Just so it’s clear, “Trump’s” 235,000 net job increase for February is a tiny bit LOWER than Obama’s February increases in all but one of the previous five years. (Raw data, here.) Basically just a continuation of the economic success Trump inherited: 76 consecutive months of net private sector job growth . . . now, with February, 77.
The real story is how Trump now accepts the numbers he once derided. (“Don’t believe those phony numbers when you hear four point nine and five percent unemployment, the number’s probably twenty-eight, twenty-nine, as high as thirty-five” — he’s “read as high as 42%.”)
I watched Spicer live as he told the press what Trump, he said, had instructed him to say on this point: the jobs report “may have been phony in the past,” he laughed, “but it’s very real now.” Watch Lawrence O’Donnell put that laugh into context. Of course we shouldn’t take this man seriously. He’s an entertainer! A demagogue! A pathological liar! A national disgrace!* Have fun with it!
And then there’s the health care farce. Paul Krugman rightly calls the Republican bill “so bad it’s awesome.”
But most of the outrage misses the really big picture — just as that same really big picture was largely missed, in reverse, when Obamacare was enacted.
The really big picture is that Obamacare is a major transfer from the wealthy, whose taxes it raised, to everyone else, in the form of health care you can no longer be denied if you develop a pre-existing condition or hit your lifetime cap.
That may be terribly unfair to the wealthy and mega-wealthy, who now pay an extra $380,000 on every $10 million in dividends and capital gains they receive . . . but it goes a long way — to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars — toward providing free preventive care and subsidies to millions of Trump voters who previously could not afford coverage.
The Republican plan cancels that wealth transfer.
There’s been some focus on the paltry $40 million/year tax break it gives insurance executives — Outrage Over $400 Million Tax Break for Insurance Executives Under GOP Obamacare Replacement Plan. But $40 million a year? That’s barely a rounding error.
The real story is repeal of the 3.8% surcharge on dividends and capital gains, saving tens of billions a year for people like the Kochs and the Trumps and the DeVoses and the Wilbur Rosses and the Carl Icahns and the Steve Bannons and the Gary Cohns and the Steve Mnuchins and the current and former partners of Goldman Sachs.
(Most of whom are wonderful. I just don’t think they’ve been overtaxed. Even with the 3.8% Obamacare surcharge, today’s 23.8% top rate on investment income is lower than the 28% top rate in effect when Ronald Reagan left office. And it is well known Ronald Reagan was God.)
So before descending into the weeds*, just ask yourself and your friends this:
Obamacare shifts hundreds of billions from the wealthy and uber-wealthy to help people get health care. Should we reverse that?
The Republicans say . . . yes!
What do you say?
*Obamacare’s weeds include lots of measures designed to bend health care inflation downward over time while improving care. And there’s evidence of some success. (“. . . The Kaiser study shows that average family premiums rose 20% from 2011 to 2016. That rate of increase is actually much lower than the previous five years . . . up 31% from 2006 to 2011 . . . and the five years before that . . . up 63%. . . .“) But Obamacare clearly need improvement — negotiations to lower drug prices, for example — and a sensible bipartisan debate would focus on that.
Quote of the Day
[It would be splendid if someday] economists could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people, on a level with dentists.~John Maynard Keynes
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