Associated Press reporter James Anderson explains why “Strong health sign-ups under Obamacare encourage Democrats” at abcnews.com: “Both parties are paying attention, especially after a better-than-expected enrollment season under the health care law. Democrats especially have used health care to go on the attack, and the issue is coming up in congressional races in California, Colorado, Michigan, Washington and elsewhere. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Friday found health care as the top issue voters want congressional candidates to address…Enrollment was especially robust in many of the states that operate their own insurance marketplaces, where enrollment periods were longer than on the federal exchange and promotional budgets were beefed up. Strong sign-ups came despite Republican attacks against the law and President Donald Trump’s administration taking several steps to undermine it, including cutting the federal sign-up period in half and slashing advertising…California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Maryland, New York, Vermont and other states with their own exchanges saw enrollment approach or surpass 2017 levels. Minnesota’s health insurance exchange set a record for private plans with an enrollment period that was more than two weeks shorter than in 2017.”
At The American Prospect Longform, Jacob S. Hacker makes the case for “Medicare Part E,” and observes, “Medicare Part E would cover the broad range of benefits covered by Medicare Parts A (hospital coverage), B (coverage of physicians’ and other bills), and D (drug coverage)…The central feature of Medicare Part E is guaranteed insurance. All Americans would be presumed to be covered. They would not need to go through complicated eligibility processes or hunt down coverage that qualified for public support or even re-enroll on an annual basis. Once someone was in Part E, they would remain in Part E unless and until they were enrolled in a qualified alternative—whether an employment-based health plan with good benefits or a high-quality state Medicaid program…Thus, the centerpiece of Medicare Part E is the same as that of single-payer: a guarantee that Medicare is there for everyone. Unlike single-payer, however, Medicare Part E seeks to improve employers’ role rather than replace it. It does so by establishing new standards for employment-based plans and requiring that all employers contribute to Medicare if they do not provide insurance directly to their employees.”
In his post, “As State of the Union nears, is America great again for the working class? Donald Trump has painted himself a champion of workers, and will probably do so again next week. But the record tells a different story,” Dominic Rushe takes a look at the Trump/Republican’s deregulation strategy, which includes: “The Outdoor Recreation Enhancement Act, which would block requirements that federal government contractors at national parks pay workers $10.10 an hour, overtime and sick pay…The Future Logging Careers Act, which will expand the use of child labour in the forestry industry so that 16- and 17 year-olds can work in logging under adult supervision…The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering a rollback of a 2015 rule that banned children under 18 from working with toxic pesticides...Last March, Trump revoked Barack Obama’s 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplacesexecutive order, which barred companies from federal contracts if they had a history of violating safety, workplace harassment or wage theft laws.”
“…We can split Trump’s base if we take on fights that will improve the lives of people who are struggling economically…Over the last ten years, Maine has been pulled to the right, in general. But even while that’s true, we also see a lot of hope, especially when we’ve done these referendums. We’ve won same-day voter registration and a public financing- clean elections systems. We passed the minimum wage, and we passed a tax on the rich for education. We just won Medicaid expansion. We’ve found that when you talk to people about what they care about and about what’s right and wrong, they can really get that…Take the people in the second Congressional District here in Maine. They have a lot to be angry and upset about. The old mill jobs are gone, and they are struggling economically…It’s not surprising to me that they voted for Trump, but that they would also vote to raise the minimum wage and for Medicaid expansion. And fighting for these kinds of policies tips the hands of the Republicans…forces the Republicans to come out and directly say that they oppose these programs that will help these people who are struggling, even when those people have directly voted in support of those policies. We think that they might expose themselves so badly this year that we have hopes that it could actually mean that we would have a wave election in 2018.” — From editor Harmony Goldberg’s interview of Maine People’s Alliance’s Director Jesse Graham in “Splitting Trump’s Base through a Fight Over Medicaid in Maine” at Organizing Upgrade: Engaging left Organizers in Strategic Dialogue.
WaPo conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin argues, “…Republicans have made their least defensible, their cruelest stance — deport the dreamers — the centerpiece of their immigration approach and one of the key issues in the 2018 midterms. They want to run on a position that 80 percent to 90 percent of voters reject, an issue that will help Democrats drive turnout in places such as Texas, California and Florida. Democrats should be delighted to engage. They can rightly argue that the scare-mongering racist ads about murderers coming over the border have nothing to do with the dreamers; the ads do, however, have everything to do with the nasty strain of xenophobia Trump articulated in his “shithole” remarks. If Democrats cannot use an issue (legalize dreamers) with 80 percent to 90 percent approval to their advantage in a slew of House races, they might want to close up shop…”
Democratic and progressive leaders had some harsh words for the latest Republican DACA/immigration “reform” proposal, as quoted by Daniella Diaz, Jim Acosta, Elizabeth Landers and Tal Kopan at CNN Politics: “Dreamers should not be held hostage to President Trump’s crusade to tear families apart and waste billions of American tax dollars on an ineffective wall,” Sen. Dick Durbin, the Illinois Democrat who has fought for protection for participants in the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, said in a statement…Democratic immigration advocate Eddie Vale, who’s been closely involved in the recent immigration talks, called the White House proposal “a legislative burning cross.” What the White House is filling you in on now is in no way an attempt to get to a real deal,” Vale told CNN, adding that rather it is a way to “get every item on (White House senior adviser) Stephen Miller’s white supremacist wish list.” Frank Sharry, executive director of the immigration advocacy group America’s Voice, said “This is the moment that the hardliners — John Kelly, Stephen Miller, Tom Cotton, Bob Goodlatte, John Cornyn and their outside collaborators — have been waiting and planning for,” he said in a statement. “The hardliners are high-fiving; the Statue of Liberty weeps.”
Democrats interested in leveraging the boom in “resistance” groups should check out Kate Aronoff’s “How To Resist, in 6 Books: Your guide to the guides to the resistance” at In These Times. An excerpt: “Jonathan Matthew Smucker, author of Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals, also wrestles with the Left’s more insular and self-limiting habits. A not-insignificant number of leftists, he argues, have come to fetishize their position as righteous outsiders and have lost faith in the ability to win power at the highest levels. “Do we believe that power will be inspired by our brave acts of eschewing power?” he prods. Instead, he urges the Left to mainstream the movement and embrace power.”
A bit of good news for the labor movement from John Schmitt at the Economic Policy Institute: “Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released data on changes in union membershipfrom 2016 to 2017. It was good news for workers, as the total number of union members grew by 262,000 in 2017. Three-fourths of these gains (198,000) were among workers aged 34 and under, who account for less than 40 percent of total employment.”
A year after Trump’s inauguration, the mere appearance of Hillary Clinton at the Grammys in a skit (see video here) poking gentle fun at Trump by reading an excerpt of “The Fire and the Fury” is enough to get the Tweeter-in-Chief and his munchkins all bent out of shape. This presents a potentially useful tactic for Democrats. It’s SOP when Trump distracts the press and the public from major issues with inane tweets and comments designed to provoke off-topic storms of outrage. Clinton drives Republicans into splenetic rage just by showing up. She can throw Trump and his minions off their game with surprise media appearances. In this way, ‘Clinton derangement syndrome’ can be a useful tool for Dems.