Corporate socialism: suckling billions in profits from the government teat

More proof that multi-billion dollar corporations like McDonald’s are quite successfully bilking the American taxpayer to increase their own take-home profits:

Video: McDonald’s tells workers to get food stamps – Salon.com — An audio recording released by labor activists Wednesday afternoon captures a staffer for McDonald’s’ “McResources Line” instructing a McDonald’s worker how to apply for public assistance.

The audio – excerpted in the campaign video below – records a conversation between Chicago worker Nancy Salgado, a ten-year employee currently making the Illinois state minimum wage of $8.25, and a counselor staffing the company’s “McResources” 1-800 number for McDonald’s workers. The McResources staffer offers her a number to “ask about things like food pantries” and tells her she “would most likely be eligible for SNAP benefits” which she explains are “food stamps.” After Salgado asks about “the doctor,” the staffer asks, “Did you try to get on Medicaid?” She notes it’s “health coverage for low income or no income adults and children.”

“It was really, really upsetting,” Salgado told Salon Wednesday, “knowing that McDonald’s knows that they don’t pay us enough, and we have to rely on this.” Noting that McDonald’s was “a billionaire company,” she asked, “how can they not afford to pay us?”

Of course McDonald’s (and other fast-food / big box retail corporations) could afford to pay their employees better wages and stop draining so much out of the taxpayer-funded safety net, but that would mean the corporate big wigs would have to share or reinvest some of their profits.

The new video follows two reports released last week… which estimated that fast food workers utilize nearly $7 billion annually in public assistance, while fast food corporations last year netted $7.4 billion profits.

And, by the way, many of these companies (and their executives) don’t contribute as much to the safety net as, proportionally speaking, the average middle-class taxpayer. As Scott Klinger recently noted:

In the 1950s, corporations paid nearly a third of the federal government’s bills. Last year… corporate income taxes accounted for less than a tenth of Uncle Sam’s total revenue.

Over the past year, one in nine of the companies listed on the S&P 500 paid an effective tax rate of zero percent–that’s zero as in nothing–and that’s on top of taxpayers picking up the tab on public assistance for those profitable corporations who won’t pay their workers a living wage.

There are 57 separate companies listed on the index that paid a zero percent rate from the past year. Those companies include both household names like Verizon and News Corp. and lesser-known corporate giants like the data storage manufacturer Seagate (market value $15.9 billion) and Public Storage (market value $29.5 billion). Many of the companies USA Today identified in its analysis as paying negative rates make the list because they lost money, but several were profitable. Previous analyses have shown that the typical corporation pays a lower effective tax rate than most middle-class families, and a far lower one than the statutory corporate tax rate against which business interests disingenuously rail.

Even though Mitt Romney tried to convince us that “corporations are people, my friend,” the majority of corporations today are not our “neighbors,” they don’t contribute towards the greater good of whichever country they’ve parked a headquarters—in fact, today’s corporations (and their executives) actually seem to do whatever is necessary to get out of contributing their proportional share towards the society which benefits them so greatly. Today’s corporations are run by people who are low on talent and basic morality, but are paid enormous sums of money. And they are nothing like those who came before them. Vanity Fair remembers,

In 1914, [Henry] Ford decided to pay his employees a rich wage and otherwise improve the working conditions…

In January 1914, (Henry Ford) startled the world by announcing that Ford Motor Company would pay $5 a day to its workers. The pay increase would also be accompanied by a shorter workday (from nine to eight hours). While this rate didn’t automatically apply to every worker, it more than doubled the average autoworker’s wage. While Henry’s primary objective was to reduce worker attrition—labor turnover from monotonous assembly line work was high—newspapers from all over the world reported the story as an extraordinary gesture of goodwill.

After Ford’s announcement, thousands of prospective workers showed up at the Ford Motor Company employment office. People surged toward Detroit from the American South and the nations of Europe. As expected, employee turnover diminished. And, by creating an eight-hour day, Ford could run three shifts instead of two, increasing productivity.

Henry Ford had reasoned that since it was now possible to build inexpensive cars in volume, more of them could be sold if employees could afford to buy them. The $5 day helped better the lot of all American workers and contributed to the emergence of the American middle class. In the process, Henry Ford had changed manufacturing forever.

Or, as Henry put it, raising wages “has the same effect as throwing a stone in a still pond,” creating an “ever-widening circle of buying” that increases the prosperity of a nation.

It’s simply a fact that Henry Ford didn’t base his decisions on what Ford Motor Company’s net profits would be the next quarter–he had much greater things to accomplish. Because of Henry’s decisions, an entire nation benefited for years, and you know what? So did his company. Unfortunately those times are over (Reaganomics was the beginning of The End), Henry Ford would be run out of most corporate boardrooms today, and the word Patriotism now holds some twisted meaning that includes offshore bank accounts for the wealthy and easy access to guns for the rest of us. There is no longer a balance or any kind of mutual respect between industrialists and workers—negotiated, contrived, or otherwise. And each one of us ought to ask ourselves, “how did we allow this to happen?” and more importantly, “how can we change it?

Here’s Bill Maher from last week:

“Now when it comes to raising the minimum wage, conservatives always say it’s a non-starter because it cuts into profits. Well… yeah. Of course. Paying workers is one of those unfortunate expenses of running a business. You know, like taxes or making a product. If you want to get rich with a tax-free enterprise that sells nothing, start a church.” 

“…And, look, even if you’re not moved by the Don’t-Be-Such-a-Heartless-Prick argument, consider the fact that most fast food workers (whose average age, by the way, now is 29–I’m not talking about kids) are on some form of public assistance. Which is not surprising… when even working people can’t make enough to live, they take money from the government in the form of food stamps, school lunches, housing assistance, daycare. This is the welfare that conservatives hate but they never stop to think: if we raise the minimum wage and force McDonald’s and Walmart to pay their employees enough to eat, we the taxpayers wouldn’t have to pick up the slack. This is the question the Right has to answer: do you want smaller government with less handouts or do you want a low minimum wage–because you cannot have both. If Col. Sanders isn’t going to pay the lady behind the counter enough to live on, then Uncle Sam has to. And I for one am getting a little tired of helping highly profitable companies pay their workers.” 

