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What We Read Today 08 March 2017

Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries (and sometimes longer ones) of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.

This feature is published every day late afternoon New York time. For early morning review of headlines see "The Early Bird" published every day in the early am at GEI News (membership not required for access to "The Early Bird".).


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Topics today include:

  • G.O.P. Health Bill Faces Revolt From Conservative Forces

  • Tax Credits Under GOP Health Plan vs. Obamacare

  • Who Wins and Who Loses under Proposed Health Plan

  • Hospitals increasingly try to keep patients away to save money 

  • New IRS Notice Targets Syndicated Conservation Easements

  • The puzzling way Republicans want to replace the individual mandate, explained with a cartoon.

  • White House goes after budget office scoring healthcare bill

  • Poll: Slight majority of American voters say Sessions should resign

  • Poll: Vast majority wants Trump to tweet less

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world


  • G.O.P. Health Bill Faces Revolt From Conservative Forces (The New York Times)  After seven years of waiting longingly to annul President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, Republican leaders on Tuesday faced a sudden revolt from the right that threatened their proposal to remake the American health care system.  The much-anticipated House plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act also drew skepticism from some of the party’s more moderate members, whose constituents have benefited from expanded coverage in recent years.  The criticism came even before lawmakers knew the cost of the replacement plan and how many people might lose their health care if it were enacted.  See also next article and more analysis later, below.

House Republicans were rushing the legislation through two powerful committees — Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce — with the hope of a full House vote next week, an extraordinarily compressed time frame considering that the legislation affects many parts of the United States economy and could alter the health care of millions of Americans.

  • Battle erupts over 'TrumpCare' (The Hill)  A war of words has broken out over the GOP’s ObamaCare replacement bill, with Democrats branding the legislation “TrumpCare” in their attempt to derail it.  The White House is rejecting the term, which Democrats from Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) on down are using to attack the Republican push to repeal large portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Other opponents of the GOP’s healthcare bill are getting in on the labeling act.  Conservatives on Capitol Hill and in the media are dubbing the legislation “ObamaCare 2.0” as they pressure Republican leaders to repeal more of the ACA.  Breitbart News, the conservative website that relishes making GOP leadership’s life difficult, is attacking the measure as “Speaker Ryan’s ObamaCare 2.0.”   The conservative Club for Growth went even further, calling the bill  “RyanCare”.

  • Republicans are now paying the price for a years-long campaign of Obamacare lies (Vox)  @mattyglesias has some partisan vitriol here.  Unfortunately it is partly true.  Maybe even substantially true.  See also The puzzling way Republicans want to replace the individual mandate, explained with a cartoon.

“We’re going to have insurance for everybody,” Trump told the Washington Post after the election. Under Trumpcare, according to Trump, people “can expect to have great health care. It will be in much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better.”

This was bolder and brasher than what more establishment-minded Republicans had said over the years. But it was, fundamentally, similar to promises and insinuations made by Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and dozens of other Republicans. It’s not just that the Affordable Care Act was killing jobs and sentencing people to death panels. It’s that Republicans had some much better plan in their back pocket that would give Americans what they want — cheap, comprehensive health insurance that offers them oodles of choice.

It was a great line, and it helped Republicans win Congress and eventually the White House. But it was a lie, and now Trump and Republicans in Congress are paying for it.

  • White House goes after budget office scoring healthcare bill (The Hill)  The White House on Wednesday questioned the work of the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) ahead of its widely anticipated estimate for the GOP's bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare.  White House press Sean Spicer said the scorekeeper was “way off last time” in its cost estimate of the Affordable Care Act, arguing its numbers on the Republicans’ replacement should not be taken as the final word.  Spicer indicated the Trump White House plans to release its own estimate of the bill through the Office of Management and Budget. 

  • Poll: Slight majority of American voters say Sessions should resign (CNN)  A slight majority of American voters think that US Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied under oath and should resign, according to a poll released Wednesday. The survey, conducted by the independent Quinnipiac University, revealed that 52% of American voters believe the nation's top law enforcement officer lied under oath -- and 51% say he should resign.

