By James A. Kidney What if you needed a doctor and there was none? What if you suspected you had cancer, or suffered a stroke, or had a bad lingering cough, and your doctor could only see you in six or seven weeks? For many, whether you have a good insurance plan or no plan at all, this is the case now. A 2014 study reported the average wait time for an appointment with a family physician was 66 days in Boston, 23 in Seattle, 26 in New York and 19 in Houston. A combination of doctor shortage, overwork and low pay for Medicare and Medicaid patients is driving the growth of “concierge care” in which you pay an annual fee to guarantee you talk to a doctor when you need one. It is creating a multiple-tier system of care in which many physicians reject Medicare patients, or even all … Read more of this post . . .
By James A. Kidney Presidential Rasputin Steve Bannon called for “deconstructing the administrative state” at a convention of those-who-used-to-be-known-as-Reagan-conservatives-but-are-now-just-Trump-nuts Thursday at the new MGM gambling palace in Maryland. “Deconstructing the administrative state” echoes Lenin after a couple bottles of vodka screaming in Red Square, or maybe just a long-haired 19-year-old outside the 1968 Democratic convention. It is both threatening and laughably cracked. The phrase probably is just a word pudding for the old Republican oligarch’s favorite book, A Treasury of Economic Nonsense, a political Kama Sutra coauthored during a fevered coupling of Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman. These are the erotic (to Republicans) positions that cause enthusiastic ejaculations by Paul Ryan – no taxes, no rules, no government, except to buy military equipment and to protect patents. Give Bannon credit for PR. “Deconstructing administrative excess” certainly is gentler sounding than “gutting the government.” Once you are accustomed to the … Read more of this post . . .
By James A. Kidney There is lots of fear, angst and anger about Trump in Congress, in the blogosphere, in op-eds and on “the street” among us little folk. But all of us could exercise a little intelligent strategizing on how to deal with the reality of President Trump in addition to protesting and complaining. Let’s use our economic power. Here is a look at an alternative way to deal with two Trump proposals, one announced and the other circulating in draft, if either becomes policy or law. On these, as well as other proposals, liberal wealth could be used to leverage the right wing agenda to reduce its influence and elevate better ideals of freedom and liberty. One of these proposals is the one Trump announced while pandering to the right wing “Christian” crowd at the annual White House prayer breakfast. Trump said he plans to “destroy” the 64-year-old … Read more of this post . . .
By James A. Kidney Tuesday’s election results — President, Senate and House — freed liberalism from its shackles. The ransom payment is high. In the long run, it may be worth the price. The key is to put aside defeatism and start adopting new tactics now that the Democratic Party elite has been shamed and defeated by a horrible con man and his angry allies. Liberalism — by which I mean a set of political goals recognizing and trying to contain the power of the elite, bringing genuine equality of economic opportunity to those not sharing in the top five percent, and sponsoring a strong foreign policy using force as a last resort — has been treated by the Democratic Party for years as the smelly uncle at the dinner table who talks too much but contributes too little. Hillary Clinton embodied this party sentiment in her campaign, fully endorsed … Read more of this post . . .
By James A. Kidney Now that the major party nominees are chosen, the economic pundits are making their recommendations on how to boost what remains a moribund economy. Despite recent months of reported job increases and a slight uptick in average pay last month, few believe the economy is robust or expected to be so. See also here (pay wall). The reasons — and proposed cures — depend on your politics, of course. Where the Candidates Stand Donald Trump this week proposed the usual failed trickle down policies. He wants tax cuts for the wealthy, including elimination of the estate tax (which effects about 0.2 percent of citizens). He would increase the earned income tax credit, which is a pure redistribution of a little income to the poor which does not create jobs. He would provide only a tax deduction for child care — which means you have to … Read more of this post . . .
By James A. Kidney The New Yorker and Pro Publica websites today posted an article by Pro Publica’s Jesse Eisinger about the de minimis investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission into the conduct of Goldman Sachs in the sale of derivatives based on mortgage-backed securities during the run-up to the Great Recession of 2008. The details of the SEC’s failure to aggressively pursue Goldman in the particular investigation, Abacus, and its refusal to investigate fully misconduct by Goldman and other “Too Big to Fail” banks, stands not only as a historic misstep by the SEC and its Division of Enforcement, but undermines the claim that the Obama Administration has been “tough on Wall Street.” The Pro Publica version contains links to a few of the documents I provided. No one in authority who was involved in the Goldman investigation ever gave me an explanation for why the effort was so slight. … Read more of this post . . .