America’s billionaire welfare kings: the high cost of the wealthy on the rest of us

*Updated title to read welfare kings instead of queens. Seems more appropriate.

For anyone who wonders why the deficit is so large and why, at the same time, income inequality between the super-wealthy and the rest of us is at a record high, consider the various ways which the Republican Party, starting with Ronald Reagan, has gamed the system to funnel our incomes directly into the bank accounts of the one-percent.

FIRST, THANK RONALD REAGAN AND HIS “TRICKLE-DOWN” REAGANOMICS. 

GOP tax bonus for the rich ignores failure of Reaganomics

REAGAN / JULY 1981: “This represents $750 million in tax cuts over the next five years. And this is only the beginning.”

RACHEL MADDOW: “And thus was born a new economic philosophy Reaganomics, cutting government spending, cutting regulation and cutting taxes–cutting taxes especially for the richest Americans. President Reagan’s tax plan cut the top tax rate for the wealthiest Americans from 70 percent to 50 percent. Why cut taxes so dramatically for the richest of the rich in the middle of a recession? [...]

“Trickle-down economics. The idea of trickle-down economics is basically this: you cut tax rates for the richest Americans, therefore the richest Americans have more. They have more money in their pockets, therefore they have more money to spend and invest. And as they spend and invest, the effect of rich people’s good fortune and rich people spending trickles down to everybody else in the economy. A rising tide lifts all boats, right? That was the idea. That was the plan. That did not happen.

Reaganomics was a spectacular success in some ways. It was a spectacular success for the richest Americans in the country who benefited the most from President Reagan’s historic debt- exploding, budget-busting tax cuts. In 1980, the top one percent of Americans earned wages about $110,000 a year. By 1990, after about 10 years of Reaganomics, the top one percent had seen their wages rise by 80 percent. Trickle-down economics, though, right? What’s good for the rich is good for all of us, right? Not quite. Here’s the average wages in the rest of the country in 1980 and here is what happened for the rest of the country after about 10 years of Reaganomics flat. A whopping three percent rise in wages in 10 years. The richest people see their fortunes go up like the Matterhorn. Everybody else, nothing. This is what family income growth looked like during the 1980s:

1.1

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THEN THANK RONALD REAGAN FOR HIS “GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM NOT THE SOLUTION” message, which the tea party carries on today:

The Abject Failure of Reaganomics

Reagan sold Americans on his core vision: “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Through his personal magnetism, Reagan then turned taxes into a third rail of American politics… 

“[Reagan] convinced many voters that the government’s only important roles were funding the military and cutting taxes.”

Yet, instead of guiding the country into a bright new day of economic vitality, Reagan’s approach accelerated a de-industrialization of the United States and a slump in the growth of American jobs, down to 20 percent during the 1980s. The percentage job increase for the 1990s stayed at 20 percent, although job growth did pick up later in the decade under President Clinton, who raised taxes and moderated some of Reagan’s approaches while still pushing “free trade” agreements and deregulation.

Yet, hard-line Reaganomics returned with a vengeance under George W. Bush – more tax cuts, more faith in “free trade,” more deregulation – and the Great American Job Engine finally started grinding to a halt. Zero percent increase. The Great American Middle Class was on life-support.

[...] Through its ideological media and think tanks, the Right continues to hammer home the Reagan-esque theory that “government is the problem.”

Meanwhile, the Left still lacks comparable media resources to remind U.S. voters that it was the federal government that essentially created the Great American Middle Class – from the New Deal policies of the 1930s through other reforms of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, from Social Security to Wall Street regulation to labor rights to the GI Bill to the Interstate Highway System to the space program’s technological advances to Medicare and Medicaid to the minimum wage to civil rights.

Many Americans don’t like to admit it — they prefer to think of their families as reaching the middle class without government help — but the reality is that the Great American Middle Class was a phenomenon made possible by the intervention of the federal government beginning with Franklin Roosevelt and continuing into the 1970s. [For one telling example of this reality -- the Cheney family, which was lifted out of poverty by FDR's policies -- see Consortiumnews.com's "Dick Cheney: Son of the New Deal."]

Further, in the face of corporate globalization and business technology, two other forces making the middle-class work force increasingly obsolete, the only hope for a revival of the Great American Middle Class is for the government to increase taxes on the rich, the ones who have gained the most from cheap foreign labor and advances in computer technology, in order to fund projects to build and strengthen the nation, from infrastructure to education to research and development to care for the sick and elderly to environmental protections.

Meanwhile…

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30 YEARS LATER, THE REST OF US ARE SUPPLEMENTING MINIMUM WAGE JOBS WITH GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS, helping corporate officers and shareholders who pay the shitty wages walk away with massive profits. 

“Taxpayers are spending nearly $7 billion a year to supplement the wages of fast-food workers, even as the leading fast-food companies earn billions of dollars in annual profits, according to a pair of reports released Tuesday.”

Washington Post — More than half of the nation’s 1.8 million “core” fast-food workers rely on the federal safety net to make ends meet, the reports said. Together, they collect nearly $1.9 billion through the earned income tax credit, $1 billion in food stamps and $3.9 billion through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, according to a report by economists at the University of California at Berkeley’s Labor Center and the University of Illinois.

Overall, the “core” fast-food workers are twice as likely to rely on public assistance than workers in other fields, said one of the reports, which examined non-managerial fast-food employees who work at least 11 hours a week and 27 weeks a year.

Even among the 28 percent of fast-food workers who were on the job 40 hours a week, the report said, more than half relied on the federal safety net to get by. [...] Those workers are left to rely on the public safety net even though the nation’s seven largest publicly traded fast-food companies netted a combined $7.4 billion in profits last year, while paying out $53 million in salaries to their top executives and distributing $7.7 billion to shareholders, according to the second report, by the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group.

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“The cost is public because taxpayers bear it. Yet it remains hidden in national policy debates about poverty, employment and federal spending.”

