The impossibility of bipartisan health-care compromise

If there’s one thing political centrists claim to value, it’s compromise. It’s “the way Washington is supposed to work,” writes Third Way’s Bill Schneider. “Centrists, or moderates, are really people who are willing to compromise,” The Moderate Voice’s Robert Levine tells Vice.

What does this mean when it comes to health care and the developing lefty push for Medicare-for-all? The fresh new centrist health-care organization, the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF), says it is a “diverse, patient-focused coalition committed to pragmatic solutions to strengthen our nation’s health-care system.” In keeping with the moderate #brand, PAHCF may not support Medicare-for-all. But perhaps they might support a quarter-measure compromise, like allowing people under 65 to buy into Medicare?

Haha, of course not. Their offer is this: nothing.

Valuing compromise in itself in politics is actually a rather strange notion. It would make a lot more sense to determine the optimal policy structure through some kind of moral reasoning, and then work to obtain an outcome as close as possible to that. Compromise is necessary because of the anachronistic (and visibly malfunctioning) American constitutional system, but it is only good insofar as it avoids a breakdown of democratic functioning that would be even worse.

However, “moderation” is routinely not even that, but instead a cynical veneer over raw privilege and self-interest. The American health-care system, as I have written on many occasions, is a titanic maelstrom of waste, fraud, and outright predation — ripping off the American people to the tune of $1 trillion annually.

And so, Adam Cancryn reports on the centrist Democrats plotting with Big Medical to strangle the Medicare-for-all effort:

Deep-pocketed hospital, insurance, and other lobbies are plotting to crush progressives’ hopes of expanding the government’s role in health care once they take control of the …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


Walters: Will harassment case impact Sen. Kamala Harris’ political future?

Former policeman Larry Wallace hitched his wagon to a politician on the fast track when he went to work for Kamala Harris.

She was San Francisco’s district attorney at the time, and he was her personal driver. But she was clearly destined for bigger things and when Harris became California’s attorney general, she appointed Wallace to a top Justice Department position, director of the Division of Law Enforcement.

Wallace not only managed the state’s corps of criminal investigators, but also Harris’ personal security team and often was at her side during public appearances.

Harris’ political career continued on an upward trajectory. Two years ago, she easily captured a U.S. Senate seat and Wallace once again followed her, becoming one of her senior advisers and obviously helping prepare her for a potential presidential bid in 2020.

The ex-cop’s political career ended abruptly last week when he resigned after the Sacramento Bee asked Harris’ office about a $400,000 payment – of taxpayers’ funds – to a woman who had accused Wallace of harassment during his time in the attorney general’s office.

Danielle Hartley, who had been Wallace’s executive assistant, filed a lawsuit on Dec. 30, 2016, while Harris was in her final days as attorney general, alleging that she had been subjected to demeaning behavior by her boss.

Among other things, the “gender harassment” suit accused him of compelling her to crawl under his desk daily to change his printer’s paper or ink, and refusing to move the printer to a more convenient and dignified location.

“Wallace frequently asked Hartley to put paper in the printer while he was sitting at his desk or in front of other male executives from the division, according to the lawsuit,” the Bee reported.

After she complained, the suit alleges Wallace also took away Hartley’s “meaningful tasks” and forced her to run personal errands …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Flynn cites military service, argues against prison in Russia probe

By ERIC TUCKER and CHAD DAY | Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawyers for President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn asked a judge Tuesday to spare him prison time, saying he had devoted his career to his country and taken responsibility for an “uncharacteristic error in judgment.”

The arguments to the judge echoed those of special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, which last week said that Flynn’s cooperation — including 19 meetings with investigators — was so extensive that he was entitled to avoid prison when he is sentenced next week.

“Having made a serious error in judgment, for which he has shown true contrition, he recognized it was consistent with the values by which he has led his life simply to provide the facts to those charged with enforcing our laws,” his lawyers wrote in requesting a sentence of probation and community service.

“On the day he entered his guilty plea, he said he was ‘working to set things right.’ He has done so.”

Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations during the presidential transition period with the then-Russian ambassador to the United States, will become the first White House official punished in the special counsel’s ongoing probe into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

Flynn’s absence from the public eye, despite entreaties from supporters to take an aggressive stance against the Russia investigation, has made him a source of continuing public intrigue. His sentencing has the makings of a bookend moment for the investigation given that Flynn — a visible presence on the campaign trail, in high-level transition talks and in the chaotic early days of the administration — was an early, and pivotal, part of the case who appeared to enjoy the president’s sympathy even after his departure from the White …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Trump ripped donations from Mueller’s team, but Barr gave $567,000

By Shawn Boburg and Anu Narayanswamy

President Donald Trump has repeatedly derided prosecutors investigating potential coordination between his presidential campaign and Russia as “angry Democrats,” pointing to their past political donations as proof of bias.

But William Barr, Trump’s nominee to lead the Justice Department and oversee the Russia investigation, would be by far the most prolific political donor to step into the country’s top law enforcement post in at least a quarter-century, according to a Washington Post analysis. Barr has donated more than $567,000 in the past two decades, nearly all to GOP candidates and groups, federal records show. His wife, Christine Barr, gave more than $220,000 over that time, records show.

Before he was nominated to be attorney general, Barr criticized past donations by prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller.

“In my view, prosecutors who make political contributions are identifying fairly strongly with a political party,” Barr told The Post last year. “I would have liked (Mueller) to have more balance on this group.”

Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a nonprofit group that works to limit money in politics, said in a statement that the nomination of Barr shows that Trump’s attacks “are hypocritical as well as bogus.”

“Under the Trump ‘bias standard,’ Barr must be ‘biased’ in favor of Republicans and therefore should not oversee the Justice Department investigation of Trump or any other Republican,” Wertheimer said.

Barr did not respond to messages and emails.

A White House official who was not authorized to speak publicly said on the condition of anonymity that it is “absurd for critics to focus on financial support he provided to his party, which is consistent with what attorneys general have done previously.” The official also drew a distinction between contributions from political appointees and those from career prosecutors.

Previous attorneys general have donated to politicians before landing at …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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