist / YouGov Poll was done between September 17th and 19th of a random national sample of 1,292 registered voters, with a 3.1 point margin of error. It shows 40% support and 29% opposition, with 31% being unsure.
While it is gratifying that support is growing in the U.S. for a single-payer system, and now a plurality support the concept -- that is not sufficient for Congress to seriously consider it.
We know their will be no single-payer system passed while the Republicans control Congress (and likely won't even be a vote on it). Republicans don't believe decent health care is a right of all citizens. They consider it just a product to be purchased by those who have the money to buy it.
So the first thing that must happen is to flip Congress to control by the Democrats. Until that happens, single-payer will just remain an unattainable dream. But even that will not be enough. The problem is the unsure voters -- 16% in Rasmussen, 17% in Morning Consult, and 31% in YouGov. The Democratic politicians will be afraid those unsure voters will decide a single-payer system went too far -- and punish them at the polls the same way they did after the passage of Obamacare.
Single-payer will only happen when a clear and significant majority ask for single-payer (probably at least 60%). Public opinion is moving in the right direction, but much more remains to be done.
The chart above reflects the results from the Economist / YouGov Poll. It is a weekly poll, and I went back to show how the country feels about Trump and war. By picking up the poll every two weeks, it is clear that a majority of the public, since Trump was sworn in, believes Trump will get us into a new war --either out of ignorance or because he thinks a war will make him more popular.
Currently, about 57% of the population thinks it is likely Trump will get us into a new war, while only 25% thinks that is unlikely. And after Trump bombastic speech to the United Nations, that 57% could well be right.
Trump threatened to completely destroy North Korea and wants to withdraw from the Iranian treaty (which they are abiding by). Both of those threats make the world a more dangerous place. Hopefully, the Pentagon and the State Department can talk him out of war with either of those nations -- wars that would kill hundreds of thousands of people, and have little likelihood of success.
But he also threatened "action" against a third nation -- Venezuela. He would have you believe that Venezuela is ruled by a tyrant who opposes democracy. That is simply not true. Venezuela's president was elected in a democratic election, and he actually got a significant majority of the votes (unlike Trump himself). The truth is that Trump (and other American presidents) are unhappy with Venezuela because they kicked out American corporations and nationalized their natural resources (oil).
Trump has already made it clear that he represents corporations -- not the American people. And I'm afraid he could decide that Venezuela would be the best place to have a war -- thinking it would be an easier target than North Korea or Iran, and would allow him to put a right-wing government in power there (that would welcome back American corporations. I hope I'm wrong, but I think the likeliest place for a Trump war is Venezuela (even though they pose no danger to this country).
I think Trump is itching to wage war somewhere. Am I right? What do you think?
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
The zombie Republican "health care" bill has come back again. I put it in quotation marks because it's not really a health care bill at all. It's just another attempt to cut spending so huge tax cuts can be given to the rich and the corporations (the only entities the congressional Republicans care about).
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) hasn't scored the bill yet, but it doesn't take a genius to see it would take health insurance away from millions of American citizens. In fact, it's even worse than the other really bad plans the Senate Republicans came up with, because it just turns health care over to the states.
If you have any doubts about whether this is a bad bill or not, just look at those who have already come out against it:
AMA (American Medical Association)
AARP (American Association of Retired Persons)
NCBH (National Council for Behavioral Health)
American Diabetes Association
American Heart Association
American Lung Association
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation)
Lutheran Services in America
March of Dimes
National Health Council
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
National Organization for Rare Diseases
Volunteers of America
And the governors of 10 states:
And I'm sure this list will grow much larger before the bill is voted on. This is a really bad bill, and it will hurt many millions of Americans. It must be defeated.
The national minimum wage in the United States is $7.25 an hour ($15,080 a year). The Republicans will tell you that is enough, and the minimum wage does not need to be raised, because that wage is only paid to teenagers working part-time (and living with their parents). In fact, some congressional Republicans want to eliminate the minimum wage and let employers pay even less than the $7.25 an hour.