Salon — The first study finds that 52 percent of families of workers employed at least 27 weeks a year and 10 hours a week in rank-and-file fast food jobs are enrolled in Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, food stamps, the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (the program that replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children under “welfare reform”). That includes a majority of those workers who are employed at least 40 hours week. The study, “Fast Food, Poverty Wages,” was sponsored by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Department of Urban & Regional Planning, and funded by the labor group Fast Food Forward. The estimates were based on government data.

second study, by the pro-union National Employment Law Project, extended the analysis to individual companies, estimating that McDonald’s workers received $1.2 billion in public assistance while the corporation netted $5.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2012 profits, and devoted $5.5 billion to dividends and stock buybacks.

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“Companies … are basically pushing off part of their costs on the taxpayers.”

The Guardian — The estimated total cost of $7bn annually is likely to be low, researchers said, because they only looked at four types of public assistance: food stamps; healthcare; the Earned Income Tax Credit and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the program typically best known as “welfare.” They did not include subsidised housing, school lunches, home heating assistance or state programs in their analysis.

“The high participation rate of families of core fast-food workers in public programs can be attributed to three major factors: the industry’s low wages, low work hours and low benefits,” the Berkeley report said. [...] Earlier this year, a report by House Democrats estimated that the cost of Walmart workers’ reliance on public assistance – including food stamps, healthcare and other programmes – is $900,000 per year at just one of the company’s 4,000 stores.

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For the vast majority of these workers, there’s little hope they’ll ever move up the socioeconomic ladder and escape this cycle of poverty and dependency.

Time This combination of low pay and limited work hours yields an average annual salary of only $11,056.14. And while it’s certainly true that some people flipping burgers and taking drive-thru orders are teenagers, that report finds that only 18% are under the age of 18 and living with their parents. Even when you includes minors who don’t live with their parents and college kids living at home, the total adds up to just under a third of all fast food workers.

Of course, fast food companies aren’t the only ones that rely on minimum- and low-wage workers; big-box retailers like Wal-Mart have also come under fire for what they pay employees. But researchers found that 44 percent of restaurant and food service workers were enrolled in one or more assistance programs, the highest of any industry.

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Naked Capitalism how low the pay really is:

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How is supplementing minimum wage jobs with taxpayer-funded government programs NOT income redistribution? Especially when you consider the results.

THE REPUBLICAN PARTY HAS TAKEN GOVERNMENT AWAY FROM THE REST OF US to benefit the one percent exclusively. 

Transplanting Taxes from Corporations to the Rest of Us

In the 1950s, corporations paid nearly a third of the federal government’s bills. Last year, thanks to the antics of Pfizer and other examples of overly creative accounting, corporate income taxes accounted for less than a tenth of Uncle Sam’s total revenue. This dramatic shortfall shows up in two ways — federal budget deficit growth and the growing trend of individual taxpayers paying an increased share of the costs of government.

Naturally, that’s resulted in some income inequality:

“The top 1% of US earners collected 19.3% of household income, breaking a record previously set in 1927.”

The income gap between the richest 1% of Americans and the other 99% widened to a record margin in 2012, according to an analysis of tax filings…

Income inequality in the US has been growing for almost three decades. Overall, the pre-tax incomes of the top 1% of households rose 19.6% compared to a 1% increase for the rest of Americans.

And the top 10% of richest households represented just under half of all income in the year, according to the analysis.

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So 30 years after Ronald Reagan… here we are. With George W. Bush’s unpaid wars and tax cuts and bank bailouts, we’re left with a record deficit, no new revenue (the GOP insists on spending cuts only to “entitlement programs”!), no manufacturing (most of it off-shored by companies like Bain Capital years ago), a crumbling infrastructure, millions of people working minimum wage service-sector jobs, and with income inequality at a record high. The rich are richer than ever! 

And yet for the past few years, the Republican Party has spent all of its time and energy trying to defund or postpone a law which will make health insurance more affordable for most Americans—this month even going as far as shutting down the government, risking default, and costing the rest of us ANOTHER $24 BILLION and a loss of services and programs for 16 days.

What Republicans really mean when they say ‘government is the problem‘ is: (1) it’s a problem if the wealthy have to contribute / don’t profit and (2) it’s a problem if the not-wealthy benefit from government services / don’t help the wealthy to profit.

The GOP has redefined the purpose of government and who it should benefit. Where everyone used to contribute for the good of most, now most people contribute for the benefit of only a few—and those few happen to be worth millions, if not billions. The one percent reap all the rewards of living here without having to invest or contribute a proportional amount of their fortunes. And the rest of us, the American taxpayers, subsidize their lifestyles with money that could be benefiting us personally and building a better future for our children.

What’s really the bigger problem today: government or living with the Republican Party’s economic plan for the past 30 years?

Chart: what Republicans got out of the government shutdown

Here’s what Republicans got out of the shutdown, in one chart

Washington Post – Back in September, Republicans released a list of their demands for raising the debt ceiling. Today, the Rachel Maddow show went back to see how they did. And this chart doesn’t even show everything the Republicans lost in the deal… via @EzraKlein

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Yesterday, President Obama put the GOP’s hostage-taking and demands in perspective:

CS Monitor —  “To all my friends in Congress, understand that how business is done in this town has to change,” said the president. Obama said that politicians should stop focusing on lobbyists, bloggers, talking heads, and “professional activists who profit from conflict” to focus on creating jobs and getting the nation’s fiscal house in order. Specifically, he said Washington should now focus on a “balanced approach to a responsible budget,” passage of immigration reform, and finishing a farm bill.

[...] Obama went on to praise the work of furloughed government workers, saying they care for seniors and veterans, ensure workplaces, food, and toys are safe, and other numerous vital services. He said he recognizes that some people disagree vehemently with his policies. But disagreement needs to be resolved in the normal democratic process, he said. “You don’t like a particular policy or a particular president, then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election. Push to change it. But don’t break it,” he said.

Obama’s tough tone was hard to miss. He wasn’t singing “Kumbaya” and asking everyone to join hands. His message, in essence, was this: I won fair and square within the normal democratic process. If you don’t like it, take back the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016, if you can.