Though the Republican did not disclose communications with Russian officials during the election in his confirmation hearing, news emerged last week that he had met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice while acting as a surrogate for President Donald Trump.

In a letter Monday, Sessions defended his earlier congressional testimony, maintaining that the meetings related solely to his responsibilities as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and not the concurrent campaign. In a supplemental letter submitted to the Senate, Sessions said his answer to Minnesota Democrat Sen. Al Franken was "correct," and he did not bring up the meetings "because the question did not ask about them." The poll was conducted largely before Sessions' response to the accusations he faced were made public.

  • Poll: Vast majority wants Trump to tweet less (The Hill)   A USA Today/Suffolk University poll released Wednesday reports that registered voters by more than a 2-to-1 margin want President Trump to cut down on his tweeting.  Fifty-nine percent of the 1,000 surveyed say Trump "should stop tweeting so much”, while just 28% agree with the statement "his tweets are a good way to communicate directly with Americans".  An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll taken just before Trump took office on Jan. 17 showed 69% of those polled agreeing with the statement that "in an instant, messages can have unintended major implications without careful review”.  Just 26% said the tweeting "allows a president to directly communicate to people immediately".   Overall in the new survey, 47% approve of the job Trump is doing six weeks into his presidency and 44% disapprove, making him the first president in modern times not to score majority approval at this early point in his tenure.

Other Scientific, Health, Political, Economics, and Business Items of Note - plus Miscellanea

  • Tax Credits under the Affordable Care Act vs. the American Health Care Act: An Interactive Map (Kaiser Foundation)  These maps compare county-level estimates of premium tax credits consumers would receive under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2020 with what they’d receive under the American Health Care Act as unveiled March 6 by Republican leaders in Congress.  As described below, this does not include premium subsidies under ACA for lower incomes.  Click on title link to access interactive map graphic.  Two examples are shown below. Click on either one for larger image. See also next article.

The maps include premium tax credit estimates by county for current ACA marketplace enrollees at age 27, 40, or 60 with an annual income of $20,000, $30,000, $40,000, $50,000, $75,000, or $100,000. (Note: the map does not include cost-sharing assistance under the ACA that lowers deductibles and copayments for low-income marketplace enrollees. For example, in 2016, people making between 100 – 150% of poverty enrolled in a silver plan on received cost-sharing assistance worth $1,440; those with incomes between 150 – 200% of poverty received $1,068 on average; and those with incomes between 200 – 250% of poverty received $144 on average).

Generally, people who are older, lower-income, or live in high-premium areas (like Alaska and Arizona) receive larger tax credits under the ACA than they would under the American Health Care Act replacement.

But the structure of the tax credits is really different. Obamacare calculated the credits based on the cost of insurance in a given area and how much the purchaser could afford to pay. The Republican plan hands out tax credits on a flat basis, according to age. (Both plans cut off subsidies at a certain income level, on the assumption that high earners can pay their own way.) That means that the government subsidy you might get under the different plans would depend on a number of factors – age, income, address.

Analysts at the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated these subsidies for every county in the United States across these three variables. The result, shown in the maps above, reveals stark contrasts in federal support, particularly for lower-income Americans.

Click for large image.

  • Hospitals increasingly try to keep patients away to save money (USA Today)  One of the measurable trends resulting from Obamcare is the reduced hospital readmission rate.  Hospitals are rewarded by taking steps to make sure patients maintain better health after being released from hospitals.  Outcomes have improve and costs have come down,

  • New IRS Notice Targets Syndicated Conservation Easements (Wealth Management)  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is aware that some promoters are involved in a scheme1 of syndicating conservation easement transactions that purport to give investors charitable contribution deductions significantly exceeding the amount invested.  These transactions are designated “listed transactions”, which are the same or substantially similar to those the IRS has determined to be tax avoidance transactions.


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