G.O.P. Karma in West Virginia

Don Blankenship, might win the party’s primary in the West Virginia Senate race. Mr. Blankenship, you see, spent a year in prison on charges of conspiring to violate mine safety standards, after an inquiry into a mine collapse that killed 29 men.

.. One of the powerful cons that helped the party win the 2016 election was Donald Trump’s promise that he would restore coal miners’ jobs. Since coming to office, though, he has done little to increase employment in an increasingly mechanized industry losing the competition against cheaper natural gas.

Let Them Eat Paper Towels

And the Trump administration seems increasingly to see this tragedy as a public relations issue, something to be spun — partly by blaming the victims — rather than as an urgent problem to be solved.

.. And as The Washington Postnotes, there’s a very telling piece of editing: One segment showed Forest Service workers clearing a road, but it cut off just before the official being interviewed praised local efforts: “The citizens of Puerto Rico were doing an outstanding job coming out and clearing roads to help get the aid that’s needed.”

Puerto Ricans behaving well, it seems, doesn’t fit the official story line.

.. Meanwhile, it took almost three weeks after Maria struck before Trump asked Congress to provide financial aid — and his request was for loans, not grants, which is mind-boggling when you bear in mind that the territory is effectively bankrupt.

.. Puerto Rico was in severe financial and economic difficulty even before the hurricane, and some of that reflected mismanagement. But much of it reflected changes in the global economy — for example, growing competition from Latin American nations — reinforced by policies imposed by Washington, like the end of a crucial tax break and the enforcement of the Jones Act, which forces it to rely on expensive U.S. shipping.

.. Puerto Rico is hardly the only U.S. region suffering difficulties in the face of global economic change — and such regions can normally count on federal support to help limit the hardship. What do you think West Virginia would look like if Medicare and Medicaid didn’t cover 44 percent of the population? 

.. what would happen to employment in health and social assistance, which provides jobs to 16 percent of the state’s work force, which is vastly more than coal mining?

How the Republican Coward Caucus is about to sell out its own constituents — in secret

a repeal bill so monumental in its cruelty that they feel they have no choice but to draft it in secret, not let the public know what it does, hold not a single hearing or committee markup, slip it in a brown paper package to the Congressional Budget Office, then push it through to a vote before the July 4th recess before the inevitable backlash gets too loud.

“We aren’t stupid,” one GOP Senate aide told Caitlin Owens — they know what would happen if they made their bill public.

.. Today, we learned that in a break with longstanding precedent, “Senate officials are cracking down on media access, informing reporters on Tuesday that they will no longer be allowed to film or record audio of interviews in the Senate side hallways of the Capitol without special permission.” Everyone assumes that it’s so those senators can avoid having to appear on camera being asked uncomfortable questions about a bill that is as likely to be as popular as Ebola.

.. This is how a party acts when it is ashamed of what it is about to do to the American people. Yet all it would take to stop this abomination is for three Republicans to stand up to their party’s leaders and say, “No — I won’t do this to my constituents.” With only a 52-48 majority in the Senate, that would kill the bill. But right now, it’s looking as though this Coward Caucus is going to be unable to muster the necessary courage.

 .. Take Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, a state where over 175,000 people have gotten insurance thanks to the Medicaid expansion.
.. Last week The Hill reported that Capito now supports eliminating the expansion after all — just doing it over seven years instead of the three years that the House bill required.
..Or how about Ohio’s Rob Portman? In his state, 700,000 people gained insurance as a result of the Medicaid expansion.
.. They’d pay for the slower elimination of the expansion by cutting money out of the existing program, so they could get rid of all of the ACA’s tax increases
.. — over half of Medicaid dollars go to the elderly and disabled.
.. That means that they aren’t just undoing the ACA; they’re making things substantially worse for tens of millions of America’s most vulnerable citizens than they were even before the ACA passed.
.. And they’re hoping they can do all this before anyone realizes what they’re up to, making this an act of both unconscionable heartlessness and epic cowardice. Their efforts to hide what they’re doing show that they are still capable of feeling some measure of shame. But it might not be enough to stop them.

It’s All About Trump’s Contempt

There is, however, a unifying theme — Donald Trump’s contempt for the voters who put him in office.

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Well, he hasn’t done that, at least so far. He is, however, betting that he can break every promise he made to the working-class voters who put him over the top, and still keep their support. Can he win that bet?

.. remember his claims that he would pay off the national debt?

.. 29 percent of the population is on Medicaid, almost 19 percent on food stamps.

.. West Virginians .. more than 4 percent of the population, the highest share in the nation, receives Social Security disability payments, partly because of the legacy of unhealthy working conditions, partly because a high fraction of the population consists of people who suffer from chronic diseases, like diabetics

.. they supported Trump because he promised — falsely, of course — that he could bring back the well-paying coal-mining jobs of yore.

.. Maybe he would take benefits away from Those People, but he would protect the programs white working-class voters

.. it would be apocalyptic: Hundreds of thousands would lose health insurance; medical debt and untreated conditions would surge; and there would be an explosion in extreme poverty, including a lot of outright hunger.

.. Coal isn’t coming back; these days, West Virginia’s biggest source of employment is health care and social assistance. How many of those jobs would survive savage cuts in Medicaid and disability benefits?

.. people who voted for Donald Trump were the victims of an epic scam by a man who has built his life around scamming.