The winners (Ted Cruz) and losers (the rest of us) of the government shutdown

THE WINNERS: Sen. Ted Cruz and his PACs. 

Not only did Ted Cruz retain his paycheck and benefits during the shutdown, but beginning with his 21-hour stand-up routine that included reading Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate floor, Cruz has raised more money for himself and his PACs throughout the shutdown than he’d been able to raise in any quarter previously. No wonder he claims his effort to defund Obamacare was a “victory” even as that effort bombed in both the Senate and then the House. It was a victory… but only for his personal campaign finances:

His state director, John Drogin, emails to note that combining all of the senator’s accounts (including his reelection and leadership PACs) yields a haul of $1.19 million from 12,000 individual donors. — Atlantic Wire

Unfortunately, because of the intelligence levels of our country, this fact will only make the extremists love Cruz even more, meaning more money for his bank accounts and, like Sarah Palin, a much longer “15 minutes” than would otherwise have been earned. ‘Murica!

THE LOSERS: all of us. 

ABC News —The 16-day government shutdown is over, but the country has taken at least a $24 billion hit along the way. The financial ratings agency Standard & Poor’s said Wednesday the shutdown “to date has taken $24 billion out of the economy,” equaling $1.5 billion dollars a day and “shaved at least 0.6 percent off annualized fourth-quarter 2013 GDP growth.” These estimates are for the overall economy, taking into account not just federal wages and productivity, but all the ripple effects and costs as well.

Additionally:

- $3.1 billion in lost government services. Although furloughed workers will get their back pay,  taxpayers won’t see the products.  (Source: I.H.S.)

-  According to the U.S. Travel Association:  There has been $152 million per day in all spending related to travel lost because of the shutdown. As many as 450,000 American workers supported by travel may be affected.

-   According to the National Park Service: They welcome more than 700,000 people per day usually in October and visitors spend an estimated $32 million per day impact in communities near national parks and contribute $76 million each day to the national economy.  Those revenues were lost.

-  According to Destination D.C., the official tourism corporation of D.C.: There is a 9 percent decrease in hotel occupancy from the last week in September before the shutdown to the first week of October during the shutdown. This year, hotel occupancy was down 74.4 percent for the week Sept. 29 to Oct. 5 compared to the 2012 numbers. (Source: Smith Travel Research, Inc.) In 2012, an estimated $6.2 billion of visitor spending supported more than 75,300 jobs.

Politico — States won’t get paid back for reopening national parks: A deal to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling won’t repay the states for kicking in funds to the National Park Service to open the Statue of Liberty, Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore and other national icons during the 16-day shutdown. According to the deals between the Interior Department and the states, Congress would need to specifically authorize the repayment of any money spent that states had donated to fund the sites. “These funds from states are donations, not loans,” an Interior official said. “It would take an act of Congress to authorize any sort of reimbursement.” …These included:

New York’s donation of $369,300 to reopen the Statue of Liberty from last Saturday through Thursday

Arizona’s $651,000 to open Grand Canyon National Park to visitors for a week from last Saturday

South Dakota’s $152,000 to fund Mount Rushmore National Memorial for 10 days starting this past Monday

Utah’s $1,665,720.80 for eight sites that opened for 10 days starting Oct. 11

Colorado’s $362,700 to reopen Rocky Mountain National Park for 10 days starting Oct. 11

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Mental illness and religious ideation: a House stenographer’s public breakdown

A popular and well-like House stenographer unleashed a bizarre religious rant last night during the vote to reopen the government and avoid default:

“He will not be mocked. He will not be mocked. Don’t touch me. He will not be mocked. The greatest deception here is this is not one nation under God. It never was. Had it been, it would not have been… no! It would not have been …the Constitution would not have been written by Freemasons and go against God. You cannot serve two masters! You cannot serve two masters. Praise be to God, Lord Jesus Christ!
Listen:

She was removed from the chamber, interviewed by Capitol Police, and then transported to an area hospital for a mental health evaluation.

According to the Washington Post, Rep. Gerry Connolly said the woman, whose name hasn’t been released, is well-liked in the House. “I think there’s a lot of sympathy, because something clearly happened there,” Connolly said.

Except that Fox News had no problem releasing her name: Fox News identified the stenographer as Dianne Reidy, who went to the Speaker’s Chair while the vote was in progress [...] Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the presiding officer, banged the gavel to restore order several times, but did not deter Reidy, who screamed “You cannot serve two masters” as she was removed from the floor. … “I hammered to get control and hush her up. She said something about the devil. It was sudden, confusing and heartbreaking. She is normally a gentle soul.”

Watch:

The words “under God” were not included in the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954The phrase “under God” was incorporated into the Pledge of Allegiance June 14, 1954, by a Joint Resolution of Congress amending §4 of the Flag Code enacted in 1942. 

House votes to reopen government, delay default: 285 to 144

…WITHOUT repealing, defunding, or delaying the Affordable Care Act.

After the past two weeks (and the +40 votes on Obamacare prior to this), tea party relevance can be measured with the following EKG:

This vote could have been held two weeks ago, saving the American public at least $23 billion and much heartache, if not for the Republican House and their “Hastert Rule.”

Also notice over half the Republican House members voted for default and to keep the government shut down. That’s not leadership and it’s certainly not patriotic.

The Senate vote earlier was 81 to 18.

Tea culpa

Sen. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC) pleads for mercy from the Democrats:  

We won’t be the last political party to overplay our hand. It might happen one day on the Democratic side. And if it did, would Republicans, for the good of the country, kinda give a little? We really did go too far. We screwed up. But their response is making things worse, not better.

Seriously, Lindsey? Republicans--for the good of the country--would be kinder to Democrats if they screwed up this badly? You’re just lucky Republicans won’t have to face Republicans with this debacle.

Sen. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ), remarking on House Republicans inability to get their shit together in advance of Thursday’s debt ceiling deadline.

“It’s very, very serious. Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle, as I predicted weeks ago, that we would not be able to win because we were demanding something that was not achievable.”