THEY ARE LYING! The truth is that a significant majority of minimum wage workers are adults who are trying to support a family -- and that minimum wage is forcing them to live in poverty (even though they work hard at a full-time job). Further, nearly 25% of the American workforce works for the minimum wage, or very close to it. These workers work as hard as anyone in this country, but they are abused by their employers -- and the congressional Republicans think there's nothing wrong with that.
The chart above (found at the Huffington Post) shows how much hourly income would be required to rent a decent 2 bedroom apartment in each state. Note that a minimum wage income would not be sufficient for that in any of the 50 states. To have enough income left over for other expenses, it is recommended that only 30% of income be spent on rent -- but a minimum wage worker would have to spend far more than that.
And it doesn't get any better when other expenses are considered. A minimum wage worker must spend far too high a percentage of their income for all of them (clothing, transportation, food, etc.). And we know that the minimum wage has about 35% less buying power than it did in 1968 (meaning a minimum wage worker can only purchase 65% of what that same worker could purchase in 1968).
This is unacceptable. No one who is willing to work hard at a full-time job should have to live in poverty. The minimum wage clearly needs to be raised to a livable level.
The chart above, from the Economic Policy Institute, shows the percentage rise in income in each of the 50 states. Here is what David Cooper and Julia Wolfe at EPI had to say about the income rising:
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
I have been a Democrat for a long time now, and I'm proud of that. But there is an element in the party right now that wants to limit who can be a Democrat -- and what kind of candidate can run on the party's ticket. I think that's a big mistake.
The party has always been the "big tent" party. It encompasses progressives, liberals, moderates, and yes, even some conservatives. That makes for some lively discussions and arguments in party circles and conventions. But that is a good thing. Democrats are thinking people, and thinking people will disagree from time to time. It is through these discussions and arguments that the party develops its agenda -- hopefully one that a majority of Americans can agree with and support at the ballot box.
Like tha cartoon above, some today think there is only one way for the party to progress and win -- to agree with them. They say they won't support a Democratic candidate that doesn't agree with their views. I think that's a recipe for defeat.
I am a progressive, and I wish the public would agree with me on everything. But I am also a realist, and I know that's not going to happen. Most voters are moderates. They want progress, but they want to do it in small steps -- making sure this step works before taking another. Those, on both the left and right who want drastic change, are not going to appeal to most voters. That is just a fact of American politics. And a party that embraces extremism is going to chase away voters.
It is silly to say you can't support a Democrat who doesn't agree with you on everything. Frankly, I've never found a candidate who I agree with on everything. I supported Obama in 2008 and 2012, but there were things I disagreed with him about. I supported Clinton in 2016, but I disagreed with her about some things. There is no "perfect" candidate. But I do know this -- any Democrat on the ballot, whether liberal, moderate, or conservative is better for this country than any Republican on the ballot.
I will be voting for every Democrat on the ballot in 2018 and 2020, and I will apply no "purity test" on them. If we want to win (and I believe we must win in 2018 and 2020 for the good of this country), then we must be the big tent party -- the party that reaches out to all voters (and not just those who agree with us).
Over the years, I have argued with moderates and conservatives in the party. But I don't condemn them. That's because I know they will do as I do, and mark their ballot for Democrats (even those they don't completely agree with). Like me, they are good Democrats and the party is better for having them as members.
With Trump in the White House and Congress controlled by Republicans, it has never been more important for Democrats to stick together. Don't give up your views, but once candidates are chosen to represent the party, vote for them -- all of them.
The chart above represents the public's current feeling about a single-payer health care system (Medicare for All). It is from a new Rasmussen Poll -- done on September 12th and 13th of a random national sample of 1,000 likely voters, with a margin of error of 3 points.
It is both good news and bad news. The good news is that support for a single-payer health care system is growing, and now encompasses nearly half of the population (48%). The bad news is that 48% support is not enough to convince most of our politicians to pursue a path to single-payer.
I think it will take at least 60% to get Congress to take single-payer seriously. That means there is still a lot of work to be done by supporters of the concept.
The charts above are from a new Gallup Poll -- done between September 6th and 10th of a random national sample of 1,022 adults, with a margin of error of 4 points.
It shows that about 71% of the public is not satisfied with how this country is being governed, while only 28% are satisfied. The second and third charts give us a clue as to why they are dissatisfied. They don't approve of the job either Congress or the president is doing.