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) provides an assessment from the moderate members of the GOP, as the prominent conservative organizations Heritage Action, Red State and FreedomWorks all came out against a last-second GOP leadership plan to avert a crisis that Democrats had warned was too far to the right: 

“This party is going nuts.”

Man of the mighty Tea-God, PAT BUCHANAN, still wants to burn it all down

“Republicans should refuse to raise the white flag and insist on an honorable avenue of retreat. And if Harry Reid’s Senate demands the GOP end the sequester on federal spending, or be blamed for a debt default, the party should, Samson-like, bring down the roof of the temple on everybody’s head.”

Who will be Pat’s holy warrior?

A Senate Republican aide placed the blame on a particular senator from Texas. TED CRUZ (R-TX) reportedly met with a group of House conservatives at Tortilla Coast, a Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C., to discuss strategy Monday night.

“Ted Cruz and his Tortilla Coast Republicans are leading us to a default.” 

Sen. KELLY AYOTTE (R-NH) says Sen. TED CRUZ (R-TX), could try to gum up the bipartisan effort underway to reopen the government and lift the debt ceiling:

“It’s up to him. I would hope that he wouldn’t. I mean, in the Senate obviously in terms of certain time frames, senators can cause to you run out the clock. But what’s he trying to gain at this point?”

Currently being discussed:


Sorry, Pat.

There isn’t enough extortion in either the House or Senate proposals to satisfy the tea party

Danny Vinik explains why the House GOP proposal is still extortion while the Senate GOP proposal isn’t.

Here’s how the Senate proposal shapes up:

Republicans get:                                                                Democrats Get:

  • Income verification                                            •  Delay of reinsurance fee

There will also be a budget negotiation that occurs under the McConnell-Reid deal. See how both sides get something from each other?

Here’s the new House GOP plan:

Republicans get:                                                                    Democrats Get:

  • Income verification
  • Two-year delay of medical device tax
  • Version of Vitter Amendment
  • Ban on extraordinary measures

So, what exactly do Democrats get out of this? Nothing. House Republicans are still demanding concessions in return for funding the government and not defaulting. It’s the same hostage-taking tactics they’ve been using all along. Boehner and Co. have reduced their ransom demands significantly, which is why there is a lot of optimism that a deal will eventually get done, but it’s still ransom. That’s why the White House and Senate Democrats are vehemently against this plan. They are adamant that they will not agree to any deal that sets a precedent for using the debt ceiling as an extortion device and the House GOP plan still does that.

This explains the rejection of the House plan by the Senate / White House—but it also explains why the teahadists in the House would reject both proposals: there’s not enough extortion in either.

Speakership before Country: Boehner won’t take back the fate of the nation from the Crazy 80

Boehner still won’t allow a vote to go to the floor if a majority of the majority can’t pass it. He doesn’t want to face a mutiny on the Good Ship Teabagger. It doesn’t matter if a majority of the House would pass the Senate bill, Boehner’s pandering to the tea crowd extremists who, in reality, are never going to agree to anything that’s remotely acceptable to the Senate / Administration. So.

Meet John Boehner’s new problem. Same as his old problem. — The Fix 

After a more-than-two hour meeting with GOP members, Boeher emerged to tell the press that there was in fact no Republican House plan. “There are a lot of opinions about what direction to go,” Boehner said. ”There have been no decisions about what exactly we will do.”

According to WaPo’s Lori Montgomery, Boehner’s walk-back from a plan that seemed solid enough for the White House to release an official condemnation of it was due to worries that Boehner and the Republican leadership simply couldn’t wrangle the 217 votes they needed from within their own ranks to pass it.

House Republicans Poised To Spurn Senate Debt Deal — TPM

House Republicans look ready to reject a pending bipartisan compromise in the Senate and propose their own plan for re-opening the government and raising the debt limit.

Here are the details of the new House bill that the leadership presented to Republican members at a closed door meeting Tuesday morning, according to multiple House GOP sources.

  • Temporary spending bill to re-open the government until Jan. 15.
  • Increase the debt limit enough to last until Feb. 7.
  • A two-year delay of Obamacare’s medical device tax.
  • A requirement that the Obama administration verify the income of Americans receiving tax subsidies through Obamacare (specifics pending).
  • A revised version of the so-called Vitter Amendment, in this case requiring Congress members and executive department officials like President Obama — but not their staffs — to purchase insurance through the law’s marketplace without federal employer subsidies.
  • Eliminates Treasury Department’s ability to use “extraordinary measures” to avoid default.

The House is expected to vote on the bill today.

Market reaction: 

Down, down, down—which is great news for the tea party.

Pelosi, Reid slam Boehner’s reckless effort to sabotage deal to end shutdown, avoid default — DailyKos

In Pelosi’s words:

What you saw here earlier was a Speaker who did not have the votes for his proposal. So why are they doing this to the American people? Sabotaging a good faith bipartisan effort coming out of the Senate, wasting the public’s time. And in this case, time is money. Time is money. This is going to be very costly to our economy. [...] This Republican habit of sabotaging of any effort to move forward is a luxury our country cannot afford.

Of the GOP’s antics, Reid said it was “hard to comprehend this logically.”

The tea party driven part of the Republican party doesn’t follow logic. Why would they want to close the government for 15 days and have us default on our debt? Introduction of this measure by House Republican leadership is unproductive and a waste of time. Let’s be clear: The House legislation will not pass the Senate.

In case ANYONE doubts that it was House Republicans who shut down the government

Doubt no more.

[Below] Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) confirming with Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) that the Republicans changed the House rule 22 clause 4 on Oct 1, 2013 in order to ensure the federal government would be shut down:

  
  
DEMOCRACY’S BEEN SUSPENDED! [video]

Van Hollen: H. Res. 368 changed the standing rules of the House to take away from any member of the House the privilege of calling up the Senate bill to immediately reopen the government, is that right?

Chaffetz: It did change the operation of the standing rule.

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Remember this bit of GOP gamesmanship when you think about Cruz and Palin at their tea party rally on Sundayusing veterans as cover, pseudo-raging about closed memorials. Cruz and Palin were there to represent one thing only: the tea party and everything it stands for. Their only purpose was to try to deflect blame for the shutdown to the President and Democrats in Congress, to call for Obama’s impeachment, and to celebrate the usual racist tripe that we’ve all come to expect from the ridiculous individuals who comprise this group of losers.

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TPM: The House GOP’s Little Rule Change That Guaranteed A Shutdown

Here’s the rule in question:

When the stage of disagreement has been reached on a bill or resolution with House or Senate amendments, a motion to dispose of any amendment shall be privileged.

In other words, if the House and Senate are gridlocked as they were on the eve of the shutdown, any motion from any member to end that gridlock should be allowed to proceed. Like, for example, a motion to vote on the Senate bill. That’s how House Democrats read it.

But the House Rules Committee voted the night of Sept. 30 to change that rule for this specific bill. They added language dictating that any motion “may be offered only by the majority Leader or his designee.”

So unless House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) wanted the Senate spending bill to come to the floor, it wasn’t going to happen. And it didn’t.

“I’ve never seen this rule used. I’m not even sure they were certain we would have found it,” a House Democratic aide told TPM. “This was an overabundance of caution on their part. ‘We’ve got to find every single crack in the dam that water can get through and plug it.'”

Congressional historians agreed that it was highly unusual for the House to reserve such power solely for the leadership.

“I’ve never heard of anything like that before,” Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told TPM.

“It is absolutely true that House rules tend to not have any explicit parliamentary rights guaranteed and narrowed to explicit party leaders,” Sarah Binder, a congressional expert at the Brookings Institution, told TPM. “That’s not typically how the rules are written.”

Republican staff on the House Rules Committee did not respond to multiple requests for comment. But here’s what House Rules Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) told Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) when she raised those concerns before the rule change was approved.

“What we’re attempting to do is to actually get our people together rather than trying to make a decision,” Sessions said. “We’re trying to actually have a conference and the gentlewoman knows that there are rules related to privileged motions that could take place almost effective immediately, and we’re trying to go to conference.”

“You know that there could be a privileged motion at any time…,” Sessions continued as Slaughter continued to press the issue.

“To call for the vote on the Senate resolution,” Slaughter interjected. “I think you’ve taken that away.”

“I said you were correct. We took it away,” Sessions said, “and the reason why is because we want to go to conference.”

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John McCain on polls: “We’re down to blood relatives and paid staffers now.”

“We can’t get lower in the polls. We’re down to blood relatives and paid staffers now. But we’ve got to turn this around, and the Democrats had better help.”Sen. John McCain

John McCain is right. It’s anyone’s guess how long the GOP will be able to hang onto the relatives and staffers though.

New WaPo/ABC Poll: 74% of Americans Disapprove of GOP Shutdown CrazinessLGF

The new Washington Post-ABC News poll provides more astonishing evidence of exactly how self-destructive the House Republicans’ shutdown games have been, as an amazing 74 percent of Americans disapprove of these clowns.

And more than that, the poll shows that there’s a kind of ideological war going on within the Republican Party, as the remaining sane members are repelled by the [antics] of the Tea Party crackpots.

You’d think that fiasco with Cruz and Palin at the White House yesterday would have repelled even more Republican members—in both houses.

Current Senate and White House negotiations cause markets to rebound

3 p.m. meeting postponedHuffPo

The White House says a meeting between Obama and congressional leaders has been postponed to give Senate leaders more time to resolve a standoff over the nation’s debt and the partial government shutdown.

From Slate’s Shutdown Liveblog:

12:05 p.m.: Afternoon Action as Congressional Leaders Head to the White House, via WaPo:

President Obama and Vice President Biden will meet with the top-ranking House and Senate leaders in both parties this afternoon at 3 p.m., a White House official said. Obama will huddle at the White House with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

12 p.m.: Reid Makes an Offer, via Politico:

Harry Reid has privately offered Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell a deal that would reopen the government until mid-to-late December while extending the U.S. debt ceiling until next year, according to several sources familiar with the talks.

The proposal would set up a framework for larger budget negotiations with the House over the automatic sequestration spending cuts and and other major deficit issues, the sources said. Moreover, Senate Democrats are open to delaying Obamacare’s medical device tax and a requirement that those receiving Obamacare subsidies be subject to income verification — but they would have to get something from Republicans in return, sources said.

McConnell is still reviewing the offer and is privately huddling with groups of GOP senators Monday who could be key to providing enough votes in the Senate. On Monday morning, McConnell met with Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mike Johanns of Nebraska and Mark Kirk of Illinois.

And, Markets, any comment?

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Stock markets rebound as budget talks continue - via Politico

The stock market rebounded Monday afternoon following a weak opening, amid renewed hope that Congress was nearing an agreement to re-open the government and raise the debt ceiling, which the Treasury Department says needs to be done by Thursday.

By early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up more than 20 points, having made up the ground it had lost in early morning trading when it was down as much as 100 points. The Nasdaq, which had also dipped in the morning, was up more than 12 points, while the S&P 500 was also up more than 2 points.

The bounce in the stock market followed new signals from the Senate Monday that an agreement could be reached soon. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) — who had rejected a proposal from Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) over the weekend — has offered Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a plan that would re-open the government and raise the debt ceiling until next year, POLITICO reported.

Tea party throws public tantrum at memorial closed by their government shutdown

Tea party royalty Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin were a part of a very classy protest (i.e. disgusting display) by tea party radicals in Washington DC yesterday.  It was called the Million Vet March although, according to the Washington Times, only about 200 showed up (including stray tourists).

There were many wonderful photo-ops staged “on behalf of” elderly WWII veterans who were (sadly) in attendance, like: pushing over barricades, quoting The Gipper (Palin: “Yes, we can tear down these barricades!”), spittle-blaring The Pledge of Allegiance, and screeching patriotic songs. The tea party always seems angriest when they’re doing things they consider to be patriotic.

Coincidentally, these self-proclaimed patriots are the very people who, through their representatives in the House, caused the federal government to shut down two weeks ago which, they knew, would cause the memorials where they staged their protests to close. And, instead of insisting their representatives in Congress reopen the government to actually help all veterans (and elderly WWII vets specifically), they’re the very same “patriots” who are currently pushing their reps to let our country default on its debt in four days—something that’s never happened before.

As a weird kind of déjà vu, not only was yesterday’s protest redundant but there were flashbacks of “early Palin” and the types of people she attracted between the tail end of the 2008 campaign and the period after she quit her job as governor to pursue Money. Like then, the protesters yesterday brought their anti-Obama signs and an honest-to-God confederate flag to wave in front of the White House—that’s right: the stars and bars for the first black president. Note that no one in the crowd said a word about the flag. Then a tea party speaker told the crowd the President bows down to Allah and that he should put down the Koran, and the people yell, “Yea! Yeaa!”

But there’s more. From Mediate, here’s video taken by one of the goons, named Paul Longenecker. When police arrived, they were roundly booed. On the video, some yell “brownshirts” at the cops, while another man says, “Looks like something out of Kenya.” Go to the link for Longenecker, which is his Facebook page, and read the comments.

How’s that for respecting law enforcement in general or park police in particular? These are federal employees who are just doing their jobs (without pay) to protect our national landmarks and the White House—and they’re harassed and mocked for just standing there.

Worst of all, it sounds like the veterans’ march / protest was actually hijacked by “Washington elites” and “political extremists.” By the end of the day, the veterans’ group had condemned Palin, Cruz and the tea party:

A few powerful Washington elites? I believe that would be Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, and the political extremists are Sarah Palin and the tea partiers. The “incite or create panic” line refers to those tea partiers who tore down the barricades at the WWII memorial and marched to the White House. The extremists waved the confederate flag in front of the White House and chanted things like impeach Obama.Politicususa

North Korea and Al Qaeda working together couldn’t have created a better anti-government insurgent group than tea party “patriots.” Sedition is a gift to all Enemies of the State, both domestic and foreign.

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Where there’s a buck to be made…

WASHINGTON (AP) — A crowd converged on the World War II Memorial on the National Mall, pushing through barriers Sunday morning to protest the memorial’s closing under the government shutdown.

Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas were among those who gathered Sunday morning, along with former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, according to WTOP radio.

And without irony or even a hint of self-awareness:

Cruz said President Obama is using veterans as pawns in the shutdown.


Former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin (R) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) recite the Pledge of Allegiance at a rally supported by military veterans, Tea Party activists and Republicans on October 13, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images) via Bob Cesca

Freedom Watch Speaker tells Obama to ‘put the Quran down’

Washington (CNN) – Angered by the closure of national landmarks due to the partial government shutdown, a crowd of conservatives removed barricades Sunday at the World War II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial as they rallied against President Barack Obama and Democrats for their role in the ongoing stalemate. High-profile speakers with close ties to the tea party appeared at the event, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

The rally, billed as the “Million Vet March on the Memorials,” drew far fewer than a million people and evolved into a protest that resembled familiar tea party events from 2009, with yellow “Don’t Tread On Me” flags throughout the crowd and strong anti-Obama language from the podium and the audience.

One speaker went as far as saying the president was a Muslim and separately urged the crowd of hundreds to initiate a peaceful uprising. “I call upon all of you to wage a second American nonviolent revolution, to use civil disobedience, and to demand that this president leave town, to get up, to put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come out with his hands up,” said Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch, a conservative political advocacy group.

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Charles JohnsonIf you want people to believe that the Affordable Care Act is the worst thing since slavery, maybe it’s not a good idea to wave a freaking Confederate flag at your White House protest. The symbolism is beyond appalling: the first black President of the United States protested with the Dixie flag.

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Goldie Taylor: Still fighting the “War of the Northern Aggression”

Charles Johnson: Here’s Ted Cruz speaking in front of the flag of the extreme right wing Oathkeepers militia.
View image on Twitter

Charles Johnson: Were the Oathkeepers doing security for Sarah Palin?
View image on Twitter

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Old what’s-her-face began her east coast Tour of Terror on Saturday in New Jersey, stopping by a racetrack near New Egypt to help Cory Booker win an election by campaigning for his competitor Steve Lonegan. As you can see by the photo below, she’s still as brilliant as we all remember:


The phrase, “leader not tweeter,” a reference to Newark Mayor Cory Booker, is seen on the palm of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin during a rally supporting Steve Lonegan. (via Buzzfeed)

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Related: 

Stupidity, thy name is Tea Party: the reality of ObamaCare and the Shutdown

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The GOP/TB realized they could never really expect their base voters to sympathize with the health insurance industry and its historical profiteering—an industry that would like nothing more than to continue pocketing billions of dollars with ever-increasing rate hikes and other greedy practices that have been accepted for decades. This industry donates heavily to federal campaigns, with 55% of their donations going to the Republican Party.  

So, with money in hand and a bunch of uninsured, low-information, red state voters—who would personally benefit from the ACA’s regulations on the worst practices of the insurance industry—GOP/TB politicians and their spokespeople decided that even if facts weren’t on their side, they could still keep the base loyal and distracted with a favorite strategy: “If you can’t beat ‘em, SCARE ‘EM!”

And here we are today.

Michele Bachmann: “When the federal government controls your health care, they literally control life and death. This egregious system, that will ultimately be known as ‘Deathcare’ must be defeated.”

Michele Bachmann: “… let’s repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens. Let’s not do that! Let’s love people, let’s care about people. Let’s repeal it now while we can.”

Ben Carson: “Obamacare is the worst thing that’s happened in this nation since slavery.”

Ted Cruz “…Do you think that is going to expand our health care if we do not see bright young students going to medical school? That is what ObamaCare is doing. Because you do not want an IRS agent deciding if your mom lives or dies. “

Ted Cruz: “Americans all over this country are suffering because of Obamacare. It is the single biggest job killer in America.”

Sarah Palin: “Of course there are death panels in there. But the important thing to remember is that’s just one aspect of this atrocious, unaffordable, cumbersome, burdensome evil policy of Obama’s and that is Obamacare.”

Steve Doocy: “…We see from your tax records that you support the Tea Party or conservative groups. You want a doctor’s visit? Three weeks. You want hip replacement? Four years.”

Now, imagine that noise when a needle scratches a record:

John McCain to a Fox anchor (on Friday): “On the debt limit, now there are things that we could negotiate with the president about, some entitlement reforms, some tax reforms, things that are achievable. Defunding Obamacare is not one of them.”

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ABC’s “Nightline” touted a PolitiFact story… that rated the number one lie in 2010 politics: Republicans calling the health care bill a “government takeover of health care.”

When asked why the claim received the status of biggest lie of the year, PolitiFact.com editor Bill Adair answered: “It was so pervasive. It was said by the Republican leadership, by Republicans running for Congress, said by Republicans running for governor. And it’s just not true. This is a plan that uses the private health insurance system to expand health care coverage.” 

Clips played of notable GOP congressmen Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) calling the bill a “government takeover,” as well as party chairman Michael Steele and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) saying the same. “Congratulations to the lie of the year for its speed and effectiveness,” concluded Jake Tapper. “Way to deceive the public.”

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BECAUSE THIS NEEDS TO BE SAID:

via

Obamacare (i.e. the Affordable Care Act (ACA)) facts:

• ObamaCare’s goal is give more Americans access to affordable, quality health insurance and to reduce the growth in health care spending in the U.S.

• The fact is ObamaCare does not replace private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. If you have health coverage you like, you can keep it.

• ObamaCare regulates some of the worst practices of the for-profit health care industry.

• ObamaCare offers a number of new benefits, rights and protections including provisions that let young adults stay on their plan until 26, stop insurance companies from dropping you when you are sick or if you make an honest mistake on your application, prevent against gender discrimination, stop insurance companies from making unjustified rate hikes, do away with life-time and annual limits, give you the right to a rapid appeal of insurance company decisions, expand coverage to tens of millions, subsidize health insurance costs, and require all insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions.

• Over 100 million Americans have already benefited from the new health care law.

• Read more

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Eugene Robinson: The reality of the Affordable Care Act

Someday, if the GOP captures the presidency and both houses of Congress, President Barack Obama’s health care law could be altered or even repealed. But it would be replaced by some new program that does the same thing, because there is no politically viable way to snatch away the medical insurance that customers are buying through the exchanges.

Quite the opposite: As soon as the glitches are cleared up and everyone becomes a bit less hysterical, the question will be how to obtain coverage for as many as 30 million people who will still be uninsured — including about 8 million ineligible for the ACA because of a sabotage campaign by Republican governors.

Look at Texas, which the state medical association calls “the uninsured capital of the United States.” An estimated 22.5 percent of the population lacks health insurance, a higher percentage than in any other state. Many will remain uninsured because Gov. Rick Perry — a once and perhaps future GOP candidate for president — refused to set up a state insurance exchange and turned down billions in federal funds to expand Medicaid coverage.

Rejection of the ACA may be popular in Texas now. But demographic trends are making the Lone Star State’s electorate more diverse, as the Latino population grows, and less reliably Republican. Small businesses that cannot afford to offer health insurance may soon worry about losing employees to states offering better coverage for the working poor through local exchanges and expanded Medicaid. Time is on the side of those who want to expand coverage, not those who want to restrict it.

I trust that conservative leaders will continue riling up the base with the untrue charge that the ACA is “government health care.” It is nothing of the sort. Obama decided at the outset not to push for a government-run health system, such as those in Britain and Canada, or a single-payer system of any kind.

Instead, all of Obamacare’s insurance plans are offered by private firms — the same companies that also provide employer-sponsored insurance. Disappointing his liberal supporters, Obama declined to include even a single public, government-run health plan. All the apocalyptic right-wing rhetoric about socialism and the end of freedom is nothing but hot air. Soon, no one will take it seriously.

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On Thursday, Jon Stewart slammed the 26 states that chose to forgo the federal money that would completely cover the cost of expanding Medicaid over the next three years.

All the 26 states unsurprisingly have either GOP governors or GOP-controlled legislatures, and are guilty of “total dickishness” as Stewart put it. “[These 26 states] must be a pretty eclectic group with many different reasons to explain why they would turn down money to bring healthcare to the working poor.  Or maybe there was just one — spite: the emotion that makes you turn down millions of dollars that would go toward healthcare for the working poor — because you hate the president.”

[Note: if you leave the Hulu player open, the segments automatically load / play from the rest of this episode.]

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Which states turned down federal money to bring healthcare to the poor? The Moocher States:

The Moocher States are most of the red states which already take in more federal money than they pay to the federal government. The residents of these states will be happy to know that uninsured people will continue to utilize the free “dine and dash” system of healthcare that’s endorsed by their party, and they’ll continue to have the opportunity to absorb those costs personally with their insurance rates and their doctor / hospital bills. It’s a win-win for everyone, I guess. Except for the working poor. 


image: view data detail

Your one stop Obamacare shop

In a mere 24 hours, the tea party town-criers have been reduced from dire apocalyptic warnings about the end of liberty and freedom, to whining ACA sites are loading slowly. The horror! That’s an interesting twist into arguably the biggest immediate threat posed by the ACA to the GOP naysayers. It isn’t just that people will come to like the low rates and guaranteed acceptance offered under the ACA over time. A more immediate problem for the usual suspects is millions of people have already found out that the dreaded Obamacare, the socialized government invasion that would bring Lady Liberty down on her knees, is really just a boring website full of insurance policies and coverage info.

    • If you only want to get a handle on what states are where with respect to Medicaid expansion, click the 50 state image above to go to a detailed bitmap showing that data.
    • If you want to actually shop for real rates, you’ll need to click the appropriate state exchange or the Healthcare.gov link, create a screen name and password, and then follow the prompts, where you will fill in lots more information. …Be prepared to verify your identity several times by answering a wide array of questions to help HHS or your state HIX keep your info secure. And in part because of record traffic, and in part because the HIX websites have to interlock with many other sites to help you apply, most sites are going slow and/or will be down intermittently.